Weeks and weeks of isolation
But still infinite and invincible determination.
We are distant
But we stand together
We shall overcome.
-Cory Booker, 2020
Throughout its lifetime, Worcester Academy has witnessed some extraordinary events in history, events that would change the course of American life and politics for eternity. As the years passed, the personal accounts of war, civil rights, and technological advances by alumni became ingrained not only in our curriculum, but into our school culture as well.
Still, one could argue that few moments in history have affected both WA’s curriculum and culture more than the current pandemic. The beast in question, COVID-19, has forced our community to make vital and difficult decisions. These past few months, we have learned how to adapt to the uncertain conditions that this plague has inflicted upon our society. Instead of cowering in fear, we work together as a team to combat the attacks of our foe and use creative solutions to connect safely with one another.
And our teamwork has certainly found success. As of the day this article is published, there have only been three coronavirus cases in our community in the three months that school has been in session. This is all thanks to the excellent procedures that our staff have put into place on campus. Without them, we may have been vanquished by the very monster we wish to slay.
As we settle into the school year and the COVID-19 precautions keep us safe, we must continue to strictly follow certain mandates. Everyone must stay six feet apart to follow the rules of social distancing and all are required to wear a mask at all times (with the exception of outdoor mask breaks). While students have expressed their concerns about these required mandates, especially with social distancing, they are necessary to ensure that the virus does not spread all across campus and harm those that are most vulnerable to the illness. Although some specific rules cannot be changed, students have provided feedback in other areas that could possibly be improved upon.
Recently, The Vigornia sent a survey to all upper-school students asking questions about their opinions surrounding COVID-19 protocols on campus and their suggestions for future improvement. As much as the staff’s careful planning has helped the community prevent the spread of coronavirus, there has not always been much availability for student input and feedback of this plan. This survey provided an outlet for students to honestly share their thoughts on the current pandemic and the school’s response to it.
40 individuals responded to the survey. Some of the comments on the surveys were brutally honest and hilariously summed up the many reactions to the current situation. One of the more humorous comments, made by an anonymous student, remarked simply, “this year sucks.” Another student shared their opinion about the division of students through teams, writing that they were satisfied with their current team because “it’s the best I got but still bad.” Many of the responses, however, were filled with helpful suggestions that could enhance safety protocols and socialization on campus.
One of the suggestions received concerned safety measures in the gym’s weight room. Huxley H. (2023) said, “it would be a huge improvement to the safety of boarding students if we could use the weight room in Stoddard.” The student pointed out that access to more weight rooms would allow students to spread out and prevent anyone from coming too close to each other. Exercise is certainly a priority for many students, as an active body has a healthy immune system that is more equipped to fight off COVID-19.
Naomi M. (2024) shared a sentiment common amongst many other Worcester Academy students. She observed that “there has been a lot of homework assigned in rapid succession. It is difficult to balance my schoolwork with my personal life and the need to also let myself relax.” The mental health of students has always been a priority for many Worcester Academy staff but what some students identify as lack of personal communication has proven to be a roadblock in the accessibility of certain resources.
While it may be wishful thinking for students to receive less homework, it might be beneficial for teachers that share many of the same students to work together to plan a reasonable assignment schedule. This could prevent students from reaching high levels of stress because they are assigned three major projects in one week and have nothing besides small assignments the next week. The teachers may need to soften deadlines on projects or be more sympathetic to late work (within reason). Students do need to take into account, however, that school is still happening and should continue to take their studies seriously.
Fortunately, there is a spark of light shining through during these dark times. Most of the students who responded to the survey though positively about the community’s response to the global pandemic. Many claimed that they felt fairly satisfied with the current school conditions and appreciated all the hard work that the staff was putting into the new protocols to keep everyone safe. The general consensus was that students have a lack of freedom but most everyone would agree that they would rather have a lack of freedom than be sick. As Jefferson U. (2024) put it, “I think everyone is doing a good job and should keep it up. Remember to stay positive!”
The Vigornia thanks everyone who filled out our survey. Continue to follow the proper precautions necessary to prevent coronavirus from running rampant on campus. Stay happy and healthy, everyone!