Students find comfort in REturn to Campus protocols

Dozens+of+hand+sanitizers+such+as+this+one+have+been+implemented+across+RE%27s+campus.+

Maya Rego '21

Dozens of hand sanitizers such as this one have been implemented across RE’s campus.

Never in Ransom Everglades history has the date October 12 held so much weight. After closing the Upper and Middle School campuses on March 12th due to the coronavirus pandemic, the RE community was forced to adapt to a virtual learning environment, which was a difficult adaptation for all. Six and a half months later, students returned to RE’s campus on October 12. However, this return to campus was unlike any other. It consisted of an entirely new learning experience, surrounded by hand sanitizers, face masks, and cleaning wipes.  

Safety measures of all kinds have been implemented across the Upper School campus to ensure the health and safety of everyone. “You will notice a considerable number of hand sanitizing and hand washing stations throughout campus, Upper School Dean of Students Ms. Lindsay Danielson said. They are all over the place. They are everywhere.”  

Ms. Danielson also described the addition of signs across campus in order to facilitate the transportation of hallway traffic. These signs are crucial for directing students and teachers to move from class to class while still maintaining social distancing. 

According to Ms. Danielson, the faculty leadership had to focus on methods for creating one-way traffic throughout campus paths and hallways. “There are social distancing reminders,” said Ms. Danielson. “Whether that is signs up on a wall or foot markings in different buildings to remind you to stay six feet apart. 

In addition to the change in the visible appearance of the RE campus, there are new protocols which call for a drastic change in the way students must act and behave on campus. One of the most notable changeis the requirement to wear a face mask at all times, except when eating, drinking, and exercising (in certain scenarios), along with the requirement to stay six feet apart.  

Another new protocol involves all athletic activities to remain outside to minimize the gathering of people indoors“I think they do a really good job of keeping us six feet apart,” Elanah Arnold ‘21 said“And outside is definitely better than being in a closed room because scientifically the particles have more distance to travel, so it’s not like everyone is trapped in one place. I think they are doing everything they should be doing.”  

Being able to go on-campus and at least see each other in person and sit six feet apart from the person next to you will be a level up from where we are now because it is just so unnatural to have a conversation over a computer screen.”

— Elanah Arnold '21

“Everything that we have done is extremely necessary,” said Daniel Stancioff ‘23, who was on-campus before October 12 for the boys’ soccer strength and conditioning sessions. “When I’m on campus it’s masks on basically at all times other than when we are training. When we are training it’s six feet social distancing constantly, which I think is one hundred percent necessary.” 

Additionally, RE requires all students who will be on campus to fill out a daily wellness survey on the SchoolPass mobile app. Students must respond to the survey every time they plan on stepping foot on campus in order to monitor students’ potential exposure to COVID-19 or symptoms. The survey askif students have tested positive for the virus or have been around someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.  

In addition to the survey, students must also be responsible for thoroughly cleaning all athletic equipment with Clorox wipes provided by the school. No athletic equipment is shared in a session. Water fountains may no longer be used except for refilling personal water bottles. 

From an academic perspective, students and faculty alike acknowledged that returning to campus entails facing new challenges. For one thing, many are concerned with the ability to work and collaborate in groups. 

“Being able to go on-campus and at least see each other in person and sit six feet apart from the person next to you will be a level up from [REmote School] because it is just so unnatural to have a conversation over a computer screen,” Arnold said. “But it definitely won’t be the same as it was before where we could talk to the person next to each other and share ideas.” 

“The social side of it, working in groups, will be dramatically changed, it just can’t be the same,” added Jake Martin ’21.

“I am a teacher who likes to build and help grow the collaboration part of the working student,” said Mr. Luis Felipe, who teaches science at the Upper School. “Students sharing tools or lab equipment is going to be a big challenge. That collaboration is something that we have to find new ways to do, although I don’t think that it is impossible.”  

“It might feel a little bit awkward at first,” said Ms. Danielson, referring to wearing masks throughout the school day. “Not being able to see the smiles from a student might be difficult.” But, she added, “While I would much prefer to see everybody’s smiles and laughter or even sadness sometimes, I think it is an aesthetic change. I don’t necessarily think it changes classroom dynamic. You might have to work a little bit creatively or more intentionally on creating that dynamic when half of your face is covered, because we are social people and respond to social queues as conveyed by our facial expressions. So, it is about reaching that same target in a slightly different way.”  

Although the Ransom Everglades experience will not be the same as it was before, Ms. Danielson emphasized the unity and strength that will be required from all members of the RE community in order to maximize the learning experience while maintaining a safe environment for all. From last year’s seniors, who were forced to end their Ransom Everglades careers virtually, to the current seniors, who haven’t had the ideal start to their last chapter of high school, all the way down to the freshman, who similarly did not receive their envisioned welcome into the high school world, all RE students have been asked to make sacrifices as we continue to endure the COVID-19 situation. There is no doubt that the RE community will continue to do so