By The Lion’s Roar Editorial Staff
It is in the best interest of The Leffell School to close its campuses and move classes online before December and return at the beginning of March. The Leffell School Reopening Guide states “if students from two or more different grades have tested positive for COVID-19, then that campus will be temporarily closed, and learning for all students will be conducted remotely.” It is likely that during the colder months of the year, from December through March, TLS will be forced to close for extended periods due to students contracting the virus.
Beginning in early December, students will spend less time outside during and after the school day. As students begin to feel more comfortable with their friends, outdoor and socially-distanced get-togethers will become less distanced. Once the weather becomes too cold, these social interactions will likely migrate indoors, with masks and social distancing at first, but many students will likely become fatigued with these precautions over time, especially away from TLS where there are constant reminders. Many classes rely on the outdoor tents to learn in chevruta, and as the weather changes, students who wish to work in pairs will not be able to do so as easily. Students will also no longer be able to eat lunch outside or take mask breaks outside, forcing them to spend more time indoors mask-free.
After Thanksgiving, college-aged siblings of Leffell students who had been studying on their campuses will return home to resume their learning remotely. All students with siblings returning from outside NY, NJ, CT, PA, MA, or VT must get tested before returning to school. This process would further increase the amount of students remaining home, at least for the short time. College students who return home also might crave the same amount of social interaction and freedom that they experienced while away on their campuses and opt to hang out with their high school friends. This tendency will further disrupt the bubble that each Leffell School family has made.
Some might think these precautionary measures are too drastic and that it is better to stay in school for as long as possible due to the superior learning experience as well as the enhanced social aspects. If classes transitioned online for the winter, fewer students would get the virus, enabling TLS to fully return come springtime. Without closing for the winter, TLS will likely be forced to switch to remote learning for at least one month for two-week blocks of time to allow significant portions of the school to quarantine before returning in person. Also, remote learning this year will be different from what it was like last spring, as faculty would have more time to prepare for the change. If TLS closes for two weeks at a time, teachers will not have as much time to plan and to adapt their specific lessons for Zoom.
TLS should return to in-person instruction in early March when outdoor lunches and classes can resume. For the health of all of those in the greater Leffell community, the school should switch online during the coldest part of the winter, planning to return in the spring.