Editorial: Back to School in the time of COVID


Courtesy Sage Hill School

Stryker shows off the right way to wear a mask while on campus.

Lily Button and Adam Hung, Editor-in-Chiefs

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sage Hill has implemented a number of safety response measures in hopes of reopening the campus to students and teachers. The tentative reopening date is Sept. 8, under which social distanced classroom and hallway restrictions will be implemented. 

The first addition is a check-in at the security gate, where students will be required to fill out a pre-screening survey each morning on the Titan app and have their temperature checked. However, self-reporting is not 100% accurate, and asymptomatic cases are known to be silent spreaders of the virus. Although this wellness check is a positive start, it does not entirely ensure our safety and could cause major delays.

When the 7:55 AM rush hits, cars will inevitably get backed up, and students will be tardy. Each student will have to assume a sense of responsibility getting used to these changes. Whether it be wearing masks, sanitizing hands or keeping physical distance, students are accountable to themselves, their peers and their teachers to keep safe now more than ever. 

Another major change to the fall semester is lunch. FLIK will distribute pre-ordered individual lunch bags for students outside. Seating areas will be separated by grade level and are spread out across campus, ranging from tables and chairs spaced out in Wilkins Town Square to singular tables outside the Science Center. 

Students also have the option of opting for at-home learning via Zoom.  

To adapt to the new virtual environment, technology at Sage has also undergone a transformation this summer. Under the new system, students will have access to 360° video cameras that track teachers’ visuals and audio across the entire classroom. Also, Sage is replacing Records with Blackbaud as the primary resource center for grades, comments, schedules, and directories. Expanding Sage’s online tools is an attempt to eliminate the disparity between students learning at home and in the classroom. 

However, is it possible that students learning from home could have an advantage over those in class? Last year, many teachers made online exams open-notes, meaning students could look over their materials while taking the exam. This adjustment was necessary due to teachers’ inability to detect cheating online. However, with students split between the two learning styles but graded in the same context, how will teachers maintain equality? Although many details concerning graded assignment policies and anti-cheating measures are still unknown, fair testing will likely be a complicated and difficult challenge to overcome. And as always, fairness ultimately depends on students’ responsibility to the school and individual Honor Code. 

There is so much unknown in academics, athletics, extracurriculars, and even more so health. 

And of course, the question lingers: Is it really safe to return to school? In theory, these preventative measures should keep our students safe, but in practice it may be a different story. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to the risk and reward. The amount we are willing to sacrifice to reinstate a sense of normalcy differs on a case-by-case basis, but the fact that each individual’s actions have the potential to affect those around them complicates things, particularly in a large community setting like a school. After nearly six months of the pandemic, many are understandably growing tired of COVID restrictions, but it is important to continue to look at the facts, analyze the risk-reward, and take our next steps cautiously as we begin to think about moving on from the virus. 

Coronavirus has made us prioritize certain values and realize what elements of our lives are most important to us. For many Pubs staff members, it’s talking and designing together on campus. For other students, it’s returning to an athletic team or a performance cast. 

For many seniors, it’s living that year of lasts — last first day, last pep rally, last football game, last performance, and last HoCo. However, what many of us did not realize is that our year of lasts already came and went. 

That being said, it is not all nostalgia. Saying goodbye to old traditions makes way for new ones to arise. 

This year, for all grade levels, is the year of firsts — first Zoom club meeting, first class in masks, first virtual clubs fair, first online musical, and first modified pep rally. Our year will undeniably be one for the history books. Amid  the ever-changing challenges 2020 has brought, all we know is that we will continue to adapt. We will hold our heads high and take each new step with confidence and open-mindedness. It’s what we as a community do.