By Isabel Lewis
As the summer comes to a close and children start to prepare for the upcoming school year, there are many uncertainties and obstacles that students, parents, and educators in America must prepare to face. The country is at one of its most politically divided points in history, and, on top of that, the Covid-19 pandemic is worsening daily. Facing these challenges will be extremely difficult for everybody, but in a boarding school environment, the challenges are amplified.
At schools that are allowing students to return to on-campus learning this fall, there will be a mix of students with different beliefs and experiences all coming together into one community. They will have countless new rules and guidelines to follow, in order to keep the students and faculty safe and to keep the school open. However, as there is negligence in many parts of America in the handling of this pandemic, there is a fear that this behavior will be carried to boarding schools.
At Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, students have the ability to return to campus this fall. This decision comes with many rules to help the school to keep its community safe. Students will have to quarantine for 14 days and have a negative Covid-19 test before returning to campus. Once arriving on campus, students will be tested again and begin a second 14-day quarantine in their dorm room. If students follow these procedures, and others like wearing a mask at all times and practicing social distancing, the risk of the coronavirus being brought onto campus will be extremely minimized. However, some students may not adhere to the rules.
A senior at Mercersburg Academy said, “I believe that most people will follow the rules and do the 14-day quarantine, but there are always going to be people who think they are the exception.” Especially as students that come from more right-leaning communities that have done less to mitigate the spread of the virus come to a very cautious, left-leaning campus.
Students who choose to ignore the Covid-19 procedures will be putting their whole school community at risk. Not only will students and faculty with compromised immune systems be in danger, but also their families. The carelessness of some could end up affecting a much wider group of people than expected.
The coronavirus will not just pose health concerns to the community, but since the handling of Covid-19 has become so politicized, it is bound to cause disputes among students with differing political beliefs. Some students will do everything they can to follow the CDC and the school’s guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus, while others will listen to President Donald Trump’s advice and try to live their normal life. The Trump supporters will undoubtedly upset the people doing their part to try and stop the spread. Especially as the country quickly approaches the presidential election, there will already be tension between people on opposite sides of the political spectrum and the coronavirus will make it worse.
It will be hard to keep the community aspect of boarding schools while facing the challenges in American today. However, as long as the people in the schools recognize the sacrifices they must make and keep an open mind, life will become normal again. There is much to learn at this time in the world, and students must take advantage of and grow from the strangeness they are facing.