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Covid Poses New Challenges as School Imposes Safety Measures

By: The Warrior Word Staff

As Covid cases rise across the U.S., Hebrew Academy is facing its own challenges as the school attempts to remain open safely. This past weekend after attending a social gathering, more than twenty students were told to stay home and quarantine.

“The Administration and Medical Committee have been working very hard to come up with policies that will keep our school safe and open so all students can have on campus learning,” said School Nurse Lynne Friedman. “Unfortunately some of our families are not getting the seriousness of this virus and are having large gatherings and without masks. The Administration has had to put stricter guidelines in place in order to show students and parents how important our guidelines are.” 

Upon returning to school on Tuesday, students were asked if they attended the gathering. Those who answered "yes" were sent home into an immediate week long quarantine. They will not be allowed to return to in-person schooling until they produce a negative COVID test before this Monday.

Ever since the return to live classes, procedures have been in place to ensure safety for all students. For instance, students are not allowed to travel via airplane and return to school without one week of quarantine and a negative COVID test.

Following the concern that erupted Tuesday, High School Principal Dr. Eliezer Jones sent an email reminding students and parents of the school policy. In the email, social gatherings are defined as any event or activity consisting of more than three students that is fifteen minutes or longer, indoors or outdoors, regardless of whether there are masks being worn or social distancing being enforced.

“To be honest, I would love to be a school that has no need for suspensions," said Dr. Jones. "The way that I look at it is that this is about Pikuach Nefesh which is the idea of preserving life, which is above almost anything in the Torah. When it comes to preserving life, almost anything gets trumped by Pikuach Nefesh.  What we are dealing with right now is making sure students stay safe, parents stay safe, and literally their lives could be at risk. So, putting out the suspensions and putting it on the college records, my hope is that now it's seen as ‘Wow this is really serious.’ That’s what I hope."

Students were told that they need approval from either Dr. Lieber or Dr. Jones when attending or hosting a social gathering. It is clearly stated that if a student attends any kind of social gathering or party that is not approved, the student will be sent into quarantine as well as given a one day suspension that will be included in their college transcript. A student that chooses to host an unapproved party or social gathering will be quarantined, suspended for three days, and further, will remain remote for the rest of the semester.  Even expulsion was brought up as a possibility if a certain student continually attends or hosts unapproved social events.

“I’m hoping the policies will just act as a deterrent for students to do the right thing," said Assistant Principal Dr. Lieber. "We had really hoped that we did not have to punish anyone and that they would just think about the safety of others, and the teachers and the staff.  But, unfortunately, it did look like on the weekends they kind of forgot how important those things are.”

Some of the students sent home feel that the situation should’ve been handled differently. .

"We were all embarrassed for being called out and sent home in front of the entire school because it was in the morning," said Sarah Matz (11th Grade), one of the students sent home after attending the party. "And I didn't like how they emailed everybody school wide of how everyone got sent home because it put us on the spot more and it was kind of embarrassing."

The new COVID-19 policies were created in hopes that, through a collective effort, everyone will take their own safety as well as the safety of others into serious consideration during these unprecedented times. Yet only time will show if these possible punishments will result in following of the rules.

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