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Virtual No More: Hop Returns to Campus

Kallie Schmeisser '22 Lead News Editor
On February 23, Head of School Kai Bynum announced that Hopkins would return to a fully in-person learning model: “After careful planning and consideration, Hopkins School will shift from our Hybrid Learning Model to our Fully In-Person Model beginning on April 5, 2021.” While the majority of students are opting into the model, campus life is still far from the pre-pandemic standard.
Several students are enthusiastically embracing the fully in-person model. Ava Pfannenbecker ’21 states that “spending time with friends” is what she looks forward to most. Sydney Matthews ’23 is excited to “have everyone be together.” Juliette Henderson ’21 reinforces these sentiments, saying she anticipates finally “being able to spend time with my close friends as a group again.” Aaron Gruen ’21 is happy to “see friends I haven’t seen in a long time!”

Much enthusiasm stems from reuniting with friends from the opposite cohort again. Ethan Piazza ’22 comments, “I am ecstatic to once again be on campus with Ben Jenkins [’22].” While Ben Jenkins ’22 responds, “I’m looking forward to many of the new things that come with the return to campus, except seeing Ethan Piazza.” Laila Samuel ’23 cannot wait to “see friends who [she] hadn’t seen in a year.”

Returning to in-person learning also allows students to directly engage with their peers, teachers, and class work. Caroline McCarthy ’22 notes she is beyond ready to “be able to learn more effectively once again.” Drew Williams ’21 is particularly excited for “better class-based discussions.”

With most students back on campus, teachers do not have to navigate teaching through Zoom as much. Math teacher Robert Studley says, “I look forward to teaching a class without turning on Zoom. I look forward to correcting quizzes/tests with my bare hands and not while looking at a screen. I look forward to connecting with my students, which is way easier when we are in person together. I look forward to hearing students help each other with some math problems and not sitting in silence while they are all in breakout rooms.” Math teacher John Isaacs echoes Studley’s sentiments: “[I most look forward to] being with all the students in a class. From a learning standpoint, feedback is a major part of the learning model that is far more effective in person.”

The in-person model marks the first time students new to Hopkins this year will meet their classmates from the opposite cohort. Anika Madan ’24 notes, “I am most excited to meet all of the new students in my grade and make new friends.” Hanna Jennings ’24 mirrored this: “[I look forward to] being able to meet everyone finally.”

But, the departure from the hybrid model is not completely free from trepidation. With the doubling of students on campus, a somewhat unwanted proximity is inevitable. Dining services continue to comply with strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards; however, the increased on-campus population leads to lunch lines of seemingly never-ending piles of students. Additionally, the desks in classrooms now stand three feet apart, rather than six. The lunch lines, increased volume of students in common spaces, and the lack of six feet of distance in classrooms have led to some feelings of frustration.

Matthew Cotaj ’22 points out his concerns: “The Covid-19 guidelines on campus are terrible. The proximity of many students is constantly too close and often- times during lunch, students don't wear masks in large groups.” English teacher Steven May notes, “There's still risk. People are getting vaccinated, but the risk remains. That's just a part of life right now.” Luke Lu ’23 states simply, “There just feels to be too many people on campus.”

Alongside fear and frustration are feelings of hope and happiness. Dhalia Brelsford ’23 reports, “I'm excited to be back and hope this method of school is here to stay!” Head Adviser for the Class of 2021 Marie Doval expounds, “Seeing the smiley eyes on all the students has been wonderful.” Alexandra Mathews ’22 reflects, “Seeing both cohorts on campus together has been extremely heartwarming; there’s an incredible sense of liveliness that comes with seeing campus so full and so normal for the first time in a year.”

The return to campus marks a shift back to normalcy, and a chance to make up for those experiences that were cancelled, postponed, or significantly altered in the past year. Madan explains, “I miss the little things on campus like the Cafe, regular sports, and playing games with friends without having to be socially distanced.” Hudson Berk ’21 adds, “I am excited for the spring [athletic] season.” Studley brims with enthusiasm, stating, “I am really pumped for spring sports. As a baseball coach it feels great to be on the diamond as we prepare to defend our FAA title. It's cool to hear the coaches talking, see the players preparing, and feel the energy that comes along with spring sports. Maroon and grey all day. Go Hop!”

And, of course, if all else fails, do as History teacher Gerald Casanova recommends to stay safe: “Get Tesla guns to (safely and at a distance!) shoot down mutants possibly roaming on campus!”
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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