Jorge Guajardo '21
Winter is coming.
Previously a season of celebration to be spent with family and friends, winter will now be a period of isolation and increased caution as the Coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States. And yet, our schools continue in their hybrid plans, defiant of the cold storm to come. Can St. Albans withstand the challenges faced by a potential viral surge this winter? Yes, but students must maintain a sense of personal responsibility for this to happen.
The hybrid model has been a welcome change for many students. Although some luxuries of the online model—sleeping in, a lighter workload, more freedom—have been lost, it nonetheless provides a good opportunity to socialize with friends and interact with teachers in person. Given the present circumstances, the hybrid plan has been well-executed and I commend St. Albans for their tightly structured and regimented plan and for their transparency. The problem with the hybrid model is not with the policies of the school; rather, it is with the folly of the students.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see a great amount of parties taking place during Halloween. Snapchat map showed many clusters of parties across the city, and Instagram posts were abundant, showing friends packed together, rarely—if ever—wearing a mask. I am hesitant to stand on a moral pedestal and lecture on the foolishness of partying, as I am sure many of the partygoers themselves well understand the risk they are taking and waive it anyway in favor of their own short-term gratification. Their mistake is in thinking that the repercussions of their actions end with them.
It is crucial that partygoers realize that their actions do not affect them alone—they affect everyone in the community. However, I am sure that you, dear reader, do not need me to remind you that mass gatherings do not affect only those in attendance, but all those who come in contact with the attendees. In the remote model, responsible students were not at risk due to the actions of a foolish few, as they were secluded in their homes and away from large gatherings. Party-going was not excusable then, including when the Remote-plus model was in place, but it was undoubtedly less dangerous. Now that we are in the hybrid model, students directly endanger not only themselves with their irresponsibility but also the students around them. Young people are spreading this virus , and we must take care to not plunge the city of Washington D.C. into a worse place than it is already in. The hybrid model is a welcome return to the academic and social setting many of us missed, but we must, as students, be especially responsible so we can continue along the positive track we are on.
Large events and parties are not like a cheat meal after a long week of dieting. Quarantine is not something you can deposit in order to cash out on in the future with a party; a COVID-19 infection in one weekend can undo months of strenuous isolation. So, I ask you to please stay at home. If you want to hang out with friends, which I still encourage, make plans to either create a small “quarantine pod” or wear masks and keep distance. Don’t go to parties—especially with strangers—even if it means relieving yourself from a little bit of FOMO and cabin fever. Don’t go to large gatherings, even if it means celebrating a great event in the history of this country (you know what I mean). If you do, at least quarantine for two weeks afterwards. Your responsibility will save lives. The battle against this virus is not only waged by heroes working on the front lines, but also by the aggregate actions of every member of the community. If all of us take steps to be more responsible, we can continue safely with the hybrid model and into a triumphant spring.