School announces every day return to campus for all grades starting May 17

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Sandra Koretz

Juniors (L-R) Matteo Dall’Olmo ’22, Assistant Sports Editor Justin Goldstein ’22, Ely Dickson ’22, Jack Lesinski ’22, Zane Danton ’22 and Assistant News Editor Will Sheehy ’22 smile for a photo after hearing about the return during lunch.

Ava Fattahi and Will Sheehy

Following Los Angeles County’s transition into the yellow tier for COVID-19 cases, the school will welcome all students to campus every day Monday, May 17. Current safety and testing protocols will remain in effect and students will continue to have the option to learn virtually from home. Head of School Rick Commons announced this new step in the return to in-person school in an email to students, parents, faculty and staff May 10.

In the email, Commons said he looks forward to the full return and expressed gratitude for the Community Health Office.

“I am especially grateful for our Community Health Office, nurses, maintenance team, faculty and staff who have taken on additional duties and countless others who have worked so hard to keep Harvard-Westlake healthy and safe for the last fourteen months,” Commons said. “The pandemic is not over, and we must remain careful and cooperative as we continue with safety precautions. Still, let the cheers erupt: School is open! Looking forward to seeing everyone next Monday.”

Students share their thoughts on the full return

Stephen Purdum ’22 said he thinks the school will handle the return safely and is looking forward to seeing more of his peers.

“I think it’ll be safe because I have a lot of confidence in the school and their ability to make a protocol that is safe and effective but I think it will be a little crowded and inconvenient,” Purdum said. “I’m excited to see more people in other grades every day. I really missed that last year.”

Students will continue to be required to fill out a safety form, run a contact-tracing app on their cell phone, have their temperature taken upon entry, be tested for COVID-19 periodically and wear a KN-95 mask. In accordance with Center for Disease Control guidelines, students must distance three feet when wearing masks, and more when unmasked.

Others think that the school is currently not safe enough

However, Tosa Odiase ’22 said some protocols are not being followed or enforced by the school.

“The faculty does close to nothing [to promote social-distancing],” Odiase said. “Other than during lunch, the faculty ignores COVID-19 spacing rules and I don’t feel safe at times on campus.”

Vita Saffari ’22 said she trusts the school’s safety protocols and anticipates seeing other upper school students.

“I think that going back to school full-time will be very exciting because it will be the first time we have done this in over a year and it is something that we have all missed very much,” Saffari said. “So far, the school has been very great about all the safety precautions and restrictions and it has been clear that [the school] cares about being very safe on campus.”