Administration recommends masks amid COVID-19 surge


Davis Marks/Chronicle

President Rick Commons urges the school community to remain vigilant about wearing masks in an email May 25.

Davis Marks

Following a recent surge of cases in Los Angeles and within the school community, President Rick Commons sent an all-school email with new COVID-19 recommendations on May 25. In the email, Commons encouraged students and faculty to wear masks in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the last few days of school.

Natasha Clement ’24 said while she appreciates the sentiment, she feels that there is not enough time left in the school year to make a meaningful difference.

“Personally, I’m not sure how well an email is going to work, especially this late in the year,” Clement said. “I think that people should be wearing masks, but unless it’s mandated by the school, most people aren’t going to follow those guidelines. The people who have chosen to not wear a mask will continue to do so unless further action is taken. It’s also very late in the game to be encouraging mask-wearing, since the incubation period for the virus is about two weeks, and finals are [a week away]. For me, it’s too little too late.”

Due to LA County guidelines, students who test positive for COVID-19 will have to isolate for a five-day period. Commons said the new masking recommendations are to prevent students, especially seniors, from missing culminating school events in the final days of school.

Zane Danton ’22, who got COVID-19 at Prom, said he feels it is important to follow the recommendations set by the administration in order to prevent other seniors from missing important senior traditions.

“I think precautions are of course a good way of preventing further infection,” Danton said. “But at this point in the year, regardless of whether it would have been stressed further, I believe most people would try to avoid precautions that would have been put in place. When I got COVID-19, I stayed out until I tested negative, which of course lost me valuable time in my last full week of school, but I would rather miss this time than cause others to miss graduation and other important events.”

In the email, Commons also said that Thursday, June 2 will be the last day of the school’s PCR testing program. Students who experience COVID-19 symptoms or have close contact with someone who tested positive will need to either receive a test outside of school or use the rapid antigen tests the school provides.

English Teacher Darcy Buck said they have asked students to wear masks even when the requirement was dropped in order to keep the community healthy, despite masks being uncomfortable and inconvenient.

“I’ve encouraged students to be vigilant about masking all year out of respect and consideration for many people in our community who are vulnerable to illness,” Buck said. “I personally dislike masks. I find them uncomfortable and I absolutely loathe not being able to see the faces of my students, and like most people I hope they won’t be needed much longer. But in the meantime, the inconvenience of wearing them seems laughably minor in light of how high the stakes are. If we really believe our stated value of purpose beyond ourselves, masking is a simple and significant way to live it.”