Commons releases update regarding return to school

Sandra Koretz and Fallon Dern

In an email sent to the school community Thursday, President Rick Commons said he is optimistic about a possible return to campus for students and faculty.

Commons said that although COVID-19 cases within Los Angeles have not stabilized, the increase in citizens and community members receiving the vaccine makes him hopeful about a return to on-campus learning.

“Though rates of positive tests and hospitalizations in LA County are still very high, they have fallen from their peak earlier this month,” Commons said. “In addition, hundreds of thousands of county residents have been vaccinated, and we expect that Harvard-Westlake faculty and staff will start to receive vaccines in late February.”

Multiple students said they are apprehensive about going back to school. Joey Schoenberg ’22 said he is concerned that COVID-19 cases will only worsen if students attend school in person.

“I think this decision is very presumptuous,” Schoenberg said. “Unlike countless other countries, the United States never completely recovered from its first wave. As we near the second, we should not be looking to open up right now. Cases are declining, but, just as we’ve seen in our other attempts to reopen school, all the good work that’s been done to keep the community safe will have been for nothing. Cases will go back up. Right now, our main priority should be the health of our community at a distance.”

Although Commons said he is hopeful for a safe return to school, students are still concerned about leaving the community at risk.

“I don’t know [if it is a good idea to return to school] because while I want to go back to school sooner than later, both of my parents are at high risk [of getting COVID-19],” Edward Kim ’23 said. “We keep trying to reopen, then experience a surge in cases and then close again. I’m not fully against it, but I just think it may not be the safest choice.”