By Anna Dubey ‘21, Editor-in-Chief
No Heschel buildings will reopen in the last few months of the semester, ruling out the possibility of returning to in-person school this year. There will also be no end-of-year gathering in person, though plans are in the works for a Final Breakfast celebration over Zoom.
The prospect of continuing virtual learning until the end of the school year disappoints many students, particularly those who experience health detriments from virtual school. According to a survey distributed by the 11th-grade representatives, 86.5% of the 171 surveyed Heschel students expressed that the new, lengthened schedule would worsen their physical or mental health. The survey also reveals that online learning increases students’ headaches, eye strain, and back pain. “I’ve actually been getting headaches pretty regularly, and I think it’s because of staring at my computer for so long, because that never happened before,” said Junior Lia Ortner. 11th-grader Yair Assayag commented, “The amount of screen time has made it hard to focus, read, and go to sleep.” Part of the motivation of instituting the shortened new schedule was to ameliorate students’ health.
Virtual graduation for seniors will occur on June 9th, but many seniors bemoan the prospect of ending their time at Heschel over the computer instead of in person. Senior Leah Namdar-Cohen stated, “Heschel has been a really fundamental part of my life since I was four years old, and I had always envisioned that leaving it would entail a long and ceremonial process… I am upset about my Heschel grade, which has, at times, felt like a second family, not being able to come together face-to-face and say goodbye.” The administration is considering setting a date for virtual graduation.
The director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned that a catastrophic second wave of the virus could break out next winter. However, the Heschel administration has not yet considered the possibility of continuing virtual school next year. Dubler remarked, “We very much hope to open in September.”