Not unlike their predecessors, this year’s seniors are to remain a respectable distance from their peers while in the lounge and don their masks at all times. ((Photo Credit: Chloe Mintz/ Achona))
Not unlike their predecessors, this year’s seniors are to remain a respectable distance from their peers while in the lounge and don their masks at all times.

(Photo Credit: Chloe Mintz/ Achona)

The Academy Responds to Heightened Coronavirus Concerns

August 30, 2021

In light of increased Covid-19 concerns, President Kevin Whitney has opted to enforce a three-week mask mandate. Whitney intended for students to return to campus sans mask, yet the sheer number of Hillsborough county residents infected with the coronavirus (or in quarantine) has deterred such intentions.

In an article published by The Washington Post, district rep Tanya Arja confirmed Hillsborough County had “8,400 students and 307 staff members either in isolation because of a positive test or in quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive” as of Tuesday, August 17. Roughly twice the number of weekly reported Covid cases in July. 

So it’s a return to the abnormal. Masks are to be worn while indoors, social distancing is to be regularly maintained, and the unexpected (i.e., a lengthier mask mandate) is to be, well, expected. 

Fortunately (if such a word can be used within the context of the coronavirus), the Academy has already endured a hysteria-laden, Covid-infested school year. Its faculty is surely far better prepared to confront the pandemic’s uncertainties a second time around.

On account of its difficulties in terms of stimulating classroom cohesion, virtual learning will not be offered this school year. (Only those in quarantine or isolation will be allowed to attend classes via Google Meet.)

As opposed to the sterile rectangular tables at which girls merely monitored the clock, students will sit four to a round table in the lunchroom and engage in conversation. 

Social events (i.e., Spike and Splash, theatre productions, and Winter Formal) are to resume— safely, that is. 

And late-start Wednesdays have been reinstated— as have “second-breakfasts” and “first-lunches” (or snack breaks). 

This school year is certain to pose its own trials and tribulations, yet the Academy’s faculty and staff are working their very hardest to ensure the year is both safe and enjoyable for each student.

“I think our faculty understands the realities we face right now with the rise in community spread and rise in pediatric cases we’ve seen the last month. We have been making the best of the circumstances. Just as we put on orientation, Mass, and convocation in person, I’m hopeful we will continue to run our more social events that are a part of Academy tradition, even with necessary yet creative adaptations,” says interim principal Sister Lisa Perkowski.

With few methods proven effective in terms of mitigating the spread of the virus, it is critical that we, as Academy students, do our best to abide by the school’s Covid-19 guidelines (i.e., properly wearing our masks). 

However, measures taken to deter the coronavirus are not resigned to the classroom. Here’s what you can do to keep both yourself and the entirety of the Academy community safe when not on campus:

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Wear your mask indoors, in large group settings, and/or any other place you feel unsafe
  3. Wash your hands diligently
  4. Regularly clean and disinfect your surroundings
  5. Get tested if you or someone in your household experiences Covid-19 symptoms

Refer to the CDC’s virtual site for more information pertaining to safety protocols and coronavirus developments.

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