Although it is many students’ hope that life could soon return to a pre-COVID-19 mode, it seems like April is still not a good time for many to go back to the beloved campus and normal high school life. There are chances that campus could open for boarding students after spring break, but many students, boarding and day students alike, indicate reluctancy to return to campus for various reasons, ranging from travel restrictions to the complicated process. 

Out of all the reasons against returning, safety concerns remain a huge one and continue to draw students back from a successful return. Even after the case rate in our county drops to a level that makes reopening possible, it is unclear whether the safety protocols would eradicate the chances of COVID-19 infections without vaccination available. Many schools that reopened last fall, many experienced a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases, a situation that jeopardized the health of students, faculty, and staff. 

“I think it really depends [if I will go back],” Carly Granda (‘21) said. “The situation and circumstances we are in are really unpredictable. So, I think I will not be able to make a decision until April comes along. I’d say the most important factor for me is safety. Though I would love to be on campus with my friends for my senior year, I don’t want to risk the health of my parents or family members.” 

Aside from safety concerns, travel restrictions act as a huge obstacle for international students. As of February 3rd, 2021, international travelers from China are still subject to quarantine requirements and have to stay in a third nation for 14 days before travelling to the United States. The exhausting journeys across the ocean render a return to campus very unappealing to the majority of international Webb students. 

“I don’t want to go back because it is still unclear whether or not President Biden will remove travel restriction to the United States after Spring Break,” said Tony Gao (‘22), an international student from China. “I also don’t want to stay in another country for at least 14 days before returning to the US.” 

If school opens in April, it means that international students would need to travel back and forth in two months, which can be very tiring and confusing. 

“I don’t think I would go back in April,” said Anh Le (‘21), an international student from Vietnam. “Since there will only be about two months of school left, I don’t think it’s worth the hassleit’s very difficult to book a flight now and I will have to quarantine when I come home for the summer. For me, the determining factors are flight availability, safety, and whether I’ll have to quarantine.” 

As much as students want to go back, the timing just does not seem right. 

“Personally, even if School opens on April, I do not think I will be going back,” said Simon Kang (‘21), an international student from South Korea. “Going back to school would be great, since I could meet my friends and teachers and move away from online learning. However, April is only a month away from summer break. This means that once summer break starts, I have to clear out our rooms again, and I have to travel back to Korea again. It just seems like too much work.” 

To students, many things remain uncertain and unknown, and they are well aware that a return to campus does not promise a pre-COVID-19 life—one with tremendous amounts of freedom presented to students. 

“If Webb does open up in the spring under its certain conditions, I would still stay in China,” said Roy Zhang (‘22), an international student from China. “This is determined by a lot of factors: is vaccine widespread in the US? Is Webb able to return to itsnormal environment and campus life? And will I be able to have a better social experience in SoCal, which is still deeply connected to the functionality of vaccines in the US. Another reason is that if I do go on campus in April, it won’t be long before I have to fly back home in early June, which would be a rush and a risk due to relative policies of China and US. 

Before March of 2020, students could walk or jog with friends to the Village, travel to Santa Monica on the weekends, or sign up for Target runs or venture around Claremont. With the pandemic, however, there is no chance of a normal high school life coming back—even with Webb’s reopening. For boarding students, the necessary safety protocols and restrictions seem to take away the freedom that they always enjoyed back on campus. If going back means giving up the privileges as boarders, staying at home and continuing online learning are a more preferable option. 

“Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be going back to Webb this year for multiple reasons, the most important reason being that I refuse to play tennis in a mask,” said Mariia Lykhtar (‘22), an international student from Spain. I also know that there will be necessary restrictions taken due to COVID, and I would rather stay at home where I have more freedom. Although I understand that the study groups have been formed for the safety of the students, I would rather continue a somewhat normal lifestyle at home than be restricted to a select group. 

After doing online learning for almost a year now, the adjustment back to in-person learning can be strenuous for many. Moreover, students are reluctant to renounce the benefits presented by online learning, such as precious time with family (especially for boarding students) and unprecedented schedule flexibility 

“Quite honestly, even if school were to reopen, I wouldn’t be sure if I would go back to school,” said Chris Chung (‘22), a local boarding student. “While I am at home, I’m able to stay with family which isn’t really easy when I’m a boarder. Additionally, the hassle in moving back to school outweighs the merits of going back to school for two months. While it would be nice to see friends in person and have in person classes, not everyone would be there, and there are also worries that I have regarding the ongoing virus.” 

Perfectly aware of the bright sides to returning to campus, students choose to prioritize stability and certainty over the complicated journey back to campus, although doing so also means losing many precious aspects of high school life. 

I do not think I would return to Webb in April because it would be difficult to adjust to in-person learning for only a couple of months,” said Allison Paik (‘22). Although it is crucial to interact with peers and start to return to a normal life, I think that the end of the year academics finals and AP exams alongside the adjustment to on campus learning will only contribute to the stress that students face. 

Throughout the past year of online learning, both students and faculty members have had to forego many things that they normally took for granted. Although going back to Webb can potentially recover the in-person connections that we have lost, many Webb students have to make the difficult decision to remain online for at least the rest of the school year. Nevertheless, there is still hope that one day the pros of returning would outweigh the cons, and students can soon reunite with one another on the beautiful campus that has been missed.