Webb announces that dorms will not reopen for rest of school year

A+fully+occupied+McLeod+dormitory+on+a+school+night+in+2019.++

Matthew Gaw ('21)

A fully occupied McLeod dormitory on a school night in 2019.

On Tuesday, March 15th, 2021, Dr. Theresa Smith announced the disappointing news that the dorms will not be reopening for boarding students to live on campus for the rest of the school year 

In a recent communication from the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, we’ve been instructed not to open our residential facilities this spring,” Dr. Smith wrote in an email to the Webb community. Given all these factors, as we look to implement the final phase of our gradual reopening, we are forced to confront the very unfortunate reality that current protocols do not allow us to open our dorms to boarders this academic year.  

COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County stabilize after a rapid decline in the past two months, decreasing from a high of almost 22,000 daily cases in December to around 300 in March. This news certainly came as a surprise for most Webb students, especially for boarders outside of Los Angeles who were hoping to finish their year at Webb. Many seniors who are unable to come back onto campus will be missing out on the last chance to take classes on their high school campus before they move on to their next stage of life.   

“My boarding experience last year introduced me to my closest friends who I would spend long nights making memories with,said Maya Dholakia, a senior from Bend, Oregon who is unable to return to campus. These were the people who helped me get through the hard times, and made Webb home. 

“I did have some hope that we might be able to move back in for the last month or two, however it was simply unrealistic for LA county to drop several levels to a safe space quickly and I think we all needed to make sacrifices to keep the larger population safe,” Maya said 

While boarding schools across the East Coast and elsewhere in California have taken advantage of their boarding education to create a “bubble-like” environment for students to attend school in a safe and socially distanced manner, Webb has had difficulties following suit due to the high proportion of day students as well as the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases during the early months of 2021.  

“My boarding experience was very important and I felt that it was why I chose to come to school here, said Jonathan Zhang. “It was for the boarding experience that drew me to leave my childhood home in China, and it was definitely really sad to hear the news.  

In Dr. Smith’s email, she did announce the optimistic news that Webb would be moving towards a more in-person-oriented academic and athletic program after Spring Break, meaning increased opportunities on campus to have social interactions, as well as a preliminary plan to carry out endofyear traditions for seniors in a hybrid format.  

While Webb is certainly taking steps in the right direction in terms of reopening, it is undeniable that the dynamics of the campus will be very different without boarding students, who make up 60% of the schools population. While this entire school year has been anything but ordinary, let us hope that all Webbies make the most of the end of the year, whether it is on campus or online.