Webb community works to reconnect after facing new weekend restrictions

The+Hooper+Community+Center+appears+peaceful+during+classes+but+is+typically+overflowing+with+students+inside.+At+nighttime%2C+students+use+the+space+to+relax+and+connect.+

Heloise Robertson

The Hooper Community Center appears peaceful during classes but is typically overflowing with students inside. At nighttime, students use the space to relax and connect.

You run down from the gym after a tiring Friday afternoon practice and head to your room, getting ready for a fun evening outing that you planned with your friends.

It is the first week after break, and the sudden transition back to school has left you yearning for a weekend off-campus. While you freshen up, you hear your phone buzz with an email notification from Dr. Smith: you will not be allowed to leave campus for the next two weekends.

On January 7th, Dr. Theresa Smith, Associate Head of Schools, sent out an email explaining the new COVID-19 restrictions, shocking students who were looking forward to the first weekend after winter break. Webb van runs were canceled, traveling permissions were limited, and day students were asked to return home after their afternoon activities.

“We are canceling weekend runs to local stores and restaurants,” Dr. Smith’s email wrote. “Boarding students may only leave campus on a six-hour pass with a parent or guardian.”

The increase in COVID-19 cases among the Webb community has led to more restrictions being placed on students. Day students are no longer allowed to come to campus on weekends, and boarding students are not allowed to leave campus unless their parents are able to drive them.

Throughout the week, students have felt the shift towards a more anxiety-fueled environment, as testing becomes more frequent and conversations around health and wellness overtake Webb spaces.

Although these restrictions may seem disappointing, it is extremely important to have them in place for the time being, especially to keep exposure limited and to track close-contact spread. Throughout California, there has been a peak in infections and a soar in transmissibility, supporting the need for these protocols, no matter how frustrating.

As a result, students have been making more use of the facilities on campus, namely, Hooper.
The Hooper Student Center is a place for students to collect packages, spend time with each other, and even play video games together.

Recently, due to the cold weather, Hooper has been opened for indoor eating, something greatly appreciated by the student body. The number of students and locations for eating are regulated and only available on more chilly days.

“Hooper is the perfect place where boarders and day students can have a break and study with each other,” Tory Baer (‘22) said.

Ken Rosenfeld, Dean of Campus Life, has maintained a positive outlook although it is slightly more challenging to prepare activities when the boundaries for them are small.

“It’s going to be all about creativity and perspective and flexibility in all honesty.” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “It is a challenge. If I were a boarding student, and I found that the two runs I was going to go on this weekend were cancelled, I would have felt something for sure.”

Mr. Rosenfeld sympathizes with students’ aggravation but urges them to understand the greater reality of the situation and turn their attention to what has been made available. He reminds students that they are still able to eat together, hang out, and enjoy the weekend.

“You can create opportunities for fun.” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “[If there are] ideas of activities in small groups on weekends, please let me know.”

A movie was hosted by the Chess Club on Friday night, and a FIFA tournament was held on Saturday evening, both taking place in Hooper last weekend. Sunday snack returned, and a fun boba surprise was delivered Sunday afternoon.

“We had Krispy Kreme donuts, which was a super nice surprise,” Thea Do (‘24) said. “I’ve never had Sunday snack before, so this was definitely something exciting for me. It was comforting to have after the stressful weekend.”

This period will be difficult for students, as they will be constantly surrounded by school buildings and reminded of their fast-approaching deadlines. Weekends are beneficial because they provide time to experience relaxing social time away from schoolwork.

Unfortunately, to regulate the spread of COVID-19, these new rules will have to remain in place for the time being. How the past weekend was changed proves that we can all stay optimistic even when protocols seem daunting.