Webb should host small social events on campus for new students

Students+from+functional+fitness+leave+Webb+after+finishing+their+practice.

Graphic courtesy of Bianca Arteaga (‘22).

Students from functional fitness leave Webb after finishing their practice.

December 2020 — this marks the ninth month of Zoom classes, which will resume for at least two more months. The class of ‘24 have already been high schoolers for nearly a semester and the class of ‘21 have only one semester left of their high school career.  

The pandemic has made time feel so fast and yet so slow at the same time, but it nevertheless has deprived all of us of some of our best and most memorable high school experiences. 

Having classes, afternoon activities, meetings, and school events all online, it is evident that many first-year students may feel a little detached from the community. Without proper face-to-face interactions, the social and physical aspects of school are missing. Although students can socialize with one another through Zoom breakout rooms or through social media, nothing beats in-person interactions and having conversations face-to-face when trying to make friends or bond with others 

A face-to-face setting allows for stronger communication and connections, therefore, students can build better relationships more easily. A lack of social interaction in the online environment can lead students to feel isolated from their communities. 

“With everything being online it is definitely a lot harder to meet Webb students outside my classes,” Eunice Lau (‘23) said. “But everyone I have met has been so welcoming and I have already made a few good friends, so I am really looking forward to having school inperson in the hopefully near future!” 

Webb strictly abides by the Los Angeles County Public Health Policies, which outlines the approaches employees and students must take during the pandemic in order for schools to reopen safely. Throughout the reopening protocols, it is clear that all the strategies listed intend to provide workspace safety and the necessary measures to protect students and staffs’ health. The protocols highlight the measures to ensure proper physical distancing, infection control, access to critical services, and ultimately the importance of students and staff to stay home if they feel any symptoms that can potentially lead to a coronavirus outbreak in the school. 

“We are subject to all Los Angeles County Public Health Policies and must follow their reopening protocols in order to maintain and keep all of our students and faculty safe,” said Theresa Smith, Associate Head of Schools. 

Despite classes remaining virtual, Webb, with the approval of the Los Angeles County Public Health Policies, has allowed students participating in fall season sports and a select few afternoon activities to return to campus and resume outdoor practices in-person. Students, faculty, and coaches are all required to follow proper social distancing: always wearing masks and staying a good distance from one another. 

We, as the Medical Advisory Board, are having some conversations about more opportunities for students to connect on campus, but we do have to work around the orders and restrictions of the state and the county,” said Stephanie Baron, health center director. “Right now, youth sports conducted outdoors are the only activities we can hold per their guidelines. However, in the coming months and with State and County approval, we hope to include more small groups on campus for the purposes of safely socializing, morale building, and fostering camaraderie.” 

If Webb can host sports practices on campus maintaining all the recommended guidelines, then hosting small in-person social events should also be considered. The guidelines and protocols utilized to ensure safety among student athletes and coaches should be applied in small group gatherings, with hand hygiene, face coverings, and social distancing implemented, per the CDC. 

Webb student leaders and faculty members have undoubtedly spent a lot of time and effort creating many fun virtual events for the student body, many of which were geared towards new students to meet and have conversations with each other. However, meeting new people virtually have limitations, such as only being able to interact with the people in your classes or afternoon activities.  

An online environment makes it nearly impossible to expand your reach. Furthermore, on many online interaction platforms, such as the breakout rooms in Zoom, the hosts set time limits, and once the timer turns zero, you are immediately returned to the main room even if you have not finished talking. In Zoom, it is difficult for teachers to tell when groups are ready to return to the main room. On the other hand, in an in-person setting, it is much easier for teachers to get a general feel for when students are done either through students’ body language or simply from hearing students start to talk less and less. These limitations encountered through Zoom can cause many difficulties among students. 

In an in-person setting, students can really create in-depth connections with other students. Studies show that body language, face-to-face socialization, and the personal touch that comes with meeting new people in-person leads to a sense of community, unity, and overall stronger relationships. 

Hazards are still present, and as indicated in the Los Angeles County Public Health Policies, schools that have an outbreak (with three or more cases in the span of 14 days) need to be shut down for 14 days. Many may find this too big a risk and believe that meeting with people in-person is not worth potentially exposing themselves to the virus. 

“I personally do not think Webb should host small community events during this time,” Celine Lau (‘22) said. It would not be very united, as all the international students would miss out. Moreover, there is a huge spike of COVID-19 cases at the moment with the LA County Department of Public Health mandating a curfew.”  

We all hope that coronavirus cases can minimize, and we can live our normal lives again. Currently, there is buzzing news about a possible COVID-19 vaccine, with the first shots of the vaccination campaign already given. So, there is a likelihood that the coronavirus can be contained in the next few months.  

Hopefully, the class of ‘21 can step on to the Webb campus before their graduation and the class of ‘24 can create great interpersonal relationships with other students and faculty here at Webb. And most importantly, let us create great memories and experiences throughout our high school journey that we can cherish and reflect back on for the rest of our lives.