New COVID Protocols Shift Campus Ambience

Renee Oh ’22 and Ms. Lopez walk through Club Expo while abiding by COVID protocols.

 In March of 2020, as the world began to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Western Reserve Academy students would never have assumed that they would still be experiencing the effects of this virus nearly one and a half years later. As technologies and efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19 have evolved, society has seen the status of this virus altered but never completely eliminated. Now, although the challenges regarding COVID-19 are different, it continues to affect the WRA community and plays a large part in the everyday lives of people not only within the school community but across the country and the world.

The beginning of the 2021-22 school year at WRA was a time of celebration, optimism and hope that the students could begin to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind them. Through consultation with medical professionals, opportunities for students and faculty members to be vaccinated and the willingness of community members to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s masking and social distancing guidelines, WRA has seen success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the utmost safety of its students and teachers. However, as the school year began, national cases increased and the highly infectious Delta variant mutated, so the need to reconsider and revise guidelines, including optional mask-wearing for vaccinated people, and implement new protocols became necessary.

Community members decided to don their masks in the first weeks of school after an update stating that masks would be strongly encouraged (although still required for unvaccinated individuals) and required in spaces containing upwards of thirty people. 

Just a few days later, Mrs. Buck, WRA’s Head of School, announced new protocols, including mandatory school-wide mask-wearing and a COVID-19 testing day. For unvaccinated students and faculty members, these protocols look slightly different, as they are now required to test for COVID weekly. Although this served as a disappointing reminder of the current situation in the world and brought the potentially difficult future into perspective, the WRA community has remained resilient and attentive. 

On top of the more notable protocol changes, the school continues to stay vigilant and advises practices such as frequent hand-washing and disinfecting classrooms, as noted by posters hanging around campus.

Finally, frequent updates regarding the situation and the status of COVID-19 cases at WRA have been imperative in keeping the community safe and informed. Cases are tracked online and frequent emails are shared with the community. While navigating many obstacles, WRA remains adaptive, implementing new strategies, and leads with confidence and resilience, all while maintaining a safe and effective place for students to learn.

Isabella Haslinger Johnson ’25

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