Service Requirements Pause

UPrep waives service hour requirements due to COVID-19


Photo: Abby Formella

Sophomore Katharine Jackson measures the length of her cloth while making a blanket for the homeless on November 13th’s Service Day.

Director of Diversity and Community E-Chieh Lin announced that University Prep will not be requiring service hours for graduation until King County goes into Phase 3. Phase 3 is essentially when things begin to open up, and gatherings of more than 10 people are permitted.
Her announcement acknowledged students’ confusion regarding service requirements for this year.
Prior to this announcement, students voiced their opinions on previous service requirements and suggested changes.
“I am a bit worried. I think I can get service hours but COVID makes it much harder than usual,” sophomore Carter Cast said.
“There are ways food banks and other volunteer led organizations have adjusted to accommodate the pandemic,” junior Tessa Peterson said. “However, many students’ lives have been impacted, and it is not equitable to make service hours a requirement in this current climate.”
Students across UPrep agree that the normal service hour requirement of 20 hours per year should be reduced or made optional, as COVID-19 impacts students’ lives in different ways.
However, Lin reminds students that service is more than just a requirement to obtain hours.
“Service is a way to provide mindfulness and self-care for yourself while helping others,” Lin said. “So we encourage students to continue to think of ways to do service in a socially distanced manner.”
On November 13, students and staff helped the community on Service Day by making blankets and reading stories to young kids, among other virtual opportunities.
Despite the challenge, many students have continued to serve their communities throughout this pandemic.
“I volunteer with Teen Council through Planned Parenthood,” Peterson said. ”We virtually teach kids in the seattle area comprehensive sex-ed from grades six through twelve. It has been successful, and it is how we are adapting to the pandemic.”
Community service is also an important requirement for admission to the National Honor Society.
NHS is a UPrep-affiliated service organization that promotes leadership among high school students. In the past, a minimum of 25 hours per year was required to be accepted into the NHS.
“Due to changing UPrep service guidelines and the curtailing of many service activities during 2020 and 2021, there will be no minimum service requirement,” NHS advisor and librarian Anne Bingham said. “Applicants must have completed some service and will be prompted to thoughtfully reflect on that service when applying.”