So Close, Yet So Far

New CDC guidelines permit 3 foot social distancing for students


Photo: Mira Hinkel

Upper school students gather outside during non-lunch social time on April 26, the first day all students are welcome back on campus.

Recent changes in Centers for Disease Control recommendations have minimized physical distancing requirements in schools, allowing University Prep students to now socialize from only three feet apart. 

“We can now fit our students in our classrooms again, so we decided to give it a shot and try to bring people back,” Head of School Ronnie Condrington-Cazeau said. 

According to Codrington-Cazeau, the biggest reason to bring students back on campus is mental health. 

“Students need to see each other and need to re-engage and rebuild friendships,” Condrington-Cazeau said. “And [they need to] re-integrate into a pattern of seeing their teachers, seeing each other and just being back on campus.”

Students say they have really benefited from returning to campus and having fuller classes again.

“There are more people in the classroom, which makes it less awkward,” freshman Maddie Takamiya said. “Now it’s much more like how it was pre-COVID, which is really nice.”

While administrators and families are eager to see all students return to campus, it also increases the students’ and faculty’s exposure to COVID-19. 

“I’m always worried about student safety,” Condrington-Cazeau said, “and this disease is unpredictable. It has shown us that in a number of ways,and so there is no way to predict what the future will bring when it comes to COVID.” 

The introduction of optional COVID-19 testing on campus is the most recent safety measure taken by the school. 

“Parents have to pre-register for that testing, so that you have documentation. So when we send it to the testing clinic, you can get your results at home,” Condrington-Cazeau said. 

Students feel more reassured and safe with UPrep’s  COVID-19 testing.

“There’s more people [on campus], but we’re also doing more consistent COVID testing. I took a COVID test,” Takamiya said. “I didn’t personally think that I had COVID, but it was still a relief to see the negative results come back in.”

UPrep’s COVID-19 Task Force has been very involved in assuring that all decisions made by the school are compliant with current federal and state guidelines, including approving all students to return in person four days each week.

Junior Foster Hicks chose to return to campus after the new schedule and guidelines were released. 

“The new schedule has good parts to it, such as a longer lunch and seeing friends more, but it’s a hard adjustment from online school only in terms of longer classes,” Hicks said.

Students are required to complete health attestations every morning before they come to school and abide by other COVID-19 protocols.

“Schools all over the country are back in-person and those that have been consistent and vigilant in daily attestation, wearing masks, washing their hands, keeping their social distance and maintaining good ventilation in their classrooms have been very successful in opening back up,” COVID-19 Task Force co-chair Cassandra Fricke said.

Despite all of these changes to the schedule, many of the safety procedures stay the same.

All protocols on sanitizing, face masks, ventilation, and daily attestations will remain the same,” Fricke said.