Staying home: students who remained remote all year

Students who stayed home expressed appreciation for the flexibility, safety, and control over their schedule it provided.Photo: pxhere.com

Following the emergence of COVID-19 last March, ARHS was closed to students for over a year. 

But this spring, as COVID-19 restrictions began to lift, life started to return to normal, and ARHS finally opened to in-person students on May 3.  

About half of all ARHS students expressed a desire to go back in a survey issued by the district, but a full half opted to remain at home through the end of the school year.

Freshman twins Jackson and Henry Barber-Just both opted to stay remote. “I have more time for hobbies and to get homework done,” Jackson said about his decision. “Less time spent on class and the bus is so helpful for doing what I want to do with my time.”

Zoe Giles, a senior this year, said she also opted to stay home, but only because at the time of the survey she was still not vaccinated. 

“I didn’t think I could be fully vaccinated until June,” Giles said, and her family wanted her to wait until she was vaxed to go back. “Sadly, a few weeks after filling out the survey, I found out that I could be vaccinated, but I was unable to get permission to shift my choice to in-person.”

Concern about COVID-19 was the most stated reason students felt reluctant about opting for in-person school. “The pandemic is still happening and I want to stay as safe as I can,” sophomore Walter Lloyd said. 

On June 1, 2021, the US reported 20,000 new cases of COVID-19, a sharp decline following the peak of 300,000 a day in January of 2021.  Vaccine rollout was swift, with about 43.3% of the population being fully vaccinated by June 12. At the same time, Massachusetts had fully vaccinated 3.94 million, for a full vaccination rate of 57.1 percent. However, 8.64 million initial doses had been completed, meaning millions more would be fully vaccinated soon.

The CDC also recently released guidelines for people who were fully vaccinated, saying that they could now resume most daily activities without a mask unless required by other regulations or laws. For example, MA residents still need to mask up in schools and on public transportation like planes, buses, and trains, but they don’t need to don masks in stores and restaurants anymore.  

Despite 9-11 grade students who remained at home being allowed to shift to in-person learning on June 7, after seniors had exited the building, the majority of those who had selected at-home learning a few months ago stayed remote, with small numbers trickling back in.

Sam Watson-Stevens, a sophomore, was one of them. “Staying at home lets me spend more time with my dog, and being able to do classes outside or inside is nice,” he said. “The worst part about staying at home has been Google Meet and tech issues.” 

Another sophomore who chose to remain anonymous said being online has made school easier. “I can go to class and leave whenever I want,” they said. “I can also use the internet to help me with my school work.”

Sophomore Alexander Sawicki admitted he has “a lot more free time,” which he loves, but he does “miss seeing my friends.”

Schools are slated to open to full capacity in the fall.