First Friday Event Raises Important Concerns about School Safety

Mr. King navigates challenges and shares his thoughts and plans


Credit: Eki Uzamere

Community Council Member David Bernstein tallies up the points of the Seniors who competed in the First Friday Scavenger Hunt.

No one wanted to risk furthering the spread of COVID-19 during the Senior First Friday event on September 11, and Community Council was very considerate in their planning. Nonetheless, the day did highlight some of the major problems students and faculty face trying to navigate the campus amid new social distancing rules.
The events of the day were carefully considered to avoid close contact. Senior Class President Hadassah Henderson said the Community Council chose to do a scavenger hunt because it was “very easy to do all over the campus,” making it a “fun activity that was socially distanced.”
Despite these efforts, students expressed that it was hard to maintain a socially-distant range from classmates. Especially during lunch where students, as has been the case for most lunches at Hackley, gathered in close clumps sans masks.
“The social-distancing is very challenging,” Director of the Upper School Andy King confirmed.
“Behavior modification is hard, especially if you have ingrained habits,” he said, “And most of you have ingrained Hackley habits that are almost hardwired into your brain, and so we kind of have to rewire ourselves.”
According to Mr. King, there are some students who are very concerned about being in school, while others are much less concerned if at all. Then, there’s a huge group in the middle, who care but aren’t necessarily aware of what six-feet-apart looks like.
Mr. King also told The Dial that the administration is “acutely aware of the need to take some more prescriptive measures to make [social distancing rules] clear to students.”
The administration announced on September 9th in an email regarding Hackley Pool Test Results that they were working on providing better conditions to make social distancing easier and staying in school a viable option.
Hackley teachers, Mr. Loomis, and Mrs. Leffler, and Assistant Director of the Upper School, Mr. Arnold, spray-painted dots outside to give students a sense of how to safely eat lunch in groups. According to Mr. King, faculty members have also been working on a chair configuration for the tented area that assists social distancing.
For Mr. King, it has been very helpful to receive feedback from colleagues, students, and parents. Mr. King has received a lot of feedback from the advisors and the deans. He and Ms. Jean also worked on the Feedback Survey upper school students received this week.
For students worried about social distancing, there is the added security of testing and masks.
“The mask-wearing, I think, has been outstanding among upper school students,” said Mr. King. “The students have not been pushing back on that at all as I’ve seen it.”
Mr. King is also “delighted with the pool test” results: “[The pool testing] gives us a sense of how the community is doing, and I think it’s also affirming, that we are in a place now where we don’t have positive cases, let’s make every darn effort we can make to keep it that way!”
The future is uncertain, but Mr. King is very impressed with what the Hackley community has been able to accomplish thus far.