Best for All Agreement: Time to Act on Our Promises

From the way we attend classes to the way we socialize with each other, Covid-19 has completely changed our Lawrenceville experience. While the School has made a clear effort to create a semblance of normalcy amidst this pandemic, our student body has been poorly following the Best for All (BFA) agreement that allowed us to return to campus in the first place. Many of us either downplay Covid-19’s effect on our health or are unaware of how easily the virus can spread. Consequently, we fail to follow the school-imposed guidelines. Yet students are not the only ones to blame. So far, the administration has not only failed to hold students accountable for their misbehavior but also unsuccessfully conveyed the whole set of rules students need to follow clearly. While all Lawrentians know the basic principles—wear your POM and mask and socially distance—we either forget about or do not know about other regulations aside from the primary ones; this, and the administration needs to be more diligent about reminding us. If we want to avoid returning to online schooling in the terms ahead, not only do Lawrentians need to understand that the virus is not another age-old joke and more strictly abide by BFA standards, but our faculty members also need to better help us achieve this goal.

As a community, we do not yet realize how easily the virus could spread and hence, trivialize the importance of following school regulations. Although many of us have become more cautious of following social distancing rules, many people are still leaving their POM tracers in their dorms and forgetting to fill out the Covid-19 symptom checker on Sentinel. These are fairly easy protocols—we shouldn’t be having trouble following them, yet we are utterly failing to follow the most important rule: staying six-feet-apart. As we re-enter the “Lawrenceville bubble,” many of us have felt as though Covid-19 cannot reach our campus, as if we’re invincible. We’re not. In the event of an outbreak, social distancing allows us to slow the spread of the virus as the school scrambles to contain it. Any contact (3-6 feet) with another person could expose them to the virus; thus, without social distancing, the virus could spread across campus before we’re even aware of it. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Covid-19 can be spread even by people who do not display symptoms. Though we do test regularly, it takes roughly three days for the tests to come back. In that time, an asymptomatic student may move about campus, closely interacting with other students and endangering them without realizing it.

But aside from the potential that Covid-19 may become widespread with our current social distancing behavior, many of us simply do not understand the health impacts that the virus could have on our lives, and we downplay its significance. Most of us currently only see Covid-19 as another flu: we get it, lie sick in bed for a week, and return to our daily lives. However, what makes Covid-19 dangerous is not its short-term effects, but its long-term ones. Covid-19 is not just another flu; it’s health impacts are more severe. The virus may result in permanent lung damage, strokes, seizures, and cognitive decline or mental fogginess in patients months after contracting the illness. Even if a patient is asymptomatic, he or she may still have lung abnormalities in the later stages of his or her life. But the reason as to why we see doctors and health officials worrying about this virus is also because Covid-19 is new, and we do not have enough scientific knowledge about the virus to ensure that our current protective measures are truly keeping us safe in the long run; so, the best means for any of us to stay safe and not regret our decisions down the line is to avoid contracting the illness and helping our peers do the same.

Yet student failings aren’t the only thing keeping us from following the BFA agreement. There is also a lack of clarity on the administration’s part on which rules exist and don’t exist. Of course, we all know about social distancing, wearing masks and POMs, and doing our Covid-19 symptom checker, but many students are having a hard time understanding other rules, such as whether or not we are allowed to eat on porches and in other houses’ yards or attend feeds. The problem with all of these minor regulations is that we have not been reminded of them on a frequent enough basis to remember them. A potential solution could include sending an all-school email each week to list any modifications to the BFA rules, or announcing them at School Meeting. After all, if we have a fully defined set of rules that we are frequently reminded of, then there will be fewer misconceptions about what we can and cannot do. Moreover, the administration has also failed to clarify the consequences of breaching the most basic regulations. For example, if students have been sent home or forced to self-quarantine due to Covid related infractions, then anonymous announcements must be made so that we are not lulled into a sense of false security and that we understand the severity of breaching these regulations.

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