Students hope for fewer COVID-related rules next year

Mid-Pacific+middle+school+students+eating+lunch+outside+of+Weinberg.

Tyrael Goo

Mid-Pacific middle school students eating lunch outside of Weinberg.

Erin Goya, Staff Writer

Rising seniors are hoping for fewer restrictions next school year as administration decides on a few changes for campus life at Mid-Pacific.

“Unrealistically, I hope my senior year is normal. By normal I mean the pre-COVID senior experiences. I would love to, once again, participate in and experience the annual school events like the all-school picnic, the Christmas assembly, prom, senior camp, senior luau,” said junior Elise Folan.

Some of those events might begin next year, administrators said, with social distancing protocols. In the meantime, one thing that will not continue next year is hybrid classrooms with students attending Mid-Pacific classes from home.

“We are offering a full virtual option but kids have to commit to it for the entire school year. Students would not be in the same classes as their peers,” said Leigh Fitzgearld, vice president of academic affairs.

According to an email sent on April 13, the virtual option will be online classes from Arizona State University.

However, students still have access to college counseling, academic advising, deans, and Hawaii Center for Children and Families. Also, students who decide to do distance learning, will not be able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

According to the New York Times, the Food and Drug Association is preparing to authorize Pfizer vaccinations for 12-15 year-olds around the nation.

Folan said she hopes that the vaccine will make a difference in the upcoming school year.
“If there are zero cases and most of the Mid-Pacific community has their vaccines, then I believe we should be able to gather without our masks in small groups. For example, a sports team should be able play without masks, but during passing periods or assemblies (if we have any), students will have to wear one,” said Folan.
New and loosened protocols are beginning to take shape for the upcoming year.

“We are still looking at how things are going. Our hope is to be able to provide opportunities for students to go off campus during break or maybe change the owl’s nest a little bit.”

— Dwayne Priester

Students are only allowed to attend virtual classes if there is a COVID-19 related issue such as possible exposure or travel quarantine, Fitzgerald said.

Off-campus passes might be more available next school year, high school principal Dwayne Priester said.

“We are still looking at how things are going. Our hope is to be able to provide opportunities for students to go off campus during break or maybe change the owl’s nest a little bit,” he said.

Off-campus passes are usually issued to all students with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher. However, this year, off-campus passes were granted to seniors for their last quarter on campus.

Senior dean Erin Regua said many seniors and parents were thankful for the off-campus passes. Regua said she felt sad because off-campus passes should be automatically a part of that experience of getting older.

Along with off-campus passes, administrators are hoping to find ways of eliminating the face shield and change the walkways if COVID-19 improves.

“I know students don’t like the face shield. We would have to keep the face masks on for a while, but if we can open up, we can maybe change the walkways,” said Priester.

Priester and Regua said that they hope for next year to have a sense of normalcy for the rising students. Whatever that may look like, they hope to slowly begin to return back to normal.
With hopes that next school year will look different, seniors begin to prep for graduation by slowly letting go.
“I was obviously disappointed knowing our senior year wasn’t going to be everything I had hoped for. But through lockdown and adapting, I’ve come to appreciate the little things and the people I used to often overlook and cherish them more,” said senior Jill Morimoto.

Many seniors had to get used to not having the normal events, learning in a hybrid environment and adjust to the new and shortened schedules.

“With all the challenges the school has to go through to get us back on campus and everything our class officers have to go through to plan events, I always appreciate the effort to make this year as memorable as possible for all the seniors,” said Morimoto.

Morimoto said she also hopes the vaccine will save next year allowing the class of ‘22 to have lunches together.

Students should look forward to a sense of community and normalcy as the state and count begins to recover from the pandemic, however, Priester said it all depends on the DOH, CDC and prioritizing the safety of the students is the most important.

Students must continue to reach out to the COVID-19 ([email protected]) email address.

“I hope the vaccine will be the light at the end of the tunnel. At the very least, all I want is to have a normal graduation where I can be surrounded by family and friends,” said Folan.