Getting the email that told the students that we would have to wear masks indoors for the time being was one of the worst pieces of school-related news I could have received over the summer. Having to comply with the mask mandate that the town of Belmont put in place, the decision to wear masks indoors is not one that anyone in the community wanted but unfortunately was necessary. With around 97% of the Belmont Hill Community vaccinated, this decision to keep the mask mandate is extremely frustrating. Mrs. David noted that the decision to keep masks indoors “is a day to day thing in the pandemic” and that the “concerns are the new strain ‘MU, which is merging.” Mrs. David also noted that around 25% of cases in Massachusetts are those of vaccinated people, and wearing masks also protects people in all areas of the Belmont Hill community.
With all the restrictions still in place, the school has struggled to feel like it did before Covid-19; the requirement to wear masks indoors plays largely into that feeling. Although transitioning to the “normal” class schedule this year, classes still are haunted with having to wear masks for 40 to 75 minutes straight. With the new schedule in place, it feels like the school is putting a normal year in front of our faces but pulls it away with these mask mandates. It’s unfortunate that this is the case, but the only thing one can do as a part of the community is to wear the mask and hope that Covid-19 gets better because it isn’t going anywhere.
One of the biggest downfalls of last year that has continued into this year is the lack of sense of community in many public spaces, especially during lunchtime. Having only seen what feels like the same seven boys all year last year and one advisor, I was looking forward to seeing some new faces in the Upper School and having the opportunity to talk with kids outside of my classes. The dining staff is working extremely hard to create the best possible scenario for us, and I commend them for that, but lunch feels like it’s lost almost everything I enjoyed about going to lunch.
During the summer, no part of me thought that we would come back with masks indoors, but as you all know, that decision was made right before school. Hopefully, Belmont Hill can ditch the masks indoors and bring the school back together during lunch, but that might be ambitious as the Delta variant is ravaging through many communities. This school year still feels like the 2020 Belmont Hill, and at this point, I just hope to be back to normal by the Spring so I, along with all the seniors, can enjoy the last couple of months at this school.