How Are Students Retrieving Items From School?

Students+on+line+outside+of+the+Ramaz+Upper+School+building.+

Students on line outside of the Ramaz Upper School building.

Eric Kalimi ’22

Almost a full two months ago, on March 11, the Ramaz building on 78th Street was closed. Despite being warned about the building’s imminent closing, many students found themselves unable to bring all of their books and materials home from their lockers. Some left important notes while others left their tefillin, food, and even clothing. 

Ever since the start of online learning, students have been approaching the administration about the possible reopening of the building in order to retrieve necessary items they left inside. The plan was to allow students who urgently needed their belongings to pick up their materials one by one in the lobby. Rabbi Stochel posted on Schoology several times about allowing students to return to the building to pick up their materials; he sent out a Google Form for students where he asked them to fill out their locker number, what materials they needed from the building, and why. These strict procedures were put in place to limit the number of people coming into the building for the safety of the students and faculty and to abide by the CDC guidelines. 

Olivia Sakhai ’20 retrieving her study material.

The first attempt, on March 29, was canceled for students. That day, the building was only open for faculty because it was hoped that school would be back in the building after Pesach, and there were only a few requests for items that didn’t seem urgent. Once it became clear that students would not be returning immediately after Pesach, students requested that the administration allow them to retrieve their books to study for AP exams, which are being  administered online this month.

In response, Rabbi Stochel again posted a Google Form for people to request their items from the building. On Sunday, April 19th, the building was opened to students from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM for the first time since its closure so that students could retrieve their possessions. On the preceding Friday morning, Rabbi Stochel, Cito, a

nd Mamadou went through the lockers of students who had submitted requests and packaged their belongings into plastic bags which they left in the lobby. The pickup process was extremely mindful of the safety of those who were present. Students were asked to wear gloves and a mask and maintain social distancing. While waiting for their turn to pick up their belongings, students had to line up down 78th Street, keeping their distance from one another. Rabbi Stochel, wearing a mask and gloves, greeted each of the estimated 65 students, waiting six feet apart outside the door, and guided them into the lobby to take their items. Caleb Rosenfeld ’22 said that he “felt nostalgic about walking into the building that [he hasn’t] been in for over a month with the thought that [he] might not see the building for another five months.” Students who submitted forms but were unable to pick up their belongings had the opportunity to pick up their items the following Friday during classes. The building will again be open on Sunday, May 17, from 1:00 to 5:00.

Rabbi Stochel was asked in an interview about what the plans going forward would be, assuming in-person school is closed for the rest of the year. He spoke about the currently unanswered topics of cleaning out lockers before the summer, specifically for seniors who will not be returning next fall, and the distribution of books for English classes that haven’t been given out yet. Rabbi Stochel stated that he will discuss the issue of the new book distribution with Rabbi Blaustein, the Book Master, and Ms. Litwack, the Chair of the English Department, to come up with a final decision if the school remains closed for the remainder of the year. As for cleaning out lockers for the summer, he said that precautionary measures will be taken, but students may, at some point, return to the building to clean out their lockers if the school is still closed through June. In short, the administration is working its hardest to make sure that all the students will have access to their materials in a safe and timely manner.