Cracking the Covid Code at Ramaz


Ashley Behm '24 and Sarah Silverman '24

“Social distance!” These words surround Ramaz students everywhere they go and are the new normal. But what exactly does it mean? The CDC defines social distancing as, “keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household.” Properly social distancing entails staying at least six feet away from others, and, most importantly, wearing a face covering that covers both your mouth and nose. 

This school year, the administration has taken serious measures to ensure social distancing throughout the school building. This includes requiring parents of students to fill out an at-home questionnaire before school on the Magnus App to ensure that one does not have coronavirus symptoms, and insisting that students and teachers must wear masks at all times unless eating or drinking. Desks in the building have been placed six feet apart from one another. The school has also been able to arrange for 78th street to be closed during school hours to accommodate eating lunch and spending more time outside. While all these measures can be effective, they only work if the students adhere to the protocols. 

After being apart from friends for almost six months, it is understandably hard to catch up while socially distanced. Students congregating in various parts of the building is a possible cause of the spread of the virus resulting in the two-week quarantine for the juniors and seniors. Students have also flocked to the third floor terrace and removed their masks, potentially allowing the virus to spread.

As for outside of school, some students have tried very hard to stick to social distancing by opting out of events, gatherings, and mask-less meetings throughout the summer. On the other hand, there have been a handful of students not following safety measures, by attending parties without wearing a mask and playing close-contact sports, which are considered dangerous. Nurse Nechama said, “People congregating is the worst thing that could be done right now.”

The administration’s response to positive cases in the high school was to switch to remote learning for the first day and quarantine the juniors and seniors for two weeks. The high school also was addressed by Mr. Cannon, who urged the students to practice social distancing in and out of school. Numerous emails were sent advising families to practice social distancing over the holidays. Mr. Cannon, in an email to the Ramaz Community stated, “This year, we need to forego most of these interactions and activities and strictly observe the rules of masking, social distancing and staying within our close family unit. I know this is difficult, but you will be helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19, and most important, you will be saving lives.”  When the freshmen and sophomores returned to school, mask-wearing outside and staying apart inside was strictly enforced. In addition, the two-week quarantine appeared to have scared students, as students became more wary of taking off their masks. 

Most Ramaz students and faculty want to return to the building full-time. The Ramaz community can achieve this by practicing social distancing and adhering to the proper health and safety protocols. 

Some students, however, feel that Ramaz is not doing enough to enforce the restrictions they created. “The school is doing the best they can, but I think they could improve their approach to keeping people separate,” Kira Gitelman ‘24 said. On an 

ordinary school day it is possible to see large groupings of kids not socially distanced. Elevators are meant to be occupied by a maximum of two people, but have been observed with more than two people. When announcing school safety precautions in the summer, Ramaz said that desks would be sanitized after each class; it is not clear that this process is being followed by all. 

It is entirely understandable that students don’t like being in stuffy rooms all day, wearing suffocating masks, and not being able to hear ourselves and the teachers, and it is understandable that over time people will get complacent about following every protocol.  Yet, there are only two options: in-person learning or Zoom learning, and it is widely agreed that the former is preferable. Many students are willing to do whatever it takes to have a chance to leave the house again. Liam Gomberg ’24 said, “I don’t care about how many safety procedures there are, as long as I get to go to school and actually see my friends.” Ramaz has come up with some new and innovative ways to get students outside and having fun, while still adhering to safety procedures. While it is clear that Ramaz is working hard to make this year the safest and most enjoyable it can be, it takes everyone to make certain that this is accomplished.