LFA’s Loosening of COVID Restrictions


Richard Zhang and Aylin Tepe, Managing Editor of Digital and Editor in Chief (Digital)

      On February 24th, the state of Illinois and Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that they would be ending the mask mandate statewide on March 1st, signaling a near path to the finish line for a pandemic that has spanned over two years and has fundamentally changed how students have functioned at LFA. For many teachers and students, wearing masks made it difficult to teach and learn because it was hard to tell the emotions of students: teachers weren’t sure if students were confused or understood them, making the experience harder in the classroom. In the student union, there was often a shortage of seats during lunch periods and students would move chairs to tables so they could sit with more of their friends. Downstairs, table tennis and pool tables were still vacant, as they had been for two years since the start of the pandemic. All-school and morning meetings were half full, the other half sitting and watching over Zoom in their advisories. In sports, players had to wear masks, uncomfortably sweating through them, and capacity limits were placed on the fitness room. But due to the loosening of restrictions, most things have returned to “normal”. Teachers are now much happier to teach without masks, (QUOTE). The student union is back to the original seating arrangement and the table tennis and pool tables were recently put back on April 4th, a significant development for the students as many love to use these amenities, with all-school and morning meetings also announced to be back fully in-person on the same day. Sports and working out in the fitness room have been made much easier as well, with students finding it much more comfortable to workout without distancing or masking restrictions. 

      As life seems to be returning to normal, the boarding students of the academy have been reacclimating to the pre-covid dorm experience. The class of 2026 are the only current students who’ve experienced an entire year of dorming prior to the pandemic, meaning the underclassmen have only known restricted boarding or remote learning up till now. With this knowledge in mind, the student voice is quite understandably varied. Since health and safety are still a primary concern to most, many students have expressed skepticism in the loosening of certain rules. Sophomore, and Marshall Field boarder Selin Gökçe, says, “It’s my first year here (at LFA) so I didn’t really know what to expect, but compared to my last school the rules here were much stricter. Still, I got used to it and everything seemed pretty normal after a while, so going back to the no-mask has just been another change in a year full of changes.” For many of the international students, the no-mask policy being implemented fairly close to before spring break began posed an issue. A freshman who wished to remain anonymous states, “I wish they could have started the no-mask think after spring break, because even though I wore a mask, I was so paranoid about getting covid and not being allowed to fly back home, that it was pure anxiety for weeks.” Of course the airline policies regarding negative testing are necessary to protect the health and safety of those on board, reasonably the concern of this student was felt by many others in the same situation. There are those however, that were relieved at the re-granting of pre-covid freedoms. Many boarders are glad that they can hang out in friends rooms without being penalized, or use the commons more leisurely, and most importantly, not having to worry about masking right after a shower has been ever-convenient. All in all, it is evident that the pandemic put a major strain on students who already deal with the stress of living so far away from home, but LFA’s policies kept the majority safe, and boarders are hoping that with time, things will return to a more normal state.