Upper school to continue campus reopening efforts for in-person learning


Sara Yen

The sun sets on the back entrance that leads to the quad at the upper school on Mar. 2. Classes will began a rotation of at least one day per week per grade beginning in mid-April.

by Alysa Suleiman, A&E Editor

Santa Clara County entered the orange tier last week, with the new COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 citizens dropping below 10 for the first time since the first week of December. Currently, the upper school is moving forward with on-campus activities, including extracurriculars and athletics seasons.

“We know that students and adults in our community would benefit socially and emotionally from increased in-person interactions,” Head of School Brian Yager said in an email sent out to parents on Mar. 7. The school’s main goal is to find a balance between in-person interaction and community safety.

Students who choose to attend remote learning on campus must adhere to social distancing protocols and wear masks at all times. Those who wish to attend hybrid classes on campus must notify the school first through this form.

“This has been surreal,” said upper school math department chair Anthony Silk, who has been teaching engineering classes on-campus. “There’s been plenty of times when I’ve been on campus on the weekends or in the summer when there’s nobody on campus so that’s not unusual, but being there and holding class, it was just different.”  

Along with the current in-person class periods and after-school activities, students in grades 6-12 are looking to begin attending their classes on campus after spring break. These hybrid classes would require teachers to create separate lessons for students who still choose to learn remotely. 

The upper school administration hopes to begin a rotation of at least one day per week per grade beginning in mid-April with the foreign language department opting to teach remotely for the remainder of this school year. 

The upper school also plans to hold an in-person spirit week from Apr. 19 to 23, with activities organized by Harker Spirit Leadership Team (HSLT) and the Student Activities Board (SAB). Along with spirit week, the campus looks forward to opening a Freshman Orientation for the class of 2024. 

The upper school is also continuing in-person chemistry and anatomy labs, such as a dissection lab held last Saturday for the Human Anatomy and Physiology class, robotics and after-school dance classes. The upper school spring musical theater cast also just finished wrapping up rehearsals for the movie production of the 2021 spring musical “Les Misérables.”

“I loved this process so much,” Director of Performing Arts Laura Lang-Ree said. “It’s a little different when you’re six feet apart and you haven’t been together. It took a while for everybody to just relax and be themselves again, but the students were incredible. No one focused on what they couldn’t do; they just focused on what we could do.”

The school continues to plan for an in-person experience for all students and faculty come fall in the 2021-22 school year. The only exception will be for students who have not yet been vaccinated or those who have a diagnosed medical condition that could put them at increased risk for COVID-19, for which the school will provide hybrid options. 

“I hadn’t seen anyone in person since last March other than my ski team,” Aditi Vinod (12) said. “[My favorite part has been] just seeing a lot of people that I didn’t get to see over the course of the past year. [I plan to come back on campus] at least for this week and definitely a few other weeks in the future.” 

Additional reporting by Arushi Saxena and Anna Vazhaeparambil.