Whiplash: Zoom to In-Person to Zoom Again

Written by: David

Edited by: Inez

Visual by: Kahyun

With the announced return to distance learning, the last few days of this school year have been somber. An anonymous interviewee remarked that it “made me miss the opportunity to see my friends,” saying they regret not making the most of their time on campus before the online transition. Another student expressed frustration, as campus closure meant the loss of final memories they would have made with departing friends. One even joked that a casual hangout during break devolved into a waiting game for DM responses.

Events such as the Sophomore Sophisticated and Teacher and Staff Appreciation Day have been canceled. The senior graduation ceremonies were also adjusted, therefore, two graduation ceremonies commenced to allow sick students to experience the tradition in person.

While the end-of-year celebrations have been cut short due to a COVID surge in ISM, the community has been more hopeful than ever for the following school year. Below is a list of school events and their relevant COVID policies/restrictions:

DateEventPeople Involved
October 16PSAT/NMSQT TestingG10 & G11
November 15Orientation WeekAll HS
November 22Full HybridAll HS
December 10Filipiniana; Full Distance LearningAll HS
January 2021 UpdateAll HS
January 17Full Hybrid resumesAll HS
January 22Battle of the Bands; Virtual PrelimsAll HS
February 14COVID Communication Protocol announcedAll HS
February 19Battle of the Bands; Virtual FinalsAll HS
March 2 – March 29Return to Sports Session 1All HS, but # of participants unknown
March 7Fitness Gym open for use from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pmAll HS
March 9HS Field open for lunchtime use only, MS field closed for useAll HS
March 14 – April 8Revised Sched: G9 Full + Hybrid G10 OR G10 Full + Hybrid G9G9, G10
April 18 – June 3Return to Sports Session 2All HS, but # of participants unknown
May 21JS PromG11 & G12
314 students
20 teacher seats
Support staff/guards
23 remaining student seats
May 31Full Distance LearningAll HS
June 4; postponed to next SYSophisticatedG10

While the most recent spike likely occurred due to the Junior-Senior prom, ISM has come far from the gloomy distance-learning days. COVID-19 precautions have remained ever-present. From the numerous floor markers, to the hybrid learning schedule, to the sanitizer and handwashing stations littered throughout campus, it’s clear that the administration has tried everything to keep the school as safe as possible. A sophomore commented that the staggered return to campus worked “relatively well” to handle the high school population while maintaining social distancing protocols. These measures undoubtedly helped keep the 6-month hybrid learning period safe and productive for the community.

However, with the return to a new normal comes the relaxation of COVID guidelines. Guards no longer enforce distanced seating in the Kantina, the library no longer has contact tracing, and class seating is more lenient.

With the shift in policy comes a change in attitudes as well. Social distancing and sanitizing are sometimes forsaken, and some reported that there were “lots of students not wearing their masks in the hallways” or “in the Kantina.” While it is only natural to return to pre-pandemic social practices during in-person learning – this has become the norm, perhaps increasing students’ risk of transmission.
The threat of COVID is not over. There are still 2,441 active cases in the PH (We Heal As One), and only 63.89% of the Philippine population are fully vaccinated (Our World in Data). his is a far cry from the worst the pandemic has to offer, as new infections are at a mere 1%  compared to the Philippine pandemic’s peak of 34,897.86 cases (Reuters) (Our World in Data). But outbreaks like this are still possible. Distance learning evokes memories of unproductive weeks, loneliness, and an air of apathy. The world may have progressed in fighting the virus, but the ISM community must stay vigilant in reducing the likelihood of transmission and the domino effects of problems these outbreaks cause.