Should MHS Reform Students’ Indoor Options?

As the colder months approach, students long for more indoor seating within the school during free periods.


Fatimah Khan

The once-crowded hallways of the Science wing remain empty.

Scarlett Kurtis, Op-Ed Page Editor

Life has changed in many ways since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks, social distancing, and regular tests were suddenly thrown into our daily routines, and we were forced to adapt accordingly. Now that we’re starting to have a better handle on the pandemic, though, how will we return to normalcy? 

There is no better example of this dilemma than at Mamaroneck High School. During the thick of the pandemic, students were encouraged by MHS Principal Elizabeth Clain to spend free periods and lunchtime outside, rather than in the hallways or the library, and to wear a mask when indoors in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. These measures have worked as effectively as the science predicted they would have; MHS has only seen one potential case of in-school transmission of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. 

The efforts made by MHS over the past two school years have resulted in the ability to open the building to all students, which we are all grateful for. But with the massive amounts of progress we’ve made, one question remains: how do we move forward? How do we continue to make strides to return to the life we once knew?

One change that has yet to be resolved is the issue of free-period seating. In the spring, sitting outside is a joy for many. After all, warm breezes and clear blue skies are enough to draw anyone to the outdoors! However, as fall approaches and the weather turns colder, some may have a different opinion. Emmie Smith (‘22), explains how she thinks that “students should be allowed to sit in the hallways because it’s extremely difficult to find dry areas outside of school when weather is bad.” Rainy, cold, or unbearably humid weather tends to force students indoors, where they’re sent to the library, or, if that’s full, specially designated classrooms. While practical, this is hardly preferable for most students at MHS.

 Students don’t fare much better when the weather allows for outdoor seating, though. Wifi issues make it hard to complete work outside, and it can be difficult to find a comfortable place to get settled. Sure, some students have the option of spending free periods in their cars or in restaurants, but many students don’t. Many students don’t have cars and some don’t feel comfortable sitting indoors at restaurants, so they have no choice but to try and make do with the seating outside. The difficulties of trying to work outside are much more prominent nowadays since more and more students are finding themselves outdoors.

Regardless, there are very good reasons for maintaining these regulations. Contact tracing is important for ensuring the safety of students, and allowing people to sit in the hallway would prevent contact tracing of any sort from taking place. Plus, removing masks to eat indoors without social distancing continues to be very risky. Regardless of how far we’ve come during this pandemic, we still have a long way to go before we can be as carefree as we once were.

With all of the steps taken to ensure the safety of MHS students, the time has come to begin to fade out some of our COVID-19 modifications. Sitting in the hallway for free periods is a small freedom that we can give students, which signals how much closer we are to overcoming this pandemic. We’re not quite in a place where we can forget about contact tracing and social distancing altogether, but we as a community can take baby steps. Each decision our school makes to move us closer to normalcy is a positive, especially when the student-body is so ready for change.