Scarsdale High School alters their overnight policy, allowing students to spend the night on field trips, in regards to COVID-19.

SHS Changes Overnight Trip Policy

December 2, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many beloved school traditions and activities were postponed or canceled. Over the past year, many SHS traditions have gradually returned; SHS students now go to school for five full days each week, sports are running, and crowded events such as the pep rally have even returned. Until recently, however, SHS was not permitting overnight trips. Annual overnight trips such as the A-School overnight and the Civ Ed overnight are some of the most beloved SHS bonding experiences, and the SHS community has missed them dearly since the pandemic started.

A big aspect of Scarsdale’s Civic Education program is centered around connecting upperclassmen with freshmen and forming a close-knit community that welcomes diversity and invites collaboration; the annual overnight, where students in Civ Ed spend a night away from school doing bonding activities, often propels the program’s goal forward. “I will never forget the memories I made and the bonds I formed on that trip. I can’t imagine not being able to go on the trip… I feel really bad for the sophomores and freshmen,” said SHS Civ Ed Advisor Nicholl. Current freshman and sophomores, however, will never get to experience the freshman Civ Ed trip, as the trip has not run since 2019. Although this year’s version of the freshman Civ Ed trip was better than not having a trip altogether, it did not prove as successful compared to the years passed. “We went on a day trip to the same nature reserve this year but it was just not the same,” remarked Nicholl. “I believe that [actually] sleeping [at the reserve] is one of the most essential parts [of the trip] and can [help the students to] really form bonds and friendships that last throughout high school, not only for the freshman but the advisors too,” he concluded.

Recently, the SHS overnight policy was changed to allow the running of safe versions of the overnight trips SHS students went on before the pandemic began. In an email to the Scarsdale community sent out on Tuesday, November 23, Superintendent Thomas Hagerman officially announced that overnight trips are now permitted. The change, however, had already been announced to SHS staff by SHS Principal Kenneth Bonamo in an email sent out on November 15. In his email, Bonamo detailed that overnight trips are now permitted as long as a set of guidelines are followed, but international travel is still prohibited.

O’Gorman furthermore explained that at the beginning of the school year, the Administrative Council of the District, which includes the Superintendent’s Cabinet and the Principals and Assistant Principals from all seven schools, crafted protocols to support the district’s practices regarding activities at all school levels. “These protocols aligned with state guidelines and our own district metrics for Covid-related mitigation efforts,” stated O’Gorman. But what caused the policy to eventually change during the school year? “This same group reviewed these protocols in early November, and revised some aspects to match the data and experience of the first quarter of the school year,” remarked O’Gorman. These adjusted protocols did not immediately go into practice. “The revised protocols were then presented to the Board of Education and school community,” explained O’Gorman.

The new policy entails a series of regulations and requirements that must be met to assure students and teachers remain staff. “The updated protocols permit overnight trips for students who show proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results within 72 hours of the trip,” mentioned O’Gorman. Even though all students who attend the trips will be vaccinated or tested, SHS students are not allowed to ignore COVID protocols during their trips. “Trip guidelines follow school guidelines including mask mandates indoors and providing adequate spacing when eating indoors,” concluded O’Gorman. This is especially good news for students who are involved in extracurriculars, such as sports, as well as a few curricular programs.

This week, however, news spread around the globe that a new and extremely contagious COVID-19 variant had been discovered in South Africa. Experts theorize that the inevitable rise of this variant is even more contagious than the already contagious Delta variant, which could jeopardize the progress that the United States has made regarding COVID. “All protocols are subject to revision based on local and state-level metrics and guidelines,” concluded O’Gorman.

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