Crack down on Covid

Tim Mathas, Opinion Lead Editor

For a private school that has not hesitated to dismiss students who have broken various codes of conduct over the years, the newly-formed disciplinary actions for breaking Covid-19 guidelines demonstrate that this is no longer the case. Prior to letting students back on campus to resume in-person learning, the school sent out a contract which required everyone to legally adhere to the New York State and Center for Disease Control Covid-19 guidelines. From mask requirements and physical distancing, to testing and symptom tracking, the school crafted an incredibly meticulous plan which displayed their commitment to protecting the health of the community. Towards the end of the contract, students were warned that they could be “subject to consequences that include but are not limited to: warnings or loss of permission to be on campus” if they were to violate the guidelines. 

These consequences seem quite lenient given the gravity of the situation. I believe the rules are relatively lax because the school has a considerable amount of sympathy and compassion for the students current dilemma. Everyone has struggled with the lack of companionship, productivity and any other feeling that contributes to the benefit of one’s mental health over the past few months. Students, faculty, and administrators alike have all experienced this first hand, which is likely the reason that there is greater leniency given to students who violate the rules. That said, by knowingly violating guidelines, certain students are putting entire families at risk who are under the impression that they are working in a relatively safe environment. Simply losing permission to be on campus and having to enter into quarantine (something students have become quite accustomed to) seems like a slap on the wrist for an action that could result in someone’s death. 

I am critical of this policy not just because the consequences are too tolerant, but also because the school has issued much more severe consequences to students who have never once risked another’s life. Over the past four years, I have seen over a dozen students either suspended for a considerable amount of time, or expelled for drug possession on campus. In these cases, the only person the drug user was endangering was themselves (with the exception of the select few who were dealing drugs as well), and yet they suffered greater consequences than the students who actively endangered the lives of thousands of people connected to a member of the Masters community. If the school finds them guilty they do not get fourteen days to reflect on their mistakes. They are permanently dismissed from the school.

Moreover, there have also been students who were suspended and expelled for any kind of violence toward another student. The school has absolutely zero tolerance for any act of this nature (as they should) and this is because violence can result in the injury, both mental and physical, of another person. Students who actively violate guidelines are subjecting other members of the community to a similar if not more serious type of injury, and they should suffer the same consequences. 

If safety in the Masters community is truly the number one priority, then the consequences students face for breaking various codes of conduct need to be recalibrated to reflect the severity of their violations. The school administration must reform their disciplinary system by taking the time to come up with fair and consistent punishments rather than provide an ambiguous and imprecise overarching policy that allows them to operate on a subjective, case-by-case basis with no oversight.