The Masters Community Reacts to this Year’s Loosened Restrictions

Juniors serve themselves dinner in the dining hall

Lily Zuckerman, Ad Manager & Assistant Social Media Manager

Due to COVID-19, The Masters School removed many of the community’s most beloved elements – the things that made Masters Masters. The dining hall, which had options ranging from a soup bar to a whole dessert table, was reduced to packaged lunches, with much less room for choice. Additionally, the Harkness tables – which are a huge selling point for the school – were replaced with individual desks. Sports were also streamlined to hour-long practices with very few games. 

Now that Masters is requiring vaccines for all those who are eligible, most of these “selling points” are back. For example, the dining hall has restored all of its past food stations, Harkness tables have returned to the classrooms, sports games are back, and vaccinated community members don’t have to wear masks outside. The real question is, how are these community members dealing with this return?

Without strict restrictions, students feel secure. Sophomore Oliver Kreeger enjoys the round lunch tables. He said, “I feel much more comfortable with vaccinations. It feels more natural [lunch tables]. I try to follow all the regulations that they give to us.  I do love to take my mask off when I’m eating and talking with people. It’s an improvement, I can actually hear my friends” 

On the other hand, Upper School English teacher Darren Wood has suffered from his children being unvaccinated, and living on campus with them. 

His family had to adjust to eating outside. He said “I don’t, I don’t know what will change when the weather gets colder and like I don’t think we’ll be eating indoors” Wood enjoys the dining hall culture. He said, “I think it’s been really nice for our family to have the dining hall, again, we really love coming down and eating with the community, it feels very safe.”

Similarly, Arlene Casey,  Upper School math teacher spoke on her dining hall experiences this year.

She said, “There are times where it feels unsettling, maybe not because it’s actually unsafe, but just because it’s been so long since I’ve been in a crowd.” Similarly, Casey experiences the overcrowded dining hall everyday. She said, “Walking into the dining hall at the peak of lunchtime can be a little discomforting.”

Junior Chris Nappo, who was online for the majority of last year returned to harkness, along with seeing the whole school. He said, “You have so much more engagement with your teachers when you’re in person. You have so much more engagement with your classmates, because you’re all around the table, you can actually have discussions, and everyone is just a lot more focused and present in the classroom.”

For some seniors, it’s their first time experiencing a “normal” year at Masters. Senior Camille Smith, joined in tenth grade. Her first year was cut short, last year was hybrid, and now it’s her senior year. She explained how strange it is to never experience a full year at a school until senior year. 

Smith said, “I don’t really know what a “normal” Masters year even looks like. I know that they’ve put in a lot of effort to try and make it as normal as possible, it feels like I might be missing a piece of my senior year… I still feel like a junior.” 

Even though many restrictions are loosened compared to last year, students are still struggling with even the slightest constraints.