In-person learning resumed this week in the form of hybrid classes, allowing some boarders and day students into the classroom while remote students continue to learn via Zoom. Despite the sense of normalcy restored by the return of some in-person classes, many teachers have opted to continue teaching remotely. The decision to stay remote no doubt comes from a place of caution, but it leaves a large portion of on-campus students without the in-person learning that many of them returned for. While this reality might be frustrating for these students, it raises questions about what the “Andover experience” should really be about.
Remote learning is hard. Greetings are reduced to nods and thumbs-up, boundaries of work and play are blurred, and the allure of your bed is never too far off. The prospect of one day returning to the classroom, with its (distanced) intimacy and reminder of a former world, has kept many of us going. This week, that glorious moment when we would come to know our classes by room number, not Zoom link, was upon us. Yet, for many, nothing changed. For boarders who returned to learn in person, this is not just aggravating but also costly.
This frustration over in-person classes, however valid, reduces Andover to a mere academic body when it is so much more than that. What exactly constitutes the “Andover experience” is up for debate, but any reasonable consideration of this point extends to athletics, social life, community engagement, and community itself. If Andover was simply about learning in the classroom, we’d all still be home until in-person classes could be fully revived.
There’s something to be said about the resilience of the Andover community in such a struggling time, something that shines even through said frustrations. Though the pandemic has impacted nearly every part of Andover, we have readily and fervently adapted. So, rather than lamenting the lack of in-person classes, might we acknowledge the ways that we as a community have faced this extraordinary time head-on? For those of us on or with access to campus, might we appreciate dinners with friends, impromptu food trucks, and the paths we tread that much more?
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXLIII