Many of the Covid policies from the previous school year have been modified with the start of this school year—social distancing is now optional, and joint chapels and lunch periods have been reinstated.

In addition, ILH sports have shifted back to pre-pandemic norms. While each school reserves the right to enact their own rules, there are now no official league restrictions regarding Covid-19.

As students and teachers returned to school this August, most reported still feeling concerned about Covid but less anxious or fearful of it. Library assistant Jana Hardy said that the pandemic is still an important issue that affects many lives, but noted that she no longer worries about it as much as she used to. Similarly, senior Elisha Lum noted that overall stress and fear caused by the virus seem to have simmered down. While he wants to avoid getting sick, he doesn’t feel the need to wear a mask in all settings anymore. For some, like freshman Derek Cheung, virus mutations remain a cause for concern. Cheung continues to wear his mask around people as a safety precaution. 

English teacher David McElrath is supportive of HBA’s change in policy, which now allows students to make their own decisions regarding social distancing and wearing masks. “By allowing students to make these choices themselves, HBA is trusting the members of its community to make the right decisions for themselves and others. The world sometimes involves necessary risks, risks that we take all the time. Ultimately, what we gain from being able to learn and be in close proximity with each other is deeply valuable for social development and creating good memories,” he said.

Lum feels that the changes are appropriate, since many students are vaccinated or have already recovered from Covid. Senior Maxwell Lee added that remaining restrictions can be loosened even more; he feels that requiring students to wear contact tracing disks and blocking off water fountains are no longer necessary.

It’s been two and a half years since the first Covid shutdown, and with no definitive end in sight for the pandemic, students hold a range of expecations about the future. Senior Ian Kubo believes that Covid is going to be an ever-present but less serious concern, like the flu, and that people will become increasingly weary and frustrated with any continuing restrictions. Freshman Sophie Chong shares a similar outlook and added that she was hopeful for the future but believes discretion is wise. Similarly, senior Kelly Tada is cautiously optimistic and believes that life will approach normalcy within a year, but she also wouldn’t be surprised if events take a turn for the worse. She noted that complacency and new variants could extend the timeline of the pandemic.

Other students hold more pessimistic views. While he thinks there’ll be minor steps toward normalcy, junior Drake Shiraishi believes that there won’t be significant progress towards the end of the pandemic within the coming year. He stated that he hasn’t seen many important positive developments for a while, and the pattern of stagnancy will continue. Cheung shares Shiraishi’s sentiments; he feels that people are being irresponsible and that noticeable change will take a while to emerge.

While there’s still a sense of uncertainty about how Covid-19 will affect the school year, the school calendar projects what administrators hope will be a “normal” school year.

In the meantime, the school calendar projects the most “normal” year students have had since the start of the pandemic. Within the next few weeks, seniors and seventh graders will enjoy overnight grade camps at Camp Homelani on the North Shore, and athletic teams like girls volleyball and cross country will embark on off-island trips.