Walpole High School Administration Should Allow Open Campus

Walpole Administration should encourage the use of an open campus in times when we are encouraged to socially distance ourselves

After more than a year of remote learning, Walpole High School finally returned to full in-person learning on Tuesday, April 6. With the return to in-person learning, many students had to be reminded of changes that were made in August to help limit the spread of the virus. From one-way hallways, to QR codes and instructions on how to properly wear masks, it seemed that administration at WHS was locked in on taking every mitigation measure to encourage social distancing. However, administration at Walpole High has fallen short on a great opportunity: Allowing underclassmen to leave during study halls, and allowing students to eat lunch in their cars.

On April 12, administration sent an email out to students and faculty regarding some reminders about the various protocols that the school has adopted since August. Among these reminders is a reminder about study halls, that states “ONLY seniors are permitted to sign out during B and C blocks.” Given the circumstances this year, students should have every opportunity to leave the building during their study halls, and this is a privilege that should not be reserved for only seniors. Students at Walpole High are forced to sit through classes that can range anywhere from 87-95 minutes long, as well as sit through a 23 minute lunch period. Instead of forcing students to sit in a lunch room or auditorium with large numbers of people, students should be allowed to go outside, go for a walk in the Walpole Town Forest, or even play basketball near the tennis courts.

While it may seem reasonable that the Walpole administration may want to keep students in the building for safety reasons, allowing students to leave during study halls could also increase productivity in the classroom. According to the American Council on Exercise, productivity in the workplace or at school can be increased by exercising. By exercising, one can increase blood flow to the brain which triggers a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which is known to increase one’s alertness.

Walpole High Administration should also allow students to eat lunch in their cars. It is understandable that students are not allowed to leave campus to go out for lunch as students are only given 23 minutes, but there is no reason why students should not be allowed to eat in their cars. In the email sent out to students, administration says “Students are NOT permitted to eat in their cars, or leave campus for the 23 minute lunch. Students are permitted to sit outside, weather permitting, on the grass, 6 feet apart to eat lunch.” By allowing students to eat in their cars, this only opens more options up to students looking for socially distanced locations to eat, helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If Walpole High School truly cared about limiting the spread of COVID-19, they would encourage underclassmen to leave the building during their study halls and go for a walk around campus, as well as allow students to dine in their own cars. Although Walpole High administration may be concerned with student’s safety outside of the building, Walpole High students would be safer out of the building during their study halls and lunch blocks as the risk for COVID-19 would be lowered considerably.