Each spring, Oak Hall seniors have the opportunity to take a class trip as one final hurrah before graduation. In recent years, seniors visited New York City to attend Broadway shows, see the Brooklyn Bridge, and explore museums. As Lucas Walters reports, with COVID-19 still among the biggest threats to travel, there is still much uncertainty of the class of 2021’s senior trip.
By Lucas Walters
As the beginning of the second, and final semester in the Upper School approaches for Oak Hall seniors, many are anxious to find out how the tradition of the senior trip will be carried forward this year. Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and parents alike have concerns about safety and availability of different travel options this year. According to Jeff Malloy, Director of Operations at Oak Hall, much of the trip may be subject to change as the situation regarding COVID-19 progresses.
“You know there’s a lot that’s up in the air because at the end of the day, while I am planning for a senior trip that I am going to share with the students through a Zoom meeting on Jan. 11, If we’re not in a better place with COVID in May it just may not be a possibility.”
Despite the situation that the Oak Hall administration is forced to operate in, Malloy says they are actively working with their medical advisors and beginning to put measures in place to judge the situation.
“I’ve actually – It’s funny – just got off the phone with our medical advisor about some precautions we potentially could take. What would the tipping points be? What would be the places where the school absolutely would have to say no or – short of those we just put the information out to parents and let parents make decisions.”
Along with working with the pandemic committee, Malloy underscored the importance of the senior trip being conducted in a safe way.
“If the school or myself as the leader of this trip, can’t reasonably say [to parents] that we can provide a safe experience for your child then I don’t know that the school can go forth with it. We don’t want to be a super spreader event a week before graduation, right?”
Despite these concerns with safety, Malloy says that they are continuing to explore and pursue new ideas.
“Maybe instead of one bus with 50 people on it there’s two busses with 25 on it. Another thing I’ve looked at is the lodging. So instead of putting four students in a hotel room with two queen beds, it’s really everybody has their own bed so there’s just two students in the hotel room. And then I’m also looking at more and more outdoor-type activities for the trip that would be available to the kids.”
Finally, Malloy expressed the significance of the senior trip, and his intention to make it happen if at all possible.
“The culmination of the high school career is a big deal, and if we can celebrate that and celebrate it safely or at least [with] relative safeness in this day and age then we gotta make it happen. And that’s my goal.”
With the school working to make sure that the students have a safe senior trip, and more details soon to come, the situation looks promising. Despite it being too early to be sure of what will happen, it is clear that Malloy and the rest of the Oak Hall administration are exploring new opportunities and experimenting with new procedures that could be put in place.