How do parents feel about Latin’s coronavirus response?


Since March of last year, when the pandemic forced schools nationwide to adopt remote learning, much of the attention has been directed toward the Latin administration’s efforts to return to in-person learning and how students and faculty have responded. Parents, on the other hand, have been largely left out of the conversation. Now that the Upper School students are back in the building 50% of the day, one might wonder how parents feel about the steps that the administration has taken to return to in-person learning.
Adriana Villegas, a 10th grade parent, said she feels that Latin made the right choice in sending students back at 50% capacity. “There are many individuals who view Latin as their happy place, and being on campus, even if it’s for 50%, can improve the quality of their mental health and happiness,” she said. Latin teachers were required to be on campus unless they were granted private accommodations from Human Resources. However, there may have been some miscommunication around this topic, as many parents, like Ms. Villegas, believed that the school provided teachers with the choice of whether to return to Latin. “I was concerned about having students be surrounded by anxious adults who didn’t feel safe being in person. Knowing that teachers, like students, had a choice [to go in] puts me at ease.”
Not all parents share Ms Villegas’s support of Latin’s Return to Learn plans, however. Julie Walsh, a 12th grade parent, said she believes that Latin made the wrong decision in re-opening its doors for Upper School students. “I’m still worried about my daughter participating in in-person learning,” Ms. Walsh said. One particular concern for her was the arrival and departure system the school set up. “Leaving the school wasn’t well planned because everyone goes down the stairs at the same time, and there is no social distancing. Although I understand the practical reasons for demanding a student commit to going the entire term in person.”
Still, parents like Odile David, the mother of an 11th grade student, feel that a return to in-person learning was necessary to ensure the continued high quality of students’ education. “Young people need to keep preparing for whatever future they envision, because the future is bright and full of possibilities, and the educational and extracurricular experiences that Latin and other schools strive to provide are key,” she said. Ms. David feels that interaction with peers is crucial and added, “I am also reassured by the level of commitment to safety demonstrated by Latin leadership.”
Although Latin parents have a diverse array of opinions on the school’s Return to Learn plan, some feel that they haven’t had enough opportunities to share their thoughts. Ms. Villegas doesn’t feel as if she has had any say in the school’s decision-making. “I do, however, feel well informed with the resources shared with us via various platforms.”
Ms. Walsh also feels that she hasn’t had any opportunities to give feedback. Other parents, though, said they feel that they have had sufficient opportunities to give feedback. Ms. David participated in surveys and other communications handed out by the school but didn’t feel the need to go beyond that. “I did not have the time or inclination to insert myself into any decision-making process at Latin, and overall the response teams seem to be appropriately prioritizing the safety of the Latin community—staff, students and teachers alike.”
Latin has faced tough decisions this year about the best way to approach learning during a pandemic, but parents are hopeful that the school is doing the best it can to facilitate a safe return. Ms. Villegas noted, “I am hopeful Latin can model a safe and smooth return for other institutions to follow.”

Correction: A previous version of this article implied that teaching in person was a voluntary matter. The text has been edited to reflect that, per the Latin administration, teaching in person is mandatory unless granted a health or personal accommodation.