Students struggle to find private spaces at school for virtual meetings


Sarah Abdelsalam

SEARCHING SPACES. Senior Lizzie Baker joins a Zoom call in a conference room in the Pritzker Traubert Family Library, one of the few spaces in school where students can find privacy for virtual meetings.

Clare O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief

Throughout the pandemic, students began to use Zoom to conduct meetings and tutoring sessions, often using the two library conference rooms. But now, the library conference rooms are often unavailable, leaving many students struggling to find quiet, isolated spaces at school to take their virtual meetings.  

“When the school was designed, there was no idea that Zoom was going to be entering our lives, so there wasn’t any thought put into creating places for a single person to take Zoom calls,” high school librarian Susan Augustine, said. “Now, after remote school, we’re seeing students that need to make calls for college interviews, for tutoring, or for classes they’re taking at university, who need someplace to go.”

According to Ms. Augustine, the lack of adequate space is difficult for students to anticipate. Many students only realize the issue right before their meetings, leaving little time to secure a conference room. A second hurdle is that individual students aren’t allowed to book the conference rooms during open time on Tuesdays or assembly period on Thursdays.

Senior Nate Greely experienced this issue when trying to attend a virtual college interview. Interview slots are limited, and often all the times available after school hours are filled. Nate had to cancel the first interview he attempted to schedule during school hours because the library conference rooms were reserved during his interview time.

“That interview, I ended up scheduling and rescheduling like two or three times until I just wasn’t able to do it because there weren’t any spots left,” Nate said.

Without adequate space to attend interviews at school, Nate has had difficulty scheduling interviews at other colleges, even being forced to pick a time slot that falls during his long commute home after school.

Ms. Augustine understands students’ stress from the inconvenience and hopes the school can find a solution.

“It just adds another layer of anxiety, and stress, and inability to focus when you’re trying to talk to someone online. It makes it hard to be your best self,” Ms. Augustine said. “Especially with the high stakes of touring and college interviews, I think we’re really doing our students a disservice.”

Students have communicated this issue, but the school has yet to devise any solutions. Possible private spaces are complicated by the school’s duty to ensure students are supervised and by the school building’s design. 

“We’re built for in-person,” Teddy Stripling, a high school counselor, said. “That’s what the school is structured around, so right now, there aren’t really any answers.”