Retreats, assemblies, club events restructured to fit online school environment

Budgets for school events were also slashed this academic year


Midway file photo

Students flood into gymnasium at back to school event in 2019.

Olivia Griffin and Meena Lee

Making connections and forming relationships will be more challenging during the 2020-21 school year, as the coronavirus pandemic will affect clubs, assemblies and retreats, forcing them to be restructured to fit the online school environment and to operate within reduced budgets. 

According to Dean of Students Ana Campos, budgets for student activities and retreats have been reduced. Additionally, any in-person events must adhere to the University of Chicago’s guidelines for travel and large gatherings.

“There are so many logistics that go into bringing people to campus,” Ms. Campos said. “One of the university guidelines limits the number of students on campus to 75 at any one time across all three schools.” 

To maintain social distancing requirements, events like club shopping will operate virtually, according to Ms. Campos. Club leaders have made short videos advertising their club, and these videos are available for students to view during the club shopping period. A Google form will be available for students to sign up for clubs they are interested in.

Ms. Campos emphasized that part of the experience of school is students making connections and forming valuable relationships outside of the classroom. 

“I think clubs are critically important, so I really hope that we’ll have a lot of students who will join clubs this year and that [clubs] will find ways to still help their members to feel connected to each other,” Ms. Campos said. 

Ms. Campos said club leaders will also have the ability to plan and host virtual events, and she hopes that clubs will start to get creative in the ways they adjust to online meetings. 

Assemblies will occur Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Assembly is listed as a class in PowerSchool, a change that allows teachers and the administration to post information to the assembly Schoology page and to take attendance. 

“There are so many subjects we talk about in those assemblies that really touch on the social and emotional lives of kids,” Ms. Campos said, emphasizing the importance of attendance. “So, if we are going to say that we need to do that work in our school, then we need to value it.” 

Grade retreats, another important part of the school experience, have also been affected. 

Ninth grade retreat took place in part online during the first two days of school, Sept. 8 and 9, and it continues in person at school Sept. 16. Half the grade will come to campus in the morning and the other half in afternoon, all while adhering to the university safety guidelines. 

Ms. Campos said other grade retreats are still in question. According to Ms. Campos, sending students out to communities to do service for sophomore retreat is not a safe option. The junior retreat canceled last spring for the Class of 2021 is unlikely to be rescheduled. The Michigan-based facilitators are restricted from traveling due to concerns about coronavirus.

“At the moment, I’m holding on to hope that we can still somehow offer retreat replacements for the 10th, 11th and 12th grade this year like we are trying to do for the ninth grade,” Ms. Campos said. “They will likely not look the same, which is heartbreaking to say.”