New clubs adapt to adjusted COVID-19 protocols

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ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ/SAGAMORE STAFF

This year, clubs have been able to succeed with reduced COVID-19 precautions while maintaining online aspects.

Masks. Contact tracing. Social distancing. Constantly changing schedules. Zoom calls filled with silence. Camera settings. “Raising” hands. Adapted activities. Writing in the chat. Staring at the screen. Alienation.

The 2020-2021 school year caused adjustments. Due to COVID-19 protocols in place last year, many clubs resorted to meeting exclusively over Zoom. However, with fewer safety restrictions this year, clubs are gradually returning to more normal settings.

Junior Chloe Geller, president of the Give-a-Gift club, said remote meetings were a hindrance to participation and community building.

“It was obviously very awkward because, on Zoom, it’s not like you’re able to jump in. There were usually people talking over each other and bad internet connections getting in the way,” Geller said.

Junior Phoebe Shay, the founder of the new Music Appreciation Club, said she hopes to meet in person so people will be more interested in joining and participating.

Senior Amelia Cox, leader of the Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club, said the remote setting took away key aspects of the club.

With the new COVID-19 restrictions, some clubs are hoping to continue some of their remote activities into their in-person meetings. Last year, the WiSTEM club hosted the Reverse Science Fair, a day-long event over Zoom where students listened to professionals from many different fields of STEM. Cox hopes to continue the event despite its virtual nature.

“It was an opportunity given to us by being more used to Zoom because we were able to have all these speakers who probably wouldn’t have been able to make it to school in real life,” Cox said. “Now, we’ll probably be able to utilize Zoom again in a way that we wouldn’t have if the pandemic hadn’t happened.”

Cox hopes to use this remote aspect to have a wider variety of guest speakers with the Reverse Science Fair.

“We not only were able to host speakers from all over but could make learning about STEM more easily accessible without the hassle of trying to organize hundreds of students at the school,” Cox said.

With the return to more typical in-person education, club leaders are excited to reintegrate activities into their meetings. Geller said she is excited to have more in-person volunteering and fundraising opportunities.

“More in-person activities could mean volunteering because now there’s less COVID-19, so it’s easier to be involved with different organizations. I also have some good ideas about selling T-shirts because we do different designs every year,” Geller said.

Shay said she is excited about much of the in-person socializing that is central to clubs.

“The whole reason I wanted to start this club is that I love talking about music, listening to music, so I’m excited to be able to do that with other people and meet new people,” Shay said. “The whole point is this social aspect of coming together because of one common interest or goal.”