The Log Investigates: Changes to Check In Times

Helen Shen '23, Contributor

This school year, weekend check-in times have seen drastic changes. The lack of interdorm visits, the shortage of available spaces, or the sheer number of students on campus are just some of the reasoning behind these changes. Whether or not these changes should last post-COVID is also being discussed.

For most boarding students, late check-in on Fridays and Saturdays has changed from 11:00 pm to 10:00 pm; meanwhile, seniors now check-in at 10:30 pm instead of their usual time at 11:30 pm till 12:00 am. Additionally, last year, boarding students had midday check-in only on Sundays, but this year, midday check-in happens on both Saturdays and Sundays.

“The reason for [these changes] is due to staffing during COVID because faculty members are stretched, and a lot of faculty are not on campus,” Mr. Bob DeConinck, Richmond dorm head, said.

“Almost every inside space [we open] has to have supervision, and we also have limited capacity. It takes a lot of manpower on the weekends to have everything open. The idea of being able to host and supervise students in all of these spaces for extended periods of time was really hard to implement,” Ms. Jessica Matzkin, Dean of Student Life and the Class of 2021, said.

Mr. DeConinck explained further, “Student activities have been cut down because of the pandemic. The Deans do not want, you know, students just wandering around with nowhere to go.”

Overall, Winter Term 2 has seen fewer student activities on campus, and students agree that there isn’t much to do outside their dorms past 10:00 pm.

“I feel like all the activities on campus have been shortened to end at 10:00 pm. But there are still a lot of activities you can do on campus or ways you can keep busy, even with that hour [for check-in] cut short. Also, you can still do stuff in the dorm, just because you’re in the dorm at 10:00 pm doesn’t mean lights out,” Evelyn Tang ’22 said.

“Seniors’ check-in used to be at 12:00 am, [but now] we have [to check-in at] 10:30 pm. But also, at the same time, I feel like there’s nothing much going on campus, so I’m okay with it,” Sophie Zhuang ’21 said.

Another reason behind the earlier check-in times is to encourage better bonding within students’ pods. For instance, many activities such as board games, cooking, and baking, filming TikTok videos, and even chatting in the hallway has been quite popular among various pods.

Dean Matzkin explained that “it made sense for [Loomis Chaffee] to bring students back to the dorms to be able to have some time together, and what we found in fall term is that, with the earlier times, students will actually hang out together in the dorm. There were often dorm snacks and games that took place, and I think it really allowed for students to feel connected.”

“After late check-in, sometimes our floor will have an informal meeting [where] we just talk to each other for a bit,” Evelyn said.

Meanwhile, the additional midday check-in serves as a touchpoint for faculty members to make sure students are okay, which is important now that more students are on campus. In the past, this wasn’t necessary since many students would sign out during weekends to hang out with their friends or family overnight.

Dean Matzkin further explained, “There aren’t as many school activities on the weekend, and so in some ways, it’s easier for students to get in trouble. There is a lot of down time, whereas usually on Saturdays, students are participating in athletics, competing, or rehearsing.”

However, students may choose to sign in to buildings on campus via Reach for their midday check-in. For instance, many boarders go to athletic practices around noon, while others choose to participate in events hosted by Student Activities in locations such as Hubbard Auditorium.

“We hope that students are being truthful and honest with us. [Dishonesty] is a school violation…so if we find out later that a student says they’re at one place and they’re actually somewhere else, they can end up getting in trouble for that,” Dean Matzkin said.

“We have to trust our students, that if they say they are exercising or playing basketball or something, then that’s where they are. We have to trust our students until, you know, we don’t. I trust the girls in Richmond until I have a reason not to trust them,” Mr. DeConinck said.

Finally, regarding whether check-in times will go back to normal in the post-COVID era, Dean Matzkin explains that “Most of the administrators, teachers, faculty, dorm heads, adults on campus, everybody feels like there should be a middle ground there, that the check-in times [in the future] doesn’t have to be 10:00 pm, but it definitely doesn’t have to be midnight either.”

While future check-in times are yet to be decided, there is a consensus that there is more to discuss regarding the balance between student rights, the wellbeing of boarding students, and the opinions of faculty members.