Seniors quarantine in Israel


Photo used with permission by Jack Weitzner

Seniors in the same pod gather outside at the AMHSI campus. The seniors are currently on their seventh of quarantining.

Lincoln Aftergood, Reporter

The Class of 2021 is beginning their Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone trip by quarantining at Alexander Muss High School for 10 days after their arrival on April 6. 

The class is quarantining in pods, with two pods for the 28 female students and one for the 19 males. Each pod is further subdivided into rooms of four to six people. Though students are separated by pods, they are able to see each other outside.

Senior Tess Mendelson thinks that the quarantine period might be emotionally taxing for some students, but she is glad to finally be in Israel.

“Quarantine is definitely hard for a lot of people because we are separated from anyone that is not in our pod,” Mendelson said. “But we’re all happy to be here because there was a possibility of the trip not happening so we’re willing to do whatever we need to for it to actually happen.”

Each pod stays together throughout the day and eats meals in a common space. The schedule varies from day to day, but it usually consists of outside time, learning sessions and free time.

Mendelson enjoys the free time the most because it allows the students a chance to catch up and talk face-to-face.

“We haven’t been able to see each other without masks in so long or even [hug] each other,” Mendelson said. “I’ve seen people who aren’t huggers start hugging each other. It’s just nice seeing people be so close and together.”

Interim High School Principal and Dean of Students Roslyn Landy is glad that the students finally reached Israel and are getting a chance to connect during their quarantine period.

“The seniors are so happy to be away from home where they have been in quarantine for a year,” Landy said. “Let’s remember that they are seniors in high school who were ready to fly the nest and they have been confined to their homes for a year. While they love their families, they were ready to go and were very excited.”

To remain safe, students are only able to see people from other pods outside, students were tested upon entering Israel, and everyone will be tested again at the end of the quarantine. Because of these precautionary measures, Howard Weitzner, parent of senior Jack Weitzner and eighth-grader Max Weitzner, feels that the students are totally safe.

“It was very reassuring that the [COVID-19] numbers in Israel had come down so much. And I felt confident in the quarantine details that they shared with me because I felt that they really had a strong base and had their act together,” Weitzner said. “Frankly, I feel that they’re safer from COVID in Israel than they are here in the U.S.”

Weitzner also feels that the quarantine period could serve as a bonding experience for the students after being apart their whole senior year. 

“They haven’t really been together as a senior class except for a few times and even then it was with social distancing,” Weitzner said. “Now that they’re in this bubble, after quarantining they’ll be able to interact much more as a group in a way that they haven’t all year. So my son gets a little bit of a senior year back in that regard.”