Marin Catholic suspends in-person instruction due to student parties, sleepovers


(Henry Hoetler)

By Amelia Sandgren

A large house party hosted by Marin Catholic High School students on Oct. 17, along with several sleepovers led to a two-week suspension of the school’s hybrid learning plan, which resumed Nov. 2. The school took immediate action after being alerted by parents that up to 100 students were congregating over the weekend. 

“We have received word from several sources about at least one hosted large party and countless concerns about student sleepovers,” Marin Catholic Principal Chris Valdez wrote in an email to students and families on Oct. 19. “Hosting a large party, in particular, is a grave breach of trust and the spirit of community that has allowed us to reopen in-person.”

In response to concerns from parents regarding whether COVID-19 was spread during the party and sleepovers, testing was offered by the school to all students on Oct. 21. 

All campus activities were suspended, including Marin Catholic sports which had recently begun practicing in cohorts.

“[This] is a great reminder to all of our students of the importance of following the guidelines set forth by Marin County,” Assistant Principal for Athletics Trevor M. Smyth said. 

Marin Catholic students who have been following safe social distancing practices outside of school were upset over the disruption to in-person instruction. “It was very annoying to go back to online learning because I’m a better in-person learner and it’s easier to stay focused in class,” sophomore Brady McDowell said. 

Marin Catholic’s inability to ensure students follow county health guidelines has raised questions about how Tamalpais High School will be able to keep students safe for a return to in-person instruction on Jan. 6.

“As a public school, we have different abilities to control student behaviors outside of campus than private schools do,” one of Tam’s assistant principals Kaki McLachlan wrote in an email. “In the end, it is up to each individual and their choices and behaviors to ensure all of our safety, and we will do our part to make sure these are followed on campus.”

McLachlan reaffirmed that several guidelines are in place regarding how Tam will react to different situations when the school returns to on-site instruction. 

“The county has provided clear guidelines on if and when to quarantine individuals, cohorts, and classrooms, and when and why an entire individual campus would be shut down for remote learning,” McLachlan wrote. 

 Assistant Principal Connor Snow hopes the events at Marin Catholic will remind Tam students of the importance of following public health guidelines.

“While we will go above and beyond at Tam to ensure student and staff safety, we also must depend on the community to follow health guidelines in order for a transition to an in person learning model to be successful,” Snow said.