Op-Ed: Why Cancelling School Was Right


Robert Liu

Cooke Hall on Punahou Campus


Arriving at the Hilton in a limousine with my closest friends, clad in tuxes, ready to take the dance floor at prom. Spiking a volleyball through the air as I frolic around the beach during senior skip day. Crying with laughter as I throw my graduation cap in the air along with the rest of my senior classmates. Due to the shutdown of Punahou School and the postponement or cancellation of a number of school events by the administration, I will no longer be able to experience these legendary senior year traditions. Yet despite my obvious disappointment, I must acknowledge that, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the administration made the correct, responsible decision, to suspend in-person classes as well as school activities such as prom and graduation. 

Some seniors felt that the cancellation of school or events such as prom and graduation were unneeded. In fact, many of my fellow classmates felt that Punahou should be opened up for school again sometime in May. Daniel Huang ‘20 stated that “given our current geographical advantage and aggressive testing and social distancing policies, we are on track to be one of the first states to transition back to normal.” Thus, he asks, “Why shouldn’t we reopen our school?” Huang believes that with certain modifications, re-opening Punahou would be entirely safe.

While it is true that Hawaii has had far fewer cases as well as deaths compared to other states, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a risk of a new wave of cases breaking out. Hawaii has definitely managed to flatten the curve; the rate of new cases has decreased notably. But the state government still faces a significant problem in determining how to slowly allow for more activity, open businesses, and increase the number of public and private gatherings. This process cannot be rushed. It must be administered diligently or else a new wave of cases could easily break out. 

Although re-opening Punahou may seem like it would help to salvage what is left of our senior year, it has the potential to cause more harm than good. Re-opening Punahou would be extremely dangerous given the large student and faculty population at Punahou. Such a significant number of people gathering in one place could lead to severe consequences. Not only would Punahou threaten the health of its students and faculty, but the school would also face tremendous controversy being the first school in the state to re-open. Punahou School, in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal, is in no position to field even more controversy. There are far too many risks imposed by re-opening.

While our senior year may not have been the storybook ending we all hoped for, we will prevail. Prom, senior skip day, and graduation, while fun, are events that we will eventually forget were supposed to take place. Knowing that we, as a class, carried the selflessness to sacrifice an important part of our high school experience so that our communities stays safe is a feeling that we will hold with us forever. We are more than just Punahou class of 2020, the class that “knows the way.” We are Punahou class of 2020, the class that “knows what’s right.”