Overcrowding: A Student’s Account

Drawn+by+Alyson+Zhang+22

Drawn by Alyson Zhang ’22

Swarmed with wide-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen, jittery teachers, and frisky couples, overcrowded hallways have become the second ‘epidemic’ of COVID-19. Harboring two and a half thousand students, Edison High School retains its original bell schedule, making social distancing practically impossible during passing time as students pack closely together to make their way to the next class. Students regard moving from one classroom to another with a general sense of scorn and alarm. 

Muhammed Taha Shaik ‘24, the sophomore class president, expresses his annoyance with passing time.

“I’m basically breathing down the neck in front of me,” Shaik said. Accordingly, this joint passing time not only completely disregards the school’s “six-feet” social distancing guidelines as both students and teachers struggle to reach classrooms in a timely manner; but, the attendees’ mental health is at stake too. As notifications of new positive cases in the school climb, fear of infection looms over students. Even those protected by masks and vaccinations feel threatened by close contact with other students in the halls.

“I always feel partially unsafe,” Shaik remarks as he reveals that “some kids don’t even wear masks and they’re like right on top of each other.”

But students don’t only perceive the dangers of spreading the virus as they struggle with even the most minor aspects of EHS’ return to normalcy, such as attending classes with little stress.

Students like Sky Byun ‘24 dart out of classes to avoid the hallway traffic that was only heightened by the pandemic.

“It’s like dodging one elbow or push after another. It’s like every man for themselves after each class and with all the new freshmen, it’s impossible to get anywhere without practically running. Not to mention the fact that you’re trying not to touch anyone because you might be vaccinated, but who knows about the person you brush up against in the halls?” Byun said.  

“…It’s like every man for themselves after each class and with all the new freshmen, it’s impossible to get anywhere without practically running…””

— Sky Byun '24

However, the issue regarding overcrowding also extends to EHS’s main source of pride: school events. Tickets for the 2021 homecoming dance sold out at an alarming rate due to the influx of freshmen, with COVID guidelines indirectly preventing many seniors from attending their last homecoming.

But even with masks, Homecoming led to some levels of discomfort for attendees. Even with the school’s set limitations for student tickets, the crowd turnout was larger than expected, increasing student concerns. Other than Homecoming, the student council also struggled with planning school fundraisers and events catered to upperclassmen due to the conflict between the much larger student body, guest quotas, and limited building space. Shaik expressed his disappointment with being unable to plan such events mainly due to the flood of new students but recognizes that even the current school guidelines leave room for exposure.

“I was excited to plan events catered to sophomores, but we couldn’t because of the overcrowding issue and even with masks, it’s hard. We couldn’t plan fundraisers either because there were so many students,” Shaik said.  

In light of this supply and demand issue concerning the overflow of new students, the Board of Education is being called on for school reform. The pandemic reminded citizens of Edison’s previous expansion plans from the early 2000s and 2018 as EHS quickly transcends its carrying capacity by the day.

Garnering concern from both students and parents, the EHS community becomes increasingly aware that overcrowded hallways and classrooms reflect the country’s uncertain response to a lingering virus.