With an increasing number of students entering the building due to the hybrid learning model, a spontaneous movement of mass hugging has swept through the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). Students have been seen hugging in groups of two, three, four, and up to eighteen.
Senior Rachel Salop is a member of the Community Positivity club, a group which has promoted the hugging movement as a way to keep people happy during a difficult year.
“In times like these, hugging is more necessary than ever,” said Rachel. “Our club wants a world full of hugs.”
The sight of students hugging has become all too common in recent weeks, to the point where it is challenging to find a place that hasn’t been tarnished by the activity.
“The other day I saw people hugging behind the horticulture building,” said freshman Huck Moore, who has been impacted by the excessive hugging, and is working to raise awareness about its dangers and ability to spread COVID-19.
One junior student was even spotted hugging a tree, which may seem innocuous, but is still in violation of the administration’s zero tolerance policy on hugging.
The new campaign, “Hugging Hurts”, is the successor to the “Dare to Resist Hugs” program, which was spearheaded in responses to the second measles outbreak of 1989.
On Friday, the administration announced that hugs would be banned indefinitely to reduce the spread of COVID-19. “It’s for the good of the community. The less you hug, the more likely it is we can all be together again,” said MVRHS principal Sara Dingledy.
For punishment, a tiered system has been implemented. A first offence results in restorative work, and a second will land you a week of cohort D. If a third offence is committed, the student will permanently remain in cohort D.
With this zero tolerance policy in effect, hugging has had to go underground, literally. Custodial staff recently caught three students hugging in the catacombs beneath the school.
“I didn’t think anyone knew about these passageways,” custodian Leon Hawksley said. “But there they were, hugging away. It was quite beautiful. But also very wrong. I had to report them.”
Students have also taken to hugging in bathrooms, closets, lockers, and anywhere away from the prying eyes of their teachers.
“I strolled into the bathroom one day, just minding my own business,” Huck said. “And students were hugging everywhere.”
While the long-term effects of hugging on COVID-19 cases are still unknown, the “Hugging Hurts” program hopes to minimize any potential impact it may have. “We want a hall pass to be a hall pass, not a hug pass,” said Ms. Dingledy. “Hugging really does hurt.”
An April Fool’s Day story from MVRHS.