Silver Linings? Covid-19 averts PDA crisis?


Kate and Ryan actively engaging in PDA (photo taken in 2019).

Michael Valentine

Prior to the international COVID-19 pandemic that began in March of 2020, The Potomac School was facing its own internal outbreak: the class of 2021’s PDA. Whether in the halls, the Crossroads, in front of Mr. Westermann’s window, or in the stairwell, these public displays of affection were rampant and infectious. With coronavirus bringing in-person school to a screeching halt last spring, PDA rates within Potomac’s rising senior class exponentially declined —just in the nick of time. 

“Admin was perturbed. You walked into the crossroads, saw sophomore girls crowding the hallway, seniors lining the fireplace, and the junior class of 2021 cuddled up in chairs. It was almost a tradition. These public displays of affection (what I liked to call canoodling) were as much a staple at Potomac as cookies during COVID-19 testing,” Dean of Student Life Jake Westermann told us. 

With Covid-19 protocols dictating the academic day and one-directional hallway arrows keeping everyone pointed in the same direction, opportunities for PDA have been slim for the class of 2021. Yet, this hasn’t stopped a few resourceful couples from trying.

“I always make sure to give Kate eskimo kisses when we pass in the hallways,” said senior and previous PDA offender Ryan Selig. 

Although there are a few outliers, the majority of PDA miscreants have stopped the activity. Potomac community members express mixed emotions about this loss. 

“It put me on the map,” student body president Will Fearey said. “And is probably the only reason I got elected, so to say I miss the PDA would be an understatement.” 

“Although our class has lost literally everything this year, the loss of PDA almost made it worth it,” said single-and-ready-to-mingle senior and Pulse Editor in Chief Shaurya Naayar. 

“It’s been kind of nice not to have couples in front of my office staring fondly into each other’s eyes while I”m trying to write ‘Next week in the Upper School’. Now, I can actually see the crossroads through my window, ” Mr. Westermann added (though he admittedly misses the constant company). 

With seniors on campus every day in April, it remains to be seen whether or not the PDA plague will return to the class of 2021. 

Just in case, Mr. McLane called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just before spring break to take preventative measures. 

“The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another,” says CDC director Rochelle Walensky. “As long as couples engage in air hugs and words of affirmation, the risk for Covid-19 should not be heightened.” 

Mr. Westermann urges students to stay true to the Potomac Pledge and, in true Panther spirit, refrain from unmasked, close-contact PDA. 

“If you see something, say something and don’t look away,” Mr. Westermann declared.