COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Religious Schools and Programs


Senior Lindsey Ball and fellow church members sing together in person before the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Ball.

Jake Lieberman, Staff Writer

As San Mateo County re-enters the purple tier for COVID-19 restrictions, places of worship are required to be outdoor-only. For many Menlo students, this new measure increases the departure from their normal religious life.

 “My religious experience has changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic,” senior Lindsey Ball, who is a Mormon, said. She and her family are no longer able to attend their weekly church services or seminary. As Ball describes it, seminary is a scripture study class. “Each morning I meet with about 15 other youth that go to my church, and there is a teacher with us every morning that takes us through lessons.”

 However, these church meetings have now been moved to Zoom. “As you can imagine, the experience isn’t the same,” Ball said. 

While the changes to her church services are not ideal, Ball believes they are necessary to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “While the experience has been tough, I know it’s for the best to limit people going to places of worship during the pandemic. It would be irresponsible for people of such large numbers to gather in a church.”

“I don’t really think there should be any exceptions made for religious matters as far as [COVID-19] distancing protocols and gathering protocols,” Ball said.

Not only have Mormons been affected with attending religious programs and schools in person, but Jewish people are also impacted. Many bar mitzvah services have been moved online, and many Jewish families have celebrated holidays over Zoom as well.

“Because of the pandemic, we have done less religiously. Two of my sisters have had to move their b’nai mitzvahs,” sophomore Nate Goldberg said. It was hard for the Goldberg family to decide whether or not to have b’nai mitzvahs online during the pandemic or if they should wait to have a congregation in-person. However, according to Goldberg, his family is unsure about when an in-person congregation may actually be possible.

“I think that it is a controversial topic to limit places of worship, but depending on where the numbers are, it is not a must.  I think [places of worship should have necessary restrictions] so that the spread of COVID can be halted,” Goldberg said.