Head of School Robin Appleby announced May 4 that, following a unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees May 1, the campus will not reopen for the remainder of the school year.
Appleby and the Board of Trustees cited a few reasons for this decision: protecting the health and safety of the community, the possibility that the UK government may not open schools in the near future and stress surrounding the possibility of contracting COVID-19 for many members of the community.
Appleby also said that plans of possible school closure for the remainder of the school year had been developing for “several weeks,” and that, “by the beginning of April, it was pretty clear that this was a potentially long, significant change.”
The announcement begs the question of how the graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 will proceed. The Senior Leadership Team is considering a variety of options. Social distancing protocols administered by the government will be the primary determinant for what is possible.
“What we’re really focused on right now is how to try to get the seniors back together,” Appleby said.
Despite the school’s closure, Appleby said that administration has not ruled out potentially conducting an in-person graduation in some form.
“Depending on whether or not social distancing is lifted enough, we are not ruling out the idea that we could bring together seniors on campus to have some kind of graduation ceremony,” she said.
However, Appleby said that it would be “very different from what normal graduations would look like.”
Despite campus not being able to reopen for classes for the remainder of the year, Appleby said that there is a possibility, should conditions allow, for controlled visits from students so that they can pick up and/or drop off any necessary materials as well as enjoy some sense of closure to the 2019-20 school year.
Appleby also said that the administration is also considering a variety of options for the 2020-21 school year, should COVID-19 further prevent classes from resuming as usual in the fall.
“Perhaps we’d stagger the start and finish schedule [of the school day] so not too many people would be arriving and leaving at the same time,” she said.
Appleby said that, currently, the administration is planning to begin the 2020-21 school year as normal. However, under a scenario in which campus would have to be closed in the fall, Appleby said the administration was “revising” the Distance Learning Plan for potential implementation. The preparations they have made allow for any sudden switch to be as instantaneous as possible.
“If school was closed on a Tuesday,” she said, “we’d go back on a Wednesday [using the DLP] with no gap in between.”