Surely, we all sympathize with the very difficult position in which our schools are finding themselves during the Coronavirus outbreak, as they try to make decisions about the upcoming academic year. This is true for colleges and universities, for public and private schools, for facilities, which must meet the needs of all age groups as well as their faculties and staffs. Final decisions in many cases must be delayed until further information is available, but plans must also be laid now for several different eventualities. The situation is always a challenge and often a dilemma for those in charge.
At Suffield Academy extensive planning has already been done. As of mid-July, the school will offer both on-campus and remote learning programs, as well as a mixture of the two. The administration is paying intense attention to guidance provided by health professionals and both state and national agencies. First, the Academy has stocked a quantity of PPE equipment and supplies: masks, sprayers, sanitizers, wipes, and the like. Classrooms and the dining room have been modified to ensure social distancing. There will be trained staff at the health center 24/7, with the availability of isolation spaces should they become necessary.
Classes will continue uninterrupted until Thanksgiving break, followed by two weeks of distance learning to reduce the amount of travel necessary between Thanksgiving and the traditional December vacation. Students will be tested as they arrive on campus; to be sure no one is inadvertently carrying the virus. As of this writing, discussions were still underway concerning activities such as drama, sports, and the visual arts.
In the words of Suffield Academy’s Head of School, Charlie Cahn, “Everything we are doing is being driven by our overarching goals of providing a safe experience for everyone at school and in the Suffield community, while continuing to ensure academic excellence in a supportive environment.” Suffield Academy is one of thousands of educational institutions trying to walk a tightrope in regard to the 2020/2021 school year, at a time when things are shifting on a daily basis. Their various missions are of the utmost importance not only to the future of their students, but also to the future of our country at large, and it has never been so difficult to follow a mission as it is at this time. Those “in the school business” deserve our highest accolades and our strongest support as they work to do what is best for everyone in their care.