For those who may have missed our School Updates webinar earlier this week, I wanted to share a recap of the information that we covered.
We hope everyone enjoyed some of our virtual closing ceremonies last week. We cannot wait to welcome the class of 2027 to the Middle School and the class of 2024 to the Upper School next year. All of our ceremonies are available online for viewing and downloading.
This week, we will host a car parade on what would have been the class of 2020 commencement date. We are hopeful that we will be able to hold a formal, in-person commencement ceremony for our seniors in July or August. We will continue to keep parents and students updated on our plans.
Current School Status
Thus far, our enrollment for 20-21 remains strong. Our annual fundraising, which helps us to fill gaps in our annual operating budget, is currently down. We have also lost important auxiliary income due to the cancelation of camps and other programs. We also anticipate some added expenses as we invest in things we will need throughout campus to ensure an even safer campus for our students. We are revisiting our operating budget now and exploring ways that we might be able to offset the losses we face and additional expenses.
Summer 2020 Programming
EA will not host any camps or other summer programs on campus this year. We are hopeful that we may be able to begin opening up some of our fields for student-athletes to use shortly after the state's transition to the yellow phase. We will have strict guidelines that must be followed so that we can ensure everyone's safety. We will share more details with parents and students soon. We are also still working on ways for our families to come to campus to retrieve belongings. As soon as we have more details, we will send out an update.
We were blown away by the response to our online summer courses. We are offering 49 unique courses through 215+ sections in grades PreK-5 and 113 unique courses through 125+ sections in grades 6-12. As of Monday morning, we had more than 3,000 seats filled for our courses with 70% of our 20-21 student body enrolled. We thank everyone for their patience as we worked through the logistics of enrollment. We had originally asked families to limit their enrichment enrollments to three courses so that we could allow as many students to participate as possible. We now welcome families to add any additional enrichment courses that their students are interested in for the summer.
If you have questions, please contact the following:
- For GOA courses: Dr. Adam Lavallee
- For MS and US courses: Mrs. Grace Wingfield
- For LS courses: LS Summer Team
Our teachers will also continue their learning this summer. Our Center for Teaching and Learning has been focusing its time on helping our teachers become experts in online learning. Our for-credit summer course teachers will each complete a month-long training, beginning later this month, that is focused on enhancing their online teaching approaches. Our enrichment course teachers will participate in specialized workshops to help them develop their curricular plans and identify ways to best engage students. Finally, we are offering a special certification program in July and August to help teachers further strengthen their expertise in online teaching, in the event we need to continue distance learning at any point in the future.
Throughout the summer months, we plan to host regular webinars, like this one, for parents to receive updates on our plans and progress for next year. For those who cannot attend, we will prepare and post a full recap, like this one, on our Information Page. We will also plan to send a link to the recap to everyone via email.
We continue our work to plan for the 2020-21 academic year. We have formed a special Operations Task Force, comprised of key administrators, and security and health services personnel. This team will be focused on evaluating all aspects of our school operations and developing plans to ensure a safe campus for our students.
We are awaiting guidance from local and state health and education officials, which we expect to receive sometime this week. Once we review these guidelines, our taskforce will work to identify ways to implement. We have already begun exploring different scenarios for the fall. The scenarios we are planning for include a full return to campus, a return to campus with modifications, a hybrid scenario with some in-person and some distance learning, and continued distance learning. We are already exploring some things that we may need to implement, like touchless faucets, cleaning plans for high-touch areas, more pre-packaged food options, and changes to self-service stations, etc. We are also thinking through what our approach would be to large gathering spaces like Chapel, dining halls, lounges, etc. We believe we will be able to better crystallize our plans once the guidelines are released this week.
One thing we are currently thinking about is a potential earlier start to the academic year. Currently, we are scheduled to begin on Sept. 8, which is a little later than we usually begin. Many higher education institutions and other schools are planning to start the year early to give some flexibility in the event we should see another spike in COVID-19 cases and need to close campus and shift back to distance learning. An earlier start could also be helpful in allowing students and faculty to become acclimated with any new protocols we may need to implement next year.
As we consider this option, we hope to solicit feedback from our families. Throughout the summer, we may send regular short, pulse surveys to gauge parent feedback. We plan to send our first survey out to everyone this week and ask everyone to take a minute to complete it. Through our survey, we are also hoping to gauge how many parents may still be uncomfortable sending their children back to school. We recognize that even if we are following guidelines that some parents may feel hesitant or may have family members who are immuno-compromised. As we continue our planning, it would be helpful to know how many families may not be comfortable.
I would love to say everything will be back to normal, but we know that things will most likely be different in some way this fall and throughout next school year. Every day, this is all we are thinking about and planning for.
Thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions throughout the summer.
Dr. T.J. Locke
Head of School