June 5, 2020


Dear Ranney Community,
 
Every May and June, I marvel at the sense of joy and accomplishment that pervades our campus and all of our hearts as our children successfully conquer another significant milestone in their educational journey.  In particular, rites of passage like the fifth grade Crossing the Lawn, eighth grade Moving Up Ceremony, and of course, our seniors’ Commencement, give every one of us a sense of immeasurable pride as we celebrate the conclusion of a significant chapter in our children’s lives.  I feel keenly, as I am sure you might, a sense of loss that our school year is ending without the ability to celebrate our students in person, on campus, with hugs and fanfare. We have certainly done our best to replicate some of these celebrations virtually, and I am heartened to look forward to the possibility of celebrating Graduation and these other major ceremonies, if possible, in person later in the summer. The celebrations will be that much sweeter because we have had to patiently wait to be together again. Yesterday’s car parades allowed many of our students to connect with and thank their teachers, who have been working so hard to support our students academically and socially-emotionally in these difficult circumstances.
 
I look ahead with the same sense of hope and anticipation to welcoming students back to campus in September. Obviously, one lesson the pandemic has reinforced for all of us is that we do not know exactly what the future will bring. We are subject to the Governor’s orders as they relate to school reopening.  Rest assured, though, that as soon as we are safely allowed to reopen campus to our students, we will do so.  We fervently hope and anticipate that we will be returning in the fall, with some modifications in our protocols.  In a world of uncertainty, we are actively planning for a variety of possible scenarios. We have convened a Reopening Task Force composed of leadership from the Board of Trustees, representatives from the Medical Advisory Board, and Administration. We are developing plans and contingencies to reimagine every aspect of life on campus to maintain the highest standards of safety as well as to ensure an optimal educational and student life experience for our students.
  
The options we are beginning to explore include some permutation of the following:
 
  • Complete Re-Opening and a New “Normal”.  The health and safety of our community is always of utmost importance; therefore, we are developing a plan and protocols for September that will ensure campus is thoroughly disinfected on a daily basis and that students and faculty are able to maintain social distancing throughout the day with analysis of class sizes and reconfiguration of campus spaces.  We are very fortunate to have 650 students on a campus of over sixty acres, with ample outdoor space and many state-of-the art classrooms.  There will be additional health and safety protocols in place when we return.  Ranney enjoys another advantage relative to many schools in the area, in that we already have generally low faculty to student ratios and systems in place to ensure that students are known and valued.  Opening up additional larger spaces, renovating current spaces, adjusting some elements of the daily schedule, especially in the upper school, will allow us to reduce density—an anticipated goal in our safety measures.  We are blessed with other resources, including having two counselors and a large support staff (such as our robust college counseling team , learning support staff, and a fully staffed Health Center) to serve all three divisions. Even within this model, we are preparing to make our classes available by remote (broadcasting our live classes), so that students or families who for whatever reason cannot attend for some period, at the beginning of the year or at another time, will have the chance to continue their studies.

  • Hybrid Model. As guidance over the summer develops, we might need to explore some combination of a partially open campus and distance learning.  Again, as a base case, we envision the opportunity for students to learn virtually even if campus opens completely.  By planning to ensure that lessons can be delivered both in person and online simultaneously, students could stay up to date with classes in the event that they are required to quarantine for some period of time. We also plan to be flexible if there are periods of time when students would prefer distance learning. We continue to assess options to determine what other hybrid models might be possible.

  • Continued Distance Learning Until Campus Opening is Possible.  Should we be forced to resume school in September with continued distance learning, we are committed to making the experience even better. We are empowering faculty with summer grants and significant professional development opportunities to develop unique solutions to improve pedagogy, curriculum, and students’ experience while learning remotely. We are also exploring enhancements to technology.
 
We will be busy over the summer developing these plans with the expectation that we will be welcoming students back on campus in September. I have the deepest faith in our strength and resilience as a community, and I am heartened to have witnessed these qualities throughout the past three months in our exceptional students, dedicated faculty, supportive parents and guardians, and committed Board and Administrative leadership and staff.  I am truly proud to be a Panther.
 
I wish your family a relaxing and healthy summer.  Thank you for your continued partnership.

Sincerely,
Dr. John Griffith