I hope that you are all well and staying healthy wherever you may be. As I write to you this week, our faculty and students continue to work diligently to successfully complete the academic year from locations all over the world. At the same time, we are in the midst of celebrating the tremendous work of our visual and performing arts students through our Arts Weekend activities. As I mentioned last week, we will continue to release more of their works and performances throughout the rest of the month, and I want to thank all of the students and faculty who have brightened up the spring with their talent and enthusiasm.
As the school year moves to a close during these uncertain times, many of our families have questions about what form the reopening of school will take in the fall. At this time, the School is committed to and planning toward reopening on campus in late August according to the dates on our school calendar. However, as the situation remains fluid, we will also continue our preparations for other alternatives the circumstances of the pandemic may necessitate.
First and foremost, we are subject to the decisions of state and local officials regarding the opening of schools in the fall. Beyond those parameters, the critical factors that will govern how we open our campus are as follows:
- The safety of all of our students and community members. In creating a campus that protects everyone, we will pay particular attention to the CDC’s reopening guidance for cleaning and disinfecting schools. Storm King will need to revise some of its procedures in light of these guidelines regarding social distancing, serving meals, and other areas, and we are actively planning for those new procedures at this time.
- The quality of our educational program. While applying all necessary safety measures, we will also focus on ensuring that the quality of our program remains high under whatever circumstances we will be operating in.
- Quality of life on campus. An integral part of the Storm King experience is the School’s beautiful setting and the quality of life enjoyed by all who live and work here. We will do all we can to ensure that experience is maintained through increased attention to cleanliness, providing opportunities for students and faculty to engage and remain connected, get outside, and other measures that will result in the highest quality of life possible.
- Economic concerns of our families and the School.
In the event the pandemic may delay some or all of our students from arriving on time to start school on campus, these are possibilities we are considering:
- Upgrading aspects of virtual teaching and learning based on faculty, parent, and student feedback in preparation for a hybrid model.
- Calendar adjustments and other measures to ensure necessary instructional time, online learning to start the year, adding Saturday classes, reducing breaks, and extending school into the summer.
- Economic concerns: We understand that some of our families have experienced a reduction of income due to the Coronavirus pandemic and we are also aware that extended delays may require an adjustment to our tuition, especially for boarding students. The School Administration is working with the Board to review and make adjustments as we are able to do so.
In one of my recent communications, I thanked Mr. Zhengming Guan, the father of ninth-grader Peichen (Jimmy) Guan, for his donation of 4,000 masks to the School. His generous gift brings to mind that as we plan to open our campus safely in the fall, we need to secure ample and reliable supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks and gloves, appropriate cleaning materials, hand-held thermometers, and Covid-19 test kits, if and when they become available. At this time, if any of you know of possible sources for these items, I ask that you pass that information along to us.
I realize there are still many unanswered questions. Some of you may have seen recent statements issued by colleges, universities, and other schools on how they plan to open in the fall. Please keep in mind that the characteristics of these institutions vary greatly, and while we can certainly learn from one another, each entity must ultimately make decisions based on its own situation and needs.
With this in mind, please be assured that all of us at Storm King are working in good faith to prepare for whatever the future may present to us. As always, we welcome the questions and suggestions you might have and we will continue to do all we can to move the School forward in true Storm King spirit through these challenging times.