May 22, 2020
I never envisioned I would be writing a letter to the community from an empty campus in the month of May. This experience has tested each of us and presented many different challenges. It has also brought out the best in our community. I can’t thank teachers enough for their leadership and innovation, our students for their flexibility and creativity, and our families for their support. The spirit of each of our all school’s constituencies is inspiring. Through this adversity, you have all demonstrated great resiliency, and we will emerge from this experience stronger as individuals, stronger as a school, and stronger as a community. These are the silver linings, but a great deal of work remains.
From the outset, our decisions have been guided by three key principles:
- To make decisions with the overall interests of the health and safety of our students, families, faculty, and staff
- To maintain continuity of the program for the students
- To maintain continuity of school operations
These remain our guiding principles as we shift our attention to planning for the students’ safe return to campus in the fall. To that end, teams comprised of administrators, trustees, faculty, and staff are actively developing plans to address the key areas associated with re-opening procedures. Teams include: health and safety, program and student experience, and all aspects of school operations. While a safe re-opening in the fall is our primary objective, we are planning for other scenarios in the event of a continued, state mandated closures of schools. In summary, the possible scenarios include:
- Campus open to students: NYA would mitigate the potential threats of COVID-19 by developing the necessary protocols and acquiring the requisite personal protective equipment (PPE’s), health equipment, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and other resources necessary to maintain safety. Supply acquisition efforts and planning are already well underway. As we open the campus and deliver the program, health and safety and the accompanying training of community members will be our top priority.
- Hybrid Model: This model would include periods of on-campus activities for a portion of our students with periods of remote learning for other students. Instances where this model might be utilized include if fewer students were permitted on campus at one time or if the health and safety of certain students or families should require remote learning.
- Remote learning: If state mandates required campus closures for any period of time, we will be prepared. We are committed to continuing to provide an exceptional experience that maintains academic expectations and provides opportunities for the school community to connect.
While any on-campus learning is contingent on permission from government officials, I want to assure you that our top priority is returning safely to campus at the start of the school year. The fact of the matter is, we do not fully understand the future trajectory of the pandemic, and it would be irresponsible not to plan for various contingencies.
While this time presents many challenges for the school, I also recognize it presents challenges and uncertainty for many families. We are committed to preserving and supporting each member of our community. Consistency and familiarity have never been more important for our young people. If your family is in need of help or support due to conditions brought on by COVID-19, please do not hesitate to reach out to the school. If it relates to enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year, contact me or Ashley Randlett (Director of Admission). For concerns or questions about your child’s social and emotional health, reach out to NYA School Counselor, Cindy Hould. For any issues at it relates to the program, please feel free to reach out to me, Marissa Markonish (Head of Lower and Middle School) or Eric Austin (Head of Upper School).
Individual relationships with teachers, social connections, and shared experiences in academics, arts, and athletics are an integral part of the student experience. Direct supervision of children is an important practical need for many of our families. This is why we are so committed to on-campus learning in the fall. This does not detract from the exceptional job our teachers have done and will continue to do with remote learning if required. We recognize long periods of remote learning may prove difficult for some families. To provide protections in these cases, insurance options are available. If you would like more information, contact Garrett Bowne.
Two weeks remain in the current year, and we are focused on finishing strong for our students. Despite being away from campus, our students and faculty continue to amaze me, accomplish great things, and support one another.
Each student, family, and member of the faculty and staff is are vitally important to this school. We will continue to regularly communicate with you on our planning in the coming weeks. I look forward to seeing you back on campus. Thank you for your commitment to NYA.
Head of School