As referenced in my letter of Friday, July 10, I am writing with specific details regarding the fall opening of campus. Using the most up-to-date information available, the administrative team, in partnership with Walker’s COVID Taskforce, has established these protocols and guidelines. As you know, this is an ever-evolving situation that will require us to be nimble and to adjust accordingly to new research or guidance by government officials.
Our interconnected lives have never mattered more than they do now. It is our goal to maintain as safe a campus as possible by partnering with you to ensure that the students’ best interests are at the forefront of our planning and decision making. So much of our success in maintaining a healthy environment will rely on the trust that all members of the community are taking necessary precautions and minimizing exposures that could lead to new cases of the virus. I trust that you will join me in being deliberate about managing interactions with others, frequent hand washing, wearing of face coverings, and practicing social distancing.
Below we’ve outlined information to assist you in preparation for arrival. I will continue to communicate throughout the summer as additional information becomes available and I encourage you to share your questions and concerns.
Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Head of School
August 6, 2020: New Upper School Families (Grades 9, 10, 11, 12 and PG)
August 5, 2020: International Families (Upper and Middle School)
August 5, 2020: Middle School Families (Day and boarding, Grades 6-8)
August 4, 2020: Returning Upper School Families (Grades 10, 11 and 12)
Beginning on September 3 through September 8, we will welcome students to campus by group (see right for the sequencing). By acclimating the oldest students first to our new community standards, they can be leaders in teaching other students how best to live in the community and keep each other safe.
To alleviate congestion during this period, all new and returning students must be accompanied to registration by one parent or guardian for registration.
To provide for flexibility in flight arrangements, please note that international students may arrive September 4 through September 8 between the hours of 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (ET)
Parent/Guardian Information Sessions will be offered each registration day from September 3 through September 8 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. For those unable to be on campus during these times, recordings of the sessions will be made available.
Please note that all 9th graders are considered “new students”
September 3: Proctors
September 4: 11th and 12th Grade Returning Day Students
September 5: Returning Upper School Boarding Students
September 6: 10th Grade Returning Day Students
September 7: New Upper School Boarding Students, Grades 9-12 and PG
September 7: New Upper School Day Students, Grades 9-12
September 8: Middle School Boarding Students, Grades 6-8
September 8: Middle School Day students, Grades 6-8
Specifics regarding registration and orientation times will be shared separately. Please also continue to read the Friday Walker’s Weeklies where we will share additional details over the upcoming weeks.
We are preparing to deliver instruction on campus this fall with classes beginning with a half day on Wednesday, September 9. We also recognize that some students may need to participate in classes online for different periods of time and for a variety of reasons. Our goal is for all of our classes to be designed intentionally with this reality in mind. When students who have been learning online are able to join us in person on campus, the transition should be seamless. For students needing to make arrangements for a virtual learning period due to a delayed return to campus or for health-related or other reasons, please be in touch with Dean of Studies John Monagan +1-860-408-4221 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your unique situation.
Teaching spaces will be expanded to include outdoor learning tents. We will have the ability to gather outside for half of our courses during most of the fall except of course during inclement weather when classrooms with social distancing will be used for all courses. Much of the most recent research on COVID-19 indicates that being outdoors is beneficial in stopping the spread of the virus in addition to offering face covering breaks. All of our outdoor learning spaces will be furnished with student desks, connectivity and will be proximate to buildings with bathrooms, etc. and may allow for students to remove their face coverings while outside. Passing time between classes will also be lengthened.
A hallmark of Walker’s is the closeness of our community, and one of the ways we live community is eating meals together. Our main goal this year is to provide for students to dine with one another while maintaining social distancing and, hence there will be changes to how our meals are served and distributed. Currently, we are in conversation with our dining partner, FLIK School Dining, on the delivery of dining services and planning for spaces in addition to Abra’s dining hall including a dining tent and other spaces such as dorm common spaces, classrooms, grab and go meals, individually delivered meals, and other take-away options. We will still have on-campus faculty on hand in the dining spaces to assist students if needed and to create a more family-friendly dining experience. Additional details on dining will be shared shortly. As always we will continue to accommodate those who have dietary restrictions.
Students living in the dorms will be required to wear face coverings when they are moving about the dorm halls and common spaces. Students will not be allowed to be in another student’s dorm room; day students will not be allowed in any dorms. In dorm rooms where there are spaces large enough to accommodate more than one student, we will only offer doubles. In these cases, students’ beds will be bunked as per the guidance of health authorities. All boarding students will be required to remove their personal belongings from the bathrooms on each visit, so a carrying caddy is required. Plexiglass shields are being erected between sinks where needed.
Walker’s is a member of both the Founders League and the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). The Founder’s League will likely be announcing that they will not conduct interscholastic games this fall. Of course, should circumstances allow, schools may arrange for inter-school games of their own choosing. At this point, it is not anticipated that Walker’s will be making these arrangements until we can guarantee that all schools are enforcing the same stringent guidelines that we will here.
At the same time,we are fully prepared to engage in an active athletic season with a full coaching staff across all sports. Coaches will work closely with players to continue to enhance skills and to offer guidance on sustaining good habits that will prepare students to get back to play in top shape. We anticipate the creation of showcases which will allow students the chance to meet with college coaches. I, along with our Athletic Director Kati Eggert, will continue to communicate with you throughout the remainder of the summer regarding any new developments.
Co-curriculars, such as dance and riding, will have full programs. At this time, our equestrians will continue to participate in lessons and off-campus shows. Given the nature of this activity and the minimal amount of contact that a rider has with students from other schools, it is an activity that we will continue to participate in until such time if it is deemed unsafe to continue. A full-range of co-curriculars will also be offered, such as personal fitness and yoga among others, as long as a plan can be developed to maintain safe social distancing. All students will be offered a choice of programming to fulfill the co-curricular requirement.
Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Head of School
Kathleen McNary Pillsbury
Dean of Students and
Director of Residential Life
Director of Health Services
Dean of Studies
Interim Dean of Faculty and
Dean of Academic Technology and Innovation