Beginning in September, we will have a feature in Friday’s Walker’s Weekly called “Staying Current on COVID-19.” In this weekly update, we will share information from the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) about trends and other data related to Connecticut’s independent school community, other resources we think you may find valuable, as well as any updates regarding cases that may surface in our own community.
This update is meant to keep all of you up-to-date with what we know and to share information in a timely fashion so you can be informed about what is happening on campus.
Please feel free to reach out to me or Elisa Del Valle Cardona as our COVID Coordinator with any questions or concerns. Elisa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +1-860-408-4287. I can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at +1-860-408-4210.
Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Head of School
As we conclude our fifth week of classes since the start of this unprecedented school year, please enjoy this video message from Head of School Dr. Meera Viswanathan about opening days and the energy and promise that has infused our campus in Simsbury.
Classes began on campus and virtually on Wednesday, September 9. 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 have been expanded to include outdoor learning tents. We 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 physical 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 are furnished with student desks, connectivity, and are proximate to buildings with bathrooms, etc. and allow for students to remove their face coverings while outside. Passing time between classes has also been 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 have been changes to how our meals are served and distributed. We work closely 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 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. As always we will continue to accommodate those who have dietary restrictions.
Students living in the dorms are required to wear face coverings when they are moving about the dorm halls and common spaces. Students are not allowed to be in another student’s dorm room; day students are not allowed in any dorms. In dorm rooms where there are spaces large enough to accommodate more than one student, we offer doubles. In these cases, students’ beds are bunked as per the guidance of health authorities. All boarding students are required to remove their personal belongings from the bathrooms on each visit, so a carrying caddy is required. Plexiglass shields have been erected between sinks where needed.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and after many discussions prioritizing community health, safety and well-being, the Founders League has unanimously, and with great regret, decided to cancel all Founders League interscholastic competition for the 2020 Fall season.
The team practice sessions will remain in Walker’s regular schedule, following the academic day. Coaches will work with players to continue to enhance skills and closely follow the guidance of sport-specific recommendations by the CDC, OSHA, and NEASC, among other organizations.
We will use our new streaming company to share with families and college coaches some of our practices and even intrasquad scrimmages, where safety measures allow. This will provide us the opportunity to showcase talent to college coaches and help collect footage for recruitment videos.
All traditional fall co-curriculars will continue to be offered to fulfill the co-curricular requirement: cross country, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, outdoor adventure, cross training, dance, and riding. As the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) board has also released coaches to work with out-of-season athletes, Walker’s will additionally provide opportunities for winter and spring teams to practice, where scheduling and space allows. In an effort to uphold the integrity of the fall season, Walker’s will prioritize the fall team sports.
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.
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