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Flowers in front of Beaver Brook

COVID-19 Information

Staying Current on COVID-19

Message from the Head of School: January 2021

So much is happening in the world just now with all of us left trying to grapple with the volatility of the times as best we can. Fortunately for Walker’s, it is a time in which we all pulled together, aligned our resources and have emerged, not unscathed from the past year, but stronger and more resolved in our mission. This is a remarkable community, one that has sought to live its mission and its values to the utmost, amidst crises even more.

The Walker’s community is like no other, and it was not without your unyielding support and commitment to our collective health that we were successful in concluding the fall semester without any cases on campus. Together, we will face what we hope is the last leg of this journey with the aim to conclude this fraught time stronger than we thought we could be. Know that we are reaffirming our commitment to our students and will endeavor to do all that we can to support them in both their physical and mental health. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about some new and renewed initiatives that we will undertake as we settle into a period where we can look out a bit further than we’ve been able to in past few months.

While the bare trees and temperatures here in Simsbury signal winter, our upcoming spring semester is a reminder that the blossoms will come after the long cold days are behind us. As our meditation says, “Give us the strength to take us through our daily challenges.” I remain hopeful that these challenges will subside soon and we will throw off the constraints that have bound us for far too long. Until then, you have my best wishes for a safe and healthy 2021.

Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Head of School
+1-860-408-4210

Watch Video: A Look at Opening Days 2020

Walker’s was successful in concluding the fall semester without any COVID cases on campus. Please enjoy this video message from Head of School Dr. Meera Viswanathan about opening days 2020 and the energy and promise that infused our campus in Simsbury.

 

Opening Days video still

The Learning Environment and Outdoor Classrooms

In-person classes resume on campus on Monday, February 15 for those taking classes here in Simsbury. For students needing to make arrangements to undertake virtual learning for health-related or other reasons, please be in touch with Dean of Studies John Monagan at +1-860-408-4221 or by email at jmonagan@ethelwalker.org to discuss your unique situation.

Walker’s plans are set in accordance with the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations from both the State of Connecticut, Yale’s School of Public Health and the CDC. The Director of Facilities and Dean of Studies conducted numerous campus walk-throughs, measuring spaces and identifying potential uses of each indoor campus space. In all academic instruction classrooms, six feet of physical spacing has been achieved. All individuals in school buildings will wear face coverings except when they are alone in a closed room or office. All campus buildings have been assessed to determine the maximum capacity when allowing for a minimum of six feet of physical distancing. Where possible, furniture was removed and redistributed to spaces found suitable to be repurposed for academic instruction. In addition, ten large tent/cabana classrooms with desk/chairs at six foot intervals with connectivity, digital whiteboards, etc. will be re-installed in the spring to further decongest academic buildings for use on days when the weather permits. During inclement weather, there are assigned classrooms indoors for each class that permit the requisite six feet of distancing between students and faculty members.

Opening Days 2020

Dining

Dining COVID

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.

Dorm Living

Dorm life COVID

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.

 

Sports and Co-Curriculars

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently announced that all sports, including club sports, are suspended until at least January 19. While this decision will not affect activities here at school as we will be in our distance learning period, we are monitoring this issue closely and will communicate with all of you should there be additional details to share.

At this time, our plan for winter co-curriculars is as follows:

  • Beginning Monday, February 15 through Tuesday, March 23 – Winter Co-Curriculars
    • Middle School students will meet during G block for co-curriculars as part of their regular schedule.
    • Middle School students who are on varsity teams should follow the Upper School schedule for after-school co-curricular activities.
    • Upper School students will meet for winter co-curriculars from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • On Wednesdays beginning February 17, winter co-curriculars are required for Upper School boarding students and optional for Upper School day students.
  • Students who participate in the Winter Play should follow the same schedule as outlined above for sports.
  • Riders will receive communication from the barn about their required activities.

Posted 2/10/21:

The Founders Leagues Heads have decided unanimously to cancel the Founders League (FL) 2021 spring season given the continued current COVID-19 outbreak.

While there will be no official Founders League interscholastic competition in the spring, this does not preclude Walker’s and other Founders schools from pursuing interscholastic competition that are consistent with each school’s COVID-19 protocols. If scheduling occurs, it will not be considered as having anything to do with the league.

While we are staying as current as possible on statistics in our own school’s county, state, and the health across the country, we will continue to monitor our own community and make decisions collaboratively as new information becomes available about being able to move forward with competition.

Student jumping horse

Contact Information and Other Resources

General Concerns

Dr. Meera Viswanathan
Head of School
mviswanathan@ethelwalker.org
+1-860-408-4210

Dorms/Boarding

Kathleen McNary Pillsbury
Dean of Students and
Director of Residential Life
kpillsbury@ethelwalker.org
+1-860-408-4239

Health Center

Joyce McIntyre
Director of Health Services
jmcintyre@ethelwalker.org
+1-860-408-4289

Academic Administration

John Monagan
Dean of Studies
jmonagan@ethelwalker.org
+1-860-408-4221

Technology/Distance Learning

Sarah Edson
Interim Dean of Faculty and
Dean of Academic Technology and Innovation
sedson@ethelwalker.org
+1-860-408-4233

Athletics

Kati Eggert
Athletic Director
keggert@ethelwalker.org
+1-860-408-4290