Western Reserve Academy's Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck announced to the school community this evening that students will not return to campus for in-person classes for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Instead, WRA students will be finishing out the school year fully engaged in distance learning, which will begin March 31, as planned.
"It is with some sadness, but strong conviction, that I make this announcement," she shared. "But there are many important factors driving this decision."
The factors she outlined include the following:
- Though the WRA community remains in good health and there are no cases of the virus on campus, the CDC and Ohio Department of Health caution that COVID-19 will peak in approximately 45 days. This 45-day projection is when the peak of COVID-19 is expected, not the end of it. Buck said, "In short, we will be facing this crisis into the summer of 2020."
- WRA's decision is consistent with those made across the country at colleges and universities, most all of whom have switched to distance learning for the year. Buck noted, "Health and safety are paramount, and in places where community is integral to operation, we quite simply are safer with separation."
"Finally, we are deeply committed to our distance learning protocol," she emphasized. "Online learning was never a band-aid for us. It is a promise to deliver innovative, educational excellence. Taking heed of the health and safety guidelines offered at the highest level of government, and because pioneering is in our DNA, we are excited to go 'all in' on online learning. Our faculty cares deeply for our students, and they are working with the same passion they bring to the regular classroom to deliver a distance learning experience that is best in class."
With these assurances made with utmost confidence, she dove into further updates for the student body, particularly for the Class of 2020.
"I am so proud of our seniors," she said. "They have handled a disruption in their lives and plans with great maturity. We can't wait to celebrate the Class of 2020! To this end, I announce today that Commencement will be held on campus on Saturday, August 8, 2020."
She shared that plans regarding the packing, shipping and/or storing of boarding students' belongings will be sent out soon, as well as information regarding the access to the school's Counseling Services team. She emphasized that the counselors will continue to be available without interruption to students, regardless of geography, and that a Pioneer's mental wellness is as important as their physical health and well-being.
More news and details regarding academic matters (from the online program to grades and more) will be shared by Associate Head of School Dr. Nicholas Kent and members of the Academic Office.
"For now, I encourage you to continue living in the spirit of spring break!" said Buck. "Rest, rejuvenate, breathe. Take time for yourself and with your families."
To close, Buck put practical matters aside to speak directly with the student community and offer her perspective on this uncertain and extraordinary time in this community.
"I know this crisis is touching all of us in many ways," she shared. "I came into my first year at WRA thrilled for the beginning of it, but frankly even more excited for the ending: for the pride that comes from seeing you grow, evolve, succeed, fail, find joy, learn and live together, and form a community. Though we may be closing a chapter that was familiar, I feel more optimistic than ever that we will accomplish all we set out to at the beginning of the year... in new and unifying ways. May we move forward together with the spirit of the Pioneer."