On Monday evening, March 9, Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck stood before students, faculty and staff members in the Chapel to announce the school's plan in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). That afternoon, Governor Mike DeWine had announced a State of Emergency based on new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the region, and the school was ready to act.
She reiterated that the WRA community remains in good health and that there are no cases of the virus on campus.
"We believe it is in the best interest of our students and families to act decisively and put a sound strategy in place that immediately prioritizes safety, convenience, precaution and learning," she shared in a letter to parents, students, faculty and staff, before diving into the details.
Western Reserve Academy's plan is outlined below.
- Classes will continue this week, as planned, but families who have concerns about travel disruptions or other matters can arrange for their children to leave campus prior to spring break without penalty.
- Spring break begins March 14 and ends March 31. WRA will close the dorms and campus during this time, except for a limited number of students who live in high-risk geographies and who are prohibited to travel. These students will follow a supervised and planned program and stay on campus, while other students will proceed with the break as organized by their families.
- After spring break, WRA will operate with a distance learning model for two weeks. Day students and domestic boarders should stay home during this time, while students with extenuating circumstances will be permitted to remain on campus.
- At this time, WRA is planning to resume on-campus classes on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Please note that the COVID-19 virus remains a health crisis marked by daily changes and ramifications, and WRA will act nimbly and accordingly.
- Students will be trained on utilization of our e-platforms for coursework. Headed by Chief Innovation Officer Matt Gerber and our faculty, WRA has sophisticated technology tools in place to offer a robust curriculum during this distance learning timeframe. WRA's faculty members are energized to move their instruction online, take risks, be creative, ask questions and engage in transformational learning and collaboration.
- During this time, no practices or athletics contests will occur. Arts, alumni and other events will be cancelled. WRA plans to continue to communicate regularly with the community with specific updates.
- Finally, WRA will compile a list of every student's travel plans during the time periods referenced above (Spring Break and Distance Learning timeframe). Prior to returning to campus, the Health Services Office will conduct precautionary screenings of all students via a comprehensive online questionnaire. Any necessary follow up or precautionary actions will be implemented.
"With this plan, we recognize that we are making sacrifices," said Buck. "But, we know we are doing so with the safety of our community absolutely top of mind and in order to mitigate risk and the consequences of inaction. During a time of disruption and uncertainty, our goal is to take as much preemptive action as possible to ease minds, provide clarity and allow for life without consternation. We all eagerly await our return to the normalcy of togetherness that, as a boarding school, we sometimes do not fully appreciate until it is disrupted. Until then, I am confident that the bonds within our community will allow us to navigate these times."