Head of School Charley Stillwent sent the following letter to EHS families with details about the School's plan for reopening in 2020-21.
July 16, 2020
Dear Episcopal Families,
We are excited to welcome our new and returning students for the 2020-21 year and to share with you our plans for reopening the School. I know these are difficult and uncertain times for many of you, and we are grateful for your patience and flexibility.
These plans will evolve as our summer work continues and as we respond to changes in the pandemic, but it is important that you understand the framework of our approach so that your family can make preparations.
From the start of our planning, we focused on these primary goals:
- To mitigate the risk of the virus and protect the most vulnerable in our community; and
- To continue Episcopal’s traditions of academic excellence and community.
You will find the reopening plan at www.episcopalhighschool.org/reopening
. These pages will be a central source of information and updates for the remainder of the summer.
Underlying the plan is the commitment of our staff and faculty to the Episcopal student experience. Drawing on their creativity — and soon the creativity of the students themselves — we are reimagining how we teach and how we come together as a community. Our goal is to create a safe and healthy campus yet also an environment that is engaging and fun. Among other things, we are taking great care to retain signature elements of Episcopal’s school life like Harkness table discussions, Chapel, Dorm Games, Community Gathering, and advisory. There also are a few surprises planned that the entire community will enjoy.
As we discussed with you in our early July virtual meeting, school will look and feel different, with:
- A modified academic calendar, including three weeks of distance learning following the Thanksgiving break;
- Classes and student life programming offered in person and online so that students unable to return to campus can attend remotely; and
- Campus routines and physical spaces reimagined with the health and safety of the community in mind.
We understand that health concerns, travel restrictions, and other circumstances may prevent some students from joining us here on campus either for part of the fall or for the entire year. To support these families, we have built our program as a hybrid to serve both students in person and those attending remotely. Students who choose to start the year in distance learning will have opportunities to return to campus in mid-October or January. Please see the Enrollment
section of the reopening plan for details about these return-to-campus options. As you make your decisions for the year ahead, it is important to remember that without a vaccine, no campus, business, or community is free from the risk of infection.
Finally, even as opening of School approaches, please know that the unpredictable nature of the pandemic means we may be forced to adjust our plans in ways big and small. We will continue to monitor the health situation locally and nationally through August. We will also be prepared to shift to distance learning if Virginia closes school campuses, as it did in March, or if the virus surges regionally or in areas where our students live. Should these types of changes be necessary, we will do all that we can to support our students as effectively as possible.
To offer more detail about the reopening plan, we are hosting two virtual meetings on Monday, July 20
. In the first meeting, beginning at 7:00 p.m. EST
, we will provide an overview of our plan, discuss the various entry points for students, and take questions.
Also, the deans are sending a separate invitation to students inviting them to an 8:00 p.m. EST
meeting that will focus largely on student and community life for the 2020-21 year. Parents may also join this session if they would like. Please contact us
if you need information to log in.
We also plan to provide a great deal more information in August about the arrival of students on campus September 2 and 3. In the meantime, I invite you to review important information
that our Health Center asks you to consider and act upon in the coming days. As we move forward to the September reopening, we will need a commitment from everyone in the community — students, parents, faculty, and staff — to help us stay healthy and stay together.
Again, thank you for your time and patience, and I look forward to talking with you on Monday.
Charles M. Stillwell
Head of School