Dear Kents Hill School Community,
Like most of you, I have been keeping a watchful eye on the day-by-day developments of the worldwide spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Most recently, the United States government has declared a national emergency and halted all air travel from 26 European countries. Over the last 24-hours, cases of COVID-19 in Maine rose from zero to three. These shifts, both nationally and locally, have an impact on our campus community and we have had to make more difficult decisions in order to keep our community safe.
Our primary focus has and will continue to be the safety, health, and wellness of our community. Therefore, we have decided to extend March Break by one week and students will need to remain home or with a guardian to engage in online learning from Monday, April 6, until Friday, April 10.
As an institution, we believe that taking an online course should be more than sitting in front of a computer and that real engagement involves being a part of a strong community … the true hallmark of a Kents Hill experience. We are developing ways for our community to come together, including regular advisory group check-ins and continuing our weekly Morning Meeting where we all “tune-in” to hear announcements, celebrate accomplishments, read Ms. Chute’s quote of the week, and sing “Happy Birthday” to friends and classmates.
As of today, the plan is for boarding students to return to campus on Monday, April 13, and for in-person, on-campus classes to reconvene on Tuesday, April 14.
Please note that we will revisit our plans and timing for the return to campus regularly over the coming days and weeks as the situation evolves, and will communicate any changes. If we are unable to return to campus OR if individual students are unable to return to campus, online learning will continue to be utilized through the end of the academic year. We will work together with you and your child as we determine the best way to continue their Kents Hill experience, even if it may not be what they wished for or anticipated just a few weeks ago.
Student Learning and Academic Coaching
We are aware that while online learning allows our students to familiarize themselves with a new learning environment utilized by many colleges and universities, it has the potential to create uncertainty and stress. Mary Keeley, Director of Student Learning, is actively partnering with teachers to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our diverse community of learners and re-designing courses to encourage engagement and creativity. Those students enrolled in our Academic Coaching program will meet virtually with their Academic Coach three days per week to work on skills related to learning online, such as time management, organization, communication, and advocacy.
Students Currently On Campus
We are asking all students who are currently at Kents Hill to make arrangements to return home or to a guardian as soon as possible, and by Tuesday, March 17, at the latest. Now that we have had to extend the time away from campus from two weeks to four weeks, keeping students on campus no longer feels like an option. We recognize that staying on campus in relative isolation for an extended period of time is not healthy for our students and we are putting their needs first.
As you develop plans, please share them with Diane Chick, Dean of Students, at email@example.com as soon as possible. If we can help in any way, please let us know. We will be providing transportation to Augusta, Portland, and Boston each day based on the needs of our students.
When our faculty community returns to campus on March 30, our first priority will be clarifying our online learning protocols and schedules. You will receive more information regarding online learning that week. If you feel as though you have technological limitations that would hamper your child’s ability to participate in online learning, please contact Mike DeLisle, Director of Information Technology, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Return to Campus
In order to ensure the health and safety of our community, you will be required to complete a risk assessment form in your child’s Magnus Health Record prior to their return to campus. This will allow us to track and support any students who were possibly exposed to or became ill with COVID-19 while away. Students will not be permitted to return to campus until this screening process is completed. If you have any questions regarding this form, please contact Cathleen Samborski, Health Center Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the plan that we have outlined above may create uncertainty and challenges, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff must come first. I know that our teachers are excited to design and deliver interactive, creative, and meaningful online learning experiences, and I am certain that we will all grow and learn as we navigate a new experience.
I remain grateful to our internal crisis response team, which is working around the clock to plan for various scenarios and situations. I am also grateful to everyone in our community for their resiliency, compassion, and flexibility. The strength of this community never ceases to impress me.
Thank you, as always, for your support and partnership. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com or 207-685-1636 with any questions or concerns that you may have.
Christopher S. Cheney
Head of School