By Juliette Gaggini ’20
With the increased risk of the fast-spreading COVID-19, or Coronavirus, pandemic, The Gunnery moved to distance learning after the Spring break. Although the decision was difficult, it was a necessary precaution that The Gunnery faculty and staff took, as did thousands of other day schools, boarding schools, and universities across the United States.
The initial decision was to postpone arrival from spring break for one week, bringing students back on March 30. As the situation worsened, however, that was no longer an option. On March 17, the school came to the decision to postpone the arrival date to May 4, allowing for international students to return to their respective countries during this time of uncertainty. Along with this, spring break was extended one week to allow faculty to prepare for the online learning experience. After careful evaluation of the circumstances, on April 4 the school announced that students would not be able to return to campus for classes for the remainder of the school year.
Students and faculty alike are disappointed to see the spring term change in such a way, but they are doing everything they can to keep the sense of The Gunnery community alive despite the distance. There is a built-in block in the class schedule for Community Time twice a week where sports teams can meet, dorms and clubs can have meetings, and activities such as The Health and Wellness program take place, all via Zoom. The school also has built-in time for School Meeting twice a week where more than 350 people can tune in via Zoom.
For Seniors, the biggest question at this time is how graduation, initially scheduled for May 24, will take place. The faculty and students have worked together to decide on an alternate plan since the ordinary scene under the tent is not possible, and a student and faculty committee have been put together to continue to evaluate the options going forward.
The transition from being on such a beautiful campus with hands-on learning and face-to-face contact with peers, teachers, and coaches to a digital learning environment via Zoom has been a learning experience for both faculty and students, but there is no challenge too large for The Gunnery community. The Gunnery puts the safety of its students and faculty first and is optimistic about staying in touch with one another through technology in coming weeks.