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In Community with COVID-19

Suzanne Romero Dewey
Emma Willard School ends this week with all students on spring break. The recess would have started today, but we expedited the break and extended it into April as a COVID-19 response. The faculty has been meeting these past days to organize and adapt their coursework to an online platform in preparation for teaching digitally should that become necessary. Those are the stark facts. If you look deeper, however, the context and comfort of community shine forth and demonstrate compassion, thoughtfulness, and good will.

This is a school community where learning and excelling are prized, and yet there is more here. Call it connective tissue, allegiance, or the bonds of time and tradition, Emma Willard School marks those who pass through “ye grey walls” with more than the habits of an intellectual life; there is moral strength and character that make being a member of the Emma Willard School community vital and sustaining.

Connectivity and engagement offer some simple evidence of this marking:

  • The science teacher who didn’t even think that taking her advisees to the airport at 4:00 a.m. was an imposition.
  • The faculty member who took several student plants home for care and feeding and knew all of the plant names so she could reassure the students (we are speaking SEVERAL!) that the plants were in good shape.
  • The two friends who huddled together holding on to each other realizing that life as they knew it was changing.
  • The residential faculty members who provided comfort, guidance, care, logistics advice, and treasured baked goods to their residents as plans abruptly altered.
  • The student who popped her head into the COVID-19 Crisis Team meeting to say “Thank you! We appreciate your work!”
  • The many, many parents who reached out to support the school and the students who needed a place to stay before travelling home.
  • The rapid planning that took place by everyone to create three days of faculty training to develop an online teaching process and plan.
  • The health professionals who kept us smiling and cared for with their specific advice on what smiles actually do for us.
  • Employees who advocated for those who might be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • The s’mores and storytelling session one group of students fit in just before departing on their break.

There is more, though. Perhaps there are words to describe it—advocacy, boldness, citizenship—and yet, all over the world, alumnae are standing up, giving a hand and a voice to what needs empowerment. In a boardroom, in a medical office, on the senate floor, in the classroom and most certainly in the living room, at the park, in the kitchen, we are united by serving and shaping the world. Really, there is no one better to be nearby in a pandemic than the capable, thoughtful individual who has been marked by the Emma Willard experience.

NOTE: News items will be posted only on Wednesdays through our spring break. Classes are scheduled to resume on April 6.
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    • K2T has a pre-break “campfire” in the alcove

    • Plant-sitting prep

    • Faculty focus on teaching and learning

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