Dear Peddie Community,
As you know, the COVID-19 situation is constantly developing, presenting different decision points and new issues daily. I want to report on operations and decisions.
The launch of Canvas classes has gone well; Ms. Rodrigue and I have received enthusiastic messages from parents and faculty, and the faculty themselves report that our students are responding well to the different format. This has gone as well as it has because our teachers, department chairs, Ms. Rodrigue, Ms. Miller, and the technology support team spent the spring break planning and preparing for it to go well. It’s going well because everyone is adapting approaches and schedules. Make no mistake, however, everyone would much rather be here with each other.
We are taking social distancing seriously at Peddie. During the day, when I pass someone on campus, we remain apart, waving and speaking in what mariners would call a “hailing” voice. We enjoy a conversation at a distance of at least six feet. Inside, I can walk through the classroom buildings and see (through their classroom doors) some teachers who prefer to work from their classrooms, but most (like all Peddie employees who can) are working from their residences. The technology office, security office, Peddie Food Service, and Building Services are the most obviously lively spots because several of these community members can do their jobs only on campus.
It’s important to share my honest assessment of the situation for schools, and where Peddie is. At the moment, medical and public health experts predict eight more weeks until the number of confirmed cases in the United States peaks. States of emergency exist in Hightstown, New Jersey, and the United States. Restrictions on movement and public gatherings are increasing as well. Unless the trends reverse quickly, it’s unlikely that we will be allowed to resume classes on campus April 14. And if those predictions stand, by the time people feel safe to travel and gather freely, it may be impractical to restart on-campus classes at all this spring.
I remain optimistically cautious: safety must come first, but if the predictions and the reality change, we want to be able to move as quickly as reasonable to bring everyone back together, within six feet of each other, to reconnect in the way we all want to. I have set April 1 as the date by which we must make a decision about returning to campus on the 14th. Our immediate priorities are (1) the completion of the academic term and (2) the celebration of Commencement 2020. We will make decisions regarding non-academic events based on those priorities; we will postpone or cancel other events which cannot be held on campus and on schedule.
I wanted you to have an updated time frame for our decision about starting on-campus classes again. I wanted to thank you for supporting your students in the Canvas classes they are engaged in. I know that what your children are experiencing is far more engaging and interactive than much of what is going on in secondary schools during this unprecedented period.
We all remain grateful for you and your children’s part in this community, even though we are physically separated for the time being.