COVID-19 Disrupts 2019-2020 School Year

Signs+direct+traffic+away+from+campus%2C+which+has+been+closed+since+March+13.

David Cutler

Signs direct traffic away from campus, which has been closed since March 13.

Edan Zinn

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that the order to close Massachusetts schools will be extended through the end of the academic year.

This news was not unexpected but still saddening to many students here, as they won’t return to campus until September.

“Honestly, I wasn’t the least bit surprised by the news,” Kelly Rimas ’22 said. “It seemed a bit unsettling that we were going back to school on May 4th.”

As of now, the School will continue to issue letter grades for Quarter 4 and Semester II, both of which close in June. However, many other Massachusetts schools, public and private, are switching to a pass/fail grading system, largely to lessen stress on students and teachers.

Pullquote Photo

I’m confident that you are going to make it until the end. I am proud of all of you, and your faculty are doing an amazing job.”

— Judith Guild, Head of School

Students here are split on the issue—some support of the School’s decision to continue with letter grades, while others are less pleased.

“I don’t think that [the] School should become pass/fail,” Rimas said. “That would just destroy all the hard work students have put in so far. I think they should finish up whatever marking period we’re in and close up the year. That way, students’ hard work is accurately depicted.”

Alternatively, Emma Guevara ’23 thinks a pass/fail system would be beneficial to students.

“I think Brimmer should have a pass/fail grading system because I know that a lot of people are struggling to maintain a good grade during this time,” Guevara said. “Some people that I know have to take care of their family members at home while their parents are helping others during this pandemic, so it can be difficult for them.”

The sudden change in schedule is leaving students muddled with uncertainty over what the rest of the school year will look like. The futures of prom and graduation were already tentative, and with campus closed for the rest of the academic year, many are anxious to know how the school year will come to a close.

David Cutler
A sign on the Athletic Field reminding passersby to practice Social Distancing.

During a virtual Upper School meeting, Head of School Judith Guild shared insight on how the School is responding to this turn of events.

“We are going to turn our attention to really figuring out how to celebrate you and give you all of the accolades and awards that you deserve at this time,” Guild said. “I know that you can do this. I have been watching you do this.”

Guild expressed optimism for the weeks to come, and hopes nicer weather provides a change of scenery for students and faculty.

“I do think the next four weeks might be a little bit brighter because the weather will turn brighter… we can maybe even move our remote learning to an outdoor patio and not be inside our homes,” Guild continued. “I do think it’s going to be a little easier once the weather turns, and I’m confident that you are going to make it until the end. I am proud of all of you, and your faculty are doing an amazing job.”

With the Class of 2020 set to finish classes on May 1, 12th-graders are tasked with completing their Senior Projects before they depart on May 29. Some students will continue their projects independently, but others have been forced to scramble to find new topics due to statewide business closures.

Libby Foley ’20 is still in the process of finding a new project.

“I was originally doing an internship with a cardiologist at the Wellesley branch of the Harvard Vanguard medical practice,” Foley said. “I was absolutely devastated that my original senior project was canceled. Truth be told, I’m not really sure what I’m going to be doing yet. It’s been hard to quickly turn around from a project that I spent weeks planning and coordinating. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do.”

In a handout sent to the 12th grade, Project Director Diana Scharrer listed more potential topics for the class to adopt. “Take a self-paced edX course, choose to learn a new skill, hone a hobby or skill you have and record your progress, help a social cause or support someone in need, [and a] possible weekly seminar series,” the handout reads.

The School is expected to reach out to families via email with more information regarding its response to Governor Baker’s orders.