Administration Plans Around COVID-19 for 2021-2022 School Year

The School is optimistic that next school year will have fewer health and safety restrictions due to COVID-19 vaccination progress.

Head+of+School+Judith+Guild+greets+a+student+on+the+first+day+of+school+last+September.

Sophia Spring

Head of School Judith Guild greets a student on the first day of school last September.

Edan Zinn, Editor-in-Chief

With a promise of a new normal on the horizon made possible due to the COVID-19 vaccination progress, the School is optimistic that the 2021-2022 school year will begin with fewer health and safety restrictions.

Since Massachusetts updated COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include people ages 12-15 on May 12, more and more students at the School are getting vaccinated, according to Director of Health Services Beth Escobar.

“Now that students in grades 7-12 can get the vaccine, I think it has changed the whole dynamic in school,” Escobar said.

If enough students are fully vaccinated, Head of School Judith Guild said she sees “no reason why we can’t go back to some kind of normal.”

Guild explained that as the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, the School will modify safety protocols with a “dimmer switch” approach, rather than making larger changes all at once.

By [2022], everything will be the way Brimmer used to be unless the CDC tells us otherwise.”

— Judith Guild, Head of School

“Next year, I think we can see a return to normal at School with athletics, arts, learning in person, and not having a concurrent learning option as a convenience,” Guild said.

Reflecting on the effect of the pandemic on learning, Assistant Head of Academic Affairs Joe Iuliano said that he looks forward to the School’s return to a more normal school year.

“If we can get back to semi-normal, then we can get back to the place where we were before, which is year high academic achievement and classes that can get through more curriculum—more than we were able to do this year,” Iuliano said.

With less time in the classroom, classes have been modified during the pandemic, and Iuliano hopes that more class material can be covered next year.

“I look forward to a school year where everyone is safe and healthy and we can do a lot of the things we did before, and I think it will help our students’ achievement and pursuit of their passions,” Iuliano said.

The administration has also approved several Upper School field trips over the past month, with the 9th grade traveling to the Arnold Arboretum, 9th and 10th grade climbing at Treetop Adventures in Canton, and the 11th grade at Project Adventure in Beverly in recent weeks.

“I’m allowing field trips now, and we’re testing still, and that anything that does not show up in testing is fine,” Guild explained, noting that the School has not recorded any positive COVID-19 tests following off-campus trips.

For COVID-19 testing, Guild does not see the need to continue weekly PCR swaps in the fall. Additionally, Upper School Head Joshua Neudel informed students in an email last Sunday that students who are fully vaccinated can forgo weekly testing if the School has a record of their vaccination card, marking a turning point in the School’s COVID-19 response after nearly six months of weekly testing for students.

Middle and Upper School camp trips to Chimney Corners and Wingate*Kirkland may need to be postponed due to industry safety restrictions, according to Guild.

“We may be bringing in some programming to bring together our community in September,” Guild said. “Instead of saying ‘no,’ we’re trying to say, ‘wait.’”

One thing that Guild said she is waiting for clarity on is singing and performing arts.

“I don’t think we’ll start the school year with big theatre performances, but by the time 2022 comes around, we’ll be mostly back to normal with the arts,” Guild said. “By then, everything will be the way Brimmer used to be unless the CDC tells us otherwise.”

As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, the administration is hopeful that students can look forward to a more “normal” school experience.