Dear Upper School Students and Families,
Over the course of the year, we have learned a lot from each other about how to ensure that the Whitfield academic program and spirit continue to thrive during a pandemic. Your feedback - through the two Insight surveys as well as numerous individual conversations - has been instrumental in helping us understand what we can do better. Today, we would like to announce an update to the 9-12th grade program that we think will enhance the overall academic experience while also providing additional opportunities for the Upper School to build community.
As with all of our choices, particularly this year, the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority. The decision to update the program was made in collaboration with our pandemic response coordinator, Matt DiGiulio, who is in regular contact with consulting physicians, infectious disease experts, and health department contacts. We are confident that this update will benefit our students and teachers without increasing the risk of exposure to either group and without diminishing our ability to do effective contact tracing when the need arises.
Starting on Monday, January 25, the academic space for students in grades 9-12 will be updated; all Upper School students will have classes in the Garden Level and the art, math and science (north) wing of the building.
Benefits of this change include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The Upper School is reunited into one division and will allow improved connections between students and teachers in grades 9-12.
- Students and teachers have access to classroom spaces better designed for their specific content areas, such as science labs and art studios.
- Students who have been entering virtual classrooms because it crossed into another Upper School grade level will be able to attend class in person with their teacher and classmates.
- Student traffic flow during passing periods will be improved.
- Freshmen will go through an orientation on January 21 and January 22 to find their new classrooms and be prepared for the change on January 25.
- The class schedules will remain consistent with 9th grade operating on a different schedule than 10-12th grade. 9th grade still begins class at 8:30 AM and 10-12th grade begins class at 9:00 AM.
- The screening entrance times for 9th grade is still 8:00-8:25 AM and for the 10-12th grade it is still 8:15-8:55 AM. Students will screen in at the same locations (9th grade at the front entrance and 10-12th grade at Schmitter Gallery). Parent drop-off and pick-up procedures remain the same.
- All students who are signing out early from school will do that at the Hydromat Commons near the Director of the Upper School’s office. This is a change for 9th graders and they will be shown the new location during the orientation.
- A cohort office and administrative presence will remain in the garden level area, but all daily medication requests for 9th grade should be directed to the main office (in the front lobby).
- Student schedules will be updated in Warrior Web with new room numbers effective January 25.
- The changes to the academic spaces will still allow us to maintain and build upon the risk mitigation and contact tracing strategies that we have been practicing since last summer.
We look forward to taking this step while maintaining our high standards for community health and risk mitigation. If you have questions, please contact us.
Ruth E. Greathouse, Principal Sara Ringe, Upper School Director