On March 13, the Concord Academy administration announced the closure of the CA campus, including boarding houses and all in-person classes and events, through May 4 in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Head of School Rick Hardy announced these changes in three separate emails: to day families and to boarding families with and without travel restrictions. 

These changes follow the recommendation of the CA Incident Management Team (IMT), which has been convening since January to plan CA’s response to the novel coronavirus. The IMT is led by eight administrators, focusing on Medical, Students, Travel, Supplies, Academic Planning, and Communications, and has been closely following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and local health authorities.

CA plans to transition to a distance-learning model beginning on March 30th, devoting the week of March 23th to faculty for planning online lessons. The administration encouraged all students to return home if possible. With continued monitoring of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMT will announce by April 20th whether to re-open campus in early May or continue with online classes through the end of the school year. If the IMT decides students should not return to campus, the administration hopes to find a way to “re-imagine Commencement Week activities.” 

In order to facilitate distance-learning through May 4, Dean of Faculty Sarah Yeh and Interim Academic Dean Laura Twichell laid out the distance-learning guidelines in an email to families on March 20. The goals of the plan were to:

“1. Continue the academic learning experience such that students are able to complete

their coursework for the spring semester, and;

“2. Provide opportunities for social connection and community touchpoints to support

the well-being of community members.”

Following these guidelines, students are expected to attend one synchronous class meeting per course each week, although two slots per course will be offered to account for time zone differences. In each course, students must complete all assignments and will continue to receive letter grades, as in on-campus learning. The weekly schedule designates specific time for office hours, faculty and department meetings, senior chapel talks, community meetings, lunch, and PE meetings.

Although chapels cannot be given in person for this time, the administration recognized the integral role of chapels in the CA experience. Shifting to a virtual chapel, each chapel giver will choose to livestream, record, or otherwise distribute their chapel talk to the community, and all students and faculty were directed to “show up for seniors whose chapel experience has been altered by this campus closure and to be a robust and respectful online audience.”

All teachers are adjusting courses for the end of the year to focus on core skills and competencies needed to complete the course and prepare for future learning. According to the administration, “Because our distance-learning plan asks classes to develop core skills and knowledge and then come to a close, we anticipate that most students will have completed most of their coursework by April 24 (the end of the distance-learning period).” Teachers will use Schoology, Google Meet, and Zoom to sustain student learning during this time. 

To further CA’s mission of equitable access, the administration emphasized the resources of the Academic Support Center, the advising system, the health center, and the College Counseling Office to support students while off-campus.

Complete updated information about CA’s response can be found on the CA website: https://concordacademy.org/coronavirus-covid-19-update/

For complete updated information about the global development of COVID-19: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1