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Coronavirus Update: Important Communication from The Head of School

March 26th, 2020


Dear Darrow School Community,

I write now with the unavoidable announcement that The Darrow School is forced to take the unprecedented step of moving to distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

I say “unavoidable” because from the moment the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic began devastating communities and lives across the globe, we held on to the faint hope that this scourge would pass powerfully but quickly, allowing us to resume our accustomed sheltered and safe academic life on our Mountainside home after an extended Spring Break. This was not to be, however.

So, we move forward into the exciting - if rather quickly deployed - world of online learning for the remainder of the semester. While there is much that we will learn by trial-and-error as we embark on this journey together, the Darrow faculty stand ready to make this learning experience the best it can be. You and your student will begin receiving instructions on our online learning procedures by the end of this week.

No doubt, questions abound. How to retrieve student belongings while following the New York State mandate that we all reduce travel and contact with others to only the most essential needs? What will become of Commencement? As of this writing, we are simply not sure what the best approach to this should be. Make no mistake, we will honor the wonderful Class of 2020 in ways that befit the exemplary leadership and service they bestowed on our School. How will we get the sixteen students who remain on campus home given the increasing travel restrictions?

All of these questions and more will be answered in the days and weeks ahead by members of Darrow’s Crisis Management Team, and we will be in touch soon about your questions, which you should feel free to email us at any time.

I especially want to address all the Darrow students who are currently stuck in their homes and wishing they could return to their lovely Mountainside home-away-from-home to finish the academic year together. I am truly sorry to have to make this decision -- but I know it is the right one. I know we will all miss spending this spring together on the Mountainside.

Think back to that hot autumn day in the Tannery last fall. We had all gathered together for my Investiture ceremony during the Convocation. Do you remember during my Investiture speech when I said that at the end of this year, we would be able to look each other in the eyes and know that we had been through something substantial together? Well . . . I did not have this in mind! However, as Head of School, the health and safety of all members of the Darrow family is my single biggest concern. Thus, this decision was not really a decision at all. There is no other choice.

We will get through this, and be stronger in the long run for having endured it. This beautiful historic site has been continuously occupied since the year 1783. The thousands of people who lived here through those years have endured all manner of life disruptions during the formation of the United States, a Civil War, two World Wars, two significant Depressions, the Civil Rights Movement, the war in Southeast Asia, and September 11th - all events that forced people to put their normal lives on hold. Now, it’s our turn. 

I know we can rise to this challenge, stick together, and keep our sense of humor.

We will be together again,

Andrew Vadnais
Head of School

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