Following a successful first all in-person semester, La Lumiere School is now looking to the future. On January 11, students will return to the 190-acre campus to begin the second all in-person semester. The staff and faculty are hard at work preparing for this next step in schooling, as the semester at hand will look drastically different than the previous one.
La Lumiere Head of School, Adam Kronk, shared that the success of the first semester had to do with the location of the campus. He said in a community Zoom meeting with parents that the ability to utilize the various spaces and the usage of tents for classrooms allowed for the containment of the virus and such a low risk of exposure on campus. Looking ahead to the second semester, Kronk admitted to the more difficult task at hand.
Considering the colder temperatures in the winter months, holding outdoor classes is no longer an option, therefore causing all classes to move indoors.
However, the school has made efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 even with these new arrangements. Such efforts include having students masked and consistently socially distanced, keeping doors and windows open within the classrooms, putting up plexiglass dividers in dining spaces, installing carbon dioxide monitors to measure the air quality, and, most importantly, installing air purifiers in all classrooms to help keep a good level of oxygen flow that will help limit the risk of exposure and spread.
Kronk also discussed the continuation of pool testing at varied times throughout the year to help keep the spread low. Kronk said that the hope is not to have anyone test positive. Of course, there is always a risk, so having this continuous random testing allows for the possible rate of infection to be decreased by disclosing these cases early and preventing spread through contact tracing.
Kronk very proudly noted how the remarkable success of the first semester has helped to boost the spirits of all those involved in this effort.
“While this is not an easy time for anyone, we believe that the best learning happens in person because of the ability to form connections, and, therefore, we will all get through this together and safely,” Kronk said.
The school has noted the fear and desire to protect oneself and loved ones from the COVID-19 pandemic, and remote options have been made for both students and teachers. Kronk said while he wished everyone could be in-person, there are some situations that just do not allow for it. This way, everyone has an opportunity to decide what is best for them and their families.
Assistant Head of School and Academic Dean Andrew Hoyt also addressed the issue of remote learning.
“The hope is that the precautions the school is taking will make everyone feel safe enough to be in-person, but we know there are some circumstances that just do not allow for it.”
Looking forward to the second semester, the main goal of the school is not only to keep everyone safe but also to support students in their learning. Hoyt shared how they plan to do this, saying that it is notable how this time has been difficult on everyone and taken a toll on mental health. Due to this, mental health remains a top priority during this semester.
The overall goal is to keep student life vibrant, which should allow for students to bond with each other safely. The school has put lots of research into finding various group activities that follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines for protection and prevention of spread during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since not all students will be in person, Hoyt made it very clear that the goal is to keep everyone connected.
“As a school built on relationships, it is our goal to achieve these bonds even in such a difficult time. While we cannot do our usual community activities, we are all for adapting to achieve connections similar to what we had before the shutdowns last March,” said Hoyt.
Through these efforts, the hope is the second semester will allow for similar ways of going about life while at the same time keeping everyone at the school safe. This includes preparing teachers to be points of outreach for students needing help.
“Our teachers are thinking about how to learn and grow in a difficult time by offering more support for students who may need it,” Hoyt said. “As a community, we need our staff and students to listen to one another and hear each other's experiences.”
While there is no clear view of what the next few months hold, La Lumiere School and its staff are very confident in the ability to make it through this tough time together.
“We are a community built on relationships, so when we work together towards a common goal, we always figure out some way to make it work even if it does not go along with the original plan,” Hoyt said.
Using the motto of the school year “Together, we will,” La Lumiere School will see its boarding students return to campus January 10, with Monday, January 11, as the first day of classes for what the community hopes will be a very successful second semester.