Coronavirus coverage (March 21st)

Vivien Sweet, Staff Writer

Starting on March 31st, Horace Mann’s Lower, Middle, and Upper Division (UD) academic programs will take place through the online instructional platform HM Online, as both the Manhattan and Bronx school campuses are closed until April 20th at the earliest.

As outlined by Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly, through HM Online for the UD, teachers will email their students an outline of what to expect each week on Sunday nights. Other academic personnel—such as the College Counseling Office and the Department of Counseling and Guidance—will remain in contact with students through Google Meet. 

“Online instruction in the Upper Division will not follow the same schedule as the standard A-H school day, unless teachers are calling for a live group activity or a timed assessment; those events will always follow the time slot allotted for these subjects to avoid schedule conflicts for the students involved,” Kelly wrote. 

Kelly is not alone in closing the school’s campuses in light of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. On March 16th, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced that all New York City public schools will transition to a remote learning model until the projected reopening of school buildings the week of April 20th. 

Two days later, both New York and New Jersey’s respective governors closed all school campuses, with a tentative reopening date of March 30th for New York and April 1st for New Jersey. Similarly, all of Connecticut’s schools officially closed on March 17th and plan to reopen on March 31st. The majority of the school districts in the tri-state area are required to provide “grab-and-go” meals for students who typically receive meals from the school, according to NBC New York. 

To help ease the community’s transition into remote learning, Kelly has sent out numerous surveys for parents to complete, one of which addressed the meal situation for students who rely on the school for their primary meal of the day. Similar to the “grab-and-go” model that many school districts have established, one of the school’s chefs and Director of Food Services Brenda Cohn will be present on campus for these students, Kelly wrote. The school is working with Cohn to potentially establish a pickup or delivery system that would distribute the weekly ingredients for five lunches. 

In an email to the school’s parents, Kelly wrote that the school may be closed “well beyond April 20th and possibly for the remainder of the academic year.” Only one member of the Horace Mann community has tested positive for the coronavirus so far, according to an email from Kelly. 

As testing for the virus has increased exponentially since the beginning of this week, hundreds more cases in New York state have presented themselves. As of the morning of March 21th, there were more than 8,300 cases statewide with 5,683 of the cases in New York City—a two-day jump in the state of more than 3,000, according to the New York Times. Although New York State constitutes only 6 percent of the nation’s population, the state accounts for almost half of the country’s 18,000 cases, the New York Times reported.

In light of the challenges the coronavirus has continued to present to the school community, Kelly has encouraged parents to extend the school’s tradition of “60 seconds of peace” to their childrens’ nighttime routines as a way of considering “the Herculean efforts being put forth by others to make sure we have a brighter tomorrow,” he wrote in an email.In short, let’s end each day with an appreciation of others.”