Today, Head of School, Matt Cavellier shared an update with the SSM community about plans for the remainder of the year and beyond. It was with a heavy heart that he shared we will be unable to have students return to campus this school year.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL
Greetings from Faribault.
The COVID-19 crisis has turned so many things upside down over the last three months, and, as a global community, we continue to adjust to the many unknowns that cause stress and anxiety. For many of you, the impact of the crisis has become more personal as friends, relatives, and neighbors contract the virus. For others, your lives have been directly impacted through stay-at-home orders, shortages, adjustments to school operations, job lay-offs, and the ever-present worry about how you and your loved ones will fare as we move through the next several months. In an effort to relieve some stress and anxiety, I wanted to take this opportunity to share our plan for the rest of the school year and beyond earlier than expected.
This School Year
While it saddens me to share this message, we will not be able to return to campus in May. We will continue with distance learning throughout the balance of the year, and our academic team will be in touch on Friday regarding the process for finishing strong from home, including details about final exams and final grades.
This news undoubtedly impacts our seniors the most, and our hearts ache for the experiences and memories lost for them because of this pandemic. We are committed to honoring them and all of their achievements as best we can. Some things like Class Awards, Yearbook, and the Senior Class Video will continue to move forward. Additionally, Patrick Schaefer, our Upper School Director, along with Greg Simons and Carrie Homuth, our Senior Class Deans, will reach out to all seniors over the next week to collect their input on how we might celebrate our slate of graduation events. As it is their senior year and their graduation, we want them to have a voice in how we collectively recognize their accomplishments.
We typically have camps running all summer long, drawing academic, artistic, and athletic campers from all over the world. Based on projections from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Governor’s offices, we are postponing most June camp dates to later in the summer. Many of our current students work these camps, so we wanted you to know of this schedule change. The new camp schedule will be posted on our Summer Programs website. Of course, if the situation does take an unexpected turn and we have to cancel camps instead of postponing, we will let you know.
These camps not only allow us to keep our kitchen staff employed throughout the year, they also bring in a significant amount of secondary sources of income (what we call SSI), which helps offset the cost of our annual operating budget. In fact, our summer camp revenue, other SSI income, and our Annual Fund contributions supplement a significant portion of our operational expenses that would be left unfunded if we relied on tuition and our modest endowment draw alone. All of that revenue is necessary to provide our students and families with the experience at Shattuck-St. Mary’s to which they have grown accustomed.
Next School Year
It is our belief, and plan, that we will be able to open on time and in-person for the 2020-21 school year. There are, of course, models that show that there may be a relapse of COVID-19 cases in the fall or that it might reemerge in the winter. At this point, we feel relatively confident that, while the world will conduct itself differently after our months of shelter-in-place, we will return to some form of normalcy in the coming months.
In order to plan for school to resume on-campus this fall, we will begin our regular course registration, housing, and proctor selection process these next few weeks. To get started, all returning students and parents should look for an email about course registration before week’s end.
Reimbursements or Credits
For those parents and guardians who have wondered about potential room and board or COE fee refunds for the spring term, please know that we continue evaluating many evolving scenarios and modeling possible reimbursement and credit options. While you may be seeing some colleges and universities announcing refunds, our school size and endowment draws are significantly smaller, and it is hard to make such comparisons. Many remaining factors in this process are still unknown, and we are committed to monitoring the situation and coordinating with our Board of Trustees as we consider our ability to issue refunds or credits. We know this is an important part of the conversation for many families and we ask for your patience as we work through all aspects of the situation as it continues to evolve.
Families and schools all around the country have spent the last several weeks adjusting to a new normal. We all know that there are further adjustments to make as we move forward, and we already feel as if we have been required to change so many things about our daily existence. That is hard. It is discomforting.
But I know our Shattuck-St. Mary’s community, and I know that we do not back down from challenges. I know we understand what it takes to persevere. And I know that it will feel really good when everyone can return to exchange hugs and handshakes in the hallways and share meals together in the dining hall again.
Please stay safe, stay healthy, wash your hands, and continue to look out for your friends, loved ones, neighbors, and all essential employees. And to all of you in our community who are essential employees, thank you all for the work you do each day.
Head of School