A Portal Between Worlds

Pomfret is not the same school it was six months ago, and certainly not the same school it was a year ago.


 

Dear Parents,

After 123 days apart, we are finally back together. Everywhere I look, campus is buzzing with energy and excitement. Classrooms that have recently stood empty and forlorn are alive with the sights and sounds of students engaged in deep, immersive learning. Fields that have recently sat vacant and abandoned under a thick crust of snow are teeming with athletes getting ready for the upcoming season. It reminds me of this line by the poet Anne Bradstreet: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” 

As we look ahead to April and May, I am full of optimism, albeit cautious, for what this trimester holds:
The resumption of in-person classes and seated meals.

  • The restoration of afternoon sports and activities, including interscholastic competition at the varsity level.
  • The return of Senior Chapel Talks to Clark Memorial Chapel, including new capacity limits that will allow the entire senior class to attend in person. 
  • The grand re-opening of our newly remodeled Tuck Shop, which has been under renovations since Thanksgiving.
  • Hopefully a Senior Prom, depending on guidance from the state.
  • A recognition of our athletes, particularly those who missed their senior seasons.
  • The celebration of an on-campus commencement ceremony in May.


All of our students have suffered this year, but none more than our seniors. For the upcoming issue of Pomfret Magazine, we asked seven seniors to reflect on their year of living with Covid, and without giving too much away, their stories of isolation and sadness — strength and resolve, too — deeply affected me. I realize how much our seniors feel they have lost and fear they still might lose. As head of school, I am committed to making sure our sixth formers get the senior spring they so richly deserve.

Of course, all of this hinges on our ability to keep Covid-19 at bay. Our onboarding practices last week served us very well, and to ensure that we have a great spring trimester, we will continue to wear masks, keep our distance, practice good hygiene, complete the daily health screener, and use the Trace app. We will also continue to monitor the community on a regular basis, using the PCR tests we have all come to know so well as well as a new generation of rapid antigen tests, which can return a result in fifteen minutes.

In addition, we are pleased that the vast majority of our faculty and staff received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine earlier this month, during a clinic sponsored by the Connecticut Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH). Employees are scheduled to get their second dose on Thursday, April 1, just one week from tomorrow. Currently, the Connecticut Department of Health does not recommend hosting student vaccination clinics on campus. If and when that guidance changes, I will let you know.

In recent months, I have come to appreciate author Arundhati Roy’s concept of the pandemic as “a portal between one world and the next.” Pomfret is not the same school it was six months ago, and certainly not the same school it was a year ago. And so we are using this moment to build, grow, explore, and innovate as we continue to seek out the sweet spot between preservation and progress.

Sincerely,

Tim Richards P ’15
Head of School


 

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