Administration Shares Fall Reflections and Winter Plans

On November 5, Head of School Steve Murray H’55 ’65 P’16 announced that Lawrenceville will remain remote after winter break, citing the resurgence of the pandemic and a limited amount of resources as some of the factors taken into consideration for this decision.

On November 5, Head of School Steve Murray H’55 ’65 P’16 announced that Lawrenceville will remain remote after winter break, citing the resurgence of the pandemic and a limited amount of resources as some of the factors taken into consideration for this decision.

In just over a week, Lawrentians will begin the move-out process. The last day of Fall Term classes occurs on Wednesday, November 18, at which point students who have no Final Exams may return home. Over the course of the next four days, from November 19 to the 23, around 600 students will leave campus, packing up all of their belongings into boxes in preparation for any room changes during the Spring Term.

Following Thanksgiving Break, students will still have two weeks of virtual Turkey Term as well as two weeks of winter break. As Murray shared in his recent email to the community, this trimester, classes will take place from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM EST with the hopes of accommodating global time zones ranging from California to Singapore. Even though the schedule will certainly require some students to adjust their regular sleep cycle, Murray stressed that playing it safe amidst rising cases will benefit students. “Getting everybody to campus for the Winter Term [is like] loading up a 747 and taking off…It’s better to be up on the ground, wishing you were up in the air, than being up in the air wishing you were on the ground,” he said.

The struggles and difficulties of the fall heavily influenced the School’s decision to go remote. When asked about the challenges of the Fall Term, Murray said, “I know that our faculty and staff have really been through a lot; it’s been a really heavy lift this fall and I think they’re exhausted.”

In addition, Murray believes that the unforeseen circumstances of the pandemic caused many difficulties in fostering student connections on campus. “There’s no playbook on this, and I don’t have much to compare it to. However, one thing I do want to acknowledge is that the day students have had a tough time...There wasn’t the same House connection that they’re used to.”

However, in light of these difficulties, Murray felt that the mood and camaraderie of the Lawrenceville community has stayed resilient and joyful, recounting “seeing teams out on the turf practicing or hearing laughter coming out of The Bowl.”

While the pandemic has impacted many aspects of Lawrenceville life, Assistant Dean of Students Emilie Kosoff H’96 ’00 P ’19 felt that a big success was “offering up activities that made the [situation] as close to normal as it could be under the [Covid-19]-cautious frameworks,” praising Student Council for setting up a multitude of Saturday night events ranging from Spikeball tournaments to movie nights. Kosoff also emphasized that the “Prefects and House Councils on campus have still managed to make connections within the Houses, with activities ranging from Kennedy campus golf to pumpkin decorating.”

Despite Winter Term going virtual, Murray has faith that virtual programming will be fulfilling for all Lawrentians, with the administration creating several initiatives to maintain the Lawrenceville spirit. Murray stated that his main goals for the winter will be to “maintain strong connections among everybody, deliver robust academics, and to make sure that there’s a rhythm and a structure to a student’s day outside the classroom.”

In addition, recognizing the importance of continuing the discussions the community has engaged in throughout the fall term, Kosoff also hopes to create more “community offerings for the winter, [such as] a speaker for Martin Luther King [Jr.] Day, for Women’s History Month, or for Black History Month, all so that we have multiple touchpoints as a community to stay engaged in conversation and learning.”

As for an in-person spring, Murray hopes to have an equally engaging and entertaining Spring Term complete with the reintroduction of interscholastic sports as well as some form of in-person graduation. Staying optimistic for the future, Murray said, “I want to reiterate the positive attitude of the student body and [its] willingness to take nothing for granted and to just appreciate the little things on campus, and that really has warmed my heart in a big way.”

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