For fifteen years I have been going to Ocean Classroom sendoffs. We’ve had them in Boothbay, in Gloucester, in Portland, In Boston. There’s the milling around on the docks, the t-shirted students, the nervous parents.
After a bit of a delay due to a few stubborn COVID-19 tests, we released our dorm pods Saturday morning and jumped right into action with our 9th graders heading into the woods for an overnight camping trip as part of an abridged Wilderness Orientation experience. Meanwhile, soccer, field hockey, and football players practiced and a new masked-normal began to emerge over the weekend.
Usually a time of quiet reflection and rejuvenation, summer at Proctor took a different form this year. Navigating simultaneous pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19 within the context of financial uncertainty and a politically polarized nation has reminded us our work connecting with, supporting, and educating our students never stops. Neither does the institutional work required to safely welcome students back to campus next week, while actively addressing the need to dig more deeply into the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice at Proctor.
As we ready ourselves to begin a school year like no other, Proctor’s counselors wanted to reflect on the emotional well being of our immediate and extended Proctor Community. On Monday, employees were given our COVID tests. The experience was striking in many ways. It is fair to say that none of us could have imagined that this scene would unfold on our campus to begin a school year. As we stood in the socially distanced line, we all processed in our own way, this completely new scene. Leaving the testing site, I felt relieved, impressed (by the organization and efficiency of the effort), and most importantly energized. Our Proctor community is showing up; showing up eager to engage, eager to problem solve, eager to do something slightly uncomfortable, for the sake of reconvening as a community, physically together.
In less than two weeks we welcome students back to Proctor's campus for the first time since March. The ability for in-person instruction and regular daily routine of classes, afternoon activities, and nightly study hall is something we all desperately crave. As we transition back to campus and settle into our new normal, afternoon activities will be a part of our routine.
This is a quick note about the Proctor community coming together. Attached to this note are some of the critical steps and practices you must be aware of, take, and maintain if we are to keep our community safe. They are sensible, straightforward, and non-negotiable. I don’t say this to be heavy handed but to keep everyone healthy.
For nearly 175 years, Proctor Academy has played a central role in the day to day operations of the Town of Andover. Originally a town academy serving children of all ages, Proctor’s evolution to a boarding school in the 1930s initiated growth in both physical plant and the seasonal population in town. Today, Proctor serves as the town’s largest employer and annually welcomes students from more than 25 states and 13 countries to campus. Just as COIVD-19 has shifted each of our lives, the role Proctor plays within the Town of Andover as it seeks to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year must also shift.