Dear Parents and Guardians,
With the first day of school less than two weeks away, the Gonzaga administration met with the Board of Trustees on Monday to review our plans and preparations for opening campus in a hybrid fashion. As with all such conversations at Gonzaga, it was centered on the boys and how we can best serve them while safeguarding the health of our school community and the community at large.
We discussed areas where we feel ready and prepared to bring students back to campus, and areas that we are still finalizing. We discussed aspects of operating a school in the current climate that we can control, and those things that, despite all best efforts and intentions, are outside of our control. We discussed the benefits that would come from bringing the boys back to campus, along with the strengths and limitations that are inherent in a hybrid model. And we discussed the importance of taking a measured approach that allows us to reopen campus incrementally, consistent with guidelines from the District of Columbia—as opposed to in a way that has the potential to take one step forward, followed later by two steps back.
We write to inform you that the Gonzaga administration, with the support of the Board of Trustees, has decided to start the school year with academic instruction taking place virtually. As such, all classes will take place according to our distance learning protocols during the first quarter.
We know this is disappointing to the boys and their families. It is disappointing as well to our faculty, staff, and administration who deeply miss your sons and the energy and vibrancy they bring to campus. At the same time, we have also heard from a segment of Gonzaga families who have significant reservations about sending their boys back to school.
Please know that while classes will take place online, it is our intention to begin to bring the boys onto campus, in small numbers and for relatively short durations, during the first quarter for non-academic activities that foster the boys’ friendships, spiritual growth, sense of community, and motivation. More will be shared in the coming weeks as we shape those opportunities for the first quarter.
In addition, during the first quarter, teachers will return to campus and will be able to teach from their classrooms, where they will have the opportunity to take advantage of new responsive video technology that is being installed throughout campus. This technology—and having faculty teach from a familiar setting rather than at home—will enhance the distance learning experience and serve as a critical step in bringing our community back to Eye Street. It will also give our faculty the ability to master this new technology, which will greatly improve the online experience of everyone both during the first quarter and when we do move to a hybrid model.
Up until this point, our focus has been on preparing for the hybrid academic model. Therefore, when we feel conditions permit us to bring boys back into the classroom and onto campus in greater numbers, we will be well prepared. We are fortunate in that when that time comes, with a student body that is entirely local, we will be able to transition to the hybrid model quickly. In the meantime, we have created a web page with parent and student resources for the first quarter, which you can see by clicking here
For a number of well-publicized reasons, this has been a chaotic homestretch to the start of the school year—with conflicting orders from governmental authorities only the latest wrinkle in a constantly shifting landscape for schools. Through this entire summer, however, Gonzaga has been focused on developing a reopening plan that is informed by prevailing guidance, realistic, executable, and that we can do well. While we had of course hoped to begin offering in-person classes starting in August, rest assured that this is a significant step in that direction—and one that we believe will result in a smoother start to the school year and a more long-lasting campus reopening in the months ahead.
Rev. Stephen W. Planning, SJ
Michael Tierney ‘70
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Thomas K. Every II
Stephen M. Neill '89
Chief Operating Officer