Families Enjoy a Virtual Glimpse of Island Life

Loomis Chaffee hosted a Virtual Family Visit October 29–30 in place of the annual on-campus Family Weekend this year in an effort to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Family members took a glimpse into their children’s experiences on the Island this fall and met with teachers, advisors, and other members of the school community — from the safety of their home computers — via Zoom webinars and conferences.

The series of virtual events began on Thursday evening with a welcome address from Head of School Sheila Culbert, broadcast live to more than 250 families from across the United States and abroad.

“We would much rather have you here,” remarked Sheila at the start of her presentation, which largely focused on the current situation on campus related to the pandemic and the COVID-19 testing, communication, monitoring of health safety protocols, and other steps that the school has taken since the start of the year.

“I am so proud of what students, faculty, and staff have accomplished,” Sheila said, acknowledging the many challenges associated with having students learning and living on campus.  

Sheila also discussed how academic courses are being taught synchronously and asynchronously, in person, and online as well an adjustment to the school calendar based on anticipated pandemic trends. She provided an overview of the newly expanded and upgraded Howe and Batchelder dorms, and a brief look at the proposed Nichols Center for Theater & Dance, for which construction is expected to begin in the near future.

Other Virtual Family Visit programs included opportunities for parents to meet their students’ teachers from Fall Terms 1 and 2, engage in one-on-one video conferences with their children’s faculty advisors, and attend panel discussions on academic and co-curricular aspects of this year’s Loomis experience. Director of College Guidance David Rion also hosted an informal question-and-answer session about the college process for parents of freshmen and sophomores.

On Friday, October 30, the Loomis Chaffee Parents Association hosted “Parents of Pelicans,” an online social gathering for parents.

On the Virtual Family Visit 2020 webpage, designed especially for the occasion, families could watch “A Glimpse of Campus Life” on video, listen to performances from student instrumental and vocal musicians, shop online for Pelican “swag” at the Alexander Bookstore, and arrange admission interviews for interested siblings. Families were invited to “Give a Book” to the Katharine Brush Library, a time-honored tradition of Family Weekend at Loomis. Recordings of several of the Virtual Family Visit webinars will be available on the webpage for families who were unable to attend.