Tabor Academy to change class schedule because of virus

Jul 1, 2020

MARION — Tabor Academy may temporarily alter its academic schedule and physically alter buildings and movement patterns around campus as coronavirus prevention measures when students return. 

The school has been communicating with students every two weeks about plans to reopen and and currently hopes to start school in-person in August and rely on remote instruction after Thanksgiving Break until students return to campus again in January, if health conditions at the time allow. 

Instead of having students take 5 to 6 classes per trimester, the private school will have pupils take half that number in half trimester “modules.” The module between Dec. 1 and 18 will be taught entirely remotely. 

Communications department employee Gary Lawrence said that it is too early to know the pandemic’s financial impact on the school. 

But  it will set aside space to quarantine students who test positive for the virus and modify its campus in an unspecified way to encourage different traffic patterns. 

However, “The true Tabor experience begins and ends on our campus. We are a school that thrives in building relationships in our small classes, on our stages, on athletic surfaces, in Chapel and All School Meetings, in our Dining Hall, and in our dormitories,” wrote Acting Head of School Julie Salit in a letter on June 15. 

Tabor is also considering families who live internationally and may face travel restrictions or other challenges. They will ask those students to choose a host family within a drivable distance that they could go to if campus has to close again. 

The school cannot yet fully address what things will be like for its international students, but says that it will schedule some classes before noon to be mindful of time zone differences. 

“We are fortunate to already have small class sizes built into our programming and have recently completed a survey of classroom availability across campus to further reduce density,” the head of school wrote. 

The school said students can expect screening on a regular basis, but it has not decided whether to require coronavirus testing. The academy will work with Southcoast Health on issues of testing and contact tracing. 

“We are very fortunate that our residential program is more familial, with smaller dorms than at most other schools. These smaller dorms fit nicely within the current guidelines for bathroom facility use, numbers permitted per gathering in common spaces, and physical distancing,” the school said. 

It envisions dining halls with smaller groups of students eating together, individual condiments and more meals taken to go. It will also explore the possibility of satellite dining halls. 

For its sports program, the school hopes to have more information by Aug. 1 on how it will proceed. If it cannot travel to games, it will form an on-campus intramurals program and plans to hold the usual performing arts, visual arts, and waterfront programs.