Dana Hall blends cohorts

After months of alternating weeks on campus between student cohorts, Dana Hall ended the cohort model as of April 1. Students of all grades are now attending their classes in person every week. There are 256 on campus students and 65 students who are continuing in the distance learning model. Head of school Ms. Katherine Bradley has announced that everyone will return to campus for fall.

New to the boarding community, Darline Desforge ‘22 said “This is my first time back on campus since last year, and it’s been very weird experiencing all these changes. I miss what school was like pre-COVID, but I am glad that I’m a boarder because I have more privilege when it comes to freedom and doing my own thing.”

Martina Walsh ‘24 is new to the Dana Hall community this year, and has only ever experienced the changes made due to COVID. She said, “I really do enjoy being in-person full time. School feels more authentic and real when everyone is here. It’s really nice to be able to sit in class and see the teacher right in front of you, which makes class much more engaging.”

The School has repurposed some spaces to accommodate the increased number of students. Ms. Jessica Keimowitz, Director of the Upper School, explained, “In order to accommodate all grades every week and maintain the 6 feet of distance protocol, we had to construct 6 classrooms in the Gym. These are being used by the Middle School, which allowed some Upper School classes to move into spaces formerly used by the Middle School. We also have spread some classes across two classrooms (like the second floor of the Classroom Building). And, we’re using Bardwell, the Oak Room, and the Fencing Studio more regularly.” The COVID testing center has been moved from the gym into the halls of Shipley. 

Despite COVID restrictions, the School has granted new privileges for junior and senior students to give them more freedom. Junior boarders are now allowed to return to their dorm rooms during their study halls, as has been true of senior boarders. The seniors are allowed to go into town during their free periods. 

With the increased number of students now on campus, serving and seating students during lunchtimes has been challenging. Students with D-block study halls now go to first lunch instead, and are then assigned to Waldo, for 9th and 10th graders, or the science wing, for 11th and 12th graders. Lunch is also being served in Shipley, in Beveridg, and in Common Ground. Breakfast and dinner are still available only for the boarding community. 

Jude Meares-Garcia ‘22 commented that, with the increased number of students, lunch is “definitely more complicated, to say the least. What’s nice is that even though there’s an increase in the amount of students/faculty, the weather is so much nicer now so everyone sits outside anyway.” Kiki Nartey ‘22 added, “I find myself not wanting to sit [indoors] at lunch because it’s overwhelming, but the weather is getting nicer so that’s nice.” Now, on warm days, students gather in distanced groups on the lawn, eating their lunch in the sunshine.

Photo: One of the new, temporary Shipley classroom spaces.

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