Back To School ’20-’21

Wheeler is happy to welcome its students, faculty, and families back to school for its 132nd School Year.  Below are messages from each Division, plus links to After-School programming, new faculty & staff, Food Services news, Athletics information, and more.  Reach out to us at questions@wheelerschool.org if you need additional information after reading this page. Division leaders will send emails with more details directly to parents in the coming week.

Also, Version 3 of our Responsible Community Guide, with its campus procedures and health protocols created by the Healthy Task Force, can be found at the bottom of this page, ready to download, read, and reference this year.  NOTE: now more than ever, reading your School emails (Thursdays are This Week at Wheeler and Fridays are for Healthy Task Force) are important as well as checking the Main Calendar and the Parent Portals as information is changing all the time.


Welcome Back From the Head of School

Head of School standing in front of Hope Building
Allison Gaines Pell

Dear Wheeler Community,

This summer, I had the honor to participate in a small roundtable with Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States, more recently, author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. During the conversation, he referenced the Japanese concept of “moai.” A practice of Okinawans, who are noted to live longer and better lives than almost anyone else in the world, moai are social support and companionship groups of unrelated people that start in early childhood and extend throughout life, sharing in life’s many ups and downs. These groups are designed to hold one another uplifted and accountable.

This time of isolation from one another in almost every part of our lives is fraying our connections. And while technology can create the appearance of connection, it has been widely noted that the cognitive dissonance of online gatherings can exacerbate loneliness. So, as the days tick by and we approach school’s reopening, I make an observation and a request.

The observation: since March, we have seen the best in all of us. Our capacity to transform learning in a matter of weeks, to adapt to a new reality at home, to put community health first and transform the way we live to do so. We have seen extraordinary examples of empathy, courage, artistic power, and problem-solving. Wheeler effectively turned our insides out in the spring, and what we found there was a spirit, persistence, creativity, community, and a relentless drive to do better. There is good news of humanity and love in so many corners of our community in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and so many places.

My request: let’s use our masks this year as a reminder of our moai. Of course, we know we wear masks as the most effective tool against the spread of COVID-19, but let’s also wear them to remind us that we are human, interconnected, and vulnerable. We all worry about how the pandemic will continue to impact our lives, our loved ones, our nation, and our children, but our masks can symbolize our redoubled effort and commitment to fight for our public health with all our might, to demonstrate our commitment to the health of those we love as well as to those who are strangers. Let’s show the best of Wheeler’s #SpiritStrong culture and pass this along to our children as we face uncertainty with courage. Thank you in advance for helping with this effort.

Wheeler W wearing a purple mask

Version 3 of our Responsible Community Guide has been linked to your parent portal and below. It is the product of hundreds of hours and dozens of minds, and it still does not answer some questions we know you will have. Your Division Leaders have also included letters linked below, and they will be following with more specifics in the coming weeks. I want to thank the many individuals who contributed to this and who have been working continuously throughout the summer to try to address and mitigate every possible concern.

In August, there are several opportunities for you to ask questions of the Healthy 20-21 Task Force at Open Meetings on Tuesday, August 11, 9-10 AM and Thursday, August 13, 4-5 PM.  As you already know, we are also hosting a special event Parenting in the Pandemic: Making Informed Decisions for your Family on Wednesday, August 12, 5:30-6:30 PM. This panel features Emily Oster Ph.D., an expert on data-informed parenting, Dr. Lauren Allister, a pediatric emergency doctor, Dr. David Dove, a clinical psychologist, and Dr. Jen Friedman, epidemiologist, and pediatrician. This event has been created to bring together experts in a variety of fields with a local focus to offer research and science-based considerations for decision making during an anxious time.

Thank you for reading our messages and our Community Guide for Responsible Reopening, for your questions, your grace, and partnership walking with us through this time.

Allison


Link to V3 Responsible Community Guide, updated 9.23.20

 

Images of the Providence Campus Sign and Farm Campus Red Arch on cover of latest version of Responsible Community Guide.

Need a Virtual TicTac — Mr. Harris has it!

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