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COVID-19 Updates

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response and Updates

Cranbrook Schools continues to follow developments regarding COVID-19 and is aware of the official updates and cautions regarding its spread in the United States. This page provides official updates from Cranbrook Schools about the current status of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the school community.

CK Online Global Distance Learning

All Cranbrook Schools students – from across the country and around the world – are connecting with teachers and classmates while receiving online instruction for the duration of the campus closure. Families, please be sure to check your email and the CK Online Gateway

Messages to the Community

List of 6 items.

  • 05/01/20 – Video: Update from Director of Schools

    Click here to watch a video update from Director of Schools Aimeclaire Roche.
  • 04/24/20 - Latest Director of Schools Update

    April 24, 2020
    Dear Cranbrook Parents,
    In Beside A Lake, A History of Kingswood School Cranbrook, you will find a heartfelt quote from a 1943 edition of The Clarion (now the Crane-Clarion) student newspaper:
    “…I wish that for just one short minute all of us could take time to gaze around our school to notice the beauty of its surroundings, to run our hands over the smoothness of the fixtures…to realize what we have that is so precious.” (Anne Ballentine)
    During this stay-at-home quarantine, Ms. Ballentine’s reflection is more poignant than ever. Like you and your children, I miss our campus, its beauty, and – more important – the precious gift of children that enliven it. With this in mind, I write with an update about things we hold dear at Cranbrook Schools and about the opening of school in the fall.
    • Thank you for your support of Kaleidoscope and last week’s successful online auction to support the CK Emergency Fund for Financial Aid. Direct contributions and winning bids raised over $200,000 to support current and new Cranbrook families who are experiencing unanticipated, pandemic-related financial difficulty. This fund will help to ensure that mission-appropriate students remain the heart and soul of our school community. Thank you for your generosity.
              o If you are in a position to support this important fund please contact Director of Schools’ Advancement Harold Brown hbrown@cranbrook.edu
              o To apply for Emergency Financial Aid Funds please contact Associate Director of Financial Aid Eileen Hilliard ehilliard@cranbrook.edu

    • We have calculated fourth quarter food and residential cost credits for our day as well as boarding families at all divisions. Next week, our business office will communicate the specific amount of this credit, which will vary by division and day/boarding status. We hope that this underscores our commitment to all our families and our understanding of the pandemic’s impact on so many sectors of our economy.

    • If you were unable to participate in our three division-specific parent webinars last week, the recordings of them can be found in CranNet > Resources > CK Online Gateway tile.

    • Too, we are grateful for your feedback on global distance learning, which each division head has shared with teachers as well as grade- and department-level leaders. As division heads wrote on Monday, your constructive comments are allowing us to adjust program to enhance the student experience. The next opportunity to give your feedback will be on Friday, May 1st.
    In addition to our daily work with CK Online, a core group of Schools administrative colleagues and I have been preparing for our eventual return to in-person instruction on Cranbrook’s campus. This return will most likely occur in September at the scheduled beginning of our 2020-2021 academic year. Our planning – which at this stage involves various scenarios and draft contingency plans – is being done in concert with colleagues throughout the Cranbrook Educational Community. We will continue to revise our plans over the coming weeks and months as new information is available about how to best manage the risks of COVID-19 and its spread, as well as how to best position Cranbrook students to thrive – academically and personally – in the current climate.
    While the situation is still fluid, our aim is to be on campus, for in-person instruction at our scheduled start next fall, in a way that is sustainable for the full school year.
    Our planning to return to campus is guided by four principles and assumptions:

    1. Our return to campus will be predicated by the lifting of state-mandated stay-at-home and school closure orders, will abide by all applicable laws, and will be informed by state-level return-to-work plans.
              a. The first iteration of return-to-work plans from the Michigan Governor’s office was announced today (MI Executive Order 2020-59). While schools remain closed, our planning will be informed by this executive order as well as forthcoming iterations and orders from the Governor’s office.
    2. Separate from state-level mandates, the Cranbrook Educational Community must determine for itself when we are prepared to receive students on campus in way that appropriately and reasonably manages the risks associated with COVID-19 and its spread. Simply put, it must not only be lawful to return to campus but also, in our own minds, healthy to do so.
              a. Inevitably, our return to campus – like that at all schools – will involve various new protocols, designed to safeguard the wellbeing of our students, families and teachers. These protocols are currently being developed and may include the use of social distancing, masks, frequent disinfection, and/or symptom tracking.

    3. All of Cranbrook’s protocols will be developed with the wellbeing of our students, and community members as our first priority and will be informed by:
              a. Guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Michigan and Oakland Country Health Departments as well as our consulting physicians at Beaumont Hospital.
              b. The evolving experience of peer institutions including schools overseas that are currently returning to their facilities, independent schools regionally and nationally, and other industries where people live and/or work in close proximity.
              c. The scientific community, where there is widespread, evidence-based agreement about contagion at colleges and residential facilities, and what constitutes effective measures to thwart the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the reliability of our external health care system.

    4. All members of the Cranbrook community must embrace that a healthy return to campus will force us to prioritize wellbeing over convenience and some of our traditional norms.
              a. As rich as Cranbrook’s history is, the current pandemic requires new, creative thinking and new ways of approaching our work with students. Thankfully, ingenuity abounds here and invaluable assets – like Cranbrook’s already small class sizes, our large campus, the sheer dedication of our teachers, and resilience of our community – will hold us in excellent stead as we move forward.
    Much is to be done before September. I firmly believe that while only time will tell if we will have made the right decisions, we must always strive to make our decisions the right – most thoughtful – way. My colleagues and I will continue to bring our most thoughtful efforts to bear and update you through the next weeks and months as various contingency plans take shape and as practical details become clear.
    Ultimately, what makes Cranbrook Schools unique and special positions us well for this work: our mission to prepare students to thrive in a complex world, our sense of common purpose, our agility as an independent school and the collaborative and creative spirit that permeates the whole Cranbrook Educational Community.
    As always, it is a privileged to partner with you in your child’s education. Stay well.
    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
  • 04/09/20 – Video: Update from Director of schools

    Click here to watch a video update from Director of Schools Aimeclaire Roche
  • 03/28/20 - CK Online & Cranbrook Schools Moving Forward

    Dear Cranbrook Families,
    I write, first, with my very best thoughts for you and your family’s wellbeing. No matter the work or challenges ahead, your family’s health is most important.
    Second, I write anticipating the opening of CK Online. The past dozen days have been busy and informative. Schools across the county have shared lessons learned from their own voyages into full distance learning. This dialog, and the further thinking of Cranbrook’s division heads and teachers, have given good structure to educating Cranbrook students in this new format.
    I write today with some broad reflections and to set the stage for our work in global distance learning. The schedule for next communication is:
    On Sunday, March 29th:
    • Division heads will be communicating with you at midday.
    • By evening, CranNet – our universal portal – is refreshed and reorganized to be a single ‘one-stop shop’ for information. We did this to curtail families receiving an endless stream of emails regarding the opening of school.
      • Here, on the landing page for all parents, you will find the “CK Online Resource Gateway” with an All Schools Guide to CK Online, all division-specific information, and links to other resources. This is where you will go to find:
        • information on daily schedules at each division
        • expectations, roles and responsibilities while we are in distance learning mode
        • communications guidelines
        • grading and tuition policies
        • whom to call when you have questions
        • how to access counseling and other Cranbrook Schools resources for health and wellness, academic support, etc.
    • On Monday afternoon, March 30th there will be class-specific communications and updates to CranNet from teachers to students and families.
      • At the start of each school week, teachers will offer students class-specific “overviews” of the week ahead, so that students know broadly what to anticipate each week.
      • Teachers will then offer students daily or as needed updates on class topics, assignments, etc.
    As we move to CK Online, we must recognize that the act of moving the Cranbrook curriculum entirely online, for nearly 1700 students, would be Herculean under any circumstances. To do so, in short order, while most community members are under state-manded ‘pandemic sheltering orders,’ is unheard of.
    Nevertheless, we are fully committed to our educational mission, and—most important—to our students and your families. Know: we are going to be ok. Because, as a community, we are choosing to walk together through uncharted waters, taking measured steps, and making opportune and calculated adjustments as we go forward.
    Ultimately, it is our objective to keep Cranbrook students engaged, on track with their studies, and in good stead — academically and personally – long after this crisis has subsided.As an independent school, not subject to state instructional time mandates, we define the appropriate education for our students at each grade level; rest assured, all Cranbrook students who are in good academic stead at this juncture will be able to progress to either graduation if they are a senior, or the next appropriate grade level.
    As we move forward, I underscore:
    • A Generation-Defining Moment
    We cannot underestimate the effect the experience of this pandemic will have on us – parents and teachers – as well as the generation of young people we are raising. We all will remember for years where we were, how we spent these days, and with whom; if we were diagnosed or knew someone who fell gravely ill; how we absorbed the pandemic’s economic impact. Most important, this pandemic, and the world’s response to it, will shape how our students understand—and what they value about—the public good and their role as citizens; companionship and solitude; health, wellbeing and medical care; our schools, homes and workplaces; the responsibilities of government as well as that of family, friend and neighbor. This experience will define for them what community—in all its forms, in good as well as tough times—can and should mean.
    • Not Business-as-Usual
    Therefore, these unprecedented times demand a different mindset about schoolwork and school. You have invited our teachers into your homes; and our teachers have invited you and your child into theirs, during a time when everyone has significant personal, and professional concerns, and we all are sharing limited resources. While Cranbrook students will remain engaged and stay on track with their studies, our objective is not to replicate every aspect or the full richness of our face-to-face classes; that is impossible. Rather, with every available technology, we will creatively re-envision our academic work for a new fully digital, and remote, environment. 
    Expect that classes will look and feel different than what your child would have experienced on campus. And know that our teachers, at all divisions, are keenly attentive to:
    • The Job Right Now
    As educators our job right now is tangentially about content and foremost about care and connection. At a time of global uncertainty our teachers are committed, first and foremost, to being fully present for their students, serving them with abiding care, compassion and enduring relationship. Cranbrook’s faculty are seasoned educators whose love for young people transcends any particular technological tool they might employ. When every student leaves a Zoom class and knows that they were heard, cared for and that they and their thoughts mattered to adults they trust outside their home and to their peers, we have done our most important job.
    • Big Picture Intellectual Engagement
    In this unusual setting, teachers cannot follow their original syllabus. They are thinking now beyond numbers of sentences translated, problems solved, stories or paragraphs read and picking the most compelling topics or material. Teachers are not lessening the rigor, but—as the best educators do—modifying their program to meet the needs of the day-at-hand, with the day-to-day academic goal of deep intellectual engagement.
    While teachers will still assign things to do–sentences, stories and problems– we are concentrating on how those activities excite the mind and reinforce skill-building. We will take advantage of the fact that, in this environment, we can differentiate in myriad ways, letting students explore individual passions and move at different paces. And we are focusing on how, through the things we choose to assign, students show us mastery, not just tasks accomplished, which we required for homework. Indeed, what is “homework” or “classwork” now—when by necessity there is no separation between home and school? It is all part and parcel of what has always been at the core of a Cranbrook education: intellectual engagement.
    • Less Really Is More
    Every school, nationally, is recognizing that “pandemic distance learning time” is different. For example, under the current circumstances, the College Board has revamped its traditional 3-hour Advanced Placement exam to one that takes 45 minutes; nationally, all teachers, at every age level, are pulling back on the expectations with which they walked into this two weeks ago.
    At the outset Cranbrook teachers have been advised to temper their pace and modify their plans to reflect the following:
    • It is unhealthy—for any of us—to sit through hours of Zoom calls or hours of uninterrupted screen time; for most, a 30-minute convening of class where students are fully engaged, is more effective than one that lasts 60 minutes (where most students passively listen or just look like they are listening).
    • No home, particularly under the current ‘sheltering’ orders, can have the same reliable structures and routine as a schoolhouse. You already know well that your children’s lives are full of distractions: you who are working-from-home; the needs of their siblings; imperfect study spaces; limited and shared technology resources, and old- fashioned cabin fever.
    • Technology will fail us: audio will be scratchy; Wi-Fi will be weak; some students may need to step in and out of class, depending on things beyond their control in their homes.
    Know that because of these universal factors, peer schools agree: we should count on 30-45 minutes total engagement per class meeting, per day (particularly for upper and middle school.) We all must embrace that particularly at the start, every lesson or class discussion will take longer than we think, and new, important logistics (i.e. figuring out how to mute, how to share, or how to not talk over each other) may take time.
    At all divisions, please expect that class meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week will be largely re-introduction and checking-in. It is an opportunity for students to welcome us into their homes, to see teachers in their digital spaces and – most important - to tell us how they are doing. Teachers and students will use this time to download or test their technology and get comfortable—in these new classroom settings and with digital etiquette. As a community we may be in this mode for some time, so we must pace ourselves, beginning slowly and moving on Thursday and Friday into class topics and core activities.
    • Partnership
    A healthy School-Parent Partnership is critical to everyone’s success. For nearly 100 years, Cranbrook teachers have always committed themselves to our students’ best interests. That will not change as we make this pivot to global distance learning, and as we discover unforeseen challenges, adapt, and leverage the best of this modality. We all will make mistakes; and we all will recover from them.
    I ask that we - both parents and teachers - all are patient, respectful and kind with each other as we get started and into the weeks ahead. The global and national situation remains fluid and depending on the trajectory of the pandemic’s local manifestation, Governor Whitmer’s current date for school campuses to remain closed, April 13th, may be extended.
    In partnership, know that
    • If you have a concern about your child; I ask that you, first, consider how immediate your concern it is. This modality is new for all of us and initially we are all novices; let’s proceed with the good faith that most issues may be comparatively minor, compared to the challenge we are surmounting, and will resolve themselves naturally.
    • Of course, if your concern is urgent or serious, contact your child’s teacher directly, as you would normally do. We ask that you use email and arrange to talk with them at an appropriate time, outside of the digital class time; teachers will be offering online “office hours” or would be happy to call you.
    • The administration will be soliciting formal feedback on the structure of our global distance learning work at the end of the second week of class. We are eager – sincerely -to gain your insight, be nimble and adjust CK Online to best serve our students.
    • Once classes have begun division heads, aided by our technology team, will be working with our Mothers Council’s and Dad’s Clubs to facilitate – through some digital means - the appropriate and important fellowship we enjoy and so appreciate when we can be on campus.
    My colleagues and I feel privileged to share this moment in time with your family. Educators who walk through a moment like this with students will have a lasting effect on their sense of self and sense of the world, its stabilizing forces, and its humanity. I do feel certain that this experience will define for these young people what community—in all its forms, in good as well as tough times—can and should mean. Thank you for walking this journey with our teachers, with your children, and with each other.
  • 03/20/20 - SEVIS Travel Guidance Update for International Students

    March 20, 2020
    Dear Students and Families,
    We are writing with information regarding your student’s F-1 visa status at Cranbrook. While our national situation due to COVID-19 remains fluid and changing, below is current guidance with respect to communications received from the US Department of Homeland Security.
    Current Status through March 29, 2020:
    It is important to know that your child’s I-20 is valid as-is until the end of Cranbrook’s spring break on March 29, 2020. The back page of your child’s I-20 was signed by a Cranbrook P/DSO when s/he arrived to campus in the fall, and that signature is valid for one year.
    Beginning March 30, 2020:
    Immediately after spring break, Cranbrook P/DSOs will be amending your child’s status in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) with the Department of Homeland Security to reflect Cranbrook’s implementation of online learning courses.
    It is imperative that you, students, keep your campus dean notified of any changes to your plans after spring break so that we may modify your status with the government accordingly:
    • If you are remaining in the United States after spring break, you are responsible for making sure your Campus Dean is kept informed of all details, and any changes, of your stay including name of parent/guardian/adult host, complete address, phone number, and email contact for the duration of your stay;
    • If you have (or plan to) depart the United States to go home, ensure that your Campus Dean is kept informed of your travel plans, including flight details. We ask that you send an email to your Campus Dean to let us know that you’ve arrived home safely and are in the care of your parents.
    Our International Student Coordinator, Anna Bryant, is Cranbrook’s PDSO (Principal Designated School Official) for the Student Exchange and Visitor Program. Mrs. Bryant will be updating your status in SEVIS immediately after spring break based on the information you provide to our Campus Deans. It is critical that the information we have on file for you is up-to-date and accurate to ensure your I-20 status remains active and you are in compliance with United States government requirements. Please direct all questions regarding I-20s, F-1 visa status, and SEVP/SEVIS to Mrs. Bryant.
    While we know that our current situation remains fluid and changing, Cranbrook is committed to assisting F-1 students and families in the coming months. Communication is of the utmost importance and we encourage you to reach out with questions. We will be here to provide guidance as the situation evolves and look forward to staying in touch with you. If your plans to stay/depart the United States change at any time, immediately contact our Campus Deans and International Student Coordinator/PDSO to update your status.
                Direct questions regarding I-20s, F-1 visa status, and SEVP/SEVIS to:
    Anna Bryant, International Student Coordinator/PDSO - ABryant@cranbrook.edu
    Direct changes in travel plans & homestay arrangements both in/outside the United States to:
    Angelita Castañon, Dean of Students - ACastanon@cranbrook.edu
    Jon Poffenberger, Dean of Students - JPoffenberger@cranbrook.edu
    Anna Bryant, International Student Coordinator & PDSO Student and Exchange Visitor Program
    Angelita Castañon, Dean of Students
    Jon Poffenberger, Dean of Students
  • 01/28/20 - Contact Numbers

    Upper School Director: (248) 645-3405
    Upper School Dean of Girls: (248) 645-3400
    Upper School Dean of Boys: (248) 645-3620
    Upper School Nurse: (248) 645-3431, (248) 645-3631

    Middle School for Girls Director: (248) 645-3420
    Middle School for Girls Nurse: (248) 645-3431, (248) 645-3631

    Middle School for Boys Director: (248) 645-3070
    Middle School for Boys Nurse: (248) 645-3431, (248) 645-3631

    Lower School Director: (248) 645-3520
    Lower School Nurse: (248) 645-3529

Messages to Our Alumni

List of 2 items.

  • 04/17/20 - Reunion 2020 Update

    Fellow Alumni,

    I want to extend my support to all members of our alumni community who are or have been affected by the COVID-19 virus. Our network of alumni around the world are important to us and we are thinking about everyone's health and well-being.

    In light of safety measures being taken to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan and across the U.S., we have made the difficult decision to cancel Reunion 2020, originally scheduled for June 5-6-7. Reunion typically brings 800-1000 alumni and guests back to Cranbrook’s campus. We believe hosting such a large-scale gathering with participants from around the globe would place the health of those participants at high risk.

    Milestone class reunions scheduled for 2020 will be postponed and celebrated during Reunion Weekend 2021 on June 11-12-13. Celebrating reunion classes ending in 0s and 5s along with next year’s milestone classes ending with 1s and 6s will certainly provide for a spirited weekend on campus in 2021. We will be reaching out for reunion planning support from alumni in these classes in the fall.

    This spring we will find creative ways to honor our Distinguished Alumni for 2020, Selma Blair ’90 and Mike Acheson ’80 and to mark the 50th anniversaries of science faculty members Russ Conner and Randy Tufts and the 40th anniversary of performing arts instructor Katie Lorts. The Schools’ current administration is still considering how to best honor the graduating seniors – the class of 2020 – and whether Commencement exercises in any form might be held this June.

    I hope you have had a chance to read the update Director of Schools Aimeclaire Roche sent to all alumni. It comes as no surprise that the leading inquiry our team has received thus far from our alumni pertains to the welfare of our students. The upcoming issue of Tradition will provide more information on life at the schools during the pandemic and ways in which our alumni can provide support. It is inspiring to see our faculty and students working together within the constraints created by the health crisis and rising to the challenges it presents.

    Our bonds as a community are more important than ever. We continue to work to keep alumni connected, and invite you to share stories of ways in which you and your classmates are coping and supporting each other by emailing alumni@cranbrook.edu. In the midst of all of the challenges we are facing it has been heartening to hear stories of ways in which our alumni are making a difference, from the vital work of our alumni in healthcare and research, to smaller acts of checking in on isolated neighbors.

    Our Cranbrook Schools advancement team staff will be working remotely until restrictions are lifted in Michigan. We will continue to monitor this unprecedented situation and respond in a manner that keeps the health and well-being of our community a top priority. We look forward to the day when we are all able to come together on our beautiful campus to celebrate our community of Cranbrook Kingswood alumni and friends. Until then, take care of yourself and please stay in touch — via email, on our website and through our social media channels.

    With gratitude for our alumni community and for your support,

    Susan Aikens Post ‘78
    Cranbrook Schools’ Director of Alumni Relations
    Read More
  • 03/26/20 - Alumni COVID 19 Update

    Dear Cranbrook Kingswood Alumni,
    Honoring your affection for this singular place and exceptional community, I write to let you know how Cranbrook Schools is navigating these unprecedented times as COVID-19 has manifested locally in Michigan.
    Just as in your own homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces, the last few weeks on our campus have been full of quandary; we have sought facts, confronted fears, and, like you, weighed the right thing to do for one’s self, one’s family and the greater good. Throughout, Cranbrook Schools continues to move forward thoughtfully and stalwartly, with the health and wellbeing of our community – and the wider community – as our highest priority.
    • Rest assured that Cranbrook Schools has a standing Pandemic Plan which guides our decision-making during times like these. As a part of this plan, the Schools’ Pandemic Care Team – which includes our nurses, key school administrators and colleagues from the Cranbrook Educational Community – has been meeting regularly since the COVID-19 outbreak was first detected overseas. Through this team, we make decisions that prioritize the wellbeing of our students and teachers and are coordinated with all entities on Cranbrook’s campus.
    • Currently all PreKindergarten-12th grade school facilities in Michigan, both public and private, are required by our Governor’s executive order to be closed, now through at least April 13th. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) and Catholic League have suspended all spring sports until further notice and, in Michigan, as of March 23, all non-essential errands outside the home have been curtailed, through at least April 13th, under the Governor’s “Stay Home; Stay Safe” executive order.
    At Cranbrook, we anticipated this possible turn of events and since late January have been preparing to move our classes, at all divisions, online as soon as we felt it was prudent to do so. For a program as large as ours this is no small feat. We have dubbed our approach to global distance learning CK Online and all Cranbrook’s teachers have worked diligently to connect meaningfully with their students through digital means, no matter where those students are.
    For our youngest students at Brookside this could mean a Zoom sing-along or show-and-tell; for our oldest upper schoolers this could mean peer critique of video presentations, or syllabi revamped to study the coronavirus statistics and spread. Our objective is not to replicate every aspect or the full richness of our face-to-face classes; that is impossible. Rather, with every available technology, we must creatively re-envision our academic work for a new fully digital, and remote, environment. Our faculty has been remarkably nimble, and their commitment and ingenuity are on full display, and will continue to be for as long as necessary. It is our objective to keep Cranbrook students engaged, on track with their studies, and in good stead – academically and personally – long after this crisis has subsided.
    To that end, since January we have been keenly aware that our boarding population requires special care and attention at this time. Our Governor’s orders were issued at the start of, and during, our scheduled spring break. Thankfully, this gave us an opportunity to make sustainable contingency plans and all of our 250 upper school boarders are either home with their families or in secure long-term stateside home-stays. These students, too, will access CK Online for as long as need be and, because nurturing and supporting Cranbrook’s diverse, multi-national community is integral to our comprehensive educational mission, we are committed to delivering instruction to all, and will make accommodations for changes in time zones across the globe.
    Most important during this time, we must consider what our most valued commodity – community – means. How does fellowship or care, affinity or affection, wellness and wellbeing manifest itself in new ways on-line and in a socially, physically distant format? Amid the Zoom conference calls and classes via Facetime, we are drawing upon our expertise with one kind of community and investing ourselves sincerely in another. More than continued academic engagement, CK Online allows time for casual, caring touch points, advisor check-ins and supportive counseling of students during a time that is frightening and full of understandable tensions as we all hunker down. Our school counselors fill an essential role here, as does every student’s advisor, teachers and coaches.
    I argue that as families and communities are, by necessity, physically isolated from one another and as we struggle with fears – about the health of loved ones, about jobs and finances, about all that is uncertain – a community as strong and vibrant as that at Cranbrook Schools is indispensable.
    In The Alphabet of Grace educator Fredrick Buechner writes, “A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is where one plus one equals a thousand.” As the institutions – workplaces, schools and colleges, even houses of worship – to which we are allied and on which many rely for structure, engagement and routine have taken a hiatus from business as usual, I believe that amid insecurity and disruption, we are witnessing a miracle: we are pausing to consider the impact of our individual decisions on the greater good, from the global community-at-large and our health care infrastructure, to the vulnerable neighbor down the street.
    This is a moment where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, where it is less about what each of us as individuals do, and more about what many of us choose to do together: making prudent decisions and embracing new modalities and personal sacrifices, of all kinds, to safeguard our own health and in equal measure that of those around us.
    Thankfully, Cranbrook as a whole always feels bigger than the sum of its many individual parts, and Cranbrook is community we take with us, no matter where we are, whether we are in close proximity or not. Our Schools community knows that our care for each other transcends a handshake or hug and extends over the distance that may separate us from one another.
    I thank our alumni and everyone in our global Cranbrook community for support during these times. If you would like to stay abreast of the Schools announcements and resources please visit our dedicated webpage designed to keep our current students and families informed. Too, know that we are making adjustments to our next issue of Tradition magazine. Knowing that many in our alumni community are in a work-from-home or a stay-at-home situation, we will be publishing class notes online on the Tradition page of the website found here. Those will be available around April 3. We hope they will be a welcome and immediate way to stay connected with one another. As well, our next issue of Tradition will be a special one highlighting for alumni our Schools’ response to the pandemic and related stories from our campus.
    While we have decisions yet ahead – about important events of the later spring and early summer – Reunion, Commencements, etc. – we will use the same prudence and care as we have thus far when deciding if these events and cherished milestones can go on as planned, or need to be cancelled, modified or postponed. Always we will aim high in our expectations and go forth and serve one another – near or far – with generosity of spirit, care and compassion.
    With gratitude for our Cranbrook community and for your support,
    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
    Read More

Message Archive

List of 7 items.

  • 03/20/20 - Touching Base

    Dear Cranbrook Families,
    I write merely to touch base during these unusual days. My Cranbrook colleagues and I hope that even with the uncertainty of global events, we all have taken time this first week of spring break to reacquaint ourselves with our families, and enjoy the unsung pleasures of being together in close proximity: perhaps learning to share space and home resources, or having an at-home lunch date, or – my favorite – letting the young teach those of us less experienced how to ‘Zoom’ into conference calls, use helpful apps and have the online presence we never thought we’d need...!
    My administrative colleagues and I are thinking intently about our community and how we will return to school through global distance learning - CK Online - beginning classes on March 31st. We are endeavoring, in these unprecedented times, to construct as much infrastructure as possible before we engage online with all our students, whether local or now at home abroad. We have been conversing with peer independent schools already into their second week of online school, anticipating what structures – for support, communication and community-building – need to be reconfigured and in place, and discerning where flexibility will serve all of us well. For independent schools like Cranbrook, with a rich tradition of campus-centered programs, ingenuity and creative thinking matters more now than ever. I am proud that both abound at Cranbrook Schools.
    You will hear more details about day-to-day school from your division head and teachers closer to March 31st. If in the coming week you want to prepare for CK Online, invite your children to:
    • Prepare an appropriate study space, where they can feel good about concentrating on school, Zooming into class and working on independent projects.
    • Talk about how your family will share computer resources.
    • Talk about down time, when your child or whole family will be intentionally off-line for a period of time every day; consider what general parameters are age-appropriate and fit your child and family.
    Also, consider your own needs if you and/or your spouse/partner are working from home, and discuss those with your child, particularly at the middle and upper levels.
    Most important, take the opportunity for restorative family time this weekend and in the coming week: reading and cooking together, planning the summer’s garden, reigniting and sharing a hobby. Too, don’t forget that while the buildings on our campus must be closed and we cannot congregate, you are welcome to walk the trails and pathways; if driving, enter through the Woodward gate and check in with the guard.
    As I wrote last week, Cranbrook is community we take with us, no matter where we are. We will adapt to these new circumstances with our trademark care, compassion and creativity.
    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
  • 03/13/20 - A Reflection from the Director of Schools

    Dear Cranbrook Families and Colleagues,

    In The Alphabet of Grace educator and theologian Fredrick Buechner writes, “A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is where one plus one equals a thousand.”

    It seems odd to talk of miracles this week. After all, we are experiencing what for most of us is unprecedented anxiety, frustration and disruption: mandated working from home, radically curtailed travel, and the whiplash of volatile financial markets. In every arena, programs have been cancelled, from professional conferences to personal celebrations, from Presidential campaign rallies to NBA and NCAA competition. In our students’ lives, spring break plans have been upended, winter tournaments have been suspended, and commitments and spring seasons delayed for an unknown period of time. The institutions – workplaces, schools and colleges, even houses of worship—to which we are allied and on which many rely for structure, engagement and routine have announced a hiatus.

    All of this has happened in increasingly rapid succession, as, inevitably, COVID-19 has manifest locally, and caused moments of anxious, necessarily hasty decision-making that has been based in some fact, some fear, and in most cases a best guess at the right thing to do for one’s self, one’s family and the greater good.

    And therein lies the miracle: however one struggled with events of the last 48 hours—are we overreacting? underreacting? – we are pausing to consider the impact of our individual decisions on the greater good, from the global community-at-large to the vulnerable neighbor down the street. While this coronavirus appears less a threat to those of us who are fortunate to be healthy or young, it is very dangerous to many, is highly communicable and can dwell in us undetected and undiagnosed. Most important, its rapid, unchecked spread could overwhelm our health care infrastructure and, in turn, affect us all.

    This is a moment where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, where it is less about what each of us as individuals do, and more about what many of us choose to do together: making prudent decisions and embracing personal sacrifices, of all kinds, to safeguard our own health and in equal measure that of those around us.

    As we do this, we will forego traditional modes of congress where we meet casually as well as formally en masse. We will be forced, in effect, to re-envision what our most valued commodity – community—means. We will ask: how does fellowship or care, affinity or affection manifest itself in new ways on-line and in a socially, physically distant format? Amid the Zoom conference calls and classes via Facetime, we will have to draw upon our understanding of—and our comfort and expertise with—one kind of community and invest ourselves sincerely in another.

    Thankfully, Cranbrook as a whole always feels bigger than the sum of its many individual parts, and Cranbrook is community we take with us, no matter where we are, whether we are in close proximity or not. Remember over the coming weeks that our care for each other transcends a handshake or hug and extends over the distance that may separate us from one another. We can encourage and commend, reach out and raise up in myriad ways - with kind emails, calls and cards, and through tools like video that allow us to leverage personal warmth, not abandon it.

    Thank you to everyone in our community who has helped to inform and guide our tapering down of school today: our nurses and deans, division heads and, especially, our teachers who are embracing the idea of on-line instruction with their trademark care and professionalism. I especially appreciate those who have welcomed our boarders into their homes, allowing them to know your family’s generous embrace.

    As we head into the next two weeks, be mindful of your family’s health, and please remember that the next two weeks are a break from school. Enjoy this unique time you have together with your families. Do the things for which we often have scant time: linger over the morning paper; read some good books and read books to your children; work on a hobby and teach it to your children; call that loved one, friend or relative you can’t visit, as often as you can; play silly boardgames; have long family dinners now that the kids—a little miracle – have no place else to go.

    Between today and March 30, I will send updates if there are any changes and/or information about which you need to know regarding COVID-19 and the whole of Cranbrook Schools. Our Division Heads will communicate about how we will approach on-line instruction at each division; look for their next communications this coming Monday, March 16. Your child’s teachers will begin to communicate with you and your family closer to our opening of “CK On-line” March 30th.

    With gratitude for our partnership,

    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
  • 03/13/20 - Governor's Order: All Michigan Schools Closed

    Dear Cranbrook Schools parents,

    Late last evening, Governor Witmer announced that all Michigan school buildings – both public and private - will be closed from March 16 through April 5 in order to mitigate the local spread of COVID-19.
    As planned, Cranbrook teachers are prepared to begin on-line instruction starting on March 31, at the end of our spring break.

    • All students should depart today for our spring break with all materials (textbooks, notebooks, etc.) that will allow them to participate in on-line instruction as of March 31st.
    • Teachers will be in touch with their students at the upper and middle school levels, as well as with parents at Brookside, about logistics of on-line instruction, setting expectations and balancing on-line class meetings with independent work.
    • All teachers are adjusting course syllabi, assignments and assessments to accommodate our move to this new mode of teaching and learning.
    • Our Upper School Deans will be in touch with the families of our boarding students to facilitate appropriate arrangements for these students for this elongated period of time. We are sincerely grateful to those who have welcomed our boarders in to their families for the spring break period.

    As we take time to adjust to this order from the Governor, we urge families to stay abreast of updates from Cranbrook through email and on our COVID-19 webpage, and to continue to monitor their own health and take the common-sense flu precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control that we have encouraged and followed since January.

    Our thanks for your partnership in this effort to protect the health of our community, at Cranbrook and beyond.
    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
  • 03/11/20 - COVID-19 Update, New Friday Dismissal Times

    Dear Cranbrook Parents,

    We continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19, recognizing that the situation remains extremely fluid.

    Michigan’s department of Health and Human Services has now reported cases of COVID-19 in our area. Please know that the Governor’s declaring a state of emergency is to harness resources across state government; it does not mean that schools are closed.

    While always subject to change, Cranbrook Schools remains open for routine school activities at this time. As we approach our spring break, March 13-31, please note the following four immediate items.

    1. We now advise all students, when departing the campus for the break, to take all their school materials (textbooks, notebooks, laptops, etc.) home with them. The Schools’ faculty – in all divisions – is preparing to engage in on-line instruction should we have high numbers of student absences or we are unable to resume any classes on campus when we return from break; all students should be prepared to participate in on-line instruction as of March 31st. All studens leaving the local area during this break should take their laptop (or equivalent device), as well as essential school materials, with them; should the situation warrant, this will allow students to engage in on-line instruction from wherever they are starting March 31st.
    2. We have altered the dismissal time at three of our divisions for this coming Friday, March 13. On Friday, at Brookside and both Boys and Girls Middle Schools, we will dismiss students at 11:30 a.m. This early dismissal will allow our teachers at these divisions time that afternoon to work together on coordinated plans for on-line instruction.
    This early dismissal does not apply to the Upper School. Upper School students may depart for spring break on Friday after their last class, activity or school obligation.
    Extended Aftercare is available until 6pm on Friday at the lower and middle schools. Registration is required using this link. Regular Aftercare rates and policies apply.
    3. As we have cautioned, please be cognizant of the consequences of your family’s spring break travel and use common sense not only about your own – but our community’s – health. Remaining healthy and virus-free preserves medical resources for those who most urgently need them. If you are among those at high risk for COVID-19, follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing, etc.; otherwise, continue to make well-informed and prudent decisions regarding travel and to follow vigilant flu hygiene, protecting your family’s and your own good health – as well as that of others around you.
    As an institution, we will continue to follow the guidance and align our policies with the direction of the CDC. For example, current CDC recommendations prescribe that all members of the Cranbrook Educational Community (CEC) who travel to or through areas of high risk “Level 3 Health Notice Countries” are now not permitted to participate in Cranbrook Schools’ activities until after a 14-day period of quarantine.
    4. During the break, our pandemic team will continue to actively monitor the situation, meet regularly and consult with the Oakland Country Health Department and other health agencies. Throughout the break all families should stay abreast of information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and check their email, as well as Cranbrook’s COVID-19 webpage, for frequent updates on how this evolving situation affects Cranbrook Schools.
    In this evolving situation, we will assess – closer to March 31st – the Schools’ ability to resume routine classes on campus following spring break. Again, updates will be sent to all parents though email and be posted on Cranbrook’s COVID-19 webpage.

    Please know that, on campus, we have taken the following steps to ensure our community’s continued wellbeing:

    • Where appropriate, we have canceled or postponed non-essential or high-risk activities, travel and events, including some school field trips and special events.
    • We have scheduled special cleaning and disinfecting of our school facilities over our upcoming spring break; this includes all high-touch areas and surfaces (i.e. school buses, classroom desks, dormitory areas, bathrooms, etc.)
    • Our colleagues at Chartwells have prepared to modify food service should at any time we be unable to continue mass, buffet-style meals.
    • We are coordinating with colleagues at other Cranbrook programs (Cranbrook’s Art Academy and Museum, Science Institute, etc.) to ensure consistent expectations and application of protocols.

    As we depart for spring break, we are particularly grateful to those families who have welcomed boarding students, unable to travel home, into their families. Most important, we deeply appreciate our community’s shared commitment to common sense health practices related to flu hygiene, social distancing, as well as non-essential and prudent travel. These are personal choices and practices that will ultimately serve the whole of our community well.

    Again, please stay abreast of updates sent by email and posted on the School’s COVID-19 website, and, if you have immediate questions or concerns regarding this evolving situation and Cranbrook Schools, contact your child’s division head at any time.
    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
  • 03/02/20 - COVID-19 Latest Update

    Dear Cranbrook Schools Families,
    We continue to follow developments regarding COVID-19 and are aware of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updates and cautions on its spread in the United States. This evolving situation asks that we be who we, as a community, always are: caring, patient, and prudent.
    While the current threat of COVID-19 remains low, particularly in healthy populations, our pandemic preparedness group continues to meet on a regular basis. This group of colleagues, includes our school nurses, division heads, as well as members of the Cranbrook Educational Community’s operations, facilities and human resources teams. We continue to consult with outside authorities including the Oakland County Health Department, to review our standing pandemic plan and to anticipate our Schools’ needs.
    We hope that COVID-19 does not spread widely; nevertheless, we must anticipate that it will manifest locally and be disruptive to our routines. Like all schools we are mindful that we share close quarters in classrooms, dining halls, dormitories, residences, etc. Most important we share – and are proud to share – a collective responsibility for the health and wellbeing of everyone on our campus and in our Cranbrook community.
    With that in mind, I offer here five important updates and areas of immediate focus:
    1. Current Health Precautions Remain Unchanged
    At this time the CDC’s recommendations for prudent flu hygiene have not changed and we will continue to follow them.
    • We have increased routine disinfection of high traffic areas around campus (bathroom surfaces, doorknobs, etc.)
    • Please continue to make sure that you and your children get appropriate rest, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, use the hand-sanitizer available throughout campus, cough into your elbow, minimize close contact with those who are ill and stay home if experiencing flu-like symptoms. These common-sense practices are essential to keeping the community healthy.
    2. Preparation for Online Instruction
    Pragmatically and in line with other independent schools, we are anticipating that at some point in the next few months numbers of students or teachers could be absent from school for an extended period of time. Should full pandemic conditions emerge, Cranbrook will continue to serve students while they are recovering or in quarantine, to the best of our ability and with all of our healthy, adult resources. To do this, all teachers at all divisions are preparing, should the situation warrant, to move instruction online. We will utilize any number of tools including CranNet, Zoom meetings, YouTube, etc.
    Our expectations are the same as always – that students will keep up with class to the degree that their health allows and that we will be empathetic, patient and flexible adults who know that the most successful learning happens in the context of caring relationships, where we balance our passion for our subject matter with our heartfelt, personal care for our students and each other. Know that division and department heads are leading discussions with our teachers as teachers take a long-term look at syllabi and decide what skills and content are truly essential and how those can be developed and delivered effectively, and in creative ways, through digital means.
    To ensure that your family would be able to access on-line instruction, please let your child’s division head or campus dean know if your family does not currently have access to high speed internet and/or to a computer, laptop or equivalent device at home.
    3. Spring Break Travel
    At this time, we ask that all employees and school families carefully assess the risks associated with their spring break travel plans, paying particular attention to potential consequences of travel outside the United States. The spread of the virus is difficult to predict and, by the end of March, return to the United States from any number of locations may be restricted. Too, quarantines may be imposed by governmental heath agencies for any number of reasons including:

    • because of an individual’s travel to/through an affected area or proximity to affected persons on airplanes or cruise ships, or at hotels and resorts
    • if an individual is symptomatic
    • based on the individual’s own citizenship or passport of origin
    • Please be aware that Cranbrook has no ability to intervene in efforts by governmental organizations, here or abroad, to quarantine individuals.
    Please evaluate your family’s travel plans carefully, and seriously consider remaining in the United States. No matter where your family travels this spring break, please take a laptop or equivalent device with you. If you or your child is delayed returning to campus, you and your child will want access to online instructional materials.
    4. Help Needed: Homestay Hosts for International Boarding Students
    We are grateful to the families who have already offered to host our international boarding students who cannot return home or be visited by family during our upcoming spring break.
    We eagerly welcome more state-side hosts, regardless of which Cranbrook division your family is affiliated with. For both guest and host a homestay is a tremendous opportunity to learn about and care for each other; these are critical moments of community-building.
    If you are interested in serving as a host for one of our boarding students, for all or a portion of spring break (6:00 p.m. March 13-noon March 30), please contact our International Student Coordinator Anna Bryant at (248)-645-3634 or abryant@cranbrook.edu
    5. Continued Communication
    Finally, we will continue to monitor the situation through resources at the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the Oakland County Health Department; we are also in contact with colleagues at Beaumont Hospital, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS).
    In order to facilitate timely and open communication with all our families, the external Cranbrook Schools website and our internal CranNet will soon both feature a dedicated tab labeled “COVID-19 Updates.” For convenient reference and access, starting this week, copies of all school communication and other helpful resources regarding COVID-19, will be housed there.
    As always, I am grateful for your family’s commitment to our school community’s health and wellbeing. My colleagues and I know - and are so thankful - that we will navigate this situation with our usual care, calm and partnership.

  • 02/17/20 - Protocol Updates and Spring Break Homestays

    Dear Cranbrook Schools Families,
    We continue to monitor carefully the expansion of the coronavirus (COVID-19) overseas and the presence of individual cases in the United States.   
    No changes in protocols or response
    At this time, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Oakland Country Health Department as well as our consulting medical team at Beaumont Hospital advise that we continue with our routine school business and best health care practices that we commonly share during flu and cold season.   
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands. 
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
    Help needed – spring break homestays
    Travel restrictions outlined by the US Department of State and Center for Disease Control (CDC) will affect directly our boarding students who would otherwise travel internationally over spring break; we are particularly concerned for students who will be unable to travel home and/or to have family members visit them in the United States.
    Our Upper Schools Deans and dorm leadership have met with each boarder impacted by the current travel restrictions to discuss alternative spring break travel plans, assisting families as they make arrangements with state-side relatives or friends.
    At the same time, we are seeking Cranbrook host families who would welcome a boarding student to spend part or all of our spring break with them. We welcome all families to participate as hosts regardless of which Cranbrook division your family is affiliated with. Our spring break begins at 6:00 p.m. Friday, March 13th and extends through Monday, March 30th at 12:00 p.m.
    For both guest and host, a homestay is a tremendous opportunity to learn about and care for each other; these are critical moments when we grow together as a community.
    If you are interested in serving as a host for one of our boarding students, please contact our International Student Coordinator, Anna Bryant at abryant@cranbrook.edu.
    As always, we recommend families stay informed about the coronavirus (COVID-19) via the CDC.  If you have specific questions about your own child’s heath, please contact our school nurses. 
    For the upper and middle schools:
    Cindy Mecsey, NP 248-645-3431 (cmecsey@cranbrook.edu)
    Vickie Abbott, BSN 248-645-3631 (vabbott@cranbrook.edu)
    For Brookside:
    Marcy De Craene, BSN 248 645-3529 (MDeCraene@cranbrook.edu)
    Leann Abbott, BSN 248-645-3504 (labbott@cranbrook.edu)
    Again, please contact International Student Coordinator Anna Bryant (abryant@cranbrook.edu) about being a homestay host family.  I am grateful for your support and your generous care for the whole Cranbrook community. 

    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools
  • 01/28/20 - Initial Communication Regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Dear Cranbrook Schools’ Families,

    There has been a growing concern in all communities about the evolving situation with the Novel Coronavirus respiratory illness (2019-nCoV) first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Like many of you, we have been monitoring the expansion of the illness overseas and the presence of individual 2019-nCoV cases more locally in the United States.
    I write to you today to address questions you may have concerning Cranbrook Schools’ actions and positions regarding: 1. preparedness, 2. international travel and boarding, and 3. next steps.

    1. Preparedness
    Rest assured, Cranbrook Schools has a standing pandemic protocol that we will enact if the situation warrants. Until that time, however, please know:
    • We are in contact with the Oakland Country Health Department (OCHD) as well as our consulting medical team at Beaumont Hospital; at this time they advise that we continue with our routine school business and routine best health care practices.
    • We continue to stay abreast of information shared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and OCHD. At this time those recommendations mirror the information we commonly share with our students during flu and cold season.
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
      • Stay home when you are sick.
      • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; sneeze into you; sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.
      • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    This week, upper and middle school division heads will be reiterating these precautions to their students; at Brookside, classroom teachers will actively ensure that students wash their hands frequently and properly. Additionally, students and staff have been asked to not shake hands, hug or be in close contact, particularly if they are sneezing or coughing.
    • We have taken the precaution to disinfect surfaces in our academic, athletic, and residential areas to assist in impeding the spread of viral illnesses, including coronavirus and influenza.
    • Our school nurses have updated assessment protocols in light of 2019-nCoV; should a student present concerning symptoms we will be in touch with their parents immediately and follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and OCHD protocols.
    2. International Travel and Boarding
    As a school with a multi-national population with families who live and work globally, we encourage all parents to follow the CDC recommendation to curtail all non-essential travel to China; we additionally ask that parents who have recently traveled to China and/or been exposed to 2019-nCoV refrain from visiting Cranbrook’s campus until after the 14-day incubation period.
    In addition, we will be asking all boarding students who might otherwise go to China over the upcoming spring break (March 14-30) to make alternative plans, should travel there at that time prove impossible or ill-advised. We will work individually with these students and their families.

    3. Next Steps
    Finally, we invite all our families to stay abreast of this developing situation via the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html.
    Cranbrook Schools will continue to monitor updates from the CDC, the World Health Organization, the OCHD, local hospitals, and our colleagues at other schools and be in touch with all our families as the situation evolves or should the need arise.
    Should you have specific questions about your student’s health please contact
    Cindy Mecsey, NP 248-645-3431 (cmecsey@cranbrook.edu)
    Vickie Abbott, RN 248-645-3631 (vabbott@cranbrook.edu)
    Our highest priority is the health and safety of our students. Thank you for your support of our efforts.
    Aimeclaire Roche
    Director of Schools