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,
Director of Schools