What Comes Next?

Rise of Covid-19 Cases in the US

After Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas schools closed until May 4, Greenhill followed suit and sent out an announcement extending remote learning until that date. Without any further recommendations, students and faculty are waiting to see what the weeks ahead will bring.

The Covid-19 outbreak is a rapidly changing situation that Greenhill administration and faculty have had to adapt to quickly.

“We have responded in an incremental fashion because it allows us some time to hang onto some of the school year,” Head of School Lee Hark said.

Greenhill’s decisions to extend the remote learning program have been guided by recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dallas County Health and Human Services and other experts.

The Greenhill response began in mid-February with Director of Student Health Services Katie Trimmer joining other school nurse directors in a weekly conference call with Dallas County health officials. After each call, Trimmer would brief Hark and Kendra Grace, Greenhill’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Trimmer has also reached out to the Dallas County Health and Human Services to help answer any questions from families or faculty.

With an evolving situation, the administration established contingency plans based on different circumstances. Some of Greenhill’s most beloved events have had to be postponed because of the Covid-19 virus. It’s unclear whether these events will be rescheduled.

“It’s safe to say a number of those end-of-the-year events are going to be lost because they’re difficult to replicate online, but if we come back May 4, it could be possible to rescue a lot of those events,” Hark said. “If we don’t, my primary focus becomes graduation.”

Prom has been moved to May 30, in hopes of salvaging the event. Other events are yet to be moved or planned because they are dependent on knowing whether students will return to campus before the end of the year.

“We really don’t have a sense of what happens beyond [May 4],” Hark said. “Everyone in the community is desperately clinging to the hope that we will have some part of the school year on campus.”

Postponed and canceled events haven’t been the only costs for Greenhill. Grace said that has Greenhill lost quite a bit of revenue as well.

“We have had some hits for sure, in that we typically rent out a large portion of the campus,” Grace said. “We have had to shut that down and have lost revenue with that and the Extended Day program.  We aren’t having the revenue coming in that we thought we were, yet we still have much of the same expenses.”

In the Extended Day program, families are no longer being billed because the services are no longer being provided, Grace said. Greenhill administrators are also considering whether to refund parents for meal plans, but it’s unclear whether that will occur.

The school is continuing to pay SAGE Dining Services for the rest of the year, Grace said.

“We will by paying SAGE employees for the original three weeks when we were scheduled to be closed,” Grace said. “We will analyze where we stand in total with the SAGE contract once we have clarity on whether or not we will return to school this year.”

The future of other programs, such as Summer on the Hill, is also hanging in the balance. Grace said that, in light of recent events, cancellation fees would be waived and the due date for the first camp payment would be extended due to the uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

“Obviously if we can’t have a camp we are going to refund that money, but it’s still helpful to have people signed up for camps so we know which camps will occur,” Grace said. “We are proceeding as if we are going to [have the camps]; however, it would not surprise me if we have to shorten it.”

As Covid-19 cases around the country and in Texas continue to increase, Greenhill administrators say they are committed to acting based on information from the CDC and local health officials.

“We will follow what the recommendations are from local health officials,” Hark said. “It has been a clear way to make the decision.”

For now, students continue to attend online classes and administrators continue to monitor the situation.

“At a time like this, when the strain pulling the community apart is most powerful, our rallying as a school community is important,” Hark said.