In the fall of 2021, Riverdale Country School returned to a fully in-person schedule of teaching and learning. “This was done in accordance with guidelines from federal, state and local agencies,” said Head of School Dominic A. A. Randolph, “and with encouragement from experts we consult on a regular basis concerning our COVID-19 protocols.”
“The overall wellbeing of our students is our primary concern,” says Head of Lower School Dr. James Duval. “This includes both their physical and emotional health, and we know that in-person learning plus the opportunities for spontaneous and meaningful connections are so important in the development of students.”
Assistant Head of Lower School for Pre-K through Grade 2, Natasha Schmemann, added, “The possibilities provided by our extensive outdoor spaces also supported this decision. Our campus provides a unique setting for learning as well as for play.” Assistant Head of Lower School for Grades 3 through 5, Ellen Greengrass, noted, “The connections formed through in-person interactions are crucial to our students’ developing social-emotional and academic lives. It has been incredibly impactful to leverage the powerful social aspects of learning that go hand in hand with having our students back on campus. We are proud of the classroom learning communities our faculty led and nurtured throughout remote learning. Back on campus, the classrooms are alive with action, enthusiasm, and joy, with learning opportunities infused throughout the day to foster meaningful in-person collaboration in support of learning. It is energizing and motivating for all.” Between the two campuses, Riverdale sits on 27.5 acres – the largest campus in New York City.
On the Hill Campus, Upper and Middle School students welcomed the chance to engage in numerous in-person activities that we’re difficult during the previous several months. “Choir and instrumental music practices, dance and theater, sports competitions, club meetings – we saw students thrilled to rejoin our customary on-campus rhythms, while also doing their best to abide by new health and safety protocols,” said Tom Taylor, head of Upper School. “In addition, both faculty and students genuinely appreciate the chance to work together in person. Folks seem to genuinely appreciate the care and depth of our health protocols.”
“At every level of education, there are strategies made possible by in-person contact that students and faculty now value more than ever before,” said Head of Middle School Milton Sipp. “This fall has truly been joyful as we have increased the number of curricular and experiential activities we’ve been able to support.”
For families new to Riverdale or considering applying to the school, Associate Head of School for Admission and Enrollment Jenna King noted that “we were able to provide in-person tours for prospective families and even a reception for parents who began their Riverdale journeys during the pandemic. These events have been especially well attended and the feedback has been extremely positive.”
“We so appreciate our parents, who have complied with every change in our routine, and our board members, who have supported us throughout this pandemic and continue to do so,” said Randolph. “We remain determined to adjust as necessary so that we can provide our students with an exceptional educational experience within a challenging and supportive community.”