Frankel Field Tents

Tents installed on the Hill Campus become outdoor classrooms during the Covid-19 pandemic in Fall 2020.

“Riverdale Circus School” signage was part of the fall 2020 PICA (Projects in Contemporary Art) class project
The tents viewed from above form a colorful grid on the Frankel Field.

Defining Event

As the world reeled from the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020, Riverdale Country School, much like everyone else, undertook a series of steps to ensure the health and safety of our community. This included implementing community-wide health screenings, hybrid learning models, HVAC filtration systems, mask requirements, and increased cleaning protocols.

Among the many precautions undertaken on both campuses, 20 tents were installed and outfitted with power, whiteboards, and enhanced wifi to allow for outdoor classes. Riverdale has the exceptional benefit of two expansive campuses, which made it possible for our students and faculty to engage with one another in person while limiting exposure and transmission. We committed to using these outdoor spaces as much as possible to ensure maximal capacity despite the need for appropriate physical distancing, per guidelines that had been established by the CDC and NYC Departments of Health and Education. 

Students and faculty alike playfully observed that this new campus configuration was reminiscent of a circus. Building on that, the fall 2020 PICA (Projects in Contemporary Art) class, led by visual arts teacher Nicky Enright, created signage with circus-themed “street” names that aimed to help students and faculty better navigate the tents. “Riverdale Circus School” comprised such avenues as Kettlecorn Krossing, Tightrope Trail, and Juggler Junction. The project’s goal was to bring some levity to the new circumstances in spite of the seriousness of the pandemic itself, with the class conveying, “We hope this helps you navigate the tents and brings joy and laughter into your day!”