Behind the scenes: What went into closing LFA for the semester


Photo by Mandy Krause

Empty LFA lots sit where student and faculty cars usually are parked during the school day.

Nick Alutto, Managing Editor of A&E

As students left for Spring Break at LFA, there was a strange feeling going around. Although students were still supposed to come back for school in two weeks, it was hard to not feel like this was becoming increasingly unlikely as COVID-19 began to spread rapidly in the United States. While leaving classes on a G-day in March, many students couldn’t help but feel like they may be departing LFA for much longer than planned.
A few days into break, students were initially notified via email that e-learning at LFA would take place for the first two weeks of April. Five days later, on March 21st, that policy was changed; school would now take place via online classes for the rest of the academic year.
“As a boarding school, we ultimately made the decision to go to distance learning for the rest of the year because it would eliminate any uncertainty, it would allow us to begin to plan, and it would ensure that everyone would be able to academically complete the year. At the time, we had over 35 boarding students on campus and another 30-40 or so still in the States, and so making sure that they were healthy and that they could get home safely became our priority,” said Assistant Head of School and Dean of Students, Chris Tennyson.
Students who couldn’t get home for Spring Break due to COVID-19 or any other reason had to quickly find their way home to countries all around the globe. Dean of Residential Life Jonathan Freeman commented on this situation, saying, “The vast majority of boarders who stayed on campus found ways to get home relatively quickly. What started out as a safe haven for our students from other countries where the spread of the virus was worse in early March ironically evolved into the realization that home was, for many of them, a safer place to be than the US by mid-March.”
Even though this decision was necessary, due to Governor Pritzker’s decision to close all Illinois schools for the remainder of the school year, it was also inevitable. Yet it still caused a general feeling of sadness amongst the disappointed student body.
“I was really disappointed for myself and for others,” said Ned Koh ‘23. “Freshmen, such as myself, missed out on their first tennis season, some juniors are missing out on the season they are being recruited, and seniors won’t even get to say goodbye in-person.” However, Koh acknowledged, “I think it’s important to appreciate that our community is safe.”
When asked about her perspective as a senior, Emily Nash ‘20 said that “It [the closure] is definitely hard to hear and comprehend. While it’s upsetting to not be present in school and participate in senior activities, LFA is doing everything in its power to still make a meaningful and memorable experience for everyone.”
With a situation out of students and the faculty’s control, it is hard to not feel remorse about everything the students have lost this year, but it is equally as important to look forward to what is to come.
“When we return to school, there will be a real focus on reconnecting and coming together as a community… I think that our opening of school will be a happy moment and that our returning students and new students will be part of whatever celebrations we put in place. Obviously, our hope is that we are all back on campus, and there is a return to what we would consider normal,” continued Tennyson. “I guess we’ll just need to wait and see.”