Dear Hawken Community, 

The COVID-19 pandemic creates an unprecedented challenge for all schools and colleges – and the risks that are present in these types of communities are as varied as the students they serve. Attempts to completely eliminate any health risk would inevitably lead to a greater risk of psychological, developmental, and economic damage; conversely, attempts to minimize such collateral damage would elevate the health risk. The sad reality is that no matter what next steps educational institutions determine, risk simply cannot be eliminated.

In addition to learning to live with at least some level of risk, however small, we must acknowledge the uncomfortable truth in the inherent unfairness that some schools are well-positioned and well-resourced enough to adopt all of the risk-mitigation recommendations, while many other schools lack the resources and space necessary to do so. Hawken is fortunate, due to its resources and its leadership at the Board of Trustees level, to be positioned better than most when it comes to mitigating the vast majority of the risk.

All schools, including Hawken, will be requiring masks, distancing classrooms to a degree, enhancing cleaning procedures, and instituting protocols for safe behavior. In addition to instituting these standard measures, Hawken’s Board has authorized over 
$2 million of investments to supplement the pre-existing structural advantages of our large buildings, spacious campuses, and already small class sizes. We can mitigate risks better than most schools because we are:

  • Increasing the housekeeping/cleaning staff to allow for more frequent and deeper cleaning and sterilization
  • Upgrading air sterilization and filtration to all of our campuses beyond the MERV-13 recommendation to keep our indoor air as safe as possible, a $750K investment
  • Creating class sizes that have, on average, half the number of students (6 to 14 students)
  • Adding various tents on our campuses to enable more outdoor teaching and common spaces
  • Adding more hands-free bathroom fixtures, as well as added handwashing stations all around the campuses
  • Dramatically redesigning lunch delivery
  • Installing plexiglass dividers wherever additional barriers are needed

Also significant with regard to our risk mitigation efforts is our ability as a private school to require adherence to our safety protocols on the part of our employees, students, and parents – even outside of the school day. We will not only hope for a collective spirit of responsibility and good citizenship to guide all of our constituents to do their very best to follow the safety protocols articulated in this guide, but we will insist upon it. 

Please know that our efforts as outlined in this guide are organized around the ideals of Fair Play, guided by the best thinking of public health officials, and driven to success by the clear expectation that we will invest whatever is necessary to be as safe as possible.

D. Scott Looney
Head of School


This restart guide represents our best thinking, as well as that of experts at some of the top medical and educational institutions in the nation. Thank you to all of our medical advisors and peer schools for your guidance in helping to identify the specific protocols and resources referenced in this comprehensive plan.