COVID-19 Restrictions Move Family Weekend Outdoors

Sofia Preuss '23, Staff Writer

Amidst a lingering COVID-19 pandemic, Family Weekend will return to Loomis Chaffee this fall and, as a result, the school has been working to create a safe environment for students to show their families around campus and get a semi-traditional Family Weekend experience.

Students will be accompanied by their family members during each of their classes throughout this Friday and Saturday, like previous years prior to the coronavirus. This year, however, most students’ commitments will be held outdoors to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“We know that families want the community to stay healthy as much as we do. While this Family Weekend will be different from those in the past, it will be similar in that it will be a chance for families to learn more about the Loomis experience, meet their child’s friends, teachers, and mentors, and enjoy this beautiful setting,” COVID-19 Coordinator Mary Liscinsky said.

As part of adapting best practices during the pandemic, music performances during Family Weekend will also look different from past years.

“We used to have a really big music event indoors with around 300 people in the audience and around 150 people on stage, but with COVID that is not possible. What is possible, and is very exciting, is that we will have a stage out on the Ratté Quad where we will hold a sampler for parents and family,” Performing Arts Department Head Susan Chrzanowski said.

“Pre-COVID, families would come to each class and get a chance to see the ensembles rehearse a bit, and then there would be a concert at night,” she added.

In contrast, the 2021 Family Weekend sampler will be held at 2:30 p.m. during Block 6 on Saturday and any students or faculty members that are free around this time are welcome to join families in celebrating Loomis’s performing arts students.

The sampler includes three dance performances, two Chamber Music performances, the seniors and some juniors of Concert Choir, and a tuba solo piece. “There are also some jazz performances in the planning stages which will be a great opportunity [for those performers],” Ms. Chrzanowski said.

The Jazz Improv group, some members of the jazz band, and Jazz Ensemble Director Ken Fischer will all perform at the parents’ reception, adding more music to the weekend.

“This sampler is actually a return to the sampler we would hold many years ago. Prior to moving to Hubbard [Auditorium], we held a sampler of some chamber music and some solos similar to what we are holding this year,” Ms. Chrzanowski said.
In addition to the sampler, most musical ensembles are planning to record some of their music during Family Weekend to send to families that were unable to make it to the Island for the gathering. This will allow all parents and families to see what their children have been working on during the past month.

Ultimately, Loomis has worked hard to create an environment where Family Weekend can still exist despite challenges created by COVID-19. And, as a result, Loomis will welcome parents back to the island on October 15 and 16.

“The schedule for the weekend looks fantastic and there will be a great deal to do, from a dress rehearsal for the fall play, to a welcome from Dr. Culbert. I appreciate the energy that Family Weekend brings to the Island,” Dean Liscinsky said.