Since Spring 2020, when COVID-19 temporarily paused in-person learning, Calvert School has taken extensive measures to ensure student health and well-being during this unprecedented time. These vital efforts, which enabled students to safely return to campus in the fall, would not have been possible without generous gifts to the School’s philanthropic lifeblood, the Calvert Fund.
As the School’s largest source of unrestricted dollars, the Calvert Fund allows the School to quickly and effectively overcome unexpected challenges, such as those posed by COVID-19.
Calvert Fund Chairs Brooke and Brian Margerum, parents to Victoria ’23, Parker ’24, and Scarlett ’27, know that each contribution has a direct effect on students’ educational experiences – this year and every year.
“By participating in Calvert’s annual giving program, [donors] support our teachers, students, and facilities, and give Calvert the flexibility needed to adapt during times of strength and times of uncertainty,” they said.
Throughout the past year, donations to the Calvert Fund have empowered the School to make critical enhancements to technology, health initiatives, and professional development, assisting the School in providing a year of safe and enriching on-campus learning.
A Robust Technological Landscape
Last year and in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, the School upgraded its technological profile by improving on-campus bandwidth, exploring tools for remote learning, and investing in a 1-to-1 device program that gives all students the opportunity to participate in online offerings.
As part of this program, Calvert issued an iPad or laptop to all Lower and Middle School students, allowing them to seamlessly continue their education regardless of location.
The School also purchased 60 Meeting OWL Pro conference cameras, which are designed to stream 360 degrees of live video and audio, and placed them in every core Calvert classroom. These cutting-edge devices have enabled teachers to conduct synchronous lessons with students who are learning at home.
Innovative Health and Safety Measures
In addition to improving the School’s ability to conduct virtual learning, unrestricted gifts to the Calvert Fund significantly contributed to students’ safe return to campus.
Thanks to flexible funding provided by donors, Calvert invested in innovative solutions related to COVID-19 safety, including hiring a new Middle School nurse and securing contact-tracing certification for nurses in both divisions.
Over the summer, the School upgraded its HVAC system to maintain constant air circulation throughout both buildings and purchased portable air-filtration units for classrooms and offices. To further support student health, the School also rearranged desks and classrooms to ensure proper social distancing, in some cases purchasing entirely new furniture. In rooms where distancing was not possible, the School installed moveable transparent barriers to minimize transmission.
Redonda Miller, M.D., president of Johns Hopkins Hospital and leader of Calvert’s Health Committee, is a Calvert parent, trustee, and former Calvert Fund chair. This year, she has been instrumental in guiding the School as it navigates COVID-19 response.
“Through my role on Calvert’s Health Committee, I’ve witnessed the inspiring collaboration and forward-thinking of the School’s leadership to successfully and safely open our campus,” she said. “Thanks to flexible resources like the Calvert Fund, we were able to invest in the personnel, equipment, furniture, and technology critical to achieving this feat.”
To replace shared water fountains, Calvert invested in antimicrobial bottle-filling stations and provided a reusable water bottle to each student. The School also increased regular cleaning and sanitization of common areas and provided canopied spaces for outdoor lunches.
In addition to mask requirements and regular opportunities for hand-washing, the above measures have largely insulated Calvert boys and girls against a scary and uncertain disease, giving students the sense of normalcy they crave – a familiar day at school.
“As a Calvert parent, I am grateful for the joy I see on my daughter’s face each day as she goes to school with her peers and teachers,” Redonda said.
Profound Professional Development
Just as students have had to adapt during this difficult year, so too have Calvert teachers – and gifts to the Calvert Fund ensure that faculty and staff receive the enrichment they need to grow as educators.
With travel plans halted, these vital funds have contributed to virtual professional development and partnerships with organizations that specialize in online learning. Throughout the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Calvert teachers attended multiple webinars focused on building remote and blended-learning programs, crafting compelling video lessons, and working with online tools such as Google Classroom and Seesaw.
Faculty and staff have also taken part in diversity, equity, and inclusion programming to further the School’s mission of developing a welcoming environment that prepares students to effectively collaborate and communicate with people of all backgrounds.
In addition to forging a reliable lifeline for the School, donations to the Calvert Fund will build on these offerings to attract and maintain talented and diverse educators who are committed to nurturing lifelong learners.
To that end, the School's long-term goal is to derive 8 to 10 percent of the annual operating budget from the Calvert Fund. This feat would allow Calvert to continuously improve its campus, recruit high-quality teachers, and overcome unforeseen obstacles, further enhancing students’ experience for years to come.