Greeting the Future with Unanswered Questions
by Barbara Kennedy
They were born after 9/11 and are entering adulthood in the middle of a pandemic. Years from now Baylor seniors will tell people, “Yes, I was in the Class of 2020,” and people will knowingly nod: this was the class that experienced suspended relationships,
abrupt good-byes, online AP exams, and uncertainty about college plans.
Although a formal commencement is planned for July 18, the Class of 2020 was honored by a celebratory parade around Rike Field on May 19 (see the photo gallery).
RIDLEY BROWDER ’20: “Where do we go from here?”
COVID-19 has physically changed the landscape of not only my senior experience but also my life. Dorm room to bedroom, dining hall to kitchen, classroom to Zoom, Excitement to shock. As a senior, there is already a hint of the unknown swirling around college decisions, our freshman year of college, and ultimately our future adult selves. This unknown, this feeling of limbo, was amplified by the events of the coronavirus. So it may seem, not only have we been changed physically, but we have been impacted mentally and emotionally. So, where do we go from here?
ANIKA IQBAL ’20: “Quarantine gave me some time to reflect.”
Spending the last months of senior year in quarantine gave me some time to reflect on what high school has been like for me. It’s super easy to get bitter about the things that we’re losing to this strange situation. However, these odd circumstances have given me the opportunity to develop somewhat of an outside perspective on my life as a Baylor student. And, in some ways, I feel as though the quarantine helped ease me into accepting leaving Baylor. I probably would’ve been a mess during the senior trip and graduation had we not been forced to spend so much time with our own thoughts. Although my time at Baylor as a student may be ending differently than I expected, I’m ready to use what I learned from experiences I had at Baylor in different places, although I will definitely be visiting as often as possible.
Health Center Team Preps for Fall
by Barbara Kennedy
Starting at Baylor in January 2020 as the new Health Center director, Mary Catherine Robbins, barely had time to settle into her job before she had a new role nobody saw coming: educating and advising the school community on COVID-19.
“We knew it would be cold and flu season, and we would be busy anyway, but within two weeks of the winter semester, the Health Center and Lowrance were struck by lightning. We lost heating and air, and we started working as a team pretty quickly and becoming very adaptive,” recalls Robbins. “It was during that time that we started hearing about the novel coronavirus. We began researching what the CDC was issuing and reviewing recommendations and measures.”
By February, Robbins said they had established a school resource with the Hamilton County Health Department and began working with other schools and sharing what they were learning with Baylor School officials. Robbins remembers “a very busy flu and cold season in February with lots of respiratory viruses going around.”
By March, their plans and protocols were in place, and they were ready to attend to anyone who had COVID-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, across from the Health Center on the third floor of Weeks, faculty members and researchers Dr. Elizabeth Forrester and Dr. Dawn Richards knew that they had the lab equipment and expertise to do testing at Baylor. “We had a quick conversation and determined that the Health Center already had what was needed and that it would not be difficult if we needed to test our students or faculty,” says Robbins.
COVID-19 testing plans and protocols, as well as antibody testing, are at the center of conversations related to start school safely on Aug. 19. In addition to Robbins, the Health Center core team includes Kristy Green, Linda Parver, Nancy Moughrabi, and Stefanie Roberts. “We are a collaborative group with unique skills, and we want to work with a multi-disciplinary team to continue to devise and create an innovative response at Baylor to this pandemic."
Onsite COVID-19 and Antibody Testing with Rapid Results Available for Students and Employees
by Barbara Kennedy
Baylor is perhaps the only school in the country that can provide rapid turnaround COVID-19 testing and antibody testing on campus for all students and employees. This service, as well as antibody testing, provides a crucial health and safety service in a time of continued uncertainty as the school looks forward to reopening campus on Aug. 19.
“Having developed this extraordinary clinical testing capacity in a prep school setting speaks to Baylor’s commitment to providing our students with state-of-the art and hands-on scientific instruction and research opportunities,” said Headmaster Scott Wilson ’75. “What we never imagined when we launched the Baylor Research program is that it might provide the foundation for helping secure the health and safety of our school family during a pandemic. That has truly been an unforeseen blessing.”
Baylor partnered with Hamilton County in March, after the Baylor lab became certified as a clinical lab to test COVID-19 samples. The lab was then leased by the county to help with efforts to identify and prevent the spread of the virus. Dr. Elizabeth Forrester and Dr. Dawn Richards, who are trained in molecular biology and in working with viruses, processed more than 14,000 tests in three months.
“It has been our great honor to assist Hamilton County with our community response to this health crisis,” said Wilson. Mayor Coppinger had high praise for Baylor School officials and lab scientists, saying Baylor “filled a huge void” before the state geared up its testing. “We could not have done what we did without them.”
Dr. Richards and Dr. Forrester have indicated that they plan to continue their service to the community with the testing of vulnerable populations by serving Clinico Medicos and the Homeless Healthcare Center.