Coronavirus Information
for W+H School Community

Updated Saturday, August 1, 2020 - 5:15 p.m.

Wardlaw+Hartridge plans to open for the 2020-2021 academic year with in-person classes on Sept. 10, 2020. 

Read current Reopening Plan

 Read Head of School Andy Webster's letter to the W+H community regarding COVID19 from: 

May 21, 2020

May 4, 2020

April 8, 2020

Video Greeting from Head of School

April 1, 2020

March 29, 2020
Video Greeting from Head of School

March 25, 2020
Distance Learning Overview
Surviving the Coronavirus at Home

March 16, 2020

March 12, 2020

March 3, 2020

January 30, 2020


No longer relevant updates are removed periodically.

  • (3/16/20) "The Governor of New Jersey has closed all Pre-K through Grade 12 schools (public, private, and parochial) and all colleges and universities will close effective Wednesday, March 18 until it is deemed by health officials to be safe for in-person classes to resume."
  • (3/11/20) All classrooms and offices will undergo deep cleaning and disinfection on March 25, 26, and 27. 
  • (3/10/20) The Governor of New Jersey has declared a State of Emergency. "The law governing a State of Emergency - which is frequently used in an anticipation of a snowstorm or hurricane - typically has little direct impact on the state's residents.  Governors use the law to help organize and distribute money, staffing, and other resources to communities affected by the event.  An emergency declaration is a required step to receive financial assistance from the federal government." 
  • (3/10/20) Should school need to close for any period of time, you will receive a Honeywell Alert followed by detailed communication from the school regarding next steps. 

W+H is actively monitoring the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and will be updating this website regularly to share information about the School’s preparations and responses. Should you have any questions AFTER reading this document, please email

We will respond to email messages within twenty-four hours. We are also following the CDC and Edison Department of Health guidelines on responding to the virus.

The following expanding sections contain detailed information:


Practice Healthy Habits
Prevention remains the number one strategy for keeping our community healthy. The CDC and WHO recommends frequent hand-washingcoughing or sneezing into your elbow, avoiding people who are sick, and wiping down frequently used surfaces are proven methods of keeping the community healthy. We are asking teachers to reinforce these strategies during the daytime and ask that you reinforce them at home. 

Stay Home If Ill

We remind community members (students, employees, and parents) to stay home if they are ill. If you, your child, or a family member is coughing with a fever (100 degrees F or above) or has had a fever within 24 hours we require you to stay home until symptoms have subsided. We also remind you to report this absence to your divisional office as we may be required to report on absence rates.

Learn More »

Clean Often
W+H has expanded the functions of our hired cleaning staff to include wiping down with disinfectant door handles, water fountains, light switches, desks, sinks, soap dispensers, water coolers, coffee and tea carafes, refrigerator doors, desks, chairs, shared computers, work stations, remote controls, common play spaces, sports equipment, and more.

Learn More »

Monitoring Gatherings
We are evaluating our various school gatherings on a daily basis and, combined with guidance from the CDC and Edison Department of Health, will determine when and whether to cancel or modify larger gatherings. At risk level 1, most gatherings will likely still take place. At risk level 2, classes will still take place but all other gatherings will likely be rescheduled, adjusted to take place virtually or in another format, or canceled entirely. At risk level 3, school and offices are closed; distance learning plans go into effect within 24 hours.

Families with Immunocompromised Family Members 
While school remains open, if your child or family member is immunocompromised and you would prefer that they remain home while the virus is ongoing, you may opt to keep your child home under our existing medical leave policies. Reach out to your division head for assistance.

Distance Learning

We are actively planning a distance-learning program in case it becomes necessary due to an extended school closure. More details will be shared in the upcoming days. As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to refine the plan. We will begin to implement our distance-learning procedures if we get to risk level 2, with full implementation at risk level 3.

Here are some basic things to know about what distance learning at Wardlaw+Hartridge includes:

  • At this point, we foresee that in case of an extended school closure, teachers will use the first day or days of school closure to finalize content for distance learning and will reach out to families about their students’ distance learning plans. Students should not expect to have class or coursework on the first day of a school closure.
  • Distance learning will take many forms depending on grade level and subject area. These experiences may look and feel very different than a student’s typical in-class experience—learning experiences will vary in ways that are developmentally appropriate and instructionally feasible. For example, as teachers plan to modify their content to fit a distance-learning framework, students may read books, work on independent projects, meet via video conference, watch online videos, write blogs, be asked to play games with family members, and so forth. We will also work with families so that they know how best to support their children in their learning.
  • Unlike typical school days when students meet together at a particular time of day, students often experience distance learning differently. In some cases, students will learn asynchronously or on their own time; in other cases, classes will meet virtually in real-time in order to continue the in-class, group-learning experience.
  • Our goal is not to recreate the typical 8 a.m. - 3:10 p.m. school-day experience. This might mean that students will participate in more independent learning and may have reduced direct instructional time with their teachers. Taking into account the disruption of a prolonged school closure, the school will do its best to balance quality and quantity. We will prioritize delivering high-quality and meaningful experiences for our students, rather than simply trying to fill the hours of a full school day.
  • Functions like grading, assessment, attendance and homework may be different than the typical in-class framework. Teachers will share expectations around these topics with their students and families for each class or grade level.
  • W+H recognizes that families have different resources available at home. Our teachers will work with students and families individually to ensure that all learning opportunities are equitably available for all students in class. If you have specific concerns about your family’s resources (computers, internet access, etc.), please reach out to your Division Head with those concerns and we will do our best to respond.

In addition, we are exploring options to offer a variety of mental health supports and resources to students if any closure extends.

Inclusion and Equity

As a school rooted in our mission, we remind our community that no bullying, harassment, or exclusion of any kind will be permitted. W+H is an inclusive community and any sign of harassment, bullying, or exclusion due to a child’s national origin, recent travel, race, ethnicity, etc. will not be tolerated. If you’re interested in some resources, Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus (Teaching Tolerance, part of the #UsvsHate Challenge) is a great place to start. 

School Trips

W+H is monitoring school trips based on current guidance from the CDC and Edison Department of Health.  

  • The eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. has ended early and the group is returning to campus Thursday midday. If we get to risk level 2, all field trips will likely be canceled. We are evaluating any out-of-state trips on a case by case basis. If you would prefer that your child NOT participate in a field trip offered by the school, it is your responsibility to inform the divisional office and teacher and to make alternate arrangements for your child during that time. 
  • The spring trip to Spain has been canceled. We will continue to evaluate our June trips to Peru.  Additional information will be forthcoming. We are closely following the department of health guidelines at each of those localities.

Travel Recommendations

Because of the rapidly changing situation, W+H currently recommends that families do not go abroad in the upcoming weeks, including for spring break. We will continue to follow CDC and Department of Health Guidelines, and students, family, faculty, and staff members who have recently traveled abroad may be asked to remain out of school for an extended period of time. Anyone who has traveled to or through a CDC flagged country (China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan) is REQUIRED to follow CDC and department of health guidelines, to inform the school, and to self-isolate from the school and school community (as a family) for a minimum of 14 days (see guidelines here). Anyone is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms is required to remain home until symptoms have subsided. Continue to check the CDC’s travel advisory website as well as the local department of health for any domestic travel locations for up-to-date information and recommendations.

If you do opt to travel in the upcoming weeks, you must inform the W+H nurse if you or a family member is advised to self-isolate or self-quarantine upon your return to school. 

How to Talk to Children about Coronavirus

We know that students are feeling very anxious about coronavirus and what it means for them. When you are talking with children:

  • Remind students that the best way to stay healthy is to wash their hands regularly and especially before they eat. 
  • Validate children’s feelings and answer questions with facts.
  • Help students to manage their feelings and focus on the present moment with mindfulness exercises and breathing strategies to help children cope. Some strategies to consider:
    • Movement
    • Tuning in to senses (touch, see, hear, smell, taste)
    • A focus on breathing through exercises like, 5 Finger Breathing, Triangle, Square and Star breathing
    • Mindful minute - a minute of silent time where students are guided through breathing out and in

There are some great resources on how to talk to children and how to reduce their anxiety levels. Included among these resources are the following:

Have other resources to share? Email

Additional Resources


  • UPDATED (3/19/20): Announcement about at-home workouts have been posted on Haiku

Effective immediately we are making changes in the provision of water to our athletic teams.  

  • We will no longer be providing water bottles at practice.
  • Students are to bring their own water bottle clearly labeled with their name.
  • Students are not to share personal water bottles.
  • We will provide paper cups with a jug of water for all practices and games. 

In the event that a team is not able to meet for a period of time due to closure, coaches will be sending workouts to their players. Players must understand that the work they do at home will be crucial to how well we perform when we return later in the spring. 

Dining Modifications

Effective Tuesday, March 10 the following modifications will be in place in the AP Room in order to reduce potential contamination, cross-contamination and risk of exposure to germs:

  • Reusable plates, cups, and utensils are being replaced with disposable items.
  • Sandwiches and salads will be pre-made by SAGE staff.
  • Soup will be dispensed in the kitchen instead of self-service at the salad bar.

International Families

Am I allowed to return home and still keep active status as a Wardlaw+Hartridge student? (Updated 03-18-2020)

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the government agency that oversees F-1 students and I-20 records. Based on guidance we have received from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the agency has issued the following statement:

“SEVP is committed to remaining flexible in allowing schools to make temporary procedural adaptations so nonimmigrant students can continue to make normal forward progress in their program of study. Students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP will provide updated guidance as the scope and length of this situation becomes more clear.”

As long as you are working toward completing your classes, you can remain in 'active status' even if you are working online, wherever you are. Wardlaw+Hartridge will need to know where you will be when our classes resume, so that we can record a note in your online I-20 record explaining the situation. Please use this link to provide information if you plan to return home as soon as you have confirmed the details.

Correspondence from the International Office:

Mr. Gonnella’s WeChat message (Updated March 21, 2020) - click link to view PDF

How W+H is Thinking about Coronavirus

In addition to following guidance from the Edison Department of Health and the CDC, Wardlaw+Hartridge is using a risk evaluation matrix (see below) in responding to possible impacts of COVID-19. We are meeting twice-daily to re-evaluate the School’s risk level and will inform families as the situation changes. Different protocols will be put into place if and as the risk level changes.

For the purpose of clarity, it is worth defining some terms. If you are in direct contact with someone who has come down with the virus—or who is diagnosed with it shortly after—you would be considered in Primary contact. Anyone who came in contact with you would be considered Secondary. Anyone who came in contact with that person might be considered Tertiary.

If we learn that anyone who is a primary contact has been in the school, we will close for 24-hours to do a deep disinfecting of the building, as is currently best practice. The person who is primary would be asked not to come to school until 14 days have elapsed from their contact with the person diagnosed with the virus.

If someone has had secondary contact with COVID19, they are required to stay home for 14 days following their contact with the diagnosed person.

If someone is tertiary and chooses to stay home, we will not object. For students, these will be excused absences.

W+H Risk Matrix

The W+H risk matrix is as follows. Please note that these are guidelines for internal use and that it is at the discretion of W+H—in coordination with the Edison Department of Health—whether all, some, or most of the bullet points must be made before moving to the next risk level.

Risk Level 1 (Low Risk)

  • No W+H cases of Coronavirus
  • Few reported cases of COVID-19 in the Central New Jersey area
  • Airports implement screening mechanisms; some travel advisories recommended
  • Edison Department of Health allows the school to remain open
  • No advisories against non-essential travel to state or Central New Jersey area

Risk Level 2 (Moderate Risk)

  • Some cases of COVID-19 in the Central New Jersey area and individuals connected to the school (secondary and tertiary contact)
  • Travel advisories recommended by WHO, CDC, State, or Local Government
  • No W+H students, families, or employees identified with COVID-19
  • Average student attendance remains high (90-100%)
  • CDC, WHO, and/or regional health authorities declare a pandemic
  • Edison Department of Health allows the school to remain open

Risk Level 3 (High Risk)

  • COVID-19 cases within school community (primary contact)
  • Increased community spread of COVID-19 in the local area
  • Average student attendance below 80 – 90%
  • COVID-19 disease behavior or contagiousness changes to a higher risk level
  • Edison Department of Health closes the School or W+H Leadership deems it important to close
  • Evidence that hospitals are unable to manage or meet the health care needs related to COVID-19
  • Staffing and attendance issues at school
The Wardlaw-Hartridge School
1295 Inman Ave,
Edison, NJ 08820
(908) 754-1882
The Wardlaw + Hartridge School is a top private and college prep school in Edison, New Jersey, which provides an independent, pioneering educational experience at the early childhood, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school levels.
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