Safe Start: How IMG Academy's Boarding School Returned to Campus in 2020
After departing campus for spring break in March 2020, IMG Academy student-athletes were informed that they wouldn't be returning to campus two weeks later. In fact, they weren't certain when they'd enter campus again.
Not only was their in-person training, competition, and learning put on pause, but so was seemingly the entire world. Where sport and school were typically taking precedence, now health and safety quickly stood at the forefront. IMG went from planning the end of the spring semester, which typically includes some of the most exciting campus-wide events, to quickly restructuring the entire year into a distance athletic and academic program.
While not ideal, IMG Academy made the most of the global situation, taking this opportunity to prioritize each family's health while also optimizing at-home training for each individual. These moments, virtual connections, and an enhanced sense of focus have all led to the on-campus start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Because of the dedicated efforts of staff, the on-campus Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Health Services team, and each student-athlete and their family, IMG Academy was able to begin the fall semester whilst managing the global COVID-19 pandemic as well as new on-campus guidelines in the form of a Safer Campus Initiative.
Through a redesigned move-in concept that included staggered check-in, limited building entry to families, and outdoor socially distanced booths, IMG is successfully entering week three of the 2020-2021 boarding school academic year. IMG kicked off the Safe Start program which ran August 27 - September 13, 2020 and featured restrictions that limited off-campus travel and campus activities, required temperature screenings, implemented social distancing measures, mask regulations, and more.
Some campus activities opportunities included both virtual options as well as hands-on games and crafts to be completed from the safety of each student-athlete's dorm room. Options included board games, movie nights with an array of snacks, virtual painting, bingo, designing thank-you cards to emergency responders, Instagram Live hangouts, virtual yoga, a Matt Walden virtual concert, tie-dye t-shirts kits, and online trivia.
With guidance from the Health Services Department, including Dr. Patrick Mularoni, Medical Director at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, the boarding school program successfully initiated this Safe Start program to ensure a smooth onset to the academic year.
I'm really excited that I'm part of the IMG team. I'm very proud of the leadership here, of the teachers, of the staff... Many kids across our country aren't getting to go to school in person; many kids across our country aren't getting to play sports... it can't be normal unfortunately right now, but it can feel very normal if we all decide we're going to follow these protocols." - Dr. Patrick Mularoni
Although the program recently ended, IMG is still enforcing the Safer Campus Initiative while taking a phased approach when it comes to off-campus travel and on-campus activities. For the week of 9/14, student-athletes have an opportunity to engage in sport-specific activities with their respective programs in person, such as outdoor lawn games including mini-golf, corn hole, spike ball, and more, while virtual activities will still be available throughout the week.
As IMG Academy continues with the fall semester, student-athletes, coaches, teachers, and staff will be actively following the Safer Campus Initiative, which is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health officials, and our on-campus partner Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. These protocols will continue to be adjusted based on the global, national, and local situations.
For the time being, student-athletes and the entire IMG Academy community are both relieved yet excited about the opportunities ahead for this year. The football program has competed in several games thus far, the soccer program recently kicked off their first weekend of games, and every other sport has been actively training to pursue their dreams on the fields or courts this season. There's no limit to what IMG Academy community can accomplish as a team, whether that be through sport, through academic pursuits, or learning to keep one another safe and healthy.