EDISON, NJ -- The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison is preparing to open the 2020-2021 academic year with in-person learning in September. In an effort to bolster its preparation for a safe learning environment for students and teachers, W+H has appointed Ryan Oliveira as its Pandemic Response Coordinator.

Oliveira has been working with the school’s Reopening Task Force throughout the summer on initiatives that will protect the Wardlaw+Hartridge community. In addition to creating and implementing various school safety policies, Oliveira will provide COVID-19 training to faculty and staff members prior to the start of the school year. He’s also in charge of making sure the school is fully stocked with personal protective equipment and other supplies necessary to combat the spread of the virus. As the point person for communications, Oliveira will ensure there is a coordinated response during the school day in the case that there is a student or employee with potential symptoms of the virus.

“I decided to take on this role because I feel that I can offer a lot,” Oliveira said. “This virus has caused a lot of damage, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I feel that I am at a point in my life where I have gained great control of myself and can manage stressful situations with a sense of calmness that is needed right now.

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“I also feel confident that I am surrounded by the best team.  It is a team full of people who deeply care about others and for that, they are working tirelessly to make sure we are all safe.  Having that support around me is extremely comforting.”

Oliveira has spent most of his career as a trainer in the W+H athletic department. He graduated from East Stroudsburg University in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in athletic training.  His journey into the field of health and wellness has taken a deep dive as he’s discovered many areas that have proven helpful to the overall health of a person. Oliveira was recently certified as a Holistic Lifestyle Coach and said his mission is “to educate and coach people to become better versions of themselves.”

He shared four simple key safety recommendations: symptom screen, mask up, proper hygiene and social distancing. People who don’t feel well should stay home. Everyone should wear masks inside and around others outside, wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds and maintain a distance of at least six feet.

Oliveira is no stranger to addressing stressful situations. As an athletic trainer, he has considerable experience making difficult decisions and providing calm reassurance to injured athletes. He understands that COVID-19 will present such challenges on a different level, but he’s confident and prepared to accept this very important role.

He believes the biggest challenge will be adjusting to the ever-changing nature of information related to COVID-19. New developments, policy changes and safety recommendations require everyone to stay well-informed. And while it may be manageable to contain what happens during the school day, Oliveira recognizes that W+H can’t control exposure levels outside of school. 

“Now is a crucial time for us to work together,” Oliveira said. “We are asking parents and students to do more for us in terms of monitoring themselves and staying home if they feel sick.  Our number one goal as a school is to make sure everyone is safe, but we also want to preserve in-person learning.  We don't want to have a case where we may need to shut down. While our online presence is going to be fantastic, there is a huge advantage to being in person.  We definitely understand this is a trying time, especially already being almost six months into the quarantine, but the more we stay consistent with protecting ourselves and others, the sooner this will be over.”

The Wardlaw+Hartridge School (1295 Inman Ave., N. Edison) is Central Jersey’s premier PreK-12 independent school. The campus is located near the Scotch Plains border and just five miles from downtown Westfield. It is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational day school that prepares students to lead and succeed in a world of global interconnection. Wardlaw+Hartridge provides an educational atmosphere characterized by academic challenge, support for individual excellence, diversity, and a familial sense of community. To take a virtual tour of the school, visit www.WHschool.org/virtualtour.