Fall Term classes will begin on Monday, September 14. The semester will end on November 20.
Faculty and staff will gradually return to campus on an as-needed basis; some staff members—mainly those who work in the Academy’s Physical Plant—have already come back to work under Massachusetts’ phased reopening guidelines.
Detailed information regarding the drop-off process, mask requirements, and baggage limits will be provided to each family and posted online so that all families are fully prepared for move-in this fall. Each boarding student and their family will use a scheduling software to select their own designated 15-minute arrival appointment based on dorm and squad.
Our welcome programs will begin prior to arrival on campus: Some early components of our new student welcome and orientation will happen online, and all students will attend Zoom gatherings for squads and advisories.
We will conduct a variety of pre-drop-off Zoom webinars and meetings:
We will speak on the phone with families who do not have Zoom.
Each class has a designated return date; please see below.
Tuesday, September 8: Juniors and Seniors by squad
Wednesday, September 9: Juniors and Seniors by squad
Thursday, September 10: Ninth-Graders by dorm
Friday, September 11: Tenth-Graders by dorm
Because our quarantine and testing schedule is squad-based, we’d like to adhere to the return calendar as much as possible; any student arriving earlier or later would be out of sync with their squad’s quarantine and testing schedule. If it’s not possible to drop off each child on their designated day, we ask that both children arrive on the earlier of the two drop-off days. Families should note that the student who arrives ahead of schedule may then be in quarantine longer in order to sync with their class and squad.
Each boarding student and family will use a scheduling software to select their own designated 15-minute arrival appointment based on dorm and squad. In their cars, students and families will pull up to their drop-off locations at this arrival window, and they’ll be greeted—at appropriate physical distance—by their advisor and/or a member of the faculty dorm team, a student leader, and a representative from the Chen Health and Wellness Center. Once documentation of a negative COVID test is obtained, students will unload their belongings with the help of their student leader; they’ll enter their dorms and begin to move in. Parents/Guardians will remain carside and can use the remaining time to talk with advisors and dorm team members, all of whom will be closely connected to their children, before departing campus. We hope this attentive, individualized approach will provide warm reassurance to families and a smooth entry for students. Please note: Families who don’t choose a drop-off time by August 17 via scheduling software will be assigned an arrival appointment by the Student Life Office.
Peer Counselors should arrive with the other members of their dorm squads, although they will be asked to arrive first so they can welcome new student members.
So they can welcome their proctees, Proctors should arrive the day before their proxies or on the same day before 9:30am. As a reminder, Proctors will also be able to choose as second squad affiliation in a junior and senior dorm. They can make this selection once housing is set and they can see where their junior and senior friends are living.
Titled leader training will take place virtually before arrival and then outdoors and virtually after arrival. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.
For school year 20/21, we expect move-in wastes to be very different than years past. In addition to the normal arrivals of cardboard and packing supplies, students will be contending with the items they left behind last March. Our plan is designed around simplicity and safety. We will deploy large roll-off containers that in the past have been labeled as “cardboard only”–but this year they are intended as a catch-all disposal point–for cardboard and anything else the students have from move-in. Our waste hauler will sort out the recyclable cardboard prior to disposing the rest of the materials in the landfill. Note these will be on campus only for a short time–these are different in size/style than the permanent trash/recycle bins that will be in use for the rest of the school year.
Our testing protocol will include pre-arrival, arrival, and confirmation saliva testing for students in the opening days of school. Thereafter, they’ll be tested periodically throughout the term. Based on the prevalence of COVID-19 within local communities and/or on our campus and the need for testing at any given time, the Academy is prepared to test as frequently as once per week.
Concentric is an end-to-end on-site testing service provided by Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based synthetic biology company. Ginkgo has committed itself and its considerable resources to supporting research and development efforts for COVID-19. Under Deerfield’s guidance, Concentric is assisting our school with testing strategies, providing test capacity and required supplies, and handling end-to-end, on-site sample collection and laboratory processing capabilities designed for organizations to test large communities of individuals.
Test kits will be mailed to domestic students’ home addresses in time for pre-arrival testing. The kits will include instructions for collecting sample and a link to an instructional video. From domestic addresses, they will be returned in a prepaid postage envelope back to Concentric.
Samples collected on-site will be shipped to and processed in the laboratory contracted by Ginkgo Bioworks. Results will be made available through an online portal, and a normal turnaround time is 48 – 72 hours.
We are asking each student’s family to identify an off-campus site within driving distance of the Academy where their student can safely and comfortably quarantine and self-isolate should that prove necessary, and ask each family to complete a short form—available on DAinfo under your student’s photo—from the Student Life Office prior to arrival on campus. The information you provide will be kept confidential. We recognize that identifying a quarantine site may be difficult for some families, and we stand ready to partner with each of you to find a solution that works.
In the event that a suitable off-campus site cannot be identified, students will be housed on or near campus in a supportive and appropriate setting until their parent or guardian can retrieve them for the remainder of their required absence from campus.
We are also asking each student’s family to identify an off-campus site within driving distance of the Academy where their student can safely and comfortably quarantine should that prove necessary. We will ask that each family complete a short form from the Student Life Office prior to arrival on campus. The information you provide will be kept confidential. In the event that a suitable off-campus site cannot be identified, we will have housing available on campus for students who must quarantine. We recognize that identifying a quarantine site may be difficult for some families, and we are eager to partner with each of you to find a solution that works for all of our students.
We have reviewed and updated our health protocols and practices per state and local health guidelines and in consultation with public health experts. We have also conferred closely with local and state officials, including members of Governor Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board, which in turn received recommendations from the Massachusetts Higher Education Working Group.
As a result, we are instituting new rituals of hygiene for employees and students, mechanisms for the regular self-reporting of symptoms, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas will be instituted throughout campus.
We are also substantially increasing the capacity of our newly-built D.S. Chen Health and Wellness Center by adding a second, separate health center in the renovated Dewey House. This center will include a separate and self-contained space for COVID-19 screening, testing, and supportive isolation.
We will utilize some common rooms and other spaces we have identified as suitable and comfortable for student living.
In late spring, Deerfield engaged Environmental Health and Engineering to audit all aspects of campus operations and facilities and offer recommendations in the areas of biosafety, ventilation, and building science. Each of the public spaces on campus–the Dining Hall, Greer, the Hess and Koch centers, as well as all of our classrooms–will have a new look this fall. These spaces will be redesigned to provide comfortable and welcoming places where students can gather in friendship, meet, and enjoy sit-down meals together, while continuing to promote and encourage appropriate physical distancing practices. We are also exploring ways to make the best possible use of our outdoor spaces in order to create additional opportunities to gather.
Classrooms are being reassigned to ensure appropriate distance is maintained between students and faculty at all times. Class sizes will also be limited, and arrival and dismissal times will be staggered to avoid congestion.
When in the presence of others, masks will be required. Deerfield will provide masks for all community members, including students. All masks will meet CDC criteria.
We have revised our annual calendar to allow for a longer winter holiday to minimize travel on and off our campus and to avoid in-person instruction during the time some experts predict that a surge of COVID-19 cases could occur. We are also adding a new “D Term,” which will be held in December and will consist exclusively of remote instruction.
While certain details are still being developed, we anticipate students will begin their first course around 8:15 or 8:30 a.m. The class will last about two hours, and will be followed by slightly longer passing periods to ensure hallway traffic is kept at a minimum. There will be three different lunch blocks to “de-densify” mealtimes. Students will then proceed to their second class, which will also last about two hours and end around 3:15 p.m. This will be followed by a cocurricular block that will last until 5:15 or 5:30 p.m. Dinner will also be served in staggered sessions, with the last session concluding around 6:45 or 7 p.m. The day will conclude with study hall, which will last until around 9:30 p.m.
We believe that our new modular academic schedule will better support student learning and allow faculty to pivot online more fluidly, should a shift to remote learning prove necessary. Carrying two–rather than five or six courses during a term–will better support student learning by reducing their cognitive load, and will allow faculty to pivot to online teaching more fluidly and with minimal disruption to their lesson plans. We are also utilizing various technology platforms and engaging teachers in professional development focused on maximizing remote learning capabilities and results.
We are providing single rooms for all boarding students in order to adhere to and promote experts’ recommendations for physical distancing and de-densification.
We are creating family units, aka dorm “squads,” on each hall to promote “cohorting.” This approach is intended to reduce contacts across campus and foster deep and meaningful connections for small groups of students.
When the school year begins, we will limit students to their respective squads in order to effectively prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 on campus. We hope to eventually allow students from different squads to spend time together, however, we want to start the term conservatively in keeping with public health guidelines and recommendations to ensure the health and safety of our community. Deerfield’s setting also allows for students to spend time outside, where connections beyond the squad can be made easily. In fact, we are creating outdoor spaces across campus specifically for this purpose.
When the term begins, students will be required to maintain physical (social) distancing and wear masks when in the presence of others, including while inside dorms. Students must wash their hands regularly, and restrooms will have capacity limits. In addition, access to common rooms and kitchenettes will be limited. All halls will be cleaned and disinfected by our Housekeeping Staff on a daily basis, with students assisting with cleaning efforts on a rotating schedule. All halls will also be equipped with hand sanitizer stations. Signage and reminders will be placed throughout all dorms.
Signage and reminders will be placed throughout each dorm and on every hall. Faculty residents and associates will monitor activity on their halls and will work with students to ensure compliance with physical distancing measures. Titled student leaders, including Proctors and Peer Counselors, will also play an important role in creating a dorm culture where communal health and safety are priorities. Recognizing that supervising students at all times is not feasible, we will also rely on a shared trust and partnership with students.
It remains unclear whether Deerfield will be able to participate in interscholastic athletics this fall. We are in constant communication with other schools, as well as the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council about whether competitive athletics will take place this fall, and if so, in what form. This decision will ultimately be informed by the most recent state and federal health guidelines.
We are committed to ensuring our athletics program maintains its excellence, while ensuring the health and safety of our students and maintaining flexibility to adapt as circumstances change.
Yes. We are developing new schedules to ensure student-athletes have access to facilities while also maintaining proper physical distancing.
Some student social events that cannot be conducted while maintaining proper social distancing, including dances, will not be held. We are developing a creative and robust selection of social events that will encourage interaction and socialization among students, while also preserving community health and safety. We intend to utilize many of our outdoor spaces for modified social events and gatherings.