Return to School:

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:

  • An adapted New Parent Orientation Panel with members of Deerfield Academy’s senior team;
  • Zoom Advisor meetings with new students and parents/guardians;
  • New Student Zooms in squads with residents, associates, and Proctors or Peer Counselors;
  • Full-squad Zooms with residents, associates, and Proctors or Peer Counselors.

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

  • Harold Smith
  • Pocumtuck
  • Bewkes
  • DeNunzio
  • Mods

Wednesday, September 9: Juniors and Seniors by squad

  • Rosenwald-Shumway
  • Barton
  • John Williams
  • O’Byrne-Curtis

Thursday, September 10: Ninth-Graders by dorm

  • Johnson
  • Mather
  • Doubleday
  • Scaife

Friday, September 11: Tenth-Graders by dorm

  • John Louis
  • MacAlister
  • Field
  • Louis Marx

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.

Testing and Screening:

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.

Campus Health and Safety:

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.

Academic Delivery:

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.

Residential Life:

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.

Athletics and Events:

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.


For organizations needing to test large communities of individuals in a congregate setting such as Deerfield, collection of saliva offers a less invasive experience than, for example, a nasopharyngeal swab, and helps promote compliance with Deerfield’s testing plan. Saliva testing accuracy for COVID-19 is comparable to other collection modalities such as throat and nasal swabs. This process is a non-invasive saliva test that has been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

We are intent on minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19 on campus. This requires heightened vigilance as students, faculty, and staff return to campus this fall. Testing students before their arrival to determine whether any may have COVID-19 and implementing appropriate off-campus self-isolation measures prior to their arrival will help to mitigate presence of the virus on our campus as classes resume.

All students, faculty and staff will be asked to complete a daily online symptoms screen. Daily temperature screening will not be mandated.

The Dewey House is being renovated into three different areas. An Acute Illness Treatment Area (aka “Sick” waiting room) with a waiting room for symptomatic students and four evaluation/testing rooms will be constructed out of the old health education class room and ambulatory wing. A nine-bed COVID-19 isolation unit will be housed in the old infirmary when off campus options are not immediately available. In addition, 22 rooms previously used for student housing and counseling services will be designated for quarantine in similar circumstances when off campus option is not immediately available. The Health Center has also hired additional nursing and ancillary staff to supervise these areas as needed.

The Health Center is in the process of acquiring five in-house Quidel/Sophia2 platforms to conduct COVID-19 testing on site. We are also in discussions with the largest local hospital system, Baystate Health, to have the ability to do confirmatory testing through their laboratory services.

There are three entrances to the Dewey House. The North entrance will be the waiting room for students who are feeling unwell and likely need COVID-19, influenza, step or some other type of testing for illness. Please note, ALL Students next year must make an appointment before visiting the Health Center so we can properly triage them to the correct building to limit any potential community exposure.

The West and East entrances will only be used by health center staff. If a student needs quarantine or self-isolation, they will likely enter the building with a staff member through one of these doors.

Not at this time. A positive COVID-19 antibody test indicates someone has previously been infected with COVID-19. Beyond this, the clinical utility of COVID-19 antibody testing is unclear especially in regards to whether it implies some degree of immunity. The CDC is not currently recommending antibody testing.

Student Health:

To help us ensure students are healthy when they arrive on campus, we encourage them to take reasonable precautions prior to their arrival. This includes practicing regular hand hygiene, adhering to social distancing measures, limiting social contacts outside of their immediate household, wearing face coverings in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain, avoiding large group assemblies of 10 or more people, and limiting their use of air, bus, train, and public transportation.

All test results are subject to the same privacy and confidentiality protections mandated by HIPAA regulations and the Academy’s existing health center policies.

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.

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.

Basement common rooms will be available in many dorms to ensure students have areas in which they can socialize.

Health guidelines and protocols, including those for hand-washing, cleaning and disinfecting, will be posted on halls, near entries and exits, outside restrooms and in common areas throughout all dorms.

In keeping with past years, and to preserve community health and safety, visits from family will be limited. We encourage families who may have questions or concerns about their students to contact the Office of Student Life.

We have created a fuller training program for our titled student leaders to prepare them to assist their peers and younger charges through difficult times. All faculty will engage in robust professional learning seminars this summer with outside experts in the field of social and emotional health. Our Counseling Office has added an additional full-time counselor to help ensure that all students’ needs can be met. In addition, the health and wellness series that began last October with the unveiling of the new D.S. Chen Health and Wellness Center will continue this year with speakers who will focus on social and emotional learning and wellness. In the coming weeks, we will likely add to this list of student resources.

Planning / Protocols:

Deerfield studied a range of models and consulted with other educators at both the collegiate and secondary levels. The administration also sought the advice of Independent School Management, a comprehensive management-support firm for independent schools across the country. As a result of these discussions, Deerfield adopted a new modular academic schedule.  Students will now carry two year-long classes in each of three terms.

We are developing an elite training program for our college-bound athletes to ensure they are able to practice their skills regardless of Deerfield’s participation in interscholastic athletics, and exploring the possibility of out-of-season coaching sessions on campus focused on skills development. We are also designing a robust, intramural athletic program.

We will utilize some common rooms and other spaces we have identified as suitable and comfortable for student living.

We are instituting new rituals of hygiene for employees and students and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas throughout our campus. This will include the use of static aerosol cleaners.

Health guidelines and protocols, including those for hand-washing and cleaning and disinfecting, will be posted on all building and bathroom doors, as well as on dorm halls, near entries and exits, outside restrooms and in common areas throughout all dorms.

Any employee who can continue to work remotely will be required to do so. Meetings will be conducted via Zoom whenever possible. In addition, class sizes will be limited and arrival and dismissal times will be staggered to avoid congestion.

We are taking a number of steps to minimize traffic on and off campus. The majority of our administrative staff will continue to work remotely, as they have been since March. As the Fall Term begins, we will limit student travel off campus during weekends, and in keeping with past years, visits from family will be limited. In addition, signage will also be posted at all entrances to campus, reminding visitors of current policies and procedures.

Deerfield is instituting a number of other safety measures across campus, including:

  • Restricting access to campus for Academy members only;
  • Designating directional traffic flows in high-traffic areas, hallways, and staircases;
  • Installing plexiglass barriers to separate workstations and in other areas with frequent person-to-person interactions;
  • Removing shared appliances, including refrigerators and coffee makers, from common areas and kitchenettes;
  • Installing touchless faucets and toilets wherever possible.

There are many changes in the trash and recycling program this fall, driven by many different reasons–Covid, vendors, space/capacity, etc.  Many of the changes will be invisible to the day-to-day occupant of buildings, but significant changes will be seen in dorms and especially for Sunday and Wednesday night cleanups.

  • Recyclables: (paper, cardboard, bottles, cans) has been changed by our vendor to single-stream. Regardless of how we sort inside the buildings, a single truck will be used for collection of the recyclable. Inside sorting may not reflect much change, and the containers/segregation work well for capacity and transport to the outdoor stations.
  • Compostables:  Except for the Dining Hall, we will start the year with the compost collection program suspended – in dorms, in campus buildings, and for drop-off’s from faculty housing. Collection bins and labels may remain in place in some locations, but disposal will be as landfill/trash.
  • Dining Hall grab-n-go containers:  These containers will be disposed as landfill/trash. In the past, we had purchased compostable products– but for the start of the 20/21 school year Dining Services will be using traditional plastic wares that would not be appropriate to send for composting, even if the compost program were in place.
  • Styrofoam/plastic bags:  In the dorms, we will start the year with the collection of these items suspended and any collection bins will be removed; these items will be disposed as landfill/trash. This change will reduce the number of people coming into the dorms over the course of a week.
  • Sunday and Wednesday night cleanups are still part of the expected weekly routines for boarding students, including haul-outs of trash and recycling to the outdoor collection points.
  • Outdoor collection points:  Across campus (except for most single/two-family houses) the familiar green and black toters will be removed and replaced by larger receptacles at new locations. When we used toters, they could be staged close to the dorms; now the larger bins will be fewer and farther away.  For the start of the school year, the outdoor stations will typically include two large bins–one for landfill/trash, and a second for single-stream recyclables (paper/cardboard/bottles/cans). Our initial plans for staging these pairs of large bins for dorm users include the following locations:  in the roadway behind Barton; at the exit stairway from the field house near Mac Dorm and Kravis; in the Harold Smith parking lot; behind RoSho dorm; at the end of Scaife Dorm; and, near the greenhouse/Chapin Dorm. This new equipment will be in place and in use by the 28 of August.
  • Important final note: A critical request–for this program to succeed, we need all users to break down cardboard boxes before putting them into the recycling system.  Failing to break down boxes creates vast amounts of wasted space inside the collection containers, and we will struggle with having enough capacity to serve all users.


Going into the 20/21 school year, there are few changes in our trash/recycle service at the houses. We will continue to get curbside service of toters with curb-side pick-ups at the end of the driveway; have your toters to the end of the driveway by early morning on Thursdays.  On weeks with a holiday, pick-ups will be delayed until Fridays. Landfill is weekly pickups; recycling is every other week.  The major change is that our hauler has converted handling to single-stream. That means that paper/cardboard/bottles/cans all go into the same collection truck. You are welcome to consolidate your sorted recyclables into a single toter and bring the single-stream recyclables out to the curb bi-weekly. There is no more distinction between whether it’s a “paper” week or a “bottles and cans” week.


Reducing the number of classes students take over the course of the day and cohorting them into smaller classes will enable our school to limit the number of contacts any student has over the course of the day. This will also allow us to better trace and manage any potential positive diagnoses on campus.

Our new modular academic schedule offers opportunities for acceleration within disciplines, and, for older students, provides additional time for interdisciplinary study and directed inquiry. We also expect that this new modular approach will foster even stronger individual relationships between faculty and students.

The new “D-Term” will take place during December, will last two-and-a-half weeks, and will be conducted remotely.

We have purchased an additional 60 Adirondack chairs to allow for an increased number of outdoor meetings. We will also increasingly utilize other outdoor spaces that have been used for outdoor instruction in previous years, such as Brooke’s Garden, the area around the sundial, and the Hess steps.

We have consulted with multiple colleges and universities and have been assured by a variety of admissions offices that all applicants will be evaluated solely on the educational opportunities available to them, which will vary from school to school. The shift to a schedule that requires students to take two courses per term will not hinder their college admissions process.

We are working to establish an extracurricular block as part of our new academic schedule; this would support review and preparation for standardized tests, including AP exams. We are also exploring the possibility of staffing these blocks with Deerfield teachers or a third-party test prep organization.

We have appointed Physics and Robotics teacher Megan Hayes-Golding as Assistant Dean for Online Learning to lead our remote learning program. Ms. Hayes-Golding has been teaching online since 1998. In her first webinars, she taught fellow engineers to use machine vision software. Later, in 2012, she founded Global Math Department, an online professional development organization that continues to share weekly PD with math teachers all over the world. In addition to supporting those students who need to learn remotely for any portion of the year, Ms. Hayes-Golding will lead our efforts in implementing new and emerging practices in online education and instructional design.

We are designing our academic program to ensure all classes include a parallel, equivalent presence online. We are employing technology that will allow our teachers to livestream classes, incorporate interaction with students who are participating remotely, and record/archive sessions in the event that a student is not able to participate in-person or remotely.