Our primary concern at Deerfield is the health and safety of students and staff—especially those most vulnerable to infection—with overlapping layers of protection. These will relax as the public health landscape allows (and tighten should that prove necessary). Each of these measures by itself is imperfect, but together, and working in support of one another, they have proved highly effective in reducing the risk of infection. These FAQs will be updated and added to as necessary, so this link will be shared with you often over the months.
Cohorts are the rostered groups—squad, classes, and cocurricular—you spend time with over the course of a day. They’re created and supervised to ensure that each student’s “close contacts” are as few as possible. The fewer close contacts, the fewer friends you’ll have departing campus to quarantine in the event of a positive test result.
Rules and restrictions may be different from cohort to cohort, but the principle of limiting close contacts remains.
We are using the cohorting model to allow for relaxing of controls in selective groups without putting the overall community health at risk. For example, if we allowed a whole large dorm to act as a household, the number of close contacts would be very large in the event of a positive case, which is why it is essential to stick with your squad and keep your number of close contacts small. The intermittent contact that can now take place during supervised cocurriculars cannot happen during free time with people not in your cocurricular cohort, or else you would be expanding your number of close contacts to a larger number that could put community health at risk.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health defines a close contact as “someone with whom you have been within six feet of for at least ten to fifteen minutes while symptomatic or within 48 hours before symptom onset. A close contact can also be someone who had direct contact with the droplets of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on) while not wearing a mask or face covering.” Per the CDC, walking by a person or briefly being in a room with a COVID-19 case does not constitute a close contact.
This means if Person A is asymptomatic, and went to get tested on Monday night but didn’t received a positive test result until Wednesday, contact tracing would apply to anyone Person A was within six feet for more than ten to fifteen minutes from Saturday night to the moment Person A received their results and was isolated on Wednesday.
Per Massachusetts guidelines, close contacts have to quarantine for fourteen days from their last contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID 19.
We intend to start the academic portion of the Winter Term as previously published. The delayed return to campus necessitates an online start to the term. This will allow for 10-weeks in the Winter term–identical to Fall and Spring.
Yes, the current plan is to continue to offer a Spring Vacation. We are currently considering possibilities for students remaining on-site.
With our entering Emerging 2.0 Phase, the Athletics Complex is now open during the weekend (likely hours are from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm).
Intramural teams can now scrimmage and compete more fully. There will be “Green and White” completion days; these scrimmages will have referees, and the teams will be divided equally (to the best of each coach’s ability). We plan to keep a won/loss tally of all contests, which will include every team and at every level. Coaches can elect to livestream the games at the varsity level. The schedule of games will be posted on our athletics website.
Students currently have access to the Fitness Center, squash courts, basketball courts, and yoga studios on the weekends. Tennis courts are open seven days a week. Paddle courts are also open. Arrangements for golf can be made through Brendan Creagh.
Outside of regularly scheduled events, students may contact Bob Howe to check on facility availability.
Cloth masks should be washed after one day of use. Paper masks (such as surgical masks or Deerfield-branded paper masks) should be disposed of after one day of use. If your mask is wet or you have frequently sneezed or coughed in your mask before the end of a day, consider washing or disposing that mask earlier.
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.
Our faculty and staff policies and procedures are being updated frequently as the pandemic unfolds. We encourage all faculty and staff to review these policies regularly to as part of our initiative to ensure a safe environment for all.