Fall 2020 Opening Plans

July 20, 2020

Putney will begin this year with a commitment to the goals of opening and remaining open as long as we are able to do so responsibly; continuing the ongoing work of identifying and eradicating racism and other forms of discrimination in our systems, our culture, and ourselves as Putney community members; and supporting authentic and effective teaching and learning under challenging conditions. Each of these goals will require all of us to approach the year with flexibility, patience, creativity, fortitude and a deep commitment to each other’s well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Pre-Arrival/Arrival

We ask that all students and their families spend the two weeks prior to their date of departure for campus in quarantine. (This guidance has changed from a 14 day "self-observation" period).

For the Vermont Department of Health, this means a state in which individuals actively limit their exposure to the public, practice proper social distancing, wear masks whenever required and recommended, wash hands often throughout the day, and attend immediately to any symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19.

Yes. Before arriving on campus, students must complete a COVID-19 viral test, and get a negative result. Students will confirm that they have read our Community Health Commitment and that they have no symptoms of COVID-19. Here is our current outline of this expectation: Testing

● All students must complete a COVID-19 viral test to check for current infection before they depart to travel directly to campus. Each student must receive a negative test result and send documentation to Putney Health Services of that test and freedom from any symptoms before departing for campus.

● As testing availability and required documentation differs by location, each family should find the location of their local testing site by the end of July (we’ve provided a link at the end of this document to help), and determine what documentation, if any, this facility requires for asymptomatic COVID-19 tests. If a doctor’s directive is needed, please make sure you arrange for this in advance. If it’s possible for you to schedule your test in advance, please do so.

● The time between completion of a test and receipt of results is also variable from region to region. Our goal is to confirm students’ negative COVID-19 status as close to their time of departure as possible, while still recognizing that some test sites may take a week or longer before they provide test results. Once you have determined what test site you will use, please ask them for a realistic estimate of how long it will take for results to be shared, and schedule your test accordingly. You may want to contact your test site for an updated estimate as your departure time nears to make sure no scheduling adjustments are needed.

● If you anticipate difficulties of any kind scheduling your COVID-19 test and receiving pre-departure results in a timely manner, please contact Putney’s health office for guidance. Health report In August, we will ask each student to complete an electronic form providing additional information about summer travels and proximity to COVID-19 related risk factors, as well as your most current physical health at the time of departure for campus.

Community Health Commitment

Our ability to open on campus in the fall and to remain open is directly dependent upon the unwavering commitment of every student and adult member of our community to adhere to a set of safety-driven expectations. The foundation of these expectations will involve mask use, personal and campus cleanliness, and social distancing. They will also include expectations regarding space restrictions, curtailing social activities that heighten exposure risk, and adhering to other practices that will be critical to protecting the health of the campus community. Each student will be asked to carefully review Putney’s Community Health Commitment prior to arrival, and to commit to following the practices outlined within it.

As noted earlier in the summer, we urge students to bring the absolute minimum of personal items to campus. In addition to making cleaning easier, this will facilitate hasty packing and re-housing, should either become necessary. We share the following packing list, and ask that you do everything you can to limit your belongings to these items.

Students will arrive on campus in 3 groups:

1. Distant/International Boarders: These are boarders who are traveling by plane, train or bus, and boarders who are traveling by car and will make the drive in more than one day. These students should plan to arrive on August 31 (international students should see “International Student Considerations” below for more information).

2. Local Boarders: These are boarders who are traveling by car and will make the journey to campus in less than one day. These students should arrive on September 10.

3. Day students: Non-boarding students should arrive on September 11, when all-school orientation/reorientation will begin. Our normal practice of an early return to campus for student leaders will not be possible this year, but we will be holding remote student leadership training sessions before school opens, and more on campus throughout the year.

Students may be accompanied to campus by only one other individual (parent/guardian/family member). Everyone should wear masks with closed sides (vs. open-sided shields). The accompanying adult will not be allowed to enter the student’s dorm, or other campus buildings beyond specifically designated spaces. We will have community members available to assist with the move-in process in the dorm. Traffic flow and timing throughout the check-in process will be managed to maintain social distancing,

All Distant/International Boarders will enter into a period of quarantine, during which they will be restricted from all campus buildings other than the dorm to which they are assigned during this period (which may not be their permanent fall housing assignment). Each student will be quarantined in a single room, and will participate in outdoor activities and meetings, both in person and online. On September 7, all quarantined students will be tested on campus, and upon receipt of negative results, will then move into their fall campus housing. All Local Boarding Students and Day Students who are arriving on September 10 and 11 are expected to have adhered to the self-observation practices outlined above for 14 days prior to their arrival.

 

2020-2021 Calendar and Academic Program

Please understand that the dates below are subject to change as we adapt to changing conditions. At this time we are hopeful that students will return to campus in early January; we will provide key dates for 2021 as soon as possible.

August 31: Distant/International Boarders, and students who know in advance that they are unable to arrange for a local COVID-19 test, arrive for campus-based quarantine

September 10: Local Boarders driving to campus in one day arrive

September 11-13: On campus orientation for all students: New and returning Distant/International Boarders, Local Boarders, and Day Students

September 14: Classes begin

Mid-October date to be determined: Virtual Family Weekend

Mid-October date to be determined: Brief October break, campus-based for boarding students

November 21: Most students travel home for home-based Project Week, anticipating return to campus in January. Putney will work with international students to ensure that they are housed and cared for on campus or with host families during this break.

December 1-12: Home-based Project Week

Putney’s daily schedule has been restructured to allow for multiple lunch and dinner shifts, and to accommodate other COVID-19-related adjustments. Classes will be held in person on campus. Students and faculty will practice physical distancing with a minimum of 6-foot spacing and will wear masks at all times when inside. Many classes will have more students enrolled than a classroom can safely accommodate. For most classes, on alternating days, half of the class will meet in the classroom, and the other half will participate in a supervised work setting.

 

Residential Life

Each dorm community will be operating as a loose “cohort” in as many dimensions of student life as possible, limiting intermingling with students from other dorms. The overall goal is to limit students’ close physical proximity to others to as small a group as possible. Students will not be allowed in other students’ bedrooms, or in dorms other than their own. Each dorm will be responsible for a robust daily room and dorm cleaning/sanitation practice. Students will be required to wear masks in all areas of the dorm except in their own rooms, and to use common spaces, including bathrooms, kitchens, common rooms and laundry areas only when 6-foot social distancing can be maintained. All weekly dorm meetings will be held during the day in spaces in which dorm residents can congregate safely.

Students will live in doubles or singles only, and will keep almost all personal items, including their own kitchen/dining kit and bathroom items, in their rooms rather than in the communal kitchen or bathroom. All dorm furniture will be placed to meet state distancing guidelines; students will not be allowed to move or add to the furniture in their dorm room. Students may remove their masks in their dorm rooms.

At this time, we anticipate that boarding students will not be leaving campus for the duration of the fall trimester. While this means that off-campus activities and visits home will likely not be possible, Putney’s students, faculty and staff will work together to create an engaging range of indoor and outdoor activities on campus. Since students will not be able to purchase food and other items in Putney and Brattleboro, we will provide each dorm with its own budget so students can order non-perishable snack foods.

 

Day Student Considerations

Before coming to campus, each day student will need to follow the medical protocol for boarding schools required by the state of Vermont. Although this guidance has not yet been issued, we anticipate that it will involve the completion of a symptoms survey, and a temperature check; it is not yet clear what can be done at home, and what must be done on arrival at Putney. We will also be sharing our expectations of the individuals with whom our students and adults live, including parents, siblings and partners. We ask for immediate communication with Putney if the student’s exposure risk has been heightened for any reason.

Day students are a vital part of the Putney community, and under normal circumstances, Putney minimizes the distinction between day and boarding student status. Under the current circumstances, safety concerns require limiting mingling between the day and boarding student populations, other than in classes, afternoons, evenings and other scheduled activities. We are temporarily suspending the day student dorm affiliation program. Day students will be divided into cohorts and will eat lunch as a cohort, and will have designated places to congregate when they are not engaged in class or a supervised campus activity.

Yes. This fall day students will be asked not to attend breakfast, and when possible, should plan to leave campus after their last scheduled activity. Day students will not be allowed to drive boarding students on- or off-campus or host them for overnight visits, and will have designated spaces to store belongings on campus. While we will provide more details in the weeks to come, at this time, we anticipate asking day students to limit social outings and unnecessary exposure to crowds and public places when off campus.

 

International Student Considerations

Please reach out to Dean of Students Karen Guttentag (kguttentag@putneyschool.org) as soon as possible if travel restrictions suggest that you will need to arrive before August 31, or that you will not be able to arrive by August 31. We will work with each family individually to support safe and timely travel to Putney.

Given the unpredictability of international travel, Putney will work with students and families to arrange for vacation housing that will allow students to remain in the United States during the December break.

 

Ongoing Medical Protocols

Staff and faculty will complete a daily temperature check and health assessment before arriving at work. Any responses of concern will result in directions to remain at home and contact their health care provider for further assessment. As we will be acting conservatively in this area, we are preparing for the possibility of teacher absence in the design of our fall courses, so that students will experience minimal disruption.

Putney is designing a plan to administer and require ongoing testing at regular intervals of all community members. All parents or guardians must give The Putney School permission to administer COVID-19 tests for their child to participate in our program fully. Students and faculty/staff who will not participate in testing will not be permitted to live or work on campus. More details will be provided in the weeks to come.

Affordability for Putney and for families is one of the many factors we are considering as we design our testing protocols. We will outline associated costs and fees as soon as this information is available, and before the reopening of school.

If a day student develops symptoms associated with COVID-19 (symptoms may appear 2 - 14 days after exposure to the virus) while at home, they should stay home and notify the health center of the reason for their absence.

  • If a day student develops symptoms while on campus, they should self-isolate (separate themselves from other individuals immediately, preferably outside) and contact the health center right away to get instructions about further assessment and making plans to return home.
  • If a boarding student experiences symptoms associated with COVID-19, they should immediately self-isolate (separate themselves from other individuals immediately, preferably outside) and contact the health center right away for further assessment and instructions.

Individuals who develop these symptoms will be tested to rule out active COVID-19 infection and isolated until we have received their test result.

The Health Office will respond based on whether the student is a Distant/International Boarder, a Local Boarder, or a Day Student. If students test positive, we will follow this protocol:

● Students will be isolated until they meet the Return to School criteria (see below)

○ Day Students: will isolate at home

○ Local Boarders: will isolate in the designated isolation area until their parent/guardian can arrive to pick them up

○ Distant/International Boarders: will isolate in the designated isolation area for the duration of their isolation period.

● The contact tracing team will identify and follow-up with students’ close contacts. This will be a coordinated effort between trained individuals on campus and the Vermont Department of Health.

● Students may participate in classes and activities remotely if well enough to do so

● The Academic Dean and the student’s advisor will work with the student and their family and teachers to coordinate academic needs.

● The health office will maintain regular communication with the family/guardian for symptom updates, to answer any questions they may have, and to provide information on when the student may return to on campus activities.

Return to School Criteria

Before returning to in-person on-campus activities, any student who has tested positive for COVID-19 must receive clearance from the health office and meet the CDC guidelines for school return. As of mid-July 2020, the guidelines are as follows: Students who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms may return to school after:

● 3 days with no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and

● Respiratory symptoms have improved (e.g. cough, shortness of breath) and

● A minimum of 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared Students who have tested positive but did not experience any COVID-19 symptoms may return to school after a minimum of 10 days have passed since the positive test result.

Given Putney’s close-knit setting, we urge all Putney community members to please contact the Health Center if they have knowingly been exposed to a person who has tested positive for or is presumed to have COVID-19 (this includes household members). The health office will discuss the nature of the exposure to determine if the community member is considered a close contact and if they will need to self-quarantine, and will offer guidance on next steps.