June 22, 2020
Although it was wonderful to see so many of you through the screen this spring, it was a poor substitute for the energy, activity and initiative all of you bring to campus “in real life.” We are all so excited to see you again in the fall without the filters of unflattering fish-eye camera lenses, frozen screens, disjointed audio and untimely muting.
We are working toward the opening of school with enthusiasm, creativity, and prudence. As we proceed, even as we develop new safety-based practices, we are doing everything we can to adapt and preserve those aspects of the Putney experience that are uniquely Putney. These include our unwavering commitment to progressive education in which you as students are the agents of your own learning, and supporting a thriving student-led community that will withstand physical separations of all kinds. Nonetheless, we know that each of you has changed in important ways since you were last here, and there will be new changes at Putney as well. We are hopeful that we will be able to loosen some of the more stringent safety practices of the first few weeks once the residential community has been established, but until that time, we will all need to adapt to a more structured way of being together. We invite you to bring curiosity, commitment and patience to the process of re-forming our community under these new circumstances.
There are many details that are still to be determined, but I want to share with you as much useful information about the fall as I can at this time.
We are updating the 2020-21 calendar in order to minimize travel to and from campus while still allowing for breaks and vacations. We hope to share it with you soon, but in the meantime, I want to forecast that given the risks associated with international travel, the need for Putney families to host international students during our winter and other vacations will be more urgent than ever. More details on this will follow.
Our ability to gather in person in the fall is directly dependent on the commitment of every member of the Putney community to practicing safe methods of social distancing and COVID19 risk management. We therefore ask that all students reserve the two weeks prior to your expected arrival at Putney as a time of social isolation to the best of your ability. We will be back in touch with more specific expectations once we have a clearer understanding of the state of testing and our access to it on campus, but at this time, please incorporate a general quarantine expectation into your plans for the second half of August.
Arriving at Putney
We are staggering student arrivals to campus based on your mode of transportation to campus, and the resulting recommended quarantine practices. To that end, if you are a boarding student, please complete this brief form to give us a general sense at this time of how you are planning to travel to campus in the fall.
Boarding students who are planning to travel to campus by public transportation-- plane, train, or bus--and therefore may be at greater risk of exposure to COVID19, are expected to arrive on campus on Monday, August 31. A period of quarantine on campus will follow, the length of which will depend on the availability of COVID19 testing at that time. It is likely that during this quarantine period, you will not be housed in your permanent dorm room, but will be moved there once your quarantine period has concluded. We will share more information about this plan as the summer progresses.
Boarding students who are traveling to campus directly by car, and can therefore limit your exposure to others, will arrive on campus some time between September 5 and September 10. We will determine the precise date in mid-July, by which time we hope to have a more advanced understanding of the state of testing, which may potentially shorten the period of quarantine for students at greater risk.
Day students will arrive on campus when New Student Orientation begins, which will likely be between September 6 and September 11.
Boarding Student Packing
This spring, I was one of the folks who participated in the process of packing up student rooms, and may I just say, WOW. Some of you had a LOT of stuff. As you anticipate your fall return, we ask that you significantly minimize the number of items (clothing, room decorations, gear, etc.) you bring to campus. This will not only make quarantine-related campus moves easier to navigate, should they arise, but will simplify the packing process if we are once again required to shift to remote learning for a period of time. It will also allow us to maintain heightened standards of dorm and room cleanliness, which will be critical for the health and safety of the community. Finally, this approach is consistent with Putney’s Fundamental Beliefs, which as you know include modeling our community on principles of simple and sustainable living. A recommended packing list will follow later in the summer.
As you will be traveling to and from campus, we will be partnering with you and your families to ensure that you, and we, are all following responsible social distancing and testing practices to keep you and the campus community as safe and healthy as possible. We’ll share more detailed information about pre-arrival and year-round expectations and practices in the weeks to come.
Long Fall, Harvest Festival, and Family Weekend
With deep regret, we have cancelled several of Putney’s signature fall events that involve large group gatherings or complicated logistics, including Long Fall, Harvest Festival, and Family Weekend (which will take place virtually). We have not ruled out the possibility of undertaking Long Fall and “live” Family Weekend in the spring, and will revisit this option later in the year.
We know you all have many additional questions about the upcoming year, and we will do everything we can to provide you with accurate information as soon as we’re able to do so. Our communications will likely include email messages like this, as well as video conference sessions so we can share information and answer questions in real time.
Please feel free to reach out if I can be of help in any way (firstname.lastname@example.org; 802-387-6242). I look forward to our shared adventures in the fall, and wish you all the best for the summer to come.
Dean of Students