COVID-19 and the Start of the New School Year
(as of July 2, 2020)
• Coming back strong and looking forward! The calendar for the new school year and many details about the fall semester have been established. Below are two links to PDFs along with a set of informative “FAQs” outlining for students and parents our plans for the 2020-2021 academic year. Please take a look, start making plans, and stay tuned for updates and changes; we will have plenty more to share throughout the summer.
• Summer Session @ CA! Our new online summer courses began on June 29. For more information and to register, visit the Summer Session webpage.
• We continue to accept applications for fall 2020 (as space permits). The Admission Office is open (remotely) and ready to assist students and parents interested in learning more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
What measures are being taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
All members of the Cheshire Academy community will wear face masks, practice social distancing, and engage in good hygiene practices that include regular handwashing and avoiding touching the face and eyes.
Will students be required to provide their own masks? How will they manage cleaning masks?
Students will be provided with school-issued masks, but may also choose to wear their own. They will be required to change their masks daily. We will assist boarding students in laundering masks each week.
Will students be required to quarantine before arriving to campus if traveling from another state or out of the country?
Current CDC guidelines continue to recommend a 14-day quarantine for international students upon arrival to the United States. Students may quarantine off campus with friends or family members in Connecticut or in a state that is not identified as a high-risk state at the time of arrival.
In addition, Cheshire Academy can provide contact information for programs that offer guardianship, homestay, and off-campus care for quarantine. Students may also choose to quarantine on campus. We ask that all families limit travel and limit contact with large groups prior to arriving to campus.
Please note that domestic students traveling to campus from a state identified by Connecticut and/or the CDC as high risk will also be required to quarantine. They may do so with friends or family in Connecticut or on campus.
What are the COVID-19 testing requirements for students, faculty, and staff?
Students should arrive to campus with documentation of a negative PCR COVID-19 test. The testing should occur no more than seven days prior to arrival at school. Any student who tests positive must inform the Director of the Richmond Health Center and isolate off campus for 14 days with a family member or guardian.
All faculty and staff will be PCR tested for COVID-19 prior to the arrival of the first students on campus. All faculty and staff will adhere to CDC quarantine guidelines. Page 2 Our current plan is to retest students, faculty, and staff within 7-14 days of the start of the school year. We will follow guidelines from the CDC and state of Connecticut, and repeat testing as recommended. In addition, we will be vigilant in assessing the wellness of our community with daily routine health check-ins.
What should a student do if he or she is not feeling well?
Day students should stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms including, but not limited to, fever, cold symptoms, body aches, extreme fatigue, and/or respiratory symptoms. Day students should be seen by their medical provider before returning to school to rule out COVID-19.
Boarding students should contact the Health Center through our new protocol so that they can be assessed and given any necessary medical treatment. It is important to take any symptoms seriously and to be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible.
What is the protocol if a student on campus tests positive for COVID-19?
Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 must remain under the care of the Health Center in a separate isolation facility adjacent to the Health Center until a family member or guardian can take the student from campus. It is the expectation that students will leave campus as soon as possible but no longer than 12 hours following a positive diagnosis. For this reason, it is imperative that all students have a family member or guardian in the United States who can take the student from campus and care for the student during the 14-day isolation period. The Academy can assist in helping families connect with homestay and other agencies who can provide care for COVID-19 positive students.
Any student who tests positive must remain in isolation for 14 days. Students will be able to access remote instruction if they are feeling well enough to engage in schooling.
What resources are available at the Academy to help care for students’ physical and emotional health?
Debra Bond, director of the Richmond Health Center, is a registered APRN who consults with a local pediatrician who also serves as our medical director. We have two full-time registered nurses to attend to our students’ physical health and a full-time counselor and consulting psychologist to address emotional health and well-being. We have relationships with medical specialists as well as therapists in the local area. We are within 20 minutes of Yale New Haven Hospital and 10 minutes from MidState Medical Center.
Under what circumstances will a student be required to quarantine on campus?
After the start of the school year, should a student be exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the student will be required to quarantine for 14 days. We will have space on campus for students to quarantine should they not be able to leave campus. If they test positive during their period of quarantine, they will be required to leave campus to isolate for 14 days.
What measures is the Academy taking to increase cleaning on campus?
PBM, our campus cleaning company, will be cleaning all campus spaces with increased frequency, with special attention to restrooms and academic buildings during the school day. We have additional sanitizing stations available on campus and will require increased wipe down of shared classroom surfaces.
What will move-in day look like for boarding students?
Students will be assigned either a morning or afternoon time slot to move in on their scheduled move-in day. Staff members will be available to assist students with move-in. Students and families will have the opportunity to view dorm rooms via FaceTime with members of the residential life staff, upon request, prior to move-in.
We ask that, if at all possible, just one adult brings the student to campus for move-in as we must mitigate the risks of having an increased number of individuals on campus. Students and the adult accompanying them will have the opportunity to check in with our nursing and counseling staff as well as other administrators upon arrival. Stations will be set up outside (weather permitting) to limit the number of individuals entering school buildings.
How will day students acclimate to their new environment?
Day students (as well as boarding students) will participate in orientation sessions throughout the summer months. Students new to high school will also have in-person orientation as permitted by the guidelines of state and local health officials.
How will the Academy review the new safety protocols for the community?
Students will engage in informational sessions and training over the summer and upon arrival to campus. In addition to an addendum to the Student and Family Handbook, students will participate in educational training about how to best ensure their own health and that of others, as well as new protocols and expectations to help keep our community safe and to mitigate transmission of the disease.
Will there be changes in the residential life program?
Most students will continue to share a dormitory room with a roommate. We will divide dormitories into small cohorts by floors and assign bathrooms to each cohort. Bathrooms will have added safety and distancing measures. The purpose is to minimize physical contact to mitigate potential transmission of the virus.
We expect that cohorts will eat some meals together and engage in social activities as well. We will use this opportunity to develop deep friendships amongst the cohorts. Day students will not be able to enter the dormitories for at least the first semester. We will expand locations for day students to relax and to study throughout campus. We are charged with reducing the number of contacts for both day students and boarding students, but are continuing to develop a strong sense of community and belonging.
What will meals be like this year?
We are following CDC and state of Connecticut guidelines as we reimagine dining at the Academy. While we must limit the number of individuals in the dining hall at one time, we recognize the importance of sharing a meal with others. We will have grab-and-go options so that students may take lunch outdoors (as weather permits) and have lunch in a class, or in a club or team meeting. We will offer additional locations for meal pickup.
There will be few self-service options in the dining hall per health department recommendation. Students will also find Plexiglas partitions on Page 4 tables in the dining hall; while there will be some physical barriers in place, they will allow students to sit and enjoy mealtime together. We will revisit the dining policies and procedures throughout the year and make changes as we are able.
Where will students be permitted to gather during their free time?
Boarding students will be allowed to return to their dorm rooms and to spend free time with their dorm cohort. Both boarding and day students will be encouraged to make use of outdoor spaces for socialization. Hurley Hall’s fencing area will be available, as will the library, Community Forum, and classroom spaces. The fitness center and gymnasium will be available with supervision. We will ask that students maintain physical distance and wear masks when socializing.
Will students be permitted to leave campus to go into town?
Students will be permitted to frequent local businesses in town so long as the prevalence of COVID-19 in Cheshire is not a risk factor. It is expected that all students will wear masks and remain physical distant as if they were on campus.
Will boarding students be permitted to go home on weekends?
Boarding students are permitted to leave campus but are asked to limit their travel during the time they are away from campus. If a student visits a high-risk area, the student will be required to quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to campus. It is in the best interest of the Cheshire Academy community for boarding students to remain on campus as much as possible. The Academy reserves the right to deny a student’s leave request and/or to require a student to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to campus. All of our recommendations are being made with the best interest of the entire community in mind.
Will visitors be permitted on campus?
It is important that we limit the number of visitors on campus in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. For the time being, only immediate family members may visit campus.
Will students be permitted food deliveries?
Food deliveries will be limited to specific times of the day and must be retrieved from specific locations. Protocol for ordering delivered food will be shared with students during orientation.
Will clubs continue this academic year?
Yes! We will be offering even more options this year and, as always, encourage students with particular passions to explore forming a new club. Clubs may meet during lunch periods, outside of the academic day, and/or continue to use an online meeting platform.
Will athletics be a part of the afternoon program?
At this time, we continue to wait for guidance from the independent school leagues to which we belong to determine the safety of a competitive athletic season. Athletes who anticipate continuing their athletic career at the collegiate level will continue to train and develop film for recruiting purposes. While we are hopeful that we can safely engage in athletics, we are thinking creatively about how to meet our students’ athletic needs should we not be permitted an athletic season. We are monitoring this weekly and hope to have guidance soon. Regardless, we will provide opportunities for students to remain active, healthy, and fit.
Will music and theater continue to be a part of the student experience?
Yes! There are many creative opportunities to participate in both music and theater. Our faculty are experimenting with several options and are devising creative ways to meet the needs of our students. Our concerts and performances are likely to be livestreamed or presented via Zoom for at least the early part of the school year.
Will there be a fall Family Weekend in October?
Unfortunately, due to current CDC and state recommendations, we cannot host a traditional Family Weekend on campus. We will, however, offer conferences with faculty and other programming through a remote platform.
Teaching and Learning
Will there be changes to the daily academic schedule?
We have created a daily schedule that takes into account the need to provide for both remote and face-to-face learning. Our schedule includes larger blocks of time that meet fewer times per week.
The schedule accounts for dedicated live synchronous meetings for remote students to meet with their teachers, blocks during which remote students and on-campus students are brought together in a true hybrid environment to attend class together, and dedicated blocks for on-campus students to meet with their teachers.
All students will keep pace with the same syllabus, regardless of the modality in which they are attending. Students who are remote will rejoin the on-campus section when they are able to return to the classroom.
The schedule has been designed to meet the needs of all of our students by being:
• Inclusive. This schedule creates an equitable and inclusive learning environment. The schedule affords the same opportunity to engage with a Cheshire Academy education for all students, whether they are accessing their courses physically or online.
• Internationally minded. This schedule is mission-aligned and sensitive to the needs of our global community.
• Flexible. This schedule allows any student to switch fluidly between a remote and on-campus education if global, local, or personal circumstances warrant a change in modality. A student’s schedule, courses, classmates, and teachers would remain the same, providing continuity of learning even as they switch modalities.
• Student-centered. This schedule accommodates health and safety guidelines to keep our community safe without sacrificing opportunities for extra help, one-on-one support, and student engagement through advising groups, clubs, class meetings, and student activities.
How will classrooms be arranged to promote physical distancing?
All classrooms have been reconfigured to ensure that students and faculty can maintain 6 feet of physical distance. We will use larger spaces, including the Richardson Lecture Hall and Community Forum, as appropriate. We are fortunate that our class size is small, which makes ensuring physical distancing less challenging.
Will the school year begin with face-to-face instruction or remote schooling?
It is our intention to begin the school year in person. We have designed an academic schedule that will allow for a pivot to remote schooling as necessary. We are so excited to have our students on campus!
Are there any unusual changes to the academic calendar for the first semester?
Students will be dismissed for the Thanksgiving break after a full class day on Nov. 20 and will not return to campus until Jan. 5. A period of remote schooling will take place for all students from Dec. 1-18. Students traveling internationally or from high-risk areas after Dec. 18 may be expected to quarantine upon return to campus in January, according to CDC guidelines.
What if a student’s arrival to campus is delayed due to travel restrictions or a delay in obtaining an F1 visa?
Any student who is delayed will be able to participate in remote schooling until such time that they are able to come to campus. Due to the 14-day quarantine requirement, if a student is not able to arrive to campus prior to Oct. 20, the student will be asked remotely complete the first semester. If a student is not able to physically come to campus for the full term of either semester due to visa or travel reasons, they may receive a partial refund. Families should take care when making travel arrangements and should purchase travel insurance.
Who should I contact with questions about my tuition payments for the 2020-2021 school year?
Matt Piechota, CFO, can address questions regarding tuition
Will students be provided transportation from the airport to arrive to campus for the start of classes?
The Academy will provide transportation for students based upon the opening of school schedule. We provide transportation from Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut and JFK International Airport in New York City. We can also provide contact information for private car services.
Please understand that the school calendar will likely change due to evolving recommendations from state and local officials. Do not make plans for travel to and from campus for vacations that are non-refundable and that cannot be changed. Travel insurance is highly recommended. We reserve the right to change the calendar based on local and state health conditions and guidance from officials in order to preserve the health and safety of our community.
Responding and Adapting During Unprecedented Times
Throughout its 226-year history, Cheshire Academy has been through major events and the trials and triumphs that define the history of the United States. Most recently, our community has thoughtfully and creatively responded to address the sudden and significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic. We have adapted to unprecedented circumstances in remarkable fashion, launched our Remote Schooling Plan in the spring, and are moving forward every day with plans for the 2020-2021 year, advancing our mission and meeting the educational needs of our students.
We will continue to share on this page information and resources to help you. We will also continue to communicate on a regular basis with parents and students, employees, alumni, and friends through online meetings, emails, social media, text messages, and phone calls.
If you need to know more, have suggestions, cannot find answers to your questions here or in our regular communications, please reach out directly to Associate Head of School David Dykeman at DavidDykeman@CheshireAcademy.org. We encourage and welcome your feedback and engagement.
If you have immediate, specific needs, please reach out to these departments:
Academic Office: 203-439-7240 Academics@CheshireAcademy.org
Admission: 203-439-7250 Admission@CheshireAcademy.org
Advancement: 203-439-7292 Alumni@CheshireAcademy.org
Business Office: 203-439-7299 BusinessOffice@CheshireAcademy.org
Health Services: 203-439-7280 Health@CheshireAcademy.org
Security & Facilities: 203-651-9072 Security@CheshireAcademy.org
And as always, detailed information and resources for Cheshire Academy students, parents, faculty, and staff can be found by logging into the My Cheshire portal.
Our comprehensive plan (available here) brings teaching and learning to all faculty and students through online classes, programs, and activities. Our academic team has been focused on ensuring not merely a continuation of school, but enhanced and productive offerings of the extracurricular activities and one-to-one attention that CA is known for. This is achieved through a combination of ingenuity, forward-thinking, detailed planning, and personal dedication. Our Remote Schooling Plan, a consistent weekly schedule, and the broad and creative use of technology are all designed to keep students fully engaged, focused, and supported as they work through this unique conclusion to the school year.
1. Completing the school year remotely
CA launched its Remote Schooling Plan in late March to guide us through completion of the school year. All classes—as well as clubs, meetings, and other activities—were conducted online. Special activities and online presentations were in place to celebrate with the Class of 2020.
Plans are in the works to hold Commencement on July 31, 2020. A small committee is working on the details will be in touch with students and parents.
2. Remote Schooling Weekly Schedule
Much like a regular semester, remote schooling follows a weekly block schedule. Class meeting blocks (A-H), support programs, one-on-one extra help, group meetings, and activities are all accounted for each week. In addition, faculty and staff make themselves available outside of the academic schedule. Homework, as usual, is assigned in each class.
The weekly schedule runs until May 22. Following the Memorial Day holiday weekend, school resumes on Tuesday, May 26, for three days of special schedules until the last day of school on Thursday, May 28. The last day of school for postgraduates is May 13.
3. I.T. and other resources
Remote schooling does not mean students spend all day on a screen but, for the times when online access is needed, there may be instances when technological support is required. Our IT Office is available to address any concerns that students have when it comes to accessing everything they need to complete their academic day. For assistance, parents and students can contact the IT Office by email or by phone at 203-439-7439.
4. Clubs, activities, and programs
All CA student clubs and organizations continue to meet as part of our Remote Schooling Plan, as the activities students and faculty know to love are being reimagined and held virtually. Different clubs include, but are not limited to, the Writing Group, National Honor Society, Peer Counselors and prefects, as well as new activities sponsored by faculty members, including the Astronomy and Cooking clubs.
Knowing that spending time together as a family is part of the CA experience, we are also providing our community different campus-wide activities, including a virtual student center, movie nights, and other programs.
5. Athletics, health, and wellness
Even though teams are not practicing together on in a traditional sense on campus, they continue to build bonds virtually by keeping an open line of communication among teammates and coaches. In addition, our athletic trainers, health services team, and counselors are all working with students one-on-one and in groups, and are providing videos, tips, training routines, and other support from a distance.
6. Fall 2020 enrollment and opening
April 10 is the annual enrollment deadline for the upcoming academic year. Parents should take the steps, if they haven’t already, to secure their child’s place. Knowing that the uncertainty of the next couple of months raises some concerns about the opening of school in the fall, we have adjusted the enrollment process by allowing families to enroll and deposit, assured that a full refund at a later date may be an option. (Complete details are available.) Parents/guardians should contact the Admission Office if they are concerned about deadlines and financial commitments.
Also, while spaces are available, we are accepting applications for the 2020-2021 academic year for students entering grades 9-12 and postgraduate. Please contact the Admission Office via email or by calling 203-439-7250 for additional information.
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, Cheshire Academy continues to thoughtfully and respectfully respond to the needs of our community. We have always put students first and will continue to do so, even in this remote situation, to fulfill our promise of meeting every student where they are, and taking them beyond where they imagined possible. We are working together with town and state officials, our local health department, and first responders, and receiving input from state and federal health organizations to ensure the safety of our entire community. Below are just a few of the ways that CA has modified services during this unique situation.
1. Health, safety and support of the CA Community
Since early March, the school has taken many steps to ensure the well-being of its extended community—students, faculty, staff, and guests. Students did not return to campus following spring recess and international students who were on campus are now at home or in home-stay accommodations. Health and safety guidelines are being followed by the staff and residents who are on campus. The school health and counseling staff—who stay acutely attuned to and in contact with local and federal agencies and resources—are available for students and accessible even while campus is closed.
2. Campus facilities, access, and operations
Campus is closed to all except for essential employees and resident faculty and their families. No guests or visitors are permitted on campus at this time. Most faculty and staff have been working remotely since early March, while essential employees are on campus to provide maintenance, security, business office, and other services while the state is in mandatory quarantine.
Anyone needing assistance or has questions about access to campus must contact Associate Head of School David Dykeman at DavidDykeman@CheshireAcademy.org. All classrooms and other school facilities have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Student belongings in dorms are being packed and prepared for pickup.
3. Communication with students and parents
Throughout these unprecedented times of dealing with the threats and impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the school has provided continuous comprehensive, timely, and candid communication with students, parents, faculty, and staff. News, alerts, guidance, updates, and information have been shared through phone calls, text messages, email, social media, online meetings, and the website. As we respond to and plan for the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to maintain this level of communication with families, and welcome feedback and suggestions.
4. Community service and outreach – ich dien
As soon as the needs were discovered and solutions realized, the CA community at large has stepped up to support one another as well as the community around us. While students were on campus, we continued to support area businesses by shopping locally for meals. To help curb the lack of N95 face masks, faculty and staff have begun creating their own for friends and family to use. Students, too, continue their community service work, with some fundraising for a global nonprofit organization dedicated helping first responders and medical staff, and by helping share their knowledge through YouTube videos. To read more about what the CA community is doing to give back, click HERE.
5. Commencement and other events
Canceling and postponing all spring events on campus is disappointing, especially for the seniors, postgraduates, and their families who make up the Class of 2020. Our hope is to gather in August to celebrate the Class of 2020 in person, on campus. Details to follow.
The following CA and external links are provided to supplement the information noted above.
Connecticut State Department of Public Health (link)
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link)
From CDC: DIY Cloth Face Masks (CDC PDF)
CA Remote Schooling Guide for Parents (link PDF)
CA Remote Schooling Plan (link PDF)