COVID-19 and the 2020-2021 School Year

PLEASE NOTE: School is in session at Cheshire Academy, however, campus is closed to visitors at this time.  Contact the Admission Office regarding campus tour opportunities and admission events (admission@cheshireacademy.org). 

THE LATEST

(as of Nov. 15, 2020)

 

• CA Community Update – Starting Nov. 15, during the last week of school prior to the Thanksgiving break, all classes and activities will be held remotely. Students and parents should continue to monitor their email for the latest updates related to schedules, travel, and events. 

 

We welcome inquiries and applications for January 2021 and fall 2021 enrollment. The Admission Office is open (remotely) and ready to assist students and parents interested in learning more. Email admission@cheshireacademy.org with any questions, or make an online inquiry

 

• Admission online Open House sessions are being held on a regular basis. Click to register or to learn more.

 

• From a prior post: Below are links to our comprehensive plan for the fall semester. It includes details about health and safety protocols, schedules, classroom and programming updates, and other important topics. The plan is the result of months of careful, thorough, and informed decision making and factors in the latest advice, guidelines, mandates, and recommendations related to COVID-19.

 

Updated 2020-2021 Academic Calendar (PDF)

(as of Nov. 15)

 

Weekly Class Schedules, Fall 2020-2021 (PDF)

(as of Sept. 23)

 

Starting the School Year

July 29 Letter from the Head of School (PDF)

 

Looking Forward Plan (PDF)

 

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the start of the new school year

(Please refer to Looking Forward – plans for starting the school year – for complete details.)

Health and Wellness

What measures are being taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

All members of the Cheshire Academy community wear face masks, practice social distancing, and engage in good hygiene practices that include regular handwashing and avoiding touching the face and eyes. Visitors will be required to follow these same guidelines.

Will students be required to provide their own masks? How will they manage cleaning masks?

Students are provided school-issued facemasks, but may also choose to wear their own. They are required to change their masks daily. We 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.

 

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 or obtain a negative PCR COVID-19 test result within 72 hours upon arrival to campus. Please refer to https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Travel for travel information.

What are the COVID-19 testing requirements for students, faculty, and staff?

All students are required to submit documentation of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, and upload results to the school’s health records system Magnus Health via the My Cheshire website portal prior to arrival on campus for second semester. Students who show proof of a negative test result will be permitted on campus.

 

CA provides a prescription for the COVID-19 PCR test for all students, from our health center director through our healthcare management system, Magnus. Students will take the test within 7 days of arriving on campus and will be required to show negative results that are uploaded to the Magnus Health service via the online portal prior to arrival.

 

We use an outside agency to provide testing for faculty, staff, and boarding students throughout the year as we perform random sample testing, weekly, of a minimum of 5-10% of the residential population.

What should a day student do if he or she is not feeling well?

Day students must stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms including, but not limited to, congestion or runny nose, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fever of 100.4 or greater, chills, cough or shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, body aches, extreme fatigue, and/or respiratory symptoms.

 

If your student is experiencing any of these symptoms on a particular day, please call the Health Center as we are required to report any students with illness to the DPH on a daily basis.

 

The DPH protocol is that your student’s health care provider should be called, your student needs to obtain PCR COVID-19 testing, and your student needs to remain isolated until the PCR test result returns.

 

If your student’s provider wishes to initially send your student for a rapid Antigen COVID-19 test, please note that the DPH requires that a negative Antigen test must be confirmed by a PCR test prior to your student being cleared to return to campus. It is our recommendation to have your student receive the PCR testing in lieu of having both types of tests. The Health Center must be called once the test results are back so a determination can be made when your student can return to campus.

 

If a day student develops symptoms while on campus, that student must call the Health Center and discuss symptoms over the phone prior to arriving to the Health Center. The symptomatic student will be isolated in the Health Center and the parents will be called for immediate pick up. The DPH protocol will be implemented that your student’s health care provider should be notified, your student needs to obtain PCR COVID-19 Testing, and your student needs to remain isolated until the PCR test result returns. The Health Center must be called once the test results are back so a determination can be made when your student can return to campus.

 

Please note that if your symptomatic student is determined to be a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, your student will need to remain isolated for 10 days even with a negative PCR test result. If your student (if asymptomatic) is ever determined to be a close contact of a positive case, PCR testing of your student will be required as well as quarantining for 14 days, even if the PCR test is negative.

What should a boarding student do if not feeling well on campus?

Boarding students must call the Health Center and discuss symptoms over the phone prior to arriving to the Health Center. Boarding students must not attend classes or campus activities if they are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms including, but not limited to, congestion or runny nose, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, a fever of 100.4 or greater, chills, cough or shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, body aches, extreme fatigue, and/or respiratory symptoms.

 

The DPH protocol is that boarding students must obtain COVID-19 testing and remain isolated until the PCR test results return. Any boarding students with local guardians and/or parents within driving distance will be required to be picked up within 12 hours in order to isolate off campus until the test results return. Once the test results are back, a determination can be made when your boarding student can return to campus.

 

Please note that if your symptomatic student is determined to be a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, your student will need to remain isolated for 10 days even with a negative PCR test result. If your student (if asymptomatic) is ever determined to be a close contact of a positive case, PCR testing of your student will be required as well as quarantining for 14 days, even if the PCR test is negative.

What is the protocol if a student on campus tests positive for COVID-19?

Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days until symptoms are improving and have been without fever for 24 hours without the usage of fever reducing medication. For our boarding students, 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 10-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. Students will be able to access remote instruction if they are feeling well enough to engage in schooling.

What is the protocol if a student is determined to be a close contact of a confirmed positive COVID-19 Case on or off campus?

A close contact will be required to quarantine for 14 days and cannot test out of the quarantine period. A close contact must receive PCR COVID testing at the start of the quarantine period and again near the end of the 14-day quarantine period, to rule out an asymptomatic positive case. If the close contact PCR test returns positive during this quarantining period, then the close contact becomes a confirmed case and must follow the isolation protocol for 10 days from the positive test result as detailed by the DPH. If after 14 days that the close contact does not develop any symptoms and all PCR testing is negative, the close contact can return to campus.

 

For our boarding students, it is the expectation that students will leave campus as soon as possible but no longer than 12 hours if a student needs to quarantine for 14 days. 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 period. The Academy can assist in helping families connect with homestay and other agencies who can provide care for quarantining students.

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.

Community Engagement

Will there be changes in the residential life program?

Most students will continue to share a dormitory room with a roommate. We divided dormitories into small cohorts by floors and assigned bathrooms to each cohort. Bathrooms have added safety guidelines and distancing measures. The purpose is to minimize physical contact to mitigate potential transmission of the virus.

 

We expect cohorts to eat some meals together and engage in social activities as well. We use this opportunity to develop deep friendships amongst the cohorts. Day students may not enter the dormitories for at least the first semester. We expanded 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 are meals 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 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 offer additional locations for meal pickup.

 

There are few self-service options in the dining hall per health department recommendation. Plexiglas partitions and some physical barriers are in place; they allow students and faculty 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 are students permitted to gather during their free time?

Boarding students are allowed to return to their dorm rooms and to spend free time with their dorm cohort. Both boarding and day students are encouraged to make use of outdoor spaces for socialization. Hurley Hall’s fencing area is available, as is the library, the Community Forum, and classroom spaces. The fitness center and gymnasium are available with supervision. We ask that students maintain physical distance and wear masks when socializing.

Are students permitted to leave campus to go into town?

YES – Students are 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.

Are boarding students 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.

Are visitors permitted on campus?

We will help to ensure community-wide health and safety by limiting access to campus. Visitors are limited to a student’s immediate family, and deliveries and services by various vendors as scheduled by FLIK Dining and the Director of Facilities. As conditions and guidelines change, we will adapt the process and guidelines related to admission candidates and others who wish to visit and learn more about the CA experience.

 

We look forward to welcoming prospective students and parents to tour the school at various times in the fall, some time after October 30. Anyone wishing to tour campus should first reach out directly to the Admission Office. Tours may be scheduled, on a limited basis, dependent upon current conditions and CDC guidelines.

Are students permitted food deliveries?

Food deliveries are limited to specific times of the day and must be retrieved from specific locations.

Will clubs continue this academic year?

Yes! We offer even more options this year and, as always, encourage students with particular passions to explore forming a new club. Clubs meet during lunch periods, outside of the academic day, and/or continue to use an online meeting platform.

UPDATED SEPT. 18 : What is the plan for athletics and other co-curriculars?

Athletics—competitive and recreational—remain an important part of the co-curricular program at Cheshire Academy.

 

We value and support competition, team building, fitness, and wellness through formal programs and informal opportunities. From student-athletes preparing for college play and beyond to casual, recreational athletes who simply enjoy or are learning a sport, it is integral for all in the Cheshire Academy experience.

 

Similar to schools against whom we compete, we continue to monitor all factors related to the return to school sports, and will do so throughout September. The Founders League and other independent school leagues canceled their fall seasons, as have several at the collegiate level. Some public school programs have also been limited or canceled.

 

CA athletics is proceeding as follows:

  • There was no formal preseason.
  • Team practices will began on Sept. 8 (following physical distance, sanitation, and other safety protocols).
  • Practices are held, as usual, after school; however, when appropriate, some teams and players may have the option to workout and/or practice in the mornings as long as they don’t have other priorities such as a class, test prep, extra help, or other club or co-curricular activities. How and when competition will take place depends on the sport.
  • Most teams will play a limited schedule against other schools (to be announced) in October and November, up to our break for Thanksgiving.
  • It is likely no team will play more than one game per week.

 

Since change is inevitable, we will be flexible and nimble in delivering an effective and valuable program for our students, and will continue to expand—or decrease—options as necessary to ensure health, competitive play, and compliance with prevailing guidelines and mandates.

 

At the start of school, our coaches will be meeting and working with teams and players on workouts, training, drills, team activities, fitness and wellness, etc. In addition, student-athletes who need film to share with colleges will be supported by the Athletics Department. We will also increase opportunities for fun, non-competitive activities, as well as intramural games. We are also significantly increasing the open hours of our fitness center, yoga room, and strength and conditioning centers, and our coaches are readily available.

 

SPECTATORS:

We have put in place some game-safety protocols that must be followed by our CA parents and our visiting teams:

  • Follow all physical distancing signs.
  • All spectators MUST wear a mask during their time on campus — even if standing 6 feet apart.
  • All spectators must stand 6 feet apart —no one is to be on the track, the hill, or past the wood railing surrounding the turf. No one is to be behind the end zones.
  • Each athlete may have only TWO spectators. Family members are allowed to be closer than six feet to one another, but still must wear masks.
  • There is NO moving up and down the fields or turf or playing field out back.   
  • Volleyball is being played outdoors- no one is allowed on the direct field.
  • Cross Country- no one is allowed in the shoot or trail. Parents must wait up top- by “shot put” area.
  • Outdoor Bleachers will be closed for all events.
  • The field house, gym, lobby, and bathrooms are closed for all events. There are port-o-lets at various locations near the sporting events.
  • No parking lot gatherings — once the game is over please leave campus.
  • There will be no “group” snacks or drinks allowed on the field for the team.

We are very excited to start the fall season, and we need your help to make sure we can maintain our games schedule. We appreciate your partnership in keeping us all safe and healthy. 

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?

We will hold a modified version of the weekend. 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 and weekly schedules that take into account the need to provide for both remote and in-person schooling. Our schedules include larger blocks of time that meet fewer times per week.

We will start school for the fall 2020-21 semester following our “Scenario I” plan. (See the Looking Forward plan for complete details.)  In order to best meet the needs and circumstances of all CA students, and to address the myriad factors related to a wide range of learners, we have designed a weekly hybrid schedule that maximizes classroom time and student support. This schedule, designed to benefit all Cheshire Academy students, is:

 

  • Inclusive. The 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 in person or remotely.

 

  • Internationally minded. The schedule is mission-aligned, comprehensive, and sensitive to the needs of our global community.

 

•   Flexible. The 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 will remain the same, providing continuity of learning even as they switch modalities.

 

  • Student centered. The 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 are classrooms arranged to promote physical distancing?

All classrooms have been reconfigured to ensure that students and faculty can maintain six feet of physical distance. We use larger spaces, including the Richardson Lecture Hall and the Community Forum, as appropriate. We are fortunate that our class size is small, which makes ensuring physical distancing less challenging.

Enrollment

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, chief financial officer, 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 moved forward 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 (who is the school’s COVID-19 Coordinator) 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.

 

Responding to the Pandemic

 

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 David.Dykeman@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.

Resources

 

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)