COVID-19 and the 2020-2021 School Year
(as of Sept. 18, 2020)
• CA Community Update – Students and parents should continue to monitor their email for the latest updates related to testing.
• For a short time longer we will continue to accept applications for fall 2020 (as space permits) and we welcome inquiries for fall 2021. The Admission Office is open (remotely) and ready to assist students and parents interested in learning more. Email email@example.com with any questions, or make an online inquiry.
• 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 expertly-informed decision making and factors in the latest advice, guidelines, mandates, and recommendations related to COVID-19.
Starting the School Year
(as of July 30)
(as of Aug. 10)
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 will 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 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?
All students were 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. 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 7-10 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 and staff prior to the start of school and for required testing throughout the year. We will offer testing on campus for school employees. We will retest our population 7-10 days following the start of school and then conduct random sample testing, weekly or biweekly, of a minimum of 5-10% of the residential population.
IMPORTANT NOTE: For the health and safety of all members of the extended Cheshire Academy community, all faculty and staff members, as well as all students (day and boarding) and members of their family are asked to avoid travel, large gatherings, and risk of exposure 14 days prior to being on campus. And everyone must comply with face mask, hand washing, and physical distancing guidelines. Everyone plays a role in ensuring a safe and healthy start to the new school year.
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 on campus until a family member or guardian can take the student. 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 were assigned a morning or afternoon time slot to move in on their scheduled move-in day. Staff members were available to assist students with move-in. Students and families had the opportunity to view dorm rooms via FaceTime with members of the residential life staff, upon request, prior to move-in.
We ask that 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 guidelines 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. Plexiglas partitions and some physical barriers will be in place; they will 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 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, the 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?
We will help to ensure community-wide health and safety by limiting access to campus. Visitors will be limited to students’ 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 1. 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.
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.
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.
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 will classrooms be arranged to promote physical distancing?
All classrooms have been reconfigured to ensure that students and faculty can maintain six feet of physical distance. We will 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.
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.
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.
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)