COVID-19 Plan & Resources

The leadership of Vermont Academy, working with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, has spent a lot of time considering the impact of COVID-19 on our community. Vermont Academy will open for in-person instruction with an orientation starting August 30.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all of our communities hard. In Vermont we continue to see healthy, positive trends. The hard, quiet work of all of our mask-wearing, socially-distancing neighbors is paying off, and we believe our campus in rural Vermont will be the safest place for our students next year.

Our world will continue to look and feel different because of this pandemic, and so will our campus. What will not change is our focus on providing an exceptional education and experience to all of our students. While there is still a lot of critical work to be done before we welcome students back on Long Walk, this page includes Vermont Academy's latest information. 
Key Dates

The calendar detailed below is designed to maximize student time in on-campus instruction and minimize student exposure during travel.

Please note that while the reopening dates for the school are set, key dates beyond December 11 could change and are not included below. 
  1. Please note the registration dates below – we cannot allow students to enter our campus except on one of those registration dates. Travel plans and lodging need to be arranged accordingly.
  2. Because dates beyond December 11 could change, we ask that students and families not make travel plans that cannot be changed. 

  • August 1: Faculty and staff arrive on campus to quarantine as needed

  • August 15: Registration #1 (All international and domestic students who require public transportation and/or can’t quarantine at home) -- campus-wide quarantine and recreational activities begin.

  • August 29: Registration #2 (All other boarding students who were able to quarantine at home and submitted a negative test) 

  • August 30: Day Student Registration and orientation begins

  • September 5: Campus-wide Covid-19 testing (students, faculty, and staff)

  • September 12: Registration #3 (Student Arrival day for those who could not come during the other registration dates)

  • September 26: Registration #4 (Student Arrival day for those who could not come during the other registration dates)

  • November 25-29: On-campus Thanksgiving break

  • December 10: Last day of classes before Winter break

  • December 11: Travel Day

We expect that the second half of the year will run from January 11 through May 22. This schedule allows for a traditional spring break from March 5 to March 24. Infection rates across the country will determine whether we need to have a staggered return to campus after winter break and whether we will need to keep students on campus in March. We will communicate these changes as soon as we know them.
Detailed, up-to-date CDC information about COVID-19 can be found at the bottom of this page.

Below are answers to some of your questions. Please email additional questions and concerns to the following people:

The Important Role of Families

List of 2 items.

  • Community Handbook

    We are aware of the trust families place in us for the care of their students. As partners, we will work closely with families, recognizing the unique challenges and circumstances each has in dealing with COVID-19. We also ask for the ongoing patience and understanding of our families as we adapt to a continually changing landscape.

    To support this effort, before the start of school, you will receive an updated Community Handbook that outlines the expectations and responsibilities of our community members. There may be times when we call upon families to adhere to additional measures that help limit exposure and transmission so that together we can mitigate future outbreaks. We anticipate potential adjustments to our policy throughout the year due to changes in the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Visits, Holidays, and Parents’ Weekend

    Unfortunately, in order to keep our campus community safe, we need to limit visits as well as movement of students to-and-from campus. This means:
    • Visits to students on campus need to be curtailed.
    • Consistent with other independent schools in our region, we will be keeping students on campus for long weekends and the Thanksgiving holiday.
    • This year, we are necessarily making significant adjustments to Parents’ Weekend and other traditional on-campus offerings in the fall term. We are working on the appropriate way to redesign these events and find additional ways to bring the life of VA to our families. 
    We realize that the Thanksgiving break is important to many of our families. If a family decides to have their child return home for the holiday and the child's home is in a county or area that requires quarantine upon return to the State of Vermont, then the student will need to remain home for the remainder of the academic term and complete work online. This is because the 2-week quarantine time required by the state will extend to the end of the term, so the student would nned to complete work online in quarantine even if he or she returned to campus.

    We are still making plans for the on-campus Thanksgiving holiday so that it provides a healthy break and appropriate celebration for students. We will communicate details about this holiday closer to the date.

    Please also see important travel information in the Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Student Life section below.

    As always, we thank you for your commitment to your student’s health and holistic development, our entire student and adult community, and Vermont Academy.

Arriving on Campus

List of 5 items.

  • Drop Off and Registration

    There will be multiple registration days this fall. We are considering students in three categories: 
    1. International students and domestic boarding students who will need a flight or public transportation to arrive on campus
    2. Domestic boarding students within driving distance to campus
    3. Day students.
    We will not be creating set periods of time for students to arrive on campus during registration days -- arrival times will be very flexible to work with your travel plans. Please communicate with Mr. Brian Gilloran regarding your arrival times on registration days. He can be reached at bgilloran@vermontacademy.org.

    Registration Day 1: August 15.
    This is the arrival date for international students and all domestic students who will need a flight or public transportation to arrive on campus. This date is set to allow for a two-week quarantine period to take place on campus.

    Registration Day 2: August 29.
    This is the arrival date for all domestic boarding students within driving distance to campus and day students. This allows any students coming from a county where Vermont requires quarantine to complete the quarantine at home before arriving on campus.

    Students who are unable to return to campus for the beginning of the academic year will be able to start classes as remote learners. We will work with you to make plans to return to campus during the later registration days, which will reoccur every two weeks.

    We need to minimize contact between families, students, and faculty and staff. Please be sure to submit all forms required for registration before dropping off your child. Forms are available at https://www.vermontacademy.org/parents/student-registration-forms

    Whenever possible, only one adult should bring a student to campus for drop off. All individuals coming to campus must wear a mask. Upon arrival, students and any accompanying adult will be screened for symptoms and COVID-19 risk before beginning registration. Parents or guardians will be asked to drop students off and depart campus promptly.

    Only students will be allowed to enter campus buildings. Ample support will be provided to help students move into their rooms and acclimate to the new school environment, and while parents will remain an important part of their student’s support network, we need to limit the number of people who move around our campus in order to promote a safe and healthy environment for all students and other campus residents.  Keys will already be in rooms.
  • Quarantine Upon Arrival on Campus

    In order to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community, we are following Vermont guidelines for implementing quarantine procedures for faculty, staff, and students arriving on campus.

    The State of Vermont has issued and is maintaining a color-coded map that shows out-of-state areas from which people can travel to Vermont without quarantine. The map is here: https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel.
    • If your county of residence is listed in blue or teal then you can travel to Vermont without quarantine.
    • If your state’s counties are not shown on the map then the State of Vermont is requiring quarantine upon arrival in Vermont.
    Here are the detail on Vermont’s quarantine protocols: 
    1. International students and those traveling to Vermont with people from multiple households, via bus, rail or commercial airlines, must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to Vermont.

      If these students cannot arrive on our campus by August 15 -- the first registration date -- then they need to arrive on one of the later registration dates as noted in the Key Dates above. These late-arriving students will begin classes remotely in our quarantine residences and will join classmates for in-person instruction after the quarantine is complete. 

    2. If traveling to Vermont in a private vehicle from a quarantine-required county without making a prolonged stop (avoiding gatherings such as restaurants, limiting gas stops, and, if overnight travel is required reducing social contacts), students can quarantine at home for 14 days immediately prior to traveling to Vermont and will not need to quarantine on site. 

    3. Students traveling to Vermont from a non quarantine county and who travel in a private vehicle without making a prolonged stop may arrive without completing a quarantine. These students should arrive on August 29. 
    The quarantine that takes place starting August 15 is a campus-wide quarantine. This means students will be able to interact with other students as well as faculty and staff following the health and safety guidelines detailed on this web page. We will be conducting orientation and recreational activities during this period of time so students will be able to enjoy this time on our campus. There is no extra charge for students who need to take part in this quarantine period.
  • COVID-19 Testing for Arrival

    All students must present the negative results of a COVID-19 antigen or PCR test upon arrival. The testing should take place after the student has quarantined at home for 7 days and as close to arrival on campus as possible -- preferably within a few days of arrival. The student should remain in quarantine after testing and until arrival on campus as is practical.

    COVID-19 testing resources for asymptomatic individuals vary widely by state and country. To determine testing resources and availability in your region and to determine the best timing for a test to ensure that results are received prior to campus arrival, contact your local government or health department or your primary care provider.
  • Day Student Arrival

    Day students are critical members of our community and their experience will remain robust and meaningful. 
    • Day students from a non-quarantine county may arrive without completing a quarantine.  Day students must have a negative COVID-19 test before their first day on campus. 
    • Day students will complete a health screening each day upon arrival to campus.
    A day student's first point of campus contact every day should be:
    • 7:30-8:30 in Shep with the nurse on duty OR
    • After 8:00 in the infirmary with the nurse on duty.
    Parents dropping off students must wait in their vehicle until the nurse has cleared the student to remain on campus.
  • Shipping Student Belongings to Campus

    Please contact Mr. Brian Gilloran regarding when you can begin shipping student belongings to campus. He can be reached at bgilloran@vermontacademy.org

Health and Wellness

List of 6 items.

  • Guiding Principles

    There is no single strategy that will eliminate the risk of virus transmission on our campus, and until a vaccine becomes available, we will use a layered approach to protect our community and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Consultation with our Director of Health Services, the State of Vermont, CDC, and public health experts will frame our decision making and direct all of our protocols. 

    This layered approach comprises regular health screening and testing when necessary, quarantine and isolation practices, staff training, as well as school-wide communication of expectations in regard to social distancing, personal hygiene, hand-washing, and face covering.

    Through established protocols for testing and self-quarantine, registration and move-in, transportation to and from campus, and engagement in co-curricular activities, Vermont Academy will use these transition times as important springboards in shaping and reshaping the behavior necessary to keep our school healthy and to educate our community about being responsible community members in the face of this global challenge.

    The success of our response to the COVID crisis will be dependent upon consistent and thorough attention to the large and small changes we will implement to daily life. We will communicate our expectations with a sense of urgency and resolve and will hold all community members accountable for following the guidelines we set forth. VA will continue to monitor all available information closely and make any necessary modifications to support both health and campus programming. Plans and updates will be shared with the school community when available.
  • Health Education

    Students and staff will be required to participate in important education and training about:
    • Illness prevention
    • New routines and protocols on campus including appropriate social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing/sanitizing
    • The imperative for all of us to help protect each other by taking steps to prevent disease transmission.
  • COVID-19 Testing and Surveillance

    Our testing and surveillance plan allows for students, faculty and staff to safely engage in educational and recreational activities on campus.
    • All faculty, students and staff will be tested for SARS-CoV-2 after arrival on campus in the fall.
    • Congregate testing will take place again after the winter and spring vacation periods. This testing will involve a mouth swab.
    • Targeted testing will be available throughout the year as needed for symptomatic or exposed individuals. 
    • All faculty, staff, and students on campus will be required to complete daily symptom and wellness checks to help screen for possible illness.
    • There will be an additional charge for the campus-wide testing. We have entered into an agreement with Centogene to provide testing as affordably as possible. As soon as we determine costs we will communicate those to parents.
    As we repopulate campus, we will need to begin with stricter health protocols to minimize the presence of the virus on campus and possible transmission. Our Health Services team will monitor conditions both at VA and in the local area closely and will relax the initial restrictions if and when circumstances make it safe to do so.
  • Personal Protection

    In accordance with public health guidelines about preventing transmission of the virus causing COVID-19, students will be expected to follow three basic principles: physical distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing/sanitizing. There will be clear policies posted in public areas regarding community standards for handwashing/hand sanitizing and mask wearing. We will require students, faculty, and staff to sign a code of conduct form.
  • Isolation or Quarantine During the Academic Year

    Isolation separates sick people with COVID-19 from people who are not sick.
    • Any student who tests positive will be isolated on campus -- in a location separate from students with routine health care needs -- until they can be safely transported home or to a caregiver off campus.
    • In conjunction with the Vermont Department of Health, contact tracing will be performed to identify any close contacts requiring quarantine.

    Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to the virus causing COVID-19 to see if they become sick.
    • Students will be contacted directly if Health Services deems it necessary to isolate or quarantine. In keeping with normal practice, parents and guardians will be notified directly as students are evaluated and treated.
  • Positive COVID-19 Cases on Campus

    Despite the best efforts to prevent transmission of contagions, it is likely that Vermont Academy will see students or staff members who test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to others with the virus. We will respond to positive cases with clearly defined and communicated protocols, and we will share the details of our plan with our communities and families well before an outbreak occurs. Response teams will be designated to determine the seriousness of suspected and confirmed positive cases, and team members will be assigned responsibilities for implementing any necessary isolation and quarantine protocols, communication with families as well as state and local public health authorities, and for ongoing care for boarding students who cannot or may not travel back home.

Facilities and Operations

List of 6 items.

  • Campus Map

    We are currently creating a new campus map that will detail where students will be able to go in the local area. Our campus remains closed to outside visitors with few exceptions.
  • Cleaning

     We are carefully coordinating the efforts of housekeeping, residential life and health services to intensify cleaning services, especially for high traffic areas, door handles, bathrooms, and stairway bannisters. VA already thoroughly cleans shared spaces daily, including door handles and light switches. 

    Housekeeping staff have been trained in specific COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection routines that include more frequent cleaning of high-use areas. Commonly touched surfaces in classrooms, bathrooms and other common areas will be wiped down between uses.

    Ms. Patch, our Director of Health Services, will be checking in on housekeeping standards. Students will need to regularly help keep dorm rooms and common areas clean to aid in housekeeping efforts.
  • Residence Halls

    Dorm life will be different during the pandemic. Dorms will be arranged into smaller “family units." Students in a family unit will be permitted to have closer contact with one another while in their area of the house. Masks should still be worn anytime outside of your room. Students in a family unit will also share a bathroom. This small group approach to residential life will reduce campus contacts while supporting community building.

    In addition:
    • Dorm rooms will be arranged in a way to maximize social distancing and students will not be allowed to change the furniture arrangement within rooms. 
    • Plexiglass partitions will be installed in bathrooms and other necessary areas.
  • Classrooms

    Classrooms and a variety of other shared spaces will be open to students on campus as the year begins, with appropriate density and physical distancing expectations in place. Students may be able to use portions of Shepardson, Fuller Hall, LSK, and the Athletic Center, but new protocols will be in place to ensure health and safety and time for enhanced cleaning. Other common spaces will be evaluated and reconfigured as needed for appropriate use (e.g. lowering density) in alignment with health and safety guidelines.

  • Day Student Arrivals and Check Ins

    Day students arrival and check in will need to be controlled to ensure that students have completed their daily health screening. 

    Arrivals must be after 7:30 AM.
    • Arrivals between 7:30 and 8:00 AM must present to the nurse is Shephardson Dining Hall.
    • Arrivals after 8:00 AM must present to the nurse at Health Services.
    • Parents who are dropping off students must wait in their vehicle until the student is cleared to stay on campus.
  • Dining Hall

    We’re pleased to announce that we’re partnering with SAGE Dining Services to offer food service beginning this fall.

    SAGE, founded in 1990, is the leading food service provider for independent schools and private colleges throughout North America. SAGE focuses on safety, quality service, community, nutrition, education, sustainability, and delicious food made from scratch using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Mr. Peter Ross will still be acting as head chef and will design a unique menu based on our preferences. 

    While we’ll enjoy improved variety, quality, and service, one of SAGE’s biggest strengths is attention to safety, which has become increasingly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re confident that their service protocols will allow our students to safely enjoy outstanding meals! We’ll still receive fresh-made menu items, including a nourishing main dish with a variety of starches and fresh vegetables as sides; salad, deli, and soup options; creative, food truck-style fare; authentic Latin and Asian dishes; and expanded vegetarian options.

    SAGE provides expertise in allergy accommodations and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. With one out of every 11 students SAGE serves managing a food allergy, SAGE takes great care to ensure that all Team Members are extensively trained in food allergy awareness, the menus provide enough variety to keep everyone happy, and community members are well informed through complete ingredient lists and serving line signs. SAGE’s comprehensive allergen filter, which you can access through the online menu and the free Touch of SAGE™ Mobile App, makes planning meals easy. 

    SAGE also extends education into the dining hall by guiding community members to build a balanced plate. The SAGE Spotlight Program® provides nutritional guidance with a color-coded system that will help us find a variety of nourishing, tasty, and enjoyable foods.

    For more information and videos about what SAGE has to offer, please visit sagedining.com. We can’t wait for you to see our new dining program!

Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Student Life

List of 7 items.

  • Academics

    Our educational approach will provide for the safest in-person environment while still delivering our mission. The academic schedule will be developed into a hybrid model that can respond to personal and world events and will offer students the opportunity to attend classes in-person or at a distance based on their circumstances. Guided by the feedback from and experiences of students, faculty, and families, we are in the process of examining the academic daily schedule.
  • Arts

    Performing and visual arts are vital to the development of a whole person. Creative ways to learn and perform all art forms are being explored. Performance ensembles and classes will be limited in size and physical barriers when needed will be used to allow for appropriate protection of our students.
  • Athletics

    Athletics plays an integral role in the daily life and spirit of our student body. Vermont Academy leadership has met regularly with colleagues at Lakes Region League independent schools to explore several options for fall competitions. As guidelines for interscholastic competition continue to change by the week, we do not know yet what the fall season will look like exactly. If schools in our local Lakes Region League are permitted and ready to compete, we will excitedly devise a safe program that offers the highest level of high school competition.
    Should interscholastic sports be interrupted at any time, our coaches are prepared to conduct sport-specific training clinics, create individualized fitness workouts, and find opportunities to share our athletes’ growth with outside constituencies through live streaming and other athletic recruiting software platforms. 
  • Dorm Life

    Dorm life will look and feel different. 
    • Dorms will be arranged into smaller “family units." 
    • Students will still be assigned a roommate -- furniture has been arranged to maximize social distancing and students will not be allowed to rearrange the furniture as they have in the past.
    • Students in a family unit will be permitted to have closer contact with one another while in their area of the house. 
    • Masks will need to be worn anytime a student is outside of his or her room. 
    • Students in a family unit will also share a bathroom. 
    • Students will complete health screening with the dorm parent each night.
    This small group approach to residential life will reduce campus contacts while supporting community building.
  • Travel

    As noted in Dr. Zaccara’s June 10 email to all students and parents, geographic movement is our enemy. 
    • Once students are on campus, we will be limiting their movement outside the small community of Saxtons River, Vermont. 
    • Academic, artistic, and recreational trips outside Vermont other than to areas deemed safe by the State of Vermont will be curtailed in order to protect our students. 
    • We will have additional on-campus recreational and artistic activities available during weekends and holidays. 
    • Non-critical large group events will be cancelled or limited to students and staff only and made available by video streaming for parents and families.
    Any boarding student who needs to leave campus during the fall term must request permission through the Office of Student Life, which will assess the request for both necessity and risk in conjunction with the Health Center. This policy will be reviewed on a regular basis, taking into account the prevalence of COVID-19 at VA, in our surrounding communities, and at the student’s destination. If deemed necessary, they will be subject to quarantine and additional testing.

    All Lakes Region schools at this time are not allowing students to travel off campus for club sports or travel teams. Allowing this would put our entire community at risk of infection.
  • Day Students

    We anticipate the day student experience will remain consistent with the boarding student experience after the successful completion of a check-in.
  • College Visits

    College Counseling has already started working with students regarding the college search process, which will be different this year. Colleges are shifting to virtual visits, which can be conducted while students are on our campus. Students will be given flexibility in their schedules in order to participate in virtual events.

International Students

List of 4 items.

  • Travel Restrictions Into the United States

    Federal guidance regarding travel restrictions are still in place. Online instruction will be available so international students can receive an education from home until travel into the United States and in-person education is possible.

    It is important to note that the school is not operating entirely online, students will not be taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and students will be taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their program.
  • Visa Maintenance

    We’ve received guidance from the Department of Homeland Security regarding visas and remote learning. More detailed information will be shared with international families through email. Here’s what we can share:
    • We will be issuing new I-20s to each student with language recommended by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE)
    • These new I-20s will be emailed to each student and will need to be printed in color to be used for entry into the United States.
    We are waiting for updates from ICE regarding ongoing visa maintenance for students who cannot get to campus before the school year starts.
  • Travel To-and-From Campus

    We are currently developing plans to support students with ground transportation to campus for their arrival. More information will be forthcoming.
  • Arrival to Campus

    Current federal and state regulations as well as CDC guidelines require international students to complete a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in the United States. 
    • We will welcome international students on campus starting August 15 and on subsequent registration dates, which take place every two weeks. Please refer to our key dates calendar for registration dates. 
    • All international students will have the opportunity to complete their self-quarantine period on the VA campus prior to the start of the academic year. 
    • If international students arrive in the United States before one of the identified registration dates then they will need to have lodging away from campus until the registration date.
    We will be very flexible with arrival times on registration dates. Please communicate arrival times with Mr. Brian Gilloran at bgilloran@vermontacademy.org.