COVID-19

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 is the safest place for our students.

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.
 
1. There will not be a Spring Break.

2.
The last day of classes will be Thursday, May 13.

3. Families need to arrange for undergraduate students to leave the evening of May 13, starting at 4 PM. 

4. Commencement will take place on May 15, which is a week earlier than it usually takes place.

5. Families need to arrange for graduating students to leave campus on May 15.
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 Health Commitment

    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, we developed the Community Health Commitment 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.
     
  • Family Visits

    Starting April 17, we will allow weekend family visitations to campus. You will be allowed to reserve a time for you and your student to have a picnic table on the South Lawn. 
    • Families must submit the reservation request by email to the Student Life Office and Health Services by the Wednesday evening before the weekend you hope to visit. 
    • In that email please detail the day and time you would like to visit and attach a completed Visitor Quarantine Verification Form (family visitors either need to have had a full vaccination or have quarantined). 
    • All family members coming to campus will be asked to have a temperature and symptom screen at home on the day of their visit. 
    • Please do not come to the visit if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19.
    Here are the details of how visits have to happen:
    1. Families may come to campus for a two hour visit between 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday or Sunday.
    2. Families need to park in the roundabout behind Fuller Hall (Admissions Parking) and call the Administrator on Duty at 802-376-5073 before leaving their vehicle.
    3. The Administrator on Duty will direct you to your reserved picnic table.
    4. While on campus, all visitors and students will need to wear a cloth mask or procedure mask (at all times except for eating) and maintain 6’ distance from your student (except for a few brief hugs), your family members, and any other students in the area.
    5. Families will be able to use a restroom inside of Fuller Hall, but not go inside other buildings including dorms -- not even for a brief time. 
    6. Families may bring homemade or take-out food for a picnic.
    7. Families may take a walk with your student on the campus trails, keeping 6’ distance and using masks.  
    8. Family visits can be no longer than 2 hours.
    9. Families need to call the Administrator on Duty again before leaving campus
    Any questions about family visits should be emailed to to the Student Life Office and Health Services.
     

Arriving on Campus

List of 4 items.

  • Arrival Days

    There were multiple arrival days this winter. We consider students to be in one of 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 -- arrival times will be very flexible to work with your travel plans. 

    Arrival Day 1: January 11.
    This is the arrival date for international students and all domestic students who will need a flight or public transportation to arrive on campus. 

    Arrival Day 2: January 19.
    This is the arrival date for all domestic boarding students within driving distance to campus and day students. 

    Students who are unable to return to campus for the beginning of the academic year will be able to start classes as remote learners.

    Whenever possible, only one adult should bring a student to campus for drop off. All individuals coming to campus must wear a mask. 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.  

    Arrival Day 3: January 20.
    This is the arrival date for day students. 
  • 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. 

    On-site temperature and symptom screening is no longer mandated by the State of Vermont for day students. Instead, parents are expected to screen students at home prior to transport to school and to keep students home if symptomatic.
  • Shipping Student Belongings to Campus

    Please contact Mr. Brian Gilloran regarding 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, our medical director (Kristan Outwater, MD) 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.
    • Congregate testing will take place at a set date up to three weeks after the first students arrive on campus in the fall or winter. This testing will involve a mouth swab.
    • Targeted testing will be available throughout the year as needed for symptomatic or exposed individuals.
    • Weekly random screenings will take place using the BD Veritor Plus rapid antigen testing system
    • All faculty, staff, and students on campus will be required to complete daily symptom and wellness checks to help screen for possible illness.
    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 Community Health Commitment.
  • 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, 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 in the following way:
    1. We receive notification that we have a person with a positive test result.
    2. We quickly isolate the person who tested positive.
    3. We conduct contact tracing to identify any students, faculty, and staff who needed to be quarantined because of potential exposure.
    4. We communicate with any families of students who are moved into quarantine or who need to quarantine at home.
    A positive test is protected health information, so we cannot share who tested positive or whether it was a student, faculty member, or staff. 

    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 7 items.

  • Vaccinations

    We will not be providing COVID-19 vaccines to our students this academic year. While the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for youth ages 16 and up is happening nationwide and students who are residents of Vermont who are 16 or older can begin registering for vaccines on April 19, at this time nonresident students are ineligible for vaccines in Vermont. 
    • Day student parents of children 16 and older should register your student for a vaccine in your state as soon as possible. 
    • Boarding student parents should schedule your student's vaccine for as soon as they are eligible in your state after our academic year ends on May 15.
    • Vermont Academy will be requiring all COVID-19 vaccine-eligible students to have completed all scheduled doses at least 2 weeks prior to their arrival on campus for the 2021-22 academic year.
    The Pfizer vaccine trials for younger teens are taking place and look promising, which means that youth ages 13 to 15 may also have access to vaccines this summer.
     
    If you have any questions about vaccinations, please contact Robin Patch.
  • Campus Map

    During campus-wide quarantine periods, students are restricted to our hilltop campus. Visits to the village are not allowed. Outside of campus-wide quarantine periods, student travel is limited to the campus boundaries that include the village of Saxtons River. 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

    On-site temperature and symptom screening is no longer mandated by the State of Vermont. Instead, parents are expected to screen students at home prior to transport to school and to keep students home if symptomatic.
  • 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

    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.
    After April 15, 2021, we will not be able to accommodate any off-campus trips, breaks, or home visits for students except for essential medical appointments. Due to the associated quarantines and testing, it is not feasible for students to return to campus prior to the conclusion of the year.
     
    Should you need to take your student home for some reason after April 15, they will need to finish this year remotely and will not be able to return until the 2021-2022 academic year. 
     
  • Day Students

    We anticipate the day student experience will remain consistent with the boarding student experience.
  • 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 3 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, and students will be taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their program.
  • 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 on specific 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.

Education for Life - One Student at a Time

Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.