UPDATE AS OF JUNE 26, 2020
We have considered and re-considered a variety of plans for the re-opening of campus. While it is likely that there will be further adjustments as the outside world continues to change, we hope this information will help to set expectations and allow our students and families to complete summer plans. Please know that we relish the opportunity for us all to find ways to apply the Midland mission and values to the profound challenges ahead of us.
All of the following details, logistics, new expectations, and requirements are best stated simply, but that is difficult to do because it is all complicated. Tone can also be difficult to convey accurately, so please know that our compassion for the challenges we are all facing now and in the months to come is driving our desire to be both clear and firm.
Below you’ll find our general philosophy and approach to mitigating the risks of COVID-19 at Midland. Then, details around new and specific expectations for our campus and, finally, some specific elements of our plan, an updated school calendar, and links to more information.
GENERAL PHILOSOPHY & APPROACH
Mitigation Levels: Our strategy is to have three different levels of response: first, re-forming the community with hyper-vigilance; then, continuing, intensive surveillance for COVID-19 infections; finally, maintaining vigilant yet “normal” school. These three levels provide structure and clarity to a myriad of issues, such as: using masks, indoor versus outdoor classes, open versus closed public spaces (such as the library), etc.
Our task is to create a plan and associated practices to mitigate the risk of a complex and changing situation — and we are several versions into the process with more evolutions expected as we learn more. If you want more details or are just curious, then see the following working document “Crafting a Special Year 2020-21.”
Pre-Arrival Logistics and Requirements: The current working drafts of two key documents are available now, although they will continue to evolve and Midland will send reminders and final versions in early August. See “Expectations Prior to Arrival to Midland School” and “Pre-Arrival Health Screening Form for 2020-21” .
Coronavirus Testing: For the foreseeable future, any return to campus for community members will require recent (within 1 week) testing for the COVID-19 virus and documentation of a negative result. We recognize that testing is imperfect and yet it is also an important risk management strategy. We do not have the capacity to both test students and then hold them in isolation while awaiting results, so the vast majority of students will need to be tested prior to returning to campus. Parents and families will need to take responsibility for pre-arrival coronavirus testing — although we can and will help and assist families in completing this obligation if needed.
Isolating Prior to Returning to Campus: Testing alone is not enough. All Midland community members must maintain extreme discipline and isolation from possible risks of contracting the COVID-19 virus from the moment tested, until receiving a negative result, and finally until returning to campus — this is a requirement by the school for all community members.
Hygiene, Face Coverings, and Physical Distancing: It is our individual and collective duty to comply with standards designed to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. These standards come from expanded Midland community expectations, societal norms, and Public Health requirements. Active and full compliance with these practices is a firm expectation and requirement for attendance at Midland and for participation in our community. For the good of all, we will each be required to sacrifice convenience and much more.
At Midland, we have for years treated fire risks very seriously (e.g. an automatic 20 work lap violation for breaching fire safety expectations) — hygiene, face coverings, and physical distancing will now be in the same category. Repetitive non-compliance will come with substantive consequences and could lead to separation from the community. Our advice is that you start practicing and role modeling consistent and effective use of these three vital basics right now; doing so will save lives and increase happiness.
Quarantine / Isolation On Campus: Community members who are or who are presumed to be (on the basis of symptoms or potential exposure) active carriers of COVID-19 (asymptomatic or symptomatic) should expect immediate isolation on campus (and if at all possible, a rapid transition home and/or off-campus) for a quarantine of 2 weeks, or until negative test results are confirmed. Given our finite number of isolation spaces and resources, we are dependent on the support of regional families in picking up and caring for their own child for a quarantine period, if needed.
Roommates: Roommates will be considered as a family unit relative to coronavirus management strategies on campus. This does allow for less stringent practices in students’ personal living spaces and comes with the risk that both roommates will need to isolate and await testing results in the event of a suspected infection.
Immunity & Vaccines: At this time, testing for immunity is unreliable and not yet fully understood. Likewise, we look forward to an eventual vaccine although cannot assume one will be available during this next school year. Should immunity testing or a vaccine become available, we will adjust our plans accordingly.
ADJUSTED CALENDAR & FALL CAMPUS ARRIVAL
Fall Semester Calendar:
AUGUST ARRIVAL | Unchanged, with new pre-arrival expectations (explained above), and new arrival procedures (explained below).
OCTOBER BREAK | Canceled and one week added to the end of the holiday break in January.
THANKSGIVING | No break and no all-community Thanksgiving event on campus.
HOLIDAY BREAK | Winter Holiday Release Day: Friday, December 11, 8am, campus closed by 6pm (unchanged). Return to School (NOTE: one week later!): Sunday, January 10 by 6pm.
NOTE: We will plan a series of off days and change the rhythm of the Fall semester periodically to allow for rest, reflections, and relaxation to support everyone’s well being.
Winter and Spring 2021 School Calendar: For the moment it is unchanged, although we will finalize in November 2020. Changes will be based on public health recommendations and our collective experience over the fall.
Arrival Day Screening and Logistics: As with pick up in March 2020, we will maintain the isolation levels of the campus by greeting families at the bridge and transporting student belongings to cabins. This is awkward and makes for difficult goodbyes, most especially for our new families; however, it is a simple and important strategy to minimize the risk of an unintentional transmission of the Coronavirus on a major transition day.
“Closed Campus”: Especially for the initial 3-4 weeks of school, campus will be closed to visitors and there will be no off-campus trips for students. We do expect to offer a few designated weekends when parents might visit for a physically distanced hike and picnic lunch. We can and will provide ongoing avenues for parents to “see” their children electronically.. Please defer all non-essential health and medical appointments to the holiday break (e.g. orthodontist appointments, driving tests, etc.). Off-campus trips for students will be for emergency issues only and any exceptions will likely result in a 2-week quarantine and/or testing requirements prior to return.
New Students, Parents, and Families: The transition to boarding school is daunting anytime and all the more so in the age of Coronavirus. At heart, the personal and one-on-one connections, both student-parent and school/advisor-parent, are important avenues that we will look to fortify in a challenging time. We need and want returning families to support our new families in the transition, and again will utilize our collective new found familiarity with online interaction to build and reinforce all these connections. We also can and will sort out the occasional visit (in October and beyond) with appropriate physical distancing, meetings with advisors, and other school support to smooth the transition.
Questions? Concerns? Please reach out to Midland’s Health Director, Janet Willie at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: Much of Midland’s staff is taking the month of July off, so we appreciate your patience while you await a response).
All this, this moment in time, the needs and wants of every single community member… it is a lot. We can and will do this, because it simply must be done. We will do it together and we are blessed with a deeply passionate and caring community that is both vested and committed to each and every student’s health and success. Rightly, students and parents can and should expect a lot of us — although our success is dependent on each and every one of you rising to the challenge and doing your part, including rather significant forbearance for inconvenience, inefficiency, and faithful effort on our part as a school to do right by many. Thank you in advance as we all delve into the unknown. We so appreciate your trust and partnership AND we so look forward to thriving together as a community this coming Fall.
[this information was initially shared in an update from the Head of School on June 26, 2020]