While it has always been our goal to open up school at the Level 1: Green tier and welcome students and faculty back on campus this fall, we believe it would be a mistake to return to school without recognizing the changes in our world and how they affect our campus life. As our committees have consulted with behavioral specialists and public health professionals, it has grown increasingly evident that our students, faculty, and staff will need time and space to sufficiently adjust to the new health and safety guidelines we would need to put in place in order to keep our community members protected at the Level 1: Green level.
We have therefore decided to implement a phased return to campus, which will function as follows:
During the week of August 31 – September 3, all students will be invited to campus in groups for a special orientation (details to follow by mid-August) focused on health and safety training and community building; faculty and staff will likewise return to campus in small groups to organize their classrooms, reacquaint themselves with campus, and practice implementing new safety protocols.
For at least the first half of Mod 1 (September 8 – 25), A-B-C Block classes will be conducted online for all students. This will allow for a gradual and safe return to a full day campus experience on September 29. During the first few weeks of September, students and faculty will practice incorporating new daily routines both at home and at school in incremental steps, with the goal of building new habits that are key to our success, such as reporting daily self-checks, mask-wearing endurance, etc. In addition, all students will have a solid grasp on tools and technology for online learning should we need to be fully online at any point this year or should a student need to remain at home.
Most faculty will teach exclusively from campus beginning the week of September 21, when they will pilot some of the new technologies and software necessary to a hybrid model.
Recognizing the social-emotional need of students to connect with others, have a routine, and establish a sense of normalcy, students will have the opportunity to come to campus at least two afternoons a week for D Blocks, athletics practices, and other extracurricular activities, which will be held outdoors as much as possible.
Structuring the return in this way, as a slow build, will afford community members with the time and flexibility they need to readjust to life on campus, without feeling like they are being thrown into a completely novel environment, with new and unfamiliar variables, all at once. It will also allow us to monitor local and national trends and assess community impacts following the return of area college and university students here in Massachusetts this fall.