Healthy Deerfield and the 2020 - 2021 School Year Scroll down to review information and updates regarding the upcoming school year at Deerfield Academy.

From Head of School John Austin:

Dear Deerfield Families:

We are looking forward to welcoming all of you back to campus in just two short months! Even as my senior team and I have been working to put procedures in place that will allow all of our students to return to Deerfield (and for our new students—to officially begin their Deerfield Experiences) we are aware that conditions in regard to COVID-19 will continue to change and evolve—and we are planning for multiple contingencies. We do, however, remain focused on our two essential priorities: supporting community health in a comprehensive, consistent manner, and fulfilling the promise of our mission as a school uniquely committed to educational excellence and a powerful and embracing sense of community.

Our primary goal is a simple one: To have all students arrive at Deerfield healthy and COVID-19 free.

In support of this goal, the two weeks prior to arrival on campus are of critical importance. Below is an outline of our approach—segmented into “Prearrival,” “Arrival,” and “Throughout the Fall Term” procedures—that our Director of Medical Services Dr. Bryant (Bear) Benson, our partner Ginkgo Bioworks, and our medical consultants have developed as key components of the overlapping and mutually supporting layers of mitigation that will be in place when we gather together in September. These have been designed to minimize the risk of infection in the community and to effectively manage a positive diagnosis on campus so that we may continue to teach and learn together.

Below, in addition to greater detail surrounding our community health plan—including those steps that we are asking you and your student to take prior to their arrival on campus—Assistant Head of School for Student Life Amie Creagh provides a drop-off schedule and additional information surrounding “opening days.”

Thank you in advance for your continued support of our school and these procedures, which are essential to building the “Healthy Deerfield” that we all want to experience this fall. I am, as always, available should you have any outstanding questions or concerns.

John Austin, Head of School

Pre-Arrival: Getting Ready to Come to Campus

Deerfield has partnered with "Concentric by Ginkgo," which offers COVID-19 testing in support of schools and businesses. Their platform is designed to support communities, such as Deerfield, and their process is a non-invasive saliva test that has been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Initial registration and test results are provided via a digital platform and will be available to Dr. Benson and staff of the Chen Center with the same privacy and confidentially as any other test, as dictated by HIPAA and the Academy’s health center policies.

Test kits will be delivered to domestic students’ home addresses in time for pre-arrival testing. We are still determining if it will be possible to send kits to our international families as well, and information regarding all send dates will be shared with families as soon as it is available. The kits will include instructions for collecting sample, and a link to an instructional video. From domestic addresses, they will be returned in a prepaid postage envelope back to Concentric. Families may also obtain a COVID-19 PCR test through an alternative vendor within five days of their student’s arrival on campus and bring that documentation to campus. See FAQs.

In addition to submitting a test sample, Dr. Benson strongly encourages the following practices during the 14 days prior to a student’s arrival on campus:

  • Adhere to physical distancing of at least 6 feet (2 meters);
  • Limit social contacts outside of their immediate household;
  • Wear a face covering in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain;
  • Avoid large group assemblies of 10 or more people;
  • Limit use of public transportation and minimize air, bus, and train travel; if mass transit must be used, it is advised to wear a cloth face covering for the duration of travel time, wipe down seat, arm rests, and tray table with sanitizing wipes before use, and use hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently.

Prior to arrival on campus, if a student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be expected to remain off campus until they have fulfilled isolation requirements per CDC criteria for at least 10 days, have had two negative follow up COVID-19 tests at least 24-hours apart, and parents have discussed their child’s return to campus with Dr. Benson.

  1. It has been at least 10 days since the onset of their symptoms;
  2. Their symptoms are significantly improved;
  3. They have had no fever for at least 72 hours without fever reducing medications;
  4. They have had two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24-hours apart;
  5. Dr. Benson has approved their return to campus.

At this time, we do not plan on requiring international students to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the United States. However, as we get closer to the opening of school, there may be a federal or state requirement for international and/or domestic students to complete a 14-day quarantine prior to arriving on campus. If you have not done so already, please fill out the short form with this information that is located under your student’s photo on DAinfo. If you need assistance logging in to DAinfo, please contact the ITS Help Desk. As always, Deerfield stands ready to partner with families that need assistance with locating an off-campus quarantine site. Should you have any medical concerns regarding your student's return to campus, please contact Dr. Benson through the Chen Center.

Arrival: Key Dates

All boarding students will receive a specific move-in time, and they’ll fall within the following calendar of returns by cohort. This calendar is designed to transition students into the reassurance of regular routines as quickly, safely, and smoothly as possible. Students will not be permitted on campus prior to their designated arrival date.

Monday, September 7 (Labor Day):

Alliance Leaders, Cultural Competency Advocates, Peer Counselors, Proctors, Student Body President, and Student Council Chair arrive for Healthy Deerfield programs and titled leader training.

Tuesday, September 8:

Remaining Seniors—new and returning—arrive for Healthy Deerfield programs, leadership training, and new student welcome and orientation. In the evening, new and returning Senior day students join activities with their squads.

Wednesday, September 9:

Boarding Ninth-graders arrive for Healthy Deerfield programs and new student welcome and orientation. In the evening, Ninth-grade day students join activities with their squads.

Thursday, September 10:

Boarding Tenth-graders—new and returning—arrive for Healthy Deerfield programs and new student welcome and orientation. In the evening, new and returning Tenth-grade day students join activities with their squads.

Friday, September 11:

Boarding Juniors–new and returning–arrive for Healthy Deerfield programs and new student welcome and orientation. In the evening, new and returning Junior day students join activities with their squads.

Saturday, September 12:

Academic, orientation, and welcome programs for all students.

From Assistant Head of School for Student Life Amie Creagh

Dear Deerfield Families,

It’s been more than a decade since I put my first child on the bus to kindergarten, but I remember it vividly: I smiled and waved, of course, but I spent the rest of the day trying not to sob during faculty meetings. (I was not particularly successful.) Since then, I’ve watched as many of my colleagues have gone through this very same experience: putting their children on the bus for the first time or seeing them off to college and then doing their best to hold it together through otherwise-compelling presentations about teaching and learning.

At Deerfield, we understand the weight of that goodbye with your child. It’s a big moment. In fact, for some of you, September will mark the beginning of the longest time you’ve spent away from one another. Not easy to anticipate, I know. Regrettably, this important goodbye must now be considered within the context of a pandemic. It’s an unfortunate reality, and we all probably recognize that drop-off will need to be different this fall. In making the necessary modifications for students’ return to school, we’ve done our best to prioritize the empathy and warmth that have long been Deerfield hallmarks, while also implementing a prudent set of health precautions designed to keep the school and local community safe. The schedule above and what follows below are the products of that very difficult balance.

Support for Families:

In a normal fall, we offer a full New Parent Orientation Program with our friends from the Deerfield Parents Network. Over the years, their wisdom and experience have been invaluable as families transition to Deerfield. However, limits on the size of gatherings and physical distancing requirements will make that program—in its usual form—impossible this year, so we’ll aim to support families in alternative ways. For example, Elizabeth Darling, President of the DPN, John Austin, Ivory Hills, Mark Spencer, Marjorie Young, and I will host the New Parent Orientation Panel via Zoom in late August. We’ll also hold a series of webinars, including one specifically for our international families. And in the early days and weeks of school, faculty residents and advisors will set aside time to talk with you about your child and their adjustment to life here at Deerfield. Thereafter, your children’s advisors will continue to communicate with you regularly.

Support for Students:

Transition to School and Orientation

Anticipating students’ arrival, we’ve studied guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, consulted with other schools and universities, and solicited input from our medical consultants and health experts. Those resources have helped us to craft a hybrid approach to our welcome programs. We’ll engage virtually before students arrive on campus and in person once they’re here. From squad and advisor Zoom meetings to important health and safety training that will feature our very own students, we're confident that the content will be varied and engaging.

Sustained Structures for Support

Recognizing this uniquely challenging moment in time, we’re adapting and augmenting our support structures well beyond those involved in the initial transition to school. First, we’ve created a fuller training program for our titled student leaders, so they’ll be prepared to assist their peers and younger charges through difficult times. Second, all faculty will engage in robust professional learning seminars this summer with outside experts in the field of social and emotional health. Third, our Counseling Office has added an additional full-time counselor to help ensure that all students’ needs can be met. And finally, the health and wellness series that began last October with the unveiling of the D.S. Chen Health and Wellness Center will continue this year with speakers who’ll focus on social and emotional learning and wellness. In the coming weeks, we’ll likely add to this list of student resources.

Drop-Off and Move-In

Though we’ve prioritized support for you and your children in the transition to Deerfield this fall, we’ve also thought deeply about the logistics of drop-off and move-in. Both will involve important health and safety precautions, which are outlined below.

Each boarding student and their family will have their own designated 15-minute “arrival appointment” based on dorm and squad. In vehicles, students and families will pull up to their drop-off locations during this time and they’ll be greeted—at an appropriate physical distance—by their student's advisor and/or a member of their student's faculty dorm team, a student leader, and a representative from the Chen Center. Once documentation of a negative COVID-19 test is obtained, students will unload their belongings with the help of their student leader; they’ll enter their dorm, and begin to move in. Parents and guardians will remain car-side and may use the remaining time to talk with advisors and faculty residents—all of whom will be closely connected to their child—before departing campus. We hope this attentive, individualized approach will provide both warm reassurance to families and a safe, smooth entry for students.

We ask that all families please take special care to note the following:

  • To ensure a consistent and equitable process for all, we’ll require assiduous adherence to this 15-minute timing.
  • Our partners at Environmental Health and Engineering have urged us to limit the number of items students bring back to campus, and we hope to offer more specific guidance around “what to pack” from them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please prepare to travel lightly! We also ask that families refrain from shipping unnecessary items to campus so as not to overwhelm our Shipping and Receiving Department.

Through our regularly-scheduled communications—such as the Deerfield Families FYIs, which are typically sent every two weeks on Thursdays—we’ll continue to share further details about students’ return to school and other components of our planning for the fall. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to any one of us in the Student Life Office. We look forward to connecting with you!

With warmest regards,

Amie Wilmer Creagh

Throughout the Fall Term:

During the school year, based on the prevalence of COVID-19 within the local community (Franklin County) and/or on campus, students and employees will be tested as frequently as every week. And if, during the school year, students require supportive isolation or quarantine due to being COVID-19 positive or being a close contact of someone who is positive, they will be housed on campus in an appropriate setting until their parent or guardian arrives to take them to their designated off-campus accommodations.

  • To support our overarching health strategy, every family has been asked to identify an off-campus site within driving distance of the Academy where their student may safely and comfortably quarantine should be prove necessary. Realizing that this may be difficult for some families, the Student Life Office is eager work with those families to find an appropriate location. If you have not done so already, please fill out the short form with this information that is located under your student’s photo on DAinfo. If you need assistance logging in to DAinfo, please contact the ITS Help Desk.
  • The Academy will have a distance learning protocol in place for those students who cannot return to campus by the first day of classes or need to quarantine during the year; Academic Dean Ivory Hills and Assistant Dean for Online Learning Megan Hayes-Golding stand ready to support those students who need to practice “distance learning” for a time. Currently, we are also working toward enabling students to remotely engage in live participation with their classes. This will be supported by incorporating audio, video, and projection equipment into teaching spaces. Additionally, all classes will be recorded for asynchronous viewing.

Together, we can achieve a Healthy Deerfield! Thank you for your continued support.

Please join us for a DA Parent and Guardian Forum:

Thursday, July 9, 7:00pm (EDT)

Dr. Austin, Ms. Creagh, and Dr. Hills will hold a Q&A session to conclude this informational webinar. You may submit questions in advance. For those who are unable to attend the webinar, a recording will be shared afterward, and additional webinars, including one specifically for our international families, will be scheduled later in July and August.

Webinar ID: 979 9911 1586

Password: 450231

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Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782