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Safe Return. Safe Semester. The White Mountain School's Roadmap to Reopening for Semester II: Winter and Spring 2021

Dear White Mountain Students and Families

This page represents our latest plans on the School’s reopening for semester two: January 11 to May 15, 2021. Our students thrive here because of the entire White Mountain experience, both in place and in people. If we can safely provide that experience in person—and at this moment, we believe we can—we want to do it. This continues to be a considered, careful process. This Adobe Spark format allows live updates to this page, so we’ll encourage you to check in here as we provide more detailed information. Any significant updates will be communicated via email.

Our mission of engagement and inquiry, seeking to inspire curiosity, courage, and compassion, provides us focus. Our ethos as an Episcopal school means that we are charged to work to be a more inclusive community. Our small size means that we can offer small classes. With the construction of our new dorm, we can use Solar Dorm, if needed, for isolation for a small number of students. Our faculty are adaptable and capable with educational technology. And, more importantly, faculty and staff are committed to caring for your student(s). This fall, our students have proven that they are willing to partner with adults to make it possible for many of us to learn together in person.

Members of the senior administrative team continue to gather information on safer practices from a wide range of sources, including partnering with other schools. Together, White Mountain and other partner schools are working to offer viable conditions on-campus that will allow communities to gather in-person for those who are able, and to serve well those who cannot attend in-person. We will do our best to refine the successes of the fall semester, and improve systems that we learned can be done better.

John A. Drew, Head of School

Webinar Recording: Spring Semester 2021 Overview for Families

Allison Letourneau, associate head of school for enrollment management, and Mike Peller, assistant head of school for teaching and learning, give an overview of The White Mountain School's plans for spring 2021.

Planning Principles

Mission-Driven

To live our mission, ensuring that all community members have access to the promise of a White Mountain education.

Interdependent Safety Collaboration

To plan with the safety of students, faculty, staff, and our local community in mind, since each group depends on the others.

Uniquely White Mountain Strengths

To take advantage of our educational philosophy rooted in student-driven inquiry, small size, and geographic location to remain as nimble as possible in the face of uncertainty.

SEL and E&I Programming

To increase social-emotional learning (SEL) and equity and inclusion (E&I) programming to help students manage the disruption to their lives that has occurred in recent months. An essential part of this effort is to work to make the School more consistently welcoming and inclusive of all students, particularly those who are members of underrepresented groups.

Framework: Tiered Precautions

We will use a color-coded system that combines information about our local communities, internal measures of COVID-19 cases, and compliance with safety guidelines. Changes in any of these measures may require a change in status.

Please note that this code has changed for the spring.

The State of New Hampshire's COVID-19 Rates, Guidelines, and Response

Administrators at White Mountain will regularly monitor state, county, and municipal data to, in part, determine the School's daily color-coded status, which will be continuously displayed and updated as needed on a banner on whitemountain.org and inside myWMS.

You can keep track of this data, too, and learn more about how the state is addressing COVID-19 at nh.gov/covid19.

Color-Coded Health and Safety System

  • No known cases of COVID-19 currently at the School.
  • Small numbers of cases may be reported in one or more of the surrounding counties: Coös and/or Grafton (New Hampshire); Essex and/or Caledonia (Vermont); Oxford (Maine). However, the trend of cases in one or more of these areas is stable or moving downward.
  • Students and adults are complying successfully with safety guidelines.
  • In-person learning is occurring with safety precautions in place.
  • No known cases of COVID-19 exist on campus.
  • COVID-19 in surrounding areas are rising or higher.
  • Heightened safety precautions are in place.
  • In-person learning is occurring with safety precautions in place.
  • Cases in the local area are concerning OR there is a confirmed COVID-19 case among students, employees, or other campus residents.
  • Heightened precautions in place, additional quarantine measures begin.
  • Day students will remain off-campus and learn remotely. Students on campus may be learning remotely depending on circumstances.
  • We will begin the second semester at this status code.
  • Levels of illness on campus or in the surrounding community cause high levels of concern. The School will work with local health officials to depopulate campus, isolate those who are ill, and quarantine those who cannot immediately leave campus.
  • All students, including those who remain on campus, will learn remotely.

Return to Campus for Semester II

As in the fall, our ability to safely and responsibly execute our goal of in-person learning will largely depend on our approach to repopulating campus. As a result, we have decided to continue additional layers of precaution to the staggered return to campus for boarding students.

Boarding students will return to campus in two cohorts. Cohort A will include boarding students who require public transportation to travel to campus. Cohort B will include boarding students who can travel to campus via personal transportation.

Cohort A: Students Who Must Travel to Campus via Public Transportation

Students from this cohort will arrive on campus on Saturday, January 16, 2021.

The School will provide transportation from Manchester Regional Airport (MHT)Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and the Boston South Station.

Students will be required to complete a travel form by Monday, December 14, 2020. You must be logged in to myWMS to view and fill out this form. Please contact Angela Callahan with any questions.

We recommend that students get tested 7-10 days prior to traveling to campus and submit results 48 hours prior to arrival on campus. Please submit test results to Magnus Health and contact Corah Edwards and Rose Ellms with any questions about testing.

Students will be assigned a single room upon arrival, where they will stay before Cohort B returns.

After a few days on campus, all students in Cohort A will receive a COVID-19 test.

Cohort B: Students Who Can Travel to Campus via Personal Transportation

Students will arrive on campus on Sunday, January 24, 2021, after completing a two-week quarantine at home. We expect to receive Cohort A test results by this date, but if for some reason the results are delayed, we will delay the arrival date of Cohort B until we have test results.

Students will be required to complete a travel form by Monday, December 14, 2020. You must be logged in to myWMS to view and fill out this form. Please contact Angela Callahan with any questions.

Students will be required to certify that they have quarantined at home for 14 days immediately preceding their trip to campus. Students will be asked to self-certify that they adhered to the following at-home self-quarantine expectations:

  • Not traveling outside their home unless for an essential outing, such as a health appointment.
  • If traveling outside the home is necessary, the student and co-habitants will wear a cloth face covering and adhere to physical distancing guidelines.
  • Practicing good personal hygiene, including regular handwashing.

Students will be assigned a single or double room upon arrival. In an effort to protect the safety of our residential spaces, only the boarding students of a particular dorm and associated faculty and staff will have access to that dorm.

After a few days on campus, all students in both Cohorts A and B will receive a COVID-19 test.

We will start the school year with remote classes for all students, regardless of on- or off-campus status, on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Key Dates for Semester II

Please note that although we intend to keep to this schedule as closely as possible, these dates are subject to change based on changes in internal and external factors.

Saturday, January 2

Students Begin Quarantine at Home

Monday, January 11

Quarter III and Remote Learning Begin for All Students

Saturday, January 16

Cohort A Arrives on Campus

Week of January 18

Cohort A Tested

Sunday, January 24 (or Date of Negative Test Results for Cohort A)

Cohort B Arrives on Campus

Week of January 25

All On-Campus Community Members Tested

Monday, February 1 (or Date of Negative Results for All On-Campus Community Members)

Hybrid Learning Begins and Day Students Return

Friday, March 12

Quarter III Ends

March 15-19

On-Campus Spring Break

Monday, March 22

Quarter IV Begins

Friday, May 7

Quarter IV Ends

May 12-14

Inquiry Summit

Friday, May 14

Baccalaureate

Saturday, May 15

135th Commencement

Health and Safety

Masks, physical distancing, and personal and organizational hygiene will continue to be our primary measures to keep the community safe.

In response to COVID-19, the School will continue and adjust, as needed, procedures and policies related to dining and food service safety, building sanitation, and delivery of food, supplies, and mail.

Arrival and Quarantine

When students arrive on campus, we will continue precautions for face coverings and physical distancing, as in the fall. Different combinations of quarantine and/or negative COVID-19 test results will be necessary for all students when they arrive. However, they will differ depending on how students travel to campus (Cohort A versus Cohort B).

Screening

All students and adults will continue to complete daily screenings on the MyMedBot app.

Testing

Testing will be done for Cohort A soon after arrival on campus, and for the entire community soon after the arrival of Cohort B. Subsequent testing will be determined by current circumstances. As of November 17, 2020, all planned testing will be PCR (nasal swab) testing done by our local hospital, Littleton Regional Healthcare.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Each student has received (or, for new mid-year students, will receive) two cloth face coverings supplied by the School at no cost. We suggest that students bring their own face coverings if they prefer a particular type, such as wraparound masks. As a reminder, at the School, neck gaiters and bandanas are not considered to provide sufficient protection for wearers or those in contact with them. The School will also have a supply of disposable face coverings.

We have been purchasing appropriate PPE supplies for students, the Health Center, and Facilities Management as they’ve become available since March 2020, and should be well-outfitted when the second semester begins. We have secured adequate supplies of hand sanitizer and cleaning materials for the time students will be on campus. Additionally, we have equipped the Health Center to deal with daily screening and potential illness on campus.

Cleaning

More frequent cleaning will occur in all campus spaces. Cleaning materials are approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for virus prevention, and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safe use.

We have also completed an evaluation of our indoor air circulation systems. We have adjusted all of those systems to bring in fresh air and not recirculate existing indoor air.

Traffic Patterns

Where possible, we have created one-way pedestrian traffic patterns to help reduce close physical interactions during passing times indoors.

Physical Distancing

We have created physical distancing by modifying the use of some spaces, closing other spaces, and designing a class schedule where classes are smaller. Necessary behavioral changes will be described in detail in future communications. Feedback from students will likely lead to some changes for the second semester.

Dining

White Mountain has worked closely with our dining services provider, NexDine, to create a safe and healthy dining program to serve the School. We will continue to monitor current conditions and the advice of health experts and adjust our program throughout the year.

Our partnership with NexDine also provides access to additional support and personnel in the event of illness among our current staff.

All NexDine staff complete a thorough screening process informed by the CDC and the State of New Hampshire's Reopening Guidelines before starting each shift. This screening process includes questions about exposure, symptoms, and travel, as well as a temperature check. Employees are expected to remain home if ill and will be sent home if screening reveals that it is unsafe for them to be in the kitchen.

Food Preparation

We have purchased the appropriate PPE, and staff completed training on hygiene in food preparation, kitchen hygiene, and cleaning, specifically in light of COVID-19. We have also increased signage throughout the kitchen space to remind all staff of appropriate hygiene. These are additional measures in addition to the regular training and expectations already in place for our dining services.

To minimize potential exposure in the food preparation area, we will continue to limit access to the kitchen area to NexDine personnel and appropriate staff, delivery, and service personnel. All are expected to wear face coverings and practice safe hygiene if in the kitchen area. Students will not have access to the kitchen area, including the dish pit/crew area. Again, we will monitor campus health and released guidelines and recommendations for food service to evaluate this throughout the year and will make changes as appropriate.

Food Service

Recognizing the implications for health and safety and our interest in sustainable operations, we will continue to utilize a mix of disposable and reusable service ware. Any reusable service ware will only be placed in service if it can go through the dishwasher, which operates at temperatures high enough to sanitize all items thoroughly.

We will continue the elimination all self-service food options until new or modified guidelines are released that allow for this. Instead, we will continue to provide two levels of service: grab-and-go takeout options and a served option in the existing servery. All diners are expected to sanitize their hands and wear a mask when picking up food and traveling through the Dining Hall and servery. We will continue to utilize a combination of single-serve and limited touchless drink options. All diners will be expected to use a new cup when using the touchless drink options, or to use a new, clean cup to pour into their own water bottles or thermoses to take with them outside of the Dining Hall. Again, we will monitor guidelines and external guidance and increase options as appropriate.

Mealtimes will be expanded to allow for lower utilization rates to limit traffic through the dining area and servery.

Dining Area

We have increased seating options to include the McGoldrick Library area, Student Lounge area, and outside seating. All seating will be spaced to ensure appropriate physical distancing between tables with limited seating per table. All eating areas will be monitored by staff to ensure safe practices, and all areas will be sanitized thoroughly between mealtimes.

To limit our students' exposure to external people, no visitors will be allowed into the servery or eating areas—this includes non-employee partners and children. We will monitor guidance and look forward to returning to our community dining experience when it is appropriate.

Schedules for Semester II

In thinking about the schedules for the spring, we worked to optimize consistency. You will notice that the remote winter and hybrid winter schedule are exactly the same except for Wednesday. We wanted to minimize unnecessary adjustments.

Once using the hybrid schedule during the winter, we will have Exploratory Learning (EL) classes. What are these? While we cannot run Field Courses this year, these EL courses are our attempt to capture the spirit of Field Courses. Students will take six separate four-hour courses on topics including: outdoor leadership, community engagement, and creative design.

In the spring, you will see that we have separated the courses from the Flex Block. Also, all the classes now meet in the morning which will work significantly better for our students in China.

Schedule I: First Half of Winter (Remote)

(January 11-29)

Schedule II: Second Half of Winter (Hybrid)

(February 2 to March 12)

Schedule III: Spring (Hybrid)

(March 22 to May 7)

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Questions or feedback? Please email one of the members of our senior administrative team individually, or email the group collectively, along with our Health Center staff, at coronavirus@whitemountain.org.

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