Aug 17, 2020
— updated Sep 10, 2020
Frequently asked questions about re-opening
Launching the 2020-21 academic year
We are excited to begin the 2020–21 school year, and we know you have a lot of questions. Based on our conversations with students and families, we have currated this list of frequently asked questions and will update it regularly.
Orientation begins (virtually) August 31!
Classes begin (all online) Sept 8!
Table of contents
How will we know specifically what day to come back to campus? Can I choose the day I arrive, to coordinate with other students?
Students flying or traveling from a distance should arrange flights/travel that are convenient for them between September 26 and September 30. Students driving from New York, New Jersey, or the New England states will be asked to provide information about the best date(s) and time(s) for arrival between October 1 and October 3. Each student will then be assigned a date and window of time to move in, based upon responses to date.
Explain the difference between arrival date and move-in date?
Arrival date is the first day on campus, followed by an on-campus quarantine that could happen in the student’s room or in another room, just for the quarantine period. All students will move into their permanent rooms by October 18 (move-in date).
How many students are expected to be on campus by October 18?
That is a great question. We wish that all of our students could be on campus by October 18, but we know there are many factors that might prevent that. However, we anticipate about 130 students by that day.
Can parents help with move-in and unpacking?
Each student will be allowed one person to help them with move-in.
When is the timeframe for the COVID testing prior to arriving on campus?
The timing for a COVID-19 test depends on your travel schedule. Please have your student tested for COVID-19 within one week of arrival at MHS.
Where do we go for the COVID test? Will testing from another state be accepted?
Please call your local health care provider or health department for information on testing sites.
Why do I need to be tested when I arrive, too?
All students must test NEGATIVE before returning to campus. The testing and quarantine after arrival is to ensure that there has been no infection during travel or since the negative test.
Who pays for testing? Will insurance cover COVID testing?
Families are responsible for the pre-arrival testing. COVID-19 tests are available at no cost nationwide at health centers and select pharmacies. Some insurance companies cover COVID testing. Please inquire with your provider.
What are the plans for follow up testing?
We are looking into options for on-campus testing, as well as local off-campus testing. We will update as soon as we know more.
Do we have to quarantine if we have a negative COVID test?
Yes. This is to ensure that there has been no infection during travel or since the negative test.
If students choose to return later in the semester, how does quarantine occur?
We are working on this plan.
How will quarantine during the first 14 days be handled so that safety is balanced with concern for the students not feeling too alone during that time?
We have a schedule in place that ensures students are connected with individuals and groups in the community multiple times each day. Members of a student’s Personal Team will check in virtually, and we will host community “gatherings.” Students will also have the opportunity to safely move outside at various times during the day.
What will quarantine look like for new 9th grade students leaving home for the first time?
We have a schedule in place that ensures students are connected with individuals and groups in the community multiple times each day. Members of a student’s Personal Team will check in virtually, and we will host community “gatherings.” Students will also have the opportunity to safely move outside at various times during the day. In addition, hall parents and Proctors will be connecting with students to answer questions and offer support.
If we have quarantined in another state, do we need to quarantine once again after reaching Massachusetts?
Yes. The testing and quarantine after arrival are to ensure that there has been no infection during travel or since the date of the negative test.
What is the plan for the start of school? Will all students be doing remote learning at first?
Yes, classes will begin on September 8, and all students will be learning online. Term 1 will take place from September 8 through October 16, with Term 2 beginning on October 19 and continuing through November 20 and taking place in a hybrid model, meaning If conditions allow, students who are able to return to campus for on-campus instruction can begin classes on October 19.
I have questions about my course schedule, what should I do?
Students may contact Director of Academic Counseling Sarah Virden with questions about their course selection and schedule.
How do virtual classes work? How do you create a similar experience for in-person students and distance learners?
Our teachers have worked hard to design the curriculum so that it will have the flexibility to work for all learners. Students who are learning online, will have an opportunity for discussion and questions during their weekly Zoom classes, as well as any one-on-one communication that is important. Teachers are designing assignments and projects that give students an opportunity to collaborate with students who are learning on campus.
What are the class sizes?
Course sizes are typical of MHS, ranging from 5 to 16 students. This year, our students will be in online and on-campus cohorts, which may make their group during synchronous learning smaller. We also expect students to have regular opportunities to connect with their teachers individually. This is a hallmark of the MHS experience.
What will science labs look like?
We are investing in a suite of online lab simulations that our science teachers can use for online and on-campus students. When it is safe to do so, teachers will also have in-person labs, using strict safety protocols.
How will you determine grades and GPA under such different learning modes?
Students will still be given assignments, assessments, papers, and projects. There will be very clear guidelines for students to understand how they will be assessed. Grades and GPA’s will be handled in the usual way. Our third term ends at what would have been our first semester, so we will be able to issue grades for colleges, with the same timing.
Can families choose to have students study online for the whole year?
Yes, although we prefer to have students learn on campus if they can.
Will online teaching affect students' grades and progress in the next semester and how do you ensure the quality of online teaching?
We have structured our courses so that the online and on-campus student experiences will run in tandem. In fact, there will be times when students from the two different cohorts are working together on assignments. Students will be able to make the same progress and have the same challenging curriculum no matter where they are learning. Online and on-campus students will be given carefully structured assignments to work on when they are not in class. All of our faculty worked this summer to adjust their courses and participate in professional development specifically tailored to hybrid and online learning.
How will Horizons work? How will it look for seniors?
The 2020-21 Horizons program has been redesigned with the health and safety of our students, as well as our internal and the external community, in mind, and these changes were communicated to students earlier this month. Students in grades 10-12, who previously would have left campus for Horizons work in the broader community, will instead remain on campus or engage remotely to minimize the possibility of transmission. There will still be ample opportunities for community learning and engagement, experiences beyond the screen and classroom, and connection to learning in action. Seniors will have opportunities for remote internships, personalized projects, and on-campus “IN-ternships” with MHS Adults.
How will sports and other activities be carried out?
We are committed to all students finding a way to be physically active on a weekly basis. Given the requirements and restrictions around team sports, social distancing, and sharing of equipment, we have designed a new set of athletics offerings for this Fall season. During this 2020-21 school year: All students who are on campus will be required to select a physical activity during each season. Unlike the past, students will not be required to take an athletic team sport during one of the seasons. Each season, students may choose either an athletic offering or recreational activity offering. While students are away from campus, they are expected, with their family, to develop a healthy routine for physical activity. Please see this letter from Dean Alberti and Ms. Meucci for details.
How do international students participate in sports and extracurricular activities? What are the criteria？
We will not be providing regular virtual sports classes. We will ask students and families to develop a routine for physical activity that works for them, given each home situation. Students learning off campus, however, will be able to participate in many extracurricular activities such as clubs, ensembles, community meetings, Horizons, and class meetings.
If a student wants more challenge, more academic opportunities, are teachers able to provide these? How will this work?
YES! Teachers love to provide students with opportunities to dig deeper into the curriculum. Students are encouraged to share their academic interests and goals with their teachers, and there is time in the academic schedule to explore these opportunities.
Will there be exams and quizzes?
Yes. During this school year, students will have regular assessments in their courses; including papers, quizzes, projects etc.
If a student studying online is not able to attend the online classes due to time differences or schedule conflicts, how will their participation be monitored?
We have two cohorts of students for each course, and classes will be offered at times that should honor different time zones.
Will the online classes be recorded and available to the students?
We will record classes, but do not see viewing a class as a replacement for attending and participating in a class. We know that students learn much more through active engagement with each other and the material.
Explore our 2020-21 academic schedule
We have adapted our academic schedule to meet the needs of students, whether they will be on-campus or learning online.
Schedule and Calendar
Can you explain the term schedule?
The calendar is divided into 6 terms, each about 5 weeks long. During a term, a student will take two courses, focusing intently on those two subjects. Full-year courses will occur in two terms. Semester-long courses will take one term.
Why is there only one 90 minute class per day? How can we learn enough knowledge if we only have a 90-minute class each day? How will students be challenged academically? Couldn’t we do additional classes via Zoom?
We have developed a schedule model that embraces both synchronous and asynchronous learning as part of the curriculum, as well as allowing for each cohort of learners — online and in-person — to have a classroom experience that provides for dedicated daily engagement with the teacher.
If my daughter only has one class from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., is she expected to be on campus from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.?
We expect that the time in the morning, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., will be scheduled with other aspects of the MHS program that do not fall under the academic umbrella — included but not limited to meetings with advisors, virtual Community Meetings, ensembles, Student Life curriculum, and Horizons. The Student Life team and others will be pulling together those schedules in the coming weeks. If your daughter is not scheduled for anything during that time, she does not need to be on campus, but she is, of course, welcome.
What is the free time from 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.?
Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., we will be scheduling many of the pieces of the MHS program that do not fall under the academic umbrella. These include, but are not limited to meetings with advisors, virtual Community Meetings, ensembles, Student Life curriculum, and HorizonsThis time also allows for students and faculty to safely move through lunch according to safety protocols and space allowances in our spaces.
When you are in person, will any classes meet remotely?
We plan to resume on-campus instruction on October 19, the start of Term 2. At that time, the classes from 8 to 10 a.m. are for online learners who are not on campus.
Can you explain the winter option of staying home after Winter Break?
In order to minimize travel to and from campus and the need for multiple quarantines, we will go fully online from November until January. Boarding students who can, will go home during that time. We expect all students to return on January 4, to resume learning on campus.
The 2019 extra-curricular weekend events were outstanding. How will they be managed this year? Will they include social events with other boarding schools?
Information about the Weekend Program will soon be available in the 2020-21 Student-Family Handbook. Much will be different, this year, given current health and safety guidelines, and, at this time, we will not be able to participate in social events with other boarding schools.
Will we be able to hang out in other people’s dorm rooms (if so, will there be a limit to the amount of people able to be in them)?
For the time being, students will not be able to be in each other’s rooms. However, there will be spaces on campus, including outside, where students can gather in small groups or simply hang out.
Staying Healthy and Safe
Does MHS insurance cover COVID related treatment sufficiently?
Yes. The insurance suggested by MHS for international families covers COVID testing if a student is showing symptoms and covers COVID treatment if a student becomes infected with the virus.
Does MHS have good connections with local hospitals to make sure there is timely and effective care of infected students?
We have an excellent connection with the Pittsfield Health Department, local doctors, and regional hospitals, many of whom are partners in our Horizons program. They work together with MHS nurses to coordinate care all the time, and those relationships are bearing out now during COVID.
What precautions will be taken to prevent day students and staff from bringing COVID onto campus as they come and go daily?
Day students and off-campus faculty and staff will be asked to self-monitor symptoms (with daily check-in for students with the Health Center most likely via an app). Everyone will be asked to follow Common Good Guidelines that cover behaviors on- and off-campus to protect the health and safety of the entire community. We will monitor local conditions and any potential for localized outbreaks and adjust the on-campus population accordingly.
What happens if an international student has COVID? How can you support a student when they can’t fly back home either?
The student will be on isolation status in the infirmary and monitored regularly by the nursing staff.
If we have all been socially distancing and wearing masks does our daughter need to have a COVID test?
Yes. Testing and quarantine after arrival are to ensure that there has been no infection during travel or since the date of the negative test.
Travel on/off campus and Visitors
Will transportation from an airport (such as the JFK airport) to school be available throughout the year, regardless of when the student arrives in the United States (or from a pick-up spot in another state to school as for domestic students)? Will a student need to arrange their own in any case?
The school will work with Transport the People, one of our reliable local partners, to arrange transportation to and from airports, as well as the local bus station. Prices may vary. We still need to determine the availability of shuttles to and from New York City and Boston.
Can I pick up my daughter and bring her out to dinner? home for the weekend?
We are working on guidelines for boarding student travel off campus.
If students cannot leave school during the weekends how will they buy necessary items for daily use?
Students will be able to purchase items at the MHS School Store, which carries a variety of inventory. We will also be creating a system to ensure that students can purchase necessity items not available at the School Store.
For Boarding Students
Will each boarding student be living in their own room?
During the quarantine period, students will be in a single room. After quarantine, students will be housed in singles and doubles, given safety guidelines as well as space capacity.
What will happen to the placement of students who were meant to be roommates and arrive on campus around the same time?
We are planning for each student to quarantine in a single room, then move into their permanent room. Roommate pairs will move live together after the quarantine period.
When students return to campus and are in quarantine, what will food service delivery look like during those days?
The MHS Culinary Services team will provide meals that will be delivered to students rooms by members of the MHS adult community. The Culinary Services team will also provide menus and options, to ensure we are meeting all dietary and nutrition needs.
Is my daughter allowed to bring snacks and drinks that go in the fridge?
For safety reasons, there will not be any common refrigerators this year.
Do Proctors have different return dates?
We will still stagger returns, and Proctors should arrive on a given move-in date. (Proctors should refer to an email from Ms. Bazanchuk.)
Are local markets open? How will students get supplies?
Local supermarkets are open and fully stocked. The MHS School Store also moved last year into a new space that accommodates more inventory. Ordering has been adjusted to add to the variety of products available and we also encourage online shopping if necessary.
For Day Students
Will day students be allowed to fully participate in all campus activities or will there be separate guidelines?
We want day students to participate in as much as possible, understanding safety restrictions. There will be separate guidelines for day students in the Student Family Handbook that will reflect the schedule and what is and is not permitted.
As a day student, what will my daughter be doing during the time she isn't in class?
There will be programming for on-campus learners (including day students) when they are not in class. Spaces will be designated for day students to spend time studying and socializing.
When day students are not on campus, can they work and do off-campus activities (dance), still following all safety guidelines for those activities?
Please refer to the guidelines in the Student Family Handbook when it is sent to families.
Do day students need to be tested for COVID?
Yes. We expect all students to be tested prior to physically being on campus.
Do parents need to be tested as well? What about day or boarding parents dropping off their students?
No. Parents do not need to be tested.
For International Students
Should I adopt a different health insurance plan if I will spend only a few months in the country?
All students need health insurance prior to their arrival to campus. If you know your arrival to the US will be delayed, you can delay signing up for your health insurance so that your insurance coverage coincides with your date of entry into the U.S.
Since I have been outside the United States for more than 5 months, will my visa validity be affected?
No. Returning students are able to study remotely outside the country until they are able to return to campus with no complications to their visas.
Will Miss Hall's school provide places for international students to quarantine 14 days?
Yes. Students will quarantine in single rooms, and the Miss Hall’s Culinary Services team will provide menus and options for food, which will be delivered to students by MHS adults. We have a schedule in place that ensures students are connected with individuals and groups in the community multiple times each day. Members of a student’s Personal Team will check in virtually, and we will host community “gatherings.” Students will also have the opportunity to safely move outside at various times during the day. In addition, hall parents and Proctors will be connecting with students to answer questions and offer support.
If campus has to close, do you provide places for students to stay for the holidays?
Families are being asked to arrange caregivers in the U.S. where their student can stay if campus is forced to close.
When should Chinese international students buy insurance for this semester?
All students need to have health insurance before they arrive in the United States. Students under a travel restriction can wait to purchase their health insurance until they have clarity about when they will be able to enter the U.S.
What do we need to do to keep the I20 and the F1 active for the students taking online classes?
For returning students, there is nothing they need to do. They can study online and their I20s will remain active. For new students, they will need an updated I20 with an updated program start date that reflects the date they plan to enter the United States. New students can study online prior to their arrival in the U.S., as long as the program start date on their I20 reflects the date they plan to enter the U.S.
What plan will we have for virtual class if we are not able to fly to the U.S.?
The class schedule has been designed to accommodate online and in-person classes. Students studying online will have the opportunity to fully engage in the Miss Hall’s curriculum, interact with their classmates and teachers, and work together on group projects even while living in different time zones.
How long will online classes be held? If we are not able to fly to the U.S. due to travel restriction for the entire semester, will we have virtual classes for the entire semester?
Online classes will be an option for students during the entire school year.
Even if travel restrictions are removed, but COVID-19 is still severe, can we go to the U.S. after the fall semester?
Yes. Students can choose to study online from home until they feel it is safe to return to campus.
Will there be Ring Dinner after everyone’s return?
Ring Dinner is going to be reimagined, given space capacity restrictions at this time. However, we do plan to honor the seniors as best as possible.
How will the seniors be honored this year?
The Student Life team is reimagining how we will best honor seniors this year. Ms. Boland is currently collecting photos from seniors so that we can introduce and honor them during the opening weeks of school.
I understand lunches will be staggered, but how will meal blocks work, i.e. are the "buffet-style” meals being removed? What will the Dining Room look like?
Meals will be served — no buffet — and limited to approximately 45 people at a time in the Dining Room/Living Room. There will also be a grab-and-go meal service in Centennial Hall for breakfast, and lunch for students who would prefer to take their meal and eat it elsewhere or outside. (There will also be seating available in Centennial Hall.)
What is the plan to provide meals for students with allergies?
We will continue to track student allergies individually with the Health Center as we always have. On days when a special meal will have to be prepared for those students, we will do that and make sure it is packaged and labeled. The Culinary Services team will work with each student regarding dietary restrictions.
Will meals be staggered in the Dining Room or provided to students within their rooms?
During quarantine, meals will be provided. After the quarantine period, the Dining Room will have staggered meals in the Dining Room/Living Room and grab-and-go options.
How will international students integrate and build friendships under a hybrid learning model? Do you have special suggestions for solving this? For example, to make a local student and an international student a pair to better help each other?
In addition to this suggestion, we will be ensuring connection between all students and their Proctors, no matter where they are located.
Are clubs happening?
Yes, although we are prioritizing academics, Horizons, physical and mental wellness, and student leadership groups first. After we are settled with those programs, we will find the time for clubs.
What are the plans for extracurricular enrichment and social life?
The Student Life team is working with student leaders to plan for social interaction and engagement. There are times in the schedule that allow for this to happen in planned and organic ways.
Are day students going to be allowed to sleep over in dorm rooms?
Will the fitness room in the Cross Athletic Center be open to students?
The fitness room will be accessible but will have to run on a sign-up schedule, with a limit of no more than 2 students in the space at a time, and there will need to be a conversation about making sure the area and equipment are sanitized.
What is the criteria for a decision about a "lock down" or "shut down" scenario?
The Miss Hall’s School Incident Response Team has developed these guidelines and will refer to local, state, and on-campus health conditions in making decisions as to the opening or closing of the Miss Hall’s campus.
If the situation of the virus becomes worse, will the School close? If so, does Miss Hall's give a place for those boarding students to stay if they cannot return back to their home?
Per the Campus Reopening Conditions guidelines developed by the Incident Response Team, the Miss Hall’s campus would close in the event of a high-risk/active local outbreak; a state-mandated school closure; and/or a shelter-in-place/stay-at-home advisory.