Safe Reopening Plan
In Berkshire School's commitment to ensuring a safe reopening of school in September, we are providing this page which contains information and updates on our internal planning, guided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health protocols and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support our planning and decisions, we have engaged the services of Environmental Health & Engineering, a consulting firm specializing in solutions to complex environmental and health issues. They will be reviewing our operations to minimize any COVID-19 risk during our reopening, and they are providing specific guidelines for all our core program areas on campus. These include recommendations on scheduling, social distancing, routes and movement on campus, cleaning and disinfection, as well as protocols for student health, academics, dining, residential life, athletics, etc. We have also formed a Safe Reopening Task Force, which is already at work across 15 distinct areas of school life to prepare for our return to campus.
All communication updates on reopening for the 2020–21 school year will be posted below on this page in June, July, and August.
In response to rising rates of infection in other parts of the United States, Massachusetts’ Governor Baker announced revised travel restrictions in effect as of August 1, 2020, for anyone arriving to Massachusetts from all states and international locations other than the “low-risk states” listed here. These updated precautions are consistent with Massachusetts' overall proactive response to the pandemic, which has served the state and Berkshire County well. Infection rates in our area continue to be very low.
The revised travel restrictions for anyone coming to Massachusetts (as their travel destination) from any location other than a “low-risk state” require either:
- Proof of a negative COVID-19 negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular test administered on a sample taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival in Massachusetts.
- Quarantine upon entry into Massachusetts for 14 days or until a negative test result can be obtained. Travelers may fulfill the 14-day quarantine requirement in a low-risk state and then enter Massachusetts.
Step One: Arrival on Campus—Pretesting
In our desire to maintain a COVID-19 free campus, Berkshire has adopted the Massachusetts requirements as our own and adjusted our arrival and opening of school protocols accordingly. To that end, ALL students (domestic and international, boarding and day), will be required to come to Berkshire with proof of a negative PCR test result, from a sample taken within the previous 72 hours. This will be required to gain access to the campus.
Only one parent/caretaker should plan to move their child into the dorm on campus. That parent/caretaker must also arrive with a negative molecular PCR test to be allowed on campus. While Berkshire will provide test kits for our Berkshire students, the required PCR test for a parent/caretaker planning to come to campus will be at their own expense. If a parent/caretaker plans to come to campus to simply drop off a student (without getting out of their car), then a negative test result is not required. Should more than one parent, caretaker or family member, come to campus, only one parent or caretaker will be allowed to exit their car.
As a further measure in our safe reopening plan, we also ask that all students self-quarantine at home or at a single location for two weeks prior to their arrival.
We understand that timing a pre-arrival test to comply with the 72-hour requirement may be challenging but ask that you do everything possible to pre-plan for your test and arrival at Berkshire. Those who arrive without a timely negative test result will be asked to seek a place off campus until they can produce one. To further facilitate pre-arrival testing, Berkshire has contracted with VAULT Health, in partnership with RUCDR Infinite Biologics and Spectrum Solutions, to provide all our students with free access to VAULT’s saliva-based at-home PCR test kits. The link to access a FREE VAULT home test kit will not be available to our families until after August 31. Please wait to order the test until the Berkshire specific link is available. Click here to the VAULT homepage to learn more about the home test kit option. Alternatively, families can order a home test kit via LabCorp. If you choose to use LabCorp, you will need to complete a brief screening questionnaire. Please select "congregate setting," as the boarding school environment qualifies as such.
We have also arranged with Fairview Hospital, our local emergency health care provider, to offer you an alternative test-site, nearby Berkshire School. To arrange for a pre-arrival test with Fairview Hospital, please call our dedicated line with them at 413-854-9616.
Any students who test positive for COVID-19, should not travel to Berkshire, should adhere to public health guidelines, and must receive subsequent clearance from Berkshire’s Student Health Service before coming to campus.
Pre-Arrival Testing for International Students
International students must also obtain a COVID-19 test. Due to LabCorp or VAULT Health not being able to mail tests to destinations outside the United States, international students will need to obtain a COVID-19 molecular PCR test through an alternative vendor at home or get tested here in the United States upon an early arrival and while in quarantine. If international students are in the U.S. to quarantine, international families can arrange for a test to be mailed to the U.S. address at which they will stay before coming to campus. If testing at home, outside the U.S., please be sure to use a testing site that has been approved/certified by your local government. We also encourage our international families to contact Director of Student Health Service Brooke Humes at firstname.lastname@example.org or Director of International Student Program Lissa McGovern at email@example.com with any questions or if we can support you in any way.
Step Two: Arrival on Campus—Retesting
Upon arrival, ALL students will be asked to go directly to Berkshire’s Student Health Service’s Tent to be retested through an on-campus facility administered by Berkshire Student Health. This is a rapid antigen test and the results of those tests will be available with 30 minutes. When a negative test result is confirmed students will be cleared to move around campus.
Step Three: Continuous Surveillance Testing
In order to maintain the healthiest environment possible, the School has further contracted with Fairview Hospital to provide a series of ongoing on-campus tests throughout the fall semester. This will include a second and third test for the entire Berkshire community during the first 2 to 3 weeks on campus. Thereafter, Fairview is scheduled to run a series of weekly tests from a smaller sample of the entire community, with emphasis on those who come and go on a daily basis.
With this continuous program of testing, the hope is to eradicate the virus from our campus early on and keep it that way. Berkshire benefits from its remote location in southwestern Massachusetts, a low incidence of the virus locally, and a single access driveway. With an early repetition of testing (once on arrival and twice more for everyone within the early first and second weeks of school), and continuous random testing thereafter, combined with the many safety protocols established, we hope to create and maintain a safe environment for your children to learn and grow.
Test Plan Summary:
- Faculty & Staff: All faculty and staff who will work on campus must test up at Fairview Hospital for a negative molecular PCR test result prior to the start of the academic year, August 31, and again three days prior to the arrival of students on campus in September. More details on the mid-September Fairview Hospital COVID-19 test will be forthcoming.
- Student Arrival: Upon arrival, all students must first report to the campus testing facility prior to registration or accessing any dorms.
- Pre-arrival negative PCR test result for all students required to gain access to campus. That includes that one parent or caretaker who wishes to exit their vehicle at drop-off.
- Retesting upon arrival: Further immediate onsite PCR testing upon arrival for further verification. Students to quarantine with their dormitory cohort until results come back from Fairview Hospital (24-48 hours).
- Surveillance Testing:
Week 1: The entire Berkshire community is retested.
Week 2: The entire Berkshire community is retested again.
Weeks 3–12: Continual tests each week from a sample of students, faculty, and staff with emphasis on those who come and go to campus on a daily basis.
Weeks 1–12: Continuous ad hoc testing as needed for those with any symptoms.
Please read below the option for virtual learning. For families electing to choose virtual learning for the entirety of the first semester, please complete the form accessed below by AUGUST 3.
Given the increasing travel and quarantine restrictions as a result of the pandemic, and in acknowledgment of these and other challenges facing families, Berkshire will allow students to elect our virtual learning model for the entirety of the first semester at a discounted tuition. This model will follow the same daily/weekly academic schedule for classes on campus with the opportunity for students to join synchronous Zoom classes and to access recorded classes if time zone or other circumstances preclude their synchronous attendance. Regular opportunities to meet with advisors, Form Deans, college counselors, counselors, and with other groups on campus will all be available to students electing our virtual learning model. Berkshire has invested in HD video capture capabilities and omnidirectional microphones in all our classrooms to seamlessly support this virtual learning model. Assessments in this model will be graded, and each student’s academic reports will be the same for in-person and virtual learning. Please note that this option for virtual learning is for the entirety of the first semester and that a student choosing this option will not be allowed to return to campus before January.
Should a family pursue the fall semester remotely, Berkshire will provide a prorated refund of $9,000 (boarding student) and $1,600 (day student). For more information on this option and the discounted tuition, please reach out to both Director of Admission Dana Anselmi at firstname.lastname@example.org and Chief Financial Officer Robert Boyd at email@example.com.
Should state mandates require either a reduced student population on campus or a move to virtual learning for all students, the same discounted tuition will be applied for the required duration of any virtual learning model.
- SEPTEMBER 16, 2020
- SEPTEMBER 2, 2020
- AUGUST 21, 2020
- AUGUST 12, 2020
- JULY 24, 2020
- JULY 17, 2020
- JUNE 22, 2020
Dear Berkshire Bears,
I know I speak for all of us here at Berkshire when I say we can't wait to welcome you back to campus in a few short days! Berkshire hasn't been the same without you, and we have been busy all summer preparing for your safe return.
As you know, all schools will look and feel differently this year, and Berkshire is no exception. Health and safety protocols will be in place on campus to keep our students and adults safe, our school open, and our community together. This year more than ever, we will rely on each other and our commitment to this common goal. Our success depends on the personal integrity and responsibility of every member of our community, beginning with you.
During our opening school meeting, I highlighted this year’s theme of “For Others” and called on you, our students, to lead our community. You will soon arrive on campus from homes across the world and from a variety of different circumstances. COVID-19 will have impacted some of our lives more than others, and we should be respectful of this and each other's experiences as we rejoin our community. By closely and consistently following our health and safety protocols, we protect ourselves, and in doing so we respect and include everyone at Berkshire, living deliberately in this spirit "for others."
Because health and safety will be our first concern as we move forward together, I am asking that all students, faculty, and staff commit to the guidelines outlined in our Community Pledge. Please read the pledge carefully before signing. And remember, as our collective commitment to honor the pledge goes, so too does the 2020-21 school year.
CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR COMMUNITY PLEDGE.
Thank you for coming together in support of our safest and strongest Berkshire community. I can't wait to see you on campus soon!
All my best,
Dear Students and Parents,
Greetings from under the Mountain! We continue to work steadily towards our safe return to school, and this email contains nuts and bolts information to support planning for your arrival to campus in late September.
Dates of Arrival
We look forward to welcoming our new and returning Bears back to campus between Thursday, September 24-Sunday, September 27. Arrival dates and student groups are listed below. Each student will sign up for a specific time slot on their designated day of arrival, and the link to the sign-up document will be sent to you by Friday, August 28. Students observing Yom Kippur are welcome to observe the holiday here on campus or delay arrival to Tuesday, September 29. Please contact Lisa Miller in the Student Life Office at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding arrival to campus.
- Thursday, September 24: Student Leaders
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
- Friday, September 25: New Students, Domestic and International
9:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
- Saturday, September 26: Returning Students, Domestic and International, other than from MA, CT, & NY
9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Sunday, September 27: Returning Students from MA, CT, & NY
9:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m
Berkshire COVID-19 Testing Plan: Testing Requirements & Protocols for Arrival to Campus
Attached, you will find Berkshire School's COVID-19 Testing Plan with a step-by-step guide through our testing requirements and protocols. You can also access this Testing Plan, including the embedded links to helpful resources, on the Safe Reopening page of the Berkshire School website. While on the Safe Reopening webpage, please read through the updated FAQs section, which now includes information regarding dress code (Bear Wear this year!), mask requirements, and the flu vaccine.
Thank you for your patience and support throughout the summer. I am here to answer questions and talk through potential obstacles, and please do not hesitate to reach out.
See you soon and Go Bears!
Jean Woodward Maher
Associate Head of School
Safe Reopening Task Force Chair
Dear Berkshire Families,
I hope this finds you and your family well and enjoying time together this summer, even in these uncertain and challenging times. I write to share Berkshire’s Safe Reopening Plan for the 2020–21 school year beginning in September which includes recent updates to our Safe Reopening Protocols & Expectations. The Safe Reopening website also includes answers to a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions as well as an option for all families to opt in to our Virtual Learning Model for the fall semester. We continue to update our resources as information changes and as guidance from Massachusetts evolves, and we look forward to elaborating on the plan and answering any questions you may have during our next Parent Zoom Meeting on Monday, July 27th at 7:00 pm EDT (see details below).
The guiding principle of our planning this summer, coordinated by our Safe Reopening Task Force, remains the health and safety of all members of our Berkshire community. To parents and guardians, I want to reiterate that your children’s wellbeing is our highest priority, never more so as we prepare to welcome them back to campus. The task force has worked diligently since late spring to design protocols which proactively mitigate COVID-19 risk within our community in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) requirements. This work has been directly supported by the expertise of EH&E, the health and environmental engineering firm we have engaged as consultants. In addition, we continue to partner with local and state health officials as well as other independent schools to ensure that our planning reflects the most accurate information and best practices available to Berkshire.
At every turn, our decisions have been agile, fluid, and responsive to the ever-changing impact of the pandemic. We have humbly understood that while no school can ever eliminate risk in all forms, we can nonetheless create a safe community that provides an exceptional experience for our students. We are also fortunate for our isolated location under the Mountain in rural Massachusetts, for the low transmission rates within the state, and for the scale of our small school community that provides comfort and confidence as we plan our reopening. We are excited for students to resume much of the core experience at Berkshire that I know they and we have all missed so dearly.
Our safe return to Berkshire will require the consistent commitment from all members of our community. Each student and each adult must be responsible not only for themselves, but for all others as well. In short, we must be united and steadfast in our commitment to others. Life on campus, therefore, will necessarily be different for our students as we resume classes, afternoon programs, residential life within dorms, meals and dining, student activities and events, and all the other opportunities to connect at Berkshire. It is important that students and families understand the extent of the “next normal” that is emerging for Berkshire and for all schools. Toward that end, I ask that all students and families carefully read the updated protocols on the website to ensure that our safeguards and restrictions are fully understood by everyone.
Finally, we will continue to watch the escalating impact of the pandemic in the United States during the rest of the summer. Like all schools in Massachusetts, we expect additional guidance coming soon from the state, including specific updates regarding health and safety protocols for independent boarding schools. Further, we continue to support Berkshire’s faculty and staff as the national dialogue regarding the safe reopening of schools brings additional focus to the health and safety of each school’s adult community and their extended families.
Parent Zoom Details
Learn more about Berkshire’s Plan for a Safe Reopening with Head of School Pieter Mulder, Associate Head of School and Chair of the Safe Reopening Task Force Jean Maher, and other school leaders.
Date: Monday, July 27 at 7:00 PM EDT
Click here to register.
I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday. To all our parents and guardians, thank you for partnering intentionally with us to support the safe return of your children to Berkshire. I am deeply grateful to be meeting these challenges with all of you and with all members of our Berkshire community.
All my best,
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School
Dear Berkshire Families,
We are counting down the days until we are able to welcome you to Berkshire. In these challenging times, we are working diligently in order to help make your adjustment as seamless as possible. To that end, Pieter Mulder will send a detailed letter next week outlining what to expect in the fall. We are currently planning a staggered registration between September 2-7. Knowing you are eager to make your travel plans, the Student Life Office will reach out by the end of the month with individual arrival dates and an opportunity to sign up for a time slot.
Today, we are writing to call your attention to two important guidelines about repopulating campus and to ask you to fill out a brief survey.
The first critical piece to note is that Massachusetts is currently requiring anyone residing outside of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, or Vermont to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. As it stands now, this quarantine could take place in any of the eight states mentioned. One important point is that even with negative COVID-19 test results, the state is still requiring this quarantine period. We are hard at work to best understand options for students whose parents will not be able to accompany and quarantine with them.
Second, those families located farther than a four-hour driving distance should identify a contact who can act as a caretaker in the event of an emergency. The caretaker should be able to come to the School within a day in the event that the student needs to leave the campus for health or safety reasons. We understand that families will not always have a caretaker in mind and are exploring several options that could help.
We have prepared this form to glean an understanding of each family’s ability to meet these guidelines. Participation in this survey will ensure that we have the necessary information to plan and work together in support of your child. For international families who have already filled out a similar form a few weeks ago, we ask that you complete this again as we imagine some of your plans may have changed. We will follow with Part 2 of the survey in August as a chance to collect travel plans and other logistics.
Our guiding principle in all decisions is the health and safety of our community, and we continue to think creatively about how we can support all of our students and families. Thank you in advance for your help and for your good communication around travel logistics as we look towards a safe reopening.
All the best,
Assistant Head of School, Dean of Students
Dear Berkshire Parents and Guardians,
I hope this update finds you all well, safe, and healthy and that the summer months provide all of you with some welcome time with family and friends.
I write with the first of three summer communications to outline our planning for the safe reopening of Berkshire for the 2020-21 school year as scheduled in September. In doing so, I want to reiterate that the safety and health of your children remains our highest priority, never more so as we honor the trust you place in us to care for your children in these most challenging times. This June communication will be followed by another in July, and a third in August. With each communication, I will have more information to share, updated by our internal planning, guided by emerging Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) protocols, and with the impact and arc of COVID-19 better understood as we approach the start of the school year.
I am excited, however, to reach out to all of you now with only increasing optimism about our safe reopening and return to campus in September. We know that life at Berkshire will necessarily be different, a “next normal” for us as we work intentionally to address the demands and restrictions of the pandemic, but we look forward to welcoming our full community back together to resume the connections and experiences at Berkshire that we’ve all missed so dearly.
Below is a detailed outline of the key areas we are addressing in our summer planning:
Safe Reopening Task Force
Associate Head of School Jean Maher is chairing our Safe Reopening Task Force, which is already at work across 15 distinct areas of school life to prepare for our return to campus. Each subcommittee of the task force is led by an experienced school leader and includes a number of additional faculty and staff who have volunteered their time and expertise to support this work. The task force is also partnering with leadership at other boarding schools, independent school associations, and with the Massachusetts DPH to ensure that our planning is comprehensive and reflects best practices at every turn.
Health and Safety Consultants
To support our planning and decisions, Berkshire has engaged the services of Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E), a consulting firm specializing in solutions to complex environmental and health issues. The EH&E team includes medical professionals, industrial hygienists, engineers, biological safety specialists, microbiologists, health and exposure risk assessment specialists, and other relevant professionals.
During their initial analysis, EH&E is comprehensively reviewing our operations to minimize any COVID-19 risk during our reopening, and they are providing specific guidelines for all our core program areas on campus. These include recommendations on scheduling, social distancing, routes and movement on campus, cleaning and disinfection, as well as protocols for student health, academics, dining, residential life, athletics, etc. Based on their recommendations and our adherence to Massachusetts DPH requirements, we are modifying our existing policies, procedures, and schedules, as well as developing new protocols, to ensure the health and safety of all members of the community.
Later this summer, Berkshire will partner with a number of other New England boarding schools to engage a second phase of EH&E’s support in developing specific training and health/safety resources for all members of our community to minimize any potential COVID-19 risk at Berkshire. We feel very well supported by EH&E’s considerable expertise and experience around our comprehensive planning for our safe reopening.
Massachusetts Health and Safety Guidelines
The Safe Reopening Task Force and our Student Health Center continue to partner with state and local health care providers and organizations to ensure that we meet or exceed any health recommendations or guidelines outlined by Massachusetts DPH. We are fortunate that our local health care clinics and hospitals provide top-quality health care just a short drive from campus and all remain well below capacity. Director of Student Health Brooke Humes is in weekly communication with these organizations and with her counterparts at other boarding schools to ensure our planning and decisions are accurate, timely, and guided by the best practices emerging from this cohort.
Testing, Contact Tracing, and Isolation Plans
We are currently engaged with EH&E and private vendors to secure on-campus rapid, sequential testing available to all members of our community throughout the school year. Our technology department is working with Campus Safety and Facilities to develop a system for contact tracing that will be required of all students and adults. Finally, we are using the summer months to expand our Student Health Center space to include an isolation center for any members of the community who might test positive and require safe isolation before being transitioned off campus.
In order to support our safest and healthiest community, Berkshire will not provide an on-campus quarantine location for members of the community who test positive, but will instead transition students and/or adults to off-campus accommodations developed in collaboration with the School or to our local hospitals. Students would then transition to the care of their parents/guardians or domestic surrogate, with the ability to continue their academic studies through remote learning. We look forward to sharing more information on our testing protocols, contact tracing, and on-campus health care with updates over the course of the summer.
Academic Classrooms and Schedule
We all look forward to returning to in-person academic classes at Berkshire in September. The personal learning connection between teachers and students, and among students with each other, are pillars of our academic program and ones we’ve all acutely missed in our time apart. Dean of Academics Brooke Depelteau and our academic department chairs have developed a modified daily/weekly academic schedule that meets the teaching and learning needs for all students. This includes an additional daily lunch period and longer passing times for enhanced cleaning between both class and lunch periods. These changes also address the pace of each academic week and the semester while still allowing us to meet the curricular and promotional expectations at Berkshire.
We will adhere to all social distancing guidelines required by the state within classrooms and our campus buildings, including the potential to dedicate routes in and out of buildings to mitigate contact and control density in our interior spaces. Should social distancing guidelines require us to further modulate density within our academic spaces, we are also preparing a model where students access their classes through a hybrid of in-person and remote learning while on campus.
We look forward to sharing the finalized daily/weekly academic schedule with all families in late July.
Modified First-Semester Calendar
Students arrive on campus: September 3–7
Class Resume: September 8
On-campus classes: September 8–November 20
Virtual learning: December 1–December 17
Students return to campus: January 4
Classes resume: January 5
As you can see from the dates above, we will modify our first-semester calendar with classes running from September 8–November 20 and with a return home on November 21 for all students. First-semester classes will continue via remote learning over December 1-17, prior to winter vacation. Students will return to campus to resume second-semester classes as scheduled on January 5. Please note this change to our first-semester schedule as you plan and make travel/flight arrangements for winter vacation. At this time, we are also having to reconsider all large-scale events and gatherings on campus, including Parents’ Weekend. We will provide more information as soon as these decisions are finalized.
Any further modifications to our annual calendar will be communicated to all families in July as current information and state guidelines are more clearly understood.
At this time, Berkshire will not require international students to quarantine following their arrival in the U.S. and before coming to campus. As mentioned above, testing will be required for all students before being allowed to return to campus. Currently the time required for testing results is 2-3 days. We expect, however, that by summer’s end this delay will be much closer to real time and allow us to conduct rapid testing of all students on campus upon arrival. As information on our testing protocols and timelines for results becomes clearer, we look forward to updating all our returning and new families in July to support your travel arrangements for September.
As we have done previously, we will require all international students to identify a domestic caretaker or surrogate to be responsible for their care and supervision in the event that their on-campus learning is interrupted for any period of time. If families have questions about identifying this person or our other supports to international students, please reach out to Lissa McGovern, International Student Program Director, at email@example.com.
We look forward to welcoming our day students back to Berkshire along with all others this September. We don’t expect any restrictions placed on their travel back and forth to campus. We will, however, potentially require more frequent testing to ensure their health and safety, and we are also exploring how best to schedule and organize their arrival to campus each morning.
We are pleased to announce the addition of a dedicated day student lounge in the former deWindt Dining Room within the Rovensky Student Center which will open at the start of this school year. This campus addition was planned and approved last winter, and we are excited to provide a dedicated space available for our day students to gather throughout their time on campus each day. For more information about our supports and expectations for day students please reach out to Jen Gaenzle Smith, Day Student Coordinator, at jgaenzlesmith@
Remote Learning Model
For any students whose return to campus in September is delayed due to documented federal or international travel restrictions, we will provide a remote learning model for the duration of their delayed return. This model will follow the same daily/weekly academic schedule for classes on campus with the opportunity for students to join synchronous Zoom classes and also to access recorded classes if time zone or other circumstances preclude their synchronous attendance. Over the course of the summer, we are equipping all our classrooms with HD video capture capabilities and omnidirectional microphones to seamlessly support this remote learning model. Assessments in this remote learning model will be graded, unlike our pass-fail model from this past spring.
Tuition for any students in our remote learning model will be discounted, where appropriate, and for the duration of a student’s delayed return to campus. For information on this discounted tuition, families are encouraged to reach out to Chief Financial Officer Robert Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletics & Afternoon Programs
Our afternoon programs are integral to our mission and to each student’s Berkshire experience. We are currently planning to resume our fall athletics, arts, music, and RKMP offerings as we return to campus with students again participating in teams across the entirety of our afternoon program. Decisions on interscholastic competition and any adjustment to schedules for our fall athletic teams are pending approval from the state, but there is increasing optimism that schools will be allowed to work within state health and safety guidelines to return to competitive, interscholastic athletics in the fall.
Director of Athletics Dan Driscoll is in weekly communication with his counterparts at other schools and with the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council, and we look forward to providing updates throughout the summer. We are also exploring ways to showcase our spring athletes to support their development and college/university recruitment in light of the season lost this past spring. Berkshire is fortunate to enjoy tremendous athletic facilities with webstreaming available to support our teams and scholar-athletes in this endeavor.
Meals and Dining
We are working closely with Flik, our food service provider, and with EH&E to ensure that all meals at Berkshire and access to the dining hall are safe and healthy. As mentioned above, our modified daily schedule includes an additional lunch period to manage the number of students and adults eating at any one time, as well as increased passing time between these lunch periods to allow for the thorough cleaning between all seatings for meals. We will meet all social distancing requirements with regards to density, seating/table distance, servery contact, and movement within Benson Commons dining hall. Menu and servery modifications, including the addition of grab-and-go meals at different locations on campus, are also being developed and will be incorporated as recommended or required. Breakfast and dinner seatings may be adjusted as well. The safety and health of our community around meals and throughout the dining hall is a key area of focus for our planning and protocols.
Similar to developing protocols for our academic and community spaces, ensuring student health and safety in our dorms is a central focus of our reopening planning. We expect that state guidelines will allow roommates to live together in dorm rooms and will also allow the use of communal bathrooms. Students will likely, however, be required to wear masks as they move about the dorm beyond their individual room, and bathroom use will be regulated, scheduled, and with toiletries stored only in dorm rooms.
All dorms will be thoroughly and frequently cleaned by our housekeeping staff during each day and with all required cleaning/disinfecting protocols met or exceeded. We are awaiting guidance from the state on updates to limits on group gathering sizes as this impacts the use of common rooms and access to faculty apartments within each dorm.
For families with additional questions regarding residential life and/or student life on campus, please feel to reach out to Assistant Head of School and Dean of Students Peter Quilty at email@example.com, Associate Dean of Students Kristina Splawn at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Director of Residential Life Pape Seye at email@example.com.
Student Health and Wellness
Like you, we are keenly focused on the physical and emotional health and well-being of our students as they navigate and respond to the challenges of the pandemic, and do so at such an important time in their growth and development as young people. A host of Berkshire’s most experienced school leaders are coming together this summer to develop programming, resources, supports, and events through our Student Health Center, Wellness and Counseling, Diversity & Inclusion, Student Activities, Residential Life, and Advisory programs to thoughtfully and proactively prepare for welcoming students back to Berkshire and to support their success, physical and emotional health, happiness, and connections to each other and the community.
As a current Berkshire parent myself, I understand personally our obligation as a school to respond to the emotional needs of our students amidst all the anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic, perhaps even ahead of assuring their continued academic and co-curricular development and success. The relationships that students build with each other and that our adults establish with your children, both formal and informal, remain one of our greatest strengths as a school. We feel fortunate to welcome your children back to these relationships, to the comfort and mentorship they provide our students, and to a community that cares deeply, personally, and tirelessly for them.
I hope this overview addresses many of your questions regarding our planning for safely reopening in September. In working with our faculty and staff over the course of the spring and early summer, as well as in many of my conversations with parents and guardians, I have encouraged the theme of “patience and optimism.” Both are required, and both responsibly support the growing confidence around our return to Berkshire. As is the case throughout the world, life under the Mountain will necessarily require this “next normal” and the implementation of thoughtful changes to how we spend our days on campus in order to ensure the health and safety of our community. I have always had great confidence in our resilience. I have it now again in the resilience of our students to recognize the need for these changes and in our community’s commitment to caring for your children.
I look forward to following up again in late July with additional information around our plans for reopening. Thank you for your patience, and please reach out to me directly or to any of our school leaders if we can be helpful with immediate questions.
With growing excitement about our return to Berkshire in the fall,
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School