Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
In Berkshire School's commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe environment for all members of our community, we are providing this page which contains information on the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)—a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China that is known to cause mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
At this time, there are no reports of COVID-19 cases on the Berkshire campus.
Updates will be posted below by date.
REVISED STUDENT SPRING SCHEDULE
Spring Recess has been extended for all students until Wednesday, April 1.
Online classes for all students will begin on Thursday, April 2, and will continue through the entirety of our spring term. We are committed to working with all families to ensure you have access and resources to participate in this distance-learning plan. More details on distance-learning will be available in our student and parent portals soon.
All on-campus spring events are cancelled.
A DAY AT BERKSHIRE
Revisit Days on Campus (Cancelled March 11)
*March 31, April 3, April 7
*Berkshire School is offering Virtual Days at Berkshire for our future Bears. Click here for more information on these upcoming online events.
French Immersion in Montreal (Cancelled March 10)
PRESEASON ATHLETIC TRIPS
Arizona, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina trips (Cancelled March 9)
PRO VITA TRIPS (INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL)
Dominican Republic (Cancelled March 1)
Tanzania (Cancelled February 19)
Germany (Cancelled February 19)
China (Cancelled January 27)
TRAVEL ADVISORY ALERTS
TRAVEL ADVISORY ALERT
On the guidance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State Level 4 (Do Not Travel) advisory, any member of the Berkshire community (students, faculty and their residential family members, or staff) who has traveled internationally or domestically by plane, train, or on a cruise ship will be required to observe a 14-day waiting period (self-isolation) and provide an all-clear medical exam with their physician before returning to campus. This also applies to all Berkshire community members who have been in direct contact with anyone (family members, friends or others) over the extended break who has traveled internationally or domestically.
IMPORTANT: The Department of State advises "U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for an immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period."
Berkshire School is continuing to postpone all on-campus visitors and admission visits until further notice.
- MAY 19 LETTER (Picking up personal belongings)
- MARCH 24 LETTER (Spring Schedule Update for Families)
- MARCH 16 LETTER (Message to Fourth & Fifth Formers from College Counseling Office)
- MARCH 16 LETTER (Revised Schedule for Undermountain Child Care)
- MARCH 12 LETTER (Revised Student Spring Schedule)
- MARCH 9 LETTER (Spring Preseason Athletic Trip Update)
- FEBRUARY 28 LETTER
- FEBRUARY 15 LETTER
- JANUARY 28 LETTER
MAY 19 LETTER (Picking up personal belongings)
I am writing to confirm our invitation for you to come to campus to pick up personal belongings in the dorms through scheduled appointments Thursday, May 28 through Sunday May 31. We will be sending a link to a sign-up form shortly. Please be flexible in your scheduling as we try to accommodate everyone.
Before I get into some of the details, I want to ask for your complete support in following our expectations with regard to social distancing, wearing masks and helping us maintain a very low density of people in the dorms at any one time. In order to move about easily in the dorms and reduce close encounters, we are requesting that only one parent return with your child (two students – two parents). We know there are some situations where this may not be possible, but please support this request to the best of your ability.
Now, onto some details. Listed below is my response to several questions which should be helpful as you prepare to return to pack and some expectations we ask you to follow while on campus to help us all stay healthy.
We look forward to welcoming you back to campus.
FAQ regarding returning to campus
What should I do about coming to campus to pick up my things?
“If you or anyone close to you, is currently sick, or has potentially been exposed to COVID-19, it is critically important that you do not come to campus.”
We are inviting families back to campus to pack-up rooms on May 28 through May 31. We will be sending you instructions for an automated sign-up to schedule your arrival day and time. You will be asked to sign up for a 1.5-hour time slot to get you into your room. Only three families will be permitted to sign up for each slot per dormitory.
What if I cannot come on the posted dates?
For those unable to come to campus on the posted dates, we ask families to be patient while we work through the first four days. More details about additional dates to clean out will be forthcoming, but the campus will remain CLOSED outside of posted dates and we are focused on having all rooms empty on June 13.
What if I cannot come to campus?
We understand our International students and many students from the states will not be able to return to campus. If you will not be able to return to campus, please contact Lisa Miller (Lmiller@berkshireschool.org). We will provide information on packing, storing, and shipping your personal belongings. You will first need to register with Dorm Room Movers.
Can I store packed items for the summer or have items shipped home?
Please register with Dorm Room Movers for storing and shipping of personal belongings. There will be boxes available on campus for those who have registered with DRM. All items to be handled by DRM will have to be boxed, labeled, numbered, and left in the room. DRM will pick-up at a later date.
Are boxes available for packing ups?
No. Boxes are only available for students registered for summer shipping or storage with DRM.
What should I bring when I come to pack up the room?
Make sure you have enough boxes and bags to easily pack up your things and move them to the car. We ask that this is done with care and efficiency. Unfortunately, this is not the time to be sorting through belongings. You will have a 1.5-hour window, but we hope it will take less time so we can accommodate all families making the tip to campus.
When arriving on Campus
Dorms will be open for students and their families to come to campus to pack belongings. You MUST sign up for a time slot, prior to arrival, to gain access to the dorms. If you do not have an appointment, you will not be able to gain access to campus. Cars entering campus will be directed to a parking area to wait (probably the Jackman Stewart Center parking lots). You will be allowed to drive to the dorm based on our ability to control the number of families in any one dorm at a time.
When you arrive on campus, please follow directions to check-in. We will be following state-mandated social distancing protocols during this time and you will be required to wear a face mask while in the dorm or outside if social distancing protocols cannot be followed.
Dorms will only be open for students and their parents at these times. Please DO NOT come to campus outside of scheduled hours. More dates and times for clearing rooms will follow.
What should day students do if they have items on campus?
You are asked to contact Ms. Gaenzle Smith to arrange a time to be on campus. Please do not sign-up for one of the slots available for boarding families May 28 to May 31.
Health and Safety while on campus
We are following state guidelines for Social Distancing Protocols and are asking students and families to remain at least 6 feet away from other people while on campus and wear a face mask while in the dorm hallways.
We will only allow a limited number of families into the dorms at any given time. Please be patient and understand that we all need to be mindful of contact with others.
Families are asked to remain in their vehicles as much as possible while on campus. Students and families are asked not to congregate together. We understand this is difficult, and students will want to say their goodbyes, but we must urge against any close contact while on campus.
We are sorry, but this is not the time to try to arrange meetings with friends. Please observe all social distancing protocols and exit campus as quickly as possible.
What if I have items to return to school like athletic wear or books to sell back to the bookstore?
There will be a drop-off area in the lower level of the Jackman Stewart Center. Please only have one person enter the building to drop off items.
Once you have completely emptied your room, please leave all trash in a garbage bag in the room. Any items left in the room, and not clearly marked for storage, will be donated/recycled/disposed of.
Student Life Office
MARCH 24 LETTER (Spring Schedule Update for Families)
Dear Berkshire Students and Families,
Wherever in the world this finds you, I hope you, your families, and your friends are all healthy and safe in these most challenging and uncertain times. I write today with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Berkshire will suspend our on-campus program for the entirety of the spring term. In sharing this news, the sense of loss that I feel for all members of our community, our students most especially, is immense. Truly.
This stands as the most difficult and painful decision I have ever had to make in my time as our Head of School. However, given the widening impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on all areas of the country and world, with restrictions on travel and gatherings only likely to increase over the coming weeks and months, and with my primary responsibility always to ensure the safety and well-being of our community, there is no other responsible path forward for us as a School this spring. This decision reflects countless hours of deliberation, collaboration, and a thoughtful, exhaustive exploration of all options. Making this decision now also supports our best strategic planning and allows us to focus all of our energy, creativity, and innovation on delivering the strongest online distance-learning model for all our students. I know that this news will be met with a range of immediate and personal emotions, and yet I hope we will find some comfort in doing what’s ultimately best for our students, faculty, staff, our community as a whole, and for the world beyond Berkshire.
To all our students and your families, we will dearly miss being with you, and you with each other, in ways I can’t adequately express in words. The heart and soul of Berkshire is our sense of community, that special “lightning in a bottle” which I refer to so often. The respect, trust, and love that we hold for each other will be felt in different ways as we move to an online distance-learning model for the spring, but I’m confident that our Berkshire spirit, resilience, and commitment to each other will carry the day. Our community may be apart in different corners of the world for these final two months, but I have great faith that our common love for our School will hold us tightly together.
My heart is heaviest for our sixth formers, the great Class of 2020. First, please know that we will schedule a future date on campus to celebrate your graduation from Berkshire when it is safe to do so. You’ve each worked too hard, for too long, and with memories, friendships, and achievements from your days under the Mountain that will be a part of your lives forever as Bears. It is important that we recognize you and all that you have contributed to Berkshire. I am so deeply sorry that we will miss the excitement, performances, athletic contests, celebrations, humor, joy, and poignancy of your final term on campus. Please know that we will work hard with you to find ways to connect with each other this spring. At the start of each school year in September, I faithfully remind our senior class that “as you go, we go.” Meeting that challenge, Class of 2020, with your continued leadership, mentorship, belief, and support—in these most difficult moments for the School and the global community—has never been needed more. This is not the culmination that any of us would ever wish for, but with your help and leadership, we will persevere. You have my deepest gratitude and respect for continuing to lead us forward.
Finally, I’m aware that with this news will come a host of questions for students and parents. Dean of Academics Brooke Depelteau will be in touch later this week after our faculty convenes with details about our online distance-learning model and academic expectations for the spring. Assistant Head of School and Dean of Students Peter Quilty will soon share information and a schedule for retrieving student belongings from campus. Chief Financial Officer Robert Boyd will reach out shortly to address the financial implications of this decision. Other school leaders will also follow up with additional information regarding their respective areas of school life at Berkshire. I encourage students and families to visit the student and parent portals for additional information as these will be updated over the course of this week, and to be in touch with any of us at Berkshire, advisors especially, as we all work together to shift into this new model for the spring beginning on April 2.
In closing, thanks to each of you for all you will do to help us move forward in these unprecedented times … kindly, bravely, and boldly. I look forward to being in regular communication throughout the spring, and I’m forever grateful and proud to be meeting these challenges with all of you.
My very best from Berkshire,
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School
MARCH 16 LETTER (Message to Fourth & Fifth Formers from College Counseling Office)
Berkshire Families and Students,
I wanted to reach out as the Director of College Counseling to all parents and students engaged in the college process, during this unprecedented time. As you are all aware, the impact of Coronavirus 19 (Covid-19) is widespread and impacting all aspects of life, including the college admission process. Every day, I am in communication with my friends and colleagues on the college/university side of the process. Things are changing on an almost hourly basis.
Many colleges have cancelled campus tours and information sessions. Many colleges and universities are completely closed. Those colleges that have closed their campuses have all indicated that it will not negatively impact admission decisions if students do not visit.
For now, know that it is my recommendation and the recommendation of our office that you and your family cancel plans to visit institutions over break and for the foreseeable future. I encourage you to focus on the safety and health of you and your family, enjoy spring break as much as possible, and in the coming weeks and months we will hopefully get back to a recognizable version of the college process of past years.
While visiting campuses in person may not be an option, there are still many ways that students can continue to advance their college search and application process. Time spent brainstorming and writing the common application essay will still have a positive impact on the next steps in this process. Virtual tours and online research are also great ways to be engaged during the 2020 spring recess.
There will also be some unique opportunities to do college research and college work during the period of distance learning announced recently by Mr. Mulder. The college counseling office will be reaching out to more formally explain and describe these opportunities once the period of Berkshire distance learning begins on April 2, 2020.
My hope is that by summer, we will be able to return to the practice of visiting colleges and universities to better understand them. For now, I encourage us all to err on the side of caution and know that it will not hurt admissions outcomes if you postpone visits, revisits or travel.
We remain here as advocates for you and your family. This is a unique moment in time. We are all doing the best to respond to a constantly changing situation. As always, I feel strongly that the best thing we can do is work together to support and assist each other moving forward.
For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit our website at www.berkshireschool.org/coronavirus.
Erin E. Lyman
Director of College Counseling
MARCH 16 LETTER (Revised Schedule for Undermountain Child Care)
Dear UMCC Families,
I write to share an important update on our response to the increasing developments from the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Berkshire School has recently announced a delayed return from Spring Recess for all students with an online distance-learning program in place through at least April 10. The campus will remain closed until at least Monday, April 13, 2020.
In partnering with Berkshire School’s commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe environment for all children and staff and the broader community we belong to, we will be extending our UMCC break through Friday, April 10 and will reopen on Monday, April 13. This closure may be extended depending on the evolving situation.
IMPORTANT: Please note, there will not be a child care payment withdrawn on Friday March 27 (as scheduled) and the payment for April 10 will be half of what is typically paid.
A reminder, we are still asking all families to fill out a short health questionnaire before returning to UMCC, which is attached again in this email. Please return your survey to me 48 hours prior to your child(ren) returning to UMCC.
IMPORTANT: Children may not return to school until this health questionnaire has been completed.
I also wanted to bring to your attention that Berkshire School has a COVID-19 website page containing communication updates, resources, and other information as it becomes available. To visit this page, go to www.berkshireschool.org/coronavirus.
I know these are challenging and uncertain times for everyone. I am deeply appreciative of your understanding as I know this extended closure will have a direct impact on you and your family plans. I will continue to provide updates as needed and in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Director of Undermountain Child Care
MARCH 12 LETTER (Revised Student Spring Schedule)
MARCH 9 LETTER (Spring Preseason Athletic Trip Update)
Dear Berkshire Parents and Guardians of Spring Athletic Trip Athletes,
I hope this finds you well and with many enjoying the early days with your child(ren) home to begin March vacation. I write with an update on our planned spring athletic trips and to share the School’s decision to cancel all domestic athletic trips as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
I am disappointed to cancel these trips, knowing full well that this change is inconvenient and disruptive on a host of levels for everyone involved. As a school, however, our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our students and adults. This decision reflects frequent deliberations over recent weeks among our school leadership team, medical staff, conversations with peer schools, and a careful review of the health recommendations emerging across local, state, and federal levels. We have had to weigh the uncertain and ever-evolving impact of the virus, the challenges of air travel, the rising community transmission of the virus, and my need to determine an appropriate responsibility and expertise to expect from our coaches in the face of many unknowns. In short, I make this decision from a position of responsibility, of prudent caution, and ultimately in support of the health and safety of our students and adults.
As we work with the various trip providers to make cancellations, we will keep you informed as to the timing of any related refunds of those direct charges passed through to you by the School. These refunds will appear as a reversal(s) of the related trip charges originally billed in your monthly statement. In the meantime, individual coaches will likely be in communication with your child(ren) as we explore other possibilities to support the strongest start to our spring athletic season. If you have any questions about spring preseason athletics, please contact the Director of Athletics Dan Driscoll at ddriscoll@berkshireschool.
I look forward to welcoming your daughter or son back to Berkshire following the break. I encourage everyone to use this time to rest, enjoy time with family and friends, practice healthy self-care, and to return to campus with great excitement for a strong spring term under the Mountain. All my best wishes, and thanks for your understanding as we thoughtfully navigate an uncertain and challenging time.
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School
FEBRUARY 28 LETTER
Dear Berkshire Parents and Guardians,
With Spring Recess approaching, I write to share my, and our, increasing concerns around the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) as the number of cases continues to grow and increases global uncertainty.
In response to the latest travel restrictions and guidance updates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. State Department, Berkshire School is taking additional preventative measures to help minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our community. Our leadership team and Student Health Center continue to meet regularly to review protocols should COVID-19 spread and impact our school.
- On the guidance of the CDC Level 3 & 2 warnings and the U.S. Department of State travel advisories, we recommend students and their families reconsider their travel to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan during Spring Recess (March 7–25). If you are traveling outside the U.S., please monitor closely the CDC travel notices as other countries may be added to the CDC level 3 and 2.
Any student who has traveled to or from these impacted areas will be required upon return to the U.S. to observe a 14-day waiting period and provide an all-clear medical exam with their physician before returning to campus or attending a preseason athletic team trip. This also applies to students who have been in direct contact with anyone (family members, friends or others) over Spring Recess who has traveled to or from the impacted areas.
IMPORTANT: Berkshire families and guardians will need to take their own responsibility for any extended quarantines that prevent their child/ren’s return to campus at the end of vacation. If these expanded travel advisories impact a student's current travel plans, please contact the Director of International Student Programs Lissa McGovern by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by calling 413-229-1260 at your earliest convenience.
- As a reminder, all students will be required to fill out a short health questionnaire before returning to campus after Spring Recess. This questionnaire will be sent by email through Magnus Health to parents and guardians (unless the student is over 18 years of age) on March 19 with a follow-up reminder on March 24. For any questions about this questionnaire, please contact our Student Health Center at email@example.com or call 413-229-1275. Your help in ensuring your child/ren complete/s this form is appreciated.
IMPORTANT: Students may not return to campus until they have submitted their health questionnaire.
- Travel restrictions continue to change, raising the possibility that students may have difficulty returning back to campus after break. If a student becomes ill or is not able to return to campus as scheduled, please call 413-429-6132 to reach the Berkshire School Administrator on duty.
- The U.S.Food & Drug Administration (FDA) stated recently that it is “surveilling the medical product supply chain for potential shortages or disruptions” as part of its multi-pronged approach to COVID-19. We recommend boarding students with prescription medication speak with their prescriber over break to plan for cases in which the medical supply chain could be affected by COVID-19. This could lead to requesting larger quantities per refill or obtaining multiple refills at once. If you have any questions, please contact the Student Health Center.
- Please continue to visit berkshireschool.org/
coronavirus for updates, resources, contact information, and new information on the coronavirus as it becomes available.
In closing, safeguarding the health and well-being of our entire community remains our highest priority. In addition to asking our students and families to follow these precautionary measures, we are enforcing the same practices with all faculty and staff members in our community. I am deeply appreciative of your understanding as I know these travel restrictions have impacted valuable family time and vacation plans over Spring Recess.
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School
FEBRUARY 15 LETTER
Dear Berkshire Parents and Guardians,
I hope this finds you all well and enjoying a good late winter. I write as a follow-up to my communication about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our entire Berkshire community remain our highest priority, and we continue to closely monitor this evolving situation through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Massachusetts Department of Public Health websites for the most up-to-date information.
In response to the latest CDC travel restrictions and their guidance updates, the School is taking the following proactive, preventative measures:
- We continue to postpone on-campus visits (including Berkshire parents) from those who reside in China and anyone who has recently traveled to or from the impacted areas within the last 14 days.
We ask that families, either domestic or international, who have traveled to China in the last 14 days for any reason, follow the CDC health directives given to them when they arrive in the United States. We also ask that you notify our Student Health Center by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 413-229-1275.
- We recommend that no students travel to China during Spring Recess (March 7-25) in light of the CDC Level 3 warning and the U.S. Department of State “Level 4—Do Not Travel” to China notice.
For international students who are not able to travel home and might be in need of alternative arrangements, we encourage you to contact our Director of International Student Programs Lissa McGovern by emailing email@example.com or by calling 413-229-1260.
- All students will be required to fill out a short health questionnaire before returning to campus after Spring Recess. This questionnaire will be sent by email through Magnus Health to parents and guardians (unless the student is over 18 years of age) on March 19 with a follow-up reminder on March 24. For any questions about this questionnaire, please contact our Student Health Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-229-1275.
- As we are still in the height of cold and flu season, we continue to remind all members of the Berkshire community about the importance of self-care and personal hygiene and the necessity of going to the Student Health Center when ill.
- For updates, resources, whom to contact, and new information on the coronavirus as it becomes available, please visit berkshireschool.org/coronavirus.
In closing, please know that we deeply appreciate your help in following these preventative measures to support the health and well-being of our entire school community. We realize this is a time of significant concern for Berkshire students and their families, especially for those whose children are far from home or have been impacted by travel restrictions. Our faculty, advisors, dorm parents, coaches, and counselors are ready and prepared to help any student who might need additional support. Finally, my, and our, thoughts are with our families and friends in China and other areas affected by this outbreak.
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School
JANUARY 28 LETTER
Dear Berkshire Parents and Guardians,
In our commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe environment for all members of the Berkshire School community, I am writing to share an update on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)—a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China that is known to cause mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there are no known cases of the coronavirus at Berkshire. We do want to inform you that there have been two families who’ve visited campus from the City of Wuhan on December 13, 2019 and January 14, 2020. We have been in contact with both of these families, and there is no cause for concern. None of the family members exhibited symptoms while on campus, and all are currently in good health. We will continue to be in communication with these families as a precautionary measure.
Berkshire’s leadership team, along with Director of Student Health Service Brooke Humes, has met to outline protocol and best practices to maintain the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. As we do during every flu season, the School continues to stress the importance of personal hygiene, including frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and going to the Student Health Center to seek care when ill.
In order to support the health and safety of our students and their families, Berkshire is also taking the following specific precautions regarding the coronavirus:
- We are closely monitoring the information and guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to keep up-to-date on the situation.
- At this time, we are postponing on-campus visits from those who reside in China and anyone who has recently traveled to or from the affected areas.
- We have cancelled the upcoming Pro Vita trip to China and are assessing the safety of all other Pro Vita trips and spring semester trips, both domestic and international.
- We ask that families, either domestic or international, who have traveled to China in the last 14 days for any reason notify the Student Health Center by emailing email@example.com or by calling 413-229-1275.
As we look ahead to the long winter weekend (February 6–10) and spring recess (March 7–25), we will continue to monitor the situation and will determine what, if any, additional precautions might be needed. In the meantime, our Student Health Center is well practiced in health screenings for students returning to campus. Those students who have traveled internationally over the long weekend will be asked to answer some brief questions from the Student Health Center to identify any concerns before their return.
In closing, the health and safety of our students is my—and our—highest priority at Berkshire, and we will continue to monitor the evolving situation and provide updates as needed. Please do not hesitate to contact the Student Health Center with any questions.
Pieter Mulder P'22
Head of School
You may contact the Student Health Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-229-1275.
Please contact International Student Program Director Lissa McGovern at email@example.com or 413-229-1260.
Employees with questions regarding COVID-19 should contact Director of Human Resources Cheryl Geerhold at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 413-229-1201.