Dear Gould Families,

We write with good news that the first full round of campus testing is complete and that there were no positive results. This means we can now release the cohorts and begin in-person classes, athletics, and co-curriculars on Monday, September 14.

Gould began testing faculty the week of August 12 — just before our first students returned. Over the course of nearly five weeks, we tested all employees twice, welcomed more than 200 students to campus and retested all students one-to-two times, depending on their arrival date and mode of transportation. Gould conducted over 600 tests during this span, including the 200 individual student tests required to return to campus; all of them have come back negative (one needs to be retaken this week).

This process is the result of four months of planning and execution, and I would like to personally thank the Return to Campus Task Force, our incredibly dedicated faculty and staff, and all of our students and their families. Your commitment to this process is why we are here on campus now, and it is your continued commitment and diligence to doing this right that will keep us operating in-person, with on-campus instruction for the remainder of this year.

Students had an all-school Zoom assembly tonight to explain how our updated restrictions works, but here is an overview of some of the changes, regarding no cohorts, keeping in mind that we are still at a Campus Activity Level of Orange. (Changes are noted in blue.)

To keep everyone as healthy as possible, we will begin a program of surveillance testing, checking roughly 10 to 15 percent of the student and employee population weekly. This is a baseline number, and we will increase the number of people tested if we start to see any type of upward trend. Because of the complexity and increased risk of exposure bringing students back from all over the world and because we are a largely residential community, Gould will adhere to stricter guidelines than that of the Maine CDC. 

Current Gould parent Dr. Gina Quinn-Skillings, senior medical director & program director at Maine Health, served as a medical advisor to the school’s reopening plan and believes that surveillance testing is an important next step in keeping the community healthy and to prevent an outbreak. We continue to consult regularly with Gina and are incredibly appreciative of her expertise and support.

Gould will continue to use Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for weekly scheduled testing but have also contracted with NorDx for more rapid testing on an as-needed basis for anyone showing symptoms.

We will cover the cost for asymptomatic surveillance testing as a campus safety measure. It does not, however, replace the need for the three WWWs — wearing masks, washing hands, and watching distance — but adds to our overall COVID prevention measures. In the event that a student exhibits symptoms, or there is reason to believe there has been exposure to the virus, then that test will be the responsibility of the individual's parent and/or the parent’s insurance.

Now more than ever we need to be committed to the overall wellness and resilience of this community. Getting through these first five weeks is a huge accomplishment, but it is only a first step. It is what allows us to continue on to next week, one more month, and potentially a year of being together and staying together. Without cohorts, our risk for broad exposure increases, and, therefore, the three WWWs, vigilance at home, and brief forays from campus take on increased significance. Please join me in celebrating this milestone, and rededicating ourselves today to the hard work, the important work, of taking care of ourselves, taking care of each other, and taking care of our place in the world.

Tao Smith
Head of School