March 11, 2020


Dear Members of the Cushing Community,
 
As we head into Spring Break (currently scheduled for March 13 to March 30), I would like to update everyone on our continuing work regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Since we began communicating weekly updates on this issue on January 25, the situation has evolved significantly and just today was labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization . Our goal has been to focus on prevention and best practices and to follow the recommendations of the CDC, which has resulted in a measured and appropriate response to the situation. Our objective all along has been to provide a safe educational and physical environment for our students, faculty, and staff. In continuing our pursuit of that objective, we have decided to take the following steps:
 
  • All school-sponsored Spring Break trips have been canceled because of concerns about potential health risks and travel complications. While these trips were domestic, concerns about travel on airplanes, through airports, hotel stays, home stays, and attendance at large events remain as risk factors. Additionally, the potential for a Cushing group encountering a quarantine situation (for example, as a result of being on a plane or in a hotel that is associated with a case of coronavirus) contributed to this decision. The Athletic Department has been communicating details of these decisions to affected families and can answer specific questions regarding this change.

  • All other activities scheduled to occur on campus during Spring Break have been canceled, except for the Alternative Spring Break program which will take place on campus as planned.

  • All work travel (domestic or international) for Cushing employees has been suspended for similar reasons.

  • Anyone traveling to countries on the CDC Travel Advisory List (level 1, 2 or 3) will not be allowed to come back to campus after Spring Break until completing a 14-day off-campus quarantine, as certified by a United States based medical doctor. Documentation of health and completion of the quarantine must be provided before a return to campus will be considered. At this time, countries on the CDC Travel Advisory List include China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong. Taking part in a cruise is also included on the CDC Travel Advisory list and will be treated as such. It is important to note that Cushing, like many other schools, is not equipped for mass quarantines of individuals awaiting COVID-19 results, nor can we accommodate 14-day self-quarantine waiting periods upon return into the United States. Families should be sure to have an off-campus contingency plan in place should their student be quarantined during travel back to campus. If the list of countries from the CDC changes, we will follow those guidelines, and may also alter the minimum quarantine period and any other restrictions as recommended or imposed by the CDC and other government agencies.

  • Before returning to campus, all students, faculty, and staff will be screened by medical professionals. The process for this screening will be shared in a future update, but at a minimum will include a questionnaire and an exam by Academy health personnel. This could be a multi-day process.

  • If the COVID-19 situation becomes more severe, it may delay the resumption of classes and students’ return to campus. We are ready to proceed with distance (online) learning should the need arise for this to occur with a few students or, if circumstances dictate, with the entire school. We ask that all students be prepared for this possibility and leave campus with essential materials for classes such as laptop computers, calculators, and any other required items. If access to wifi or other essential materials is a challenge for your student, please let me know as soon as possible. We held a student meeting on campus today, instructing students on what to bring with them when departing for Spring Break. We reviewed which textbooks should be brought home, and which textbooks will be available electronically.

  • We will be performing a deep cleaning of campus during spring break, particularly focusing on high traffic and high touch areas.

  • As a reminder, please have your student stay home if they are feeling ill at the end of the break, and also please review the methods for prevention with your child.

  • As part of the screening process, we are requiring all families to follow the protocol for the return from Spring Break. DO NOT arrive early or just drop off your student on campus, as your student may be turned away. The protocol for student return will be also be shared in a future update.

  • Lastly, from today forward we ask all parents to schedule any visits to Cushing, rather than visiting unannounced. Please let us know your plans prior to your scheduled arrival on campus, as we are screening all visitors to campus in order to follow the CDC guidelines for travel and to protect our students, faculty, and staff. To schedule a visit, please contact the Student Affairs Office (978-827-2015), or Josh Doyon, Director of Student Affairs, at jodoyon@cushing.org.
 
During the break, please continue to monitor communications from the Academy, as we are reviewing our approach and the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic daily to update and modify our strategies due to the evolving demands of this situation. We are striving to consider all possibilities and challenges that the future may bring as we work toward our goal of providing a safe campus for the entire Cushing community.
 
Sincerely, 
Randy R. Bertin, Ed.D.
Head of School
Cushing Academy
39 School Street
Ashburnham, MA 01430