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Dear Hotchkiss Families and Students, 

We hope you are continuing to enjoy the winter break. Here in Lakeville, we are preparing for and happily anticipating having everyone back on campus. Given current COVID-19 conditions, however, I write to  announce necessary adjustments to our plans for returning to School in January. 

We have actively continued to monitor conditions with the intention of bringing everyone back as scheduled. Regrettably, Connecticut is experiencing a surge in cases as are so many places around the world. Across the country, boarding schools, colleges, and universities are reevaluating their re-entry plans. 

At this point, safety requires that we delay students’ return to campus by one week. This time will enable families to obtain pre-return testing; to reschedule canceled flights and other travel arrangements; and provide students who are ill or have been exposed more time to complete required isolation.  

New Return Schedule 

All students should plan to return to campus on January 11 or 12 (a one-week delay from the original return dates). Arrivals will be staggered by time slot over these days to minimize density. Arrival windows will be as follows: 

  • Tuesday, January 11: 2 - 8 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, January 12: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. 

Later today, all students will receive an email from Ms. Amber Jordan with a link to select a return time slot. Please be on the lookout for this email. If your family is unable to change your travel plans, please contact Amber Jordan.

All students will be tested on Wednesday, January 12. Classes will be conducted by Zoom from students’ rooms on January 13 and 14 while test results are being processed. We anticipate a return to in-person classes on Saturday, January 15. 

There will be no athletics practices until test results have been received. Typically, when we conduct testing on a Wednesday night, we receive results on Friday morning. Presuming we receive the results of our Wednesday, January 12 testing on the morning of Friday, January 14, sports may resume that afternoon.

Pre-Return Testing

As previously communicated, all students must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to return to campus

Pre-Return Testing Options

  • COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival - OR - 
  • COVID-19 rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arrival
  • This may be a lab or medical provider-administered test OR a rapid at-home test. If you administer an at-home test, you must bring a clearly readable photo of your test result to campus.

In addition, we strongly encourage all students who are currently eligible (age 16 and older) to get a COVID-19 booster vaccination over the break. (See information below regarding required off-campus quarantine for unboosted close contacts.)

In the event your student has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive, please contact the Health Center for further guidance regarding their return to campus.

What To Expect at School

Despite pre-arrival testing and taking all reasonable precautions, it is probable that COVID-19 will find its way to campus. Thanks to vaccination, we can reasonably anticipate that the severity of illness will be limited. However, the pace of spread may be accelerated. Therefore, students should anticipate:

  • Strict mask enforcement.
  • Changes to dining protocols.
  • A delayed return to interscholastic athletic contests. (While Founders League schools have not announced revised athletics plans, we anticipate that other schools may also delay students’ return to campus.) 
  • No spectators at athletic contests or student performances.
  • The weekend of Jan. 15-16, immediately following arrival, will be a closed weekend. 

Make a Plan for Your Student if They Need To Leave Campus

As noted above, the arrival of COVID-19 on campus is likely. The latest variant is highly contagious even among the vaccinated, and infected students will need to isolate off campus until they recover. In addition, unboosted close contacts will need to quarantine. According to the CDC, anyone who completed the initial two-shot Pfizer or Moderna series more than six months ago and has not received a booster shot or who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago and has not received a booster should quarantine after exposure.

As a result of these circumstances, we must be prepared for the possibility of a higher number of infected students and close contacts needing to be quarantined than the Health Center can accommodate.

You must have a plan in place for a family member or trusted proxy to pick your student up from School in the event they test positive for COVID and must isolate or are determined to be a close contact who needs to quarantine off campus. 

Looking Forward to 2022

Despite these changes to our return plans and precautionary measures, we continue to look forward to 2022. We do ask that you begin 2022 sensibly and plan for a thoughtful New Year’s celebration that minimizes risk for your family. 

We have learned a great deal during this continuing pandemic about balancing our commitment to safety with our commitment to provide an excellent education to our students. We remain dedicated to providing safe, in-person education, including a robust co-curricular and residential experience, and to limiting compromises as much as possible. 

Together, we have come a long way over the past 20 months since this all began. As the pandemic rolls on, we continue to be reminded of our fundamental interconnectedness and the many ways we rely on one another to keep our community safe.

We wish you a very happy and healthy new year. I look forward to seeing you back on campus very soon!

Meanwhile, please stay safe and well.


Craig W. Bradley

Head of School

The Hotchkiss School | 435-2591

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