Dear Miss Hall’s School Families,
 
I write to you from a quiet campus as Term 3 is underway. Typically, this would be a festive and busy time at 492 Holmes Road, with many Holiday traditions and anticipation of snow and Winter Break, but as we have for much of the past ten months, we are adapting to life in a pandemic. We do have some students staying on campus, to minimize risks associated with travel, and many adults and peers check in frequently to make sure they have the support they need.

Last month, I informed the community of our first positive coronavirus/COVID-19 case since reopening in September. Having confirmed there was minimal contact with two community members, both of whom have since tested negative, we consider this case contained and managed, thanks in part to the policies and protocols we have in place. 

We received notification on Tuesday of a second positive case on campus. The affected individual is currently off campus and will quarantine at home, according to our protocols, until they meet CDC guidelines for being around others. The Miss Hall’s Health Center has also notified the Pittsfield Health Department and is working with health officials to identify close contacts and initiate the contact tracing investigation. Again, though this news may be disconcerting, we will not share information about the community member’s identity or condition, out of a respect for privacy and adherence to HIPAA and ADA privacy laws. This is an opportunity, however, to remind all in the community of the importance of frequent hand-washing, social distancing, the wearing of masks, and other CDC recommendations for protecting yourself and others during a pandemic. 

As you know, we are fortunate in the Berkshires to have comparatively low positivity rates, but the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb statewide, and nationally. Given the ever-evolving nature of this pandemic, the School’s Incident Response Team (IRT) has instituted a few additional steps to “de-densify” campus in the next three weeks. We see this period of remote learning as an opportunity to reduce the number of employees on campus and limit opportunities for exposure, without impacting the student experience. 
 
From November 30 through December 18, we remain in campus reopening level ORANGE — open with restrictions — and have made the following adjustments:
 
  • Non-essential employees are working remotely.
  • Weekend teams have been modified to reduce the number of non-residents on duty.
  • Essential visitors only are allowed on campus.
  • On-campus meals are limited to students and on-duty adults. 
 
Though these steps are not mandated by state or local guidelines, we hope that by taking proactive and temporary measures, we can positively impact health, well-being, and the greater good. These changes will remain in effect for three weeks, at which point we will reassess and determine what modifications are needed as we shift into and beyond Winter Break. 

This is requiring all of us to adjust plans and schedules, just as we have had to do many times since the start of the pandemic, and I appreciate the flexibility from all in these uncertain times. Thank you for doing your part to keep our extended community healthy and safe. Our Common Good Guidelines are working, and now is the time to double down on our individual and collective efforts to stem the spread. 

Please know that we are committed to a safe return to campus, and the actions we take now will pave the way for resuming hybrid learning in January as scheduled. You will soon be receiving a request for information about your student’s January travel plans, so that we can prepare for their return.

My best to you and your families as we move into the holiday season and New Year. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
 
With appreciation,
Julia Heaton
Head of School

Contacts and Resources


For health questions and concerns:  Christie Puz, R.N., Director of Health Services, 413-395-7074, cpuz@misshalls.org  
 
For travel arrangements: Mary Bazanchuk, Asst. Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life, 413-395-7045, mbazanchuk@misshalls.org

For questions about counseling resources: Teresa Gentile, School Counselor, 413-395-7073, tgentile@misshalls.org
 
For academics questions: Lisa Alberti, Dean of Academics and Faculty, 413-395-7108, lalberti@misshalls.org