Reopening Update - Schedule & Program
Campus Walkway summer
July 30, 2020

Dear Miss Hall's School Students and Families,

I write to share plans for the start of school and the year ahead. Since my last communication, we have made considerable progress toward reopening school in a safe and responsible way that protects the health and safety of all in our community and provides an enriching Miss Hall’s experience. We are excited to welcome students and adults back to campus! 
Before diving into details, I’d like to invite you to attend one of two student and family information sessions with school leadership by Zoom:
  • Tuesday, August 4, 8 a.m. (EDT) or 
  • Wednesday, August 5, 8 p.m. (EDT)
To attend, please respond by Sunday, August 2 , and include any questions you have so that we can address them together. There are still some questions for which we do not yet have answers, but hearing your concerns will help focus the conversation and our planning going forward. We look forward to connecting with you live.
COVID-19 Update
Though the pandemic continues in many parts of the world, the situation in the Berkshires is considerably better than in other areas of the United States. Many states in our region, including Massachusetts, implemented stay-at-home policies, quarantines for visitors, mandatory mask requirements, and other measures that have limited the spread and resurgence of coronavirus. The re-opening in Massachusetts has taken place in gradual, staged phases that are appropriately cautious, with industry-specific guidelines for operating and strict restrictions on certain activities. 
Throughout the summer, we have consulted local, state, and federal guidelines, attended professional conferences and presentations, and conferred with peer schools, colleges, and education associations about best practices for reconvening as a community. While we are eager for everyone to be together, the global spread remains a serious concern. We continue to monitor key data every day, and should the local or national situation make it unsafe to reopen campus in August, we will adjust our plans accordingly. Here’s the plan as it stands: 
Miss Hall’s will reopen for students on Monday, August 24. To reduce crowding, returns to Holmes Road will be staggered, based upon method of transportation and distance from campus, with these guidelines:
  • All students and adults must be tested both before returning to school and upon returning to MHS. Those who produce a positive RT-PCR test should NOT return to campus.
  • All individuals over the age of 18 and unaccompanied minors entering Massachusetts, who are not coming from a COVID lower-risk state must complete this travel form to enter the state.
  • International students, those who must fly, and students traveling by car from states that are required to quarantine will arrive first, August 24-28. The most recent information from SEVIS regarding international visas is here.
  • Students will also arrive during the week of August 24-28.
  • Students traveling by car from New England, New York, New Jersey, and other states not required to quarantine by the state of Massachusetts will arrive September 2-5.
  • Day students will open the school year following “safer-at-home” practices for two weeks prior to coming to campus on September 21.
  • All boarding students will self-quarantine for up to fourteen days after arrival, according to the Massachusetts travel order in effect August 1, 2020.
  • Once on campus, frequent health checks will be required. Ongoing testing will be coordinated by Miss Hall’s.
  • Once boarding students are safely on campus, we strongly discourage travel to/from campus except during scheduled breaks. Students who leave campus may be required to undergo quarantine, testing, and/or other screening before returning to campus.
  • The Student Life and Residential Life teams are designing a hybrid orientation program that enables all students to participate remotely or on-campus.
Forms related to travel and guardianship will be sent separately, as appropriate.
Given that some students will spend at least part of the year learning from a distance, we have reimagined the daily schedule and designed a hybrid academic program specifically to serve both on-campus and online learners. This program is deeply aligned with our mission and the schedule that supports it will function across multiple time zones, allowing for synchronous and asynchronous teaching, mentoring from adults, and time to meet the learning needs of every student. MHS faculty have committed to the @MHS Principles to guide their work and have created lessons that allow students to engage in dynamic learning, whether together in a classroom or at a distance. Please take the time to read about this innovative curricular plan .
We are truly excited about the reimagined @MHS program and have adjusted the 2020-2021 School Calendar to align with our new hybrid approach. Here are some highlights:
  • The academic calendar is now divided into six terms of equal length. 
  • Term 1 classes begin on Tuesday, September 8.
  • For the first two weeks of Term 1, September 8-18, all classes and instruction will be online, to support quarantine and to provide a shared initial learning experience for all students.
  • On-campus, in-person classes are scheduled to begin on September 21. 
  • Between Fall and Winter Breaks, November 30-December 18, all classes and instruction will be online, to allow boarding students the option to remain at home or with a designated caregiver, thereby minimizing travel to/from campus and the need for quarantine. We will provide a detailed January return schedule later this fall. 
  • We have shifted Spring Break earlier, to March 4-14, to align with the academic terms.
  • We have shifted Commencement one week earlier, to May 30.
Students will not leave campus for Horizons, in order to minimize the potential for exposure for our students and our site partners. This, of course, is not new for ninth-graders, but it will be a change for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Sophomores will still engage in place-based learning, with opportunities to work remotely with local experts and organizations that make up the special fabric of the Berkshires. Juniors and seniors will engage in student-designed projects or choose to intern through remote and on-campus opportunities. We are committed to providing all students with meaningful, enriching experiential learning that also contributes to the common good.
Athletics & Extracurriculars
Extracurriculars such as ensembles, theater, and clubs will continue, with safety guidelines in place and concerted effort made to engage students online. Due to state regulations and social distancing requirements, we will not run our typical fall athletics program in competition against other schools. However, our fall sport coaches are committed to providing athletes with skill-building, training, and on-campus competition that honors the importance of athletics in their lives. We will also provide all students on campus with a diverse selection of physical activities, including recreational tennis, archery, dance, step, yoga, “bootcamp,” and walking and hiking clubs.
Staying Healthy and Safe
To honor our commitment to our shared wellbeing, all members of the MHS community will be expected to follow a set of Common Good Guidelines. This compact will include wearing cloth face coverings in all public spaces, minimizing the sharing of high-touch materials, and following maximum room occupancy designations and pedestrian traffic patterns.
  • Indoor spaces, including classrooms, dorm rooms, and the Dining Room, are being configured for physical distancing. 
  • We will use outdoor spaces for academic, extracurricular, and social gatherings. 
  • The daily schedule includes added time for transitions between spaces, for cleaning of classrooms and public areas.
  • The Dining Room will be reconfigured and mealtimes will be coordinated to limit crowding.
  • We will frequently remind all of the importance of minimizing the potential for infection.
Our housekeeping team will clean and disinfect all spaces at least once every 24-hours and will disinfect high touch/high traffic areas 3-4 times per weekday. In addition, all spaces will be equipped with cleaning supplies for room users to clean/sanitize work surfaces and touch points before/after use.
Clearly, much about this year will be different from previous years. Yes, we will miss fall athletic competitions and loading into minibuses for trips to Ayelada frozen yogurt, but I am confident that we will develop new ways of being together. All of us will have to adjust, and I know we can do it because we are bold, creative, and resilient. I have seen this community rise up in protest over gun violence and hold each other accountable on issues of equity and inclusion, engaging in important and sometimes hard conversations along the way. I have borne witness to the reimagining of the Miss Hall’s curriculum by our amazing faculty. Together, we have overhauled outdated practices and changed dress code policies, homework policies, and policies for creating policies. And, we will keep adjusting, because life isn’t static — and we will do this work together.
As you review the @MHS Program for 2020-2021 , I invite you to submit any questions to me . We will make every attempt to answer your questions during the August 4 and 5 information sessions by Zoom. These webinars will be followed by Q&A in five breakout groups for:
  • Chinese students & families - with translator
  • Vietnamese students & families - with translator
  • New students & families
  • Boarding students & families
  • Day students & families
Please respond here and identify your preferred breakout group.
I look forward to seeing you there.

Julia Heaton
Head of School