Dear Miss Hall’s Students and Families,
From the moment we shifted to distance learning last spring, I have looked forward to the day when we would be able to welcome students and faculty back to campus and be together again as a community. Today, I am immensely pleased to announce that Miss Hall’s School will reopen for boarding student arrivals on Saturday, September 26, and we will resume on-campus instruction for all students, including day students, on Monday, October 19, for the start of Term 2.
This decision, informed by months of planning and preparation, brings me immeasurable joy. All of us who have felt the power of togetherness in this special place — who have experienced the educational, social, and emotional benefits of this amazing community — know why we have gone to great lengths to reopen responsibly. We thrive on the experiential and relational learning at the heart of Miss Hall’s.
We are excited and eager to have students back on campus, and, more importantly, we are ready to do so. The health and safety of students and adults drove our decision to close campus in the spring and have been at the forefront of our preparations and planning for reopening. We are 100 percent committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure campus wellness throughout this year.
While faculty were busy this summer redesigning courses and building a curriculum that could be delivered online and in person, other teams were hard at work re-thinking every facet of the MHS experience. Everyone — residents, nurses, faculty, administrators, the Incident Response Team — has been laser-focused on adapting all aspects of school life to these new circumstances. Our large and beautiful campus has been readied for student arrival. Every inch of space has been reconfigured for physical distancing and safe movement. We have lined up COVID-19 testing, adjusted Housekeeping and Culinary routines, and developed protocols to handle any number of contingencies.
For details about these preparations and more, I encourage you to read these Frequently Asked Questions. Should you have additional questions, please communicate directly with any member of the MHS team at the contacts listed below.
A strong beginning
We began last week with orientation and Proctor training, getting to know each other, and making positive connections. Classes began this week and School President Hannah Holt ’21 and Vice President Chelsea Canal ’21 led their first virtual Community Meeting, at which we introduced the Class of 2021. It is wonderful to see students engaging with one another and virtual classrooms brimming with ideas as months of innovation take flight. Thank you for everything that each of you is doing to start this year strong!
Local health conditions
Pittsfield, Berkshire County, and Massachusetts continue to demonstrate favorable numbers of COVID-19 cases. Massachusetts and surrounding states have reopened cautiously, and this works in our favor, as infection rates in the Berkshires remain low. We will continue to monitor external conditions and advisories closely to determine on campus protocols. Please review this health and wellness update for more information.
All students and faculty need a negative PCR COVID-19 test before returning to campus, and we ask that students be tested within one week before arriving at MHS. They will be tested again upon arrival to ensure there was no infection in the interim/during travel. Ongoing testing will take place on campus throughout the school year, and the cost will be covered by the School. We have engaged CIC Health, LLC, in partnership with the Broad Institute, to provide this testing. All families must read, sign, and return this Testing and Screening Consent form before their student arrives on campus.
Arrivals and quarantine
In order to ensure a safe arrival on campus for all, boarding students will arrive in two groups, staggered during the course of 8 days. Please refer to the Arrival Communication letter and the Student Travel Plans Form located in your MyBackpack account for full details. We will confirm the arrival date and time window with each family the week of September 21st.
Boarding students will quarantine for up to two weeks, or until they test negative for COVID-19. The student schedule during quarantine includes academic classes, extracurricular activities, and multiple connections with individuals and groups each day, including members of each student’s Personal Team. We will host virtual community gatherings throughout, and students will have opportunities to get outside and safely move about campus. In addition, hall parents and Proctors will check in regularly with students to offer support. All students will move into their permanent rooms no later than October 18.
Day students should practice safer-at-home guidelines for two weeks prior to starting on campus instruction on October 19.
This year will be different and new for everyone. None of us, including the most seasoned members of our community, have ever been in this situation. We are all beginners this year, and as such, need to rely on each other to learn new systems, ask questions, and support each other. We are counting on everyone to do their part to keep the community healthy, connected, and strong. Now, more than ever, we must embrace our goal of fostering an inclusive community that honors and respects every individual and strives for equity and social justice.
We ask everyone, on campus or off, to follow these Common Good Guidelines to protect our community all year long. Please sign and return this pledge before returning to Holmes Road.
I am so grateful for the work of the many teachers, staff, and administrators who care so deeply about our students and have gotten us here. I am thankful for our Board of Trustees and to the broader Miss Hall’s community for supporting us every step of the way. I appreciate tremendously the understanding of families as we navigate these uncertain times — our partnership is so important. Most of all, I am grateful to have students back on campus in two weeks. We are committed. We are excited. We are a community. We are grateful. We are ready.
We can’t wait to see you.