Back to School 2020
Wilbraham & Monson Academy understands that many of you may have questions or concerns related to the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We continue to track news and global response to the outbreak on a daily basis, and we continue to mold and adapt our plans as the situation develops. The safety and well-being of our WMA community is our highest priority, and we will continue to adapt and respond to changing circumstances as readily as we are able.
July 9 - SEVP Update for International Families from Head of School Brian P. Easler
July 6 - Academic Schedule Updates from Dean of Academics Erik Kindblom
June 18 - Opening of School press release (public) from Head of School Brian P. Easler
June 14 - Opening of School update from Head of School Brian P. Easler
May 5 - Update: Preparing for next school year from Head of School Brian P. Easler
- Social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing are the most essential behaviors needed to mitigate the risk of infection and spread of the coronavirus. But even these precautions will not eliminate the risk of infection. For this reason, testing, contact tracing and our ability to quarantine and isolate members of the community, if necessary, will be keys to returning to campus safely. We have a multi-layer approach for the school year.
- We are planning for masks to be worn by everyone. Exceptions will be when a person is eating or drinking or is in a room by themselves with the door closed, or for residential students when they are in their assigned family units. Rare exceptions will be granted only through our Health Services Office. Students will be expected to bring their own masks to school, labeled with their name. We will also have a stockpile of masks for emergencies and mishaps. Understanding that a full day of wearing masks will be difficult, we are also exploring the creation of outdoor spaces that will allow students and faculty to interact, at a social distance, without masks.
- We have completed an exhaustive audit of physical spaces on campus. As a result, select campus renovations to existing classrooms are underway and other locations are being outfitted as classrooms. All learning spaces will maintain a minimum of 6 feet between people and will be configured to reduce exposure.
- Air purifiers will be placed in all classrooms, offices and double-occupancy dorm rooms. We have acquired over 200 Honeywell HEPA air purifiers and extra filters to accommodate the various room sizes on campus. The filters cycle all of the air in a room roughly every 12 minutes, making them an effective layering precaution.
- To minimize hallway congestion, we will be utilizing some of the emergency exit doors in the academic buildings to designate Entrance and Exit doors. This, along with some directional stairways, will encourage a more circular flow of people within the buildings and limit groups of people crowding the halls.
- Cleaning operations will be significantly enhanced, with guidance from Able Cleaning Services and their experience with other schools and universities. Able will analyze our planning for campus occupancy and will prioritize “high-touch” areas according to risk. Restrooms, bathrooms, dormitories and dining spaces will receive special consideration. Additionally, we will rely on every member of the community to do their part cleaning up their own areas. Community training in this regard will take place during the opening of school and will be ongoing. We are arranging for a significant supply of appropriate cleaning materials to have on hand and available for all.
- We are planning for regular virological testing of those who stay on, or travel to and from, campus. Everyone will be expected to consent to and participate in our testing regimen. We are coordinating with state and local officials, as well as colleges and universities, for participation in a state-wide school-based testing protocol. We are planning on testing every student and forward-facing faculty and staff member on a regular basis. This testing is critical to opening our campus safely and mitigating risk and will be conducted by our Health Services Staff.
- We are opting for a responsive rather than proactive budgetary approach. It is just not possible to predict how or when disruptions may occur or how they might affect our budget. Therefore, we will enter the year as we normally would, with a budget based on full tuition and fees due from families according to their specific contracts. At the close of the 2020 - 2021 school year, we will assess the impact on expenses during the course of the year and make any appropriate year-long credit adjustments at that time.
- We anticipate increased expenses in some budget areas. For example, we know that testing, contact tracing, quarantine/isolation and the ready availability of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment will be a significant expense, one that was not factored into tuition rate calculations (which were determined last January). We also believe that part of these increased expenses may be offset by reduced expenses in other areas. This is an additional reason we are opting for a business-as-usual tuition and budget year, and we will reassess and adjust appropriately at year-end.