We plan to resume teaching and learning on campus this fall, and we look forward to having both new and returning students here in Wallingford. Though the plans we lay out here represent our most up-to-date thinking about the year to come, please check back frequently as these plans are subject to change in response to evolving circumstances.
March 17, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made the recommendation that no gathering of 50 or more people take place for the next eight weeks to slow the spread of the virus. We believe that this is worthy advice and that Choate should act in accordance with this recommendation even though the CDC allows exceptions for schools. Given that eight weeks would bring us to within a week of the end of the term, and with the health of our entire community and that of the world around us in mind, we have decided that remote learning will now extend through the entire spring term and, therefore, we will not open campus for the remainder of the academic year. In order to give our faculty ample time to prepare for a longer period of remote learning, the first day of spring term classes will now be Friday, March 27.
Frequently Asked Questions
- On-Campus Quarantine
- Emergency Contact and Evacuation Plan
- Prevention and Mitigation
- Treatment and Containment
- Athletics and Arts
- Campus and Residential Life
- Enrollment and Tuition
- Travel to Campus and International Students
- College Counseling
- Do students need to quarantine before arriving at Choate in the fall?
- Will students, faculty, and staff need to be tested for COVID-19 before school begins?
- Will there be subsequent, routine testing?
- How will the School mitigate the risks associated with families bringing students to campus on drop-off day?
- Will Choate adapt plans for the opening of school as new information becomes available throughout the summer?
Students should be tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, 3-7 days prior to coming to Choate and bring documentation of a negative result upon arrival at school. Anyone who is positive will remain home for 14 days prior to coming to campus. Students who are unable to obtain testing before coming to school will be tested immediately upon arrival. Any student who tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 at that time will be required to isolate off-campus for 14 days in the care of a parent, guardian, or other caretaker before returning to campus.
All faculty and student-facing staff will also be tested for SARS-CoV-2 just prior to the start of school in the fall.
We plan to repeat testing 7-14 days after arrival for all students, faculty, and student-facing staff. A system of routine surveillance testing will be established based on the prevalence of the virus at Choate, in the Wallingford community, and in the state of Connecticut. Testing will be available in the Health Center throughout the year. All faculty, staff, and students on campus will be asked to complete simple symptom and wellness checks each day to help screen for possible illness.
Whenever possible, only one adult should bring a student to campus for drop off. All individuals coming to campus must wear a mask. Upon arrival, students and any accompanying adult will be screened for symptoms and COVID-19 risk before beginning registration. Parents or guardians will be asked to drop students off and depart campus promptly. Only students will be allowed to enter campus buildings. Ample support will be provided to help students move into their rooms and acclimate to the new school environment, and while parents will remain an important part of their student’s support network, we need to limit the number of people who move around our campus in order to promote a safe and healthy environment for all students and other campus residents.
All boarding students will arrive according to the updated 2020-2021 academic calendar. See full calendar here. Once all boarding students arrive, students and faculty will quarantine on-campus with limited contact for 14 days. During this time the community will enjoy orientation programs, meals, and outdoor activities in small groups, and classes will be held online. Day students will participate from home.
- What if I don’t have an emergency contact?
- Where do I find the Emergency Contact and Evacuation Plan form?
Before the start of school, all families are required to provide an emergency contact and evacuation plan for their child. Information should be provided under Update Information on the Student Information tab on the Parents Portal by August 1, 2020. If you need assistance, international families should contact Libby Peard, Director of International Students and domestic families should contact Michael Velez, Dean of Students.
- How will students learn about the health and safety protocols and what’s expected of them on campus during the pandemic?
- How will students be expected to modify their behavior on campus to help promote a healthy campus and minimize risk of infection to themselves and others?
- Will these protocols be in place all year?
- How will Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be handled on campus?
- Will students be supplied with masks?
- Will students be able to clean their masks on campus? How will masks be cleaned?
- What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
- If the Health Center determines that a student must be quarantined after arrival on campus, where will the student quarantine?
- How will families be notified if a student needs to be quarantined?
Over the summer and again shortly after they arrive on campus, all students will receive important education and training about illness prevention, new routines and protocols on campus, and the imperative for all of us to help protect each other by taking steps to prevent disease transmission. Medical staff, faculty members, and peer leaders will all be involved in this important training.
In accordance with public health guidelines about preventing transmission of the virus causing COVID-19, students will be expected to follow three basic principles: physical distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing/sanitizing. Students will also be expected to limit any travel off campus, and any off-campus travel will require permission from the Dean of Students.
As we repopulate campus, we will need to begin with stricter health protocols to minimize the presence of the virus on campus and possible transmission. Dr. Miriam Cohen, our Medical Director, will monitor conditions both at Choate and in the local area closely and will relax the initial restrictions if and when circumstances make it safe to do so.
- What is the protocol if a student on campus tests positive?
- What happens if a student needs to be hospitalized?
Any student who tests positive will be isolated on campus—in a location separate from students with routine health care needs—until they can be safely transported home or to a caregiver off campus. It is imperative, therefore, that all students complete the “Evacuation Plan” form in the Student Information section of the Parents Portal. Contact tracing will be performed to identify any close contacts requiring quarantine.
Any student requiring hospitalization will be transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital or other area hospitals for further care. A faculty or staff member will stay with the student until a parent, guardian, or appointed caregiver arrives. Again, it is essential that students designate their caregiver in the “Evacuation Plan” form located in the Student Information section of the Parents Portal.
- When will there be a decision regarding fall interscholastic athletics?
- How will the arts be impacted?
A decision about fall interscholastic athletic competition will be made in the latter half of July 2020 by the Founders League. If the Founders League deems it safe for students to play interscholastic sports, Choate will allow its student-athletes to compete. If fall interscholastic athletics are cancelled for safety reasons, Choate will provide a full athletic program on campus including practices, physical training (e.g. Peak Performance), and offerings centered on sports psychology, leadership, and nutrition, as well as more traditional intramural athletic opportunities, since athletics are an important aspect of overall health and wellness in our community.
- Will dorm rooms have single or double occupancy?
- What are family units?
- How will students dine on campus?
- How will classrooms be organized?
- How will physical distancing be enforced in shared spaces (dorms, classrooms, etc.)?
- What facilities will be open to students if campus opens in the fall?
- What cleaning protocols will be in place?
- What laundry services are available?
- What about trips home or off campus?
- Will visitors be allowed on campus?
Houses will be arranged into smaller “family units” by floor, wing, or suite. Students in a family unit will be permitted to have close contact (less than six feet, without a mask) with one another while in their area of the house. Students in a family unit will also share a bathroom with appropriate distancing. This small group approach to residential life will reduce campus contacts while supporting community building.
We are planning to deliver meals in multiple locations on campus to provide nutritious meal service while minimizing density in dining areas and allowing for appropriate physical distancing. During the first two weeks on campus, students will likely eat in their family units in the dormitory (or in other campus locations for day students). After that, students will be assigned by family unit or day student group to one of the meal locations on campus. As conditions allow, this plan will be revisited throughout the year.
Dorms are being arranged to be divided into family units. Within these units, physical distancing will not be required, giving students a home-like environment in which to relax. An educational program will be undertaken to acquire “buy-in” from the students about necessary health protocols. Maintaining physical distancing and mask use is a social responsibility to keep each other and our Choate community safe. Faculty will be expected to model these behaviors themselves and modify student behaviors if they are not complying. Other common spaces will be evaluated and reconfigured as needed for appropriate use (e.g. lowering density) in alignment with health and safety guidelines.
A variety of shared spaces will be open to students on campus as the year begins, with appropriate density and physical distancing expectations in place. For example, students may be able to use portions of St. John Hall, the library, and the Worthington Johnson Athletic Center, but new protocols will be in place to ensure health and safety and time for enhanced cleaning.
All students have access to free laundry machines on campus. Choate will also continue to contract with E&R for laundry service. Choate covers the cost of weekly sheet and towel laundering, which has been extended to cover face masks; families may choose additional options (e.g. clothing and/or dry cleaning) for a fee. More information about laundry plans will be provided later this summer.
The fall academic calendar will not include Parents Weekend or a long weekend break during which students may leave campus. Any boarding student who needs to leave campus during the fall term must request permission through the Dean of Students Office, which will be assessed for both necessity and risk. This policy will be reassessed on a regular basis, taking into account the prevalence of COVID-19 at Choate, in our surrounding communities, and in the student’s destination. If boarding students return home, they will need to quarantine for 14 days prior to return to campus and have a negative test for the virus that causes COVID-19 upon return to campus.
- How will the daily schedule work?
- Will the daily schedule change during planned or unplanned periods of remote learning?
- Will all classes be synchronous?
- Would the school consider extending the school year into summer of 2021 to make up for missed days if closures occur during the school year?
We are in the process of modifying the academic daily schedule for both on-campus and remote learning. Each class will meet three times a week for about an hour, very similar to our traditional daily schedule. Though many classes will happen during our traditional academic day between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., others will take place during evening hours, and each block will “rotate” much less throughout the day. All class times will be feasible for learners in Wallingford (and others in the same time zone), and enough blocks will be optimized for each time zone so that learners around the world can have their classes scheduled primarily or exclusively during reasonable waking hours. For example, some classes will happen in the evening, Wallingford time, and those might work especially well for students in east Asia and Hawaii.
- When is my contract binding? When is tuition due?
- My family has been impacted financially by COVID-19. Is tuition assistance available?
- Will students be allowed to defer or take a gap year?
- Will there be a refund for students who cannot get to campus?
- What if my child wants to be a remote learner for the whole year?
Boarding students who wish to remain online for the whole year may petition the Dean of Students to convert to day status for the year. If the petition is granted, the student will be changed to day student status and charged the day tuition. Once the petition is granted, the student must remain online for the 2020-21 year and may not return to campus for in-person instruction.
- What if I can’t get my visa or there are travel restrictions that prevent me from getting to campus?
- Do students need to quarantine before arriving at Choate in the fall?
- How will students travel from the airport to campus with physical distancing recommendations in place? Will airport shuttles be provided?
- How do I know when my child should arrive on campus?
Students who are unable to return to campus for the beginning of the academic year will be welcome to start classes as remote learners and make plans to return to campus whenever they are able. Families should not make any travel plans that can’t be changed or canceled; please consider purchasing travel insurance.
- What standardized tests will be offered at Choate in the 2020-21 academic year?
- May students take the August 29, 2020 SAT/Subject Tests before the start of school?
- May students take standardized tests off-campus when school is in session?
- Who will take the PSAT this year?
- May underformers sit for the SAT, Subject Tests, and/or ACT at Choate this fall?
The Testing Schedule can be found under the College Counseling section of the Parents Portal.
Choate will be a closed site for the SAT/Subject Tests. In other words, registration for the SAT/Subject Tests at Choate is only open for Choate students. You may be asked to enter a test center code at registration. Choate’s SAT Test Center Number is 07620; the School Code is 070810.
Choate will also be a closed site for the ACT. Like the SAT/Subject Tests, registration for the ACT at Choate is only available for Choate students. ACT registration opens on July 27. You may be asked to enter a test center code at registration. Choate’s ACT Test Center Number is 163670; the School Code is 070810.
We continue to advise students to limit their risk of exposure to the virus, and we believe it is best for students to take their standardized tests at Choate. However, given that boarding students are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days before arriving on campus, taking the August 29 SAT/Subject Tests will not conflict with Choate guidelines if they present with a negative Covid-19 test.
Day students will not arrive on campus for in-person classes until September 21. Therefore, they can take the August 29 SAT/Subject test at an off-campus location.
Our recommendation is that students take standardized tests at Choate because we are a closed testing setting. This reduces the risk of exposing themselves and others to the virus and keeps our community safe. To leave campus on a weekend, boarders will need permission from their deans. We ask that day students refrain from testing off-campus as well. Students can take the SAT/Subject Tests at Choate in October and November, and the ACT at Choate in September and October.
The PSAT will be offered to fifth form students on Saturday, October 17. To comply with social distancing guidelines, we are unable to offer it to fourth form students this fall. Currently, the College Board does not permit schools to offer the PSAT on two separate dates. If they change their policy, we will review whether it is feasible to offer the PSAT to fourth form students.
A PSAT administered in fourth form is solely for practice; it is not the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
College Board and ACT registration is open to students in all forms. However, due to the many test cancellations this spring and summer, there has been a scarcity of testing opportunities (and testing seats) for the Class of 2021. We ask underformers to delay their testing until December (at home) or late winter/spring (at Choate) so that sixth formers will be able to complete their testing (if necessary) in time for application deadlines this fall and winter.
To students, parents, and guardians – Do not make plans for travel to and from campus for proposed vacations and breaks that cannot be changed. The school calendar is subject to change based on prevalent conditions.
Questions about enrollment?
Contact Jeffrey Beaton, Director of Admission
Questions about financial aid?
Contact Matt McDonald, Director of Financial Aid
Questions about health care?
Contact Miriam Cohen, Medical Director
Questions about your international student?
Contact Libby Peard, Director of International Students
Questions about learning remotely for the year?
Contact Mike Velez, Dean of Students