Currently administrators at the Green Mountain Valley School are planning on some 100 students returning to the Fayston campus for an August 20 start of school.
“We are planning on reopening for in-person learning starting with the first wave of students on schedule on August 20, said head of school Tracy Keller.
“Our primary goals are to get kids back on campus for teaching, coaching and in-person living with proper health and safety measures. We feel that’s important for our community,” she added.
In addition to complying with Vermont’s guidelines for students to return to the classroom, GMVS will be following a prevention strategy that includes daily temperature checks and screening plus broad weekly COVID-19 screening.
Keller said GMVS is in the process of finalizing an agreement with CIC Health to provide weekly testing for staff and students. CIC Health is working with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and is based out of Cambridge.
CIC Health is doing volume testing and has significant capacity and is not inexpensive, Keller said.
“But it is something we feel is really important for our community to operate in a manner that reduces transmission,” she added.
Similar testing protocols are being followed at other private schools and some colleges including Middlebury College. The tests that will be administered are the Anterior Nares test which is a shallow swab in both nostrils that has been likened to picking your nose, Keller said.
Based on where they are coming from, students will be asked to quarantine for two weeks prior to returning to campus, Keller said. Many are from areas in the Northeast where COVID-19 cases per million meet Vermont’s benchmarks for no quarantine. Those who need to quarantine will either do so via homestays or on campus in their dorm rooms.
Once students are all out of quarantine, life and learning at GMVS will be as normal as possible including athletic training. Per state guidelines students and staff will wear masks in the classroom and elsewhere and adhere to social distancing protocols.
“We’re planning on one remote teaching/learning day per week to give us a day to be teaching and learning without masks on. It will give us an opportunity to take a breath. Students will do satellite workouts. We’ll start that way and see how it goes,” she said.
“One thing we feel is important is to make sure that students are abiding by our policies. We’re aware that we’re bringing in students who don’t live here and we’re going to be a little more restrictive with students coming and going to campus. At least early on, I don’t think we’ll have students leaving campus and walking into town,” she added.