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Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Reopening

Though our planning is not complete and some important decisions are yet to be made, the overall structure for the year ahead is coming into focus. It is important for families to understand that our plans may likely be modified or adapted based on what requirements we must meet from the Massachusetts Department of Education. In the meantime, we hope this information is helpful as you begin to prepare for next year.

Health & Safety


As we work to resume in-person activities at Walnut Hill, we are committed to creating an arts, academic and residential experience that provides for the health and safety of our community as our top priority. We are mindful that our campus is located just outside of Boston, which was one of the nation’s early hotspots for COVID-19 but then made dramatic progress in limiting its spread due to aggressive public health efforts. Our plans for the coming year must provide for the safety of students, who will travel to Walnut Hill from all over the world, as well as the safety of our faculty and staff who interact with students.

Our Response Team has been working thoughtfully and consultatively, informed by medical professionals and public health guidance, with the aim of providing the best possible educational experience for our students while limiting the spread of disease and ensuring the support systems that will be needed when new COVID-19 cases develop. Robust processes for screening, contact tracing, as well as care needed for ill students will be in place, and will be available to parents later in June. We have also learned that Reach software, which we have used for permissions, will have the capability to contact trace and provide health screening. This is great news as this app is something our community is already accustomed to using on a regular basis.

With these and other considerations in mind, we outline below the features of the current calendar that has been developed for the 2020–21 school year. Final implementation will depend on the public health situation and on any requirements that may be imposed by Massachusetts state and local officials. We may not know those things definitively until late summer, so we appreciate your flexibility in your personal planning to the greatest extent possible.

Return to Campus & 2020–21 School Year


For the 2020–21 school year, we plan to move our arts and academic program from two semesters to four quarters. Additionally, we will start the school year two weeks earlier than previously scheduled, with move-in scheduled for the week of August 17. Specific information about arrival and move-in can be found here. Each quarter will be 9 weeks in duration, with a week and a half long break in between quarters to allow for cleaning and sanitizing to happen throughout campus, as well as onboarding students in a staggered and safe way. Students who need to stay over any breaks will be able to do so for an additional charge.

We are committed to having each major on campus for at least 2, and hopefully 3, of the 4 quarters, in order to reduce the total population density on campus per state and local guidelines. This shift will allow students to engage in in-person programming and collaboration with their peers and teachers, as well as reconnecting as a community with their fellow Walnuts. We have taken many considerations into account when programming the majors on campus, including ratio of domestic versus international students (who may not be able to travel yet), college audition preparation, and–most importantly–the maximum total number of students we are able to house under current guidelines.

Members of the Response Team are working on the creation of a revised daily schedule. In addition to online learning being necessary for all students who are away from campus, we do not have enough on-campus classrooms to offer all classes in person while providing for sufficient physical distancing of at least 6 feet to meet required density limits as outlined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. More information about the revised daily schedule will be provided closer to the start of the school year.

We know that some of our students, due to family, travel and/or visa restrictions, may not be able to come to campus next year. Therefore, we will be offering an all-online option to enrolled students. Whether on-campus or online, students will have access to the robust academic and artistic experience Walnut Hill is known for delivering. Students may choose to enroll in either the Hybrid Program or in Walnut Hill Online (online/remote)  for the 2020-21 school year. We will be sending a google form to enrolled families for you to choose which option you elect for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Two Program Options: Hybrid & Online


Option 1: Walnut Hill Hybrid Program (in person and online)

In the hybrid program, students will return to campus for at least two (and possibly 3) of the four quarters of the year. In the quarters where a student is not on campus they will have the full Walnut Hill experience online. We know a return to campus is an important next step. The hybrid program prioritizes a safe, flexible learning environment for our students allowing them to participate in both smaller, in-person classes. We anticipate students taking online classes using technology so that students do not need to physically be in the classroom at the same time to be able to participate seamlessly in the hybrid environment. The hybrid program prioritizes both health and safety and the face-to-face experience. It will include both on-campus and online elements with students returning to campus for different quarters based on their majors.

In an effort to limit interactions and classroom density, courses will be offered as both in-person and online experiences.  In-person classes will take place in the studios, theaters, and classrooms with physical distancing guidelines in place and will be complemented with online classes that students will participate in from either in their dorm room (boarding students) or at home (day students). The hybrid program is designed to make use of the on-campus resources needed to experience art making and learning as a collaborative exercise while also ensuring student engagement, virtual collaboration and individual growth in an online experience.

In the quarters when students are not on campus, they will participate in Walnut Hill Online as outlined below. Our goal is to have all students on campus by the fourth quarter so that we can end the year together.

Walnut Hill Hybrid Program Schedule

Quarter 1 quarter 2 quarter 3 quarter 4
Aug. 24–
Oct. 21, 2020
Nov. 2–
Jan. 27, 2021
Feb. 8–
Apr. 2, 2021
Apr. 14–
Jun. 18, 2021
On Campus:
Dance
Theater
WFMA
On Campus:
Dance
Music
Visual Art
On Campus:
Music
Visual Art
Theater
WFMA

On Campus:
All Majors*

Online:
Visual Art
Music
Online:
Theater
WFMA
Online:
Dance
 

*(Pending approval by state, local and federal health authorities)

Option 2: Walnut Hill Online (online only)

Walnut Hill Online students will participate from home and take all of their arts and academics classes in a specifically designed online program. 

Our faculty are working to make the online experience as engaging and enriching as possible. The rapid switch to online learning this spring left little time for faculty to redesign their courses for an online format, and the priority was ensuring that students could finish out the academic year. In preparation for next year, faculty are required to participate in significant professional development training  in order to optimize their course offerings for online delivery. We are also looking at ways to better replicate other features of in-person teaching, such as small group interactions, academic support, and peer-to-peer learning. 

For Walnut Hill Online, we are committed to providing the same level of attention and care as we do in person. Hence, it is important to us to balance the amount of screentime we are expecting our students to engage in and have carefully balanced the curriculum to provide an engaging catalogue of vibrant classes, with extensive one-on-one time. Students will experience a more consistent schedule with a balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous class time.   

Walnut Hill Online Schedule

Quarter 1 quarter 2 quarter 3 quarter 4
Aug. 24–
Oct. 21, 2020
Nov. 2–
Jan. 27, 2021
Feb. 8–
Apr. 2, 2021
Apr. 14–
Jun. 18, 2021
Online:
All Majors
Online:
All Majors
Online:
All Majors
Online:
All Majors

 

2020–2021 Tuition


Walnut Hill has made the decision to not increase tuition over the previous stated tuition and fees schedule. We have spent considerable time calculating tuition given significant increased costs for the 2020–21 school, including reduced density requirements, additional cleaning, increased technology purchases, and health and safety needs. Tuition, not including fees, is updated as follows.  All other fees remain as previously laid out on the Tuition and Fees 2020–21 information sheet. 

Walnut Hill hybrid program tuition
Day: $49,990 (assumes 3 quarters day/1 online)
Boarding: $62,290 (assumes 3 quarters boarding/1quarter online)
Walnut Hill Online tuition
Online: $49,990 (assumes 4 quarters online)

The tuition fee is calculated at $12,497.50 per quarter for day and online and $16,595.00 per quarter for boarding.

Financial aid awards will be adjusted to reflect updated tuition. Families should expect their total costs to remain similar to those laid out in their prior award.  

Students who choose to stay during the breaks between terms (not the breaks inside the terms) and who elect to stay over the summer will be charged $750 per week, including all meals. 

Student Dormitories


All directives we are receiving see the dormitory as a house/family unit. For that reason, we will have students living mostly in singles or doubles where appropriate. While this decision reduces the total of available beds, it also limits the risk of disease transmission and allows us to follow prescribed protocols for isolating in single rooms when students present with illness symptoms. We are exploring various ways to assign housing and will provide further updates in the coming weeks. However, by rotating majors on campus, we can spread the use of dormitory spaces across students reducing the overall density of dorms and bathroom spaces.

Campus Life: Health & Safety


It is also important to be upfront about what we expect in terms of campus life while COVID-19 continues to be a factor in our lives. At the start of the year, it is highly likely that students and adults will, at a minimum, need to wear face coverings regularly while on campus. Physical distancing protocols will be in place for our campus buildings and common spaces, including classrooms, theaters, and studios. We expect limitations on gatherings. Please know that in order to limit exposure to the full community, we will likely be restricting students’ ability to leave campus during their on-campus quarters and asking day students and non-residential faculty and staff to limit their interactions with others off-campus. While we are continuing to update our plans based on recommendations and mandates we receive from state and local government you can see our planning here, which we will continue to update throughout the coming months. 

Contract Withdrawal Date


We know this is not how anyone envisioned the year at Walnut Hill, but we are committed to make the coming year as rich and rewarding an experience as possible within the constraints of this unusual time we are living through. If, upon reflection, you choose not to continue with enrollment for this fall, please reach out to Susanne Carpenter, Assistant Head of School at scarpenter@walnuthillarts.org by July 15, 2020 in order to begin the withdrawal process. As communicated earlier, Walnut Hill moved the contract withdrawal date to July 15, 2020. This does not move or impact any tuition payment deadlines for the 2020–21 school year. Should you choose to withdraw by July 15, you will be refunded your paid tuition less your non-refundable deposit. Should you choose not to cancel enrollment by July 15, 2020, you are responsible for paying the full year’s tuition and fees (less any financial aid award).

Town Hall Community Zoom


Walnut Hill held a Community Town Hall on Tuesday, June 30 hosted by Director of Academic Studies Ben Gregg, Director of Artistic Studies Nicola Conraths, Dean of Students Melissa Cassel, and Head of School Antonio Viva. Watch a recording of the Town Hall below and download the slide presentation.

Contacts

If you have questions that aren't addressed by this website, we welcome you to reach out.

Health & Safety
Beth Minucci, School Nurse
bminucci@walnuthillarts.org

Residential Life
Melissa Cassel,
Dean of Students 
mcassel@walnuthillarts.org

Admission
Karen Loder,
Director of Admission & Financial Aid
kloder@walnuthillarts.org

Academics
Ben Gregg,
Director of Academic Studies
bgregg@walnuthillarts.org

Arts
Niki Conraths,
Director of Artistic Studies
nconraths@walnuthillarts.org

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