Walnut Hill held a Community Town Hall on Tuesday, June 30 to answer questions bout our 2020–21 Reopening Announcement, 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 and download the slide presentation.
Health & Safety
Our highest priority is to ensure the safety of all of our faculty, staff, and students. Walnut Hill is following guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and other trusted sources in keeping our campus clean and establishing a working and learning environment that will minimize the spread of germs to the greatest extent possible. We are putting the following protocols in place for the return to campus this fall:
To re-open campus for students and employees, it is necessary to ensure the highest health standards on campus. Walnut Hill School for the Arts has an on-campus health center/infirmary directed by an experienced registered nurse with additional staffing by three registered nurses and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
Health Center hours are:
- 7:00AM to 7:00PM, Monday through Friday
- 10:00AM to 2:00PM Saturday and Sunday
- Overnight coverage as needed
- COVID-19 screening of all students returning to campus in addition to standard health history, vaccination requirements and screenings over “move-in week.”
- Daily health screenings for all students, staff and faculty through an online form.
- COVID-19 training for all students and employees, emphasizing required behaviors and commitments to personal and community health.
- Implementing appropriate social distancing for all indoor and outdoor spaces and facilities.
- Establishing face mask protocols for all students and employees.
- Isolating students who are showing symptoms in single rooms or the infirmary as directed by public health guidelines.
- Maintaining a suitable supply of personal protection equipment for all health center employees.
- Reorganized Health Center facilities in adherence to sanitization and social distancing requirements, including separate waiting areas.
- Separate medication call hours.
- On-line system for sick visit appointments and “house calls” as needed.
- Relocated all non-medical providers to another location.
- Increase educational signage throughout campus regarding healthy habits, etc.
In accordance with State and local guidelines and recommendations, we are housing students in singles and doubles for the 2020–2021 academic year.
- All dormitories will be considered a family unit, after a two-week period during which all residents will wear masks except when alone in a dormitory room, to allow more reasonable access to common spaces and lessen the need for the use of face coverings.
- We are continuing to explore housing assignment options. We are planning to give everyone a single room for the first two quarters of the year. This means that students would share a room with someone from a different major who would not be on campus when they are during quarter one or two but would be there for quarter three and/or four. We will update as we know more and will send out housing request forms.
- Arrival days will be assigned so that we can complete health screenings. Only one parent or adult may accompany each student to campus.
- If students leave during the quarterly breaks, or there is a break between the quarters they are on campus, they will need to be “re-screened” by our health staff prior to arrival.
- Boarding students will be restricted to campus upon their arrival to campus and until further notice, leaving only for school breaks.
- Visitation will not be allowed at the start of any quarter/arrival period, even by family members. Visitation policies will be opened/updated as possible based on current health recommendations.
- Day Students will be asked to observe social distancing and face mask use when away from campus, and to limit their exposure to activities other than school/home.
- Day Student dormitory affiliations will not be active at the start of the year and day students will not be able to spend the night on campus.
- All meals will be “grab and go” from the dining hall, with pick up during assigned times, and meals eaten outside and socially distanced, or in student rooms or other areas where social distancing is possible.
To maintain the safest environment possible, we have added additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols throughout campus as directed by state and local agencies. These include but are not limited to:
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces within the school and on school vehicles at least daily (for example: door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains) and shared objects (for example, copy machines, art supplies, music stands, iPad kiosk and pianos) between uses.
- Cleaning and disinfecting school vehicles and installing plexiglass dividers between driver and passenger where appropriate.
- Ensuring safe and correct application of all cleaners and disinfectants.
- Ensuring ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods. Not opening windows and doors if they pose a safety or health risk (e.g., allowing pollens in or exacerbating asthma symptoms) risk to any person(s) using the facility.
- Replacing water bubblers with contactless filling stations.
- Providing cleaning supplies in areas where it is appropriate for students/adults to provide additional cleaning (classroom desks, dormitory common areas).
We are committed to providing all community members with the information they need to follow our protocols and do their part to maintain a healthy and safe community.
- All staff will receive training on newly instituted protocols prior to returning to work.
- All supervisors will be trained on the daily health screening for employees and how to respond to various scenarios.
- All students will be trained on the daily health screening application as well as signs/symptoms to be aware of.
- All community members will be trained on hand washing, hand sanitizing, face covering use/care and other health safety protocols.
- Signage throughout campus will remind all residents of our expectations and protocols.