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COVID Update April 3: Returning to Campus and Vaccinations

To the Northwood Community:

Greetings from Lake Placid, where a recent winter weather advisory reminds us that spring comes later in the Adirondacks. I hope everyone is having a well-deserved restful vacation. I am writing today with information about how we will return to school upon the conclusion of spring break.

As you probably know, in the last several weeks there have been many changes to public health protocols regarding the pandemic. We have studied the guidance and consulted with our medical directors and have adjusted our onboarding program accordingly.

 Pre-Arrival Testing

The most important element of our onboarding program during the pandemic has been our requirement that all community members have a recent negative test before returning to school. All students must receive a negative test administered no earlier than 3 days before arriving to campus. For students returning on Monday, April 12, their test must be administered on or after Friday, April 9. We recommend a PCR test but will accept a rapid (antigen) test. If you anticipate difficulty receiving a timely test, we recommend ordering a PCR test from Vault Health right away and administering and returning it as early as possible three days before you arrive at school. 

All-day students and school employees must also receive a negative test before the resumption of school. Classes start on April 13, so day students need a test no earlier than Saturday, April 10. Faculty have meetings on Monday, April 12 so their test needs to be administered no earlier than Friday, April 9.

Three athletic teams – including Girls’ Hockey, Junior Hockey, and Soccer – will return to school together with their coaches. Their coaches will coordinate pre-arrival testing so that all students returning with their teams receive a negative test that is no more than three days old.

In accordance with guidance from our local health department, the only people exempt from our testing requirement are those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within three months (on or after January 9, 2021) and are fully recovered. Those who were positive earlier, or have been fully vaccinated, will need to provide a negative pre-arrival test.


The New York State Department of Health has lifted its requirement that domestic out-of-state travelers quarantine upon arrival in the state, with the exception of people arriving from outside of the United States: international travelers must still quarantine. Accordingly, Northwood will not require an on-campus quarantine following spring break. The small number of students arriving from outside the United States will quarantine at our off-site quarantine location to meet the NYS quarantine requirements. Students residing in the US but vacationing outside of the US must comply with the NYS quarantine requirements before returning to school.

Surveillance Testing

We will adjust our surveillance testing program after break and test the entire community twice in the first week after break and at least once more to ensure that we are starting spring at Northwood virus-free. After that, we expect to resume testing 25% of the community each week.


The promise of the coronavirus vaccine is cause for great optimism. Nearly all our faculty are fully vaccinated. New York and many other states have opened, or will soon open, vaccine eligibility to children age 16 and older, meaning 85% of our students will soon be eligible for the vaccine. We encourage all our eligible students to get vaccinated as early as possible. We ask that students who have been vaccinated please complete this form.

Northwood is working with our county public health department and the local hospital to arrange for vaccinations of Northwood students using the Pfizer vaccine, the only one currently approved for people age 16 and up. We hope that parents of day students will arrange for their children’s vaccinations, which will allow Northwood’s health center staff to focus on helping boarding students eager to be vaccinated. Families of boarding students should expect more information, including vaccine consent forms, in the coming weeks.

It seems unlikely that students who receive their first dose at home will be able to receive their second dose at or near school. If boarding students need to go home for a second shot they may return to campus without having to quarantine.

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Thank you for reading this update and for your patience and understanding as we adjust our COVID protocols to respond to the rapidly changing public health guidelines.


John Spear Assistant Head for School Life