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Early Onboarding Update

August 27, 2020

To the Northwood Community: 

Northwood’s onboarding process for the 2020-21 school year is underway, and I’d like to share with you the good news of where we are today and our plan going forward. The first step in our onboarding process was that all students must receive a recent negative COVID-19 test that is no more than five days old. Steps two through four are weekly rounds of assurance testing. As of today, we have completed the pre-arrival testing and the first of three rounds of assurance testing. Below you will find details on the progress of our onboarding plan. 

Step 1: At-Home Pre-Arrival Testing 

Compliance with the requirement for a recent negative at-home pre-arrival test was outstanding: 97% of day students and 95% of boarding students arrived on campus with negative tests administered no more than five days before their arrival. Students who came without a pre-arrival test or with a test that was older than five days were tested in the School’s outdoor clinic upon arrival day; day students were sent home to quarantine and boarding students were sent to an off-campus location to quarantine until receiving a negative result, which they received today allowing them to join their cohort in a two-week quarantine on campus. Three late-arriving students remain in off-campus quarantine.  

“I commend our students, their families, the School’s health center, and our COVID recovery working group in completing this formidable undertaking in a timely manner,” said Head of School Michael J. Maher said. “We wanted to make certain our students’ returned to campus safely and that bringing them back did not represent a health threat to the Lake Placid community and this has been achieved.” 

Steps 2-4: Assurance Testing and Quarantine 

The next step is assurance testing: three rounds of weekly COVID-19 tests of all employees and students combined with quarantine. Assurance testing is frequent testing of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals to quickly identify and isolate a single case of COVID-19 before there is spread. Students will also quarantine for 14 days after the initial test to comply with New York State and CDC quarantine requirements for travelers and to ensure that any positive cases found during onboarding do not result in community spread. Our schedule of assurance testing is:  

  1. Arrival: August 21 for day students and August 24 for boarding students  
  2. Day 7: August 28 for day students and August 31 for boarding students  
  3. Day 14: Sept 4 for day students and September 7 for boarding students  

Northwood School has engaged in a partnership with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and CIC Health to process our assurance testing. More information about this laboratory and testing program are available here.   

Summary of Step 2: First Round of Assurance Testing 

Over the two testing clinics in our first week of assurance testing, 70 employees and 164 students, including 42 day students, were tested, and all were negative for COVID-19. This is encouraging news and a strong endorsement of our reopening plan.  

These reassuring results mean we can revaluate a few of our quarantine restrictions. Last evening, we allowed students to come to the dining room to collect their meals in to-go containers to bring back to their dorm rooms or eat outside on the grass – all socially distant, of course. Tomorrow, we begin to welcome to campus day students who wish to join their cohort in an hour of socially distant outdoor exercise. Day student coordinator Andy Donatello shared the details with day student families last night. 

While we celebrate these initial good results, it is critically important that we remain vigilant against this virus. Our onboarding plan includes three tests over 14 days because the incubation period of the virus can be that long. Letting our guard down now would be an egregious mistake. 

Step three of our onboarding process is additional testing on Friday for day students and employees and on Monday for boarding students. Details have been shared in separate messages. 

Our next planned communication about school reopening and onboarding students will be a week from now when we have the results from the next round of testing.


John Spear 

Assistant Head for School Life