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Important Update: Modifying Student Return Dates

Dear Northwood Families:

One of our core principles throughout our planning for the 2020-21 school year is to be flexible enough to change when the situation calls for it. Today, we are announcing an important adjustment to our plan. An updated Academic Calendar is available here

Since our last update on Tuesday, July 21, we have heard from many of you with concerns about the 14-day quarantine requirements imposed on visitors from (as of today) thirty-one states by the New York State Department of Health and on all travelers from outside the United States by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Traveling far from home to bring your child to boarding school is difficult and stressful every year, but this year the added complexity of quarantining has led us to the conclusion that we need to adjust our plan to simplify the onboarding process while giving us the best chance to bring our community together virus-free. 

Another development is how long we now expect to wait for results from our initial COVID-19 screening tests. Because of increasing demands for tests, including the testing by schools and universities, we are being advised by Adirondack Health to plan to wait seven days (or even longer) to receive results. 

The substance of our adjustment is that we will bring all boarding students back to campus on the same day and everyone will quarantine for 14 days in the dorm in their cohorts. Modifying our plan in this way is the right thing to do because it strengthens and simplifies our effort to bring everyone back safely while controlling the community spread of the virus.  

During the quarantine period, we will provide health and wellness programming and conduct orientation activities that will introduce students to each other and the rules and patterns of the dorm and school life, as well as acquaint them with their teachers and classes in addition to our new academic technology. All of that programming will be done remotely. We expect boarding students will be able to leave their rooms and dorm halls several times each day for meals, outdoor exercise with their cohort, and fresh air -- with mask and distancing requirements of course.

Boarding Students

All boarding students will return to campus on Monday, August 24 when they will receive a health screening, register, move into their dorm room, begin a two-week quarantine, and receive a COVID-19 test within two days of arrival. 

We are asking all boarding students, even those coming from within New York state or states without quarantine requirements, to arrive on August 24 and quarantine for two weeks because a uniform 14-day quarantine is the safest way to start the year.

Day Students

Day students will return to school on Friday, August 21 when they will receive a health screening and COVID-19 test, register, and then return home to begin a two-week quarantine.

For day students (and all faculty and staff), after testing on August 21, the quarantine will include: 

  • Not traveling outside of the North Country region
  • Wearing a mask or face-covering at all times when in public
  • Avoiding gatherings of ten or more people
  • Practicing good personal hygiene, including regular handwashing
  • Monitoring symptoms daily using guidelines provided by the school

Special Considerations for International Students

We know our international students have limited options for dates to return to school because of the numerous travel restrictions imposed by the United States and many other countries. International students who need to arrive before August 24 may return to campus earlier and get tested and begin their quarantine in their dorm room, but they will need to continue to quarantine until the rest of the school completes its quarantine on September 7. There will be no additional cost for this service and no change to their academic program. International students who need to arrive after August 24 must quarantine off-campus for 14 days and begin their classes remotely. Mr. David McCauley, Northwood’s Director of International Students, will assist students arriving late with their 14-day quarantine, which will be done off-site and may require additional costs. We must emphasize to all students arriving before or after August 24 how important it is for the school to know precisely when you will arrive at campus. Please inform Mr. McCauley of your travel itinerary as soon as possible.

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We are still asking all of our students to practice a “self-quarantine” for 14 days before they leave home for Lake Placid. During this time, students must be vigilant to avoid exposure to the virus. We ask that they wash their hands often and practice good hygiene and that they get tested for COVID-19 with enough time to receive a negative result shortly before traveling to school. The journey to Lake Placid, whether it lasts a full day or an hour, presents a risk of contracting the virus, so everyone is asked to travel safely: wear a face covering, practice good hygiene and social distancing, and avoid places where people might congregate in large groups. 

The change we are announcing today will prevent us from offering athletic, co-curricular, and LEAP programming before classes begin, as we originally planned, but we think it is the wisest course of action. Successfully onboarding students will allow them to participate in the activities they enjoy most.

These changes also require us to cancel the August 29 administration of the SAT at Northwood because that is in the middle of our school-wide quarantine and the test would include dozens of test-takers from outside our school. Our College Counseling Office is looking into the possibility of hosting an SAT for Northwood students during a school day in September.

We are committed to being flexible and making necessary changes that meet the health and safety needs of the Northwood community. We believe that this agility is an essential part of our plan. We appreciate your patience and commitment to the Northwood School education.


John Spear

Assistant Head for School Life

PS: you can find the updated Academic Calendar here.