Dear Northwood Community:
I am writing to share an update about Northwood School’s reopening for the fall and the measures we will take to protect the community from the COVID-19 virus.
Because a vast majority of our students and employees will be fully vaccinated, we plan to offer a full schedule of athletics and co-curricular activities. We won’t start the year in quarantine or on-campus “lockdown,” and classes will be in-person from day one. We will offer robust residential programming with a full complement of weekend activities.
Despite our high vaccination rates, we face serious threats from the virus. With the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, communities across the country are experiencing increases in positive COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated and vaccinated people. This increase is also occurring in Essex County, where positive cases have risen to levels not seen since the winter. As a result, the CDC has recommended that masks be worn when indoors at school, regardless of the student’s vaccination status. To ensure the safety of our campus and the surrounding community, Northwood School will comply with the CDC recommendation. When indoors, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors – regardless of vaccination status – must remain masked, unless in a private, non-shared space (e.g., office or dorm room) or when eating or bathing. We will revisit our mask requirements about a month into the school year. We hope that our high vaccination rate and layered approach to begin the year virus-free will enable us to lift mask requirements later in the school year.
We have also decided to require all students, regardless of their vaccination status, to arrive at school with a recent negative test. We are requiring a test from everyone because we are building a residential community of students from throughout the United States and around the world during a time of heightened transmission rates, including many cases among vaccinated people. Requiring the vaccine is our most important layer of protection and requiring a negative test from everyone improves our chances of starting the year virus-free. Details about our testing requirements are outlined in our reopening plan.
While it is discouraging that we are starting another school year wearing face masks and studying COVID protocols, there is much to be optimistic about, including fully in-person classes, a full program of athletic and co-curricular offerings, and a robust offering of residential and weekend activities.
I can’t wait to start the 2021-22 school year. Students, please enjoy the remaining days of your summer break and come to school rested, healthy, and ready to get to work on achieving your goals.
Assistant Head for School Life