While bringing everyone back to campus after summer break was, by and large, a success, it was also a learning experience. When we all return to campus again after Winter Break, we will be changing some elements of our repopulation process to A) streamline and shorten the experience to maximize Winter Break for everyone, B) take advantage of pre-arrival quarantine days to prevent bringing COVID-19 to campus, and C) guarantee the return to the relaxed policies we have in place now as quickly as possible. To meet these objectives, we will adhere to the following timeline for repopulating Woodberry after Winter Break:
Friday, January 1 - All students begin pre-arrival self-quarantine at home.
Just as we did in the summer before move-in, we will ask that all students adhere to careful self-quarantine guidelines to limit the possibility of bringing COVID-19 to campus upon arrival. Here are guidelines for pre-arrival self-quarantining at home. Asking each student to self-quarantine before coming to campus serves two main purposes. First, if the student became infected prior to beginning quarantine, it provides a window of time for symptoms to develop and alert the student that he might be COVID-19-positive before making the decision to come to campus. Secondly, it limits the opportunity for a healthy boy to become infected just before arriving on campus, possibly prior to the development of symptoms.
Sunday, January 3 - Arrival day for boys finishing self-quarantine on campus.
All students who require mass transportation (airplane, bus, train, etc.) should complete their travel by this day whether they plan to quarantine on campus or with a classmate or relative within driving distance of WFS. That way, they can maximize the period of controlled, unbroken quarantine for the reasons stated above. Although research is beginning to suggest that the use of mass transportation poses a lower risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus now than earlier in the pandemic, particularly with the enforcement of face coverings and social distancing, it still represents a situation with many unknowns, such as the infection status and health practices of other passengers. Finishing travel as close to the 3rd as possible will allow us a sufficient amount of time to detect and isolate any positive cases before school operations return to normal and the virus would be allowed to spread. If you need to arrive outside of this window, you must get approval from the dean of students. Additionally, we have limited capacity to care for these boys from the 3rd to the 10th and as such please make every reasonable effort to quarantine at a friends house or somewhere else local
Boys using mass transportation will be asked to wear a properly fitted KN95 mask, maintain distance from others, practice good hand hygiene, and avoid places such as restaurants where others are not wearing masks. All boys will be tested for COVID-19 via a nasal swab upon their arrival on campus, plus two more times over the proceeding two weeks. Combined, these measures should prevent COVID-19 cases on campus as a result of mass transportation, as well as stem transmission on campus should a positive case arrive.
Sunday, January 10 - Arrival day at Woodberry Forest for all forms.
Upon completion of the at-home quarantine period, boys of all forms will move back onto campus on Sunday, January 10. Staggered arrival times based on distance from campus will be utilized to streamline this process, similar to the arrival days at the beginning of the school year. All boys will be tested for COVID-19 by nasal swab upon arrival before being allowed to move into their dorm rooms. On the way to campus, we ask that everyone follow good health practices including masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, and avoiding places where others are not wearing masks, such as restaurants. Please do not come to campus if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has recently tested positive for the virus. In addition, it will be of critical importance to wear a mask and maintain social distance from everyone on campus (except roommate(s)) from the moment you arrive until the strict in-room quarantine period has ended. After returning to campus and receiving a COVID-19 test, all students will go straight to their dorm rooms to begin strict in-room quarantining. All other campus buildings will be closed. Parents should not enter dorm buildings.
Sunday, January 10 post-arrival - Friday, January 15 - Strict in-room quarantine period.
In order to return to normal operations as quickly as possible, we must ensure that any positive COVID-19 cases brought to campus are not allowed to spread through the student population. One of the downsides of the cohort system in use in the Fall was that it would allow an infected student to potentially expose others in his cohort over the course of days or even weeks. Thus, attempting to trace, quarantine, and test those contacts with great confidence proved difficult, and the possibility of further rounds of spread always existed. Because of this, the time spent in cohorts was prolonged and necessary activities such as athletic team practices and meals in the dining hall were delayed. As an alternative to the cohort system, this Winter we will be utilizing a strict in-room quarantine period that will ensure a healthy student population and allow a return to our current operating status much more quickly.
During in-room quarantine, students will stay in their dorm rooms except for designated times. Bathroom occupancy will be limited to roommates only at a single time. All classes will be held online and all meals will be delivered to the dorms by faculty and staff. Snacks and drinks will be on-hand in the dorm common rooms and refrigerators. Additional programming for exercise and entertainment is being developed, and the academic schedule may be modified to allow for more sleep in the mornings. Any positive cases detected from the first round of testing will be isolated on campus or, preferably, sent home to isolate, and roommate(s) will be quarantined. On Thursday, January 14, all students will take a second COVID-19 test with results available the next day.
Friday, January 15 - Last day of strict in-room quarantine
Operations on Friday, January 15 will remain unchanged until all results from the second round of COVID testing are known. We expect test results to be returned by the afternoon or early evening, and any positive cases will be isolated and their roommates moved to quarantine. Once this is done, campus policies and operations will return to their current state, with cohort restrictions in place only in the dining hall and masking expected in all indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing cannot be maintained.
Four and a half days of strict in-room quarantine will be a huge shared sacrifice to endure, individually and as a community. However, this is the only way to guarantee a speedy return to the new normal. The cohort-oriented, gradual loosening we did this fall opens the door for viral spread during that first week. Positive cases and subsequent quarantining may also lead to a longer period of cohort-only socializing. Strict in-room quarantining ensures that spread does not happen, and allows us to return to the new normal with very high confidence that we have a healthy community.