Planning for the 2020-2021 School Year

Introduction from Headmaster Drew Casertano

I am thinking of you and your families and hoping that you all are safe and well. Dating back to March, Millbrook’s board of trustees, faculty and staff, and I have been planning the ways we will return to campus for the 2020-2021 school year. I’m delighted to share information about our process, what we know today, and what we anticipate for Millbrook’s 90th school year. It is the result of a colossal team effort that is Millbrook through and through. Onward!
With Millbrook’s mission front and center, we adopted these three guiding principles:
 
Preserve Community: Health and safety is our top priority as we keep our community together. Community is the bedrock of our mission and our greatest strength.
 
Confront Reality: Developing a frank and accurate assessment of Millbrook’s circumstances. See the advantages and disadvantages of our location and resources. What must we face? What can we change?
 
Communicate and Collaborate: The most important component of maintaining and preserving community. In addressing the unknown we must always be available.

CALENDAR

List of 5 items.

  • Arrivals and Dismissals

    Please see that we have made significant changes to our fall calendar, which include:

    Staggered Arrival, Monday, September 7 – Friday, September 12
    • Monday, September 7: student leaders return for orientation training
    • Tuesday, September 8: returning international students arrive
    • Wednesday, September 9: all new IIIrd form students arrive
    • Thursday, September 10: all new IVth, Vth, and VIth form students arrive
    • Friday, September 11: all returning VIth form students arrive
    • Saturday, September 12: all returning IVth and Vth form students arrive
    • Sunday, September 13: all-school training
    • Monday, September 14: first day of classes
    Parents have been asked to complete a survey about preferred times of arrival given that there will be three two-hour blocks each day - that survey can be found here.

    Staggered Dismissal: Friday, November 20 – Saturday, November 21
    • Friday, November 20: IIIrd and VIth form dismissal
    • Saturday, November 21: IVth and Vth form dismissal

  • Weekends

    One of our many goals while we await an effective vaccine for COVID-19 will be to limit the traffic on campus to the best of our ability. Based on what our medical team advises us today, the reduction of travel on and off campus will help reduce risk of spreading COVID-19. With that in mind, we request that all boarding students arrive in September and plan to stay until Thanksgiving break.

    Parents, guardians, relatives and friends may visit campus. We request that you only visit when essential, and that you notify our Dean of Students Office before coming to campus. All visitors will be required to undergo a health screening prior to entering any campus facility.

    NO TRADITIONAL LONG WEEKEND OR PARENTS WEEKEND
    We are planning on a remote Parents’ Weekend program coupled with remote parent-teacher conferences. We will share the specifics of those plans in September.

    NO OPEN WEEKENDS
    Students may leave campus only when necessary. The Dean of Students Office will have a process and policies for leaving campus by the beginning of school.
  • Planned Remote Learning

    We will have three weeks of intentional remote learning, from Monday, November 30 – Friday, December 18.
     
    In these three weeks we will conduct a rich, robust, and intentional remote Millbrook program. Millbrook students will attend classes, assemblies, and community events from anywhere in the world via WiFi access. With the experience of having to shift gears and go remote on the fly, what we called “emergency remote learning,” we are now eager to work on our academic and student life remote program with the gift of time and intentionality. We are making this decision now to reduce the need to travel to and from campus to only 2-3 times in the calendar year. (If interscholastic athletics are up and running, we will consider the option of keeping our varsity athletes on campus during this time.)
     
  • Staggered January Return

    We are intentionally not remaking the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Our understanding of how to live in a global pandemic can shift week by week, if not day by day. With this in mind, for now, we are keeping our academic calendar after January 4th as originally planned. If any adjustments need to be made, we will communicate those changes no later than November 1st.
  • Download the Updated 2020-2021 Calendar

    Click here to download the revised calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. 

    We will notify parents immediately of any changes that will affect the fall semester, and we will notify parents by November 1st if there will be any changes to the spring semester schedule.
HEALTH & SAFETY

List of 6 items.

  • Meet Millbrook's Medical Experts

    Alumni & Parent Advisors
    Dr. Mark Smith ’68, Dr. Christine Frissaro P ’22, Dr. Scott Rodeo P ’22

    Millbrook's Miller Brown Health Center
    Medical Director Dr. Caroline Salas-Humara, Assistant Medical Director Kathleen Malara NP, Head of Nursing Jennifer Greiner RN, BSN
     
    Click here for a biography of each of our medical experts.
  • Basic Principles of Residential Living

    #1 Lowering Density & Social Distancing
     
    We have taken bold action to lower density on campus. A few examples include:
    • We have acquired a modular dormitory that will have the 20 largest doubles on campus and house 40 boys and two faculty families. This will be a temporary dormitory, and it is currently being installed on the north side of the dining hall and farm.
    • There will be no triples on campus and we will increase the supply of single rooms.
    • Day students will not initially have a bed, and their access to dorms will be restricted. This policy is temporary until a vaccination or appropriate medical mitigation is available.
    We will practice social distancing on campus. A few examples include:
    • In most places and spaces on Millbrook’s 800-acre campus, we will be able to practice high standards of social distancing, maintaining at least six feet between individuals, while verbalizing consent whenever one may need to cross the threshold of the six-foot bubble of personal space.
    • On each dorm floor, social distancing will be more relaxed, as we view rooms on the same floor as a “family unit.”
    • We have rearranged office and classroom spaces and have purchased new furniture to help create distance between students.
    • We have adjusted the daily schedule to stagger meals in the dining hall.
    • We will hold assemblies and forums in both remote and live formats in several of our large and accommodating spaces (Flagler Memorial Chapel, Chelsea Morrison Theater, Dining Hall, Barn, Mills Athletic Center, dorm common rooms, et cetera)
     
    #2 Face Coverings & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    Today’s best scientific research shows that wearing face coverings in public spaces will significantly decrease the possibility of transmitting COVID-19.

    As Dr. Mark Smith ‘68 has reminded us frequently, “I wear my mask to protect you; you wear your mask to protect me.”

    This message is at the very heart of Millbrook’s culture and should be understood by all. For now, we will require face coverings in our public spaces, including classes when conducted indoors, the dining hall until we are seated, and outdoors when social distancing is not permitted. We require that students bring their own double-stitched face coverings to school. Thanks to a generous donation from a current family, we will also have over 50,000 disposable face coverings available that will be distributed to convenient locations in every building on campus. We will also sell reusable face coverings in the school store.

    Personal Protective Equipment will be provided for employees who work in our dining hall and health center. We will install shields and barriers in bathrooms and other areas of need. If your child needs specific PPE to help ensure his/her/their safety, please let our health center know.

    #3 Hygiene & Sanitation
    Washing your hands five or more times per day decreases one’s risk from spreading the common cold, flu, and COVID-19 by 50%. We will educate our community on this standard and practice it during orientation, and we will provide opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to build this habit into daily routines.

    Millbrook has significantly increased resources in the custodial services budget to ensure excellence and the highest of standards with cleaning and sanitizing on campus. We continue to use disinfecting products that comply with all CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations.
  • Screening

    We are working on a system of routine screening to be in place when students, faculty, and staff return to campus. Of course, the best way to screen is through self-monitoring of temperature and awareness of potential symptoms.
     
    We will likely ask all people who are student-facing and will be on campus to complete a symptom and wellness check each day. As always, we will have our health center on 24-hour duty, whether in person or on call.
  • Testing and Tracing

    All faculty and staff will be tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, before the beginning of school and periodically thereafter. We will implement a system of routine testing for faculty, staff, and students that is in reasonable accordance with the developments of COVID-19 on campus, our local municipalities, Dutchess County, and New York State. Testing will be performed in our Miller Brown Health Center throughout the school year, with results from rapid point-of-care antigen tests available in under fifteen minutes and results from molecular PCR testing available in 2-4 days.

    We request that students take a molecular PCR test within 5-7 days of their return to school.  This means parents will have the results within 2-5 days of the start of school for their student. Students should bring documentation of the negative results with them to school. Any student who cannot make arrangements for testing prior to their arrival must notify our health center, and they will be tested immediately upon arrival to campus. Please visit Vault Health's website to learn more about their home test kit and turnaround time, and Hartford HealthCare for information on their drive-up COVID test.

    If your child has a positive PCR test prior to arrival at school, you will need to contact our health center to develop an appropriate plan to bring your child back to campus based on current data and CDC recommendations.

    All students will be retested 7-14 days after their arrival to campus. If and when a student tests positive, that student should remain away from campus and isolate in accordance with CDC guidelines.

    We have seven employees who are trained in contact tracing including Jennifer Greiner (Head of Nursing), Alan Tousignant (Director of the Trevor Zoo and Head of our Risk Management Committee), and Jeff Smith (Chief Operating Officer).
  • Isolation and Quarantine

    It is important to define the distinction of isolation and quarantine. According to the CDC:
     
    “Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick."
     
    “Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”
     
    Quarantine Before Arrival
    Before arriving for the start of school, Millbrook highly encourages students to quarantine – to limit contact with as few people as possible 14 days prior to arrival. Those who live within a drive to school may obviously do so at home. Those who fly should quarantine at home and do their very best to limit contact with people while traveling. The CDC recommends that those traveling from outside the United States should quarantine in the United States for 14 days prior to coming to campus.

    In addition to Millbrook’s request that students quarantine before arrival, New York State authorities have joined New Jersey and Connecticut in imposing further quarantine requirements. New York is currently requiring people to self-quarantine after arrival if they are coming from a state that has:
    1. A new daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents; or
    2. A 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average
    As of July 15th, the list features 22 states, including highly-populated states such as Florida, California, and Texas. The list of states will be continually updated as the situation develops across the country, so please check it often here.

    Millbrook understands that quarantine requirements can present a challenge to families who reside far away from Millbrook’s campus. Ideally, a student will quarantine locally with a family member or a trusted family contact before coming to campus. Please be in touch with the school if we can be of assistance.

    Isolation or Quarantine After the Start of School
    In the case that a student contracts COVID-19 on campus, the student will isolate away from campus while learning remotely. We request that every family prepare and identify a plan for their child should they need to be isolated from school. Our health center has already published a form via the parent Magnus Health portal that will allow you to share those plans with us.

    Those who have come in close contact with any infected student or adult will be quarantined according to the CDC's time-based and/or testing guidelines.
  • Mental Health

    The National Association of School Psychologists recently published,
    Local education agencies and individual schools planning for students and staff to return following COVID-19 closures must prioritize efforts to address social and emotional learning and mental and behavioral health needs. Equally important is ensuring staff feel their physical and mental health needs are supported. Districts should ensure all policies or recommendations are culturally sensitive and ensure equity and access for all youth.”
     
    With the recommendation of the NASP in mind, Millbrook is proud to announce three steps toward supporting the mental health of our faculty, students, and staff.
    1. While part of our vision prior to COVID-19, Millbrook will now have two full-time counselors on staff. Sarah Stanton ’89, LCSW will be joined by a longtime faculty member, Billy Thom, who recently finished his master's degree in social work and is working towards his clinical license.
    2. Through the generosity of a few donors, Millbrook recently raised $3.4 million dollars to build an addition to the north side of the barn, where we will add a beautiful new mental health center.
    3. We will continue to provide professional support and development for our faculty and staff from a variety of professional development organizations, including nationally recognized school psychologist Dr. Michael Thompson, Millbrook Class of '65.
ACADEMICS

List of 3 items.

  • Daily Academic Schedule

    For nearly two years Millbrook has been gathering information on brain research and adolescent development in the context of reevaluating our daily schedule. An enormous amount of research, study, and planning resulted in the recommendation of a new academic schedule that will increase our ability to deliver our mission and better serve our student body.

    Despite the challenges, changes, and uncertainty of this past spring, we have remained steadfast in our analysis that this schedule will benefit the cognitive and non-cognitive development of our students. We are eager to roll out the new schedule in September.

    Click here to download a sample week (from a 7-week rotation) of our new academic schedule for 2020-2021.
  • Spaces and Class Sizes

    In accordance with NYS and CDC recommendations, we are rearranging classrooms and using spaces creatively (for example, rotating students from the classroom to other spaces on campus, or having classes split into two adjacent rooms) to reduce density and make social distancing easier. We have reorganized larger office spaces into classrooms to make spreading out easier. In some classrooms, we have purchased new furniture to assist with social distancing.

    When the weather and class plans permit, we will utilize our 800+ acre campus to teach outdoors. When indoors, we will ventilate classrooms and hallways with windows, fans, and air filtration systems that already exist in our buildings.

  • Traditional and Hybrid Remote Option

    Remote learning is antithetical to the very nature of boarding school. Implicit in the definition of boarding is the idea of being physically present. However, if physical presence is not permissible or a safe choice for an individual student, then we will be able to provide a hybrid model of mostly asynchronous work combined with some synchronous instruction and regular teacher check-ins that will be a quality, seamless, experience for Millbrook students.

    To the best of our ability, we want to keep remote learning to a minimum. If families want to request for a student to learn remotely for some part of the fall semester other than December, we will work together to evaluate that request.

    Students who are in isolation or quarantine and cannot attend classes in person will be supported academically, as always. If circumstances require that Millbrook must close its physical campus for any length of time, the entire school will move to a remote program.

RESIDENTIAL LIFE

List of 5 items.

  • Dormitories

    The purchase of a modular dormitory increases our housing capacity by 40 beds. This combined with the decision to give day students a dorm affiliation but not a bed reduces our dormitory density by nearly 30%.
  • Community Gatherings

    Community gatherings are at the heart of what makes Millbrook, Millbrook. Ask any student or alum, and they will fondly recall assemblies, temperature checks, formal dinners, and forums. We are determined to continue the tradition of these community gatherings in a safe and responsible way.

    We will likely integrate cameras and screens into our dorm lounges and larger gathering spaces so we can coordinate community events in the buildings that were intended to host them. While lowering density, practicing social distancing, and enabling attendance both in and out of the room, we are confident in our ability to keep our traditions alive in a meaningfully Millbrook manner!

  • Weekends

    We are asking that all boarding students treat fall weekends as “closed,” and when there are essential reasons to leave that they follow the process and protocol directed by our Dean of Students Office.

    Since students will be on campus for a more sustained period of time, we are hard at work planning for meaningful and dynamic weekends. The Dean of Students Office, Director of Weekend Activities Leighann Kowalsky, and Directors of Friday and Saturday Student Programs Kathy Havard and Davida LaCosse are preparing for deeply enriching Millbrook weekends. While Friday evenings and Saturday mornings enable us to have more time for all-school and individual form meetings and events, Saturday afternoons and Sundays will be filled with entertainment, socialization, and rest and rejuvenation opportunities.
  • Day Students

    We are proud that our day students have always had a bed at Millbrook. Unfortunately, offering a bed to day students this year, at least initially, runs counter to the CDC and WHO guidelines for running a residential program in the midst of this global pandemic.

    Like boarding students, we request that day students follow the same PCR testing requirements prior to their first day of school. Day students will be tested frequently in the fall and will complete a simple self-screening check-in each morning when they arrive. We also request that day students, to the best of their ability and in the spirit of Non Sibi Sed Cunctis, limit travel within the greater community. The more our day students can travel only between home and school, the safer we all will be.

    If you are a day student and you would like to become a boarder for the fall (which means full compliance with boarding status), please contact Meg Grover in our Admissions Office.
  • International Students

    We, like you, are holding out hope that international student travel will be permitted soon. If no progress is made and borders remain closed, we will offer a remote option for our international students to continue their Millbrook experience from home. If travel is permitted, we request that international students come to the United States 14 days prior to school opening to self-quarantine with a family, friend, or guardian. If this is not possible, please let us know, and we will assist you with an alternative plan.

    We also request that you identify a family friend, guardian, or caretaker within a day’s drive (350 miles). In the extreme case that we may be forced to shut down campus, we want to make sure all Millbrook students have a safe place to go until arrangements to return home can be made. Our international student advisors will be in touch to gather information and help with any questions you may have.

    Please see the calendar for information that will help your planning for flights and travel.
ARTS, ATHLETICS & THE TREVOR ZOO

List of 3 items.

  • Arts

    We do not envision individual artistic pursuits (i.e. painting and drawing, photography, ceramics, music and composition, playwriting), in class or out of class, looking much different next fall.

    Theatre, dance, and instrumental and voice ensembles will, however, be different. We will have thoughtful approaches to practice, presentation, and performance that will keep the highest standard of COVID-19 safety measures in mind.
  • Athletics

    Given the athletic guidelines recently published by New York State, it seems unlikely that interscholastic competitions will happen in their traditional form this fall. We are currently working with NEPSAC (New England Prep School Athletic Conference) athletic directors to determine scheduling scenarios for the fall and to reach an agreement on what fall sports may look like on our campuses.

    College-bound athletes: If our fall athletic season is delayed or severely altered, we intend to use some of this time to create skills and highlight videos to make the recruitment process easier.
  • Trevor Zoo

    The Trevor Zoo remains an integral part of Millbrook’s DNA, and it has reopened as of July 13th.

    Along with being our largest on campus community service program, the Trevor Zoo typically hosts approximately 40,000 visitors a year. Many have asked about the plans for reopening the zoo, which will look much different in terms of visitor traffic.
    COVID-19 has drastically reduced the number of zoo visitors.
    1. One-quarter of zoo visitors are school children that come between late April and mid-June. None came this year and it is likely will not come in the spring of 2021.
    2. The bulk of our family visitors come during the months of June, July, and August, with much more limited numbers as we get into the fall and winter.
    3. We are currently on a reservation-only system. greatly limiting the number of zoo visitors at any given time.
    The Trevor Zoo is following all required state guidelines in terms of cleaning, providing sanitation stations, etc. Zoo visitors will not be permitted to cross School Road onto the main campus, nor will they visit while students are doing their animal care work.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or to any of our administrators with questions - see the complete list of contacts below.

Drew Casertano
Headmaster
dcasertano@millbrook.org
845-677-6684

The Compass Committee & Planning

Millbrook has been preparing to open school with its full residential component since the very first day we were not permitted to have students on campus. While plotting our direction, our aptly named Compass Committee deputized six subcommittees, each with a representation of faculty, staff, trustees, and parents to gather the best current data to help us open safely and in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

Meet our Compass Committee & Sub-Committee Members

List of 6 items.

  • Compass Committee

    Headmaster Drew Casertano, Assistant Headmaster and Headmaster-Elect Jonathan Downs '98, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bill Menard ’78, P '09, '12, '12
  • Medical Advisory

    Dr. Mark Smith ’68, Dr. Christina Frisaro P’22, Dr. Scott Rodeo P'22, Medical Director Dr. Caroline Salas-Humara, Assistant Medical Director Kathleen Malara NP, Head of Nursing Jennifer Greiner BN, RSN
     
  • Academic Life

    Assistant Head for Academic Life Jarratt Clarke, Trustee Caroline Wamsler, PhD ’87
  • Residential & Student Life

    Assistant Head for Student Life Dan Skoglund, Trustee Charlotte Tracy ’87
  • Finance

    Chief Operating Officer Jeff Smith, Trustee Rick Stuckey P ‘00, ‘03, ‘09
  • Communication

    Director of Communication Michelle Blayney, Director of Admission Meg Grover, Trustee Gordon Pennoyer ’99

By the Numbers

List of 2 items.

Continuing Communication

ENROLLMENT CONTRACT REMINDER & UPDATES

In recognition of the uncertainty we have all faced, we extended our traditional enrollment deadline by one month so we could develop plans to safely welcome our students back to campus. We hope that the plans outlined here provide enough information for any family who may have needed it. As a reminder, our enrollment contracts become binding on August 1st.
 
We want to publicly acknowledge and appreciate the anonymous donor who donated nearly $600,000 to cover the 3% increase tuition of all students from last year to this year. We are so grateful for this kind, thoughtful, and generous gift.
 
We have been asked if there will be a reduced tuition should there be a need to move the entire school to a remote program for a significant period of time. The answer is, "Yes." While we have not calculated what the reduction will be, we can promise that it will be fair, appropriate, and commensurate with the quality of education and services we can provide.
 
Finally, as there remains a level of uncertainty and the challenges of the pandemic remain in front of us, we recommend that all families purchase tuition insurance for the 2020-2021 school year. Please contact Jeff Smith in the Business Office with any questions about tuition insurance.

Onward!

We will continue to update our plans as we receive information from medical experts and government authorities. We heed the advice of Scott Rodeo, current Millbrook parent and Head Physician of the New York Giants:

“Take a simple scientific approach: start with a reasonable plan based upon the best available current data, assess how things go day by day and week by week, and don’t be afraid to change course as needed.”