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Deerfield Moves Out During COVID
Sabrina Ticer-Wurr '21 Managing Editor
May 11, 2020
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With the order of MA governor Charlie Baker prohibiting school until June 28 and a strict order requiring a two-week quarantine for those who enter the state, Deerfield administration decided to alter the moving-out process. For the first time in Deerfield history, a third-party, Boomerang Storage, will assume a majority of the responsibility for the execution of this process without any physical help from Deerfield students themselves. 

Natasha Leong ’21

Assistant Dean of Student Life Kevin Kelly is coordinating the process of storing and packing students’ belongings, but Boomerang Storage will do the physical packing and sorting of rooms. Boomerang is a partner of Deerfield that is typically an option for students to store their belongings over the summer. 

In an email sent to returning students on April 28, Assistant Head of Student Life Amie Creagh explained the logistics of this year’s move-out and prompted students to complete a form and choose from two options. The first option was for Deerfield to ship students any wearables and loose items, while storing the rest. The second option was for Deerfield to store 100% of students’ belongings using space in the Athletic Center for storage. Both options are paid in full by the Academy. Upon request, additional essential items such as passports and IDs are eligible for shipment.

Seniors will have all of their belongings, with the exception of large items, shipped back to them. Younger students have various reasons for shipping things home, but for some, there arises a necessity. “I chose to ship some of my belongings home because most of my clothes and other essential items like my sunglasses and inhaler are at Deerfield, and I would like to have them for this summer,” said Caroline Mahony ’21.

In creating a plan for move-out, the administration sought a simple and efficient solution that would respect students’ wishes as much as possible. Even for in-state students, the potential to come in close contact with others presented a challenge to social distancing that the administration wanted to avoid. 

Ellie Shilling ’21, a student from Massachusetts, felt like a plan for in-state students to move out was plausible, but affirmed, “I think that the school has an obligation to err on the side of caution to avoid any issues with liability, so I understand their conservative approach to allowing outsiders on campus.”

The plan that Deerfield has laid out is similar to that of some peer schools. Choate Rosemary Hall has encouraged students to pick one of two options: packing or storing everything. However, other schools like Andover are allowing students the additional option of moving out themselves. At Exeter, where the school is offering very similar options to Deerfield, students created a petition on change.org titled “Saving Student Privacy: Let PEA kids choose who touches their belongings and when.” As of May 20, the petition has 842 signatures. 

At Deerfield, some students have expressed similar privacy concerns about packing valuable items and items that may be considered contraband. Under the direction of Mr. Kelly, Deerfield is making an effort to identify and store valuable items in a careful way. Contraband will be handled under the sanctuary policy and will not spark disciplinary action. 

Shilling said,  “As far as privacy goes, Boomerang packs up tons of students in the area, so I am sure that whatever item that a DA student is worried about is not the strangest thing that they have encountered.”

Gabriella Hu ’21 had more concerns about the physical shipment of her belongings than she did relating to privacy. “I’m worried about some things getting lost or broken in the mail,” she said. 

While the move-out process is still underway, Deerfield administration has ensured that they seek to initiate the process with as much care and respect for privacy as possible. As Ms. Creagh said in her email regarding the decisions, “This can be a personal, private process, of course, and it’s best left to you. This is also the most efficient option for everyone involved.”