In consideration of international students who are unable to travel home over spring break, Deerfield will allow approximately thirty international students to spend their two-week long break on campus. The measure was put in place to address logistical concerns stemming from various international travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
“My home is back in China and the traveling restrictions make it difficult for me to return home. I also don’t have any close family in Massachusetts so this program really solves my residential problems,” said Lily Lin ’23.
Associate Director of Admissions and Director of the March Break Program Genevieve Pitt said, “We are looking to provide a comfortable, safe, supportive, healthy, and enjoyable experience for the students.”
With this goal in mind, Assistant Head of Student Life, Amie Creagh added, “We are trying to keep open the spaces that kids will most likely want to spend time in. The academic and classroom buildings not as much, but the recreational spaces will be kept open for kids to spend time there.” Likewise, The Hess, Dining Hall, and the athletics complex will be available everyday for student use.
Faculty and staff are also developing potential activities and events for the students remaining on campus. “A large part of it does depend on the health indicators on campus leading up to the break,” said Ms. Pitt. “The possibility of off-campus travel is also under discussion, but we need to see how many kids we have, what’s a comforting cohort group, and it would likely remain outdoors.”
The school is also offering Envoys programs to students who are staying on campus. Envoys is the organization Deerfield previously worked with to offer courses for ninth and tenth graders to take during the span of D-Term. The March break courses range from addressing social and justice development in South Africa to learning about Tai Chi and Salsa.
The school is planning on moving students who stay behind into new dorms for the duration of spring break. Ms. Pitt communicated that the current plan is to house the girls in Ephraim Williams and the boys in Williams House located on Old Main Street. It has also been confirmed that several campus stayers will have roommates.
As a result, day students will need to move out for March break. Potential plans the school has for day students for the Spring term include: day students either remaining as boarders, traveling to campus but refraining from contact exposure, or most preferably returning to the typical day student experience. “A lot of this will depend on local and Massachusetts health indicators. We told families we’d make those decisions by March 4th or March 5th,” Ms. Creagh said.
Given that the dining hall staff will only be providing lunch, Ms. Pitt explained that continental food will be supplied in the dorms for breakfast, and the school will cater take-out for every dinner.
Although Deerfield will be accommodating several international students, the financial impact on the school will be minimal. “I do not expect that providing an on-campus option over spring break will be very costly — not free, but not large,” said Chief Financial Officer, Keith Finan. He additionally noted, “There will be added food expenses for breakfast and providing dinner options to the students, and we will pay Health Center staff to be on call and available.”
As much as the option of staying on campus over March break with your friends may sound compelling, “COVID doesn’t disappear just because we have a smaller number of people on campus,” as Ms. Creagh said. “The school is hoping to ensure everyone is enjoying their time together while recognizing that we are still living through a pandemic.”