Keeping Cushing Healthy 2020-2021


We developed guidelines for the resumption of classes and other activities in a manner that puts the health and safety of our community at the forefront and is consistent with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ "Four-Phase Approach" to reopening. Please see details below.





Latest Updates



CDC Updates

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

Safety Measures & Vaccine Development

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

COVID and Children

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • Covid: Children more likely to be infected in second wave

    November 13, 2020. National Education Union.
     
    Several studies out of the UK show rising rates of infection among high school aged children, with “children aged 12-16 played a "significantly higher role” in introducing infection into households in the period after schools reopened their doors to all students.” The BBC report goes on to state that: “the extent to which transmission was occurring in schools was "unproven and difficult to establish.’”
  • Teens in Covid Isolation: ‘I Felt Like I Was Suffocating’.

    Teens in Covid Isolation: ‘I Felt Like I Was Suffocating’.
    Emma Goldberg. Published November 12, 2020; Updated November 13, 2020.
    The New York Times.

    Research supports the need for adolescents to connect with peers and those connections have been frayed by the pandemic. An estimated ? of US teens are experiencing depression or sadness and lack of connection to others as a result of the pandemic and emergency room visits for teens experiencing mental health crisis have risen over the past few months. The National Alliance on Mental Illness “has cautioned parents and teachers to look for warning signs, including severe risk-taking behavior, significant weight loss, excessive use of drugs or alcohol and drastic changes in mood.” Children are also more likely to experience extreme anxiety and sleep loss, particularly when a family member loses a job or they know someone who has experienced COVID-19. Students’ inability to connect with friends, to do things outside of the home independently of their parents, and to learn more complex ways of communicating with others  will likely have long term impacts.
  • The Children Never Had the Coronavirus. So Why Did They Have Antibodies?

    Gina Kolata.  November 10, 2020, Updated Nov. 12, 2020. The New York Times.
     
    New research on antibodies seems to indicate that children who experience many colds in early childhood may have antibodies from prior colds, many of which are caused by other coronaviruses, that prevent severe infection from COVID-19. This may explain why they are less likely to experience ill effects of the virus. Up to 43% of children seem to have these antibodies, one of which sticks to the base of the coronavirus spike, preventing infection, vs 5% of adults. 
  • One Tenth Of Americans Infected With Covid-19 Are Children

    William A. Haseltine. November 9, 2020. Forbes.

    This article references a recent American Academy of Pediatrics report that named that 11.3% of all cases of COVID-19 in the US are among children and highlights the concerns around the possibility of transmission during the upcoming holidays and childhood respiratory illness season. 
  • Children's Health and Well Being During the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Children’s Health and Well Being During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Rachel Garfield and Priya Chidambaram.September 24, 2020. Kaiser Family Foundation.

    While returning to school includes the risk of being exposed to and contracting COVID-19, not attending school has serious negative health impacts including possible delay of community health supports and preventative health care, social isolation, and reduced physical activity. Early research also shows that students both in and out of school are experiencing behavioral and emotional challenges including increasing substance abuse as a result of changed schedules and parent stress. Economic hardship also means that children are experiencing food insecurity at higher than normal rates. The report underscores the need for support services for students and families.
  • Susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children and Adolescents Compared With Adults.

    Susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children and Adolescents Compared With Adults. Russell M. Viner, PhD; Oliver T. Mytton, PhD; Chris Bonell, PhD; et al. September 25, 2020. JAMA Pediatrics.

    This meta analysis of studies around children’s susceptibility and ability to transmit SARS-CoV-2 found that children (under age 20) are 0.56 as likely to be an infected contact vs. adults and found that there was little evidence that children are less likely to transmit the virus than adults. There is a caveat that many of the studies reviewed were of medium or low quality and that the studies generally looked at middle and high income Asian countries. One promising quote from the study: “Three school-based contact-tracing studies found minimal transmission from child or teacher index cases” though cases of transmission have been documented in schools.
  • How Do Children Fight Off the Coronavirus?

    How Do Children Fight Off the Coronavirus? Apoorva Mandavilli. September 25, 2020. The New York Times.

    A new study compares immune system responses in children and adults and found that children’s immune systems more rapidly react to destroy new viruses in the body, where adults rarely come into contact with new viruses and so their immune systems are more specialized. Children in the study had higher levels of immune molecules interleukin 17A and interferon gamma, and the younger the study participant, the more prevalent the molecules. The study found no link between exposure to coronaviruses that cause the common cold and children’s immune responses, and found that adults actually had more viral antibodies in their systems than did children, leading to concerns that our antibodies might actually make us more sick in response to SARS-CoV-2. There are some critiques of the study as it only surveyed children who were in the hospital and not newly infected. The most encouraging quote from this article: “If this virus becomes endemic, like the coronaviruses causing common colds, children eventually will develop adaptive defenses so strong that they will not experience the problems that adults are having now, Dr. Mina said. / “We will eventually age out of this virus.””
  • CVS Health makes COVID-19 testing available for children 12 years and older at its more than 2,000 drive-thru test sites.

    CVS Health makes COVID-19 testing available for children 12 years and older at its more than 2,000 drive-thru test sites. September 10, 2020. CVS.

    As schools reopen, CVS is offering self-swab covid testing for individuals aged 12 years and up at over 2000 CVS Pharmacy drive-thru testing locations with test results available in 2-3 days. Families must register in advance and the press release says there will be no charge to patients for the tests.
  • Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggest.

    Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests. Jacqueline Howard and Sandee LaMotte. August 28, 2020. CNN. AND Clinical Characteristics and Viral RNA Detection in Children With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the Republic of Korea. Mi Seon Han, MD, PhD; Eun Hwa Choi, MD, PhD; Sung Hee Chang, MD; et al. August 28, 2020. JAMA Pediatrics

    A study of 91 children in South Korea in Spring 2020 showed that most children were asymptomatic and that viral genetic material were present in the respiratory tracts of the children for 14-17.6 days on average. Scientists note that the mere presence of viral genetic material does not mean that children are transmitting the virus, especially when cough and sneeze are absent. Because only 8.5% of the children who tested positive for the virus were showing symptoms, there is fear that testing only symptomatic individuals for coronavirus will mean that many positive cases will be missed.

COVID and Schools

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

  • Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots

    Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots.
    Dyani Lewis. October 29, 2020.
    Nature.
     
    Further evidence seems to point to the fact that schools don’t seem to be places of major transmission of COVID-19 and that children are experiencing lower rates of infection than adults. When infections showed up in schools, they usually impacted adults in the school first. This article is notable in that it doesn’t rely entirely on the data out of Brown University overseen by Emily Oster, meaning it affirms much of what has come out of her study. Notable Quote: “But even in places where community infections were on the rise, outbreaks in schools were uncommon, particularly when precautions were taken to reduce transmission.”
  • Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in COVID-19?

    Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in COVID-19? Jones Nicholas R, Qureshi Zeshan U, Temple Robert J, Larwood Jessica P J, Greenhalgh Trisha, Bourouiba Lydia et al. Published 25 August 2020. BMJ 2020.

    The authors of this study looked at droplet transmission and whether 6 feet of physical distancing was enough. They concluded that, depending on the type of activity, 6 feet may not be enough, or some distancing or masking restrictions could be loosened. Extrapolating this information to apply to schools, as we consider different types of activities, ventilation, and programming, it might behoove school leaders to review the researchers’ table showing various risk levels associated with different venues, volumes, and mitigates.

Food for Thought

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

Safety App: COVID-19 Symptom Screener

2020-2021 Academic Year Calendar

List of 15 events.


Frequently Asked Questions

Academics

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • How has Cushing adjusted its calendar for COVID-19?

    The fall term runs from August 24 through November 20. Winterim will have the flexibility of taking place remotely or in person for students, and will consist of three, three-week windows that will lead up to Spring Break. The spring semester will run from March 8 through June 9, with graduation on June 5.
  • What does the daily schedule look like?

    While there are many familiar features in our daily schedule, there are also modifications that allow for longer passing time as well as a net increase in the length and number of lunch blocks. The new daily schedule maintains its signature single and double-letter structure: single-letter periods meet synchronously eight times for forty-minutes each over a two-week interval, along with one additional asynchronous forty-minute class; double-letter periods meet three times synchronously for seventy-minutes per week, with an additional forty-minute asynchronous class. We have preserved the element of asynchronous classes in recognition of the ways in which they can be used to enhance learning outcomes.
  • What is Winterim?

    During peak flu season, Cushing Academy will offer mandatory learning experiences structured around three three-week windows that will lead up to Spring Break. As the bridge between the fall and spring semesters, Winterim will deepen skills and supplement learning experiences from the fall across all disciplines. Additionally, Winterim will provide exciting new opportunities to explore interdisciplinary seminars fostering greater student engagement, interpersonal growth, and agency. When the second semester begins, we will finish the year with fourteen weeks of on-campus learning. Our focus has remained on optimizing the allocation of time spent on campus, maximizing breaks from campus for rejuvenation and the allowance of safe returns, and again, supporting the continuity of learning. We will design Winterim with the flexibility of being mainly remote with flexibility for on-campus participation as the public health situation and medical advice warrants.
  • How is Cushing limiting class sizes and ensuing physical distancing as outlined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for classroom instruction and also in administrative areas?

    We are limiting the number of people in each classroom by following Massachusetts guidelines and measuring the distance between desks. We are also increasing passing times to allow for fewer students in the hallways. Lastly, some students are attending school via online instruction.
  • What is online learning like for those unable to be on campus?

    We have new cameras in classrooms to allow students who attend classes online to fully participate in learning and feel that they are more directly involved in the classroom experience. We are also recording and posting all live classes. Additionally, we have scheduled international (and west coast) students to attend classes during periods that are most realistic.
  • How is Cushing preparing for the transition to remote learning should that be mandated by state and local governments?

    If a transition to fully remote learning is necessary, classes should be able to continue without significant disruption due to the nature of our new daily schedule.

Arts

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

  • Are some courses and offerings in the arts affected by restrictions?

    The Cushing experience includes participation in a number of arts offerings both in and outside the classroom. We have created guidelines for how students can continue to engage with the performing and studio arts during this atypical time.
     
    Some Visual Arts classes such as Ceramics, Metalsmithing, and Fused/Stained Glass cannot be taken concurrently or remotely. We do offer Remote Art as an asynchronous class. Other Visual Arts classes are offered concurrently.

Athletics

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

  • What will athletics look like for the 2020-2021 school year?

    Cushing Academy is following the guidelines and restrictions put in place by local and state governments as well as those by the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). If it is safe and recommended by governing organizations that interscholastic sports continue, then Cushing Academy will allow its teams to participate in athletic competitions.

    Currently, Cushing is providing a full athletic program on campus including practices, physical training (with our partner, Power Source), and other offerings including sports psychology, college recruitment, as well as general opportunities for fitness, health, and wellness.

    Fall teams are on the fields, court, and trails engaging in physically-distanced practices. We continue to monitor the current health situation under the advice of our medical team in case we have the opportunity to make an official decision about participating in competitive athletics.

    In addition, NEPSAC has approved out-of-season coaches to work with their teams if schools are non-competitive this fall. At this time, winter and spring sports are working on skill-building and strength and conditioning, also while staying physically distanced. The winter and spring athletics schedules remain tentatively scheduled.  
  • What will winter and spring sports look like?

    We are prepared for the winter athletics program to operate during Winterim (if allowed by the State of Massachusetts and other governing agencies). We do not have any details on the spring athletics season yet and hope that it will operate normally by that point as we return for the spring semester in March.

Campus Life

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • How large are Waddles and how do they work?

    A Waddle is a small cohort of students and faculty grouped together in order to limit the risk of viral spread. Waddles are grouped according to their living space (floor/area of a dorm, day students). Students are "waddled" to accommodate the highest-risk activities that require mask removal, such as eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene practices, though students are expected to maintain practices of mask-wearing and physical distancing at all other times. Waddles may vary in size from 8 to 16 students. While we hope that students will come to think of their Waddle as their family, a Waddle is not the same as creating a "family bubble." 
  • Are face coverings required?

    Yes, faculty, staff, and students are expected to wear masks at all times on campus—unless alone in a dorm room or office or while eating—to help protect against the spread of the virus.
  • Can students leave campus? What about downtown Ashburnham?

    At this time, students may not leave campus to go home or other locations to prioritize the health and safety of our community. We may loosen or reverse this decision depending on the progress of the public health situation and with advice from our medical experts. 
     
    As for going to downtown Ashburnham, students may be permitted to go into downtown Ashburnham wearing a mask and complying with all physical distancing requirements once the Cushing COVID-19 Advisory Level (CCAL) reaches Yellow (Limited).

Day Students

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

Enrollment and Tuition

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

  • Can students choose to be fully remote for the fall, and potentially Winterim and Spring semester?

    Remote learning is offered for international students unable to travel to campus or for students who may be considered vulnerable due to health and safety as it relates to COVID-19. Please complete this form to request remote learning.
  • Why isn’t tuition reduced for students doing the Winterim off-campus?

    The blend of in-person, hybrid, remote, and online instruction that will be offered during the 2020-21 school year does not reduce the quality and value of a Cushing Academy education.

    With remote and online teaching, faculty and instructors are still able to provide regular instruction and interact daily with Cushing students, and can also employ methods of assessment and regular feedback.

    We are also prioritizing the health and safety of our campus by allowing for the de-densifying of campus during flu season by completing a full semester before Thanksgiving and beginning the spring semester in March and finishing in June. This time period will be bridged with additional time for learning and to give students the opportunity to explore meaningful topics that they would not normally have the opportunity to explore.

Health & Wellness

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • What guidance did Cushing follow in determining how to safely open this fall?

    Guidance focused on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts guidelines, which are updated frequently and as needed. All boarding and independent schools are making their own decisions based on local conditions and state guidance, and plans vary. To ensure the safety of our campus and the local community, we have a measured and appropriate response to the situation in order to provide a safe educational and physical environment for our students, faculty, and staff—and meet or exceed the professional guidelines recommended.
  • Are face coverings required?

    Yes, faculty, staff, and students are expected to wear masks at all times on campus—unless alone in a dorm room or office or while eating—to help protect against the spread of the virus.
  • What will happen if a student tests positive for COVID-19 while on campus?

    Any student diagnosed with COVID-19 will be cared for by our medical staff in an isolation unit on campus, and we will expect that student to leave campus within 24 hours to recover from home. If needed, they can be transported to Heywood Hospital (6 miles from campus) for treatment. Following any COVID-19 diagnosis, the health team will immediately start the process of contact tracing and create a list of close contacts in conjunction with the Department of Health. We will then follow state guidelines as needed for isolation and quarantine.

Student Life

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • I'm mailing boxes to campus. What address should I use?

    Student’s Name
    39 School Street        
    Ashburnham, MA 01430
  • Will Cushing disinfect dormitories daily?

    To help mitigate the spread of COVID, Cushing is sanitizing and disinfecting its dormitory bathrooms, hallways, and common spaces daily. Hand sanitizer stations have also been installed at most doorways as well.
  • Can my child leave campus?

    At this time, Cushing’s medical team is discouraging any travel to Ashburnham or any weekend travel off campus. As the public health situation changes and at the recommendation at our medical team, Cushing will review this expectation.
  • How did Cushing’s dining services adjust due to COVID-19?

    Cushing has implemented a number of changes to the dining experience on campus: 
    • Grab-and-Go options provided
    • Expanded dining spaces, both outdoors and in the Student Commons
    • New and extended dining hours and serving times to allow for 6’ physical distancing as well as enhanced cleaning and disinfecting processes 
    • Installation of additional hand washing stations in the dining facilities
  • What is the likelihood of fall sports taking place?

    Cushing Academy is following the guidelines and restrictions put in place by local and state governments as well as those by the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). If it is safe and recommended by governing organizations that interscholastic sports continue, then Cushing Academy will allow its teams to participate in athletic competitions.

    Currently, Cushing Academy is providing a full athletic program on campus including practices, physical training (with our partner, Power Source), and other offerings including sports psychology, college recruitment, as well as general opportunities for fitness, health, and wellness.

    Fall teams are on the fields, court, and trails engaging in physically-distanced practices. We continue to monitor the current health situation under the advice of our medical team in case we have the opportunity to make an official decision about participating in competitive athletics.





Webinars

October 22, 2020

September, 17, 2020

August 18, 2020

August 6, 2020

July 30, 2020

July 14, 2020


Webinar for Students: New Academic Schedule and Activity Updates
We apologize for the occasional poor audio quality of this recording.

June 25, 2020

June 11, 2020

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May 21, 2020






Senior Steering Committee

Joseph Marzilli
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Randy Bertin
Head of School

Associate Head of School for Enrollment

Paul Silva
Chief Financial Officer

Dr. Tina Hermos, MD
Assistant Professor, Pediatric Immunology and Infectious Diseases
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Affiliated with UMass Memorial Medical Center

Dr. Anne Hoen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Epidemiology, of Biomedical Data Science, and of Microbiology & Immunology
Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine

Dr. Michael Mutchler P '15, '16
Family Medicine, Adolescent Medicine
Heywood Hospital
Cushing Academy Medical Director since 1996

Bill Rouse
Senior Advisor
AUXS






Cushing Academy

39 School Street
Ashburnham, Massachusetts 01430
978-827-7000
admissions@cushing.org

Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.

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