Reopening SKS — Plans & FAQs

Classes begin September  14, 2020. We are excited to bring our returning students back and welcome new students to Storm King this Fall. This page has been created to share our preparations for the upcoming semester, and to share updates and new information.  

PLANS FOR FALL 2020 REOPENING

The Reopening Plan was prepared under the joint efforts of the School’s Coronavirus Reopening Task Force, which is made up of administrators, staff members, and faculty representing each section of the School. Also taken into consideration has been input from other constituents including students, parents, alumni, and trustees through emails, phone calls, individual conversations, online surveys, Zoom Meetings, and faculty feedback.

Questions regarding the plan may be directed to the Head of School Mr. Jonathan Lamb, and the School’s Reopening Task Force Co-Chairs Mr. Alan Lewis and Mr. Ray Hecht.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

These responses to Frequently Asked Questions reflect our current plans and may be updated due to evolving guidance from federal, state, and local authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

REOPENING & CALENDAR CHANGES

Yes, there are significant changes to the previously published calendar. The school year will begin on August 25, 2020 and end with our 153rd Commencement Exercises on June 5, 2021 as previously scheduled.  However, there are a number of changes to note during the school year:

  • The first day of fall classes has been pushed back to September 14; classes will now run from September 14 through December 11, with only a very brief break for Thanksgiving
  • There will be an extended winter break from December 11 through February 1. While we will encourage our boarding students to leave campus during the extended break to go home or to stay with guardians, we expect to keep the campus open throughout this time for those students that simply cannot return home
  • The first day of the Spring Semester will be Monday, February 8, 2021 and continue until graduation with no long breaks

*Please note that we are providing the above dates for informational purposes at this time. The School Calendar is subject to change based on prevalent conditions and will be continuously updated. Please do not make plans for travel to and from campus that cannot be changed at this time.

  • New international students should plan to arrive on August 25
  • Returning international students should plan to arrive on September 1
  • New and returning domestic boarding students should plan to arrive on September 8
  • Day students will most likely be asked to return to campus on the first day of classes

*Please note that we are providing the above dates for informational purposes at this time. The School Calendar is subject to change based on prevalent conditions and will be continuously updated. Please do not make plans for travel to and from campus that cannot be changed at this time.

Faculty and staff will gradually return to campus in mid-August; some staff members—mainly those who work in the School’s physical plant—have already started coming back to work as part of New York State’s phased reopening.

*Please note that we are providing the above dates for informational purposes at this time. The School Calendar is subject to change based on prevalent conditions and will be continuously updated. Please do not make plans for travel to and from campus that cannot be changed at this time.

REPOPULATION OF CAMPUS

The School will follow a phased approach to repopulate our campus to accommodate new health and screening protocols and a staggered arrival of faculty/staff and students.

  • Some of our maintenance and other staff members are already working on campus this summer. In early to mid-August the rest of our staff members and faculty will return to their offices and workspaces with appropriate personal protective equipment, social distancing, and cleaning protocols in place
  • Beginning August 25, our new international students should plan to arrive
  • Returning international students should plan to arrive on September 1
  • New and returning domestic boarding students should plan to arrive on September 8

The School is currently working on a transportation plan. At this time, students requesting a ride when returning to campus should contact the Admissions Office.

Yes, the campus will remain open over the long breaks for international and domestic boarding students who cannot travel home.

COMMUNITY HEALTH

Yes, all students, along with all faculty and staff working on campus, will be required to be tested for COVID-19. Specific guidance on testing is still being finalized, but will likely include an expectation for testing at home prior to returning to campus, along with screening and testing upon arrival on campus. Additional testing will be required when students leave campus and return after breaks. We are working with our medical staff and local authorities to finalize a testing plan.

Safety necessitates that we have a dedicated isolation space on campus for students that are symptomatic or who have tested positive for COVID-19.  Stone Hall will serve this function until it can safely be returned to a dormitory.  We are also required to have space on campus for students to quarantine upon arrival.  Most students will be able to quarantine in their rooms, but we will also use Spyrock House as a separate quarantine space until all of our students have arrived this fall.

More detailed protocols for isolation and quarantining are being developed according to national, state and local guidelines by our administrative and medical staff. Detailed protocols will be published at a later date.

Thankfully, new cases of COVID-19 in Orange County, where Storm King is located, have remained very low. The School monitors state and county statistics continuously, and testing is widely available throughout our region.

Yes, all persons on campus will be required to wear a mask at all times. Masks must be worn while moving throughout campus, and each building and space on campus will post clear signage regarding masking expectations within it.

Boarding students are asked to bring at least a 7-day supply of washable cloth masks when they arrive on campus. Day students should come to school with a clean mask daily. SKS will provide masks for all community members on an as needed basis. All masks must meet CDC criteria.

Social distancing will be a priority everywhere on campus. All dormitories, classrooms and common areas will utilize spacing and signage to achieve this goal.  Staggered class times and meals, as well as clear indicators regarding entrances, exits, and flow will be in place.

The School is busy researching and purchasing cleaning products and equipment that will be used to disinfect campus. Each building will have protocols in place, and students will be informed of their responsibilities as part of the Orientation process. Details will be forthcoming.

Disinfection stations will be located at entries and exits, near all dorm refrigerators, and in all dorm halls. They will also be placed inside all campus buildings and in all classrooms.

Once students arrive and go through the designated protocols, we expect to limit boarding students’ travel off campus and the number of visitors to our campus. Family members can visit by appointment only.

As a school with day students and faculty who do not live on campus, we are not able to close the campus completely. However, we will institute a regular process of health screening and testing for all of our students, faculty, and staff. There will be a separate protocol for outside vendors who must enter the campus and admissions visits will be conducted according to set guidelines.

As we repopulate campus, we will need to begin with stricter health protocols to minimize the presence of the virus on campus and possible transmission. We will monitor conditions both at Storm King and in the local area closely and will relax the initial restrictions if and when circumstances deem it safe to do so.

ACADEMICS

In conjunction with physically opening our campus, the School will offer classes in a hybrid style, both in-person and online, to cater to those students who can’t be on campus at the start of the year. Remote learning will be available to students with health conditions, VISA issues, and/or government-mandated travel restrictions

Yes, the academic program and course offerings at Storm King will be similar to those of previous years. Updated courses and descriptions for the 2020-21 school year can be found on the SKS website.

Classrooms will be set up to allow for appropriate physical distancing between students according to federal and state guidelines for reopening schools. When possible, alternative spaces and outdoor venues may be used for class instruction.

Some changes to the daily schedule are anticipated to accommodate staggered lunch periods and use of classrooms. Our work on academic planning and scheduling is still being finalized and details will be made available closer to the start of the school year.

The Office of College Counseling will continue its support of the senior class and all grades during the college search and application process whether a student is on campus or studying remotely. The Director of College Counseling will be in contact with the students at all grade levels regarding necessary steps and support.

Storm King has not altered its grading system due to the pandemic. Grades will continue to be issued according to the 4.0 point GPA scale. Classes will not be graded as Pass/Fail.

Classes in the arts present their own unique challenges. Creative ways to learn and perform all art forms are being explored. Performance ensembles and visual arts classes may be staggered in size and physical barriers will be used to allow for appropriate protection of our students when needed. More detailed protocols for our visual and performing arts classes are being developed and will be made available at the start of the school year.

Community Service is an integral part of the Storm King experience. Plans for students to benefit from our service learning program in safe yet meaningful ways are being explored. More information will become available at the start of the school year.

STUDENT & DORM LIFE

Students will be assigned a room based on a series of strategies including de-densifying and cohorting. Rooms will be initially single-occupied and then larger rooms will become double occupancy. Students will be placed in a specific dorm and floor with others they are likely to share classes, activities, and social bonds.  Therefore, our dormitory ‘families’ that have existed for many years will be more relevant than ever. A rooming questionnaire has been sent to all boarding students to help facilitate the cohorting initiative.

Cohorts will be groups of students who live together on a specific floor of one of our dormitories.  The use of cohorts will enable our boarding students to maintain a sense of normalcy and social interaction. Here are some of the specific aspects of cohorting that will be employed on campus this fall:

  • Students will not be permitted to enter the space of another cohort.
  • Each cohort will have its own dedicated restroom and entry/exit door. Our keycard entry system will be programmed so that students will not be able to enter another cohort’s space.
  • Within each cohort space, students will not be required to wear a mask and social distancing restrictions will be relaxed.
  • Each cohort will have at least one student leader (RA) that will help supervise and model important safety behavior.
  • A dedicated dorm-parent will be assigned to each cohort, as will at least one other member of the faculty that resides on campus. This will ensure that very few adults are working within each cohort.
  • Cohorts will share some community spaces such as laundry and lounge areas. However, the usage of these spaces will be strictly scheduled, cleaned, and closely monitored so that cohorts do not intermingle.
  • Age, academic courses, afterschool activities, and special interests will all be factored into the creation of these cohorts.

Within each and every dormitory family the social distancing and masking requirements that will be required during the school day and in shared public spaces will be more relaxed and home-like, resembling what we think of as “typical” dorm life. However, the emphasis on room cleanliness, cooperative work in keeping each area clean, and strict rules regarding dormitory procedures will feel quite different.

All dorm restrooms and showers will have capacity limits. These areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly by Housekeeping Staff. Students will also be required to use disinfectant to wipe down any restroom surfaces they touch after each use.

Please keep in mind that cleanliness is a shared responsibility between SKS’ cleaning staff and the students. Each dorm will create a rotating schedule of cleaning and disinfecting responsibilities in place. Signage and reminders will be placed throughout all dorms. Room cleanliness and disinfection will be the responsibility of the student.

We are planning to deliver meals in multiple locations on campus to provide nutritious meal service while minimizing density in dining areas and allowing for appropriate physical distancing. As conditions allow, this plan will be revisited throughout the year.

The Dining Hall is being reconfigured to ensure appropriate distance between diners and employees. This includes creating additional space and locations for fewer dining tables, as well as different dining locations to help reduce the number of students in the Dining Hall at one time. Plexiglass barriers are being installed between servers and diners and at specific entrance and exit points, and signage and markers will help ensure social distancing measures are followed. We will also make greater use of disposable plates and utensils. We are committed to maintaining SKS’ high-quality food and traditional sit-down meal experience to the extent possible.

Storm King is instituting a number of other safety measures across campus, including:

  • Restricting access to campus to immediate community members only
  • Designating directional traffic flows in high-traffic areas, hallways, and staircases
  • Installing plexiglass barriers to separate workstations and in other areas with frequent person-to-person interactions

EVENTS & ATHLETICS

Some student social events that cannot be conducted while maintaining proper social distancing, including dances, will not be held. We are developing a creative selection of on campus social activities that will encourage interaction and socialization among students, while also preserving community health and safety. We may utilize many of our outdoor spaces for modified social events and gatherings.

Storm King has postponed all fall events, including the Fall Parents Weekend and Alumni Homecoming Weekend. The school will provide opportunities for parent-teacher conferences using video platforms or telephone. Meanwhile, we will continue to look for creative ways to foster connections and build community until it is safe to have large gatherings on campus.

It remains unclear whether SKS will be able to participate in interscholastic athletics this fall. We are in constant communication with other schools, as well as the Hudson Valley Athletic League and the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council, about whether competitive athletics will take place this fall, and if so, in what form. This decision will ultimately be informed by the most recent state and federal health guidelines.

A range of options from individual and club sports in small groups to daily structured physical activities are being explored. As with interscholastic sports, such activities will be informed by the most recent state and federal health guidelines.

ENROLLMENT & TUITION

If a student is unable to be on campus due to restrictions that are out of their control, Storm King will offer its experience virtually at a reduced e-tuition rate. Storm King will work closely with families to support a safe return to campus as soon as it is feasible.

We will offer a weekly discount, prorated for recipients of financial aid, for any weeks that a student is unable to complete their studies on campus due to travel restrictions or other approved reasons. If Storm King must close for a period of time, we will make every effort to adjust the school calendar in order to make up missed weeks at a later time. Discounts will be calculated at the close of the school year and refunded to families of graduating seniors or applied as future credits for students who will be returning the following year. For further details, please contact our Chief Financial Officer, Ray Hecht at rhecht@sks.org

Newly enrolled and currently enrolled students will not be permitted to defer for a year or take a gap year. Students who choose not to enroll for the 2020-2021 school year will need to reapply during the next admission cycle.