Common questions in an uncommon time.
Offices across the School are working overtime to make sure Pomfret stays open, which includes making sure our community stays informed. Visit the links below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for different departments.
- General Updates
- Arrival and Registration
- Health and Safety
- Distance Learning
- Standardized Testing
- Dorm and Campus Life
- Financial and Insurance
- Over Labor Day weekend, we safely and successfully welcomed our student body back to campus.
- Pomfret announces appointments for day student on-campus testing, which will take place on September 10.
- The School has made changes to its on-campus testing protocols. Pre-arrival quarantine students will be tested the day after they arrive, August 25. Boarders will be tested upon arrival on September 6, 7, and 8. Day students will be tested on September 10. Please Note: All Pomfret students — boarding and day — must submit proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR molecular test before they can return to campus. It is the responsibility of the family to procure this initial test.
- Assistant Head Don Gibbs has shared detailed information about pre-arrival testing options with parents.
- We have opened arrival date appointment bookings for boarders.
- Pomfret has announced updates made by the State of Connecticut to its testing and quarantine requirements for travelers.
- Pomfret has released its 2020-2021 reopening plan, Better Together. The plan calls for as many students as possible to return to campus, with stringent health and safety protocols in place, but allows any student who wishes to select the distance learning option.
- The Business Office has extended the due date of Tuition Payment No. 1 by one week, from July 31 to August 7, to give families an appropriate amount of time to review and digest Pomfret's Reopening Plan, scheduled to be released on Friday, July 31.
- The OpenPomfret Task Force has announced it will reopen campus to faculty and staff effective August 1 so that they can begin to prepare for the first phase of student arrivals on August 23. Employee return-to-work protocols are based on guidance from the CDC and the State of Connecticut, and they are consistent with what other schools and businesses have implemented.
- Head of School Tim Richards P ’15 and members of his senior leadership team held two TimTalks following the release of A Roadmap to Reopening. These town hall-style webinars attracted more than 150 parents for an informative Q&A about our plans for a fall reopening.
- The OpenPomfret Task Force has released A Roadmap to Reopening, which includes a newly revised general overview of the academic calendar for the fall term, an outline of our health and safety protocols for when campus reopens, a description of our on-campus and distance learning program options, our vision for athletics, information on tuition refunds and refund insurance, and more.
- We have formed the OpenPomfret Task Force, which Head of School Tim Richards has charged with outlining our vision for the fall, including an overview of the various scenarios available to us, and the specific gating metrics we will use to make a final determination about September. The task force is divided into the following five working groups, and each is chaired by an administrator: Academics and Program (Gwyneth Connell), Communications (Garry Dow), Finance and Staffing (Ed Griffin), Health and Safety Issues (Brenda Bullied), and Social Distancing and Campus Density (Don Gibbs). Our plan is to be able to share this planning with families on June 19.
- We have begun holding virtual town halls with with the Head of School and other members of the senior leadership team for current and incoming parents, as well as alumni, to ensure a clear and consistent line of communication between the School and key stakeholders.
- Our Head of School has begun meeting regularly with the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools and the ReOpen CT Higher Education Task Force, among others, to ensure that there is a direct line of communication between Pomfret and decision-makers at the state level.
Can you tell me about arrival dates this year?
In a departure from previous years, boarding students will NOT arrive by grade or group affiliation. Instead, each parent will select a specific arrival date and time for their child. This includes student leaders and athletes. These appointments will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Monday, August 24 – travel quarantine only
Sunday, September 6
Monday September 7
Tuesday, September 8
Families will be able to select their arrival date and time through their Sundial account via Pick-A-Time, starting on August 10, but only after the following: (1) the Arrival Form has been completed (2) tuition payments have been made and (3) the Magnus Health Record required by the School is complete.
Day students should report to campus on September 10 for Covid-19 testing and then not again until the first day of in-person classes on Monday, September 14.
What is the move-in / registration process going to look like this year?
The vast majority of the registration that would normally occur in person will take place online, prior to your arrival on campus. The rest will take place outdoors under tents. While you may choose to arrive with multiple family members, we ask that no more than one parent assist with registration and move-in. Masks will be required in all indoor spaces. They will also be required outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Boarding students will have approximately 1.5 hours to complete their move into the dorm. During registration, each student will receive a starter kit of personal protective equipment (PPE), including two cloth face masks.
Will students arriving by plane be asked to make their own travel arrangements?
As in past years, our Transportation Coordinator Chris Lamothe stands ready and able to assist with your travel arrangements. If you need help, please contact Chris directly at (860) 963-6114. Please Note: During the pandemic, we are unable to provide our normal bus transportation service to and from Darien, CT and New York, NY. Additionally, faculty and staff cannot serve as transportation resources. Chris can help secure private livery services that meet our stringent safety guidelines.
What does the calendar look like for the first half of the year?
As previously announced, students who require an initial two-week quarantine period must arrive on August 24. From September 6 through September 8, the rest of the student body will arrive by appointment. Fall term classes will begin on September 11 and end on November 20. The first few days of the fall term will take place online. In-person classes will begin on Monday, September 14. Between December 1 and December 16, students will participate in a distance learning period.
Are you going to send us the initial Covid test?
No. Procuring the initial test is the responsibility of the family. Pomfret will provide a follow up test on September 10, once all students have arrived on campus. We will administer additional randomized testing throughout the fall.
Will you accept a Covid-positive antibody test in place of a Covid-negative PCR test?
At this time, we are only accepting a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid test.
I saw in the reopening plan that students need to have a negative Covid result within 72 hours of moving into the dorm. In some places, test results are taking up to 10 days to come back. What should we do?
This is a very important and valid criticism, and as a result, we will now accept Covid results from tests taken 4–8 days prior to arrival. A negative test result plus strict adherence to health monitoring and quiet period protocols will allow your student to safely enter campus.
Has the quarantine guidance changed recently?
Yes. The State of Connecticut recently modified its expectations. Travelers can no longer be tested for Covid-19 to avoid the quarantine period. For students coming from a high-risk state or country, the 14-day quarantine MUST be observed. Students who must be quarantined should either (a) arrive in Pomfret on August 24 and participate in the School’s quarantine program or (b) arrive in Connecticut on August 24 and quarantine away from campus.
What will the on-campus arrival quarantine look like for a student?
The first few days will be fairly restrictive as we wait for on-campus test results to come back. Meals will be delivered, there will be regular check-ins, and virtual orientation sessions. After that, students will be able to move more freely within the dorms and around campus.
Will students have to wear masks on campus?
Yes. In addition to social distancing and handwashing, mask-wearing is one of the most important tools we have in limiting the spread of the Covoid-19 virus. To start, all students and employees will be required to wear a mask whenever they are inside, except when they are alone in their own personal office space (employees) or in their own dorm room (students). In addition, students and employees will be expected to wear masks outside whenever social distancing is not possible.
How often will students be tested once back on campus?
Pomfret will conduct PCR molecular testing on September 10 for the entire student body. (All Pomfret employees will be tested in August, prior to the arrival of students on campus.) Afterward, we will conduct PCR molecular testing from a random sample of 5 to 10 percent of our population (students and employees) on a weekly basis through at least the fall term.
What happens if someone on campus tests positive for Covid-19?
Students testing positive for Covid-19 will be isolated in on-campus housing separate from the general boarding population until the student can be picked up. Families (or a designated representative) have 24 hours to retrieve their child. Should a student be confirmed to have Covid-19, the School will require any person who has had close contact with the infected student (as determined through our contact tracing program) to be quarantined for 14 days. This quarantine will ideally take place at home while the student participates in distance learning, though a student may quarantine on campus if necessary.
What if I am unable to secure a designated guardian to pick up my child within 24 hours of being notified? Is there another option?
All families are required to identify a parent, family representative, or agency who can transport a student from campus within 24 hours of the school requesting that the child leave, either because of a positive Covid test or a campus-wide shutdown. Pomfret will be unable to transport the student should any of these scenarios occur. For a fee, Student Health Advocates (SHA), a private company that provides comprehensive support services to boarding students and families, will be available to serve students who are unable to immediately return home. Pomfret will facilitate informational webinars with families who are eager to learn more about SHA and evaluate their services.
How is the School monitoring day students, and other employees, who are coming and going from campus on a regular basis?
Each day, students will complete a brief electronic health survey via Boardingware. Faculty and staff will participate in a similar monitoring and reporting protocol. This self-reporting structure will allow the School to monitor for fever and other signs of illness. When an individual indicates symptoms of infectious disease, they will be directed to stay home and await instructions from health center personnel. In addition, day students will participate in the same randomized Covid testing as boarding students.
At what point would Pomfret automatically revert to distance learning?
We do not have an established number that will automatically trigger a shutdown. If leadership feels Pomfret can no longer operate, or if the State of Connecticut decides to close school campuses in our area, Pomfret will initiate a rapid shutdown procedure based on a decision-making matrix that takes into account a variety of factors.
How is Pomfret monitoring the pandemic?
Our Director of Health Sarah Ligmann is in regular consultation with School Pediatrician Dr. Nancy Austin and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, regarding appropriate precautions that we should be taking to minimize the risk of exposure to our students and employees. In addition, the School is closely following updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the US Department of State, as well as major media outlets like the New York Times.
Can you tell us a little bit more about agile course design?
This fall Pomfret teachers will employ a flexible approach to teaching and learning called agile course design. Agile course design allows classroom teachers to seamlessly integrate in-person and online learning by matching the learning goal to the mode of teaching.
Will there be face-to-face instruction on campus this fall?
Yes. There will be plenty of in-person instruction each day. As we continue to refine our on-campus learning practices, one English class might find itself spread across two classrooms for an entire period, with the teacher going back and forth to monitor the progress of the discussion and offer guidance. Meanwhile, a chemistry teacher might bring in one pair of students at a time to complete a lab practical, then send them back to their dorm rooms to write up the report. We will be creative and nimble in the ways we engage learners, facilitate collaboration, and prioritize the student experience. At the same time, students and teachers will continue to use Zoom for 1:1 feedback sessions and coaching, as needed.
Is the daily schedule changing?
Over the past few years, students and their families have grown accustomed to our trademark seven-block schedule. This year, in order to reduce classroom density and create additional layers of flexibility within each day, we are moving to a new ten-block model that alternates between a 5-day week and a 6-day week. Learn more.
The plan says "all classes will be graded on our traditional scale and all learners will receive letter grades.” Does that mean no more P/F option for distance learners?
In order to prioritize teaching time this fall, signature assessment events throughout the trimester will replace an end-of-term final week. Though we may differentiate assessment strategies for distance learners and those who attend in person, all classes will be graded on our traditional scale and all learners will receive letter grades.
How do we apply for the distance learning option? Is there a form?
Yes. If you have not already had a chance to do so, please indicate your choice in this required Arrival Form.
If we choose distance learning to start, can we opt to return to campus at some later date? How will that work?
Once you notify Dean of Students Wes Jenkins of your intention to return, the School will partner with you to find an appropriate arrival date, based on the reentry protocols established in our reopening plan.
Is there a special schedule for international students who choose distance learning at home since there’s a difference of time? Will there be more asynchronous classes for us?
Unlike some schools, we do not expect your child to participate in real-time classes at strange hours. Instead, our teachers will work with your student, and your timezone, to develop a regular schedule of face-to-face contact that works for you.
Can you clarify / elaborate on how you are “sectioning” distance learners?
The agile approach we will use to design our curriculum will enable teachers to adapt course material to the specific needs of their students. If there are courses where a large number of students are at a distance, we will group those students together into dedicated distance-learning sections, but we will also equip teachers to meet the needs of distance learning students who are “embedded” in an on-campus course offering.
What are the on-campus test dates?
We will host the ACT on campus on September 12 and April 17. We expect to administer the SAT on September 23 and October 14, as part of The College Board’s School Day program, and to be an open test site for the November 7 and May 8 dates.
What about the PSAT?
Pomfret students studying remotely this fall can take the PSAT at a different location. Summit Educational Group, with whom we partner to provide on-campus test prep, has official practice PSATs they can administer for students. Students can take the PSAT individually on-demand or in a group setting through a virtual live-proctoring session. Upon completion, both students and counselors will receive a comprehensive score report. Alternatively, students will be able to take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
Are you going to cut any sports this fall?
At this moment, we’re not entirely sure. It is our earnest desire to preserve all of our sports offerings in some way, shape, or form, but we are waiting for more guidance from the State of Connecticut to make a final determination about specific sports.
Will the fitness center be open for daily student workouts?
Yes. The fitness center will be open, but at a reduced capacity, and with new health and safety measures in place.
Will my child be able to participate in club sports this fall?
Unfortunately, no. In accordance with our closed weekend policy, we are unable to allow students to pursue club sports. The health and safety concerns surrounding these competitions, as well as the testing requirements and timelines needed to ensure each student’s safe return to campus, makes participation in club sports impractical for any boarding student. This policy applies to day students as well. Any student who opts to participate in club sports will be required to enroll in our distance learning program.
I heard my child will be able to train this fall for an “out-of-season” sport?
Yes! Our governing body, NEPSAC, has changed the out-of-season coaching policy for the 2020-2021 school year. Non-fall sports can begin training in the fall. As a result, students will have the option to pick a main fall sport or activity and also train twice per week on campus in an alternative winter or spring sport.
How will dorm life differ from past years?
Each hallway or house dorm that shares a bathroom will act as a “family unit.” At the start of the year, students will not be allowed to visit each other’s rooms, and different floors will not be allowed to mingle with each other inside the dorm. We will continue to place students in single and double rooms, but there will be no triples. If and when conditions allow for a more relaxed set of guidelines, students might — for example — be granted the freedom to visit other rooms or floors, and/or not wear masks within a family unit. Dorm assignments and roommates will be released in mid-August.
Will dorms be open all year-long?
Yes. Campus will be open to all current students for the duration of the school year, including traditional breaks and the distance learning period. During these times, we strongly encourage international students to remain with an identified family member or guardian who resides in the US — though they may stay in the dorms, if necessary.
What structures will be in place to prevent kids from letting their guard down in terms of mask usage, social distancing, hand washing, etc.?
In advance of the coming school year, we have been busy developing a public safety campaign, including training videos, campus signage, and an ironclad social contract. We have also modified our code of conduct to emphasize the importance of following these health and safety guidelines. Repeat violators could be asked to switch to distance learning.
How are Chapel and School Meeting going to work this year?
School Meeting and Chapel are among our most cherished traditions at Pomfret. This fall, we will not be able to gather as a full community in a single space, whether it be Hard Auditorium or Clark Memorial Chapel. Pomfret will continue to honor these traditions, but will do so through live-streaming and small group engagement. Senior chapel talks will continue.
Is advisory happening this fall?
While at a distance, advisors will continue to host weekly meetings and check-ins with their advisees, though the traditional advisory dinners we all know and love will be postponed for at least a little while. Instead, advisors will look for new and novel ways to engage with their groups.
What about meals and dining?
Each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) will occur in two waves (rather than a single seating). Community members will be assigned to a particular wave based on their schedule. A wide variety of grab-and-go meals will be available for breakfast and lunch, and FLIK Dining staff will offer a full-service dinner. Tables will have plexiglass dividers and capacity limits, and we will encourage students and employees to utilize outdoor seating whenever possible. We will allow food in the dorms and delivery from contactless services. Students will need to abide by the expectations of contactless delivery, as well as pick up locations and acceptable times.
What exactly do you mean by a “Closed Campus” policy? Will students be able to leave campus? Will parents be able to visit them?
In an effort to reduce campus exposure to the virus, student travel and visitor access will be severely restricted until October 1. After this time, the administration will assess the health and safety of the community and the surrounding region, and reexamine our travel and visitor policy.
There may be times when extenuating circumstances require travel, and the Dean of Students Office will review any leave requests to determine its merit. Once campus has opened for visitors, parents are welcome to visit campus, but are restricted from entering the dormitories. Visitors may be subject to screening prior to arrival.
What about day students?
For the most part, day students will be treated the same as boarding students. They will be expected to follow the same community norms (whether they are on or off campus) and in exchange they will enjoy the same freedoms as boarders. As in past years, day students will be assigned a dorm affiliation as a matter of protocol, but they will not be allowed to enter specific dorm rooms. Social gathering spaces — including affiliated dorm common rooms, day rooms, The Tuck, and the dining hall — will remain open to day students.
When is the first tuition payment due?
Bills for the first tuition payment of the year were mailed on July 1. If you have not already made this payment, please do so at your earliest convenience. Your first tuition payment is no later than Friday, August 7. For questions, please contact Student Accounts in the Business Office.
Who pays for Covid-19 testing and treatment while my student is away at school?
Every Covid test administered by Pomfret School will be billed to the student’s insurance provider. Our school doctor, Dr. Nancy Austin, will write prescriptions for these tests deeming them “medically necessary.” If a student gets sick and, as a result, requires off-campus medical treatment, that will also be processed by the student’s insurance provider as well.
Does the international health insurance recommended by the School cover Covid-19 treatment?
What is the effective coverage date of the international health insurance recommended by Pomfret School?
Full coverage begins in August, before the student arrives on campus.
How will distance learning refunds will work?
If you elect the distance learning option, we will refund 15 percent of your net tuition on a prorated basis and enroll your child in our distance learning program. For a boarding student who is not on financial aid, the annual amount calculates to $10,000. Refunds will be credited in the last month of each term.
Will I receive a refund if Pomfret is forced to close because of Covid-19?
Pomfret remains committed to refunding variable cost savings to tuition-paying parents. Pomfret will prioritize expenses essential to meet the student expectations of a Pomfret School education. These variable cost savings, if realized, will be returned to families in an equitable manner, similar to the approach the School adopted in Spring 2020.