Frequently Asked Questions

As a international educational institution, the MacDuffie School is taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our community. We continue to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely while adhering to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and U.S. Department of State. We are also working to support our students and families who have been impacted by unexpected disruptions as they navigate this time of uncertainty. Click here to read The MacDuffie School 2020-2021 COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan

This page will be continually updated as the situation evolves.

General Questions

Will The MacDuffie School be open in the fall for in-person school?

Yes, following our transition to remote learning in March 2020, we are taking measures to allow for the maximum in-person experience for students to be on campus safely this fall. We are also building in flexibility to adjust our plans, if necessary, to accommodate new information about the virus, testing, vaccines, and other factors. For students unable to travel to campus, we are putting in place distance learning options.

What if I want my child to attend remotely?

At this time, we want to make sure families feel safe and comfortable sending their child to MacDuffie. While we are doing everything we can to make that possible for a full return to in-person learning, we know not everyone is ready for that. If a parent wishes for their child to study remotely, they may choose to do so simply by notifying our Assistant Head, Ms. Robinson, at trobinson@macduffie.org.  Families should opt-out for one academic quarter at a time; they will be contacted with two weeks remaining in the quarter to indicate whether they wish to remain in online status or to return to in-person instruction.

Students who choose the remote option may not be part of on-campus activities such as athletics, extra-curricular arts, or CAP. 

Alternatively, if a student began in-person on campus and something occurred that resulted in the family wanting to transition to remote learning, for the remainder of a term or a period of recovery/cautionary quarantine, we would accommodate that as well. The goal would be to avoid inconsistent attendance with some days home and some days at school as this would be more challenging for all involved. 

How soon do I need to share my plans if I intend to start the year remotely?

Please connect with Ms. Robinson at trobinson@macduffie.org as soon as possible with your intention to participate in distance learning. Additionally, if you are a homestay or boarding student, please inform Mr. Kevin Hillman (homestay) at khillman@macduffie.org or Mrs. Dina Lyman (boarding) at dlyman@macduffie.org. 

We are also excited to share an alternative option for students in China to study at the MacDuffie Shanghai campus. If you are interested in learning more about this unique opportunity, please reach out to admissions@macduffie.org. 

When will students return to campus?
    • International and domestic boarding students will arrive between August 25 and August 27. This will allow for all students to begin a two-week quarantine and allow for boarding students to better function as a “familial cohort”. Home-stay students are advised to align with this time-frame as well to allow for maximum quarantine time. All students are asked to follow “safer at home” protocols for two weeks before arrival on campus. This means taking every precaution for reducing coronavirus exposure for two weeks prior to returning to campus and restricting travel outside of the New England region or to areas indicated as high-risk (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/index.html#cases).  Students may also provide the school with a negative COVID-19 test from within the week of September 7th. 

    • Online classwork and course communications will begin Tuesday, September 8. This will allow students and faculty time to set up and test remote resources.

    • Our first day of in-person classes for the Middle and Upper School will be Friday, September 11.

Do boarding students need to let MacDuffie know when we’ll be arriving on campus?

Yes, please! All students returning to campus need to arrive within the August 25 – August 27 window and must make arrangements with Dean of Boarding, Dina Lyman, dlyman@macduffie.org. Additional travel and transportation details can be found here.

What will the 2020-21 academic year calendar look like?

The 2020-21 academic year calendar is at this link.

What safety measures are MacDuffie putting into place to protect its community?

In addition to increased monitoring and general health precautions—such as mask-wearing, social distancing, increased cleaning practices —we plan to use testing, if available, as part of our reopening and ongoing school program. Our buildings have undergone thorough ventilation examinations and are currently being modified and reconfigured to meet all safety recommendations. 

Will the curriculum be different for Online Distance Learners?

Students who are participating in Online Distance Learning (ODL) will still engage in MacDuffie’s full curriculum, taught by MacDuffie faculty. While some assignments and assessments might be modified to meet the needs of the remote learner, we remain committed to keeping the content and caliber of studies as consistent as possible. 

More information on the ODL program and expectations can be found on this page

How will the Academic Program be handled in the 2020-21 school year?

We are modifying our academic program so that we will be able to switch easily between in-person and online learning, as needed (see the Distance Learning section, below). While our goal is to primarily teach in-person, this approach will allow us to be flexible and meet the needs of students who are unable to return to campus due to travel restrictions or health issues. Throughout the spring, an academic task force revised the daily schedule to incorporate updated cleaning, passing time, and lunch protocols. While subject to review and adjustment, please see the daily schedule here.

What do we know about how the logistics ofCampus Life—boarding, dining, athletics, and health and wellness—will operate for students next year?

Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our community. We are happy to report that the Town of Granby has reviewed our detailed plan for reopening and given us positive feedback in line with our plans to reopen. Full details of the plan can be found here: The MacDuffie School 2020 – 2021 COVID Re-opening Plan.

 

How will community activities, such as Assembly and advisory meetings, work?

There will be no all-school, in-person assemblies this fall. Large assemblies and class meetings will happen virtually. All assemblies will be held in separate locations with advisors and their advisor groups.

Advisory meetings will be in person whenever possible. Students who are unable to come to campus will be expected to remain in consistent contact with their advisor through email and Zoom.

There will be no field trips or weekend travel scheduled field trips to begin the year. This will change as safety protocol allows. 

Additional Safety Precautions

What are MacDuffie’s requirements on wearing masks?

Members of the MacDuffie community must commit to wearing a mask in all shared community spaces, including classrooms, hallways in academic and residential buildings, residential and recreational common areas, campus pathways, and during meetings or gatherings with students, faculty, or staff.

The CDC recommends people wear cloth face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks are the most important barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from spreading the virus.

MacDuffie masks will be available for purchase at the Campus Store or students cant provide their own approved covering. Masks should be multi-layer fabric and should fit well around the mouth and nose. They should always be worn over the mouth and nose completely (not just over the mouth) and should be changed out daily or sooner if known to be contaminated. They should not be worn if wet—they should be changed out.

We ask that all students have multiple masks so the masks can be worn and changed daily. For more information on masks, see this CDC webpage.

How are visitors being managed on campus?

Access to campus will be limited for those who do not live or work at MacDuffie. Vendors will only be allowed on campus if they follow protocols for wearing masks. On-campus admission visits and tours may be scheduled and monitored at the discretion of the school and all current practices for masks and physical distancing will be required of interviewees. Parents or guardians wishing to visit will need to make a formal request to the school to do so and will need to show that they are symptom-free and able to follow the school’s protocols for wearing masks and exercising physical distancing.

What about recommended “mask breaks”?

CDC recommends that people, including teachers, staff, and students, wear cloth face coverings in public settings as able when around people who live outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

When students can physically AND socially distance themselves outside of the building, they can take off the masks for a “fresh air break”.  We want to encourage this between classes since most class transitions will  NOT take the full 10 minutes allotted. Students should maintain their distance from others and be mindful of keeping their masks clean and accessible, being sure to return them properly before re-entering the building. 

Technology

What platform will be used for online learning? Will my child be able to access all of the materials? What if there are technology or Internet connectivity issues?

We expect all material to be accessible online via a student’s personal device. Content created by the teacher will be posted in Blackbaud, our new learning management system that has replaced FACTS/Renweb. Most synchronous video sessions will be taking place on Google Meet or Zoom. If students or families have specific concerns, please contact the Technology Department via email at support@macduffie.org. Teachers are aware that some online content on select platforms (YouTube, Google, etc.) is not readily accessible everywhere. We understand that all of our students, whether they are participating within the U.S. or abroad, may occasionally experience internet connectivity issues depending on their individual circumstances. Students should report such issues to their teacher and/or advisor, and MacDuffie will provide whatever remote tech support and advice we possibly can.

How do new students get their MacDuffie email addresses?

New students should expect to receive their MacDuffie email addresses and instructions on accessing our online student portal closer to the start of school. Please continue to use your personal email address until our system updates. If you have any questions, contact support@macduffie.org.

Distance Learning

Is MacDuffie planning on using distance learning this year?

While MacDuffie plans to engage in live, in-person teaching, we recognize this may not be possible for all our students at the start of the year. Additionally, we must remain flexible enough to transition to distance learning should the need arise. All students will be prepared to access our curriculum remotely and will use the first few days of school to do so, as laid out in the return to school schedule.

What will students need to participate in distance learning?

Students will need their personal devices, a reliable internet connection, and time to attend classes and complete assignments. If your family is unable to accommodate a remote learning environment for your child, please contact Trish Cox, our Dean of Students, at tcox@macduffie.org, or Tara Robinson, Assistant Head and Academic Dean, at trobinson@macduffie.org, who will work with the technology department to ensure that all students have access to the resources that they need.

How will students access online learning for their courses?

Teachers will communicate specific instructions on a course-by-course basis. Faculty will discuss this with students prior to the beginning of online learning and will continue to contact students via their MacDuffie email addresses and through Blackbaud during that time. Students will access content through a variety of means including Google Classroom, Blackbaud, Google Meet, and Zoom.

What will the daily remote learning schedule look like?

Each class will be comprised of a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (done at the student’s pace) work. Teachers will continue to follow the modified hybrid schedule for distance learning unless otherwise noted. This schedule is designed to ensure that students in different time zones are able to participate live frequently. All class schedules will be listed on the students’ schedule grid in Blackbaud.

What are the expectations of students during the online learning periods?

Part of our back-to-school focus will be on setting expectations for appropriate remote learning engagement. Whether a student is learning in the classroom or remotely, they are expected to participate according to the standards and values MacDuffie has established for successful learning. While this will be introduced in greater detail, please adhere to the following general guidelines. 

Students are required to be fully engaged in their coursework by:

  • Participating in online courses in the times and manner specified to the best of their ability
  • Conducting themselves respectfully and appropriately in discussions and class activities
  • Completing all assignments and projects on time
  • Responding to emails and other communications from faculty, advisors, and other members of MacDuffie’s community
  • Maintaining all standards of academic integrity as specified in the Student Handbook
Where can I find detailed information about the expectations for online distance learning?

All students and families should familiarize themselves with the detailed online learning expectations outlined here.

How will teachers and advisors provide ongoing support for students during this challenging time?

MacDuffie faculty will strive to find creative and flexible ways to keep students engaged while they are away from us. This is important for their continued academic development, but also for their sense of stability during what continues to be an uncertain time. Our teachers have been asked to regularly discuss individual circumstances with their students and provide support accordingly. If a student is unable to attend a synchronous activity because of their current location or situation, the teacher will provide recordings and other support materials for that student as appropriate.

MacDuffie also expects a student’s advisor to be in touch frequently. Advisors will continue to have regularly scheduled video-conference calls and check-in times each week, and be accessible to students and families. Please reach out to your student’s advisor if you have questions or concerns. He or she is your first line of communication. 

How can parents support their child?

During distance learning, MacDuffie will do all we can to continue to support your child through live, online meetings, and other communication methods like email. You can support your child by offering access to a quiet place to focus and work, and by monitoring their social and emotional health. Please continue to actively communicate with faculty and administrators at the school with your questions and concerns.

If a student is struggling with online coursework, what should they do?

Students who are struggling with distance learning should first reach out to their teachers or seek assistance from advisors. Students with accommodations questions or who require support for learning disabilities may contact Dawn Faber, Director of Academic Support, at dfaber@macduffie.org for guidance.

International Student Information

What documents should my student have?

All students should have their complete set of travel documents: passport(s), I-20, and/or permanent resident card. Mrs. Darcie Mavlouganes has been re-signing students’ I-20s and has been sending those out this summer. If you have a question about your documents, please contact Mrs. Mavlouganes at dmavlouganes@macduffie.org.

What’s the best way to stay informed about updates for international student families?

The best way to receive updated information is to check this website, as we will post updates here as soon as more are available. Please also check the following for information about international documents and maintaining status as a The MacDuffieSchool student: Study in the States.

Can international students participate in online classes from outside the U.S. and still maintain the requirements of their F-1 student visas?

Yes, based on information from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), students on F-1 visas can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP expects to provide updated guidance as additional information concerning the scope and length of this situation becomes clearer. More information can be found here.

Will students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19?

Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, international students on F-1 visas should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U. S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, the Department of Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites both provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States. Additional information regarding changes for international students as well as studying at an American independent school can be found at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

Additional information regarding changes for international students as well as studying at an American independent school can be found at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
Students returning to campus in the fall should check with their local embassies for any updated travel regulations. We anticipate health screenings at ports of entry in the U.S.

If travel is restricted, will boarding students be offered online schooling or alternative learning options?

MacDuffie will be ready to welcome students to campus whenever they are able to arrive safely from their home countries, whether it be in September, November, or later in the academic year. We are going to be prepared to be teaching school here on campus in the fall, but we are also prepared to have online classes if necessary for students who are either unable to get to campus or who need to leave campus at any point during the year. Students in China may have additional options to live on-site at one of our sister campuses and can contact admissions@macduffie.org for more information.

Academic Support Center

Will Academic Support resources be offered this fall?

Academic Support will operate in its usual capacity this fall.  As with all classes, we will follow protocols for safe distancing and use technology and other strategies to provide in-person instruction and support. Programs provided include Guided Study and Study Skills, as well as assistance coordinating outside tutoring services when needed. The Academic Support Center is available to all students who require additional support to achieve academic success during their time at MacDuffie. Please contact Dawn Faber at dfaber@macduffie.org for more information. 

Co-Curricular Activities

What will happen with co-curricular commitments like athletics, the arts, and afternoon clubs and programming?

While it is too soon to know the specifics of what the athletic program will look like this coming fall, the athletic department is preparing for several scenarios that include a return to a full interscholastic season, a modified season of play, or a program that provides a combination of sport-specific training, strength training and ample opportunities for college exposure. Director of Athletics, Meirion George, is in regular contact with all of our peer schools on a weekly basis to plan for these scenarios. If other schools are competing, MacDuffie will be as well. Please feel free to connect with Mr. George at mgeorge@macduffie.org with specific questions. 


In other Afternoon Program activities, the hurdles for safely continuing school programs are much less daunting, though again we will adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local government guidelines.

Mental Health Resources

What are some good mental health resources for students and families during this pandemic?

While social distancing is a critical step towards combating this virus and caring for the most vulnerable members of our community, it is also inevitably challenging our ability to maintain our sense of balance, and we are all tasked with finding new ways to manage difficult thoughts and emotions.

School Counselor, Deanne Klingensmith, encourages the entire MacDuffie community to take their mental and emotional health seriously. She continues to be available to students and/or parents and guardians. Please reach out if you are concerned about your child’s emotional or mental health: dklingensmith@macduffie.org. We will work together to address these concerns, and if necessary, get them connected to providers in your area. 

Here are some links with useful information for parents and students:

Finally, if you or someone you know needs immediate mental health support, please: 

    • Call  911 or the equivalent emergency line in your country.
    • Call the Disaster Distress Helpline through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA offers crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to disasters and infectious disease outbreaks. Call (800) 985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
    • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255.
    • Text the Crisis Text Line: text Talk or HOME to 741741. 

COVID-19 Resources