Winter Term Information for Phillips Academy Families

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Winter Term Q&A

By keeping all students remote through the month of January and inviting only seniors back to campus in February (all as boarding students), we are confident that we can minimize health risks associated with winter. After administering almost 20,000 COVID-19 tests this fall, the campus positivity rate has remained low at 0.04 percent.

Classes: In the winter, we will increase synchronous teaching and learning time and reduce class sizes in as many courses as possible. All classes (except EBI) will extend from 45 minutes to 55 minutes, and our evening (EST) set of classes will start at 7:30 p.m.

Grades: A change to our grading scale for the entire academic year has been announced. It is now: 6, 5, 4, P (Pass), 1, 0. The P will replace grades of 3 and 2. Additionally, if a student fails a course (grade of 0 or 1), they will have an opportunity to make up work to earn a final grade of P. This change is in place for the fall, winter, and spring terms this year.

Text books: Winter term books will be delivered to the address that students have indicated in EduCompass. They will have their books before classes resume on January 4, 2021.

Winter Term Key Dates

  • December 1: Winter Term schedules released to students
  • December 1-11: Course changes, add/drop period
  • December 2 – December 16: Winter Term begins (Off campus, remote learning for all students)
  • December 17 – January 3: Winter break
  • January 4 29: Winter Term resumes, remote for all students
  • February 3 March 5: Juniors, Lowers, Uppers remote
  • February 3 March 5: Seniors in-residence on campus
  • February 15 16: No classes
  • March 5: Last day of Winter Term
  • March 6: Seniors will leave campus for Spring Break by 12 noon
  • March 6 22: Spring break
  • March 23: Spring Term begins

Campus living: Seniors who opt to join our all-residential senior student community will move into their dorm on Feb. 1 and 2. We will send out registration surveys to sign up for a time once we know who will be joining us. Students will live in singles or have a roommate in a two or three-room double.

The same “two suitcases” rule of thumb applies. Pack lightly. Each student will receive a mini-fridge, fan, power strip, and shower caddy in their dormitory room.

Seniors must be completely moved out of their rooms by 12 noon on March 6.

There will not be any additional fees for senior day students who choose to board from February 1, 2021, until Spring Break.

Boarding students who are not on campus from January to March will receive a credit to the family’s account prorated for the time that the student will not be on campus.

Families must let us know whether their senior will be a boarding student or a remote student for winter term by Thursday, December 10.

All seniors who choose to be on campus must remain on campus through the end of winter term. There will be no commuting for any reason (club sports, music lessons, etc.) or traveling home on weekends. We also do not expect to allow visitors to campus.

Athletics: Seniors on campus will be able to train for all traditional winter sports as well as numerous L.I.F.E sports. There will be no winter interscholastic competition. We will not have athletic programming for our remote learners during the winter term.

Spring: Our Spring Term plans are to welcome all students back to campus in a shortened, phased manner over two days. Quarantine will begin at home and continue on campus. Testing will resume upon arrival and continue regularly throughout the term.

We will continue to consistently assess our stance (changing direction when necessary), and to always communicate our current thinking to our students, parents, and campus community.


What is Phillips Academy’s approach to winter term?

Our plan is to de-densify the campus as much as possible and give seniors the opportunity to return to campus for a portion of the term.

  • Following the completion of fall term, students who are currently on campus will return home for Thanksgiving break, as previously planned.
  • All students will begin winter term remote-only from December 2 – 16, as previously planned.
  • Following the holiday break, all students will resume winter term remote-only from January 4 – 29.
  • The first week of February, seniors who opt to live on campus as boarding students will move into a dorm. Day students who choose this option will become boarding students. Students must remain on campus until Spring Break. To maintain a safe campus, we will not allow commuting or visits home. Students also will not be allowed to take part in off-campus activities, including music lessons and club sports.
  • All students will leave campus for Spring Break by 12 noon on March 6.
  • We will continue with spring term plans to welcome all students back to campus in a shortened, phased manner over two days. Quarantine will begin at home and continue on campus. Testing will resume upon arrival and continue regularly throughout the term.
  • Families must let us know whether their senior will be a boarding student or a remote student for winter term by Thursday, December 10.

What is the rationale behind this decision?

Based on the latest public health data, compounded by challenges presented by the winter months, we believe that a de-densified campus is a responsible approach to winter term. Repopulating the campus to the extent we have this fall would risk our primary goal of protecting the health of our campus community. The trajectory of the pandemic, coupled with cold and flu season, creates unique challenges during a period when we must operate entirely indoors.

Why invite any students to campus?

Campus health data during the fall term have shown that our protocols and guidelines are working. After administering almost 20,000 COVID-19 tests, the campus positivity rate remains low at 0.04 percent. We have seen a very small number of positive tests, the majority being in our day student population. By keeping students remote through the month of January and inviting a small number (25 percent of the student population) back to campus in February, we are confident that we can minimize the risks associated with winter by remaining remote for the majority of the flu season and de-densifying to allow for adequate spacing indoors.

Will boarding students who are not seniors receive a credit to their account now that they will be remote for winter term?

Yes. The Academy will provide boarding students who are not on campus from January to March a credit to the family’s account prorated for the time that the student will not be on campus.

What are the financial implications for senior day students who decide that they would like to board on campus beginning in February?

In an effort to create a special experience for seniors during this challenging time, there will not be any additional fees for senior day students who choose to board from February 1, 2021, until Spring Break.

Will senior day students who choose to become boarding students be able to go home on weekends, participate in club sports, music lessons, etc?

No. All students must remain on campus through the end of winter term. There will be no commuting to and from campus for any reason (club sports, music lessons, etc.) or traveling home on weekends. We also do not expect to allow visitors to campus.

How are you approaching the winter term academic program?

Lessons about delivering our program remotely were learned in spring 2020 and incorporated into new methods this fall, including more synchronous teaching and increased student-advisor interaction. With ongoing professional development and opportunities for faculty to share best practices, we will continue to adjust and refine our approach.

Feedback from families and students indicates that students felt much more connected to their teachers, advisors, and peers this fall. Feedback also reflected that students were much more engaged and invested in their coursework compared to spring 2020.

We look forward to replicating and building upon those practices that worked well this fall. In the winter, we will maintain regular connections and communications between students and advisor point people. We are exploring options to increase synchronous teaching and learning time and reduce class sizes in as many courses as possible.

How are you approaching the winter term athletic program?

On-campus students will be able to train for all traditional winter sports as well as numerous L.I.F.E sports. There will be no winter interscholastic competition. We will not have athletic programming for our remote learners during the winter term.

What can families expect for spring term 2021?

We will resume rigorous testing, quarantining (a shortened duration on campus, coupled with a quarantine prior to arrival), and the use of outdoor spaces and tents. Assuming we are able to welcome students to campus, our staged return process will happen more quickly than it did this fall. We will also aim to bring boarding and day students back to campus together with their class cohort.