2020-21 Parent & Student Resource Center

As a global educational institution, Williston is taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our community. Head of School Robert Hill and members of our senior administrative team are coordinating the school’s response. 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.

This page will be continually updated as the situation evolves.


Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL QUESTIONS

  • Where can I find information on Williston's opening of school plan?

    Williston’s Reopening Plan will be available at this website in the coming days. Please check back here for the link to the page.

  • Will Williston Northampton School be open in the fall for in-person school?

    Yes, following our suspension of in-person classes in March 2020 because of the novel coronavirus, 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. We will share our detailed plan for reopening soon.

  • When will students return to campus?

    That depends on each student’s situation as we phase in in-person learning. (See the full-year calendar here)

    • International and domestic boarding students with specific travel restrictions or an inability to self isolate within driving distance of school,  can return to campus to allow for a two-week period of self isolation between August 12 and August 17. While there will not be organized programming during this time, we offer this as a service to families who do not have options for other nearby locations for this two-week period. If you might need this option, please contact Jenna Motyka in the Deans Office as soon as possible. In addition, students who need to do so will be able to remain on campus through all school breaks for travel limitations/restrictions and safety considerations.
    • Day students and boarders who live within driving distance to campus will return between August 28 and August 31 (see more details in the Q&A below). Williston will ask these students to follow “safer at home” protocols for two weeks before arrival on campus. We will send more detailed guidelines on these protocols, but in broad strokes, this means self-isolating and taking every precaution for reducing coronavirus exposure for two weeks prior to returning to campus and then, traveling to campus without using any public transportation
    • Our first day of classes for the Middle and Upper School will be September 1.

  • What are the detailed arrival dates?

    Below are details about our staggered, safe arrival, and other fall dates. (See the full year calendar here.)

    • August 12-17: International and domestic boarding students with specific travel restrictions or an inability to self isolate within driving distance of school can return to campus to allow for a two-week period of self isolation.
    • August 28-30: Staggered return of students to campus
      • August 28: Invited student leaders arrive
      • August 29: Staggered arrival for all new boarding students (other than those new students who arrived August 12-16 for self-isolation)
      • August 30: Staggered arrival for all returning boarding student (other than those returning students who arrived August 12-16 for self-isolation)
      • August 31: Staggered arrival for all day students (Middle and Upper School)
    • September 1: First day of classes
    • November 20: All on-campus classes end, and Thanksgiving Break begins
    • December 1: Online-only classes resume
    • December 18: All classes end, and Winter Break begins

  • Do boarding students need to let Williston know when we'll be arriving on campus?

    Yes, please. All boarding students should let us know when you will be arriving on campus by completing the August 2020 Arrival form in your Student Portal (you’ll find it on the lower left of the page). If you have any questions, please contact Jenna Motyka.

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

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

  • What safety measures is Williston putting into place to protect students?

    In addition to screening and safety measures—such as mask wearing, social distancing, and a Williston Compact, which will require all students, faculty, and staff to follow safe habits and expectations while on campus—we plan to use testing, if available, as part of our reopening and ongoing school program.

  • What do we know about how Campus Life—boarding, dining, and health and wellness—will operate for students next year?

    In an effort to create more single dorm rooms and reduce student density in residence halls, we are expanding our available dorm room space through new dorm construction and the opening of previously unused spaces. We anticipate having a variety of singles and doubles, and we will work with families to accommodate their preference on singles/doubles, to the best of our ability. We are also expanding the square footage of the Health and Wellness Center, and have identified two quarantine spaces on campus, if necessary.The Dining Commons and the Student Center will also be reconfigured to minimize density and community members will follow new guidelines for all meals. Finally, we have developed a Williston Compact, which will require all students, faculty, and staff to follow safe habits and expectations while on campus.

  • Where can parents find handy links?

    The Parents section of our website has lots of information for parents, with links to forms, calendars, and portals, to an even more granular Frequently Asked Questions area with parent questions in mind.

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

    Our new address for shipping items is:

    Williston Northampton School
    20 Greenwood Court
    Easthampton, MA 01027

    Our address for ordinary mail and the address to use to find directions to campus remains:

    Williston Northampton School
    19 Payson Avenue
    Easthampton, MA 01027

    More on visiting campus is here.

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 their Surface. Content created by the teacher will be posted in OneNote, Veracross, or OneDrive. Most synchronous sessions will be taking place on Zoom. We are not currently aware of any country-specific accessibility issues, but if students or families have specific concerns, please contact Technology via email at support@williston.com or by phone at (413) 529-3338. 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 circumstance. Students should report such issues to their teacher and/or advisor, and Williston will provide whatever remote tech support and advice we possibly can.

  • How do new students get their Williston email address?

    New students should already have received an email from our Technology Department with information about your Williston email and password (which  also allows you to access your Student Portal). If you have any questions, contact support@williston.com.

  • I still have my Surface at home. What should I do?

    As of June 15, all students should have either returned their Surfaces to the school or purchased them through the Business Office. If you haven’t yet received a mailing label from the school or if you need to make alternate arrangements, please contact the Technology Department by email or at (413) 529-3338 by Friday, June 26. If we have not received your surface by the end of the day on the 26, your account will be charged $300 and will be adjusted when your surface is received at the school. If you decide to purchase your surface, please remit payment of $300.

  • When will I get my new Surface Pro 7?

    New Surface Pro 7s will be issued to every student at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

ACADEMIC PROGRAM

  • Is Williston planning on using distance learning this year?

    Yes, Williston is proactively planning for all students to engage in courses through distance learning between Thanksgiving and Winter breaks (approximately three weeks) in December. During this time, teachers will continue to meet synchronously (live) through Zoom using a modified schedule.

  • What will students need to participate in distance learning?

    Students will need their Surface computers, 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 Kathy Noble, our Dean of Students, at knoble@williston.com, or Kim Evelti, Director of Curriculum, at kevelti@williston.com, who will work with the Academic Office 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 contact students via their Williston email addresses, Veracross, and OneNote during that time. Students will access content through a variety of means including Veracross, OneNote, 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 follow a modified schedule for distance learning that is different from when we are meeting in person. 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 Veracross.

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

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

    ·         Participating in online courses in the times and manner specified

    ·         Completing all assignments and projects on time

    ·         Responding to emails and other communications from faculty, advisors, and other members of Williston’s community

    ·         Maintain all standards of academic integrity as specified in the Student Handbook

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

    Williston faculty will strive to find creative and flexible ways to keep students academically 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.

    Teachers have also been asked to send parents an overview of the course expectations at the beginning of the online experience and about every other week following. If a student is unable to attend a synchronous activity because of their location, the teacher will provide recordings and other support materials for that student as appropriate.

    Williston also expects your student’s advisor to be in touch frequently. Advisors will continue to have regularly scheduled videoconference 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.

  • How can parents support their child?

    During distance learning, Williston 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.

  • 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 their Surface. Content created by the teacher will be posted in OneNote, Veracross, or OneDrive. Most synchronous sessions will be taking place on Zoom. We are not currently aware of any country-specific accessibility issues, but if students or families have specific concerns, please contact Technology via email at support@williston.com or by phone at (413) 529-3338. 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 circumstance. Students should report such issues to their teacher and/or advisor, and Williston will provide whatever remote tech support and advice we possibly can.

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

    Students who are struggling with the transition to online coursework 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 Laura Vachet, Director of Academic Support, for guidance.

  • What should students bring home for online learning?

    Students should bring all academic materials home for Thanksgiving break including their books, calculator, and Surface. If a student forgets something at school, they will be instructed by their teachers on how to access any materials necessary for the course. If a student forgets their calculator, there are various online programs that can simulate the same functionality.  Click here to learn about recommended options.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT INFORMATION

  • What documents should my student have?

    All students should have their complete set of travel documents: passport(s), I-20, permanent resident card. Director of International Programs Meg Valine has re-signed students’ I-20s prior to break and has been sending out those left on campus so they are in students’ possession. If you have a question about your documents, please contact Mrs. Valine at mvaline@williston.com.

  • 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 Williston Northampton School 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 deferred admission until January?

    Williston 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 will also be prepared 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. 

CENTER FOR ACADEMIC SUCCESS

  • Will Academic Strategies Tutorial (AST) be offered this fall?

    Academic Strategies Tutorial class 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. 

  • When will the Laboratory for Academic Success (LAS) program resume?

    Laboratory for Academic Success will resume on campus this fall during evening study hallProtocols will be followed for safe distancing and in-person support. 

  • What will AST and LAS look like during the online instructional period from December 1 to December 18, 2020?

    AST classes will transition to one-on-one online consultation and support. Our focus will be meeting individual needs regarding time management during this less structured teaching period. In addition, we will be assisting students with assignment preparation and guidance. These consultations will be very important for providing accountability and helping students meet deadlines and course expectations.  LAS will not meet during the online instructional period and parents will not be charged for this support program until we return to on-campus operation. More information about pro-rated fees for LAS will follow. 

  • Remind me of the differences between AST and LAS and how do I register for these support programs?

    AST and LAS are the two main academic support programs offered through the Center for Academic Success and you can read more about both programs here. Both of these support services have an additional fee.

    If you would like your student to enroll in either or both of these programs, please registerhere. 

STANDARDIZED TESTING AND COLLEGE SEARCH

  • Will there be any extra support for rising seniors this year as they prepare for the college application process?

    We know that many parents of our rising seniors are concerned about what all of this uncertainty means for their child’s college admissions process, and we plan to do all we can to help students and families navigate this.

    College Counseling has been sending out weekly emails with important updates on what students need to be doing towards their college process.  Topics have addressed virtual college visits, teacher recommendations and writing the college essay.  We will continue to send out important information on a regular basis all summer.  In the past we have sent the majority of this information to students, but in an effort to keep everyone as up-to-date as possible, we are currently copying parents on all of our communication with the class of 2021.

    Students are asked to write a draft of their college essay over the summer and we are providing free resources to help.

    In addition, we encourage students and families to reach out to their college counselor at any time with questions or to request an appointment by Zoom.

    Lastly, we plan to offer some bootcamp-like opportunities in August to help students to complete their Common Applications.

  • Will Williston be a test center for the ACT this year?

    Yes, Williston will be a test center for the September 12, October 24, and April 17 ACT exams.

    Information regarding registration, test dates and deadlines and other frequently asked question can be found at this website.

    Information regarding ACT’s COVID-19 Policies and updates can be found here.

  • When should my student register for the ACT?

    If your student is considering taking the ACT, registration opens the last week of July. Registration is offered on a first-come-first-served basis.Use this link to set up an account and register.

  • Is the ACT open to students that don't go to Williston?

    Yes, the ACT is open to students outside of the Williston community. Here is the link to register for the test.

  • Where can I find free test prep for the ACT?

    The ACT offers students free access to test prep through ACT Academy. It is a free online learning tool and test practice program designed to help students get the best score possible on the ACT test. Please consider utilizing the program to prepare for your exam. You can find more information on the ACT Academy here.

  • Will Williston administer the SAT this year?

    Yes, Williston will administer the SAT on August 29, September 26, October 3, November 7, December 5, and May 8. Subject tests will be offered on all dates except the September 26. Information regarding registration can be found at this website.

  • When should my student register for the SAT?

    Information regarding test dates, registration deadlines, and Subject Test availability can be found at this link.

  • What other information do I need to know about taking the SAT?

    Frequently asked questions about the SAT are at this link.

  • Where can I find free test prep for the SAT?

    The College Board offers free SAT practice through Khan Academy. Khan Academy offers  personalized study with access to thousands of practice questions and full-length practice tests. Please consider utilizing the program to prepare for your exam. You can find more information at this website.

CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

  • What will happen with co-curricular commitments like athletics, performing arts, and afternoon activities?

    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 Mark Conroy is in regular contact with all of our peer schools on a weekly basis to plan for these scenarios. Suffice it to say that if other schools are competing, Williston will be as well. Fall head coaches have met with their teams to provide guidance on preparing for the season ahead. Strength coach Blayne Lapan has put together summer training plans for all athletes. As a reminder, demonstrations of all exercises are available on the Williston strength YouTube channel.  Additionally, both Twitter (@Willistonteams) and Instagram (@coachlapan_wildcatstrength) are resources for our students to access regular guidance from Coach Lapan all summer.

    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. 

    Director of Psychological Counseling Services Sara Schieffelin encourages the entire Williston community to take their mental and emotional health seriously. 

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

    As a reminder, the Counseling Department 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. We will work together to address these concerns, and if necessary, get them connected to providers in your area.  Please email Sara Schieffelin or call her at (413) 529-3674 and leave a message.  

    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 textTalkWithUs 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

Williston’s senior administrative staff are monitoring several key, reliable sources of information about COVID-19:

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC):

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

World Health Organization (WHO)

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center


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