Winter 2021 Academic Term Starts Virtually
In an effort to mitigate potential spread of COVID-19 both on campus and within the greater community, Mercersburg Academy has announced that its students will remain off campus until March 6–7. All students have been off campus since November 19; classes were held virtually between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, and resumed on a virtual basis January 11, when the winter 2021 academic term began.
The first six weeks of the winter term are being conducted virtually throughout January and February. The Academy’s spring break (which is normally held in early- to mid-March) has been moved up to take place from February 20 to March 5, allowing the school the best opportunity to hold 13 weeks of classes on campus from March through June 5, when Commencement exercises are scheduled for the Class of 2021.
“After reviewing multiple options with the Board of Regents, school leadership, and results from faculty and staff surveys, we believe that this new plan will help us maximize in-person learning while prioritizing the health of our community,” Head of School Katie Titus said in a letter to parents and students.
As was the case in September when students returned to campus for the start of the fall academic term, all students will receive a COVID-19 test when arriving on campus, and will quarantine in their dormitory rooms for a week until another round of testing (this time on March 12). On-campus employees will be tested as well. The Academy anticipates opening the campus to in-person classes beginning March 15.
Mercersburg successfully completed the fall 2020 term with no transmissions of COVID-19 on campus. Approximately 360 students attended classes on campus in the fall, with about 80 choosing to learn virtually through an enhanced distance-learning program known as Virtual ’Burg. Boarding students living on campus were required to physically remain on campus during the entire fall term, with a goal of mitigating possible exposure. At this time, it is still to be determined whether students living on campus will be required to remain on campus for the entire spring term.
“We can now focus fully on building community virtually for six weeks [in January and February] while planning for an amazing 13 weeks on campus filled with all of the traditions and special moments that we love about our school,” Titus said.
More information about the Academy’s ongoing response to COVID-19 can be found at mercersburg.edu/covid-19-response.