Andover will welcome approximately 215 Seniors to campus beginning February 1, according to Jennifer Elliott ’94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students. This cohort of Seniors will notice changes to campus life from Fall Term, including the invitation of day students to board, the opening of Paresky Commons for dining, and the return of delivery from local restaurants.
“I’m just getting super excited for everyone to return. We understand from the forecast that there’s probably going to be some snow this weekend so maybe kids will return back to a really snowy winter on campus. We’re just excited for kids to be here. It has felt really strange and so lonely to be here without all of them, so it will be fun. People are working really hard to plan,” said Elliott.
Upon arrival to campus, students will take a Covid-19 test and enter a mandatory quarantine that is expected to last through February 9 unless the three rounds of testing during this period indicate a high positivity rate. Once quarantine ends, students will no longer be required to wear masks within their dorms. This marks a change from Fall Term, when students could be maskless only within their individual dorm pod consisting of several other peers.
Students are prohibited from leaving campus after they arrive. According to an email from Elliott on January 17, students who are found violating these rules will be asked to leave campus in accordance with the Non Sibi Safety Pledge.
“When we look at some of our peer schools who were able to create tighter bubbles, they were able to reduce further the risk of exposure and then the spread of [Covid-19] and so we borrowed from some of their practices… We looked at our numbers from the fall and felt like that was where we had some of our vulnerabilities where folks were commuting back and forth from campus to home, or faculty and staff families needing to be off-campus and coming back to campus. It was definitely driven by prioritizing just how we could reduce risk as much as possible,” said Elliott.
Nicole Jo ’21 is a day student who chose to board for the remainder of Winter Term. Jo hopes that the next few weeks will become an opportunity for Seniors to branch out within their class.
“I’m moving into Chase House with some friends, and I’m pretty excited to spend some more time with them! Being a day student, I think this will be a new experience that I can take advantage of, and I’m excited to learn more about what it’s like to be somewhat of a boarding student,” wrote Jo in an email to The Phillipian.
The Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) and Snyder Center will be open for student use. Additionally, the administration hopes to host long-held traditions for Seniors, with the possibility of events like Spring Fling that were canceled for Seniors last year. Other potential events include a Senior Oasis, the 100 Days Party, Casino Night, and an opportunity to climb the Bell Tower, according to a December 7 email sent to Seniors from Elliott.
“Most of our big events will happen in Snyder. They’re working on Casino Night [and] the 100 Days Party for the Seniors. We’re working on movie nights in Kemper [Auditorium]. We’re working on a bunch of different activities up at the turf with food trucks and music. We’re working on seeing if we can get the Bell Tower open for Seniors to be able to get up there on one of their days off. We’re just trying to figure out ways that we can have kids be together and make sure that they’re safe too,” said Elliott.
Students have been assigned to large dormitories in West Quad North, West Quad South, Flagstaff, and Pine Knoll. While students in Fall Term traveled to the tents outside the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center to undergo Covid-19 testing, Seniors will participate in twice weekly saliva testing in their own dormitories instead.
“We’re going to do twice a week [Covid-19] tests, but we’ll use the saliva test and we’ll actually be able to have kids fill those little tubes in their dormitory so they won’t have to go over to the tents, or to Borden, but rather they can do it and we can collect the samples from each dorm and then do the pool testing, which should be faster and more efficient,” said Elliott.
While Susie’s remains closed for Paresky operations, Senior Tea will return. Additionally, students will be allowed the option to either dine-in at Paresky with other students in their dorm or order contactless delivery, which students advocated for during Fall Term, according to Elliott.
“The biggest change is that kids are going to be allowed to have contact-free delivery with food. I know that was something that kids were really lobbying for in the fall, and we’ll be able to accommodate that request as long as they follow the contactless guidelines so they’re not increasing exposure risk,” said Elliott.
According to Elliott, the administration is currently planning to welcome all students back to campus for Spring Term. She believes that the organization and planning of Winter Term will better prepare the administration for the spring.
“We also feel like we’re going to practice a bunch of things to help us get ready for the spring, which we’re excited about too. We can’t wait for kids to get back in the spring, all of our kids,” said Elliott.