Beginning April 9, Andover brought back its mask mandate inside all campus buildings after three weeks of mask-optional. According to emails from Dr. Raynard Kington, Head of School, 83 students and 4 employees tested positive between April 8 and April 12. Approximately 6.99 percent of the campus student population has tested positive for Covid-19 in the past four days.
According to various emails from Kington, students have been required to take Covid-19 tests on April 10 in their dorms or at their homes, and again on April 12 in their advising groups. Students will be required to meet in their advising groups on April 14 for another round of testing.
“We have only received test results from the iHealth app, emails to Sykes Wellness, and testing in Sykes Wellness Center from 78 percent of our students in the last 24 hours. In order to make good decisions based on data, we need to have everyone comply with our testing. Students will test in advising groups on Tuesday and Thursday (either in person or by Zoom) so advisors can ensure that everyone tests and submits results,” wrote Kington in an email to the Andover community on April 11.
Students who tested positive last week were asked to leave campus for a five-day quarantine period and to return after receiving a negative test result. Those who were unable to leave campus stayed in the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, or their own rooms if faculty could ensure that they remained isolated from everyone else in the dorm. However, according to an email from Kington on April 12, Sykes has begun using the second floor of the Snyder Center to house students with Covid-19 due to a lack of space.
“If [a student] tests positive at any point, [parents or guardians] will be informed immediately and asked to bring your child home. Boarding students who test positive and are unable to go home will isolate in Sykes Wellness Center, in a satellite on-campus location, or in their dormitory room (if we are able to keep students isolated from dormmates). If you test positive and are feeling well enough to participate in classes, you will be able to access your classes remotely,” wrote Kington.
According to Dr. Amy Patel, Medical Director at the Sykes Wellness Center, the increase in cases was a natural result of opening campus for the first time since fall term. She notes that the numbers remain comparatively smaller than those in the communities surrounding Andover.
“There’s been an increase, a very small increase, and throughout the pandemic, we’ve been very transparent about the positive cases reported. The small uptick is still proportionally smaller than the increase that’s being seen in the surrounding community. Because we have opened campus again and we’re allowing students to leave campus and request overnights and visit colleges and we’re having visitors, there’s naturally going to be an increase,” said Patel.
According to Jonas Giannoni ’25, a student who tested positive and stayed in Sykes for the five-day quarantine period, the Sykes team was very helpful and checked in on him periodically. Keeping up with schoolwork in a virtual environment was difficult, but Giannoni found that frequently updating teachers and coaches on how he would be attending class allowed him to more easily adjust to the situation.
“Staying in Sykes was great. All the staff there is really friendly and is happy to help you at any time. Attending classes is hard. Keeping your teachers and coaches updated as to when you are getting out or how you will attend their next class is really important,” said Giannoni.
Nate Liang ’25 tested positive only two days after receiving a negative Covid-19 test result. Liang was allowed to isolate in his own room for the beginning of his five-day quarantine period since he did not have a roommate. He found that this made his adjustment to quarantine much easier because he already had everything he needed.
“I’m actually excited that I’m allowed to isolate in my dorm because I already have everything I need here. The house counselors did a great job organizing it so that I can be comfortable but not expose anyone, too. Even though I have symptoms, they’re mild and aren’t very cumbersome, but obviously, it’ll be nice to get back to in-person classes soon,” said Liang.
Although the community is currently facing an increase in Covid-19 cases, as long as everyone abides by the proper masking protocols, Patel hopes that normalcy is maintained as much as possible.
“We will do what we need to do to maintain the mission of the school to have on-campus learning and keep it as close to a normal learning experience as possible… We have to remain cautious because this pandemic isn’t over, but we strive to maintain as much normalcy as possible,” said Patel.