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NMH maintains zero positive COVID-19 cases amid campus return

  • A panoramic view of the Northfield Mount Hermon School campus in Gill. Contributed photo/David Warren

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2020 2:23:22 PM

GILL — With one month having passed since students returned to the Northfield Mount Hermon School campus, and with several rounds of testing completed, the school has reportedly managed to maintain zero positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff members.

According to Chief Advancement Officer Philip Hood, NMH is partnering with the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to regularly provide COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff members. According to the Broad Institute’s website, more than 100 public and private colleges and universities in Massachusetts and the surrounding region are partnering with their laboratory for regular COVID-19 testing as part of back-to-school plans.

NMH has conducted about 1,500 tests to date through several rounds of testing. Hood said the school hasn’t seen any positive results so far. As of late last week, NMH was also preparing for a COVID-19 emergency exercise.

“We’re doubling down so that in the event that we do get a positive case, then we have all the procedures in place for students, and to do contact tracing, ” Hood said.

The exercise came as the school finished its first week of remote classes and prepared for the start of in-person instruction this week.

To allow for contact tracing, students will be required to add their information for test results and screenings into the REACH Boarding app. Hood also said the school hosted a virtual session for parents to see how they’re feeling about the new safety procedures.

Hood noted there was a “sense of anxiousness” among students and parents as students finished their quarantine periods after arriving on campus. He said some students likely felt isolated as they had to stay in their rooms, especially while others who had already finished quarantining were able to interact with others in their student “pods.”

Day students who don’t live on campus will also form pods with other day students, and there will be limitations regarding what public space is shared between day students and boarding students, outside of the classroom setting.

Students are able to participate in athletic programs and practices within their pods. The weather has been helping, Hood noted, as students can engage in outdoor activities like field hockey, tai chi classes or disc golf, while wearing face coverings.

“As campus opens up and we resume in-person instruction,” he said, “I think the mood is really good.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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