We know that engaging with one another in person is important, particularly this coming summer — even if being together may have a unique look and feel in the Age of COVID.
While EXPLO’s online summer programs offered students from across the U.S. and around the world the opportunity to connect with each other, make new friends, and participate in highly engaging courses and activities, we know that nothing can replace the transformational impact of the on-campus EXPLO experience. Our online programs filled a void that students experienced when their schools went remote. But after a year (or more) of distance learning and quarantining, students are longing for in-person connection, friendship, adventure, and hands-on learning — and so are we!
None of us can predict exactly which course COVID will take between now and Summer 2021, but keeping students and staff safe is our top priority at EXPLO (and always has been). EXPLO has assembled a COVID Task Force to help navigate these uncertain times and we commit to do our best, remain flexible in the face of uncertainty, and stay transparent and consistent in our communications as more information becomes available to us. You and your family undoubtedly have a lot of questions, so we’ll answer what we can for now and keep this list updated as time goes on.
EXPLO is optimistic about being able to run an in-person summer program in 2021. There were several camps that ran successfully last summer, and there are quite a few schools EXPLO works with — both boarding and day — that have had wonderful success returning to the classroom. Every week, we all learn more about how to manage in the era of COVID.
In this time of COVID, we are planning with caution in mind and are planning for a variety of scenarios. For now, we’re planning for regular COVID testing; expanded 24/7 EXPLO dedicated health centers that include both quarantine and isolation areas; dispersing and reducing the number of students and educators on campus by lowering enrollment; additional training for staff; limiting coming and going from campus; modifying the curriculum; using a variety of PPE equipment including masks; daily health assessments; enhanced sanitation and disinfecting of classrooms, public areas, athletic facilities, and restrooms; and a change in protocols and procedures ranging from how arrival day works, to the first day of the program, to how we approach meals, and robust on-campus programming if weekend trips are not possible.
We’re also working closely with our medical advisors/practices, our longtime health staff, and our host institutions. We are regularly monitoring information coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, recommendations from the Department of Health in the states where our programs are located, and state regulations. We expect all students, families, and staff to take the EXPLO Health Pledge that acknowledges that, regarding keeping the entire community safe, individual choice and action will need to be subordinate to the common good.
Absolutely. The summer of 2020 could not run as planned, so we returned 100% of tuition paid by any family who requested to have their monies returned. EXPLO is a not-for-profit institution and the EXPLO board of trustees’ position was clear that our families had placed their trust in us and we needed to make families whole. We had some families roll over their tuition to 2021. We are thankful for their commitment to us and look forward to seeing them this coming summer. If we cannot operate this summer, we’ll return all tuition.
Families can get 100% of tuition back until April 15, 2021, for any reason.
We sincerely hope that we can return to our previous size, but for now we are limiting our enrollment to ensure generous space to distance on campus, including in classrooms and living spaces. That said, we’ll be closely monitoring how the COVID situation is developing and, if we’re able, will expand enrollment.
In the past, we’ve had EXPLO programs of different lengths on the same campuses contemporaneously. This year, to prevent unnecessary overlap in coming and going, all programs on each respective campus will be of the same length, so that arrival and departure days will align. At Wheaton College and Sarah Lawrence College, all programs will be three weeks. At Mount Holyoke College all programs will be two weeks.
We will require students and staff to have PCR tests in the days leading up to coming to campus, followed by additional testing on campus. As we near summer, we’ll be in contact with specific requirements.
Upon arrival at the program, students and staff will be required to take both a rapid test and a PCR test. We plan to administer additional COVID tests at least two times per week.
For decades, EXPLO has had dedicated health centers staffed with registered nurses and 24/7 coverage. This will continue this summer. Also, the on-campus health centers overseen by our partner physician’s practices will expand this year to include areas for quarantining, isolation, and testing.
EXPLO went to great lengths this year to ensure that we have dedicated space for our students. The entire lower campus at Wheaton will be for EXPLO, and EXPLO will be the only program on the campus of Sarah Lawrence. Mount Holyoke is a 750-acre campus and EXPLO will have a large dedicated portion. We’re incredibly lucky that there’s plenty of outdoor space on each of our campuses — and that all of our host institutions are commendably committed to preventing and limiting the spread of COVID. This may mean many fewer people (students, educators, etc.) on campus than in the past, but the core of the EXPLO experience will remain unchanged.
EXPLO has always taken care of the whole person — head, heart, and body. We’ve been running dedicated on-campus health centers for decades. We have consulting psychologists on call 24/7. We have the most extensive student life programs and staffing in the industry. Our extensive staff training includes child and adolescent psychology and development, extensive crisis training, cross-cultural competency skills, and professional development around diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also think deeply about the role of play, friendship, and tradition in the development of community. We’re ready for a summer of explorative learning and nonstop fun. To ensure that happens, we’ll focus on our common humanity and the needs of the individual.
Based on current recommendations, all members of the EXPLO community will need to wear masks. Upon the advice of our medical team, members of the community will be expected to wear disposable masks. Prior to the start of the program, we will notify families as to which types of disposable masks are acceptable and how many to bring. We’ll have designated time throughout the day for students to take mask breaks. As we near the summer, we will be in contact with more specific requirements.
Right now, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state regulations, include quarantining for a period of time prior to travel. As such, we will require students and staff to quarantine before arriving on campus. We will continue to monitor information coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, recommendations from the Department of Health in the states where our programs are located, and state regulations. As this information evolves, we will update enrolled families with detailed Arrival/Departure information, including quarantine requirements, prior to the start of the program.
Based on guidance from our Host Institutions and recommendations from public health officials, EXPLO students will sleep in single rooms.The only exception will be students whose families make prior arrangements with us. Examples of exceptions would be siblings, friends whose families follow certain guidelines. (If you have questions about living in a double room, please call our admission office.)
While students may be sleeping in a room alone, they’ll hardly be lonely! As an EXPLO student, you will be part of an Advisor Group, led by two Advisors who live on your floor, check on you throughout your day, and keep you informed of what’s going on around campus. Since Advisor Groups meet together many times each day, you’ll come to consider this your campus family. They’ll care for you as if you were their own.
We can’t wait to welcome you to campus! If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Last updated: February 23, 2021