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). 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 pragmatically 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.
Know that we are planning for a variety of scenarios ranging from the old “normal” — meaning a summer without COVID — to carefully planning for running a program where COVID is still a significant concern.
If COVID is still a major concern, we’re planning for regular COVID testing; expanded 24/7 EXPLO dedicated health centers that include both quarantine and isolation floors; 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; distributing and 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 sincerely hope we won’t need to put these plans into place, but if needed, we’ll be ready.
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 1, 2021, for any reason.
We sincerely hope that we can return to our previous size, but initially, we’ll limit our numbers. That said, we’ll be closely monitoring how the COVID situation is developing and, if we’re able, will make more space available.
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. All pre-college programs will be two weeks.
If COVID is still a serious concern, we’ll 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.
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 students will use most of the campus at Sarah Lawrence. 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.
It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? We know that many members of our community have experienced losses — ranging from the passing of family and friends to layoffs to a lack of in-person learning and extra-curricular activities. These losses, whether large or small, have created a heightened sense of uncertainty and anxiety for many of us (including for our team here at EXPLO!).
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 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.
We can’t wait to welcome you to campus! If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Last updated: 24 November, 2020