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COVID-19 Updates


All grades are back on campus and Exeter continues to provide a remote experience for those who are unable to return for fall term. As conditions related to COVID-19 continue to evolve, so too will our planning. We will keep families updated. 

Due to the pandemic, all campus buildings and grounds are closed to visitors until further notice (students and employees of PEA may enter campus buildings). If you would like to learn more about Exeter and our campus, we invite you take a virtual tour of campus and view Exeter Today.

COVID-19 Dashboard

Consult our COVID-19 dashboard for aggregate data pertaining to COVID-19 testing of students and PEA employees.


The Student Guidebook, a description of health and safety protocols | Available on Exeter Connect for students and employees; on the Parent Portal for parents.

Expectations and responsibilities to stay safe and healthy

School year calendar 2020-2021

Principal Rawson's letter on planning for fall 2020, June 30

Frequently Asked Questions

We invite you to explore some of the commonly asked questions below for more details about fall term. All answers were updated on Aug. 20, 2020. 

Health and Safety
Will students be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus? Will there also be on-campus testing?

Yes. Students will undergo a self-collected test prior to returning to campus and then will be tested by health center staff at least twice more after arriving on campus. More information about that process was sent to in early August. In addition, students will complete daily symptom and exposure screening questions and a temperature check.

What happens if my student tests positive for COVID-19 prior to the opening of school?

Any student who tests positive for the COVID-19 virus within 14 days of the opening of school will be put in touch with the medical director to develop an appropriate plan prior to coming to campus. While home, students will be able to participate in online instruction until they are able to come to campus.

Will students be expected to quarantine for 14 days prior to arriving on campus?

We are requiring that all students coming to campus this fall self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to traveling to campus. This will help us to reduce the risk of bringing the virus to campus as we come together as a collective community.

Will employees be tested for COVID-19?

All employees will be tested before the start of the fall term and will follow the same daily symptom and exposure screening and temperature checks as our students.

What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19 on campus?

Any student diagnosed with COVID-19 will be cared for by our medical staff at the Lamont Health and Wellness Center. If emergency evaluation is necessary, they will be transported to the local hospital for treatment. Anyone who is able to travel by private transportation will be encouraged to recover at home.

Following any COVID-19 diagnosis, the health team will immediately start the process of contact tracing to identify and quarantine all known close contacts of a person who tests positive. Positive cases will be reported to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and the on-campus medical team will work in conjunction with DHHS to follow state guidelines for isolation and quarantine.

Will students be provided with masks, and if so, what type of mask?

Yes, students will be provided with two cloth masks that each have two fabric layers and a filter layer in between. These masks can be washed and worn for 30 washes. Students, of course, are welcome and encouraged to bring similar masks of their own.

How will you educate students about new health and safety protocols?

Training and education are important components of our plan for limiting exposure to this virus. All community members will learn what is expected of them in order to maintain a safe community. This will take place both prior to their coming to campus through a combination of webinars and Q&A forums, and then upon arrival to campus with in-person sessions.

If a student needs to quarantine, where will that happen?

Students who need to quarantine must spend this 14-day time period either at home, with a family member off campus, or under the supervision of the medical staff in a designated quarantine site on campus.

Will the school have a contact-tracing protocol?

Yes. We have trained multiple members of our health staff to perform contact tracing. In addition, we have developed an application that uses digital technology from cell phones to help us complete a thorough contact-tracing analysis when possible. We will partner closely with our state public health officials as well. 

With online learning, will classes be synchronous?

Students will meet with their teachers and their classmates synchronously at least two to three times each week, either as a full class or in smaller groups. Teachers may use other scheduled time for asynchronous work.

Recognizing that synchronous engagement may be challenging for some students while learning off-campus, we have developed a variety of approaches for meeting their individual needs. One such approach for uppers and seniors is an asynchronous-only section of English, which has been offered as an option to students who are off campus

What will the daily schedule look like in the fall?

As some students may be unable to join us on campus or may choose to learn from home, the daily schedule will accommodate students in various time zones. 

There will be a break in the academic day from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern time) for athletics, music ensembles, theater rehearsals, clubs, and dinner, as well as some other in-person activities. This break is followed by one additional 45-minute class period. Since the schedule stretches into the evening, students will have many free periods during which they can do schoolwork, connect with instructors, exercise and interact with friends (following appropriate safety measures).

There will be no Saturday classes.

The schedule will include times for advising, dorm meetings, faculty office hours, and community-building experiences. Additionally, the schedule will include dedicated time for robust, community-wide anti-racist programming to support our commitment to making our school and community actively and effectively anti-racist. You can find sample schedules in the student guidebook on ExeterConnect or the Parent Portal.

Will any classes this fall be in-person?

As health and safety conditions allow, we plan to provide options for in-person learning opportunities. These may include small and larger group meetings at Harkness tables equipped with plexiglass barriers, meetings in oversized spaces, and de-densified labs and field trips. All in-person instruction will follow physical distancing requirements and other safety protocols. In-person instruction will be designed to also include students who are learning remotely.

Will classes in the fall be graded or pass/fail?

Last spring, all courses were graded on a pass/fail system due to the quick adjustment students had to make to online learning. This fall, the Academy will be grading all courses using our 11-point grading scale.

As has been our approach for many years, our incoming ninth graders will continue to be graded with pass/fail for the fall term.

How will students be housed in dorms?

Following the advice of medical experts, we will house students in singles, two- and three-room doubles, and larger one-room doubles. The smallest one-room doubles will be converted to single rooms. All doubles will be equipped with a HEPA air filter. 

We have added dormitory capacity by housing students in the Exeter Inn, to reduce density in other dorms.

How will dormitory units work?

We will divide larger dormitories into several dorm units, which will help us limit the number of close contacts that each student has on campus. Dorm units will vary in size, with the largest being 17 students. In all dormitories, dorm units will share dedicated bathrooms, usually on a particular floor. Dorm units will plan activities together and create small communities within each dormitory.

Will students need to wear masks and practice physical distancing in their dorm?

Yes. At the start of the school year, a student’s room will be the boundary indicating where masks are needed or not needed. Students will still be able to interact within the dorm following physical-distancing and mask-wearing protocols. Dormitories will also have access to large spaces for full dorm activities and meetings. Once conditions permit, we expect students within dorm units may be able to interact without masks in some settings. Students will be required to wear masks in the dormitory whenever an adult is present.

Can students visit students in other dorm units or in another dorm?

Within their dorm, students will be able to interact with students outside their dorm unit as long as they follow safety protocols. To minimize risk, students will not be allowed to visit in other dorms or rooms outside their dorm unit until such time as health and safety conditions allow. There will be plenty of spaces on campus where students can gather with friends while following all safety protocols.

What cleaning protocols will be used in the dormitories?

Our custodial teams will clean all common spaces in the dorms twice daily, following CDC guidelines on disinfecting. Students will also have supplies on hand to disinfect common spaces quickly, including quick-drying disinfectants that do not require the wiping down of surfaces.

Of course, frequent hand-washing will remain a cornerstone of safety across campus, including in dormitories.

Day Students
May day students go downtown or to other area locations during the time periods when boarders are restricted to campus?

Until it is deemed safe to do otherwise, all students will be required to stay on campus. Once day students arrive on campus for the day, they are expected to stay on campus until they leave for home.

Will students be able to participate in off-campus activities including sports, off-campus employment, volunteer work, rehearsals and competitions?

All students (boarding and day) will be required to refrain from participating in organized activities and public-facing commitments external to the Academy, to help reduce the risk of community spread within the campus community. Students who choose to participate in such outside activities should not come to campus and should participate in classes remotely.

To request an exception, students will need to submit a petition through the dean of students office, which will decide on individual petitions in consultation with the administrative team.

Please note that we will not make exceptions for students to participate in off-campus programs such as external athletic team training or competition, until such time that conditions allow for our own interscholastic athletic program to resume competitive play.

When will day students be allowed on campus?

Day students will be able to return to campus on the same schedule as their boarding counterparts. Day student leaders will begin training on campus on Monday, September 7. Other upper and senior day students will be allowed on campus on Wednesday, September 9. Prep and lower day students will be allowed on campus on October 3.

Will day students follow the same testing protocols related to COVID-19?

Yes, under current guidance, day students who plan to be on campus during the term will follow the same testing protocols as boarding students. Day students will also undergo daily symptom and exposure checks and temperature screens. In addition, we will require any day student who is ill to stay at home.

Where can day students do online classes if they don’t want to do them from home?

Each day student will have a library carrel for study and participation in remote classes. We will remove some carrels from circulation to de-densify each section of the library. There will be additional spaces on campus available to all students for socializing, studying and participation in classes.

Will day students be affiliated with dormitories?

Yes, but like many parts of our lives these days, being a day student affiliate will not look the same. The goals, however, are quite similar.

In order to decrease the risk of the possible transmission of COVID-19, we will only allow students to enter a dormitory if they live there. However, day student affiliates will still be seen as part of the dorm community. They will be included in remote dorm events and meetings and when in-person events can be held in larger venues.

Campus Life
How will you enforce new health and safety protocols in common areas?

Since the health and safety protocols outside of an individual student’s dormitory room are consistent across campus, it will be easier to explain and enforce those protocols through reminders, conversations and signage.

Bringing our oldest students back to campus first also allows them to be first adopters and role models of the new protocols. If a student has particular difficulty meeting these expectations, we will work with them within our normal processes to address the concern.

All students and adults will have a shared responsibility for the health and safety of our community. Our health and safety protocols are the means by which we will care for each other, and we will count on our students to take this responsibility seriously.

Will student clubs and activities still happen?

Yes. Clubs and other activities such as affinity and religious organizations will offer a combination of in-person and virtual experiences so that membership and participation is available to all students, whether they are on campus or at home.

Will students be allowed to go into downtown Exeter? What about going to locations beyond the town of Exeter?

Initially, students must stay on campus. Once conditions permit, we may permit students to go into downtown Exeter, wearing a mask and complying with physical distancing requirements. This rule will apply to day students as well, once they have arrived on campus for the day. 

Visits home will be permitted, once it is safe to allow. At this time, we do not anticipate granting out-of-town requests for students to leave the town of Exeter for destinations or activities other than to travel home.

To request an exception, students will need to submit a petition through the dean of students’ office, which will decide on individual petitions in consultation with the administrative team. Please note that we will not make exceptions for students to participate in off-campus programs such as external athletic team training or competition, until such time that conditions allow for our own interscholastic athletic program to resume competitive play.

Will visitors be allowed on campus?

For now, and until such time as conditions permit visitors, the Academy buildings and facilities are closed to non-community members, including parents and alumni.

How will the Academy handle move-in days?

Our staggered arrival schedule will reduce congestion on arrival days. We will also extend the times for possible arrivals on move-in days so we will have fewer arriving at the same times.

Whenever possible, we ask that only one adult accompany each arriving student. All students and those who accompany them must be asymptomatic when they arrive and will be screened at registration for symptoms or particular risk factors or COVID-19.

All arriving students and their family members must wear masks and practice physical distancing from others while on campus. Unfortunately, we will not be able to allow family members to accompany students into dormitories, and we expect family members to depart campus promptly after dropping off students.

There will be no on-campus parent information sessions during move-in days. Instead, we will host parent information sessions online.

Will students be able to participate in off-campus activities including sports, off-campus employment, volunteer work, rehearsals and competitions?

Boarding and day students will not be allowed to participate in activities and public-facing commitments external to the Academy, to help reduce the risk of community spread within the campus community. Students who choose to participate in such outside activities should not come to campus and should participate in classes remotely.

To request an exception, students will need to submit a petition through the dean of students’ office, which will decide on individual petitions in consultation with the administrative team. Please note that we will not make exceptions for students to participate in off-campus programs such as external athletic team training or competition, until such time that conditions allow for our own interscholastic athletic program to resume competitive play.

When will a decision be made about interscholastic competitions?

This decision will be made at some point later in the fall, most likely the 3rd week in October and it will be based on conversations with directors of athletics within the NEPSAC and Eight Schools groups and guidance from the state of New Hampshire and the CDC as well as our own medical team. We want to support our students’ passions within the confines we are given.

If interscholastic competition is not available, what type of athletic experience should student-athletes expect?

We feel one of the greatest benefits of returning to campus is a chance for the students to see their teammates and friends after 6 months apart. We want our student-athletes to develop their mind and body with minimal disruption to their sport of passion. We will focus on skill development, strength and conditioning, and nutrition and sport psychology.

For athletes hoping to pursue their sport in college, we will look to set up sport-specific combines toward the end of the fall and subsequently the winter if we are in the same situation.  We will invite college coaches (safely) to watch in person and/or stream the sessions for their viewing.

For students attending virtually off campus, we will provide them with sport-specific training drills, and all workouts on campus will be shared. Training may be streamed to those unable to attend.  

There will be a number of restrictions to start the school year including wearing masks and 10 feet of social distancing between student-athletes while in practice.  Students will also be in groups of 10 in order to help with contract tracing if necessary.  The groups of 10 need to be separated from each other by 20 feet during practice until we move to the next phase.

Will the athletic facilities be open for student recreational use?

Yes. For the safety of the community, we are working on a plan for facility usage, flow of traffic, and implementation of CDC-guided cleaning and hygiene practices. We will follow best-practice recommendations from professional organizations as well as federal and NH state guidelines. 

Currently, our indoor spaces will become available for athletic instruction as our medical team feels we are in a position to do so.  We are creating an outdoor gym space that will be available up until the time all students will be allowed to use the Downer Family Fitness Center. Our outdoor facilities will be available.

Initially, once the indoor facilities open, only the fitness center will be open for drop in workouts.  There will be a sign up as that space will have limited capacity due to indoor social distancing needs. The other indoor spaces will be open during programming or if a student-athlete is receiving instruction from a coach. 

Enrollment and Tuition
Will the Academy consider prorating the room and board for preps/lowers who will be off campus until Oct. 3?

The Academy will issue prorated refunds for the difference between the boarding and day rate for the weeks that students are not on campus in the fall. Credits or refunds will be issued and applied to accounts when all students return to campus in the fall. Families should continue to make their regularly scheduled payments. Credits will be issued and payment plans will adjust the future payments accordingly once the credit is applied.

What is the deadline for making a decision as to whether our child will return as a boarder, day student or remote learner?

Parents/Guardians were sent the enrollment contract addendum and a questionnaire which asks for information that will help us to plan for the upcoming year. This was due July 15. 

Families who need to alter their plans for returning to campus, after submitting their enrollment contract, should contact the dean of students office at dean_students@exeter.edu.

Will you be making any exceptions to student return dates?

Because we must work to protect all who will be living, learning, and working on campus, we need to carefully coordinate arrivals to maximize safety. We expect that students will return on their scheduled days (Sept. 7, student leaders; September 9, remaining uppers and seniors; Oct. 3, preps and lowers). We do expect we can make the following exceptions, with advance notice:

  • If a family enrolls their upper or senior as a boarder and would like them to study from home for the first part of the fall term, we can accommodate those students returning to campus on Oct. 3. 
  • Students who are unable to start the fall term on campus due to visa difficulties or because they test positive for COVID-19 prior to leaving home will likely be allowed to return to campus when those issues are resolved. Parents/guardians should contact the Dean of Students Office to arrange for individual returns.
What does Family Choice mean?

We understand that not all families will be able to join us in-person this fall so we are providing some flexibility in enrollment this year. Boarding students who are unable to come to campus at the start of the term or elect to study remotely from home will be allowed to do so and will have their tuition adjusted to that of a day student.

What if I can’t come to campus at the start of the school year but expect to be able to come later in the term?

Students who prefer to learn remotely should plan to do so for the full term. Students who have made this choice for the fall term may choose to return for the winter term and should notify the dean of students’ office as soon as possible. Students who would like to return to campus mid-term may make this request with the dean of students’ office, who will determine if a mid-term return is feasible. Students who test positive for COVID-19 prior to leaving home will be permitted to come to campus when physically well, as discussed under Health and Safety.

International Students
If I am unable to come to campus due to travel restrictions or difficulty obtaining the appropriate visa, how can I still be part of Exeter?

Any student who is unable to or decides not to return to campus will remain engaged virtually with academic, dormitory and extracurricular opportunities. Remote instruction will be the backbone of our program. Dorm faculty and student leaders will host activities online for the full dorm community, as will clubs, affinity groups and other organizations.

Will international students be required to quarantine prior to arrival on campus?

We will expect international students to abide by state guidelines which currently request that all persons staying in New Hampshire for an extended period of time self-quarantine for a two-week period prior to travel. The same requirement applies to domestic students.

Additional Questions?

We understand you may have questions that we haven’t answered here. Please email us at askExeter@exeter.edu, and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.