Purnell Campus Updates 2020-2021

Guidance for Travel and Activities Over Vacation

Dear Purnell Families and Staff,

We opened our campus this fall because of our shared belief that in-person education and social interaction is far better than remote learning. Thank you for your dedication to the safe practices that allowed us to be open and COVID-19 free! Very few schools can claim the same success.

We are committed to staying open, and that requires the continued help of all members of our community. We will begin our spring semester one week later (January 11) in order to require Covid-19 testing for a safe return.

January Instructions to follow: Keep reading!

This year, we intentionally started our fall semester early in order to have an extended vacation break from Friday, November 20, 2020 – Monday, January 4, 2021. This enables us to limit the exposure our students and staff may have if they were to leave for Thanksgiving and return to campus before the December holidays. One of the benefits of being a boarding school on 83 acres is that we have more control of the students’ environment; that said, we can’t control what families do on their own time. However, we all took the Purnell Pledge to be safe.

As we all know, the spread of the COVID-19 remains very fluid and growing. Most regions are currently seeing an increase in infection rates. In addition, as the weather cools, people will spend more time indoors, which experts tell us increases the likelihood of exposure and spread. As we continue to monitor the pandemic spread, we will keep in touch over the school break, so please continue to check your email.

Vacation Guidelines

Our school leadership takes public health advice from our counseling physician and local and state Departments of Health. In preparation for our extended break, we want to offer guidance to you that allows all of us to be with close family and celebrate holidays, while not risking our community’s health. While remote gatherings (via Zoom or other tech tools) are obviously the lowest-risk, we offer the following guidleines for in-person gatherings based upon health department and CDC guidelines.

If someone in your family or household contracts the coronavirus and lives in your household, the other individuals also need to quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure with that individual. The incubation period is 2 to 14 days. Symptoms often appear 2-7 days after exposure. A person is considered infectious two days before they test and or develop symptoms. Therefore, for even those without symptoms, a person may expose others without knowing. Close contacts are considered individuals within 6 ft for over 10 to 15 minutes or over a 24 hour period with someone who is shedding the virus. Again, that person may not know they are spreading the virus.

The Basics of Socializing in Person

1. Stay outdoors

2. Wear a mask

3. Keep at least 6 feet away from others, even with a mask

4. Keep your group small (your home state probably specifies a maximum size.)

Not following any of these four guidelines increases the risk of transmission, and therefore puts our staff, students, and families at increased risk, not to mention your own daughters and households. This is one of the greatest opportunities to call upon our families to do something of massive significance - take care of yourselves and each other, so your daughters can come back to school safely.

Things to avoid:

1. Indoor gatherings

2. Carpools

3. Anything unmasked, including eating/drinking

4. Indoor, unmasked sports

5. Large groups over 10 people

Traveling - especially by plane - is not recommended unless it is absolutely necessary. If you are traveling by plane, please wear a mask and avoid taking it off while in flight and in the airport. Use hand sanitizer frequently.

For family gatherings, guests should be screened for potential exposure before congregating. Just because you want to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones or family members does not guarantee s/he isn’t carrying the virus – even without symptoms. This is a year to consider smaller Thanksgivings and holiday celebrations. This may mean limited your gatherings to only your immediate family, the people with whom you share the same living space. Yes, this is disappointing and less fun than usual, but necessary for the health of our families and staff and the continuation of in-person learning and school life for all of us. Please refer to the CDC guidelines for holiday celebrations.

As we have emphasized - in line with the most reliable data from the medical community - wearing a mask is the most effective means of preventing infection and spread. This is because we know that the coronavirus is airborne, even at a distance of more that 6 feet.

Spring Semester Return: January 11:


Covid-19 tests will be required of all students on January 4 or 5. Tests results should be emailed to Chrissy Schmidt at cschmidt@purnell.org. Students with a negative result should quarantine at home until their return on January 11 at 4:00pm.

Students with a positive result should quarantine for 14 days and seek medical care if necesssary. These students will receive access to classes remotely. They will also be required to retest with a negative result in order to return to campus.

Anyone returning to New Jersey from a red zone state or territory (See list of states here) will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Please be advised that even though an area may not be in a red zone at the time you make your travel plans, it may be on the list upon your return. Purnell is eager to work with you to sort out return plans if you are coming from a red zone. Please be forthcoming; reach out to Head Nurse Chrissy Schmidt and me for guidance.

We are hopeful we can continue our success in infection control with your partnership. We are happy to respond to any questions or concerns. We are hopeful that our collective efforts will ensure a traditional on-campus Commencement for Purnell’s Class of 2021!

Please be safe, and best wishes for the upcoming holiday season. Merry everything!

Anne M. Glass, Ed.M.

Head of School

P.S. For additional reading, please see: