Fall 2021: Safe School Reopening

Brimmer Back-to-School COVID Safety

Brimmer and May is excited to have students, faculty, and staff safely on campus. While we are hopeful for an “almost normal” year ahead, we are working diligently to manage the School environment as we wait for the childhood vaccine to become available and widely distributed.

All International Students returning to campus are required to show a negative PCR test. Additionally, all members of our faculty and staff are required to comply with our required vaccination policy. 

The COVID Response Team (CRT) will meet bi-weekly during the fall of 2021 to ensure we keep everyone safe and healthy while the COVID-19 virus is active in our region. Please see below for COVID safety considerations and the School’s general management decisions as we work to avoid virus spread.

Health and Safety

List of 7 items.

  • COVID Metrics & Considerations

    When making decisions about programs and protocols at school, the COVID Response Team (CRT) considers a wide range of available data and resources. We are not relying upon a single factor; rather, we are considering various components, including:

    • Campus experience for all faculty, staff, and students; and ability of all to comply with risk mitigation efforts.
    • Input from our bi-weekly consultation with nationally recognized health experts.
    • External metrics, including the following for the Commonwealth:
                  * The daily number of cases per 100,000 people;
                  * The positive test rate;
                  * The infection rate; and
                  * The percentage of vaccinated individuals.
  • Vaccinations/Immunizations

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Brimmer has relied on expertise from public health and infectious disease experts as we have implemented health and safety protocols. The School strongly recommends that our age-eligible students be vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Though the COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required of Brimmer students, if and when Massachusetts mandates the COVID-19 vaccine among other required immunizations for school-age children, we will be following state law and requiring vaccination of our students, subject to the medical and religious exemptions recognized by our state and federal governments

    Brimmer recommends vaccinations for students based upon scientific findings, including the following:

    • A fully vaccinated student population is the best way to protect the health of students, employees, and the broader community against COVID-19.
    • Guidance from the CDC emphasizes that vaccinations against COVID-19 are safe and effective and offer protection against variants. Vaccines are now widely available.
    • This public health approach is consistent with longstanding efforts across the United States to protect students of all ages from a wide range of serious and contagious diseases.
    We are tracking student vaccinations as part of our required back-to-school forms, and we will ask families to update the student’s vaccine status if it changes later in the year. This information will be maintained confidentially and will only be used to help us to determine what safeguards we will need to have in place as we welcome families back this fall and otherwise update policies throughout the school year.

    Unvaccinated students who are eligible to be vaccinated may not be allowed to participate in high-risk activities such as, choral groups, athletic competitions when the opponent’s team has a vaccination requirement, and other possible activities where close contact is deemed too hard to avoid. Additional guidance may be issued by these agencies before the start of the school year and will be ongoing, so our policies and protocols may continue to evolve. We will keep our community informed and ask for your continued partnership as we work to emerge from the pandemic.

    All faculty and staff are required to comply with our required COVID-19 vaccination policy. All students, faculty, and staff are strongly recommended to get an influenza vaccination as well.
  • Screening

    We ask all families to screen their student(s) daily for signs and symptoms of illness. The signs of COVID, including those of the transmissible Delta variant include: fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, temporary loss of taste or smell, flu-like respiratory and digestive problems, muscle aches, and fatigue. Young children have presented with cold-like symptoms which may dissipate in one or two days. If your student is experiencing any ONE of these symptoms, they should not come to school. Please contact Beth Escobar to discuss next steps.

    The School recommends that families stock at home rapid antigen testing kits for personal use. CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Amazon have at-home COVID testing kits. Available brands are: BinaxNOW (approximately $25), Ellume (approximately $40) and QuickVue (approximately $25).
  • Masking

    Because we are not requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of students at this time—and given the CDC’s recommendation that schools should require masks, the heightened risk associated with variants of COVID-19, and other factors—we will require masking of all Brimmer students, teachers, and staff, as well as visitors, even if they have been fully vaccinated.

    Masks will be required while in the building and in all common spaces, including classrooms, bathrooms, and the hallways. Masks may be removed while individuals are actively eating inside the building.
    Masks are optional only:

    • While outdoors;
    • While actively playing or practicing a sport outdoors;
    • For faculty or staff members in their offices.
    Per CDC order, masks will also be required on any School-provided transportation, including buses to and from any athletic competitions.

    The expectation is that individuals will bring their own masks (well-fitting, 3-layered fabric mask, surgical mask, etc.). The School will have a supply of masks for students who lose or forget their own. Handkerchiefs, bandanas, and gaiters are not sufficient.
  • COVID-19 Testing

    All-school testing and routine COVID safety-check testing, including of vaccinated individuals, may occur as needed throughout the school year.

    If a Brimmer student or member of their household tests positive for COVID-19, they must contact Beth Escobar immediately at 617-278-2344.
  • Risk

    While we are committed to be on campus for in-person learning, there is no guarantee that cases will not arise. We will continue to monitor our community closely using the above specified data, and we will make decisions based on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. As always, if mandated to do so by the Commonwealth, we are prepared to shift to a remote learning model and are committed to meeting our goals for all academic programs.
  • Resources

    We rely on data from a variety of sources such as MA.govCovid ActNow, and the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania PolicyLab

Response Protocols & Communications

List of 4 items.

Building Logistics

List of 4 items.

  • Cleaning and Sanitization

    Hand Hygiene
    Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms, hallways, and open spaces. Hand washing stations will be available at the entrance to the Hastings Center, outside the Dining Commons, and on the Lower School playground.

    The School will have a supply of disposable masks in case masks become contaminated, broken, or lost.  Masks are not to be removed while in the classrooms or the building unless advised to do so.

    Tech Hygiene/Computer Etiquette
    It is advised to frequently clean phones, laptops, and tablets with alcohol wipes throughout the day and especially at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Eating (Snack and Lunch)

    The School has installed four outside tents that can be used for eating lunch and snacks. When students are eating and masks are off in the Dining Commons, each Division will follow specific safety protocols.
  • Remote Learning Policy

    Our expectation is that unless the School has granted a special dispensation for a student to attend remotely, all students will attend classes in person. Our student attendance policy remains as outlined in the Family/Student Handbook: in general, students should not miss school for reasons other than illness or family emergency.

    Under circumstances when a student is quarantined because of possible COVID-19 exposure or symptoms, required to isolate because they themselves have tested positive for COVID-19, or when a student is out sick for more than two days but feels physically well enough to attend classes, we will consider temporarily allowing a student to observe class remotely. In these special instances, the student may listen in on their classes, but there should be no expectation of a fully immersive concurrent learning experience.

    Should state public health conditions deteriorate to a point where we feel it is unwise to have the building at full capacity or there is indication of COVID-19 transmission within the building, then we may decide to move to hybrid or fully remote operations for a period.
  • Ventilation/Air Quality (HEPA Filters and HVAC System)

    Air quality and circulation are essential to our mitigation efforts. As such, we have a multi-faceted approach to ensuring the best possible air quality: 

    • Open windows are required in all classrooms.
    • We have increased the fresh air intake in all HVAC systems from 20% to 100%; air is being exhausted outside rather than being recirculated. 
    • All HVAC systems have been equipped with MERV-13 filters. 
    • All classrooms, offices and meeting spaces are equipped with Medify Air MA-40 air purifiers. These models remove 99.9% of harmful particles down to 0.1 microns in size. This covers virtually all virus-carrying particles, including SARS-CoV-2 particles, which average 0.125 microns.

Activities and Events

List of 6 items.

  • School Events & Gatherings

    Details regarding School events will be shared on a case-by-case basis. Please keep in mind that the website calendar will reflect the most up-to-date event information.
  • Community Service

    Community service is a central focus for Brimmer students. As our students develop, it is important for them to have opportunities to serve in meaningful ways and to develop a commitment to service. This helps our students become informed, engaged, ethical, and responsible citizens. Our students have been creative in finding many modified opportunities to contribute meaningfully to their communities since the onset of the pandemic, and we expect this will continue.
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences

    Parent-teacher conferences will be in person or virtual per family choice. Details regarding sign-ups and scheduling will be shared during the school year via email.
  • Athletics

    In accordance with state guidelines, student athletes will not be required to wear masks while playing or practicing, whether indoors or outdoors. However, student athletes will be required to wear masks on buses to and from any athletic competitions, per CDC order.

    After a temporary suspension of the requirement during the 2020-2021 school year, participation in Brimmer's Athletics program is once again required of all students.
  • Performing Arts

    All ensembles (May Chorale for Grades 7 and 8, Band for Grades 7 and 8, US Ensemble, Greenline) for vaccinated populations (Grades 7-12) will run as they did pre-pandemic.

    Grade 2 Chorus, Grade 3 Chorus, Grade 4 Chorus, Grade 5 Chorus, and Grade 6 May Chorale will be their own ensembles and will not mix with the other grades. We will require a minimum of 3 feet of spacing.  The school will be purchasing special singers' masks that students would only wear for chorus.

    Band for unvaccinated populations will be on hold until January (all Lower School Bands and Grade 6 Band). As virus spread improves, we will update this policy.

    The Middle and Upper School fall plays will take place in-person this fall.
    The format of Lower School performances will be communicated in advance of each scheduled performance.

    After School Music Lessons
    After School Music Lessons will take place in person for all instruments EXCEPT brass and wind instruments and voice lessons. Those will remain remote at this time. The CRT will continue to evaluate and assess as we move through the school year.
  • Extended Day & After School Clubs

    Extended day and after school clubs will be in person and participants will be required to wear masks indoors. As with all employees, extended day staff and club leaders will be required to comply with our vaccination policy.


List of 2 items.

  • Events and On-Campus Visits

    During the 2021-2022 school year, we will be conducting interviews both virtually and in person (for vaccinated individuals only). Campus tours will be offered in person in small groups and by appointment only. For the safety of everyone, masks will be required of all visitors regardless of vaccination status while inside of campus buildings.

    Prospective students and their families are encouraged to join us for a series of Open House Events October 18-23, 2021 including virtual panels and presentations as well as on-campus tours on October 23.

  • Experience Brimmer

Moderna Co-Founder Presented to Students

The Brimmer community had an incredible opportunity to learn more about the "race to vaccinate" from Moderna Co-Founder and Brimmer Parent and Trustee Dr. Derrick Rossi, P '26, '28. Dr. Rossi shared invaluable insight with our Middle and Upper School students about the development of Moderna's mRNA vaccine, how mRNA vaccines work, and why it is important for people to get vaccinated.
    • Reimagining Brimmer 2020-2021

    • A Day in the Life During COVID

Recent CRT Communications

List of 3 items.

  • September 17, 2021

    This week, we began our testing program for all students under the age of 12. We are pleased to announce that all of the tests administered came back negative! These baseline tests shows that our community continues to take the virus seriously, and we appreciate your continued efforts to keep your student and our School community safe.

    While we know there are many layers that protect ourselves and our community, vaccination when eligible and universal masking, regardless of vaccination status, continue to be the two most important mitigation strategies. Please ensure your student comes to school each day with a well-fitting mask. Please remember that bandanas and neck gators are not allowed, disposable masks should only be used for one day, and fabric masked should be washed consistently.

    - The COVID Response Team
  • September 10, 2021

    COVID Testing Update: In an effort to find the best option with the most flexibility to adjust to changing environments, we have decided to shift our testing partnership from CIC Health to OccuMed Occupational HealthWorks. The tests are the same PCR tests and are still processed at the Broad Institute lab. OccuMed allows us the flexibility to adjust testing volume and frequency as we see fit, and we will have the ability to support pool testing down the road. With the switch in providers comes a switch in software; in the coming days you will receive login information from their platform CareEvolve, emailed to the primary email on your student’s account. You will also receive a consent form that will need to be completed ahead of the testing day next week, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, September 14th. Test results will be emailed and available within the CareEvolve portal. 
    Starting the week of the 20th, we will test half of each class in grades PK-6 on Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays. This approach gives us a sample of each grade throughout the week to help prevent any community spread in the event of a positive. Remember, testing is just one point in time, so it does not take the place of home health checks and other mitigation efforts. 
    Follow-up communication will come directly from Julian Hickman, CFO as soon as all details are finalized. Please be watching for this email so we have all consent forms in before the testing day next week.
    We expect all families to monitor their student’s health at home and send only healthy children to school. We encourage you to have rapid antigen tests ready for use. If your student presents with any symptoms while at school, we may administer a rapid test. Additionally, we are prepared to do random temperature checks if needed. Our goal is to keep students in school and to keep the virus out.
    Masks are our main safety mitigation strategy. As you know, we require them inside our buildings at all times. Please be sure to have clean, well-fitting masks for your children. We continue to follow Newton’s and Brookline’s public health guidelines. We anticipate this fall to be an environment of change and adjustments, and we are prepared to respond to those changes at any given time. 
    We are excited to see our vaccination rates climb among the eligible students every day. We have moved from 80% to 89% vaccination in our Grades 7-12 population. We know this is the best way to keep our entire community safe!

    - The COVID Response Team
  • September 3, 2021

    As we begin the school year and have nearly all medical forms submitted, we are pleased to report full compliance with our vaccine requirement of our faculty and staff. Our student population that qualifies for the vaccine is reaching 80% full compliance. If you have not submitted the required forms for your student, you will be asked to keep your student home until they are complete. Our goal is to have the entire student population who qualifies for the vaccine to be fully vaccinated this fall. Given the present situation, unvaccinated age 12+ students may be restricted from athletic events or group trips if the other party involved requires vaccination. Our requirements may change quickly, so please be prepared. Nurse Beth will contact all 12+ age students who are unvaccinated, so we can approve their outside COVID-19 testing as they will be required to have a negative test result each week in order to be in school.
    Given the success of our testing program last year, we will begin weekly PCR testing using CIC Health starting as soon as the week of September 13th for all students in PK-6 since they are not eligible to receive the vaccine. If we have a reliable baseline with no virus spread within our community, we may switch to pool testing at some point this fall. Remember, testing is just one point in time, so it does not take the place of home health checks.
    We expect all families to monitor their student’s health at home and send only healthy children to school. We encourage you to have rapid antigen tests ready for use. If your student presents with any symptoms while at school, we may administer a rapid test. Additionally, we are prepared to do random temperature checks if needed. Our goal is to keep students in school and to keep the virus out.
    Masks are our main safety mitigation strategy. As you know, we are requiring them inside at all times. Please be sure to have clean, well-fitting masks for your children. We continue to follow Newton’s and Brookline’s public health guidelines. We anticipate this fall to be an environment of change and adjustments, and we are prepared to respond to those changes at any given time. 
    This short week ahead will be spent preparing our PK-6 students for their personal testing schedule. We will do everything we can to make that experience positive and non-intrusive to the learning environment. Thank you for your support, and as always, please reach out with any questions.

    - The COVID Response Team

COVID Response Team

List of 11 members.

  • Photo of Judith Guild

    Judith Guild 

    Head of School
  • Photo of Julian Hickman

    Julian Hickman 

  • Photo of Sue Cuyler

    Sue Cuyler 

    Director of Marketing & Communications
  • Photo of Cassandra Abodeely

    Cassandra Abodeely 

    Director of Summer & Auxiliary Programs
  • Photo of Elizabeth Smith

    Elizabeth Smith 

    Director of Development
  • Photo of Joshua Neudel

    Joshua Neudel 

    Head of Upper School
  • Photo of Carl Vallely

    Carl Vallely 

    Head of Middle School, Co-Director of Faculty Recruitment and Mentoring
  • Photo of Emily Miller

    Emily Miller 

    Head of Lower School
  • Photo of Ina Patel

    Ina Patel 

    Lower School Director of Teaching & Learning
  • Photo of Beth Escobar

    Beth Escobar 

    Director of Health Services
  • Photo of Mallorie Nai

    Mallorie Nai 

    Director of MS Admissions & Associate Director of Financial Aid, Gr. 6 Math Teacher
As an inclusive community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.