New Policy for International Students

With the Thanksgiving break swiftly approaching, the school released the travel policy for international students this winter. The policy states that any international student who chooses to return home for the Thanksgiving break may remain remote until the conclusion of the winter holidays in January. In addition, the school will not require synchronous learning for students who choose to go remote. The policy poses a difficult decision for international students and their families, and requires teachers to create plans to accommodate students who choose to learn virtually. 

Mr. Steve McKibben, dean of community life, was heavily involved in the policy-drafting process, alongside Mr. Craig Bradley, head of school, Mr. David Thompson, director of international programs, Mr. Richard Davis, dean of academic life, the COVID committee, and others. Mr. McKibben explained that the creation of the policy was prompted by other countries’ quarantine restrictions, many of which ask their citizens to quarantine for 14-21 days upon entering. He said, “Given [the quarantine requirements] and our [holiday] schedule, in which we have a long Thanksgiving break and a relatively short return to school before a long Winter break, it would’ve been impossible for many of our international students to go home.” 

Preston Leung ’23, who is from Hong Kong, says that he will most likely return home for Thanksgiving. He attributed the decision to a combination of factors including family, his confidence in the support he will receive from his teachers and classmates, and the fact that this will be his only opportunity to go back to Hong Kong before June. He emphasized that he does not blame the school for having to instate the international travel policy, but when asked about his initial reaction, he said, “To be honest, I found it a little surprising when they released the policy and they aren’t offering classes over Zoom. It’s a couple more presses of a button, and it really wouldn’t take too long…”

Mr. Thompson explained the administration’s reasoning behind the decision not to offer remote education in the same way as last year. He said, “We don’t want to set up a dynamic where students feel like they have to be zooming into class in the middle of the night. We’re trying to make it so students can follow along as best as possible without having to flip their schedule.”

At the moment, the school does not know the number of students who will choose to return home until January. However, Mr. McKibben estimated that anywhere between 20 and 35 students could be remote this winter. Students are encouraged to make Thanksgiving travel plans early to allow the school to make plans to accommodate and support all students this winter. Thanksgiving break will begin Friday, November 19.