Forty-six years ago, EXPLO was a pioneering start up designed by a team out of MIT. The team envisioned a highly engaging experiential summer enrichment program where students explored the world of people, ideas, and themselves in an environment that crackled with energy and excitement. That founding vision is still alive today throughout all of our world class programming. We’ve set the industry standards in many areas and will continue to set the bar high as we plan with COVID-19 in mind.
Setting the Standard for Student Safety and Well-Being
Well before COVID reared its head, EXPLO was known for having the highest quality and most comprehensive health practices for summer programming on college and university campuses. We have a dedicated 24/7 on-site health center at each of our programs with multiple registered nurses, consulting physicians and psychologists, and a close relationship with both nearby comprehensive medical practices and acclaimed teaching hospitals. We have exam rooms, as well as rooms where students can be isolated, if necessary.
We will be reviewing all of our practices and protocols with our Medical Directors who review advice from the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and state and local health departments. (Through our EXPLO Elevate division, we also work closely with some of the world’s leading independent schools including boarding schools. This network puts us in regular contact with schools that are currently working through programming against the backdrop of the pandemic with classes, athletics, and extracurriculars. This work provides us with a window on best and emerging practices and approaches.)
We are already consulting with our host institutions on everything from COVID testing (should that be necessary), to HVAC requirements, daily COVID assessments, sanitizing residence halls and classrooms, and dining and space use. We are reviewing all of our field trips, as well as all of our projects and activities. Currently, it’s simply too early to tell what might need to be done to keep our students safe, but we will be prepared for whatever is required.
Program Updates for 2021
While we will continue to monitor the pandemic closely, we are actively planning and are hopeful for a full return to campuses in Summer 2021. Currently, we plan to have programs at Wheaton College (grades 2-7) and Sarah Lawrence College (grades 8-10), and our application will be available later this fall.
For our students in Grades 10-12, we are in the process of planning a number of specialized programs and we will share more information about programming and new campuses with families in the coming months.
In addition to our on-campus programs, we will also be offering a range of online programming during Winter 2021. More details to come!
Helping Families Plan for the Present and the Future
We know that EXPLO is a significant financial commitment and that next summer is uncertain. This past summer, when we cancelled our summer programs because of safety concerns with COVID, we offered 100% return of tuition, room, and board to all families. We will do so again for this coming year.
In the meantime, we are talking with our families and working hard to meet their needs. We know that competitive college admissions is a source of concern for many, so we dedicated the month of October to running weekly live webinars to demystify the pandemic-impacted college admission process and answer questions that many families have. The series, Competitive College Admissions in the Age of COVID, convened admission experts from top colleges and universities across the U.S., including Bowdoin College, Cornell University, Harvard University, Pomona College, University of Michigan, Washington University in St. Louis, and more. You can learn more about the series and access recordings of past events here.
Keeping Connected Through Uncertainty
These days it seems like more divides us than connects us. At EXPLO, we have always believed that communicating across differences is an important skill and something that requires practice. To that end, we are bringing back our Join the Debates program in cooperation with the Commission on Presidential Debates. EXPLO will host students in grades 6-12 for virtual Debate Watch events for the general election presidential and vice-presidential debates, to be immediately followed by facilitated conversations with peers from across the U.S. and around the world. This is a great opportunity for students to meet with others to listen, think and reflect on the choices before us and to connect with other curious and engaged members of the EXPLO community.
We are truly excited to bring students back to campus in 2021 and are working on some exciting new programming. After many months of physical separation and distancing, we know that students will need an immersive in-person experience more than ever. Whatever next summer has in store, EXPLO will continue to bring curiosity, exploration, and humanity to teaching and learning. We hope you will join us for what we know will be a fabulous experience next summer.