Back at the table

With safety measures in place, Exeter begins to reintroduce in-person learning.

October 26, 2020

Students in Karen Lassey's Math 11T class sort through a problem during a recent format in Phillips Hall.

Exeter is easing its way back into the classroom, taking advantage of specially equipped Harkness tables in Phillips Hall to convene in person for the first time since March.

With Plexiglas partitions fitted between seats and Kandao 360-degree cameras in place to connect remote learners with their classmates, many Exonians are gladly trading Zoom meetings for face-to-face discussions in topics ranging from algebra to 20th century world history. For returning students, these are the first in-person classes since the end of winter term; for ninth-graders and other first-term students, they represent long-anticipated debuts inside Academy classrooms.

All students are required to be masked at all times and respect recommended safety protocols, including staying six feet apart and adhering to strict traffic patterns in all Academy buildings.

Phillips Hall, along with Phelps Science Center, are the two buildings playing host to in-person learning. That required instructors teaching classes such as math and history — usually conducted in the Academy Building — to hit the road. Mark Leighton, director of facilities management, said the buildings were chosen because of their superior ventilation systems.

"Phillips Hall, because it has been renovated, has a relatively new and monitored HVAC system," Leighton said. "We knew that we could basically use those classrooms and be comfortable with the amount of clean air exchanges that it was going to have."


Remote learners can join the onsite classes via Zoom and the 360-degree technology that allows those logging in from afar to see all of their classmates simultaneously.

Even before the onsite classes resumed in Phillips Hall, science students have gathered in recent weeks for lab work and field study, including Science Instructor Anne Rankin's genetics class and Science Instructor Betsy Stevens' biology class.