Vermont FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t find the answer to your question below, please give us a call at 802.387.5000!

Health & SafetyResidential LifeAcademics

Health & Safety

What is your current thinking on the novel coronavirus?

Since Putney’s founding 69 years ago, we have approached each participant’s summer experience with the same attention to safety and security that we give our own children. This summer is no exception. In that spirit, we are monitoring diligently the spread and containment of the novel coronavirus locally and globally. We developed our Pre-College Vermont program at Castleton University to allow our small campus community to engage in relative isolation, in a state where the spread and impact of COVID-19 have been well managed. Our program will follow guidelines outlined by the State of Vermont, with input from the CDC, the American Camp Association, and our own sources.

What are the safety protocols at Pre-College Vermont given the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our ability to run a safe program relies on both increased health and safety protocols and proven leadership from our staff on campus. The following is an outline of enhanced health and safety guidelines for this summer:

» Program Structure—Our Vermont program follows a “pod” structure in order to follow state guidelines and limit exposure, while still ensuring a high quality program and social experience for our students. Each pod has its own housing, dining hall space, classrooms, and meeting spaces. Students and program staff within a pod can interact directly, while cross-pod interactions will follow social distancing guidelines.

» Arrival on Campus—The process for student arrival on campus is designed to provide peace of mind for families and ensure, to the extent that we can, that coronavirus is not brought into the campus community. Arrival will involve pre-program isolation and testing protocols.

» Dorms—Students will be housed in spacious single or double rooms. Our Pre-College community has exclusive use of our dormitories, common space, classrooms, and labs on campus.

» Seminars—Each seminar section is capped at 10-12 students per instructor. Seminars have dedicated classroom space but class meetings often take place outdoors.

» Eating—Students and instructors eat all meals in the dining hall during program-specific time slots with their pods. All dining areas will be disinfected between groups served.

» Cleaning—Bathrooms, common spaces, and dorm kitchenettes will be cleaned and disinfected twice daily. All dining areas will be disinfected between groups served.

» Health Checks—Any student or staff who has symptoms consistent with a cold, flu, or coronavirus will be evaluated by an on-campus nurse, isolated from other participants, and administered a rapid test for coronavirus.

» Leadership and Staff—Our director and instructors will be trained in proper hygiene and social distancing protocols and procedures. The program director will facilitate open lines of communication with staff, with the campus community, and with parents as needed. An on-campus nurse will have regular office hours and be available on-call 24/7. Additionally, we will have a dedicated residential staff member whose sole purview will be to oversee and assist in the implementation of all COVID-19 practices and procedures.

How do I stay healthy at Pre-College Vermont?

As always, the best way to stay healthy during your program continues to be to start your summer well-rested and to pay attention to your eating, sleep, and hygiene habits. Our director and staff provide guidelines and reminders about the importance of hygiene and how to stay healthy during the program.

What if I get sick?

It is important to be open and tell our staff members if you are feeling unwell. We will have an on-campus nurse with our Pre-College community at Castleton. Any student or staff who has symptoms consistent with a cold, flu, or coronavirus, such as fever, cough, body aches, etc., will be evaluated by the nurse, isolated from other participants, and brought to a local health clinic to determine treatment. Health decisions are made as a team based on input from the student, parents, the director, and our home office in Vermont. All students are required to carry their own medical insurance.

What happens if a member of the campus community tests positive for coronavirus?

We will follow the guidelines issued by the State of Vermont. This includes closing off affected areas, cleaning and disinfecting areas, communicating with staff and parents, and consulting with the contact tracing team at the Vermont Department of Health.

What if I have specific dietary or medical needs?

The campus kitchen at Castleton and our Pre-College staff are able to accommodate many medical and dietary needs. Please call us to discuss your specific situation.

What are the rules at Pre-College Vermont?

We expect our students to maintain high standards of personal behavior. We impose very few rules other than those designed to ensure that students can live in a safe, friendly, and constructive environment. Instead, we support an open atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and consideration. Since students are encouraged, within the context of our programs, to take leadership roles and to make some of their own discoveries, students whose parents require them to be under constant surveillance or who are likely to act irresponsibly, use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, or behave in a disruptive manner, should not apply. Any student whose attitude or behavior is in violation of our rules or is otherwise prejudicial to the maintenance of standards or to the successful operation of our program will be dismissed from the program at our sole discretion and travel home at their parents’ expense.

Could Pre-College Vermont get canceled?

Yes, it could. If guidelines from the State of Vermont change or the current local health situation veers from its current course showing significant progress, we could cancel the program. If we do cancel the program, we will refund 100% of your tuition payment and application fee. If you have been accepted to Pre-College Vermont and apply to any Putney program for summer 2021, you will not need to go through the admissions process again.

What can I expect from Putney as summer approaches?

At Putney, our students and their families have come to expect good judgment, thoughtful and clear communication, and a commitment to the core mission of our programs, as well as the safety for our students. Given the evolving situation, we will be in close contact with enrolled families as we plan for the coming summer. Always feel free to give us a call—we are happy to answer your questions!

Residential Life

Where is Castleton University? What is the campus like?

Castleton University is located on a 165-acre campus, nestled between Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Lakes Region and surrounded by small Vermont towns. You can see the Castleton campus for yourself by taking a virtual tour here!

What will the accommodations be like?

We stay in dormitories at the heart of the Castleton University campus. Rooms are spacious singles and doubles, with shared bathroom facilities on the floor. Dormitories are equipped with ample social common areas, as well as laundry facilities and a small kitchenette. Staff reside on the dormitory floors with students.

How physically active will I be at Castleton?

Days are filled with movement—walking around campus with your seminar group, participating in a sports clinic, or enjoying an afternoon swim or hike.


Who are the Pre-College Vermont instructors?

Putney Pre-College instructors are dedicated educators with extensive experience traveling, teaching, and working with young people. All Putney leaders are college graduates and many hold graduate degrees as well. All leaders also hold basic First Aid and CPR certifications. In addition to their formal education and professional experience, Putney instructors are role models and inspire students to explore their interests and make their own discoveries.

How many students are in each seminar?

Each seminar section is capped at 10-12 students per one residential instructor, which allows students to maximize small group learning, to engage in both personalized lessons and instruction, and to take advantage of the campus’ indoor and outdoor resources.

Will seminars take day trips off campus?

If the State of Vermont health guidelines permit, seminars may take day trips to nearby locations of interest to their seminar topic. Locations may include visits to a working Vermont dairy farm, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier, Shelburne Farms, and nearby lakes and hiking trails.

How rigorous are the seminars?

Pre-College Vermont is designed for intellectually curious students to explore a topic in a beautiful place without the pressure of grades and tests. Learning is hands-on and project-based. Seminars are interactive, not only within your group of students, but also in the physical and cultural landscapes of central Vermont. While we have classroom space on campus at Castleton, we will use the campus and beyond as our classroom, subject to any restrictions in movement imposed by COVID-19 considerations.