Learn more about UWC-USA’s plans to resume classes for the 2020-21 academic year:

Dear UWC-USA Community,

I am happy to report that at the June meeting of the UWC-USA Board of Trustees, the board formally supported the details of our plan to open for the 2020-2021 school year. This plan was a joint effort between our leadership team and a task force of the board formed in response to COVID-19.

Our strategy and detailed action plan have been informed by so many members of our community helping out, sharing their expertise, and challenging us to anticipate and adapt. I welcome your further input (president@uwc-usa.org) as we progress through the year. And I encourage those U.S. residents to continue to lobby their congressional representatives to open the consulates and lift the travel bans that are making it difficult for our first-year students to secure visas and for many of our international students to travel. On our side, we will continue to honor the scholarships we have offered and do everything we can to get students here and make sure they are safe once they arrive. 

We’re confident that our planning covers contingencies and we will be dedicating much of our orientation of staff and students this year to the seriousness of the new normal we face. I encourage you to read more (below) about our plans to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. 

My very best,


P.S. New Mexico is home to a governor and state leaders who have been recognized, recently in Scientific American, for their science-based approach to preventing widespread outbreak of the virus.

We understand that success in the academic arena will come from everyone pitching in: it’s all hands on deck, for all programming. We further recognize that we need to be proactive in supporting total student development–intellectual, social, and emotional–for those students participating on campus as well as those engaged online. 

  • Learn more the strategy that informs our education and adaptations here
  • Learn more about instructional adaptations here.
  • Learn more about program and facilities adaptations here.

For questions about our educational program and adaptations due to Covid-19, please contact Dean of Academics Alexis Mamaux.

While we are assuming that COVID-19 will be with us throughout the year, UWC-USA will take advantage of the relative isolation of campus to create a ‘campus bubble’ in which COVID-19 spread is minimized or even completely stopped. We feel that given the size of our community we can track and isolate an outbreak while leveraging strong local partnerships with our Medical Advisory Team to ensure access to needed resources and evolving medical information. We have identified adequate medical support and quarantine capacity on and off campus. 

  • Learn more about the strategies that inform our policies and procedures governing health care and risk mitigation here.
  • Learn more about expectations regarding pre-departure, travel, and arrival on campus here.
  • Learn more about expectations for community behavior to keep us all safe throughout the academic year here.
  • Learn about how we will respond if a member of our community tests positive for Covid-19 here.

For questions regarding the health protocols on campus during the coming year, please contact health.clinic@uwc-usa.org.

UWC-USA has adopted a framework for the beginning of the academic year to guide our actions and community to ensure the safest environment that supports the best UWC experience we can provide.

Pre-Travel and Arrival:

Over the summer, all students and parents were invited to attend a number of “Town Hall” events virtually that were designed to recalibrate expectations and clarify new guidelines and policies. Additionally, UWC-USA established expectations for students before the beginning of the school year including

  • Completion of a “Return-to-School Form” with COVID-19 specific questions and commitments to new expectations
  • Testing at home if possible two weeks prior to departure; testing upon arrival and symptomatically, randomly thereafter
  • Travel with mask – students will receive a new mask at airport
  • Students will undergo a screening at the airport
  • Families who are driving will be met at Plaza Park
  • Students will be quarantined in a single room and required testing upon arrival to be admitted to campus

Health Protocols at School:

We recognize that COVID-19 will be with us throughout the school year and that social distancing measures will be limited in their effectiveness with teens. UWC-USA is committed to protecting not only our students but employees. We feel strongly that we have adequate quarantine capacity on campus and off along with excellent medical support via local and Santa Fe hospitals. UWC-USA has strong local partnerships and has formed a Medical Advisory Team to ensure access to needed resources and evolving medical information. We will take advantage of relative isolation of campus to create a ‘campus bubble’ in which possible COVID-19 spread is stopped or minimized. We will accomplish this by

  • developing aggressive protocols around testing for students and employees
  • daily checks for signs of infection for all entering campus
  • active partnership with the Department of Health
  • remote employee work where possible
  • social distancing measures in public spaces/events
  • innovative approach to academic, experiential, and residential programming to minimize risk of spread and enable tracking


UWC-USA is committed to providing access to a quality UWC education to all students, including those who cannot make it to campus, those who are on campus and need to social distance, and  those who are on campus and quarantined by developing an intentional, quality learning approach that focuses on the whole student and the adaptation of the “UWC experience” to COVID-19 conditions. We will accomplish this by

  • continuing asynchronous learning for all students
  • allow for downloadable materials to allow offline learning for those with limited access to the internet
  • resuming face-to-face learning for students who have completed quarantine
  • continuing to prioritize IB content, rigor, and student engagement

“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate. This is the dilemma we face, but it should not stop us from doing what we can to prepare. We need to reach out to everyone with words that inform, but not inflame. We need to encourage everyone to prepare, but not panic.”

Michael O. Leavitt, former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services