school opening 2020-2021
A Message from the Head of School
Dear Merion Mercy Community,
I’m so very eager for our new school year to begin. We’ve worked tirelessly all summer with our Merion Opening School Task Force (MOST) to create a dynamic reopening plan and a hybrid approach to learning that’s designed with intentionality and prioritizes health and safety first, for all of us.
We evaluated many models to develop a plan for reopening school this fall. Our current model builds upon what we learned this past spring from our transition to online learning.
We designed a model for learning to capitalize on time at school and time at home—in short, we make every minute in your daughter’s week meaningful. While at school, your daughter’s classes will be small, allowing for more intimate classroom instruction, discussion and one-on-one help. When she’s at home, our teachers will design lessons so she continues to be engaged in her learning. Your daughters are digital natives who must be able to leverage technology to delve deeply into their learning, both at school and at home.
We also understand that relationships count. Our reopening plan intentionally creates time for students to cultivate relationships with teachers and classmates. In addition to classroom time, girls will come to school for retreats, special workshops and other experiences that build sisterhood.
How are we protecting our students, faculty and staff so we can provide instruction in an environment as safe as possible?
The CDC recommends the following three areas of importance in preparing students, faculty and staff to return to school:
1. Promoting Behaviors to Reduce Spread
- Face coverings are required for all faculty, staff and students throughout the day.
- Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol. Each classroom is equipped with hand sanitizer
- Students, faculty and staff must maintain at least six (6) feet of social distance at all times
- Desks are spaced 6 feet apart and must all be facing the same direction
- We have established one-way hallways
2. Maintaining a Healthy Environment
- RUVNA will be utilized for temperature and wellness screening. Screenings will be conducted in the morning before school and for after school activities
- We have established enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols for the school day. Additionally, the building will be thoroughly cleaning and disinfected at night.
All HVAC equipment has been evaluated, serviced, and filters will be replaced monthly. All windows in the school building will be open throughout the day. MERV-13 rated filters installed in newer building.
3. Planning When Someone is Ill
- The goal is to keep sick or exposed people out of the building. We are screening all faculty, staff and students on a daily basis.
- We have established a close contact and contact tracing team internally and working with Montgomery County.
- In the event of a positive case in our community, all individuals who have interacted with the infected person will be notified immediately.
Following that communication, the entire Merion community will be notified that there was a COVID-19 positive case.
What happens if there is a COVID-19 case on campus?
Merion Mercy Academy is located in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Department of Health (DOH) has issued guidelines for schools to follow when a case of COVID-19 arises on campus. Those guidelines may be found here.
To supplement these guidelines, MMA has developed the following protocols for when a student, staff or faculty member tests positive for the COVID-19 virus.
For Positive Cases
When there are positive cases at Merion Mercy, the School will:
- Notify the Montgomery County Health DOH to begin the contact tracing process with the assistance of the Merion Mercy staff who have been trained in contact tracing.
- Require the individual to stay home from school.
- In accordance with CDC guidance, we will close off and clean and disinfect all areas used by the infected person, focusing on frequently touched surfaces.
- The Montgomery County DOH is responsible for notifying all “close contacts,” but will not identify by name individuals who have tested positive.
- Merion Mercy will also notify the entire school community when a community member tests positive for COVID-19.
- While offering as much information as we can, the School has an obligation to respect and protect the privacy of all members in the MMA community and will not release the names of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 virus.
In addition, please note:
- Merion students will be required to wear masks (with the exception of lunch) and maintain six (6) feet of social distance at all times during the academic day. While maintaining these protocols, students would not be considered “close contacts.”
- If a member of a student’s household tests positive for COVID-19, we will not communicate or execute contact tracing protocols (in this circumstance, the student would be required to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days after household positive is released from isolation).
- For potential exposures, the School will contact the Montgomery County DOH, who will assist the School with further guidance and recommendations.
- We will not be informing families and students when students or faculty stay home sick, when students or faculty are self-quarantining because of travel or potential exposure, or other similar circumstances where there is no confirmed positive case.
- The School does not contact the Montgomery County DOH for a symptomatic person who has not had an exposure. Students will be instructed to follow up with their primary care physician.
- If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our School Nurses via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens if a student develops COVID-19 symptoms while at school:
- The teacher will inform the school nurse by telephone prior to sending the student to the Clinic.
- The nurse will perform appropriate assessment and documentation.
- The nurse will notify the parent/guardian to pick up the student within one hour (as indicated in the COVID-19 Acknowledgement of Risk and Family Agreement).
- The student will wait for the parent in a quarantine room.
- The student will be escorted to the designated door to meet the parent/guardian.
- Parents/guardians will be given instructions to contact their medical provider or information on PCR testing, if indicated.
- No student who presents with any COVID- 19 symptoms will be permitted to go home via public transportation or on a school bus.
- The nurse will follow up with the family with all instructions and any information on when to return to school if quarantine is indicated.
School Communications, External Resources & FAQ
We are offering distance learning for parents who are not comfortable sending their daughters to school. Please contact Mr. Philip Vinogradov (email@example.com) for details.
We are working to ensure we all keep the recommended six feet apart throughout campus by limiting time spent in the hallways between classes, at lockers and in community spaces. We have established one-way traffic patterns in hallways and staircases. We have also adjusted our floor plans in each classroom to allow for appropriate distancing between desks.
Every student will be required to complete a health screening that includes a temperature check before arriving at school via RUVNA, an intuitive platform specifically designed to screen and track COVID-19 in schools. We will also ask that anyone running a temperature higher than 100.0 degrees remain at home.
Every student, faculty, staff and admin must wear a face covering when at school, as recommended by the CDC and Commonwealth Department of Health. Please view the Comprehensive Guide for more details.
We have developed new protocols and schedules to ensure high-touch surfaces, common spaces and bathrooms are frequently cleaned and disinfected during the day. We've added additional sanitizing stations throughout the building.
The dining staff will be offering boxed lunch options, including pre-made salads, that will be delivered to students. Parents, Caregivers and Students please visit the "Resources" section of MyMMA for more details.
We will be strictly limiting visitors on campus, including parents and other members of the community, to protect the health and safety of those in the building. As guidelines change, we look forward to welcoming you all back to campus to fully participate in the life of our school community.