A Message from the Head of School
May 18, 2020
First, let me say I hope you and your family are safe and healthy as you read this letter. When we left our school on March 13, none of us expected that we would not return for the remainder of the school year. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we have been adjusting, like you, to the drastic changes in life the last few months. I am extremely appreciative of our students, parents, teachers and staff for their positivity, flexibility and resilience during these trying times. It demonstrates the strength of our community and brings out the good that resides in each of us.
St. Mary’s School Preparedness Team is continuing to meet regularly and assess COVID-19. As educators our top priority is to provide a healthy and safe educational environment for our students, staff and families. And, as a small, independent school, we feel incredibly fortunate to have the ability to embrace new opportunities for students to continue to learn in authentic, meaningful ways.
We are planning for the 2020-2021 school year to begin on Wednesday, August 19.
Please take the time to read the protocols below as it holds important information about our school’s current preparedness and planning regarding the start of the school year in August.
History is being written — and we hold the pen. Together, we will write the BEST story for our children.
Teaching Our Students
During the 2020-2021 school year, parents will have two options for their child’s educational experience: a “Return to Campus Plan” and a “Remote Schooling Plan”. It is our desire to give parents the flexibility of choosing either plan throughout the school year, so they can make the best possible decisions for their families.
Return to Campus Plan
Our Return to Campus Plan is laid out with the intent of opening our doors to students on August 19th. St. Mary's School Preparedness Team has come up with a three-layered health and safety approach. These layers are based on governmental directives, CDC recommendations, and advice from local experts and the Southwest Association of Episcopal Schools.
Before and after school care (BTC) and clubs will continue next year under these protocols.
Return to campus protocols:
- Individuals entering the school will be screened using a rapid temperature scanner. If needed, a temperature will be confirmed using a forehead thermometer
- We ask that parents partner with us and keep their children home if showing signs of illness.
- All faculty and staff will check their temperatures at home each morning.
- Prior to August 10th, St. Mary's will undergo an industrial deep cleaning of the school, including manipulatives, instruments, equipment, playground structures, and technology hardware.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the school.
- Age-Appropriate signage with information on proper hygiene and how to avoid germ transmission will be posted.
- Our facilities team will continue to clean classrooms, bathrooms, shared spaces and playground equipment with a specific focus on doorknobs, light switches, faucet handles, work surfaces, student desks, tables, and technology.
- Our evening cleaning crew will disinfect hard surfaces each evening and use the disinfecting mister purchased through fund-a-need at Beau Geste.
- Shared supplies will be limited in the classroom.
- Classrooms will be equipped with additional cleaning supplies so manipulatives and other learning materials can be sanitized throughout the day.
- St. Mary's will hire a Health & Safety Coordinator to increase our janitorial practices and conduct additional cleanings throughout the school day.
- Students first through fifth grades, visitors, faculty and staff to wear masks. Mask for students in preschool, prekindergarten and kindergarten will be optional, except at in-person Chapel. Mask breaks will occur while outside, during PE, lunchtime and when 6 feet distancing is feasible. If a mask becomes lost and is not identifiable, it will be thrown away. Please write your child’s name inside their mask.
- Desk and table protection guards will be used in classrooms.
- Students will be taught safe behavioral practices, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, keeping hands to themselves, and avoiding touching their faces.
- Desks will be spread out and facing one direction in the classrooms.
- Additional cafeteria tables will be available in Taylor Hall for social distancing during lunch.
- To reduce the number of students in Taylor Hall at lunch time, preschool and pre-k students will pack their lunches and eat in their classrooms.
- We will not have large group assemblies or gatherings.
Remote Schooling Plan
In the fall, our Remote Schooling Plan will be offered live, or with pre-recorded videos. As parents, you will have the option of choosing the Remote Schooling Plan at any point throughout the year. More details will be provided as they are available regarding the platform we will use to deliver this curriculum, as well as the procedures of notifying the school that your child will engage in Remote Schooling.
"Words can’t express how grateful our family is to the faculty and staff of St. Mary’s for the education my kids have continued to receive through the pandemic. Our kids haven’t had just one or two classes a day, but have received their full curriculum each and every day taught by the teachers they love, including music, art, Spanish and PE.
There is not another school in the state that has continued to provide the level of quality education that our kids have received. I keep reading articles about how kids are going to be behind academically because of all the restrictions, but I am so grateful that my kids won’t be because of the hard work of everyone at St. Mary’s."
- Lauren Guhl, St. Mary's School Parent