Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

Saint Thomas Choir School

Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

Temporary Return to Incarnation Center

New York State Department of Health and Department of Education 

July 31, 2020

 

Authors: Fall 2020 Scenario Planning Working Group

  • KW (Houseparent)
  • MA (School Nurse & Houseparent)
  • MG (Science Teacher & Choir School Committee Member)
  • CH (Director of Studies & English Teacher)
  • AF (Interim Head of School)

Plan Summary

The Saint Thomas Choir School is a single-sex residential middle school that serves thirty boys in grades three through eight who sing in the choir of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Given our unique size, structure, and mission, planning for Fall 2020 Reopening has posed a number of challenges as we work to keep the health and well-being of our community at the center of each decision we make while also upholding our mission and values.

In formulating our plans, a Fall 2020 Scenario Planning Working Group was assembled of school administrators, faculty members, and medical personnel. The Working Group has been meeting once or twice each week since early May to discuss scenario planning. Members of the Working Group have focused on different areas of school life, and have spent hundreds of hours reading articles, studies, and governmental guidance; speaking with infectious disease experts, pediatricians, and school medical personnel; working with experts in risk management and in school legal issues; attending many webinars produced by NYSAIS, NAES, NAIS, OESIS, NATS, OneSchoolhouse, NEASC, and the Klingenstein Center; meeting individually with over fifteen heads of other independent schools; and meeting frequently with other key stakeholders in the Saint Thomas community. The goals of our planning are to be prepared to educate the students safely regardless of how the pandemic shifts, and to be able to provide a positive educational experience to our students consistent with our mission and our values.

As the Working Group continued its planning, it became clear that the school’s small size and residential model presented an opportunity to create a fully isolated pod that–after an initial period of quarantining and several rounds of testing–would allow all students and residential staff members to act as one germ-sharing family unit. The school leadership decided that the best place to accomplish this goal would be on a larger campus that offered more outdoor space than our building in New York City provides, so we are planning to spend the first six weeks of the school year up at the Incarnation Center in Ivoryton, Connecticut. We typically go up to the Incarnation Center for two weeks at the end of each school year, so this six week period is an extension of our existing school program (albeit, this time, with a number of COVID-19 adjustments and precautions). Plans will be filed with the Connecticut State Department of Health, and the school administration will be constantly monitoring the local COVID-19 statistics both in New York City and in Middlesex County, CT. The Working Group will continue its work throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, and the Interim Head of School will serve as the COVID-19 Safety Coordinator.

In order to ensure that the germ-sharing pod is established safely and remains intact, we will be implementing stricter policies before the return to campus and in the first fourteen days on campus. No one will be allowed to join the pod after it has been established, and if members of the pod leave, they will be unable to return. Our return to school policies as written below, therefore, include descriptions of the safety precautions that will be taken by all members of our residential community at Incarnation Center in the first two weeks of residence there, as well as adjustments to that policy after the pod has been established. Our goal with establishing this germ-sharing group is to help protect the mental, social, and emotional health of the students by allowing them to safely resume nearly-normal activities and interactions with their peers and their teachers after the pod is created. We firmly believe that this will provide them with the best educational opportunity we can offer, and that it will keep our entire community as safe as we can keep them while doing so. The pod will be established by requiring:

  • Before Campus Return: Fourteen-day quarantine period from all students at home with their families and all faculty members who will be returning to campus, including completing a daily symptom and temperature check log, and a negative COVID-19 test
  • First Fourteen Days On Campus: Maintaining strict social distancing and mask wearing, as well as breaking the student body, faculty, and staff into smaller cohorts with minimal contact between each cohort. All students, faculty and staff will take a second COVID-19 test after we have been together for seven days. After that second test comes back negative for all members of the community, we will be able to behave like a germ-sharing pod and release some restrictions.

We have divided the academic calendar into quarters for this upcoming year, and will re-evaluate the plan in advance of each quarter. Preparations are underway for a planned switch to distance learning after the first six weeks, unless the situation has improved in New York City to the extent that we can have the students return to our campus there. We will create, and if necessary submit, updated reopening plans as that transition approaches, and will continue adjusting as the school year carries forward.

Please feel free to reach out to headmaster@choirschool.org if you have any questions or would like to speak further about the plan. We invite you to refer to our website, www.choirschool.org, for more information about our school and our COVID-19 response.

Saint Thomas Choir School Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

  • Reopening
    • Capacity: We are planning a return in which all of our students, all of our residential faculty and staff, and several of our non-residential staff members join us on campus at the Incarnation Center. All other staff members will be teaching or working remotely while we are in Connecticut, with the exception of the building maintenance and reception staff who will be working on reduced hours. Once the group who is going up to the Incarnation Center has departed, there will be no physical contact for the first six weeks of the school year between members of the pod and other staff members.
  • Students: students are expected to return at full capacity (approximately 30 students) to a residential boarding environment.
  • Faculty and Staff:
    • Full-time resident faculty (10 faculty members) are expected to return at full capacity, and will continue their residential responsibilities
    • Other full-time staff members, including members of the kitchen staff, music staff, gap students, and a chaplain, (approximately 9 staff members) are expected to join us in our new residential setting
    • Part-time faculty and full-time administrative staff members who will not be joining us will be teaching and working remotely
    • Building and kitchen staff members who are not joining us will be working on a reduced schedule or temporarily not working
  • Social Distancing: In order to enforce social distancing, we have reduced density in the classroom spaces and dorms. 2-3 students will live in each dorm room (these rooms normally have a capacity of 8) and will be subdivided into cohorts based on dorm hallways. Each cohort will have designated entrances and exits to the dorm building, bathrooms in all buildings, and classroom spaces which they will be using. Within their cohorts, we will still be working to enforce social distancing as much as possible, by keeping desks six feet apart and standing six feet apart in hallways and other indoor spaces. Students and staff will remain twelve feet apart during choir. Social distancing for students in different cohorts and for students with all faculty members will be strictly enforced at all times. Each residential faculty member will be assigned to a cohort, and these faculty members will be the only adults allowed on that cohort’s dorm hallway for the first two weeks.
  • Signage: Signs will be posted throughout the Incarnation Center campus that serve as reminders of the following topics:
  • Movement within buildings
  • Procedures for transitions
  • Schedules and use of common areas: dining hall, living rooms, classrooms
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizing stations
  • Food preparation and handling
  • Touch points
  • Entrances and exits (buildings and rooms)
  • Bathroom signs (how many people and who is allowed in)
  • Use and cleaning of common equipment (sports, waterfront, etc)
  • Social distancing markers
  • Mask wearing procedures
  • PPE & Face Coverings: For the first two weeks, or until the second COVID-19 test returns negative for all members of the pod, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks at all times and stay socially distant from one another whenever they are outside of their dorm rooms. After the pod is established, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to carry masks at all times and to wear them if they encounter anyone who is not a member of our pod, or if they are instructed to do so by medical personnel. Students and faculty will be bringing their own cloth face masks, which will be regularly cleaned. The school will stock extra face masks that we will bring with us as well. Enhanced PPE will be used by medical personnel when managing a student with any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Operational Activity
  • Teaching and Learning
    • Schedules:
      • Calendar: The academic calendar for the 2020-2021 school year will be adjusted to quarters rather than trimesters. Each quarter will serve as another point for us to re-evaluate our plan and to transition to a different scenario if necessary. We have planned out scenarios for A. a return to our campus in New York City, B. a return to the Incarnation Center campus in Connecticut, and C. extended distance learning. Some school breaks will be enshrined no matter what happens with our scenarios. Parents will receive more detailed information about the upcoming calendar through email as we approach each quarter. Teachers will submit grades and reports at the end of each quarter.
      • Weekly Schedule: We will be operating on an adjusted weekly schedule in order to compensate for the possibility of increased foot traffic on hiking trails and at the waterfront on Saturdays and Sundays in the early fall. Our “academic week” will span Tuesday-Saturday with normal class schedules. Sunday will be a half day which incorporates participating either virtually (in weeks 1-2) or in person (in weeks 3-6) in a religious service as well as some structured activities. Monday will be a day off, which will function somewhat like a Saturday during the “normal” school year. Students will call home via Zoom or FaceTime much more frequently throughout the week than they normally do.
      • Daily Academic Schedule: There will be two versions of the daily schedule: the first will cover the first two weeks until we have established the germ-sharing pod, and the second will be for once the germ-sharing pod is established. Adequate teaching time is enshrined in both schedules, and both schedules take into account some classes (French, Art, and Voice) which will be taught remotely with assistant teachers in the physical classroom with students, as well as those classes (Math, Science, History, English, Music Theory, Latin, 3rd and 4th Grade Class, Theology, Social Justice, SSAT, and Health) which will be taught in person. The school day will be extended throughout the time we are together in person in order to take maximum advantage of the benefits. For any spaces which members of the public could use, there will be very strict schedules for use and cleaning between groups. These spaces include: the waterfront area, tennis courts, basketball courts, the outdoor chapel, and the gym. Dining areas, dorm areas, classroom areas, faculty housing, nurses offices, and music rehearsal and performance spaces will be exclusively ours, and will be kept locked when not in use.
        • Weeks 1-2: The schedule is designed to minimize contact or proximity between different cohorts. Each cohort is assigned a designated classroom, and all of their academic activities (classes and study hall) take place in that room throughout the day. Teachers rotate between classroom spaces, and maintain strict social distancing and mask wearing as well as cleaning procedures of shared objects. Cohorts will be released for meals on a staggered schedule in order to avoid crowding or overlap. All “after-school” activities will be scheduled so that cohorts are in different spaces at different times, and so that adequate time is left between cohorts who will be using the same indoor facility (music rehearsal space, gym, etc.). As many activities, meals, and classes as can happen outside, will.
        • Weeks 3-6: Adjustments to the procedures in the first two weeks include: students rotate between classes instead of teachers, meals will be eaten simultaneously, students can participate in “after-school” activities simultaneously, student study hall locations can be in the dorm building, and students will perform in (and faculty can attend) weekly choral services.
  • Arts:
    • Mixed Media: Projects will be self-contained. Materials used will not be shared. Art classes will be broken down by cohort for the first two weeks, and will take place in each cohort’s designated classroom, so there will be no mixing between cohorts.
    • Music Lessons: Voice lessons will take place via Zoom with our voice teacher who will remain in New York City. Students will likely have their voice lessons in their dorm rooms. Instrumental lessons will likely take place in person with social distancing and mask wearing enforced for piano students, and via Zoom for cello/violin students. Zoom lessons will likely happen in dorm rooms: each cellist/violinist has his own instrument. Piano lessons will happen at one of the pianos around campus during scheduled times. Pianos will be cleaned between each use. Practice periods will be built into the schedule, and will take advantage of keyboards that students can use with headphones. Keyboards will be cleaned between each use.
    • Choir: Given its centrality to our mission, we feel it is important to incorporate choir into our program at Incarnation Center, and to work hard to make sure that students can engage in it with a similar level of investment and rigor that they display while we are in New York. In that vein, we hope to have–after the pod is established–choral services as well as rehearsals, and perhaps to be able to record video and/or audio that could be used to connect the choir with the congregation in New York City and around the world. Choir will, like the academic classes, look different in the first two weeks than it will in the final four weeks. While it can look somewhat normal after the germ-sharing pod is established, for the first two weeks:
      • There will be no full choir rehearsals or performances, only rehearsals by cohort.
      • There will be no services.
      • Students and choir directors will stay as far apart as possible (at least 12 feet). Markers will be used to delineate this spacing.
      • Students and choir directors will wear masks.
      • Rehearsals will take place either outdoors in the outdoor chapel or indoors with windows open. If indoors, there will be a disinfection and a free period between each group that is rehearsing.
      • There will be no shared music or other objects used in choir rehearsals.
      • Choir will follow the same kinds of classroom protocols being followed by the classroom teachers; likely, there will be more emphasis on preparing the students to work with more complicated pieces. The choir directors will coordinate with the instrumental, voice, and music theory teachers around a curriculum, particularly for this time period.
  • Technology: High-speed internet access will be available in all dorm buildings, faculty residences, and classroom spaces on campus. Each student will be assigned a laptop computer which will be kept in a designated area and stored securely at night. A remote desktop program will be installed on each student’s computer to allow teachers to troubleshoot technology problems remotely. There will be shared laptop computers available only for use if a student’s computer breaks: these will be cleaned between uses and stored separately. Students and faculty will transition to using Google Classroom as the school’s Learning Management System, and will go through training to prepare them for this transition. While we learn together in person, we will practice procedures and practices for distance learning so that we are prepared for the possibility of a transition later in the year.
  • Physical Education/Athletics: We will make use of the ample outdoor spaces when the weather permits. There will be time for P.E. built into the academic day designed to take advantage of the sun and warmer weather. The school will bring its own athletic equipment, and will use that in place of athletic equipment belonging to Incarnation Center. Necessarily shared equipment (boats, oars, etc.) will be disinfected after each use. P.E. will consist of non-contact games and fitness programs until the pod is established, including activities like boating, swimming, hiking, tennis, running, yoga, and calisthenic rotations. Students will be broken down by cohort until the germ-sharing pod has been established.
  • In-Person Learning Expectations/Standards: Teachers will use this time at Incarnation Center to assess the impact of distance learning in spring 2020, and to set curricular goals and expectations accordingly. Teachers will plan their academic curriculum using the curriculum template created by our Director of Studies to take advantage of time together in person at the Incarnation Center, and will design units for the remaining quarters of the year that are possible to complete effectively via distance learning. Teachers will create supplemental units in advance to address any gaps in learning and to use should a long-term absence become necessary (of either a teacher or a student). Teachers will prepare to educate children who need to leave the pod and are unable to rejoin remotely.
  • Distance Learning Expectations/Standards: As STCS did in spring 2020, the school will ensure that any students who need to be at home due to medical reasons have access to the internet and any equipment necessary to make concurrent distance learning viable. Families will not be able to opt into this educational pathway unless it becomes necessary for medical or family emergency reasons: these will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Teachers will offer office hours for support, and will follow regular, predictable teaching/learning schedules that will be communicated to both the students and the parents. Students will be able to participate in at least some synchronous classes with their peers, and will have standards set for the assigning and submission of work. STCS is producing a Continuity in Learning plan that will house the curriculum adjustments and policies affecting students who would take part in concurrent distance learning as well as a shift to distance learning, either planned or unplanned, as the year moves forward.
  • Grading/Assessment: Marking periods will be modified to match the quarter system we will be implementing with the calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. There will be modified expectations and adjusted assessments depending on the type of learning in which the student is engaging (in person vs. remote). The curriculum is being modified to be more project-based in order to scale back high-stakes testing and assessments.+
  • Residential Life
    • See “Social Distancing” above
    • Students will be divided into 4 cohorts by dorm hallways and grade levels (Cohort A: 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders; Cohort B: 6th graders; Cohort C: 7th graders, Cohort D: 8th graders). Faculty members will live on each dorm hallway and will act as members of that cohort, and the residential faculty members living in separate faculty housing will be assigned to a specific cohort for dorm duty until a germ-sharing pod is established. After that, a regular faculty duty schedule will be established.
    • No common spaces in the dorms will be used until the germ-sharing pod has been established
    • Each cohort will use only the doors and bathrooms designated for them.
    • There will be staggered release times when leaving the dorms, when going back to the dorms, and when going to meals.
    • Faculty cohort members will oversee wake ups, teeth brushing, showers, and bedtimes to ensure that students within the cohort continue to abide by mask wearing and social distancing. Students will not be required to wear masks when they are in their dorm rooms, but otherwise will need to in situations in which social distancing is not possible.
    • After the germ-sharing pod has been established, these restrictions will be lifted; however, if necessary, the initial cohorting restrictions can be re-imposed.

 

  • Teacher Support and Professional Development: Faculty and Staff Meetings will take place weekly with all faculty members via Zoom and with residential faculty members weekly in person outside, socially distanced, and with masks until the pod is established. Faculty and staff have participated in a number of professional development programs over spring and summer 2020 geared towards rethinking their curriculum to better transition between in-person and distance learning, including building new technological skills and focusing on project-based learning. Faculty and staff have also participated in focused professional development around social/emotional learning, and will be working to ensure that the significant mental, emotional, and social health needs of the students are met. Faculty social events will be held throughout the summer and the fall, and there is a designated faculty building and lounge area on campus where they can be without students present.

 

  • Staffing and HR Considerations: We are including several “gap students” in our pod, who will be available to serve in a supplemental or substitute capacity as necessary. They will also be able to help as “in person assistants” for the classes taught remotely by teachers who are not in the pod. We are articulating clear policies for staff members regarding policies if they are sick, including substitution or “succession” policies if faculty members or administrative staff must take a longer leave of absence. Our employee handbook for the entire institution is in the process of being revised to include COVID-19 updates, and will be distributed and reviewed by the staff. Hiring during COVID-19 has taken place via Zoom: we foresee continuing to use Zoom to do any other unexpected hiring that may emerge. The school support staff members–household, reception, maintenance, and kitchen–who are not joining us at the Incarnation Center will be operating on different schedules than usual.
  • Restart Operations: We will be purchasing PPE and necessary sanitation materials to bring with us to Connecticut, along with thermal thermometers and all other medical/cleaning equipment we need to be stored in the health offices at Incarnation Center. We will be purchasing additional classroom materials (including portable projectors, portable whiteboards, several meeting-enabled cameras, printers, and individual school supply packs for students/teachers) which we will transport up to Connecticut using a moving truck several days in advance of the arrival of students, along with faculty belongings and equipment, music equipment, and any other necessary materials. Faculty members will complete two days of opening meetings and professional development training in New York City via Zoom, and then will spend two days in Connecticut before the arrival of students preparing their classroom spaces and the common spaces.
  • Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection:
  • Hygiene: All students and faculty will receive additional training and reinforcement on proper hand-washing and general hygiene procedures to follow. Signs will be posted. Handwashing stations and hand sanitizer stations are positioned around campus. Each cohort will have designated bathrooms in each building that are only available to their cohort.
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting: The cleaning staff will follow rigid cleaning schedules, and will be responsible for cleaning bathrooms and shared spaces only when pod members will not be present. Cleaning logs will be kept: each of those spaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least once per day. Students and faculty members will be responsible for cleaning their own dorm and classroom areas: they will be trained in how to clean these environments effectively, and–in shared spaces like classrooms–extraneous objects will be removed. Disinfecting wipes and electrostatic cleaners will be used.
  • Extracurriculars: Students and faculty will avoid all outside of school contact. There will be no interscholastic athletic competitions. For the first two weeks, students will participate in extracurricular activities by cohort, and there will be increased residential staff on duty each day to help monitor children during free or unstructured time.
  • Attendance: In accordance with our normal policies, residential students will be expected to attend all classes, extracurricular activities, and all-school events unless they have spoken to the School Nurse and have been excused. If any students must return home before the rest of the school due to COVID-19 concerns or other reasons, their classes will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous distance learning: they will be expected to attend all synchronous classes. As was our policy this spring, all absences will be reported immediately to the Head of School and the child’s parents.
  • Before and After Care: N/A
  • Vulnerable Populations: The school will identify faculty, staff, and students who may be more vulnerable and take additional precautions or alter interactions for those community members.
  • Transportation & Movement:
    • Arrival on Campus:
      • Students should be brought to campus by their parents during their assigned arrival period. Adults will not be permitted to exit their vehicles. The students will unload in the area outside of the dorm and must adhere to social distancing and mask wearing. They will be assisted by duty staff members assigned to their cohort. Parents will be encouraged to travel in the lowest risk manner possible.
      • Faculty will have the option of traveling to campus with other staff members. The school will work to coordinate transportation options with staff members, and will provide transportation for faculty belongings and equipment.
      • For the 14 days prior to returning to campus, students, families, and faculty members will need to avoid all risk-taking behaviors, such as group gatherings, travel, and non-essential trips to public places. All community members will be asked to sign an agreement about their behavior in this crucial time period.
    • Deliveries to campus will be minimized. We will use two vendors for dining services who will work directly with the chef regarding safe procedures. Delivery people will not enter buildings on campus, and deliveries will be disinfected before use.
    • Faculty, staff, and students living on campus will not make in-person contact with non-pod members unless necessary due to medical or other emergency reasons. In that case, pod members will wear enhanced PPE, remain socially distant, and follow strict safety procedures.
  • Food Services:
    • Students and duty faculty eat in the dining hall and will remain divided by cohort at reduced capacity tables. Food will be pre-packaged by kitchen staff and picked up from a serving bar by students, who will be released by cohort in a staggered schedule: all diners will remain socially distanced in line and at their tables. Whenever possible, we will eat outside. We will use disposable plates and silverware and will use specified garbage facilities afterwards. Dining services will make use of only two vendors, and will have clear procedures for receiving deliveries that maximize social distancing and PPE, and avoid delivery people entering buildings. Because we are responsible for all of our own meals and will be cooking and eating in a dedicated space, the chef will continue to prepare meals that take student and faculty allergies and food restrictions into account. All kitchen staff members will receive specific training about our updated health and safety policies and procedures.
  • Emergency Drills:
    • Fire Drills and Lockdown Drills will continue as regularly scheduled while school is in person at Incarnation Center. Due to our location change, the procedures will look different: we are working with the Incarnation Center staff to develop protocols in line with their facilities and resources. All community members will walk through and practice both drills within the first week of arrival.
  • Mental, Behavioral, and Emotional Support Services and Programs:
  • A Social and Emotional Learning Guide is being produced for faculty and staff as well as a flow chart of how to respond to certain mental, behavioral, and social-emotional issues. All staff members will participate in professional development around this, in order to make their classes more effective and to facilitate sharing the counseling load. There will be Zoom sessions with the school counselor weekly, and additional/extended call home time with families via Zoom/FaceTime each week. On campus, our housemothers, head of school, chaplain, and academic advisors will serve as the primary caregivers providing emotional support for students: weekly team meetings will take place.
  • Communication:
    • In Advance: The reopening plans will be communicated to all constituencies well in advance of the planned return to Incarnation Center.
      • Governing Body: The Vestry and Choir School Committee have agreed to the scenario plan choice in July. They received details through an official report via email and during officially scheduled meetings.
      • Faculty: The faculty will be emailed the outline of the reopening plans at the beginning of August. They will participate in a faculty meeting during the first week of August to discuss more details, and will receive supporting documents (see below). Throughout the month of August, we will have several staff meeting check-ins, in addition to case by case meetings.
        • Frameworks to build curriculum during COVID-19
        • Material ordering forms for classroom supplies
        • Transportation sign ups
        • Virtual walk through of Incarnation Center
        • Health protocol training
        • Detailed plan information (Parent Plan and FAQs)
        • Packing list suggestions
        • Health forms: quarantine agreement, COVID-19 testing, and symptom checklist in lead up to school
      • Parents: All parents will receive an email update in the first week of August that will include details about our reopening plan (see below). This email update will be followed by Zoom town hall parent meetings organized by grade level and an update to our website to explain the plan we are making. Parents will receive reminders of forms and protocols they need to follow as we approach the beginning of the school year.
        • Packing list
        • To do checklist in advance of returning to school
        • FAQs
        • Virtual walk through of Incarnation Center
        • Detailed Parent Plan including overview of protocols
        • Health forms: quarantine agreement, COVID-19 testing, and symptom checklist in lead up to school
      • Students: The students will receive notification of the plan via email. Following the parent town halls, we will hold student Zoom meetings by grade level to discuss the plans. As we get closer to the return to school, we will hold health and safety training sessions on Zoom for the students. There will also be an in-person orientation by cohort when the students return to Incarnation Center to practice following the protocols.
    • On Campus: Regular communication will take place between the school and various stakeholder groups:
      • Parents: weekly update emails; daily ClassDojo postings; monthly Virtual Parent Teas; quarterly Zoom advisor conferences; as needed contact regarding specific issues that arise
      • Faculty and Staff: daily email communications and in-person meetings as necessary; weekly (socially distanced) in-person staff check-ins for residential staff and weekly Zoom full staff meetings.
      • Students: daily announcements at meals and by cohort. Virtual announcements from non-resident teachers via Google Classroom
      • Governing Board: quarterly updates through virtual meetings
  • Monitoring
    • Screening:
  • A daily symptoms checklist will be completed about all students, faculty and staff on Incarnation Center’s campus. Twice daily temperature checks will be scheduled for all residents
    • As we are a residential setting, the student checklist and monitoring will be done by the school nurse and/or housemother. Adults will complete their own checklists each morning and immediately report any positive symptoms.
  • The only personnel outside of our established pod allowed within the school’s designated buildings will be maintenance as needed and daily cleaning staff. Symptom checklists will be obtained from these individuals when they arrive for work at the facility, and they will not be allowed to enter our area of campus with any positive symptoms. They will be following a strict schedule, and only entering buildings when no members of our pod are using them.
  • Testing Protocols:
  • All students, faculty and staff must complete antigen testing for COVID-19 (PCR Swab) within 7-10 days of arrival on campus AND must have been in good health for the preceding 10 days. All students, faculty, and staff will need to complete a symptom checklist for the 10 preceding days which will be submitted to the School Nurse upon arrival on campus.
  • Repeat testing will be completed 7-10 days after return to campus to establish the entire community as a germ-sharing pod. Testing will be organized by the school.
  • Individuals with any positive on the symptom checklist at any time will be quarantined and arrangements made for evaluation with a local medical provider where a determination regarding the need for further testing will be made.
  • Testing Responsibility:
  • Parents will be required to take their child to be tested within 7 days of arrival on campus.
  • Saint Thomas Choir School will organize testing for the entire school community after 7 days at the Incarnation Center. Once established on campus, the school will arrange for testing as needed for any symptomatic individual.
  • The cost of testing for students will be the responsibility of the parents. The cost of testing for faculty and staff will be the responsibility of the school.
  • Early Warning Signs:
  • Due to the small size of our group, any positive case of COVID 19 within our community will warrant a discussion of whether a return to distance learning is required. We will contact the local health department if any positive cases develop and discuss the best options.
  • Record Keeping:
  • Records of daily symptom and temperature checks will be kept by the School Nurse in the Nurse’s Office at Incarnation Center in accordance with HIPAA regulations.
  • Containment
    • School Health Offices:
      • A designated space will be established near the dormitory building for the treatment of non-infectious complaints. Daily medications and/or vitamins will be distributed by the school nurse at meals.
      • The Nurse’s Office will be located in a self-contained three-bedroom cottage. It will be equipped with medical equipment and PPE sufficient for examining potential COVID-19 patients. The bedrooms will be used as isolation spaces should isolation and/or quarantine become necessary. Another cottage is available for overflow if more isolation spaces are needed.
        • The Nurse’s Office will be reserved for complaints that are consistent with infectious diseases (to include but not limited to sore throat, cough, headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste/smell, etc.) The nurse will don PPE to include mask, face shield, gloves and gown prior to caring for these students.
  • Isolation:
    • Any person with a positive on the symptom checklist or temperature check will immediately be quarantined.
    • Complaints of illness consistent with COVID-19 symptoms at any time throughout the day will be immediately quarantined.
    • Isolation/quarantine housing will be established for the student(s) and a supervising adult apart from the rest of the community in the Nurse’s Office and in overflow space (a separate cottage) if necessary.
    • Parents will be notified directly if isolation of their child is required.
    • Arrangements will be made by the school nurse for evaluation by a local physician to determine treatment.
    • Students will be cared for in isolation/quarantine until a decision is made (in conjunction with the physician, parents, and school nurse) whether they can return to school or will need to be cared for at home.
  • Collection:
    • In the residential setting, the Saint Thomas Choir School staff will arrange for and transport any symptomatic student for evaluation and treatment at a local medical provider’s office.
    • Should it be necessary for health reasons for a child to be sent home, parents will collect the child and his necessary belongings at Incarnation Center.
  • Infected Individuals:
    • If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they will be sent home within 24 hours. It is possible that they may return once they are symptom free (a minimum of 10 days since onset of symptoms) AND fever free for 72 hours without use of fever reducing medications. This will be coordinated with the local health department, and the decision to allow a return will be made on a case by case basis in conjunction with the school leadership team and the school nurse.
  • Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection:
    • Students/faculty and staff will be educated by the school nurse prior to and upon arrival at school concerning the following: proper handwashing technique and needed frequency, respiratory hygiene, properly wearing masks, etc.
    • Daily cleaning of residence halls and all bathrooms will be done by facility cleaning staff. Cleaning will be scheduled when others are out of the building.
    • Commonly touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily.
    • Classrooms will be utilized by one cohort of students during the initial period: teachers will be provided with disinfecting supplies to disinfect the teaching area prior to moving to the next class. Classrooms will be wiped down and disinfected after the last use for the day.
  • Contact Tracing:
    • School Nurse completed the Contact Tracing course through John Hopkins University and will be responsible for completing this task.
  • Communication:
    • Parents: The school will notify individual parents if their child needs to isolate, quarantine, or see a medical professional outside of our school staff. If a student or faculty member is in isolation or quarantine, there will be continuous monitoring of the other students and staff members in his or her cohort. The school will inform all parents if there is a positive case of COVID-19 among the students or residential faculty and staff, along with letting them know of any necessary next steps for the entire community. Notification will occur over email and phone/Zoom as necessary.
    • Faculty: Faculty will be informed if any students need to isolate, quarantine, or go home in order to ensure that that student’s educational experience remains uninterrupted. Notification will occur over email.
  • Closure
    • Closure Triggers:
      • Due to the small size of our group, any positive case of COVID-19 within our community will warrant a discussion of whether a return to distance learning is required.
      • Closure may be warranted should a significant number of students need to return home for reasons other than COVID-19 (other illness or injury, family emergency, etc).
      • Closure may be warranted if there is a significant increase in the COVID-19 cases in Middlesex County, CT. The school staff will continue to monitor local caseloads.
  • Operational Activity:
    • In the event that school needs to be closed, parents will retrieve their children from Camp Incarnation. Once the decision has been communicated to parents, they will be required to pick up their children within 24 hours (in most cases: exceptions will be made for those traveling from outside the Tri-State area). Similar to drop-off, the students will be picked up in designated areas and during designated times, with no contact between parents and school staff or any other children
    • Faculty and staff will remain until all children are placed with their parents and then will pack up the school’s supplies and leave the Incarnation Center. School supplies and belongings will be returned to New York City.
    • Online learning will resume at least 2 weeks after an emergency closure. The school calendar will be adjusted as needed.
  • Communication:
    • Parents: Parents will be notified via email and phone/Zoom of any event triggering closure. The school will work with parents on a case by case basis to make travel arrangements. Closure procedures will be published for parents before the school reopens at the Incarnation Center.
    • Faculty: Faculty will be notified via email, phone, and/or Zoom of any event triggering closure. The school will work to support faculty in planning and preparing for the shift to distance learning earlier than expected.