COVID-19 Response - McDonogh School

Reopening McDonogh 2020-2021

We are excited to welcome everyone back to campus five days a week beginning Monday, April 26. In the all-school, five-days-a-week model, each division will begin and end the school day according to the on-campus schedule it has been following all year in our Hybrid 5-3-2 model.

The School is able to safely do this because of the additional learning space the new middle school building offers and the fact that our on-campus health and safety protocols continue to be extremely effective, including continual surveillance tests being administered with a 0.1% positivity rate and the full vaccination of nearly all adults on campus. 

The health and safety of our community continues to be our top priority, and the following COVID-19 protocols will remain in place through the end of the school year:  

  • Daily health questionnaires
  • 100% masked interaction indoors, except while eating lunch
  • Hospital-grade cleaning
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizing throughout the day
  • Distanced seating in classroom spaces
  • Multiple outdoor classroom spaces 
  • Outdoor lunch (weather permitting)
  • Well-ventilated classrooms
  • Consistent contact tracing practices that document student seating throughout the day
  • Weekly surveillance testing of employees and students in grades 7-12

McDonogh School’s Pandemic Planning Team and Medical Advisory Board are actively working and monitoring evolving guidelines. Please know that plans are subject to change at any point based on new information. We will continue to update this webpage and communicate with families. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate these uncertain times.

Important Information

Community Expectations

We are all in this together, and the health of our community depends on everyone’s cooperation in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please read and abide by our Community Expectations, which are also published, along with other COVID-related policies, in an addendum to our division handbooks. Adhering to these expectations is vital in order for us to remain in our hybrid model with students on campus.

Health and Safety Rules for the McDonogh Community

Following these rules is essential, and students and employees who do not abide by them will be sent home.  

  • Students must complete the daily health questionnaire (found on parent and Upper School student Personal Pages) before traveling to campus or getting on the school bus each morning.
  • Those who have a fever above 99.5 degrees, have flu-like symptoms not associated with allergies, and/or have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted on campus.
  • Students and employees who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is presumed positive, must adhere to the following:
    • Self-isolate at home, and participate virtually if possible
    • Get tested for the virus if you are able and willing (nasopharyngeal swab is preferred); a PCR test after day 7 could permit an early end to the quarantine
    • Stay at home for 14 days so long as you remain asymptomatic
    • If you remain asymptomatic, you may return after 14 days.
    • If you develop symptoms, you may return three days after you have recovered and a minimum of 10 days after symptoms began.
  • Students are expected to refrain from unnecessary travel. Students who travel outside the Mid-Atlantic region (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia) must be tested after their return to the state and quarantine away from campus until the test results are received. More information is available in the School’s travel policy.
  • Masks should follow guidance from the State of Maryland and the CDC. Masks should be made of at least two layers and should not have any valves or vents. Each student should bring a spare mask to school in case their mask becomes soiled or damp. Cloth masks should be washed daily. Surgical or medical masks, including one-time-use masks, are permitted. Masks must be worn indoors at all times by students and employees. When outdoors, masks must be worn when physical distancing is not possible. 
  • Bandanas and neck gaiters are not permitted; research shows these types of face-coverings are ineffective at reducing the transmission of respiratory droplets. Masks with ear or head loops are strongly recommended.
  • Physical distancing of six feet should be maintained whenever possible. 
  • Students and employees on campus must contact the Infirmary immediately if they begin to experience flu-like symptoms.
  • All students should bring their own water bottle to campus each day; drinking fountains will not be available, but water bottle filling stations or opportunities will be available.

Travel Policy

Students are expected to refrain from unnecessary travel. Students who travel outside the Mid-Atlantic region (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia) must be tested after their return to the state and quarantine away from campus until the test results are received. More information is available in the School’s travel policy.

Campus Health and Safety Measures

  • Access to campus is limited to students, faculty, essential personnel, authorized visitors, and those involved with school-sanctioned events. Parents are permitted on campus for drop-off and pick-up and approved volunteer assignments.
  • Existing spaces have been reimagined and temporary buildings (that include bathrooms) and tents have been added to ensure physical distancing in all classroom settings.
  • Space between students while seated at desks has increased to six feet. 
  • Additional faculty have been hired to allow for more sections when needed to ensure physical distancing. 
  • Schedules have been modified to reduce interactions among students outside of classes. For example, Lower School students have more classes in their homerooms while Middle and Upper School students have fewer classes scheduled each day to reduce transitions.
  • There is no AfterCare at this time.
  • Performances, extracurriculars, and other large gatherings will be restricted or held virtually.
  • Outdoor learning and activities are encouraged. Weather permitting, Lower School and Middle School recess and physical education are held outside. 
  • Extra supplies are provided to limit items being shared (e.g. art supplies). Items that must be shared are cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Students who present symptoms while on campus must be picked up immediately.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations are available at the entrance to every building and throughout campus. Frequent handwashing with soap and water is encouraged; hand sanitizer is readily available and should be used when soap and water are not available. 
  • Unless scheduled to proctor classes or assigned other responsibilities, non-teaching staff who can telework continue to do so to reduce the overall occupancy on campus.

Campus Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • The school has acquired reserves of soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting products.
  • Hospital-grade cleaning and disinfecting supplies that are safe for a school environment are used.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of door handles, high-touch surfaces, and restrooms take place throughout the school day.
  • If an area has been occupied by someone suspected to be infected, the area is closed until it is safely disinfected.
  • Electrostatic fog sprayers are used to disinfect unoccupied areas throughout the school day.
  • Deep cleaning and disinfecting of all areas take place nightly.
  • The school follows recommended ventilation guidelines for buildings with central systems using MERV 13 air filters and four to six air changes per hour. Fans and individual HEPA air purifiers are used in buildings without central systems to maintain continuous ventilation.

Transportation

Bus Transportation
The school is continuing to offer bus transportation.

  • Masks must be worn on the bus.
  • Families must sign up for bus service to and from one of our community stops.
  • With the exception of siblings, there is only one student per seat.
  • A minimum of three windows per side remain open for increased air circulation.
  • Buses are cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Carpooling
While McDonogh cannot recommend that families carpool, as it exposes family members to new individuals outside the household, we understand that it may be a necessity for some. The School cannot provide contact information to facilitate carpooling, but McDonogh will not prevent families from coordinating their own ridesharing. If you choose to carpool with people from outside your immediate family, we recommend wearing a mask and trying to ride with the same people on a regular basis.

 

Dining

  • The dining halls are open for lunch pick-up only.
  • The Brass Eagle Cafe is closed at this time.

Technology and Learning

  • McDonogh has made significant investments in the technology infrastructure to support the continuity of student growth regardless of circumstance and the location in which teaching and learning take place. 
  • Our current reality dictates some students may need to be away from campus for extended periods of time; for example, those students who must isolate at home. In order to support continued learning, McDonogh uses technology to provide real-time access to students learning from another location. 
  • Hybrid and remote learning is made possible with classroom laptops, cameras, microphones, and speakers so students learning remotely can be fully engaged with their teachers and classmates on campus. 

Social and Emotional Health

McDonogh is committed to supporting the social and emotional health of our faculty, staff, and students. Our  counselors are valuable resources, and they stand ready to assist and support our community. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Athletics

Spring Teams
The following teams are playing this spring: Girls Lacrosse (outdoor); Boys Lacrosse (outdoor); Baseball (outdoor); Boys Golf (outdoor); Girls Golf (outdoor); Softball (outdoor); Track and Field (outdoor); and Water Polo (indoor).

Attendance at Games
Attendance at athletic games held on campus is limited to:

  • Players
  • Referees and/or officials
  • Trainers, coaches, and staff 
  • Technical staff (e.g. A/V livestream)
  • Two family member guests per McDonogh athlete (Indoor and Outdoor Contests)
  • Two family member guests per athlete from the visiting team (Outdoor Contests Only)

Please note: spectators are not permitted at practices. Student spectators are not permitted unless they are the family-member guest of a competing athlete.

Prior to away games, coaches will share the competitor school's spectator policy. Some schools may not allow fans. 

Face Coverings
Face coverings (cloth or medical masks) are required at all times for everyone not actively in play, including players on the sidelines, referees/officials, trainers, coaches, staff, media, and spectators. Neck gaiters are permitted only for athletes on the field.

McDonogh will abide by the rules of the IAAM and MIAA and will require athletes on the field of play to wear a mask as applicable. McDonogh prefers that all athletes wear masks at all times, but will match the requirements of competing teams as necessary. If the governing league does not require masks, and the competing team does not intend to wear masks, McDonogh athletes will not be required to wear masks.

Physical Distancing
Athletes not in the field of play; trainers, coaches and staff; and spectators in attendance must practice physical distancing of six feet at all times.

Event Capacity
Attendance at indoor athletic events on campus is limited to 50 percent of the facility's maximum occupancy, with no more than 50 people permitted per activity area. Attendance at outdoors events is limited to 250 people. This includes all present at the contest, including athletes, officials, coaches, and spectators.

Restrooms for Home Contests
Restrooms will be available outside the Fader Innovation Center and at the far end of the tennis courts. Several portable bathrooms will also be available. No one is permitted inside the gymnasiums or other school buildings.

Post-Game Protocols
As soon as the game is over, spectators must leave the field of play and return to their cars to wait for athletes.

Transportation to Games 
Transportation will be provided for teams traveling to away games. Upperclassmen who drive to school may drive themselves to away games with a signed parent permission form, which can be obtained from your son or daughter's coach.

Out of State Competition and Tournaments
Athletic events with teams from outside the State of Maryland remain prohibited. Tournaments are also prohibited until further notice.

Surveillance Testing
Athletes will be tested along with students during the School's typical surveillance testing windows, at a rate of roughly 25% of all athletes each week.

Residential Life

The dorms are open in conjunction with the days the Upper School is on campus. For more information, email Associate Head of School Kate Mueller at kmueller@mcdonogh.org.

Financial Information

As outlined in this reopening plan, the cost of educating your children this year has jumped dramatically as we have invested significant amounts into hiring new teachers, new technology and equipment, temporary classrooms and tents, modified ventilation and filtration systems, PPE, and cleaning and disinfecting supplies. These costs have been incurred and these resources are in place.

Not only have we invested in our facilities, but we have also invested in our educational program. Our teachers have engaged in rigorous professional development, and they are prepared to provide an unparalleled academic experience on campus or in virtual school. They have become even more innovative and creative in their LifeReady teaching practices. And they are intensely focused on providing a caring environment where relationships, which are the hallmark of a McDonogh education, will continue to be forged.