Reopening - McDonogh School

Reopening McDonogh 2020-2021

As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, McDonogh is committed to providing the very best LifeReady educational experience for students while adding “layers of defense” to create an environment that will minimize health risks for our entire community. 

These layers are many and include such measures as reimagining current spaces and renting temporary classrooms and tents to permit physical distancing and smaller class sizes; hiring additional full and part-time faculty and staff for teaching, cleaning, health services, and food delivery; expanding our bus fleet and drivers; and purchasing extra disinfecting and classroom supplies.

Our current plans for the start of school, which are informed by public health experts, epidemiologists, doctors, and by those running hospitals, are outlined on this page. Final plans will be shared the week of August 10. 

It is important to note that our Reopening Task Force and Medical Advisory Board are still 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. 

Academic Models to Ensure Continous Learning

Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves this year, whether on-campus, online, or a combination of both, we are prepared to carry out our mission and provide our students with the excellent educational experience that is McDonogh.

Our faculty are engaging in required professional development this summer to prepare for the coming year. This training is designed to ensure continuous academic excellence in all three models. It includes a schoolwide transition to Canvas, a powerful learning management system where rich, engaging learning can take place whether students are online or on campus. Faculty are also completing a course on blended learning called The LifeReady Classroom, which is an approach to instruction that organizes and optimizes synchronous learning and asynchronous learning. When faculty return to school, additional professional development will include instruction on new health and safety protocols.

 

Hybrid 5-3-2 Model To Start School Year

To ensure a safe and seamless transition, our plan at this time is to begin the school year with the On-Campus/Online Hybrid 5-3-2 model (Lower School on campus five days a week; Middle School on campus three days a week; and Upper School on campus two days a week), and we will have staggered start dates. In this model, students will be in virtual school when they are not on campus, with the exception of the first week of school (there will be no virtual classes the week of August 31 to September 4). We are building toward having students on campus five days a week as soon as it is viable to do so.

View the staggered start dates and September calendar.

The first week back (August 31-September 4), the school day will begin at 8:30 a.m. for all three divisions and buses will leave at 12:00 p.m. for Lower School students and 3:00 p.m. for Middle and Upper School students. After the first week, the school day for all students will begin at 8:30 a.m. and buses will depart Monday through Friday at 3:00 p.m. Late buses (upper schoolers only) will be available on the days when Upper School classes are held on campus; more details regarding times and routes will be forthcoming.

We understand some students may be unable to attend on-campus school due to a variety of circumstances, including the need to self-isolate at home. In order to support continued learning, virtual options will be available for such situations. Daily start and stop times will be the same for students who opt for virtual learning options. Stay tuned for more details.


Important Information

September Calendar and Staggered Start Dates

View the staggered start dates and September calendar here

The first week back (August 31-September 4), the school day will begin at 8:30 a.m. for all three divisions; buses will leave at 12:00 p.m. for Lower School students and 3:00 p.m. for Middle and Upper School students. After the first week, the school day for all students will begin at 8:30 a.m. and buses will depart Monday through Friday at 3:00 p.m. Late buses (upper schoolers only) will be available on the days when Upper School classes are held on campus; more details regarding times and routes will be forthcoming.

We understand some students may be unable to attend on-campus school due to a variety of circumstances, including the need to self-isolate at home. In order to support continued learning, virtual options will be available for such situations. Daily start and stop times will be the same for students who opt for virtual learning options. Stay tuned for more details.

Health and Safety Rules for the McDonogh Community

We are all in this together and the health of our community depends on everyone’s cooperation! Following these rules is essential, and students and employees who do not abide by them will be sent home.  

  • Students and employees will be required to check in using an online wellness app every morning before boarding the bus or coming to campus. Details regarding the app will be provided in August.
  • 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)
    • Stay at home for seven days so long as you remain asymptomatic
    • If you remain asymptomatic, you may return after seven days.
    • If you develop symptoms, you may return three days after you have recovered and a minimum of 10 days after symptoms began.
  • Students and employees will be required to self-isolate at home for seven days after returning from any out-of-state travel.
  • Masks must be worn indoors at all times by students and employees. When outdoors, masks must be worn when physical distancing is not possible. It is important for students to practice wearing masks during the day before school starts.
  • 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.

Campus Health and Safety Measures

  • Access to campus will be 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 but must remain in their vehicles.
  • Existing spaces will be reimagined and temporary buildings (that include bathrooms) and tents are being added to ensure physical distancing in all classroom settings.
  • Space between students while seated at desks will be increased to six feet. When that is not possible, we are planning to use transparent barriers to provide an added layer of protection. 
  • Additional faculty have been hired to allow for additional sections where needed to ensure physical distancing. 
  • Schedules will be modified to reduce interactions among students outside of classes. For example, Lower School students will have more classes in their homerooms while Middle and Upper School students will be scheduled in fewer classes each day to reduce transitions.
  • There will be no AfterCare at this time.
  • Field trips, in-person assemblies, performances, extracurriculars, and other large gatherings will be canceled, postponed, or restricted. When possible, such events will be held virtually.
  • Outdoor learning and activities will be encouraged. Weather permitting, Lower School and Middle School recess and physical education will still be held outside. 
  • Extra supplies will be provided to limit items being shared (e.g. art supplies). Items that must be shared will be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Some hallways will be marked for one-way traffic and some exterior doors will be labeled entrance or exit only.
  • Classroom doors will be pinned open throughout the day so doorknobs do not need to be touched. 
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water will be encouraged; hand sanitizer will be readily available and should be used when soap and water are not available. Faculty, staff, and students will be educated on best hygiene practices.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations will be available at the entrance to every building and throughout campus.
  • The Infirmary will have separate areas for well-visits and the treatment/isolation of ill patients. Students who present symptoms while on campus must be picked up immediately.
  • Unless scheduled to proctor classes or assigned other responsibilities, non-teaching staff who can telework will continue to do so to reduce the overall occupancy on campus.

Campus Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • The school is acquiring reserves of soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting products.
  • Hospital-grade cleaning and disinfecting supplies that are safe for a school environment will be used.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of door handles, high-touch surfaces, and restrooms will take place throughout the school day.
  • If an area has been occupied by someone suspected to be infected, the area will be closed until it is safely disinfected.
  • Electrostatic fog sprayers will be used to disinfect unoccupied areas throughout the school day.
  • Deep cleaning and disinfecting of all areas will take place nightly.
  • The school will follow 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 will be used in buildings without central systems to maintain continuous ventilation.

Transportation

The school will continue to offer bus transportation for students who do not have another alternative. There will be community group stops and families will be required to sign-up to help us ensure physical distancing on the buses. Sign-up information will be emailed soon.

  • The school is leasing additional buses and adding drivers to ensure physical distancing.
  • Pick-up and Drop-off will be at community group stops.
  • Families must sign-up for bus service; details forthcoming.
  • Masks must be worn on the bus.
  • With the exception of siblings, there will be one student per seat.
  • Windows will remain open for increased air circulation.
  • Buses will be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • On-campus parent drop-off and pick-up locations and times will be shared in August. Times may be staggered and locations may change. 

Dining

  • We will start the school year with cold boxed lunches delivered to classroom buildings.  
  • There will be three options; vegetarian, gluten free, and non-vegetarian.
  • The menu for the entire month of September will be shared prior to the start of school, and menus will be shared prior to the start of each month throughout the school year.
  • The goal is to add hot lunch options later in the fall.
  • The Brass Eagle will be closed. 
  • We will seek community feedback on all aspects of our dining services throughout the year for continued improvement.
  • The school is committed to making environmental sustainability improvements by obtaining appropriate equipment and supplies to serve meals with compostable containers/utensils and educating the community on the proper disposal of these items.
  • Day students may not attend breakfast or dinner on campus; those meals will be restricted to boarding students.

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 will use 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 will be fully engaged with their teachers and classmates on campus. 

Social and Emotional Health

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption and stress to our lives, 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!

Throughout the year, our faculty and staff will be participating in further professional development with a special focus on nurturing diverse, culturally responsive classrooms that support social and emotional learning.

Athletics

Many are wondering what athletics will look like this fall. This is what we know right now. In an ongoing effort to mitigate health risks, the MIAA and the IAAM, our sports leagues, have decided that there will be no August preseason tryout period for our athletes and coaches, and league play will begin no earlier than September 21. The Board of Governors of these organizations will meet in mid-August to assess the health situation and reevaluate the viability of interscholastic competition for the fall season. Fall tryouts will be determined at that time but we will begin no earlier than September 8. 

Upper School practices will only occur on days when upper schoolers are on campus for classes (e.g. Mondays and Tuesdays in a typical week). Late buses will be offered. As the season approaches, the two-day-a-week practice plan may be amended.

Middle School athletics will not be held in the fall. All students will be scheduled for physical education.

The Equestrian Program will remain open under the guidance and protocol of The Maryland Department of Agriculture and The Maryland Horse Industry Board. We are continuing to offer lessons and, at this time, plan to offer varsity, JV, and Middle School riding teams this fall. Questions regarding the Equestrian Program can be emailed to equestrian@mcdonogh.org.

Residential Life

We will be operating the Residential Life Program in the fall while adhering to health and safety guidelines, with one student per dorm room. For more information, email Associate Head of School Kate Mueller at kmueller@mcdonogh.org.

Dress Code

We are evaluating the dress code requirements for the 2020-2021 school year and details will be shared by division heads via email in early August. What we do know for sure is that Lower and Middle students will continue to wear McDonogh polo shirts; the new colors are now available in the school store and families should have received credit on their school account for the purchase of one new polo. All students should have access to special dress items. 

The school store is now open from 12:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only. To make an appointment, please email Erin Holmes at eholmes@mcdonogh.org.

The McDonogh Parents Association (MPA) is holding Lower School uniform exchanges (lobby of Elderkin Hall) and Middle and Upper School gently used uniform sales (basement of Allan Building across from the School Store) on the following dates by appointment only; sign-up information will be emailed to families.

  • Thursday, July 30 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 4 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 18 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 20 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Lower School uniform donations can be dropped off on these dates and times without an appointment. We ask that all donations be left outside of the main entrance of Elderkin Hall.

Please be advised that the following guidelines will be in place:

  • Masks must be worn at all times.
  • Students will not be able to try on any items.
  • Checks and credit cards will be accepted; cash will not be accepted.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available.

If you have questions about the Lower School uniform exchange or the Middle/Upper School gently used uniform sales, please contact Director of Parent Relations Jen Little at jlittle@mcdonogh.org.

Financial Information

As outlined in this reopening plan, we are investing significant financial resources in personnel, supplies, and equipment to provide the many layers of defense necessary for teaching and learning to take place on campus and to ensure continuous learning if public health conditions dictate us to be in full virtual school. As a result, we do not anticipate any reduction in day school tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

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