COVID-19 Response - McDonogh School

Reopening McDonogh 2020-2021

The 2020-2021 school year will be a combination of teaching and learning online, on-campus, and a hybrid of the two. Where our students learn is driven by two equally important priorities: providing them with an exceptional educational experience and doing our part to keep our community—students, employees, and families—safe and healthy. On-campus or online, we are prepared to carry out our mission and will provide students with the excellent educational experience that is McDonogh. 

McDonogh School’s Reopening Task Force 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.

For more on the public health picture, view the statistics and research guiding our decision-making. 

COVID-19 Response Webinar 11/11/20

Hybrid 5-3-2 Model

Our full Hybrid 5-3-2 model (students are in virtual school when they are not on campus) is currently in effect. We are building toward having all students on campus five days a week as soon as it is viable to do so.

Continuous Learning Online or On Campus

Knowing that virtual school was a distinct possibility at some point this fall, teachers in all three divisions spent much of the summer preparing and participating in rigorous professional development to ensure the strength and continuity of our educational programming. This included training in our learning management system, Canvas, which is designed to keep students engaged whether they are online or on campus. They also became proficient in The LifeReady Classroom, an approach to instruction that organizes and optimizes synchronous and asynchronous learning. Additionally, teachers developed units of study aligned with the mastery-based approach of LifeReady as well as completed training on creating culturally responsive classrooms.

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)
    • 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.
  • We don't recommend participation in club sports this year, as we believe it exposes children to additional infection vectors outside the household. While we do not have a policy prohibiting it, students must consider participation on a club team and attendance at large tournaments when completing the question on the daily health questionnaire related to attending "large social gatherings." 
  • Masks must be worn indoors at all times by students and employees. When outdoors, masks must be worn when physical distancing is not possible. 
  • 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.
  • 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. When that is not possible, transparent barriers are used to provide an added layer of protection. 
  • 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.
  • Field trips, in-person assemblies, performances, extracurriculars, and other large gatherings are being canceled, postponed, or restricted. When possible, such events will be 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.
  • Some hallways are marked for one-way traffic and some exterior doors are labeled entrance or exit only.
  • 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. 
  • The Infirmary has 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 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.


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.

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.



  • The dining halls are closed; lunch is served in classrooms or outdoors. 
  • There are three boxed lunch options: vegetarian, gluten free, and non-vegetarian.
  • The goal is to add hot lunch options later in the fall.
  • The Brass Eagle Cafe is closed at this time.
  • 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 and has obtained appropriate equipment and supplies to serve meals with compostable containers/utensils. The community has been educated about the proper disposal of these items.
  • Day students may not attend breakfast or dinner on campus; those meals are 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 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

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.


After careful consideration, and upon the recommendation of our Medical Advisory Board, for the health and safety of our entire PK-12 community, McDonogh has made the decision not to schedule IAAM and MIAA league games this fall. A return to full-contact athletics would introduce unnecessary risk and undermine our current efforts to protect our larger community and continue in-person learning through our hybrid model. It is a risk we cannot take. 

This decision in no way diminishes the School’s belief in the physical and emotional benefits of athletics and the value of being part of a team. As such, we will continue to give our student-athletes the opportunity to meet with their coaches and teammates for outdoor workout sessions twice a week.

Middle School athletics is not being held this fall, however, students are 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

Requirements for Athletes to Participate

In addition to submitting a physical exam from a doctor and completing the athletics agreement and concussion baseline test, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any student-athlete (grades 9-12) who has tested positive, or who possesses antibodies, must show subsequent clearance from their physician before returning to practice/play. This may include a mandatory cardiac screening depending on the length and severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Read McDonogh's Policy on Cardiac Screening for Athletes. Students may review the status of their forms and athletics eligibility on their Personal Page.

Residential Life

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

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. 

The financial impact of preparing for in-person learning has resulted in a significant operating deficit for the 2020-2021 academic year. As such, the School does not currently anticipate any reduction in day school tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Board of Trustees and administration will continue to monitor the budget and the possibility of partial refunds will be re-evaluated if we are in virtual school for an extended period of time. Any decision regarding refunds cannot be made until closer to the end of the school year.