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Campus Re-Opening for St. Margaret’s 100th Year: Mid-September Update

Dear St. Margaret’s Families,

The past few weeks have been joyous ones on campus and during our remote gatherings. Seeing our girls together again as a Scottie community takes on refreshing meaning in the midst of the current global pandemic. Thank you to the hard-working faculty, staff, families, and students who have worked together to make our start to the 2020 - 2021 school year as safe as possible for all.

The SMS COVID-19 Task Force, chaired by Assistant Head of School for Internal Affairs Cheryl MacPherson, continues collaborating to understand the latest data and plan for the next phase of our operations. COVID-19 Task Force members include: Cameron Sgroi (School Counselor), Cathy Sgroi (Head of School), Christy Livesay (School Nurse), Cynthia Walker (Director of Athletics), John Birney (Assistant Head of School for External Affairs), Jennifer Howard (Director of Residential Life), and Nancy Smith (Chief Financial Officer). 

At this time, the Task Force has decided that it is in the best interest of our community to continue with the current status of operation. Students may choose to either reside on campus 7 days per week or learn remotely from home. We are fully committed to this mode of operation through the end of 2020 and will most likely continue in this manner through June 2021. 

As you read these plans, please remember that above all else, we labor tirelessly alongside all of you for the growth of our Scotties. The power of an all girls education in a supportive community cannot be weakened by any virus. This sisterhood will thrive as we continue to come together, unite in the best interest of our students, and mentor each young woman into a promising future. 

Please save the date of Monday, September 21 at 7:00 pm for an SMS Family Forum for questions & answers related to these updated plans. Access information for the Forum will be disseminated via email the day before the event.

The Hybrid Options

The rural nature of Essex County and residential setting of St. Margaret’s School afford an opportunity to remain isolated from more densely populated areas of Virginia that have experienced heavier concentrations of COVID-19. However, data provided by the Three Rivers Health District on percent positivity rates and community prevalence of the virus causing COVID-19 indicate the need for sustaining our cautious approach to on/off campus movement. St. Margaret’s will continue to prioritize safety as a critical component of our mission. 

Please review these options carefully. For planning purposes, we ask each family to elect an option no later than September 25, 2020 at 9:00 am. An SMS team member will reach out to each family within the next week to discuss these options and ensure that each family receives the necessary support to make the best decision for their Scottie. Any family requesting financial information to aid in their decision-making should reach out to Assistant Head of School for External Affairs John Birney at jbirney@sms.org and a member of his team will be in touch.

COVID-19 Mitigation Strategy

The foundational concept of SMS's mitigation plan is layering. We implement scientifically-proven strategies to mitigate risk to COVID-19 exposure. While we cannot eliminate risk, we can layer approaches to lessen it. Research from Children's Hospital of Colorado describes many of these strategies as part of a tiered mitigation effort.

The layering approach requires all of the following from community members: