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January 2021 Re-Opening for St. Margaret’s 100th Year

 

Dear St. Margaret’s Families,

As I shared back in July, world events have guaranteed that our centennial year at St. Margaret’s is a memorable one. Being reunited on campus in the fall was a community effort and we were successful in mitigating risk associated with the novel coronavirus because we came together, regardless of personal opinion, for the health of our Scottie community. We were able to convene every day of planned classes from August through December without interruption. This is a victory we should all celebrate. 

Undoubtedly, the residential setting of St. Margaret’s School affords an opportunity for students to remain isolated from most exposure risks that may cause COVID-19. As many areas of the nation experience another surge of cases and hospitalizations, St. Margaret’s must prioritize safety as a critical component of our mission. 

Thus, the COVID-19 Task Force has determined that the safest path forward for our school is to continue in our current operating model through February 27, 2021.  

As we look to this first part of 2021, we aim to again achieve these successes while also making modifications (where, in our experience, it is of minimal risk to do so and feasible) to further enhance the campus experience. 

Modifications to the campus experience for January 2021 include:

  • Family visits will now be open to 4 visitors per student. Students may bring an additional student to the scheduled visit as long as both families agree. 

  • Additional family visit times will be scheduled for Wednesday evenings. 

  • Hall-to-Hall visitation for students residing on campus will be permitted during designated hours each weekend. 

  • Increased seating will be available at Dining Hall tables after the initial campus re-opening for all students.  

  • Opportunities for competitive athletic play (as available) with schools using similar mitigation practices will be pursued.  

  • We have redesigned Minimester to be a weeklong experience during the first week of February to allow a respite from the academic routine and enjoyment for all.

  • Modifications will be made to quarantine time and process in accordance with updated CDC recommendations.

Please take time to read the options below. As you read, please remember that the uniting factor on this historic campus is simple: we value each of our community members. We recognize that every family’s circumstance is different. Thus, we strive to offer all possible options that are safe for the community at this time, uphold the mission of the school, and feasible within our resources. 

Please review the options for your family and then, complete the January 2021 Student Plan. This information is due no later than Friday, December 18 at 12:00 noon. Our hard-working SMS team needs time to prepare for January returns while also taking a much deserved holiday respite. Thus, we ask for you to please honor the deadline and request contact from an SMS team member via the Plan. 

The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to meet regularly in the new year as we look ahead to the Spring. The Task Force members include: Cathy Sgroi (Head of School), John Birney (Assistant Head of School for External Affairs), Nancy Smith (Chief Financial Officer), Cynthia Walker (Director of Athletics & Wellness), Jen Howard (Director of Residential Life, Math & Sciences Co-Chair), Christy Livesay (Registered Nurse), and Cameron Sgroi (School Counselor). I am the Chair of the Task Force and appreciate the wide range of insights provided by this group as we make decisions together in the best interest of our community. 

We do hope that Spring brings an opportunity to modify our operational plans, to engage in a competitive Softball season, and to open our campus to more usual operations. 

In the meantime, please remember that the power of an all girls education in a supportive community cannot be weakened by any virus. While we all anxiously await widespread availability of the vaccine and the end to this pandemic, this sisterhood remains strong. 

Be well,

Cheryl MacPherson

Assistant Head of School for Internal Affairs

804.443.3357 ext. 3084

cmacpherson@smsapps.org

 

 

The Hybrid Options

Please review these options carefully. For planning purposes, we ask each family to complete the January 2021 Student Plan no later than Friday, December 18 at 12:00 noon.

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: