The last few months have been challenging and St. Peter’s is thankful for you, our families, and for the generosity and care you have shown to one another and to our faculty. This past spring was not what anyone had hoped for and not what anyone had expected. We appreciate that each family has made sacrifices in order to continue at SPS, and we are grateful for your ongoing support of the community.
The Administrative Team has been working since earlier in the spring to determine what school might look like in September. Unfortunately, we simply do not know right now exactly what to expect because of all the changes and therefore we must continue to make plans for the most likely scenario. One thing that has never changed is that we will only resume normal operations in our school building when it’s safe to do so. At the moment, we continue to plan for a variety of circumstances, including both in-person and remote possibilities for the year and keeping our priorities the same:
Keeping our students, faculty, and community members safe;
Returning to our school building;
Operating school each day with all students.
As of July 1, 2020, our goal is to open our building for in-person instruction on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. This decision was based on data collected from organizations including the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Policy Lab, the Pennsylvania Association of Independent School (PAIS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
We understand that as long as there are cases of Covid-19 in the community, there are no strategies that can eliminate transmission risk in schools entirely. Our goal is to keep transmission as low as possible so as to safely continue school activities.
There is positive indications, although in no way conclusive, that children are less likely to contract as well as spread the virus. This is important to consider as we anticipate bringing our students and faculty back into the building. We are hopeful that our program can continue while maintaining precautions to minimize the risk for all involved. We will continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC and CHOP regarding safe hygiene and face coverings.
We encourage safety guidance beyond SPS and will provide clear instructions for students and families to mitigate transmission risk when children are at home. Each person has a personal responsibility to help keep our entire community safe both in the building and when they are at home or traveling to and from SPS.
When we do open the school building we will have many questions to answer. While we would love to have answers to every question, we simply do not. We will thoughtfully refine and develop our plans, adapt as necessary, and continue to provide information to you in a timely fashion. We do not want to promise something that we cannot deliver, and we are reluctant to commit to some difficult decisions if there is a possibility that the next eight weeks will lead to different situations and outcomes that will be necessary for our students, faculty, and families to be safe in our building. With this in mind, we plan to implement the following changes to school when we return in September (unless the cases of Covid-19 increase to a point where we are not able to do so.)
Families will be asked to take temperatures prior to arriving at school. Our School Nurse, Valerie Hill, along with other administrators, will be checking student’s temperatures each day upon arrival and will monitor any students who become sick throughout the day. A student with a temperature above 100.4 will be removed from their class, taken to the quarantine room and parents will be called. They must be picked up from the School within one hour of receiving the call.
Adults will wear face coverings while in the building and with students. Since the recommendations for children have changed steadily over the past few weeks, we have not yet made a decision about them wearing masks and we will continue to monitor through the summer the recommendations based on factors that include: physical distancing, number of students in each room, age of child, ventilation, etc.
There will be modifications to drop-off and dismissal times and procedures which will likely impact the timing of our school day. Students will be dropped off between 7:45am and 8:30am in order to manage the number of students entering the building. Dismissal will have similarly staggered times in the afternoon, beginning at 3:30pm for all grades. The oldest students will be dismissed last.
In order to maintain consistent cohorts of students throughout the day, we will not permit parents and other visitors to enter the building at any time during the day except in the case of an emergency.
We are reviewing our calendar and postponing or eliminating school events that cannot occur without maintaining student, faculty, and community members safety. We will not have large gatherings during the school day in the fall term. We have postponed the Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ day until the spring of 2021.
Protocols have been created and will be posted in the building for students and adults to practice consistent hand hygiene. These expectations are for all students and adults.
There are detailed plans for addressing any community cases of COVID-19 that will be shared with the community later in the summer. Any known case will require those in contact with the person to self-quarantine for fourteen days, as per the current CDC guidelines.
The School has hired additional cleaning providers and will staff an additional custodian throughout the day to clean areas consistently. Additionally, there will be nightly cleaning of the entire school and all areas of contact.
Cohorting: Based on the size of our building, the classroom spaces within, and the number of students in each grade level, we are unable to divide the students into the typical sections we have in the past. We are planning to divide the students into cohorts based on their grade level and each cohort will remain stationed in one of the classrooms with a home base teacher. Our special class teachers, (Art, Music, French, Library, etc) will visit the students in their classrooms to provide the program. We hope to limit the interaction between cohorts as much as possible and this allows us to do so, while providing the important academic and special classes our students love. We are still determining the way we will provide physical education class and recess. These decisions will be guided by the state and local government guidelines and requirements and may change based on allowable regulations.
We anticipate the student experience will be delivered in one of three ways this year. They are all unique and determined by the mandates or orders from our local health department. We should highlight that if we are allowed to be in our building, we will continue to run a program for all students, every day for a full day. These models include:
In-person and In the building.
Distance Learning (Mandated): If the school building must be closed due to Government mandate or a local COVID-19 outbreak, the School will transition to an online delivery method of distance learning. Different from this past spring, the School will institute a consistent schedule for each grade level that is similar to the schedule used in the building with adjustments for screen time and independent work for older students. The Preschool and Prekindergarten will have a reduced modified program with a tuition adjustment based on days out of the building.
Hybrid (Mandated): Depending upon the needs of individual families regarding staying at home, the School will provide some hybrid model of instruction. If the stay at home order is not mandated, but a student must stay at home for another reason, we will provide a program at home for them to continue their education. This is still being developed, but we wanted to let families know we are planning for this if the situation arises.
Moving forward the School will provide a set of expectations for both detailed protocols for being in the building and for the distance learning model. These will include access to online Landing Pages for each grade level PS-8th. This will be one place our teachers can share information about the class and the grade. We are currently working on these and expect them to be completed by August 1, 2020.
We are smaller than most of our peer schools and the local colleges and universities in the city, and our plans will not look like theirs. This does not mean we are any less likely to be impacted by this virus. Our precautions and procedures will have an impact on the health and safety of our students and faculty in the same way other schools will. Therefore, we want to provide an update on our plan to inform our families of what we are anticipating now, knowing we will continue to adapt based on new information and guidelines. While our plan is not “etched in stone”, we want to provide you with important information as quickly and as accurately as we can. We will be back in touch with an update on July 15th and are available to speak to you at any time if you have questions. We will begin our Friday Morning Coffees again this week, (July 3rd at 9:00 AM) and a Zoom invitation will be sent out each Thursday, (later this afternoon).
Tuition invoices are being sent out this month for the initial payment of the 2020-2021 tuition payments, and we acknowledge the financial situation many families are facing during this unusual and economically difficult time. If you need an extension, a different payment schedule, or a more detailed conversation about the tuition, please reach out to Debbie Fluehr, Sandy Trezza, or myself. We will find time to talk and work out a solution. We want every family who wants to attend St. Peter’s to have a way to do that.
Below are a number of resources with helpful information about the health and safety of reopening in September. We welcome any feedback you have, questions you are uncertain about, or comments. We know this is a challenging time, and we appreciate your patience, your continued support, and your care of one another at SPS. We truly are fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful community.
On Thursday, we graduated our Class of 2020 in a virtual ceremony. We wanted to share in the experience as a community and the video we created gave us all an opportunity to live the event from our own homes. Gathering after the ceremony on a Zoom call, while different than being in the Theater after the event, was a great way to connect and send each other off on summer vacation. We are gearing up for our Summer REACH Virtual Camp and look forward to seeing many of you through that program this summer.
Most people have asked the simple question, “What will September look like?” The administration has created teams to look at several areas in depth and to bring forward questions that must be answered prior to making any final decisions. The teams include: Health, Safety & Wellness; School Operations; Teaching and Learning; Finance, Building & Grounds; Communications and Community Relations; and Admission & Enrollment.
Additionally, the local City of Philadelphia, Department of Education, and Governor Wolf’s Office have provided guidelines that have informed our process thus far. We do not know yet what regulations will be in place, whether we will be in the Green, Yellow or Red Phase come September, or how the virus will impact our local community between now and then. We are working off of three priorities:
Keeping our students, faculty and community members safe – We are reviewing how best to organize students and adults in our building, operating with best practices from the CDC, CHOP Policy Lab, and the Local Health department keeping everyone safe, upon entry, through the course of the day and at dismissal. Daily cleaning during the school day is another priority for student safety.
Returning to our school building is a priority – We will do everything that we can to return to the building when we are allowed to do so.
Operating School each day with all students – We have been looking at ways to creatively and safely use the spaces in our building to properly social distance, maintain the St. Peter’s program, and utilize the school day to provide instruction and supervision so families can return to work. Ideally, we will maintain a school day that allows us to focus on cleaning thoroughly in the evening in anticipation of the full school returning the following morning.
We are using these priorities to determine a path that is mission-driven, community-focused, and data-informed, but we also must emphasize that we do not yet know what the opening of School in the fall will look like. We only know that it will look different. We appreciate how difficult this is for families trying to make plans around this uncertainty and we will continue to communicate with you throughout the summer as we make decisions around what School will look like in September.
Reopening the building will include several components that are different from years past. We will be hiring an additional custodian to work in the building each day cleaning and maintaining the spaces we have. This, in addition to the daily evening cleaning we have always done, will provide a clean space throughout the day and each day upon entry in the morning. We have also hired a School Nurse for the year who will be with us five days a week. This person will have their own space, be responsible for the wellness of our students, and will communicate about the protocols we will have in place once school begins. We will make a more formal announcement when this person has officially joined the community. Kate Childs will take on the role of Director of Wellness and Equity. Kate has been our school counselor for these past two years, and we are so excited that she will take on this new position to lead our Wellness Department. This will include our social emotional curriculum, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work, and the new Wellness program that coordinates the wellbeing of each child in all areas of school.
Our faculty have begun planning for next year with the priorities mentioned above, anticipating some possibility of remote or distance learning, in-building learning, and a hybrid of both during the year. We are still planning for the different contingency plans so we can be prepared for any model, and our teachers are working this summer to implement a schedule, curriculum, and instruction that can be delivered in person or virtually. We will continue to provide more details about these plans as the summer evolves.
We must reiterate the importance of safety for our community. We understand there are unknowns about the Coronavirus which we must prepare for as best we can while being mindful of the known risks. Our program is important and we want to deliver a St. Peter’s experience, but we will strive to do so in a safe environment while on campus, given the expectations from the CDC and the protocols from CHOP and the WHO.
Thank you for your continued support of our School, our teachers, and one another. We will be sending another communication in mid July with an update. For now, we wish you a very safe and happy summer from all of us at SPS.
Friday, May 22
We spoke this morning during the virtual Coffee & Convo about the School’s progress on our Scenario Planning. Our reality is an uncertain one, but our Teams have begun the work to answer questions about what might happen and what the School will do to adapt to possible changes. We have used two resources recently as we consider the planning. The first comes from the National Association of Independent School (NAIS) and the second is a recently published Policy Review from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Both of these have been helpful in addressing many of the questions we are asking, providing a template for us to use as we work on how to adapt St. Peter’s to these changing times.
We have not answered all their questions, and there are many aspects of the documents that are requiring us to think strategically and look deeply at our approach. We have continued to be driven by three factors in our planning:
1. Is it Mission Driven?
2. Is it community focused?
3. Is it data-informed?
These three questions are asked each time a decision is made and we hope to maintain a consistent approach as we continue down this path toward reopening our building.
We have also continued to discuss how we will prepare academically for next year. Reviewing what our kids have done thus far in their classes will inform where we start in September. Additionally, we are planning to continue our small group instruction, (not only as a result of social distancing policies), and our work helping students understand how they learn. Student led learning has been important to SPS, and it will continue to be a part of our future.
Thursday, April 9
This morning, Governor Wolf issued an order to close all Pennsylvania schools through the academic year. We know this is a disappointment as we had hope to return to school for even a brief period before the summer. This decision leads to many questions, and we will be working to provide answers in the coming days. There will be a Coffee Zoom meeting tomorrow at 8:00am, and I will be back in touch with more information during the day tomorrow.
St. Peter’s remains a strong community. We will continue to support one another, help our children through this difficult time, and look ahead to when we can be together again.
Thank you for all you have done to help St. Peter’s during this unprecedented time,
Monday, March 30, 2020
Earlier today, Governor Wolf announced that schools in the Commonwealth will remain closed indefinitely. Additionally, he is extending the stay at home orders for Philadelphia and the surrounding area until April 30th. We wanted to pass along this information, and updates on a few other important topics.
Our academic program is now being implemented through our distance learning program, and we will continue to improve this delivery method to meet the needs of our students and families. A survey has been sent out that we believe is one way for us to hear from you and to determine ways to improve. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey; ideally by the middle of this week if possible.
As we have been reflecting on the School’s needs, we have adjusted some of our Faculty’s roles. While our building is closed and we are away from school, Beth Andaloro, our Reading Specialist, will take on the role of Distance Learning Parent Liaison. Beth will work with all our families as we continue with distance learning and adjusting to this new model. The teachers will remain your primary resource, and Briana Mahon will continue in her role, but this new position seemed important given our new reality. Beth will be available to parents for questions, to provide additional online resources, or to talk to about supporting your child while learning at home. As always, Kate Seltzer and Will Nord will continue to be available for teachers and families in support of the students. With Beth’s guidance, we are creating a distance learning resource page on our website that will be sent out to families once it is completed. We feel utilizing Beth in this way supports our families and students in a meaningful way.
With the extended closure, the School will miss the April Break we had originally scheduled. Given our timeline and the missed days, we are going to shorten the break to begin on Thursday, April 9th and extend through Monday, April 13th. We are not completely eliminating the break because our faculty need some time off, however short, to catch up. They have been working very hard to prepare for this transition and they deserve some downtime.
As always, thank you for your continued support of our faculty and the School. We appreciate the emails and notes you have sent, and we look forward to when our community can be back together again.
Monday, March 16, 2020
Last night, I felt overwhelmed and fatigued by the news and social media and I decided to take a break. I started cooking, listening to music and realized that the best thing I could do right now is to slow down. I woke up this morning feeling in need of continued stillness from the news and I wondered if you feel the same. If so, take a deep breath and focus on one day at a time.
Please let me know if you need something specific that will help with some of the worry for you or your child.
Here are some resources to encourage emotional health while we are socially isolating at home.
(Taken from CDC) Things you can do to support yourself:
Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
Share the facts about COVID-19 and the actual risk to others. People who have returned from areas of ongoing spread more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not put others at risk.
What are quarantine and social distancing?
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
Social distancing means remaining out of places where people meet or gather, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, rideshare), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.
Sharing accurate information can help calm fears in others and allow you to connect with them.
St. Peter’s School has made the decision to close until further notice. Our plan is to return to school on Monday, March 30th, though we are aware this plan may need to change. With the increase in instances of COVID-19 across our area, the state and the nation rapidly changing, our concern for the wellbeing of all of those in our community, and after consultation with the public health officials and our board, I am confident this is the best path forward.
The following is lengthy and includes detailed information about our thinking and what this decision entails for St. Peter’s School students, families and staff. Please bear with me.
This closure impacts all classroom learning, athletics, field trips and special events related to or held at St. Peter’s School. We will be in touch in the coming weeks to discuss if and/or when activities outside of classroom learning will be rescheduled.
As you may know, Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced today its change in COVID-19 posture from containment to mitigation. Their mitigation efforts include mandating all Montgomery County private and public schools close for the next two weeks. While this mandate doesn’t apply to us, and with social distancing and isolation as the only known manner to decrease the spread of the virus, proactively closing St. Peter’s School for the CDC-recommended 14-day illness development period is the right thing to do for our community.
Learning. Kate Seltzer and Will Nord will be in touch in the coming days with more detailed information about resources for learning at home that is grade specific.
Cleaning. Beginning tomorrow (Friday, March 13th) and continuing over the weekend, a deep cleaning of the school will begin by a third-party contractor using products on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registered antimicrobial products list for use against COVID-19.
Once this deep cleaning is completed and we reopen, we will evaluate the need for an ongoing elevated cleaning protocol across campus and provide extra disinfection to bathrooms, desktops, railings and doorknobs, as well as any other high touch/high traffic areas.
Update on community member exposure. As we notified you last night, a community member was in contact with someone who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution we closed Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th.
The member of the community is a staff member at St. Peter’s School. Though they are not currently exhibiting symptoms and the likelihood of them having COVID-19 is low, because they came into contact with an individual that tested positive, we recommended they seek immediate medical attention. They are in touch with medical and public health officials and we are working with them to ensure they have the resources they need.
Social distancing outside of St. Peter’s. Experts continue to discourage large group meetings and public gatherings. Please continue to keep yourselves and your families safe, practice proper hygiene, and follow the recommendations by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, CDC, NIH and WHO.
Stay tuned for additional information from me and/or your student’s teachers. We will be in touch as updates are available and always feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.
Thank you for your support of our decision and your flexibility as we work together to safely navigate this challenging and unprecedented time.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
We have just been informed that a member of our community was within the last two weeks in contact with an individual who has since reportedly tested positive for Covid – 19. Our community member is not exhibiting any symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution we are going to cancel school tomorrow, Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th in an effort to gather additional information and confer as necessary with local health officials. As we receive more information we will keep the community informed. However, we wanted to get this message to you as quickly as possible this evening.
We will provide any additional updates as they become available. Please continue to keep yourselves and your families safe, practice proper hygiene, and follow the recommendations by the Department of Health and the CDC. Thank you for your support of our decision and your flexibility as we work together to safely navigate this challenging time.
Monday, March 9, 2020
We are updating you with more information and some changes in our schedule for the coming days. We wanted to provide timely details so you have the information we have and can remain aware of how this ever changing situation impacts St. Peter’s. Our Administrative Team has been meeting daily and will continue to do so.
We will continue to communicate with you through the Thursday Newsletter as well. Any additional information that we feel should be sent immediately you will receive via email. We have established a Coronavirus Updatepage on our website to share communication, provide resources, and give you a place to go for accurate School information about events and schedules.
Our daily schedule will continue as normal; however, we know that if a change is to occur and the School needs to close for any reason, it may be sudden. Our teachers have been working over the past week on ways to keep students engaged with their learning away from school. Age-appropriate and meaningful experiences to help students stay active in their learning is our goal, and we will be in touch and provide resources in the event of a school closure.
We are continuing to clean the school in the evenings, paying attention to the railings, handles, and surfaces that are most frequently touched. We recommend all to follow suggested best practices for proper health and hygiene, including hand washing and coughing/sneezing into your elbow. We have reinforced handwashing with the students, implemented more consistent practice prior to eating and will continue to encourage good habits for our community at school and while at home.
We have decided to cancel our Cultural Heritage Potluck event scheduled for Saturday, March 14th. We hope this event can still occur later in the spring, but we appreciate your understanding at this time. Changes to or cancellation of other events will be determined as the situation warrants. We will communicate these to you and we will keep a list updated on the page. Obviously, if a field trip or event does occur and you are uncomfortable with your child’s attendance, we welcome you to opt out for your child(ren). We hope our programs will continue with limited alterations, but we are preparing for greater impact and disruption to the routines of the school year until this is under control here in the Philadelphia region.
As always, we appreciate your flexibility and understanding through this period and welcome any questions or comments. Following the CDC recommendations and those of several other independent schools, we have posted on our page a protocol for international travel. We will continue to monitor the situation and be in touch with any changes or updates. Please keep the link bookmarked where you will find up-to-date information.
Friday, February 28, 2020
The health and well-being of our students and community is always our top priority. While the current risk to St. Peter’s from coronavirus (COVID-19) remains low, we are closely monitoring the spread of the virus. During the NAIS Annual Conference, NAIS brought together resources on Wednesday evening for a presentation about recommendations, guidance and relevant updates for our schools. Additionally, we have spent time speaking with other Heads of School and local officials about the emerging situation.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offered warnings about COVID-19 and stated that while there is currently no indication that the virus is a pandemic, it is likely to spread to communities in the US. We will of course send an alert immediately if formal guidelines are issued. Until and unless the CDC issues guidelines, local Philadelphia health department recommendations will prevail. Debbie Fluehr, our Business Manager, has been in contact with the city’s general emergency alert system and our local health agency to establish lines of communication.
Once we hear additional recommendations from the CDC, we will be back in touch with you.
In the meantime, the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is to follow basic health best practices such as:
Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water and drying manually
Covering coughs/sneezes with a tissue or elbow. Dispose of tissues immediately and wash hands
Asking all faculty, staff, and students who are feeling ill to stay home until they recover and are fever free for at least 24 hours
Consistently using disinfectant for cleaning surfaces
Thank you in advance for your partnership and understanding as we work together for the health and safety of all members of the St. Peter’s community.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.