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.
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