Community Letter August 18, 2021
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
We are eagerly awaiting the start of school! What’s exciting us is the return of this community and in-person events, albeit modified, so each one of us feels the connection to our school community. Inside classrooms, along with continuing five-day in-person instruction at the Downtown, Merle-Smith, and Swain School Campuses, we’re excited to restore the collaborative learning spaces and unique hands-on lessons that are the hallmark of our school and that we missed too often last year. Classrooms will once again be arranged for movement and teamwork, and students will move from room to room for specials.
The health & safety guide that makes all this possible is linked below. Our guide represents the essential information that Moravian Academy community members, including all students, families, and employees, need to know for a successful, healthy school year during the continued COVID-19 pandemic. As we did last year, we plan to begin the school year with a conservative, safe approach to our COVID-19 mitigation efforts. These plans are designed to tell you how protocols will change as conditions change, which is represented in a tiered system of protocols based on health conditions in the region and at your specific campus. Our Health and Safety Committee continues to receive individual consulting from St. Luke’s Infectious Disease experts, and we have based these overall health & safety policy decisions on the guiding considerations provided to us from CHOP’s Policy Lab Guidance for In-Person Education in K-12 Settings published July 2021.
Right now we want you to focus with us on the first six weeks of the school year. We will start in tier 3 of the 4-tier plan. Based on all the guidance we have, this first 4-6 weeks of school may be a critical time. We will be monitoring community health and preparing to evaluate our protocols and the tier-level of each campus, which we anticipate will change over time.
Each campus begins the year with its own set of unique circumstances, particularly with respect to vaccination rates. However, across all three campuses, we know that masking, distancing, and ventilation played a pivotal role in our ability to remain open for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. As we look at the Lehigh/Northampton county current rate of transmission, which is high, we have decided to begin the year wearing masks indoors, but masks will not be required outside. We understand there are families in our community who are worried about the long-term effects of masking and deeply wishing that students didn’t have to wear masks to school. We look forward to that day, as well. We may not like it, but it is clear to us that masks are necessary for our school to be a safe and healthy school for every student.
Quarantine & Isolation
This summer the CDC issued a very important update based on their thorough review of a year’s worth of national data about COVID-19 in schools during the pandemic. The CDC has now issued an exception that P-12 students are not required to quarantine after exposure in school if both they and the positive case were properly and consistently masked. This means, if one child in a classroom tests positive for COVID-19, but the class followed proper masking procedures, only the student who tested positive will need to be isolated. As always, any students who are symptomatic will also stay home or quarantine. This exception to quarantine does not apply to employees unless they are fully vaccinated.
Quarantine will also not be required post-exposure for individuals who are vaccinated or for those who had COVID-19 within the last 3 months; however, they should test 3-5 days after exposure, monitor symptoms, and they must mask indoors for 14 days.
Unmasked, unvaccinated exposures will require the standard 10-day quarantine with no COVID-19 test, or students and employees may choose to return after 7 days of quarantine with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test (no rapid tests accepted; test on day 5 or later).
Daily health screening
Daily electronic health screenings via RUVNA will be required of all students, employees, and school-approved support personnel. Individuals who exhibit potential symptoms of Covid-19 will be asked to remain at home.
Learning In Quarantine
Students required to quarantine or isolate by the school due to COVID-19/denial of the morning health screening will be provided remote instruction during the duration of their time at home. Learning in Quarantine Overview
We learned a lot last year and we plan to be responsive to what is reasonable and healthy based on the age of the student. That is why we are making plans at the campus and grade level rather than the all-school level. We continue to rely on our dedicated faculty and particularly their ingenuity and creativity to meet the learning needs of every student.
Like last year, our Health & Safety Guide will become a constant companion for us during the school year and it is important that everyone read through the guide, which covers additional information including transportation and dining. We also invite you to attend one of the following information sessions and welcome questions you would like to submit ahead of time. Please submit questions via the 2021 Healthy & Safety Zoom Questions form
Tuesday, August 24:
Downtown Campus Session, 6:00 PM, Zoom
Wednesday, August 25:
Merle-Smith Session, 7:00 PM, Zoom
Thursday, August 24:
Swain Campus Session, 6:00 PM, Zoom
As a school we plan to remain flexible as we navigate this school year, we ask that the rest of the school community remains flexible along with us. Thank you for your continued partnership in taking care of ourselves and each other through this ongoing health crisis.
With deep appreciation,
Jeff Zemsky Dr. Erica D’Agostino
Head of School Assistant Head of School