2020-21 Plan: Reopen, Stay Open

This page represents the essential information that Moravian Academy community members need to know for a successful and healthy school year during the Covid-19 pandemic. This page was last updated 4.16.21.


March 25, 2021

Dear Moravian Academy Community,

As we plan for a strong finish to our school year, our Health & Safety Committee has taken a moment to pause and reflect on the year, thus far. Overall, we feel good about the ebb and flow of our community health since the start of the school year. We have been confident in our protocols, particularly in our academic spaces. Our faculty, staff, and students have done a phenomenal job of adhering to  protocols with consistency and precision - they are the key to our success. With just over two months left in the year, it is important that we all remain vigilant in our approach to community health and wellness.

As we reflect on the community health data we have been collecting since the start of the school years, in particular the copious notes we have maintained via contact tracing, we see spaces for improvement and continued learning, in addition to our areas of success. Our committee will continue to review this data and learn from our past experience as we plan for the upcoming school year, and we want to share these overall observations with you.

  • While we found no evidence of linked transmission within any of our academic spaces, we did have a cluster of cases on our Upper School Boys Basketball team this winter, causing the team to shut down for two weeks. Although this single instance of linked transmission occurred in our highest-exposure-risk indoor sport, it has given us much to consider for next school year as we discuss future mitigation efforts for athletics and other higher-exposure-risk co-curricular activities. 
  • In terms of exposure, we see from our community’s data that when there was transmission, it mostly followed the small social gatherings with loved ones that have taken place outside of school. The vast majority of our Covid-positive cases were the result of visits to family members, weekend playdates with friends, or small gatherings of teenagers indoors and in cars. 
  • We also saw the far-reaching impact one Covid-positive employee can have on a school; one positive teacher can result in 80 students and additional teachers being quarantined. This demonstrated to us the clear value of widespread vaccination, and we are happy to note that a large majority of our school employees are at least partially vaccinated with one of the three Covid vaccines being distributed in PA. These vaccination efforts will have a positive impact on employee health and wellness, and will also significantly reduce quarantine numbers as additional cases arise in the future.

Our Health and Safety Committee will continue to use our current and past health data, including lessons learned like those above, along with regional health data and expert guidance, to make adjustments as needed to our protocols. Overall, we are mindful of both maintaining safety while increasing students' access to important parts of our school, so you can anticipate that we will be more restrictive in some areas and remove restrictions in others when we can. There has been a lot of activity in the past week and we are announcing the following actions and decisions today. Please read the Community Guide carefully as well as the summaries below: 

  • Effective immediately, we are removing our school-mandated travel quarantine. The current travel question will be removed from Ruvna as of Monday, March 29.
  • Following exposure to Covid-19, a non-vaccinated individual may reduce the time of quarantine to 10 days upon presentation of a negative RT-PCR test. For those individuals who choose not to be tested, they will adhere to the standard 14-day quarantine following exposure to Covid-19. 
  • The high-risk gathering question will be reinstated in Ruvna on Tuesday, April 6, following Easter break. This question defines high-risk gatherings as those that occur indoors, unmasked, with 10 or more unvaccinated people who are not part of your household.
  • On March 19, the CDC provided updated guidance to school leaders indicating that 3’ of physical distance was sufficient between students, thereby allowing more students in each classroom. We will not be reconfiguring our classrooms and will instead continue to use 6’ of physical distancing, adhering to our current Covid maximum for each academic space. We will also continue to follow our protocols of routine cleaning, strict masking, open windows, cohorting, and bringing students outside as the weather permits. Any minor tweaks in our protocols will happen by grade/division and will be communicated by campus directors.
  • The recent guidance provided by the CDC, in addition to lessons learned this year, will inform our practices and planning for the 2021-2022 school year. The use of Covid testing as a screening tool is a potential consideration for higher-risk co-curricular activities and will be explored further in the coming weeks and months.
  • We are considering ways to improve instruction on the Upper School campus, where in-person attendance has been unpredictable. For this reason, there will be a modification to student attendance planning which will be communicated by the Upper School Director.

If you have questions regarding these updates please don’t hesitate to contact us. We continue to thank you for your patience and partnership this year. We look forward to an exciting, successful end to a challenging school year.

Sincerely,

Jeff Zemsky                Dr. Erica D'Agostino '91
Head of School           Assistant Head of School

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 12 items.

  • How can my family and I engage in safe holiday activities?

    The CDC has provided a wealth of information regarding safe holiday practices. The CDC and other healthcare experts have consistently noted that virtual gatherings with others and in-person celebrations limited to members of your household pose the least risk of transmission of Covid-19. Gatherings with individuals outside of your household should be kept outdoors, when possible. If celebrating with family members indoors, the recommendation is to wear masks, wash hands, and remain physically distant at all times.
  • I'm in quarantine, now what?

    If you are quarantined, you will remove to remote learning for a period of 10-14 days. 

    You may reduce the time of quarantine to 10 days upon presentation of a negative RT-PCR test. You must be tested 5 days after exposure or later, and the results must be presented to the campus nurse in order to reduce the time of quarantine.

    If you choose not to take an RT-PCR test, you will complete the 14-day quarantine.
  • Why did Moravian Academy choose a 10-day quarantine after large gatherings?

    The Stay Open Committee chose to enforce a 10-day quarantine, rather than 7 or 14 days, based on data regarding transmission of Covid-19 and in partnership with our healthcare team. Data indicates 91% of people who contract the virus will develop symptoms within 10 days of point of contact with a positive case.
  • If a member of the community tests positive, how will we be notified?

     If a student or employee has a COVID-19 infection, School officials will support the Department of Health’s efforts for contact tracing and enforcing isolation and quarantining of those infected and their contacts. Provisions are already in place to support the continuity of learning from home during quarantine periods and for students choosing to remain at home. 

    If a person within your child’s cohort tests positive, we will notify you via email along with instructions regarding quarantine requirements, as applicable according to the Department of Health.
  • Am I entitled to know who tests positive for Covid-19?

    We will not publicly release the names of people who test positive. Families will be notified immediately if their student had close contact with anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. We will follow the guidance of the Bethlehem Health Bureau in making decisions to close classrooms or divisions, or to quarantine specific groups of students, faculty, or staff.
  • We need to get tested for COVID-19, where can we go?

    As a first step, you should call your primary care physician to receive their recommendation for testing. If testing is recommended, we suggest obtaining a Covid test through St. Luke’s University Health Network. Call the St. Luke’s Hotline at 1-866-STLUKES (1-866-785-8537). Press option 7 to be evaluated over the phone by a trained nursing professional to see if further evaluation or testing is indicated. Alert the nursing professional regarding your association with MA.
  • Can I test out of quarantine following close contact with a positive case?

    No, the CDC does not allow individuals to “test out” of quarantine. However, a negative PCR test can decrease an individual's quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days.
  • If one child is quarantined, should I keep my other child home?

    As per CDC guidelines, if only one child is a close contact of a positive case, other children in the home may attend school (they would be considered contacts of potential contacts). That being said, as a family you may choose to keep all children at home while one child is being quarantined. This is a perfectly acceptable choice, and all children will be able to attend remote classes during this quarantine period.
  • Will your recommendations be vetted by public health experts?

    Absolutely! We have entered into a partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network, they will be reviewing all aspects of our Health & Safety Plan, as well as providing guidance for athletics, music/arts, chapel, dining, transportation, co-curricular programming, faculty/staff training,  ventilation, etc. This partnership gives us access to St. Luke’s engineers, environmental health & safety experts, and infectious disease physicians. We are thrilled to have entered this partnership which will allow us to open our campuses with confidence.
  • If our student needs to begin the academic year remotely, are we locked into that choice for the duration of the year?

    No! Your decisions regarding the mode of instruction can be fluid, based on the circumstances of your particular family and the broader local and state community. We are happy to work with families who need to move between remote and in-person instruction.
  • Will masks be worn at all times?

    Students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear face coverings at all times. They will have the opportunity to remove their masks at lunch and during designated “mask breaks”.
  • Can I choose the mask our child wears?

    Yes. Families should consider masks as part of the uniform/dress code. We are working to include new MA-branded masks as part of the uniform that families can feel free to purchase. We also realize many families and employees have grown accustomed to their own personal face masks. While our masks will be available for students and employees (we have ordered 1,500), we certainly encourage you to send your student to school with their own preferred face covering.

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus