2021-2022 School Year
During the 2021-2022 school year, our response to COVID-19 must be flexible. CDC recommendations, legal requirements, best practices and even the particular needs of our own Ancillae family can change at any time. That being said, we’ve concluded that our families are best served, not by a series of rules, but by a philosophy, a three-pillared approach intended to guide rather than dictate our decisions throughout this school year: that approach will be mission-driven, community-centered, and data-informed with student health as our compass. Our hope is that anchoring our ongoing decisions in these three intertwined principles will give us the pliability to bend with changing circumstances while offering our students the calming continuity they need and deserve, the steady assurance that, even in the midst of uncertainty, Ancillae is as it always has been.
Mission-driven Community-centered Data-informed
- 2/23/2022: Covid Policy Update
- 12/31/21: COVID Response Update
- 11/2021: Travel Requirements
- 10/1/21: Health Office Update
- 8/12/21: Covid Planning Update #2
- 7/28/2021: Covid Planning Update
Since the beginning of last school year, we have formed our COVID decision-making in a three-pillared approach: mission-driven, community-centered, and data-informed. We continue to anchor our ongoing decisions in these three intertwined principles, giving us the pliability to bend with changing circumstances. Our goal throughout the pandemic has been to provide the least restrictive, most protective environment possible for our students.
That approach has served us well. Over the last two years, when many other schools in our communities were forced to shift to extended periods of virtual learning, we were able to keep our campus open and continue to offer our students live, in-class experiences. We were able to respond to illnesses quickly and in a targeted way with as little disruption to learning as possible, giving students who needed to take advantage of temporary virtual options the comfort and security of continuity. We have been able to gradually re-implement our sports, fine arts, and extracurricular offerings. Most importantly, throughout the course of a two-year worldwide pandemic, the policies and protocols recommended by our Health and Safety Task Force have played a major role in shielding our community from the worst that COVID had to offer. I know you stand with me in thanking them for their unfailing support, generous guidance, and steadfast commitment to the safety and education of our children.
The Task Force now advises us that local conditions and metrics have improved to such an extent since the Omicron surge in January that we are at an inflection point in dealing with COVID. I am so pleased to announce that we can relax our mandatory mask policy to a mask optional policy, effective March 1.
This is an important and long-awaited step, but it may not yet be the end of this pandemic for us or our communities, and I would like to make three important points about the Academy’s ongoing response to it. First, even as we shift to mask optional, we will maintain our other layers of mitigation (screening, ventilation, enhanced cleaning) and continue to carefully monitor local conditions and guidance to see what, if any, of our protocols should be changed. We will continue to lean on the advice of the team of medical professionals on our Health and Safety Task Force who so successfully guided us through the last two years. We will be meeting with them regularly to be sure that our protocols are based on the most current medical thinking and local conditions. We will have regular comprehensive reviews of the Health and Safety Plan to ensure that it is as current and as responsive as possible to COVID conditions at that time.
As we continue into the spring, summer, and next fall, no one knows exactly what the virus has in store for us. We don’t know if we are in a window of opportunity to relax some protocols, or through the door. What we do know is that right now, we are in a position that allows us to ease this campus restriction while we monitor the effects of a mask optional policy and will reinstate masking if conditions warrant it. Our hope and expectation is that they will not.
Second, masking will still be required in certain circumstances, and we continue to encourage our families to be as safe and community conscious as possible. All students, faculty, staff, and visitors will continue to mask for liturgies, assemblies, and events during the school day that occur in large group gatherings in areas such as the auditorium and the gym. We continue to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters for all eligible community members. We ask that you be aware of the following guidelines:
- Students should always have two masks with them at school. Masks will be required during liturgies and assemblies.
- Please stay home if you are sick – sore throat, respiratory illness, fever, etc.
- Any student or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is returning to school after quarantine is required to wear a mask day 6 to 10.
- A household contact still requires the student to remain home for five days and to universally mask for days 6-10.
- Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, who is considered a close contact (non-household) to a COVID-19 case and is asymptomatic may remain in school and universally mask for ten days. If they become symptomatic at any time, they must remain at home and can return to school with a negative PCR test result.
- Close contact tracing will occur for the classroom and lunch settings. Families will be notified by our school nurse via email of any close contact requirements.
- All students MUST wear masks on the bus and in school vans.
- Parents of students in SSM-Grade 3 should notify the homeroom teacher if mask wearing is their choice for their children.
- Parents of students in grades 4-8 should ensure their children are aware of their family decision regarding mask wearing.
- All students, teachers, and staff who continue wearing a mask will be supported.
Finally, I would like to point out that this policy is mask optional. We are not saying don’t wear masks; we are saying that, at this time, the responsibility for making and implementing that decision moves to each individual family, faculty, and staff member. We highly recommend that each family and individual make that decision carefully and thoughtfully, assessing their personal risks and risk tolerances. Many community members, for various reasons, will choose to mask daily. Some families may need more time to decide what is right for their family. We want you to know that you are encouraged and supported in masking during this transition. Some families may have someone who is unvaccinated, immunocompromised, elderly, or very young in their family and so choose to continue masking. If that is your choice, we ask you to remember that higher filtration masks such as N95s, KN95s, and KF94s are shown to be the most effective mask options, particularly for one-way masking. For all our families, we want to emphasize that this is a personal choice based on personal circumstances. We strongly support community members who choose to continue masking and expect every member of our community to support and respect the personal decisions each family makes without judgment or criticism.
We are grateful for your ongoing partnership and support as we continue to care for our Ancillae school family.
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family. As we enter 2022, we continue to be grateful for our school family. As a community, we remain committed to providing the least restrictive, most protective environment for our students, faculty, and staff. With the spread of the Omicron variant, the next 3-4 weeks will be challenging for all of us. We plan to open with in-person instruction on Tuesday, but as we have communicated since the beginning of this pandemic, our ability to remain open will be largely dependent on your actions in maintaining the health of our entire school community. So please remember:
- DO NOT send your child to school if s/he is unwell. Children with symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, fever, night sweats, chills, dizziness, new loss of taste or smell, GI symptoms, or fatigue should stay home. Please err on the side of caution during this unprecedented surge of cases in our area. This is one of the most important ways we can mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
- If not previously provided, please complete the following form as soon as possible before January 3 to provide documentation of student vaccination status. Continue to use this form during the year to communicate any vaccination updates. https://www.ancillae.
- To communicate immediately to the Health Office if your child has been exposed to COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 or if any member of your household becomes COVID positive. This includes exposures or positive tests over the Christmas break. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With recent CDC updates in guidance, we have revised our Student COVID-19 School Isolation and Quarantine Policy. Please know that this policy may be amended at any time as information and conditions change.
Student COVID-19 School Isolation and Quarantine Policy - 12/31/21
A student who tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, will stay at home for 5 days. If they are asymptomatic on day five, they may return to school on day six and must mask at all times, inside and outside with alternative lunch accommodations, an additional five days. After the five day period, symptomatic students should remain home until symptoms resolve. (Date of the positive test is considered day zero.)
A student with a household contact, regardless of vaccination status, will stay home for five days. If they remain asymptomatic, they may return to school on day six and must mask at all times, inside and outside with alternative lunch accommodations, an additional five days. (Date of the last exposure is considered day zero.)
A fully vaccinated student (completed the primary series of Pfizer vaccine within the last six months) who is exposed to someone with COVID-19 (not a member of their household) must be masked at all times, inside and outside with alternative lunch accommodations, for ten days but does not have to remain out of school. (Date of the last exposure is considered day zero.)
An unvaccinated student or a student with a vaccine date older than six months who is exposed to someone with COVID-19 will stay home for five days. If they remain asymptomatic on day five, they may return to school on day six and must mask at all times, inside and outside with alternative lunch accommodations, for an additional five days. (Date of the last exposure is considered day zero.)
Regardless of vaccination status, all exposures should test on day five. If positive, follow the above protocol for a positive student.
See Ancillae’s COVID Response Flowchart of visual representation for decision-making.
In conjunction with the above updates, our masking requirement indoors remains the same. We want you to know that surgical masks, rather than cloth masks, have been clinically proven to be more effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. Also, please remind your children of the importance of wearing their mask consistently and appropriately, i.e. above their nose.
Please be aware that some of the questions and symptoms in Ruvna have changed. Read and respond carefully when you complete the screening.
We are most grateful for your whole-hearted cooperation and support which makes it possible for us to continue to educate your children in-person with love and for love. We look forward to seeing them next Tuesday and wish you a happy, healthy, and peace-filled New Year!
Travel Inside of the Continental U.S.
No quarantine requirements
Travel Outside of the Continental U.S.
Regardless of vaccination status, students traveling outside the Continental U.S. must receive a lab-based PCR Covid Test on Day 5 upon reentry to U.S. and can attend school on Day 7 with a negative result.
Please contact our Health Office to establish a return date.
Thank you for your commitment to protecting the health and safety of our school community this year. By familiarizing yourself with and following the Academy's health procedures and policies, we can make this a smoother school year for all.
It is extremely important, regardless of vaccination status, to remain at home and obtain testing when any Covid-like symptoms develop in order to prevent in-school transmission of the virus.
Use Ancillae's Covid-19 School Isolation & Quarantine Policy chart as your guide if/when symptoms arise or exposure occurs.
When calling your child absent, be sure to leave a reason why he/she is absent so our Health Office doesn't have to follow up with you unnecessarily. This allows our staff to focus on helping the families that need guidance for health-related matters.
If Covid-19 testing is needed, be sure to request a PCR test. The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or molecular test actually detects the virus in the specimen and is confirmed in a laboratory setting. It is considered the "gold standard" or most accurate test. A negative result with a rapid antigen test MUST be confirmed with a PCR Covid test as the Academy does not accept rapid testing results.
See our Covid-19 Monitoring Dashboard at any time to view the COVID-19 case count at Ancillae.
Continued thanks for partnering with us in our efforts to minimize the impact of Covid-19 in the Ancillae community.
We realize that everyone is interested in and concerned about the Academy’s policies for the upcoming school year with regard to masking. In compliance with guidance from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, the Academy will require all students, staff, visitors, and volunteers to be masked while indoors on campus. I understand that, while many parents are relieved that masking will not be optional, this may not be the policy some parents hoped the school would adopt. Please know that this decision was not made lightly or ill-advisedly. We are blessed to have the expertise of the medical professionals on our Health and Safety Task Force who strongly believe that, aside from vaccination, masks are our most effective tool to keep the community safe and our school open. Our hope is that within the next few months conditions in our area will improve significantly. We will have regular comprehensive reviews of the Health and Safety Plan to ensure that it is as current and as responsive as possible to COVID conditions at that time.
In the meantime, having everyone wear masks indoors – where the coronavirus is most readily and rapidly transmitted – will allow us to normalize other aspects of our children’s experience. We are very excited to be able to offer our Grade 1-8 students a return to full food service from the Student Dining Room. This was the number one request parents made in our end of year survey, and having our staff and students masked allows us to safely resume our traditional lunch program. Masks will be optional outdoors, and we will use outside space as much as possible. During recess, outdoor snacks, outdoor classes, outdoor lunch, and outdoor time at Extended Day, our children will have the opportunity to play and interact with one another without a mask should their parents make that choice. We believe having this option is a meaningful, positive change from last year. Masking also gives us the opportunity to broaden our cohorts, so our 5th-8th graders will resume travel groups, allowing them to interact with more of their peers, which will benefit them socially and emotionally. Programmatically, our students will be returning to the Library, Art Room, and Music Room this year. We will also be resuming our athletic programs in the fall with the return of field hockey, football, and soccer; expanding fine arts offerings, including lessons and ensembles; and restarting our forensics program and certain co-curriculars. These activities are very popular, and we know that having the option to participate in them again will be especially exciting to our students.
While we all hope that these are just the first steps back to normalcy, no one knows exactly what the virus has in store for us. Throughout the school year, the Academy will continuously monitor local conditions and guidance to see what, if any, protocols should be changed. We will continue to lean on the advice of the team of medical professionals on our Health and Safety Task Force who so successfully guided us through last year. We will be meeting with them regularly to be sure that our protocols are based on the most current medical thinking and local conditions. Our goal in that is to create, even in changing circumstances, the least restrictive, most protective environment possible for our students.
Vaccination is the quickest route to normalizing our children’s school experience, and we strongly encourage all qualified individuals to be vaccinated. Community vaccination is one factor that the Health and Safety Task Force will use in making its recommendations on the likelihood of an outbreak within our school community. Having information about the extent of school community vaccination would help them more accurately assess the risk of contracting COVID on campus. We are asking any parents willing to do so to share with us the total number of people in your household as well as how many members of your household are vaccinated. This is completely voluntary and purely for purposes of data collection. No names will be associated with this information, and the numbers of vaccinated individuals will be shared only with our own Health and Safety Task Force to help them advise our school community. If you choose to participate, please complete this link.
The Academy has always been blessed by our strong parent involvement. We look forward to welcoming our faithful and supportive volunteers back to campus this year and wanted you to know well before the beginning of school that all on-campus volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated, have clearances on file, complete the required health screening, and mask while indoors.
I realize this letter leaves many questions about the upcoming school year unanswered. We are working diligently to finalize our remaining plans, and I will be sending you more information over the next several weeks. I wanted you to know our decision about masking as soon as possible, though, to give everyone the time to get comfortable with it. More importantly, I wanted us all to have the time to make our children comfortable with it so that, by the time they come back to campus, they feel happy, excited, and ready to learn.
We are grateful for your ongoing support.
As we plan for a full return to campus for the 2021-2022 school year, we maintain that our families are best served, not by a series of rules, but by a philosophy, a three-pillared approach intended to guide rather than dictate our decisions throughout this school year: that approach will remain mission-driven, community-centered, and data-informed with student health as our compass. By continuing to anchor our ongoing decisions in these three intertwined principles, we have the pliability to bend with changing circumstances while offering our students the calming continuity they need and deserve even in the midst of uncertainty.
Once again, we are blessed to be working with the team of doctors and nurses who so successfully guided us through last year. This year, as we face an entirely new set of challenges, we will be guided not only by recommendations from the CDC, AAP, CHOP PolicyLab and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH), but by the insights and expert advice of this generous and extraordinarily knowledgeable group, many of whom are Ancillae parents themselves. I know you’ll join me in thanking them for wide range of perspectives and experiences they bring to our decisions and for their unwavering commitment to keeping our school open and our families safe.
I know that many parents are most concerned about masking. At this point, no decisions have been made about which prevention strategies (masks, testing, distancing, etc.) will be needed this coming year. We are actively considering the least restrictive, most protective approach to keep our children emotionally, socially, educationally, and physically healthy in the upcoming school year. The CDC encourages schools to weigh heavily the level of community spread as reported by local health officials. We are evaluating the current COVID-related guidance from the MCOPH, though we anticipate forthcoming changes. We will be in regular communication as updates become available. However, given the age of our students, we know that most of the student population at Ancillae will be unvaccinated. At a minimum, we need to be prepared to continue monitoring for symptoms, contact tracing, and periods of quarantine should anyone in our community be diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19.
Some of our students and the overwhelming majority of our faculty and staff will be fully vaccinated this year and the current MCOPH guidelines regarding quarantine are different for persons who have been fully vaccinated. Click here to review the current MCOPH Exclusion Form and Return to School Recommendations. To view the most recent guidance, you may visit this link periodically until school reopens in September. As I said, we have not yet determined which precautions will be necessary for those who are fully vaccinated. However, if your child has been fully vaccinated, providing us with documentation of that fact will streamline contact tracing in the event of an at-school exposure and decrease the number of students who will be subject to the MCOPH quarantine recommendations. To that end, if your child has been fully vaccinated, please provide a copy of your child's vaccination card via email to email@example.com or by mail to:
c/o Health Office
2025 Church Rd.
Wyncote, PA 19095
The recommended interval between doses of the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days. This interval can be longer based on CDC and drug manufacturer guidelines. In order for your child to be fully vaccinated when school starts on September 8, you must begin the process promptly. Many of your children will not be eligible until later this year, but the collection of copies of vaccine records will be ongoing.
You will find information on the CDC website regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as well as information on resuming your usual activities after vaccination.
If you have questions regarding having your child vaccinated against COVID-19, please consult your child's health care provider. Please make sure that your child's other immunizations are up to date.
We are grateful for your ongoing partnership and support as we continue to protect the health and safety of our Ancillae school family.