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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.