Reunite | August 2020

The top priority is the safety and health of the Mount Vernon community.
Health & Well-BeingTeaching & Learning

Health & Well-Being

Keep You Safe. Keep Me Safe.

Based on the guidelines and recommendations from medical, public health, and government officials, the health & well-being standards have been reviewed and influenced by the Mount Vernon Response Team of medical and public health professionals within the Mount Vernon community as well as School nurses and staff members. In a shifting health environment, the protocols will continue to be updated throughout the year to reflect requirements as they become available to the School.

Most importantly, in order to protect our faculty and staff and our students, this will require sacrifice and service for the benefit of each other. All parents, students, and staff members have a role and responsibility to mitigate risk and slow the spread of the virus. Successfully reuniting on both campuses in August requires a collective conviction to comply with the expectations the School is sharing with the community.

COVID Contact Information
COVID Information Line: 678.515.4891
COVID Information Email: Sheldon Staples, [email protected]
COVID eFax Line: 404.591.1441

Stay Home & Symptoms

Employees and students should remain at home based on the following criteria:

  • employee or student has fever ≥ 100.4 degrees
  • employee or student feels sick (see Symptoms)
  • employee or student has been diagnosed COVID-19 positive
  • employee or student has had direct exposure with confirmed COVID-19 positive person

Symptoms
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with any of these symptoms (not exhaustive) may have COVID-19: 

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

If COVID-like symptoms arise at home, employee or student must remain at home and seek attention from a medical provider. In order to return to the School, employee or student will need to provide the School with proper documentation. Note: If absent due to COVID-like symptoms, contact the COVID Information Line or COVID Information Email established by the School. For convenience, the School has provided a COVID eFax LIne that can be provided to medical professionals if necessary to transfer documentation directly to the School. 

Contact Information
COVID Information Line: 678.515.4891
COVID Information Email: Sheldon Staples, [email protected]
COVID eFax Line: 404.591.1441

Daily Screening

The School will implement daily screenings to determine the health and exposure of students, faculty/staff, and anyone entering either the Lower Campus or the Upper Campus.

Employees
The School is arranging for temperature check kiosks or Administrators with infrared thermometers to check employee temperatures, as they enter the School. If an employee has a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater and/or has any of the stated symptoms, the employee will be prohibited from working at the School until the employee is symptom free. 

Students: Preschool – Middle School
Daily screening for Preschool through Middle School students will occur in carpool. Students will remain in the vehicle until the student’s temperature is checked and screening questions are asked; however, the Early Preschool students will be screened at the Preschool building main entrance, under the awning – parents will then bring children to their classrooms and exit via the back hallway exit. If a student has a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater and/or has any of the stated symptoms, the student will be prohibited from attending the School until student is symptom free. The nurse or administrator will contact the student’s family to determine next steps until returning to the School.

Upon exiting the vehicle, students will maintain physical distance and will enter through the designated building and will not be able to congregate in large groups in advance of the school day.

Students: Upper School
Upper School students enter in either the West or East entrance and required to use temperature check kiosks under the entrance awning and will answer a symptom questionnaire by a Mount Vernon staff member. If a student has a fever greater than 100.4 degrees and/or has any of the stated symptoms, the student will be prohibited from attending school until the student is symptom free. The student will be guided to a designated health isolation room and the nurse or administrator will contact the student’s family to determine next steps until returning to the School. If a student is symptom free, they proceed to their classroom.

Note
Screenings will be administered with care and in a non-discriminatory way. Respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the employee or student, any results will be shared only with essential members of the School leadership team.

All students checking-in to the School after the designated start time for each division will receive a temperature and symptom check by a Mount Vernon staff member.

Hygiene & Physical Distancing

Practicing prevention, reinforced through training and signs posted throughout both campuses, hygiene practices will be promoted consistently throughout the day.

Respiratory Etiquette
Respiratory etiquette includes covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or elbows. No-touch trash cans will be readily available to discard tissues.

Handwashing
Upon entering and exiting each building on the Lower Campus and the Upper Campus, students, faculty/staff, and parents will be required to utilize hand sanitizing stations provided by the School. In addition, when entering and exiting classrooms or restrooms, students and faculty/staff members will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer. Before and after recess, lunch, and other outside activities, all MV community members should wash their hands upon entering any building. Recommended by the CDC, “handwashing strategies include washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the restroom; before eating; and after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing.”

Classrooms
While facility team members will deep clean spaces after hours as well as wipe down door handles and hard surfaces during the day, students will partner with faculty/staff to prioritize regular cleaning practices for desks, equipment, writing utensils, and other classroom materials. Physical Education equipment and Frontier (playground) equipment will be disinfected before classes depart.

Physical Distancing
Mount Vernon will adhere to physical distancing guidelines in order to maintain a safe learning environment. According to the CDC, “keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the virus.” Adhering to CDC guidelines and others, to practice physical distancing (not exhaustive list):

  • Stay at least 6 feet from other people or two arm lengths between workstations
  • Do not gather in large groups (lunch, chapel, playground, and recess will be reimagined)
  • Rearrange furniture and seating spaces to maximize space between students, facing the same direction or separated by plexiglass partitions
  • Follow visual aids in lobbies, hallways, and stairwells that reflect traffic flow
  • Allow no more than 2 students in communal restrooms at one time
  • Prohibit lockers to be utilized by students on the Upper Campus (Grades 6-12)
  • Separate Lower Campus (PS-Grade 5) student supplies, containers, and cubbies

Note
Spreading out more broadly to “dedensify” across 47-acres required a square footage analysis of every room in every building on both campuses, maximizing every space to sustain a robust academic experience with physical distancing measures in place.

Face Coverings

CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. The School will require all students (except age 2 and under) and employees to have a face covering, mask, or face shield at the School at all times. The School has secured MV branded face coverings for every employee and student at Mount Vernon. In addition, the School has secured a face shield for every employee. However, an employee or student may bring their own face covering (solid colors or patterns only — no graphics, lettering or words permitted).

Lower Campus (Preschool and Lower School) Face Covering Guidelines

  • All employees will be required to wear a face covering throughout the school day.
  • All students (except age 2 and under) will be required to wear a face covering throughout the day. 

Note: The School acknowledges the challenges and discomfort of younger students in complying with face coverings. Teachers and administrators will work together to assist where necessary.

Upper Campus (Middle School and Upper School) Face Covering Guidelines

  • All employees will be required to wear a face covering throughout the school day.
  • Based on the expanded “bubble” and increased movement throughout the day, all Middle School and Upper School students will be required to wear face coverings throughout the day.
Sanitizing & Cleaning Buildings

Mount Vernon has established heightened deep-cleaning and disinfection protocols. The School has installed in the HVAC system, in each building, an ionization system to remove pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2. Utilizing EPA-certified products, the School will disinfect all buildings and equipment on the Lower Campus and Upper Campus prior to anyone returning to Mount Vernon in August. Once the 2020-2021 year begins, daily sanitization of soft and hard surfaces, electronics, and equipment will be implemented. Also, the deep-cleaning and disinfection protocol will also include the safe disposal of daily clinical waste, sanitizing mail and packages as well as School vehicles if used.

More specifically, the School will follow the CDC, Georgia Department of Education, and Georgia Department of Public Health recommendations:

 

  • Clean, sanitize, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces multiple times per day
  • Avoid use of items that are not easily cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected
  • Verify and maintain that all ventilation systems continue to operate properly
  • Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants and keep products away from students
  • Provide hand soap and sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, and no-touch trash cans in bathrooms, classrooms and/or frequently trafficked areas
  • Disable all water fountains requiring touch and install touchless water fountains
COVID & Exposure Response

The School will adhere to the following protocol:

Symptoms at School
If an employee or student has a fever or develops COVID-like symptoms while at Mount Vernon, employee or student must follow one of three options:

  1. Contact local medical provider to provide documentation to return to the School or
  2. Remain at home for 10 days or
  3. Seek testing — Two FDA Emergency Authorized COVID-19 tests with negative results (greater than 24 hours apart)

COVID-19 Positive
If an employee or student tests positive for COVID-19, employee or student must remain at home for 14 days at the time the test was administered.

COVID-19 Exposure
If an employee or student is directly exposed to a person with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the School will follow CDC Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure based on contact tracing criteria.

Generally, exposure criteria according to the CDC is based on 6 feet, 15 minutes, and 48 hours rule:

  • 6 feet — determine who has worked within 6 feet of the infected person
  • 15 minutes — determine if anyone remained within that proximity of the sick person for 15 minutes or more
  • 48 hours — determine direct exposure for a prolonged period of time during the 48 hours before the infected employee or student exhibited symptoms

Preschool and Lower School – The School will attempt to have students and employees in self-contained classrooms remain together in a tight “bubble” for prolonged periods of time throughout the School day with rigorous health and safety protocols and procedures. Therefore, any employee or student in the same class with an employee or student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be considered to have had exposure and all employees and students within the self-contained classroom will be required to adhere to the 14-day home isolation guidelines while monitoring symptoms and continuing the program of study virtually. While maintaining privacy and confidentiality, all parents within a grade-level will be notified, but only employees and students in the specific classroom with direct exposure will have to return home.

Middle School and Upper School – The “bubble” of employees and students naturally expands beyond self-contained classrooms and increased movement exists. Any employee or student within 6-10 feet for an extended period of time of an employee or student with a COVID-19 positive diagnosis will be considered to have had direct exposure. All Middle School and Upper School students will receive assigned seats, regardless of period and class, to contact trace direct exposure in the most efficient and limited way possible. Therefore, any employee or student identified with direct exposure will adhere to the 14-day home isolation guidelines while monitoring symptoms and continuing the program of study virtually. The School will maintain privacy and confidentiality for any employee or student testing positive for COVID-19.

Note
In addition, it will be important for the School to have knowledge if a student or employee resides with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and/or has come in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the prior 14-day period. Tracing diagnosed cases within our community allows us to have a better understanding of the overall school-wide health condition, localized to campus, building, and classroom.

Contact Information
COVID Information Line: 678.515.4891
COVID Information Email: Sheldon Staples, [email protected]
COVID eFax Line: 404.591.1441

Lunch

Cafeterias on both campuses will only be used for preparing and cooking rather than serving food in order to control the health and safety of the environment. Therefore, the distribution of food and delivery of meals to students will take place in a methodical manner. Students will be allowed to bring their own lunch for the 2020-2021 school year but must adhere to the peanut allergy protocol on both campuses.

Note
FLIK, the School’s dining partner, has collaborated with Mount Vernon to establish strict kitchen protocols in advance of and throughout the 2020-2021 school year. FLIK staff will be required to wear full PPE prior to entering the kitchen area and wear it during food preparation. In addition, kitchen utensils and cooking equipment will be sanitized after each use, and all kitchen non-food deliveries will be sanitized in the Shipping & Receiving area.

Restrictions & Limited Campus Access

The School is limiting access to campus in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Parents/Family Members/Guardians
Parents will not enter the building to check-in or check-out students before or during the school day. Exceptions: Check-in and check-out by Preschool parents will occur through the Kirk Center. Check-in and check-out by Lower School parents will take place through designated building areas. In addition, parents must schedule an appointment to enter any building. All communications with faculty or staff members should be managed by phone or email. Parent and student-led conferences will occur through a video conferencing platform.

Tutors
On the Lower Campus, tutors will have to complete the School’s daily screening process. Tutors will meet in designated areas specified by the Lower Campus administrative team. Face coverings will be worn and physical distancing should be maintained.

On the Upper Campus, Middle School and Upper School students will engage with tutors through a video conferencing platform instead of meeting in person. Spaces will be designated by the Upper Campus administrative teams. The Academic Resource Services team will continue to coordinate time and locations for students and tutors where applicable and provide assistance to families.

Visitors
Strict protocols of screening and face coverings will be required for any visitor entering either campus including substitutes, college representatives, vendors, or any other external individuals to Mount Vernon to conduct School business.

Teaching & Learning

Right Model. Right Moment.

As a reminder, the School has been designing 5-day, 4-day, 3-day, 2-day, 1-day in-person models that could vary by division and by campus, depending on the conditions of the health environment in real time for the new school year. Therefore, this will allow us to deploy the right model for the right moment for each division. This is not a one-size-fits-all design for the School. As we get closer to the beginning of the year, we will be able to determine which of the five on-campus models we will deploy for each division.

Virtual Option

Students with underlying health conditions or do not feel comfortable in returning under the current pandemic conditions, the School has developed a robust and purposeful learning experience while at home. In real time, students from home will be able to sync into their “live” classroom experience with teachers and classmates at the School and/or will be provided recorded content and experiences as well.

Post Region Play and In-Person/Virtual Varsity Athletic Participation 

During the 2020-2021 regular athletic season, students choosing the virtual option are not able to participate in after-school athletic programs. In a complex organizational system and fluid health situation, the School is able to monitor and maintain better controls of our cohort model and health & well-being protocols when there is a clearer dilineation between in-person learning and athletic participation and the virtual learning platform.

If a varsity athletic team qualifies for the state playoffs (post region play), a student may choose the “virtual option” during the playoff period while participating in after-school athletic practices/games. The date for eligibility for choosing the virtual option will vary by sport and will be identified by the Athletic Department and the Upper School administrative team. Each team will be notified in advance.

Choosing the virtual option will require a parent to complete the Virtual Option Form (stay at home/return to school) on behalf of the student. Note: Students choosing the virtual option will be required to attend classes in order to participate in after-school practices or games, monitored by the Athletic Department and Upper School. Otherwise, students not attending classes will be prohibited from participating in practices or games.

Additionally, it is imperative for your student to remain at home while participating in the virtual learning option, otherwise it may contribute to spreading of COVID-19 and/or jeopardize the team’s participation in state playoff games. In order to resume in-person learning, a parent must complete an additional form provided by Sheldon Staples ([email protected]). 

Upper School Performances/Competitions and In-Person/Virtual Arts Participation

During the 2020-2021 school year, students choosing the virtual option are not able to participate in after-school visual or performing arts rehearsals, performances, or competitions. In a complex organizational system and fluid health situation, the School is able to monitor and maintain better controls of our cohort model and health & well-being protocols when there is a clearer dilineation between in-person learning and arts participation and the virtual learning platform.

Two weeks in advance of an Upper School arts performance or competition, a student may choose the “virtual option” during the two-week rehearsal, performance, and/or competition period while participating in after-school arts rehearsals/performances. The date for eligibility for choosing the virtual option will vary and will be identified by the Visual & Performing Arts Department and the Upper School administrative team. 

Choosing the virtual option will require a parent to complete the Virtual Option Form (stay at home/return to school) on behalf of the student. Note: Students choosing the virtual option will be required to attend classes in order to participate in after-school rehearsals, performances, and/or competitions, monitored by the Visual & Performing Arts Department and Upper School. Otherwise, students not attending classes will be prohibited from participating in rehearsals, performances, and/or competitions..

Additionally, it is imperative for your student to remain at home while participating in the virtual learning option, otherwise it may contribute to spreading of COVID-19 and/or jeopardize the group’s participation. In order to resume in-person learning, a parent must complete an additional form provided by Sheldon Staples ([email protected]). 

Contact Information
COVID Information Line: 678.515.4891
COVID Information Email: Sheldon Staples, [email protected]
COVID eFax Line: 404.591.1441

5 On-Campus Models

The five models developed by the School are driven by the number of days students and faculty/staff are physically on campus at Mount Vernon.

5-Day Model
Short of a shelter-in-place mandate or specific government gathering guidelines, the School, optimally, is building a 5-day model (Monday-Friday) for students to attend Mount Vernon on both the Lower Campus and the Upper Campus. Physical distancing will be required, a 5-day model will still have an impact on the learning environment, curriculum and instruction, professional learning, and the School calendar.

4-Day Model
Based on a variety of health circumstances, the School is devising a 4-day model, depending on division and/or campus configurations which would allow for student project work and faculty professional learning and planning.

Staggered (3-Day, 2-Day, 1-Day)
Staggering school days would allow a certain number of students on campus on certain days of the week while allowing other grade-levels to attend the School on alternating days. If needed, the School is prototyping three staggered on-campus models (3-day model, 2-day model, and 1-day model). Staggering days are not as favorable, but may be necessary under certain health conditions and mitigating community spread of the virus.

Note
Depending on any future waves or spikes, the School, for example, may establish a 5-day model one month and a staggered model for a certain dedicated week. Devising specific models and defining the proportions of students on campus at one time now builds a deeper, multipurpose toolkit to respond to uncertain health situations later.

Reunite Series Framework

In May, Mount Vernon shared a three-part series exploring interdependent, interconnected topics on what to expect for re-entry in August to launch the 2020-2021 school year.

The Reunite Series addressed key objectives and priorities moving forward:

  • Establishing rigorous health and safety measures
  • Designing multiple teaching and learning models
  • Planing various student schedules for each division
  • Maximizing all spaces to reduce density of students/teachers
  • Adjusting financial models to support School families

Responding to a shifting pubic health situation, the proactive approach reflected in the Reunite Series allowed the School to deploy the right model at the right moment.