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COVID-19 UPDATES & RESOURCES


Covid-19 Updates and Guidelines

Saint Mary’s School is operating on a fully in-person basis. Masks became optional on Saint Mary's campus as of 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28. Most school operations and activities are operating under pre-pandemic norms, with evolving protocols depending on the COVID case numbers. Thanks, to all for working with us as we strive to keep our school community safe and healthy.

The 2021-2022 academic year 

Saint Mary’s School opened the school year in August in person and continues to operate successfully and safely amidst the pandemic. We continue to rely on experts in the public heath, infectious diseases, epidemiology, and environmental health fields, as well as the latest best practices and our experience in managing and planning for continuous operations. Please note that these are the current guidelines, but they are subject to change depending on the pandemic trends. 

It is clear the best safeguards we have at our disposal for a normal school year are the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Saint Mary’s School highly encourages all students and employees to be up-to-date with vaccinations. 

Saint Mary's follows guidance from the CDC: we are not requiring vaccinated students to quarantine, in the case of a suspected or known exposure. However, according to CDC recommendation we are testing 5-7 days post-exposure, as a precaution. Please note that SMS is requiring all vaccinated students to upload their COVID-19 card under the “Immunizations” requirement in Magnus. This is necessary to grant exemption from exposure requirements as quickly as possible, as well as to determine the overall immunity of the community. 

Saint Mary’s bases our COVID-19 playbook on guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the National Association of Independent Schools (NCAIS), and the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, amongst other credible organizations. We will continue to respond to the changing environment and modify these guidelines as necessary throughout the year. 

Masks 

  • Masks are optional on Saint Mary's campus in most cases.
  • Students who return to school after having COVID must mask for five days.
  • If students have had an exposure, they may be in school, but must still mask for 10 days.

Athletics and the Arts

  • Masks are optional for student-athletes, coaches, and performers in the arts, unless required by the COVID protocols and exceptions under Masks above.

Isolation guidelines for symptomatic or positive students 

Any student, regardless of vaccination status, with a positive COVID test OR with the following unexplained symptoms should isolate by staying home and notify SMS. Remain in isolation and do not return to school until you have met the criteria for return to school and have received approval from a Binder Health Nurse. 

Symptoms: any of the symptoms below which are unexplained  

Stay at home with these symptoms, and contact Binder Health Center nurses@sms.edu 919-424-4043 

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher 

  • Sore throat 

  • Cough, new or unexplained 

  • Difficulty breathing 

  • Loss of taste or smell 

  • Diarrhea or vomiting 

  • Unexplained headache 

  • Unexplained fatigue 

  • Unexplained Muscle or body aches 

  • Nasal/sinus congestion 

Criterion for end of isolation and return to school, with approval from Binder Health Center before return 

  • Negative PCR or Antigen (Rapid) Test 

  • AND fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications and 

  • AND feeling better for 24 hours 

  • Without testing 

  • It has been 10 days since the first day of symptoms 

  • And it has been at least 24 hours since the student had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine) 

  • And other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. 

  • If diagnosed by test or through symptoms, must stay home until answer yes to all 3 

  • At least 10 days since onset of symptoms 

  • 24 hours fever free without meds 

  • Symptoms have been improved for at least 24 hours 

  • Confirmed alternative diagnosis 

Quarantine guidelines for suspected or confirmed exposure 

  • Quarantine guidelines for suspected or confirmed exposure 

    •  Students and/or families are required to report any known exposure.
    •  Exposure is defined as: 
      •  Contact with a household member diagnosed with COVID-19,  
      •  Being within 6 feet for 15 minutes of a presumed, or diagnosed case, or a person diagnosed within two days after contact,
    • Any person with a known exposure, regardless of vaccination status should:
      • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after the last date of exposure, when around others.
      • Eat six feet away from others since a mask cannot be worn.
      • Monitor for symptoms and isolate and test immediately if becomes symptomatic.
    • Any person who is within 90 days of a positive Covid-19 test, is exempt from the above protocol.
    • Masking is not required for outdoor sports.
    • Prior approval by Binder Health Center nurses before return. 

COVID-19 testing information 

Saint Mary's School requires all students to be registered with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' program, "StrongSchoolsNC" COVID-19 testing program. As COVID-19 variants spread throughout the United States, research shows routine testing can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by 50%, especially in large settings such as schools. In partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), Saint Mary’s School will provide COVID-19 antigen and PCR testing on our campus this year. Registration is required for all students.  Parents must enroll their daughter(s) to participate in this free NCDHHS program that allows us to test students on campus and not take them off-site. 

How it Works:  

  • Parents register their Saint Mary's student(s) to provide a one-time consent and HIPAA authorization, which allows testing results to be shared with Saint Mary’s School.  

  • All testing information is confidential.  

  • Tests will only be conducted if warranted. (e.g., We are not currently performing surveillance testing.)  

  • Test results will be shared with Binder Health Center and results will be available within 24 hours. 

  • Test swabbing will be self-administered and collected by trained SMS or Mako lab staff (Only anterior nasal swabbing is required.) 

  • Raleigh-based MAKO Medical will process all tests. Check out the video below to learn more about Mako Medical's facilities and their process. Mako Medical is dedicated to keeping North Carolina students and educators safe, and Saint Mary's needs your help.  

Saint Mary's School needs your help to keep our community safe. Register your daughter today for free StrongSchoolsNC COVID-19 testing.  
  

COVID-19 vaccinations 

The vaccination rate in our campus community is strong. Most, Saint Mary's faculty and staff are up-to-date with vaccinations for COVID-19. With vaccinations now widely available to those age 12 and older, most students are up-to-date or in the vaccination process. 

While the vaccine is not mandatory, we strongly encourage all members of our campus community to consider getting the vaccinations, if they have not already. 

Please also note: 

SMS is not offering a virtual learning option this year, with the exception of special called periods of virtual learning for the whole school, if needed. At their discretion, faculty may record a lesson but will not be required to do so. This further increases the importance of being vaccinated to lessen the risk of being out of school due to a known or suspected exposure or a positive case of COVID-19. As we navigate the year, we ask that you remain supportive and helpful. Our number one priority is to finish our school year strong and safe. 

Campus Visitors 
Visitors are welcome on Saint Mary's campus. Please check in at the reception desk in Smedes Hall to start your visit or proceed directly to the gym, auditorium, dining hall, athletic fields and courts, or other venue to any event open to all or to which you have been invited. Students should stay tuned for email updates about day students visiting the dorms and community events.

Other Programs and Guest Groups 
Saint Mary's campus is mask-optional, as of 5 p.m., Feb. 25, 2022. Visitors who are part of guest groups should check with their group's health and safety protocols, which may require additional protocols. If none exist, defer to Saint Mary's health and safety protocols. For guest group inquiries regarding guidelines or other questions, contact Alli Leggett at auxilliary@sms.edu.

Administrative offices: 
All employees, with a few exceptions, have returned to campus this year for regular business operations. Here is a link to our online faculty/staff directory to assist you in contacting our faculty and staff. 

With the health and safety of our community our first priority, Saint Mary's continues to closely monitor COVID-19 developments and make plans in accordance with guidance provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).   

Enrolled families can learn more on our welcome website at www.sms.edu/welcome2sms


 

Coronavirus illustration CDC

 

HELPFUL LINKS

North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary | This is an evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.