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COVID-19 UPDATES & RESOURCES


News from Saint Mary's School

UPDATE JANUARY 2022

Saint Mary’s conducted a fully in-person fall 2021 semester, and is back to in-person learning as of Jan. 10, 2022, after a virtual learning week, Jan. 5-7, in response to the Omicron and Delta variants of COVID-19 creating unprecedented numbers of cases locally, regionally, and nationally. The virtual learning week allowed us to keep our academic progress on track, as we prepared the campus and our protocols for the return of students. Thanks, to all for working with us as we work daily to keep our school community safe and healthy.

The 2021-2022 academic year 

Saint Mary’s School spent several months preparing for the re-opening of campus for our students, faculty, and staff for the 2021-2022 academic year, and have made adjustments to our protocols this January in response to the surge in cases from the Omicron variant. 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 vaccinated. Be it the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, DHHS, or the CDC, our guiding organizations agree vaccines are our best protection for a more normalized year. 

Additionally, we will follow 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. 

Saint Mary’s is currently operating under High Community Transmission per CDC data as of 12/14/2021 

Masks (per City of Raleigh) 

  • Masks are required inside campus buildings for everyone. 

  • Masks are optional outside but recommended for large gatherings. 

  • Masks are not required of roommates in their dorm room. 

Athletics 

  • Athletics compete interscholastically. Spectators at home games will be limited to parents of Saint Mary’s athletes and members of the campus community, with masks required indoors and with limits to crowd size in Bacon Gym.  

  • Athletes will travel to away games by bus with windows open. 

Residential Guidelines 

  • Weekend overnights are allowed for boarders at day student homes. 

  • Boarders and day students may visit dorm rooms with a limited capacity of four girls per room while masked.  

  • We ask that parents not visit students in the dorm.  

Visitors/Screenings 

  • Visitors will be limited inside campus buildings.  

  • There is no advance screening process for visitors. 

  • Tutors and therapists/counselors may meet with students on campus. 

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 

  •  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 

  • Exceptions for need to quarantine after exposure 

  • Vaccinated students are not required to quarantine following exposure, 

  •  Students who are not fully vaccinated after a close contact in a classroom or other class-type school setting do NOT have to quarantine if masks were being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the potentially exposed person. *Non-vaccinated students will quarantine after exposure as defined. 

  • Students who have tested positive for Covid-19 within the past three months and recovered and do not have symptoms do not have to quarantine. 

  • Students should remain home from school, in quarantine, until the following criteria are met 

  • 14 days have passed since the last exposure 

  • Symptom free 

  • If symptoms develop then full exclusion criteria for isolation 

  • Prior approval by Binder Health Center nurses before return 

Please also note: 

SMS will not offer a virtual learning option this year. 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 keep OUR school open, and together, we know we can have an amazing year! 

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 fully vaccinated for COVID-19. With vaccinations now widely available to those age 12 and older, most students are fully vaccinated or in the process of vaccination. 

Saint Mary’s in-person, on-campus learning plan for 2021-2022 assumes all faculty and staff who intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will have been vaccinated, and that most students will have been able to receive the vaccine before the fall semester begins. While the vaccine is not mandatory, we strongly encourage all Saints to consider getting the vaccination. 

Campus Visitors 
For the health and safety of our school community, visitors to campus are being limited inside campus buildings. In keeping with Saint Mary's health protocols, visitors must wear a mask/face covering and maintain social distancing while on our campus. 

 Other Programs and Guest Groups 
For the health and safety of our school community and in keeping with Saint Mary's health protocols, all guest groups must wear masks for indoor or in-classroom activities for 2021.Visitors who are part of guest groups should also check with their group's health and safety protocols, which may require additional health and safety protocols. If none exist, defer to Saint Mary's health and safety protocols. For guest group inquiries regarding mask guidelines or other questions, contact Leigh Ann Watson at auxilliary@sms.edu or Julie Ricciardi at 919-424-4114 or email her at jricciardi@sms.edu or Christiane Newell at 919-424-4107 or cnewell@sms.edu. 

Administrative offices: 
Faculty and other employees essential to school operations are working on campus in compliance with campus health and safety protocols. All employees, with a few exceptions, will return on August 16, 2021, for regular business operations. Here is a link to our online faculty/staff directory to assist you in contacting our faculty and staff. The campus community are required to wear masks inside buildings and to adhere to social distancing. Outside, masks may be removed. 

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.