News from Saint Mary's School

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The 2021-2022 academic year
Saint Mary’s School has spent several months preparing for the re-opening of campus for our students, faculty, and staff for the 2021-2022 academic year. After a successful 2020-2021 year in-person, we are confident in our team and in our community in helping us have another great year. We will 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. We will also prepare contingency plans and commit to staying on top of the ever-evolving global pandemic situation. Anticipating that vaccination efforts will prove effective in preventing serious or deadly illness, and that restrictions for public gatherings and prevailing public health guidelines for physical distancing will be adapted as needed, Saint Mary’s is preparing for a fully in-person fall 2021 semester. 
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. A high vaccination rate on our campus will help stem spread in our community and allow us to function as normally as possible. 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 test, nor quarantine, in the case of a suspected or known exposure. 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 School plans to operate as normally as possible for the 2021-2022 school year with guidelines in place to foster the health and safety of our community, as COVID-19 remains a factor in our state, nation, and world. Saint Mary’s will once again base 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 will open under moderate risk conditions beginning with the opening of the 2021-2022 school year.


  • Masks will be required inside campus buildings for everyone.
  • Masks will be required at mass outdoor gatherings and events where there is extended close    contact for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Masks are optional outside during casual free time or walking about campus.
  • Masks are not required of roommates in their dorm room.

Dining Hall

  • The dining hall will serve three meals a day with social distancing in place at the dining tables.
  • In addition to seating in the dining hall, the Poyner and Tyler rooms on the second floor of Chan-Poyner, and the outdoor Rankin Terrrace will be available for dining. The library is not a dining location this year.


  • Athletics will 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 both       indoors and outdoors and limits to crowd size in Bacon Gym. Triangle Fitness will continue with outdoor activities. The cardio room will be limited to 50 percent capacity, and the wellness room (weight room) will be closed.
  • Athletes will travel to away games by bus, with masks required and windows open.

Residential Guidelines

  • About Town Permissions (ATPS) for boarding students will be restricted to Wake County with  masks required in all vehicles.
  • Weekend overnights will be restricted to a boarder’s own home or the home of their roommate.
  • Boarders may visit other dorm rooms with a limited capacity of four girls per room while masked. Day students may not visit the dorms.
  • Parents may not visit students on dorm. They may meet outside and may drop off items for their daughter on the front porch of Smedes Hall.


  • Visitors will be limited inside campus buildings. Visitors may meet their student outside, and a drop box for parents to leave items for their daughters will be located on the front porch of Smedes Hall.
  • There is no advance screening process for visitors.
  • Tutors and therapists/counselors are allowed to meet with students on campus.

School Travel

  • Currently, school trips, both domestic and international, are suspended. Field trips will be considered on a case by case basis.

Student Activities and Campus Events

  • Activities that encroach on the three-foot social distancing threshold will be limited. Activities will be held outdoors when possible.
  • There will be no outside guests at major events and a three-foot social distancing threshold will be followed at all events. Events will be held outdoors when possible.

International Students

  • International students will be tested between day three and five after their arrival on campus.


  • Classrooms and indoor spaces will be set up for social distancing. Desks and furniture are not to be moved.
  • The maintenance staff will continue with routine and enhanced cleaning measures each day and week. Hand sanitizer and wipes will be widely available.

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 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 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.
  • SMS will require all students who have NOT been vaccinated to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival at the start of the year. Students with a documented case of COVID-19 within 90 days of arrival do not need to submit a test but must submit proof of a positive diagnosis to The Binder Health Center.
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!

Daily Health Screening

All Saint Mary's students and employees engaged in daily health screening via the Ascend COVID-19 screening app each morning before coming to or moving about campus throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Starting on May 28, 2021, Saint Mary’s suspended use of the Ascend app for the summer months and as of August 18 has determined not to use the screening app for the 2021-2022 fall semester. Should an alternate plan be needed, Saint Mary’s will have contingency plans ready to be in place immediately to ensure robust checks and safety procedures.
COVID-19 testing information
Saint Mary's School requires all students to be registered with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services's 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 administered by the Saint Mary's School nursing 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

To learn more about "StrongSchoolsNC," visit
We ask community members to report their need for a COVID-19 test to the nurses and not come to school until a negative test is presented and to follow previous protocols.

Important Information about COVID-19 PCR testing:

  • A COVID-19 PCR/Molecular test is required.
  • Antigen tests (rapid tests) and antibody tests will not clear a student for return.
  • If your daughter tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days, no additional testing is required.
  • All test results (either negative COVID-19 PCR test or positive COVID-19 test within 90 days) must be submitted through Magnus and approved by Saint Mary's Binder Health Center staff.
  • Those who are traveling away from home should test upon your return home and submit a negative result before returning to campus.

How to submit COVID-19 PCR test to Magnus:

  • Access your Magnus account through the SMS parent portal using your Veracross credentials or access Magnus directly at
  • Forgot your Veracross password? Go to:
  • Photo: Take a picture of the form and upload the .jpg directly to Magnus online or use the app. It's as easy as uploading a photo to Facebook!
  • Scan: Scan the document to your computer as a PDF and upload it directly to Magnus.

Covid Testing Resources in Wake County 

Here is the link to drive-thru Covid-19 testing in Wake County.

Rapid testing is key to fighting this pandemic! This is a great resource!

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 also in the process of receiving vaccines or are fully vaccinated.

In preparation for the new academic year (2021-2022), Saint Mary’s in-person, on-campus learning plan 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 Kirsten Monroe at 919-424-4028 or email her at

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


Coronavirus illustration CDC



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.