St. Michael’s Country Day School – COVID-19 Planning
2021-22 School Year
We are excited to welcome our students and families back to campus for the 2021-22 school year! While we must recognize that we are still very much living with Covid-19, we believe we are poised to have an even better school year this year that is closer to normal.
Last year, at this time, the world felt quite different, with many unknowns. With great care and thoughtfulness, St. Michael’s Country Day School community stepped up to the challenges posed by the pandemic and proceeded to hold in person school for the entire year. While there were cases within our school community, we had no outbreaks amongst our students or staff and no transmission was traced within the school building. We credit this success to the thoughtful planning and the cooperation of students, faculty, staff and families in staying safe in and outside of school. We are hopeful, that despite the current concerns regarding Covid-19, that the 2021-22 school year will prove to be even more successful.
The following question and answer is intended to provide clarity to our approach for the 2021-22 school year. Keep in mind, however, that our response to COVID-19 has necessarily been a moving target and we anticipate that this will continue to be the case. As such, we will update these questions from time to time.
Does SMCDS require face coverings?
Masks are required indoors at St. Michael’s Country Day School. At this time, we are not requiring masks outdoors.
Who is required to vaccinate?
All faculty, staff, family members, as well as volunteers working within or visiting the inside of school buildings are required to be vaccinated. We encourage all eligible students to get vaccinated. As vaccines become available to more age groups, the school will review its policies in regards to students. Note that the school will consider requests for exemptions due to medical or religious reasons in accordance with Rhode Island law.
What is the school’s stance on vaccinating students?
At this time the school encourages, but does not require, all eligible students to get fully vaccinated.
When is an individual fully vaccinated?
Per the CDC individuals are fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot.
In regards to required quarantining and close contacts, how is this different for vaccinated students?
Individuals who are vaccinated, and who are close contacts of positive cases, will no longer need to quarantine. The school will still require close contacts who are vaccinated to take a test immediately and on Day 5.
What are the travel guidelines?
If traveling, vaccinated individuals are strongly advised to use precaution and should monitor symptoms upon their return. We encourage families with unvaccinated children to avoid travel at this time. If you decide to travel with unvaccinated children, we ask that you do the following.
- Avoid traveling via public transportation (plane, bus, train, subways, etc.) where you are in close contact with non-family/group members.
- Stay (in houses, hotels or vacation rentals) only with vaccinated individuals.
- Avoid attending crowded events, exhibits or other venues where you are unsure of the vaccination or testing status of others in attendance. Consider limiting attendance to events that require vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated individuals should always wear a mask at these events.
- Avoid eating out in restaurants where unvaccinated individuals may be in close contact with non-family/group members.
Upon return from travel, unvaccinated individuals should take a COVID-19 test. Take one again 5 days after travel. Monitor for symptoms and test if symptoms arise.
If your travel with unvaccinated individuals does not adhere to the above guidelines, we ask that you quarantine for 7 days, and receive a negative PCR test at least 5 days after travel, before returning to school, as recommended by RIDOH.
Does the school use stable groups or pods to keep groups of students separate?
Yes. This helps to minimize the potential for larger outbreaks of COVID-19.
What other precautions does the school take?
We have worked to increase air flow within our school buildings and encourage regular hand washing and sanitizing procedures. We require families to monitor children for illness and to keep children home when they display signs of a potential infection.
What are the school’s quarantining expectations in regards to close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case?
We follow the state’s recommended “7 day with testing” quarantine option. With this option, close contact individuals may return to school on Day 8 with a negative PCR test taken on day 5 or later.
What about testing in school and otherwise?
We do not do COVID-19 testing in school. Anyone with COVID symptoms, vaccinated or not, should get tested outside of school. We urge everyone to get a COVID test prior to the start of the school year.
When does my child need to stay home from school?
If a student, faculty or staff member is sick, they should not come to school. Everyone should monitor for the symptoms listed below, as defined by RIDOH, each day.
What constitutes a probable case, requiring a COVID-19 PCR test?
In the absence of a more likely diagnoses, any person with ONE of the following symptoms will be considered a probable case:
- Cough (new)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
Any person with TWO of the following symptoms will be considered a probable case:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If an individual meets the probable case criteria, they must immediately quarantine and be tested for Covid-19 via a PCR test. Anyone who becomes symptomatic during the school day, will be sent home and instructed to quarantine and to schedule a PCR test. If the results are negative, the individual may return once fever free for 24 hours without fever reducers and once symptoms are improved. If the result is positive, the individual will follow isolation protocol as defined by RIDOH.
What about siblings of students who are probable cases?
Siblings/household members of symptomatic individuals who are awaiting PCR test results will be allowed to come to school and will be able to stay in school if a symptomatic sibling is dismissed during the day.
What if someone in our household tests positive for COVID?
Please contact us so that we can best understand your household situation and advise you, in conjunction with the department of health, regarding steps you must take and to answer questions about who may attend school and when.
Are parents allowed to be on campus and/or enter the building this year?
Parents and other family members who are vaccinated will be allowed to enter the building ONLY for appointments and other scheduled events. Masks will be required of everyone indoors on our campus. Keep in mind that this policy may change at any time. Note that the school reviews requests for vaccine exemptions due to medical or religious reasons in accordance with Rhode Island law and may require that other reasonable precautions are taken.
Are parents allowed to enter the building at drop off?
Parents and other family members will not be allowed to enter the buildings during drop off.
Does St. Michael’s compete in interscholastic sports?
Yes. We are aiming to offer the same competitive teams we offered in the years prior to COVID-19: soccer in the Fall, basketball in the Winter and lacrosse and, if there is interest, running in the Spring.
Does the school offer distance learning?
The school expects all students to attend school in person and will not provide a distance learning option.
If my child has a PCR test because they have developed symptoms, and the results are negative, when can they return to school?
Children may return to school when they are free from fever (100 degrees fahrenheit per SMS protocols), vomiting or diarrhea within the last 24 hours, and no medications were given to control those symptoms. Additionally, children must be able to manage any residual secretions (runny nose or cough) with minimal mask removal, understand that they need to cover coughs, and independently maintain hand hygiene with minimal assistance from teachers. Our younger children will be less adept at independent control of secretions and hygiene, therefore secretions need to be minimal. If your child has allergies, consult your pediatrician and use the recommended medication to control symptoms.
How long does an individual who test positive for Covid need to isolate?
10 days and symptoms need to be mostly resolved, without medication.
If someone in the household has Covid, how long do unvaccinated household members need to quarantine?
7 days, if the individual with a positive case can fully isolate from others. On day 5, they should get a PCR test.
If they cannot fully isolate, they need to be quarantined for a full 10 days, plus an additional 7, and take a PCR test on day 15.
What about vaccinated household members?
As long as you are not sick and the individual who has Covid has no contact with you, fully vaccinated people can continue to come to school. This said, each household is different and we will review each case and provide guidance.
Fully vaccinated people who have a known close contact exposure to someone with Covid 19 should have a PCR test immediately and then again in 5 days after the exposure. They should wear masks in all public places for 14 days, as per current Executive order of Governor McKee.
How are quarantine and testing dates counted?
We begin the count on either the day after symptom onset; the day after the testing date of an asymptomatic person who tests positive; or the day after the last day of close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID.