COVID-19 Coronavirus Response
Last updated on July 30, 2020
Roland Park Country School is actively monitoring developments of COVID-19. We will continue to update the RPCS community through email about the school's preparation and responses. Please continue to check this page regularly for updates.
- RPCS Reopening Blueprint - July 30, 2020
- New School Nurses at RPCS – July 30, 2020
- Reopening Check-In - July 21, 2020
- RPCS Reopening Plan: Fall 2020 - July 2, 2020
- Looking Ahead: The 2020-2021 School Year - June 5, 2020
- Planning for the Reopening of RPCS - May 15, 2020
- Important Update About RPCS Distance Learning Program - May 6, 2020
- Important Announcement About RPCS Remote Learning Program - April 17, 2020
- A Message From the School Nurse - April 6, 2020
- Connecting Virtually - March 27, 2020
- Distance Learning Policy - March 26, 2020
- Update on RPCS Distance Learning Program - March 25, 2020
- COVID-19 Reflections and Resources - March 23, 2020
- For Alumnae: COVID-19 Update From RPCS - March 16, 2020
- Virtual Learning Plans After Spring Break - March 12, 2020
- Visitor Protocols and Scheduling Updates - March 11, 2020
- COVID-19 Preparedness Updates - March 10, 2020
- COVID-19 Update and Calendar Change – March 6, 2020
- COVID-19 and Spring Break Travel - March 5, 2020
- COVID-19 Preparedness – February 28, 2020
- Health Update from RPCS – January 29, 2020
Dear RPCS Community,
In the last couple of weeks, I have hosted 9 different town halls with our community members to share with you our big picture strategy as it pertains to opening school — and staying open — this coming school year. During these conversations with our community I have shared our plans for ensuring a safe and healthy reopening on September 1. At this time I would like to share our most up-to-date RPCS Reopening Blueprint with you. As you read through this important document, please know that the health and safety of our teachers and students is central to the work outlined in the RPCS Reopening Blueprint.
The evolution of this blueprint for reopening is a result of continual, intentional work by our internal team, consultation with the AUXS team, and direct feedback from many of you in our community. On this last point, I want to thank you for your candid feedback and questions along the way. As we approach the beginning of August, I am so proud of the thorough, thoughtful and rigorous planning that has gone into our plans to reopen school on September 1. This work is continuously evolving and not a day has gone by this summer where we are not working to meticulously address every last detail involved to ensure a safe and secure re-entry.
In recent weeks, we have seen a national conversation grow about the risk of sending students and teachers back into schools this fall, without a COVID-19 vaccine. The specific, focused, pro-active plans we have been developing this summer allow us to make choices that prioritize safety and programming; RPCS will not have to choose one over the other. I want to assert, again, that the health and safety of our teachers and students is central to our decision making.
We are planning to reopen in-person, on campus this fall. We feel this is the right decision because of these unique attributes to Roland Park Country School:
- The power of small: We are a small school that can organize small cohorts effectively
- The power of space: Our unique campus layout and investment in infrastructure position us for a healthy environment
- The power of community: We place trust in our community members that individuals will make decisions in their daily lives that keep us all well.
- The power of planning: Our reopening committees have worked alongside medical professionals with deep commitment and incredible focus on a reopening plan that considers every detail to mitigate risk.
This work is constant. We will continue to stay abreast of the latest developments from the Governor’s office, the Maryland Department of Health, the Maryland State Department of Education, and medical professionals. We will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC, WHO, AAP and other reliable health organizations. We will also continue conversations with peer schools who are also engaged in this challenging and important work. Should there be changes in our ability to return to campus, we are prepared to resume our virtual learning and continue to provide a top notch learning experience for our students and families.
In the meantime, what can you do to help? We ask that you do the hard work of educating your children on the proper usage of masks and the importance of social distancing. Practice these behaviors immediately and consistently. And please communicate with the school around issues of testing, exposure, and quarantining. Click here to read a back to school planning guide from the CDC, which includes checklists to guide parents, guardians and caregivers.
We are all in this together. Our confidence in reopening is based on the belief that our community members will do the hard work it takes to keep us safe. For this to work, it will require everyone in our community to understand and abide by the rules and guidelines from our Governor, the Department of Health and RPCS and confidence that everyone in our community is doing the same.
Thank you for the trust you place in us. We are placing trust in you and will be asking that you sign a community wellness pledge prior to the start of school. Thank you, again, for your partnership in this journey.
Please be sure to read the RPCS Reopening Blueprint carefully. Division-specific (Littlest/Little Reds, Lower School, Middle School, Upper School) updates from respective Division Heads will be emailed in the middle of August.
Head of School
I hope this note finds you well! Many of you joined us yesterday virtually for our wonderful Commencement exercises for the Class of 2020. A small handful of you were even able to be with us in person. Thank you for all of your support and help in person and remotely.
FLEXIBILITY: THE POWER OF SMALL RPCS policies will need to change quickly as we receive new information and data, and we will need to pivot and alter course as soon as new information becomes available. Our small size will enable us to adapt quickly.
EXPERT GUIDANCE RPCS policies and any updates will be made in conjunction with state and local public health policies and expert medical recommendations. We are constantly monitoring the most up-to-date research from the CDC, WHO, the AAP and many other reliable health organizations.
POLICIES BY DIVISION RPCS serves children from 6 weeks old to grade 12. Decisions on policies will be informed by what is appropriate and feasible by developmental level.
ACCESS FOR ALL RPCS will partner together with medical professionals and families/individuals to develop accommodations, as needed, for those in our community who have unique medical needs.
CLEAR AND FREQUENT COMMUNICATION Policies will be clearly and consistently communicated to ensure the smoothest experience for all.
Dear RPCS Parents and Guardians,
I hope you are enjoying your summer and that you and your families are healthy and well. As I shared in my June email, we are deeply engaged in important planning for the reopening of our campus this fall.
As we work through all of the complexities involved in the reopening process, the health and well-being of our entire community will be the central guiding principle by which we balance all programmatic decisions. We will consistently and intentionally balance the health and well-being of all students, employees and community members with our earnest focus on reopening in the fall — and remaining open. Given the complexity of the task at hand I want to elaborate on some key principles and updates that are informing our approach to reopening campus.
Please note that at the close of this email there are dates and times for divisional specific Town Halls (which will be held via Zoom) with your division head, other administrators and me. I have included a link where you can share your questions so that we can review, organize, and address them in a considered manner. I look forward to that time with you.
RPCS: Mission and Purpose Statement Regarding Reopening and COVID-19
Mission Statement: Our mission is to mitigate the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 at RPCS, while preserving our core values, culture, community and academic and co-curricular programs.
Purpose Statement: Our intent is to open and stay open. Our school is built upon community and relationships. This happens most effectively when we are all together on campus. We have the capacity to improve our chances of being physically together as a community through tangible and proactive ways.
Key Principles in Decision-Making
- FLEXIBILITY: RPCS policies will need to change quickly as we receive new information and data, and we will need to pivot and alter course as soon as new information becomes available.
- CLOSE COMMUNICATION WITH STATE AND LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITIES AND CONSULTING RESEARCH AND BEST PRACTICES: RPCS policies and any updates will be made in conjunction with state and local public health policies and recommendations. We are constantly monitoring the most up to date research from the CDC, WHO, the AAP and many other reliable and helpful health organizations.
- POLICIES BY DIVISION: RPCS serves children from 6 weeks old to grade 12. Decisions on policies will be informed by what is appropriate and feasible by developmental level.
- ACCESS FOR ALL: RPCS will partner together with medical professionals and families/individuals to develop accommodations, as needed, for those in our community who have unique medical needs.
- CLEAR AND FREQUENT COMMUNICATION: Policies will be clearly and consistently communicated.
Partnership with Leading Experts: AUXS
We have partnered with AUXS to help us as we organize and prepare to reopen campus safely. AUXS works with schools across the country to organize priorities in the wake of COVID-19 school closures in March. With the help of the AUXS team, we have dispatched a Reopening Taskforce (more on this below) to map different models and decision points that the school needs to consider in the context of COVID-19 and how we will reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. The AUX team we are working with consists of senior advisors and a medical consultant (board-certified pediatrician) and we have access to additional technical expertise (examples: ventilation experts, sanitization specialists, etc.).
Internal Project Management and Reopening Taskforce Structure
Our internal Reopening Taskforce structure and group members can be viewed here (as well as bios for our AUX advising team). I invite you to review the various individuals and groups working in partnership to ensure that we consider all aspects of health and safety (students, employees, and community members), campus operations, and the student experience in our planning. I want to take a moment to personally thank everyone who is serving on these committees with us. The strength of our community is also palpable in how we show up and lean into this work — together.
Meg Miller, RPCS Data and Strategy Analyst, has taken on an important leadership role as project manager for our reopening and is liaising among the committees and between the school and AUXS. The committees within our Reopening Task force meet weekly and the chairs of each committee come together separately on a weekly basis as well to report out.
Our goal is to make decisions that balance safety and programmatic needs while also providing our families with clear, concise and most up-to-date information on policies and procedures in advance of welcoming students back on campus this fall.
Communication of Information and Plans by Division
Providing our community with clear policies and guidelines is crucial to supporting our mission and purpose. As we balance all of the complexities involved in reopening, we want to make sure that the plans that we present to you are as close to the final models as possible. We aim to communicate those final divisional plans by the end of July. In our end of July communication, you will receive final information on schedules, policies, protocols and risk mitigation strategies (social distancing, hand-washing, sanitization, mask wearing, symptom checks, daily health assessment requirements, etc.) that will help ensure and promote the health and safety of our community.
As I wrote in my June 5 letter, we are planning for three scenarios: fully in-person, a blended model, and a contingency plan for online learning. What this looks like by division will differ. That said, all of our models include on-campus time for every division. Please be mindful that circumstances could change at any moment and our plans may alter with shifting public health recommendations and guidance.
At this point in time, we are planning for the following:
Littlest Reds: On campus 5 days a week for full school days.
Little Reds: On campus 5 days a week for full school days.
Lower School: On campus 5 days a week for full school days.
Middle School: On campus 5 days a week for full school days.
Upper School: Given the complexity of this division both in terms of the large number of coordinated courses through our tri-school relationship as well as the size of this division, we are planning for a range of hybrid models for this division. Ideally, we would like to bring our RPCS students to campus five days a week, but given the scheduling complexity of the tri-school,we anticipate utilizing a blended learning model for our oldest students. That said, we continue to explore ways to maximize the number of days we can get our oldest division of learners on campus. We will continue to work through these models and will communicate our final plan by late-July.
Faculty Professional Development
At all divisional levels, our faculty are engaging in professional development this summer that will prepare them to pivot to online instruction with seamless continuity, as necessary. As I stated in my June 5 communication, while our goal is to be on campus together, our teachers will be equipped to move to a virtual learning model. In addition to taking classes through the Global Online Academy, all faculty are choosing from an array of offerings to develop their own skills specific to their content area and developmental needs of their students. In August, faculty will meet in small professional learning communities, led by teacher coaches, to work with colleagues to prepare for teaching either online, blended, or face-to-face or moving seamlessly among the models. While we can’t predict the future, we can and will equip our teachers with the intangible professional development and tangible tools to deliver top-notch programming online.
Looking Ahead - Communications to Look for and Town Halls
As we welcome students back onto campus this fall, the experience will be different, but our commitment to providing our students with a best-in-class education remains — and it is even stronger than ever.
Our next update will be sent by the end of July, and our final reopening plan will be shared in mid-August.
To provide greater insight into the process and the plans — and to hear your questions — I will be hosting divisional Town Halls along with respective division heads to answer questions and address concerns you may have. Please use this form to submit up to three questions so that we can review and organize concerns and address them in a thoughtful manner.
Dates and times for these Town Halls are as follows:
Littlest/Little Reds parents: July 15 from 4 – 4:45 p.m.
Lower School parents: July 16 from 4 – 4:45 p.m.
Middle School parents: July 15 from 5:30 – 6:15 p.m.
Upper School parents: July 16 from 5:30 – 6:15 p.m.
I know this period in our lives together is marked by much anxiety and uncertainty. But, especially at this time here is what I am certain about: RPCS is putting in place the research, expertise, and proactive planning that will yield the best possible outcome for our children, employees and overall community.
We have much to look forward to this fall, and I thank you for being on this journey with us.
Head of School
Since early March, our COVID-19 Taskforce has worked to assist our school in the research, preparation and implementation of decisions to keep our community safe, while maximizing our ability to continue delivering a rigorous and meaningful virtual program for our students. As we look ahead to the fall, we want to make sure the perspectives of key stakeholders in our community are represented. To that end, we are convening the following groups: the Reopening Advisory Board, the Reopening Taskforce, and the Health and Safety Committee.
Head of School
Division heads will be following up shortly with more specific details and to answer any logistical questions you have regarding anything about the next few weeks of school. We will also be talking with your daughters and our faculty, and in all our conversations, we will be open and transparent as we help our community process this news and move forward through the end of the school year together. In fact, I have written personally to all of your daughters today as well. Parents and guardians of Lower School children, please share this attached letter with your daughters when you have a chance.
As we begin to learn of the first known cases of COVID-19 affecting members of the Baltimore community, I am reaching out to let you know that we are here for you. As this situation continues to evolve, we are learning how to best support each other during this time. Please check our school’s website for helpful resources and the current status of our building.
As access to testing increases, so will the number of positive cases. I encourage you to report any COVID-19 health updates directly to me at email@example.com. Please notify me of any known cases for yourself and/or immediate household members. With your permission, I may share the report with whomever might best help you—such as a consult with your division’s counselor or a head’s up to the student’s advisor to alert them of reducing academic workload etc. Here are a few reminders if you or any member of your family are not feeling well:
- If you have a fever and/or acute respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), please contact your doctor immediately.
- If you are immunocompromised or have an underlying health condition, you should contact your health care provider to see if they have additional recommendations for you.
- Accessing a screening test of COVID-19 can now be done online.
- If you have severe symptoms, you should always contact your physician to seek care.
- For more information aside from our school’s site, please see the latest updates for our state here: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/.
We will continue to do everything we can to support our school. We are incredibly grateful for your partnership and support as we navigate through this together.
Classes will continue via Distance Learning from March 25, 2020 using platforms outlined in the Continuation of Program document as well as other online tools.
Policies and procedures in the Handbook continue to be in effect, including but not limited to:
Expectations for academic honesty, including the Honor Code as stated in each division’s student handbook,
Acceptable use and privacy policies, and
Bullying and harassment policy.
Group and one-on-one consultations (including email) will continue to occur between students and teachers, advisors, learning specialists, counselors, deans, and administrators between 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST Monday-Friday. Email correspondence sent out after 4:00 p.m. will not be responded to until the following day.
Teachers/Administrators may record classes (not advisory sessions or 1:1 meetings) to facilitate the review of direct instruction for students who are absent or who need reinforcement.
Students should not record classes or meetings.
I am writing to let you know that we have proactively decided to move to an online instructional delivery system for teaching and learning at Roland Park Country School commencing on March 25. Tuesday, March 24 will be an additional professional development day for teachers. This virtual learning model will continue through April 3.
All Roland Park Country School buildings and outdoor facilities will be closed and no students or parents/guardians should be on campus. All athletics practices and games, arts events, including rehearsals, and club activities are canceled through Friday, April 3. We recognize these cancellations will be deeply disappointing to students who have been working hard to prepare for their seasons and performances, but we need to prioritize long-term health and safety of our community. We will update everyone about the resumption of the athletics and arts programs as soon as we can. During the closure, our maintenance team will continue with the cleaning of the campus necessary to safely resume normal class operations on April 6.
Upper School lacrosse trip to North Carolina, originally scheduled for March 15-18
Semiquavers trip to Carnegie Hall/New York City, originally scheduled for March 27-30
As I shared in my letter last night to all RPCS employees and parents, we are evaluating best practices in the event we are required to close school due to COVID-19 (coronavirus). If that happens, we need to be prepared to implement online and/or blended learning to ensure that we can continue to deliver instruction to students in grades K-12.
If you and/or anyone in your family has travel plans over spring break to a destination listed as a tiered location designated by the US State Department or the CDC, then please complete this survey. Individuals who travel to any of these areas are asked to self-quarantine upon their return. We ask that you and all members of the school community monitor the evolving spread of the virus and to be vigilant regarding both international and domestic travel.
As we continue to actively monitor the novel coronavirus ("COVID-19") and evaluate our next steps on a daily basis, we wanted to share some important updates with you. As you are well aware, information can change daily, and updates are complex and fluid as the public health needs of each individual are carefully considered against the public health needs of all—and in this case our entire RPCS community. Over the last few weeks, we have spent a great deal of time considering the most up-to-date information, recommendations, and advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), trusted medical professionals, and our local leaders here in Baltimore. While it can be disconcerting to consider all of the quickly changing news in the aggregate, the CDC has recommended that communities, schools, businesses etc. remain informed and prepared to make decisions that impact private and public health needs. As ever, RPCS remains committed in these efforts and places student, employee and parent safety at the center of our decisions.
RPCS Educational and Cultural Spring Break Trips:
At this particular point in time, one of our main areas of focus is on the travel considerations that come with spring break for family and RPCS-sponsored trips. With spring break right around the corner, we want to ensure that our students, families, faculty, and employees who may be traveling take proper precautions. And, we have reached a final decision on our own current student and faculty spring break trips that focus on culture, language, history and interactive global learning.
For those planning for personal spring break travel, we continue to encourage you to follow the travel guidelines from the CDC and please keep track of your travel destination’s level of threat during your trip. We ask any families who are traveling to a level 2 or 3 region as defined by the CDC to please notify our School Nurse, Courtney Wertheimer, in advance. If you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to campus, per the CDC guidelines, please let us know as well. In general, any student or faculty/staff member returning from an international trip with a potentially contagious condition should consult their physician immediately and should not return to campus until given clearance. If students have questions or concerns once they arrive back on campus, they should visit the School Nurse.
Given that this is an evolving situation and we do not know where the next outbreak may occur, it is important to note that we are unable to predict with certainty what additional protocols may need to be put in place when we return from spring break. As it relates to teaching and learning at RPCS, our senior leadership team is exploring best practices for any situation that may require online learning to become our primary means of educational delivery for your children. We will do our very best to provide information to families in a timely manner as we strive to be nimble in the face of the evolving situation and recommendations from the CDC. Please be sure to watch for email communications for further details.
We know this can be an anxious time for children and families and, as always, we remain steadfast in making sure your children and family are safe and supported at RPCS. Here is an article from the New York Times and a comic for children from NPR to help you when talking with your children about coronavirus.
Coronavirus: What Kids Can Do (for children)
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Children's Story Book Released to Help Children and Young People Cope With COVID-19, World Health Organization
Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters, New York Times
When everything is canceled: How to help students make the most of their newfound free time, Washington Post
- Chicago Doctor’s Blunt Speech About COVID-19 Hits Home Across the Country, NBC News, Chicago
- This Can Be Our Finest Hour - But We Need All of You, GretchenSchmelzer.com
- Cancel Everything, The Atlantic
- Distance Learning During The Coronavirus Pandemic: Equity And Access Questions For School Leaders, Forbes
- The Other Problematic Outbreak (Racism and Xenophobia), The Atlantic
How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus, New York Times
COVID-19 Resources for Kids and Families, Johns Hopkins Children's Center
Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to Talk to Your Child, KidsHealth.org
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus: Kids worry more when they're kept in the dark, Child Mind Institute
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Your Questions Answered, KidsHealth.org
Coronavirus: What Kids Can Do (for children), KidsHealth.org
Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus, Teaching Tolerance
Maintaining Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Learning Environments, San Diego State University
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Do not come to school if you don’t feel well. Students, employees, and parents who are symptomatic of illness are encouraged to remain home until symptoms, including but not limited to coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and fever, subside. Teachers will work with students to ensure every effort is made to minimize academic impact.
Our internal Reopening Taskforce structure and group members can be viewed here. I invite you to review the various groups at work to understand our commitment to ensuring that we consider all aspects of health and safety (students, employees, and community members), campus operations, and the student experience in our planning.