COVID-19 has upended life as we know it in the world and certainly in our schools. At a moment like this, communities must consider their strengths and leverage them in adapting to this new normal. With the emergence of the Delta variant, vaccinated individuals are becoming sick and also susceptible to transmitting the virus to others. We hope our students ages 5-11 will soon be eligible to receive a vaccine. Students ages 3 and 4 will have to wait longer for an approved vaccine. With this in mind, we expect that each member of the Grace community agrees to norms and expectations as a greater commitment to each other and our wish to stay safe. It also requires us to recommit to what we value as a community.
What We Value
- We prioritize the health and safety of each individual in our community.
- We value connection with one another and cultivating strong relationships between students and their peers and teachers. Our students grow developmentally when they are in proximity to their peers.
- We value play as a mode for deep inquiry and we believe this is most possible to achieve in person.
- We have a personal responsibility to keep ourselves and one another safe from the virus as we bring groups back together.
Parent and Student Commitments
- Act safely and responsibly when you are outside of school: follow social distancing measures as defined by the CDC and wear a mask in public settings; do not attend large gatherings or participate in team sports or recreational activities that do not abide by appropriate safeguards for COVID-19 protection.
- Limit playdates to students in your child’s cohort. Stick to outdoor activities, whenever possible, with social distancing and mask-wearing.
- Make all efforts to avoid travel to areas with large COVID-19 outbreaks. Please refer to the CDC’s guidelines for travel to determine what these areas are (International Travel Guidelines). If a student has traveled to one of these high transmission areas, please follow testing and quarantine guidelines. Virtual learning will not be available to travel-related quarantines.
- Parents, grandparents, and caregivers will not be allowed inside the building or on the playground during school hours. This does not apply to Preschool and Prekindergarten at drop-off when parents will bring students to the playground and conduct a screening.
- All students will be screened by a Grace faculty or staff member every morning.
- Masks will be required for all participants within the school building at all times. The mask should fit comfortably and cover your child’s nose and mouth. Masks with valves are not permitted.
- Children who have any symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend school. These symptoms include a temperature of 99.5 or above, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, chills or shaking, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose. Do not give fever- or pain-reducing medication to your child before bringing them to school.
- If a Grace family member or a student tests positive, we would expect that the family would inform the school; information will be shared with the County Health Department as required by law. The Health Department will direct the school with the next steps.
- Inform your child’s teacher as soon as possible if your child is having a difficult time adjusting to new procedures or keeping up with schoolwork.
- Provide a dedicated classroom space that allows physical distancing for each student and teacher assigned to that space.
- Require proof of vaccination from all employees.
- Conduct daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
- Maintain a backup supply of face masks for students and staff.
- Provide hand sanitizer throughout the campus.
- Minimize and manage movement in and around campus buildings to maintain at least 3 feet of distance between community members.
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality.
- Immediately separate and isolate a student or employee who develops symptoms during the school day.
- Report to the Montgomery County health department as required by law when there is a confirmed case on campus and follow their guidelines for immediate and thorough contact tracing, for possible campus closure, and for cleaning and disinfecting.
- Monitor local and national transmission rates, cases, and trends daily and re-evaluate protocols and procedures as necessary in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Community COVID-19 testing requirements
Grace is committed to providing the safest possible environment for our students and staff. Data show that regular surveillance testing adds an important layer of mitigation by identifying asymptomatic cases. Therefore, through the end of October and subject to extension, Grace is asking all families to provide a weekly (PCR) covid test result.
To make testing more convenient, we have contracted with Virant Diagnostics to provide weekly on-site (PCR) covid testing. Locally based in Wheaton, MD, Virant will provide PCR tests to test students and staff, and same-day lab results which will be shared with families through a secure web portal. Testing fees will be submitted directly through your insurance.
Virant Registration: If your student was registered in the 2020-2021 school year, there is no need to re-register. Newly enrolled students who plan to participate will need to register online. Virant has provided us with a registration video to help guide you through the process. Registration takes about 5 minutes. You will be asked to select an appointment date for your student. You will also need to grant consent to the lab to share results with Grace. Please Note: Registration is not complete until you see a page that says “Appointment Confirmed.”
Virant Testing: Virant uses a nasal swab technique that collects material from just inside a patient’s nose. It is far less invasive than other testing methods. Registered students will be tested during morning arrival on Wednesdays in either the MPR (Kindergarten-Grade 5) or the main hallway (Preschool and Prekindergarten).
Insurance: Virant will bill your insurance directly. If your insurance company pays only a portion of the contracted fee ($150), Virant will not bill you for your copay or coinsurance amount. If you have a high deductible and/or your deductible has not yet been met, contacting your insurance company in advance is advised since they might bill you for the testing. In this instance, it might make more sense financially to continue surveillance testing through county or state facilities. If you don’t have insurance but would like to participate in the Virant program, please contact Noelle McHugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.