Reopening Plan: "One Grace": Connected Remote Learning / On-Campus Learning

"One Grace" UPDATE (April 9, 2021): Five days per week of on-campus learning begins April 12, 2021


March 25, 2021

Dear Grace Community,

Grace will move to five days of in-person learning beginning Monday, April 12.  We have been monitoring metrics in our area and feel prepared to make this next step based on the following:

  1. Our large classrooms and building have allowed for good distancing and the ability to have distinct cohorts for each grade.
  2. Our students have managed the protocols well, especially the wearing of masks throughout the day.
  3. We have been doing assurance testing for three weeks and have had no positive results.
  4. Luigi LaPietra and Melissa Lafionatis designed four different schedules including a fully in-person schedule - we will now turn to that for the spring!

We are looking forward to these final months of school in person with our students.  We hope that you will continue to keep us informed about any assistance or information we can provide to support your child's return to Grace.  We will continue to offer remote learning to families who choose it for COVID-related reasons.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out. 


Jennifer Danish, Head of Grace Episcopal Day School

Guiding principles

  • The health and safety of the entire Grace community: students, faculty, and parents
  • Designing for flexibility and adaptability
  • Our commitment to equity and inclusion
  • Ensuring robust learning and academics, and keeping the teacher/student relationship at the center
  • Preserving a caring community, and maintaining connections

Important operational dates

Tues., Jan. 19, 2021 Beginning of “One Grace”: Connected Remote Learning / On-Campus Learning
Fri., Feb. 5, 2021 Update on operational phase (options to continue offering current on-campus attendance schedule or to move to full on-campus instruction option)
Mon. Feb. 8, 2021 Next chance to join On-Campus Learning for families who had opted out
Mon. Apr. 12, 2021 Beginning of five days per week of “One Grace”: On-Campus Learning 

Return to Campus Agreement

Community Commitments

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. Until we have a vaccine, none of us will be truly safe from the virus if we choose to re-enter our work and school communities. 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 each 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 Maryland Department of Health’s recommendations to determine what these areas are. If a student has traveled to one of these areas, please follow testing and quarantine guidelines as outlined in the document linked to above.
  • If your child has been attending events without masks or social distancing, we ask that you keep them home for 10 days, learning remotely.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 PreK 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 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.
  • Parents will keep symptomatic children at home. 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. They will direct the school with 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. 

School Commitments

  • Provide a dedicated classroom space that allows physical distancing for each student and teacher assigned to that space.
  • Screen faculty and staff each day upon arrival.
  • Conduct daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
  • Provide face masks for all employees.
  • Maintain a supply of face masks for students who forget to bring one to school.
  • Provide hand sanitizer throughout the campus.
  • Minimize and manage movement in and around campus buildings to maintain at least 6 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.
  • Immediately inform the community if a student or employee who has been on-campus tests positive for COVID-19; report to the Montgomery County health department as required by law and follow their guidelines for immediate and thorough contact-tracing, for possible campus closure, and for cleaning and disinfecting.

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 April, 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: Families that choose 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 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 

We are thrilled to be able to offer this convenient testing option on campus and to bring regular surveillance testing to our community as we increase our in-person instruction. Please contact Noelle McHugh or Jen Danish if you have any further questions.

Health, Safety, and Procedures


Staff and students will wear masks while onsite unless drinking or eating. Please Note: masks with valves are not permitted.

Handwashing and sanitizing

After screening and arrival (procedures designated below), all students will clean their hands with either sanitizer or soap and water (see grade-specific procedures on following pages)

Each classroom will have soap and water, as well as sanitizer, available. 

Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at: 

  • Bathrooms (north and south)
  • South exit door (soccer field) 
  • East exit door (playground) 
  • Main entrance 

Arrival screening

Each morning, staff and students will be screened for COVID symptoms which include: 

  • 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 
  • congestion or runny nose 

Anyone arriving with one of these symptoms will be sent home with instructions to see their healthcare provider. Return to school is dependent on diagnosis. For information about return, see Maryland DOH / DOE Decision Aid chart included in this presentation or on our website.

Arrival procedures

Arrival procedures differ depending on grade: 

 Preschool and Prekindergarten Arrival: 

  • Drop-off for all students will be between 8:30-9:00 am. 
  • Parents wearing a mask will walk their child wearing a mask to the playground (around the north end of the building). 
  • Parents will use hand sanitizer at the outdoor station prior to greeting a staff member for screening. 
  • A staff member will observe the parent taking the child’s temperature with the family's thermometer. Please Note: MD Child Care Licensing requires that a parent provide the thermometer and take the child’s temperature. (Staff member will provide a thermometer if necessary). 
  • The staff member will ask additional screening questions and record information. 
  • If a student fails the screening questions or presents with a temperature of 99.5 or above, the parent will take the child home with a recommendation to see a healthcare provider. For information about return, see Maryland DOH / DOE Decision Aid Chart included below.
  • If cleared to attend, the student will enter the classroom and wash their hands with soap and water.

Kindergarten-Grade 5 Arrival: 

  • Drop-off for all students will be between 8:30-9:00 am. 
  • Students will arrive wearing a mask.
  • A staff member wearing a mask will greet the family in the carpool line, do a temperature check and ask screening questions while the student is in the car. 
  • If a student fails the screening questions or presents with a temperature of 99.5 or above, the parent will take the child home with a recommendation to see a healthcare provider. For information about return, see Maryland DOH / DOE Decision Aid chart below.
  • All students will sanitize hands as they enter the building. If there is already a child at the sanitizing station, other children will wait outside until the space is clear. 

Lunch and Snacks

(Preschool-Grade 5) 

  • Students will bring snacks and filled water bottles from home. 
  • Preschool and Prek students will still be served milk provided by the school during snack. 
  • Masks will not be required during snack but ample physical distancing will be maintained. 
  • Students will eat lunch in their classrooms. These eating times will be silent while masks are removed.

Nap (Preschool / Prek)

All full-day Preschool and Prekindergarten students will take a nap while onsite. Per state regulations for safe napping, children will be unmasked and spaced more than six feet away from one another. 

Illness/Symptoms during the day

If a child becomes ill or symptomatic during the day, a staff member will text Ms. McHugh.  If the student presents with any COVID-19 symptom (listed above), the child will be isolated from the other students and staff. The family will be contacted and expected to pick up the student within the hour. 

Dismissal procedures

Pick-up for all students will be between 3:10-3:35 pm. Dismissal procedures differ depending on grade: 

Preschool and Prekindergarten Dismissal

  • Parents/guardians will park and walk around the north end of the building to the playground (while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask) to pick up their children from the Preschool door that opens to the early childhood playground. 

K-Grade 5 Dismissal

  • Staff will call students as cars arrive and make sure they safely enter vehicles. 

Campus Space Use

Building and Campus Access

For everyone’s safety, only staff and enrolled students will be allowed on the playground and inside the building. Exceptions to the rule are Preschool and Prekindergarten parents during arrival or dismissal and essential visitors (contract repairs) who will be masked and screened upon arrival. Deliveries and mail will be left outside at the main door.

Oneness Family School

Oneness Family School High School students may be on campus in their classrooms on the north end. Oneness has similar screening, health, and safety procedures to Grace. 

Grace administrators keep very close daily contact with Oneness administrators and teachers.

Building ventilation and classroom measures

Grace’s HVAC system has newly installed filtration.

Each classroom is outfitted with a Medify air purifier that cleans air every 35 minutes.  

All classroom windows will be opened regularly for fresh air circulation and each class group will have an overflow space to use throughout the day (see below for more information). 

All Grace classrooms have been reconfigured by teachers so that each student has desk or table space that is at least 6 feet apart from any other student.  Rugs, pillows, and other soft surfaces have been removed to control surface transmission.

Daily Cleaning/Disinfecting: 

Housekeeping staff will be onsite every day that our students are. 

Cleaning staff will use an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer multiple times each day on high-touch areas, including classroom surfaces, bathrooms, and shared equipment and spaces.

All door handles have been outfitted with self-sanitizing covers. 

Disinfectant spray and microfiber cloths will be stored in all classrooms for spot cleaning.

Backup spaces for classrooms

Every class at Grace will have a designated backup space available for its exclusive use. This space will allow the main classroom to be cleaned at least once a day. It also allows our teachers to separate groups if necessary. The backup space will also be outfitted with a Medify air purifier that cleans air every 35 minutes

Designated spaces on playground

Each class will have a designated time for morning recess and lunchtime recess that reduces cohort mixing, even outdoors. Each class will also have a dedicated, separate outdoor space which can be accessed at any time. 

Designated times in bathrooms as far as possible

As much as possible, students in each class will have a designated bathroom time. Of course, bathrooms are also available to individual students on an as-needed basis. 

Operational Status and Closure

There exists a very real possibility that we may have to shift unexpectedly to fully remote learning due to a rising caseload amongst our students, staff, or community; to exposure in a single or multiple classrooms; to state or community mandates and limits on gathering numbers; or to a staff shortage. 

As a small school, Grace does not have the resources to contract with a private medical service for testing. However, all community members will get tested before we return on-campus.

To do all we can to keep on-campus instruction running, we will need full cooperation from our families and employees. Every family that chooses on-campus instruction should be willing to abide by our Community Commitments and Parent and Student Commitments. 

We will use email and our text messaging system to communicate all necessary closures to families.