Fall 20-21 Safety and Return Plan

Since March, the York Country Day School community has demonstrated resilience and adaptability as we faced the global pandemic. Now, as we prepare for the return to school, we have taken the lessons learned, the feedback gathered, and the research conducted, to provide a meaningful, dynamic, and engaging continuity of learning for all students while prioritizing the health and safety of all members of our community.

This communication contains the most current draft of our Fall 20-21 Safety and Return to Campus Plan. Given the evolving nature of pandemic and the requirements/recommendations from the CDC and PDE, the Task Force is closely monitoring the public health developments and reviewing YCDS policies and procedures.   

I am grateful to the many members of the Fall 20-21 Return Task Force who have worked tirelessly since May in the plan’s formation. The Task Force researched and modeled various opening scenarios and developed strategies for the fall reopening to best serve our community. Throughout this process, the Task Force prioritized the health, safety, and wellness of all community members while keeping our mission and community values at the center of this process. The members of the Task Force are community representatives from all divisions of the school, and medical and professional representatives. Additionally, the Task Force reviewed the thoughtful feedback from parents collected in our May 2020 survey. 

We remain in dialogue with medical professionals as the landscape evolves.   

Christine Heine, Ed.D.
Head of School

Below is the Fall 20-21 Safety and Return to Campus Plan: 

List of 13 items.

  • Overview of the Planning Process

    The Task Force researched and modeled various opening scenarios and developed strategies for the fall reopening to best serve our community. Throughout this process, the Task Force prioritized the health, safety, and wellness of all community members while keeping our mission and community values at the center of this process.  The Task Force closely followed the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and recommendations. The members of the Task Force are community representatives from all divisions of the school, and medical and professional representatives.  Additionally, the Task Force reviewed the thoughtful feedback from parents collected in our May 2020 survey. 

    Task Force Members:
    Head of School/Pandemic Director: Christine Heine, Ed.D.
    Pandemic Coordinator: Jake Doll
    Athletics Coordinator, Health Plan Coordinator with Nurse: Christina Aulbach 
    Communications, Policy Coordinator, Development Coordinator: Laura Burkey
    Lower School Coordinator, Student Policy Coordinator: Kari Miller 
    Middle School and Upper School Coordinator, Student Policy Coordinator: Matt Trump
    YCP Health and Safety Coordinators: Dr. M. Howie, Dr. E. Barr, and Amy Downs
    YCDS Health Coordinator: Colleen Simpson
    Policy Coordinator for faculty and staff, Policy Coordinator for Health and Safety: Kristen Rambeau-Myers
    Admissions, Financial Aid Response Coordinator, New Family Coordinator: Jamie Graham 
    Safety Plan Document Coordinator: Jill Bashada
    Facilities Coordinator, PPE Coordinator: Kevin Feil, Dr. Ken Martin
    York College of Pennsylvania Crisis Response Team
    YCDS Curriculum and Instruction Team: Mary Hunter, Will Estes, Jenn Wisnom, Jenn Kauffman, Jamie Graham, Elia Filippone  
    Visioning Committee for Student Success: Christine Heine, Molly Wertz, Kristi Spies, Paige Hoke, Stacey Filippone, Elia Filippone, Chrissa May, Jake Doll, Jamie Graham, Laura Burkey, Jillian Giese
  • Return to School - Teaching and Learning

    York Country Day School plans for all students to return to campus on August 25, 2020. We will operate using our normal daily schedule, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. As students and faculty return to school, the School will focus on safety protocol training, social and emotional wellness, and becoming better acquainted with new, temporary protocols and daily routines. It will take all of us working together to make this successful, and we are dedicated to transitioning the community back to campus with detailed training, unwavering compassion, and ongoing communication. Our learning scenarios for Fall 2020 will allow YCDS to adapt to changing conditions and provide continuity of learning, connection, and authentic engagement for our students.  

    Before-school and after-school enrichment programs will continue to operate on a limited, pre-registration basis. Division Heads will send this information directly to parents in August.

    The YCDS Task Force will continue to monitor public health developments, policies, and procedures. The School will continue to communicate changes, enhancements, and important announcements.

    There are three learning scenarios for Fall 2020 learning.  They are: 

    Scenario 1: On-campus learning model – students return for in-person instruction, with modifications to promote safety and mitigate exposure to COVID-19.

    Students return to campus in grade-level cohorts and remain with grade-level cohorts throughout the day. Some Middle and Upper School students will have limited cross-cohort blending in foreign language and mathematics. Grades 11 and 12 are one combined cohort and remain so throughout the day.  As much as possible, all cohort classes and activities will take place in their designated area only (in addition to outdoor spaces whenever possible) to mitigate exposure.

    YCDS has arranged for spacious outdoor tents to be installed mid-August. These tents, along with new and numerous picnic tables placed throughout the grounds will provide ample opportunity for outdoor classes, outdoor recess for all grade levels, despite weather conditions, and a lunch seating option. Our School will take advantage of good weather and use the outdoors as a place to learn, play, and study. 

    All YCDS classrooms have been inventoried for size and accessibility to ensure physical distancing for each student and faculty member.  

    Scenario 2: Hybrid learning model – an option for all families to accommodate those not comfortable or who may be immuno-compromised to attend in-person, will learn remotely from home, with synchronous instruction and asynchronous coursework as well. The hybrid learning model will differ by grade and by division. Details of the hybrid learning model day will be shared directly by Division Heads to parents. An addendum to the YCDS Student Handbook related to remote instruction will be shared in August by Division Heads with parents and students. 

    Some students will choose to participate in remote, live instruction. YCDS has invested in a number of new technologies, such as Logitech cameras, which integrate with Zoom and microphones to better enhance sound delivery and reception.

    All faculty members engaged in intensive professional development to better prepare for live remote instruction and to incorporate Google Classroom as a universal, streamlined platform to access materials, assignments, grades, and communication.  

    Scenario 3: Remote learning model – all students move to remote learning from home, with live instruction, adhering to state or county orders or if the administration feels it necessary to close campus due to COVID-19 exposure.

    In the event that York Country Day School will not be permitted to open due to state or county orders, or if the Administration finds it necessary due to COVID-19 exposure, faculty are trained, equipped, and prepared to host live virtual instruction four days per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with Wednesday serving as an asynchronous learning day for students. Daily schedules will be dependent upon grade level.  Additional information will be shared by division heads.
  • Daily Home Health Screening and Community Pledge

    Families will be required to perform a Daily Home Health assessment each school day prior to their child’s arrival.  This information will not be collected by York Country Day School. Instead, all community members will be asked to sign and to honor the YCDS Community Pledge. All families will be asked to begin daily screening two weeks prior to returning to school.  This will be required earlier for student-athletes planning to arrive for summer team training sessions (See: Athletics Health & Safety Plan). This document will be shared with families on July 15, under separate cover,  and must be returned by August 19.  All parents must check their child for signs and symptoms of possible illness before attending school each day.  YCDS employees will monitor students for symptoms throughout the day. 
  • Flexible Attendance Policy

    We will honor and promote a flexible attendance policy. Any community member exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19 will remain at home and monitor health closely. Any student who has encountered direct exposure to COVID-19 should quarantine for 10 days before returning to campus, symptom-free. Students may participate in class sessions through remote instruction. This will provide continuity in learning. Faculty and Division Heads shared grade-specific schedules with families in August.
  • Health and Safety

    York Country Day School will take preventative measures to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other resources. 
    Cleaning and disinfecting schedule
    There will be increased cleaning across campus by our custodial services team. The frequency and type of cleaning for each space will be determined by its purpose and volume of use. Many academic spaces will be cleaned often throughout the day, and more common spaces will be cleaned twice per day. Designated high-traffic areas, such as door handles, hand railings, and restrooms, will be cleaned multiple times per day. Antiseptic wipes will be available in classrooms. Custodial services has ordered antiviral fumigation equipment to use regularly.

    Face coverings
    All community members will be expected to wear face coverings while on the YCDS campus, in classrooms, and outside.  Students will be given many face covering breaks throughout the day.  Students are expected to have several face coverings available for use each day in case one is soiled during the academic day. 

    Face coverings should:
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the face
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops
    • Allow for breathing without restriction
    • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
    The School will have a supply of disposable face masks should one be needed.  

    Face coverings must be either a solid color or pattern. Face coverings should not contain writing, logos (other than brand logos), symbols, or content resembling Halloween or what can be interpreted to be frightening in nature. 
    Face shields can be worn in certain instances for students and faculty with recommendations from a health provider. A discussion with a health provider can serve as an insightful conversation as one considers best options and recommendations for specific health-related  concerns. Please contact Colleen Simpson, YCDS School Nurse, to discuss a request for face covering policy accommodation.  
    According to many health agencies, face shields are not a substitute for masks rather an additional safeguard. 
    Below are the most recent (as of 8/14/2020) recommendations related to face coverings from leading health organizations:
    AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) Covering Guidance:
    The following guidelines are recommended for wearing cloth face coverings: 
    • Face coverings should cover both your nose and mouth and should be well-fitted to minimize gaps around your nose and chin. 
    • Cloth face masks should have at least two layers (three layers when possible). Studies have shown a double-layer cloth face covering was significantly better at reducing the droplet spread caused by coughing and sneezing, as compared to a single-layer mask.
    • Additional do’s and don’ts for mask wearing can be found at amc.org/covidroadmap/masks.
    When mandatory face covering requirements are in effect, they should account for differences in the way the coronavirus spreads indoors versus outside:

    • The use of face coverings is critically important when indoors. Superspreader events, in which an infected individual causes many subsequent infections, are likely to occur indoors.
    • Everyone two years of age and older should wear a mask indoors around people who do not live in their household, including in elevators, restaurants, cars, buses, and airplanes.
      • If you are inside your own house and only around members of your household, masks are not needed.
    • All businesses open to the public, no matter how limited, should insist that all customers wear masks while indoors
    • Everyone 2 years of age and older should wear a mask in public settings.
    • When outdoors and expecting to be around others, the safest option is to wear a mask, even when briefly passing by others (e.g., running or walking by someone on the sidewalk).  
    • If you are outdoors and not expecting to be around others, masks are not needed.
    • Avoid nonessential activities and gatherings that bring people within six feet of each other or cause a more forceful exhalation, such as playing sports or singing, with or without face coverings.
    CDC Face Covering Guidance:
    A mask may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice (e.g., while shouting, chanting, or singing). These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (are “asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (are “pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
    Why it is important to wear a mask:
    Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants). Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

    The masks recommended here are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Masks are not personal protective equipment (PPE). They are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
    • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
    • Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
    • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • Masks with exhalation valves or vents should NOT be worn to help prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19 to others (source control).
    Masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain. CDC’s recommendations for masks will be updated as new scientific evidence becomes available.
    Feasibility and Adaptations
    CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation or for some people. In some situations, wearing a mask may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or introduce significant safety concerns. Adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a mask or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one.

    For example,
    • People who are deaf or hard of hearing — or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired — may be unable to wear masks if they rely on lipreading to communicate. In this situation, consider using a clear mask. If a clear mask isn’t available, consider whether you can use written communication, use closed captioning, or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a mask that blocks your lips.
    •  Some people, such as people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other sensory sensitivities, may have challenges wearing a mask. They should consult with their health care provider for advice about wearing masks.
    • Younger children (e.g., preschool or early elementary aged) may be unable to wear a mask properly, particularly for an extended period of time. Wearing of masks may be prioritized at times when it is difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others (e.g., during carpool drop off or pick up, or when standing in line at school). Ensuring proper mask size and fit and providing children with frequent reminders and education on the importance and proper wear of masks may help address these issues.
    • People should not wear masks while engaged in activities that may cause the mask to become wet, like when swimming at the beach or pool. A wet mask may make it difficult to breathe. For activities like swimming, it is particularly important to maintain physical distance from others when in the water.
    • People who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to wear a mask, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.
    • People who work in a setting where masks may increase the risk of heat-related illness or cause safety concerns due to introduction of a hazard (for instance, straps getting caught in machinery) may consult with an occupational safety and health professional to determine the appropriate mask for their setting. Outdoor workers may prioritize use of masks when in close contact with other people, like during group travel or shift meetings, and remove masks when social distancing is possible. Find more information here and below.
    Masks are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult. If masks cannot be used, make sure to take other measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
    Masks with Exhalation Valves or Vents
    The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others.  This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent.
    Face Shields
     A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

    However, wearing a mask may not be feasible in every situation for some people for example, people who are deaf or hard of hearing — or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired. Here are some considerations for individuals who must wear a face shield instead of a mask. Although evidence on face shields is limited, the available data suggest that the following face shields may provide better source control than others:
    •  Face shields that wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend below the chin.
    •  Hooded face shields.
    • Face shield wearers should wash their hands before and after removing the face shield and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth when removing it.
    • Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use and disposed of according to manufacturer instructions.
    • Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use according to manufacturer instructions or by following CDC face shield cleaning instructions 
    • Plastic face shields for newborns and infants are NOT recommended.
    Surgical Masks
    Masks are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. Masks also are not appropriate substitutes for them in workplaces where surgical masks or respirators are recommended or required and available.
    Physical distancing 
    Community members will practice physical distancing in combination with other everyday preventative actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing will be employed at all times, in all spaces for all community members. 

    In order to promote physical distancing on campus, YCDS Community spaces, including the student lounge, senior lounge, study rooms, dining and living rooms, and couch areas, will be allocated to cohorts. Communal spaces will not be used by mixed cohorts and will be assigned to specific cohorts as described below. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer stations will be available in areas throughout the building.

    Wearing of face covering is required by all school members when moving through common spaces. 

    A distance of 6 feet is to be maintained between individuals.

    Hallways are now one direction and marked accordingly throughout the building. 

    Assigned community spaces will be as follows:

    1. The green roof will be used by the grade 5 cohort only when supervised by a faculty member.
    2. The 1st floor back staircase lounge area will be used by the grade 1 cohort (no more than 3 students) only when supervised by a faculty member.
    3. The US courtyard will be used by the grade 8 cohort with supervision.
    4. The MS/US student lounge will be used by the grades 11 & 12 cohort.

    Outdoor spaces at YCDS include the playground, basketball court, and athletic field areas outside of the gymnasium and rear Lower School entrances. Additional gathering areas will be sectioned off for outdoor classroom or recess use, where possible.

    Students will remain in cohorts and will use scheduled outdoor spaces for classes and recess. Daily monitored outdoor activity will be promoted, whenever possible.

    When outdoors, students and employees will adhere to School guidelines related to physical distancing and face covering policy.

    Hand sanitizer stations will be available at the entrances for students and staff to use to exit/enter the building.

    Following the CDC guidelines, the playground at YCDS will require routine cleaning and will be subject to disinfection by YCDS facilities and building staff, as needed.

    Signage will be placed throughout the campus on best practices.

    All large gatherings and events will be virtual.  

    Hand hygiene
    Community members will wash hands frequently throughout the day. Additional no-touch hand sanitizer dispensers are installed throughout the building, along with touchless soap and paper towel dispensers in the restrooms. Signage is placed throughout the campus on best practices. 

    All students will eat lunch within their grade-level cohort in their designated classrooms or outside spaces. Both hot and cold lunch selections will be offered, and selection will be electronically submitted by parents two weeks in advance through the lunch order system. Chartwells will box all student lunches, and deliver to student cohorts during regular lunch times. Students must supply their own snacks for snack time. Lunches from home can be sent with students, if a family chooses.

    All water fountains will be turned off throughout campus.  Students will be expected to bring a refillable water bottle to school each day. Students may refill their bottles at one of our many contactless water refill stations in the building. 

    Arrival and departure 
    The School has designated five access points for student cohorts to enter and exit the building each day to promote physical distancing. Detailed information related to drop-off and pickup will be shared by Division Heads in August. 

    Social and Emotional Health
    We will continue to prioritize student social-emotional wellness as your child transitions back to school and throughout the coming year. Mr. Thomas Nemetz, Coordinator of Mental Health and Wellness, will be working collaboratively with all community members to provide support and address the possible emotional consequences of the epidemic. We will continue and enhance Responsive Classroom methods, advisory, and both grade and virtual divisional assemblies to address issues that impact our students, our communities, and current events that impact the lives of our students.  
  • Physical Education

    Physical education will be restructured as a whole-child approach to incorporate physical activity, outdoor activities, and wellness outside of the gymnasium setting. Outdoor physical activity will be thoughtfully crafted to reflect the most current research and national standards in school. All students will spend time outdoors during PE classes, recess, and during breaks.
  • Athletics

    York Country Day School is awaiting a decision from the PIAA about the fall athletics program. Voluntary athletic activities will begin for fall sports starting the week of July 26, 2020. The following is a summary of measures, which will be put in place based on the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Health, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and multiple healthcare providers. 
    • All coaches and athletes will sign a community pledge before participating in athletic activities.
    • All athletes, coaches, and staff will attest to daily home screenings before athletic activities. Screenings include temperature and symptom checks.
    • Athletes must come dressed for workouts wearing a face covering. Locker rooms will not be available until further notice.
    • Coaches and athletes must wear face coverings unless they are outdoors and can consistently maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet. Athletes are not required to wear face coverings while engaged in workouts, but must wear face coverings when on the sidelines and anytime 6 feet of physical distancing is not possible.
    • Athletes must bring their own water bottle to workouts. Hydration stations will be available for refilling.
    • Athletic training procedures will be adjusted to limit time in close contact and allow for physical distancing to be practiced.
    • Athletes will remain with their assigned coaches and in small groups for the duration of training sessions. Teams will not be combined for training.
    • Coaches will phase athletes into activity by completing an acclimation period of strength and conditioning and individual skill work at workout sessions before advancing to team drills.
    • Team huddles, hand shakes, and high fives are not permitted.
    • Disinfection procedures will be set in place to ensure clean equipment after each workout.
    • All head and assistant coaches will be trained and provided with adequate supplies to meet the guidelines

    The full Athletics Health and Safety plan can be obtained and reviewed by contacting the YCDS Athletic Department. Any preseason activity prior to the PIAA official fall season start date of August 17, 2020, is voluntary. Winter and spring sports will begin off-season workouts at a later date, yet to be determined.

    The athletic department will continue to monitor local developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic to adjust athletic policy as needed to protect all athletes in our care. 
  • The Arts and Electives

    York Country Day School will continue to offer performing arts, fine arts, music, robotics, digital media, and other electives. Certain modifications have been made to align with the safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Additional information was shared by the Division Heads in August.
  • Transportation

    Field trips 
    All off-campus field trips are currently suspended. 

    Bus Transportation to and from YCDS 
    York Country Day School is working in partnership with local school districts as they begin to finalize their transportation schedules. Bus transportation changes will be dependent on student location.  
  • YCP Connect

    Students in grades 11 and 12 will receive additional information related to York College of Pennsylvania classes as it becomes available. Mr. Doll will communicate with parents and students related to these updates.
  • Campus Access

    Until further notice, all nonessential visitors including parents, guest speakers, college representatives, and alumni, are prohibited. For business-critical visits, such as postal mail carriers and food vendors, all visitors are expected to adhere to CDC recommendations, which includes the requirement to properly wear a face covering while inside York Country Day School. 
  • Communication and Outreach

    The School will communicate regularly via email and social media (Facebook and Instagram) with all families. In addition to our regular communication, the School will send helpful reminders about safety precautions.  
  • Parent and Student Orientation and Training

    York Country Day School will provide families with training sessions to promote best practices for remote learning. During August 2020, families will be offered three different training sessions to access and navigate learning platforms. Division Heads will share these dates with families directly.

    YCDS students will receive orientation and training related to community safety procedures, daily routines, and technology during the first week of school.