Reopening Information

September 24, 2020


We are so excited to start the process of welcoming the students back to 301 Freedom Place South next week! Our online start to the school year is achieving what we had hoped by laying a strong academic foundation for the year and providing ample opportunities to meet new teachers and classmates and forge strong connections. I am grateful for everyone’s engagement and support.

And now our faculty and staff are eager to see the boys in person! As we prepare to do so, I write today with some very important information about protocols for being in the building and steps we can all take to ensure we stay in the building for as long as possible.

Regarding our return to the building, the boys need to be aware of new protocols and procedures. Some are division specific, and for those, please see these letters from our Division Heads: 
In terms of schoolwide protocols and procedures, we have created an informative video for both you and your children that shares what it will look like to enter the building, navigate hallways and stairwells, move into our classrooms, follow some of our safety protocols, and see the nurse if you begin to feel ill. You can access the video here.

Community Expectations

Regarding the steps we can all take to keep us in 301 FPS as long as possible, I share with our community a list of norms and expectations that all of us should follow. The school’s ability to enforce these are limited, given that so much depends on our students’ and their family members’ decisions outside of the school day. So what I detail below is based upon a community honor system and a shared investment in this goal: to keep our school community healthy and stay in the building as long as possible. As the adage goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is certainly the case with COVID-19. We must all take pains to stay healthy and to avoid bringing the virus into the building. To these ends, every community member must:

  • Adhere to state and city regulations and guidelines when it comes to gatherings, out-of-state travel, quarantines (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory), and other restrictions. This includes a student quarantining for 14 days even if a family member has traveled to a state or country on the state’s mandatory quarantine list.

  • Stay home when you are not feeling well. Please remember that any student can Zoom into his classes when at home, so no one should panic about missing school days.

  • Understand that your participation in activities outside of school (athletic, artistic, social, etc.) could increase your risk of contracting and bringing the virus back to 301 Freedom Place South. Take all precautions to keep yourself healthy and avoid gatherings or activities that put you in close contact with others.

  • Follow our in-building protocols and procedures and listen to the directions of faculty and staff.

  • Communicate candidly and quickly with the school’s nurse or appropriate staff members about any health concerns.

  • If there is a suspected positive case in the school, participate willingly and honestly in any contract tracing efforts so that we can identify others who may have been infected.

  • Please get a flu shot for your son(s). Anything we can do to prevent additional illness will again help everyone stay healthy and keep us in school.
I remind everyone that I laid out expectations in my July 31st letter to our community, plus in an email directly to students in grades 7-12 (I have pasted that portion of the letter below). I emphasize what will be our prompt enforcement of these safety rules in the building, which could include students being sent home immediately and potentially not being allowed to return. Enforcement will be done in an age-appropriate way and as instructively as possible, but I am sure that everyone understands that we must be stricter when it comes to health and safety violations.

Weekly Required Testing for COVID-19:

As everyone knows, every student returning to the building is required to present a negative COVID-19 test. These results should be obtained through private testing and the results should be uploaded to the students’ Magnus Health portal, as detailed in the recent email from Nurse Sharon McGahan. 

Additionally, the school has contracted with JCM Analytics to conduct mandatory weekly testing of everyone in our community expected to be in the building during our phase-in schedule from September 29th through October 19th. Our testing regimen will be a weekly round of pool testing using an FDA-approved testing kit for viral RNA. For more information on pool testing, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/pooling-procedures.html.

Conducting weekly testing of everyone in the building will provide our community an important health and safety measure against the spread of the virus. On Fridays (October 2nd, October 9th, and October 16th), the school will send home an easy-to-use nasal swab test with each student, faculty, and staff member who is in the building that week, according to our phase-in schedule. (This swab is for the front of the nostrils, not the one that goes way back into the sinus.) The test should be completed at home on Sunday evening and the sample brought back to school on the first day of the following week (October 5th, October 13th, and October 19th). Every person coming to the building is required to be tested, and no student will be allowed into school the next week without their sample. If there are no positives, school will proceed as usual. If there is a positive result, we will respond accordingly according to New York DOH guidelines and in consultation with local health officials.  

You can find additional information from JCM Analytics about pool testing in this slide presentation, and can find answers to many questions in this FAQ.

To proceed with this testing regimen, every family must complete an online consent form before October 1st. This consent form can be found as a required form in Connect. Until you’ve completed it, the form link appears in the yellow bar at the top of the page when you log into Collegiate Connect. Again, this is a requirement for any child who is returning to the building. If you have any additional questions about the testing process, please email us at reopening2020@collegiateschool.org

Requiring testing in these opening weeks will give us the best chance to stay open and keep our community healthy. We plan to require this testing for the first three weeks of in-building school, and depending on the results over that period, we may adjust the frequency and scope after that time. We will keep you informed of any changes. 

Adhering to this weekly testing requirement and committing to shared community norms and expectations reflects our school motto: In Unity, There is Strength. The success of this entire school year, and most especially our efforts to stay healthy and to remain in the building, will require a team effort. The school cannot monitor the boys’ behavior and decisions once they leave school each day and for the weekend, so we are relying on them and their parents to make safe choices that will benefit us individually and collectively. As always, please send any questions or comments you may have to reopening2020@collegiateschool.org so that we can ensure a timely and appropriate response. 

I wish all of you good health and am eager to see the boys in person come next week.

David