August 20, 2021
Off to a Good Start!
We have officially completed the first week of the 2021/2022 school year! Even with all of the COVID Delta variant concerns, it was a typical start to school in many ways. Students were eager to get on campus to see their MSA friends and teachers, some for the first time. There were the traditional "first-day-of-school photos" and lots of new tote bags/backpacks, lunch boxes, and supplies - all the beginnings of a great school year!
The best news of the week is that it was uneventful in terms of COVID, but our focused efforts each and every day, each week will be required to keep our students and staff healthy. We are fortunate that with our small, committed community we can do what is necessary to protect each other and minimize the risk of transmission. Working together with a strong home/school partnership, we can greatly reduce the likelihood that someone in our community will become infected.
MSA is once again practicing a layered mitigation strategy including, but not limited to, temperature screening, advanced cleaning and sanitizing, air purification, cohorting, and outdoor learning spaces. As an additional layer of mitigation to reduce the spread of COVID, MSA is partnering with the Clemson CLIA lab in a pilot program to make COVID-19 Saliva PCR testing available to our employees twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays). Once this program has been fully implemented, this opportunity will be expanded to include age-appropriate students on a voluntary basis at no cost to you or the school. Be on the lookout for more information to come!
For your part, we are counting on you to keep your children home when they are not feeling well and to communicate any possible exposure to COVID that your child(ren) or someone in your household may have had. We also strongly encourage wearing a mask daily (PR-HS).
Looking ahead, Labor Day weekend is just around the corner. This is traditionally a time to get away or to visit with friends and family. We understand the need to do those things even during this health crisis, but we ask you to continue taking precautions so that we remain healthy after we return to school.
Please report any suspected positive COVID-19 exposures to the school nurse - firstname.lastname@example.org. (This will be handled on a case-by-case basis, but certain situations may necessitate quarantining or testing before a child is able to return to campus per SC DHEC.)
MSA will communicate with families about known positive COVID-19 situations when your child may have been directly exposed on our campus. Due to HIPAA regulations, however, no personal information may be shared and communication will be limited to families in the affected classroom, program, or building unless there is a school-wide situation as deemed by SC DHEC.
Just like any year, a child’s education is a partnership between home and school and that relationship has never been more important than now. We want your child(ren) to experience the benefits of an exceptional Montessori education on campus and in person with as few interruptions as possible and as part of a healthy community all year long!
Peace, love, & Montessori,
Dr. Dana Hill
I hope that you and your family are staying healthy and well. First, let me begin by sharing with you how proud I am of your student(s) and our MSA employees. Last academic year, the entire community did an extraordinary job of maintaining mask usage, socially distancing, practicing hand and respiratory hygiene and being "all in" for following procedures and mitigation strategies in order to ensure safely being able to have face-to-face education.
MSA continues to follow CDC and SCDHEC interim guidelines which are updated regularly. The data changes rapidly and we continue to monitor the students, teachers and staff's health, follow new procedures and protocols and make the best decisions for our MSA community. These changes are based on the safest practice and at times, may be inconvenient but these changes are for everyone's safety and hopefully, in time, will be temporary. If this crisis hasn't taught us anything, it has taught us that children and adults alike are agile and adaptation is instinctual. I have had the privilege to witness it daily at MSA. MSA is committed to educating the children in the safest environment possible and to nurture their academic, physical and mental health needs.
If you have not already done so, please visit the school nurse webpage on the MSA website. You will find resources for Covid-19, Return to School information, immunization schedules, etc. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at email@example.com.
During Covid-19, some children may have missed well check-ups or immunization appointments. It is important to continue to be proactive in maintaining current wellness visits with the healthcare providers. These visits are a time to review and discuss each of the important areas of your child's growth and development, including physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. Many offices offer special office hour procedures, telehealth options, and make every effort to keep you and your child safe during the visit.
Health reminders for a safe 2021-2022 academic year:
MSA Infectious Disease Policy:
Children are expected to be in good health when in school. All students must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school (without taking fever-reducing medication). Absences, excused or unexcused, will be recorded for all students. Any student experiencing a fever greater than 100.4°F, vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, or simply feeling too poorly to focus or concentrate on classwork, will be removed from the classroom. His/her parents will be called to pick up the child. The child will be isolated until the parent arrives. No student will be allowed to leave campus without the direct consent of the parent/guardian.
COVID Change: Any student (or faculty/staff) who is diagnosed as COVID-19
positive will be reported to SC DHEC and MSA will follow their guidelines for when the student may return to school and whether others must be isolated/quarantined.
All students must have a South Carolina DHEC immunization record on file in the MSA Health Office within 30 days of admission or the first day of school. If you are a transfer student from out of state or country, all immunization records must be transferred to a SC DHEC form at your physician's office or at a South Carolina Health Department. If the student has received any additional immunizations in the last year, a new record must be submitted to MSA. Any student not in compliance with South Carolina's Immunization mandated guidelines must be excluded until an immunization record has been received. Please make every effort to meet this deadline so there is no interruption in your child's educational experience.
All students with health concerns should contact Nurse Merriman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-226-5344 ext. 201 to discuss the student's health and any emergency medications that need to be in place should the student need medical treatment. Supporting documentation from your healthcare provider will be discussed and an Emergency Care Plan developed for your child's needs. All forms must be updated annually and signed by your child's healthcare provider.
At this time, masking remains highly recommended for all ages 3 and above. Should you choose to have your student wear a mask while at school, we ask the following:
- Wear a Mask--mask should be worn (if 2 years or older) when in public and when around people who do not live in your same household. Encourage your child to wear masks correctly and safely.
- Masks should fit properly and cover your nose and mouth and be secure under your chin. Masks should be at least 3 layers and fit snugly against the sides of your face.
Please note that MSA monitors the current community spread and other metrics and we are poised to pivot if the Covid-19 surge increases and poses a risk to the overall health and safety of our MSA community.
I am pleased to announce that this week a pilot program was initiated at MSA for Covid-19 Saliva testing for employees. This has been made available through the courtesy of Clemson University's CLIA Community Testing Program. The program is free to MSA employees. After the program has been fully implemented, we hope to expand the program to include students in the near future. This serves as an added layer to our mitigation strategies to quickly identify disease and take appropriate actions for reducing transmission.
Wishing you safety and continued good health.
Susanna Merriman, RN