COVID-19 Response Page
This page of our website contains information, resources, and updates for our Holy Child School at Rosemont community regarding COVID-19. Many of our current communications to parents are sent internally as they pertain to logistics, but any notices involving the the larger community will be published here.
As we are open for in-person instruction, please stay connected with us on Facebook or Instagram to see highlights of what is occurring at school!
- Holy Child Re-Opening Plan
- Guidance for Choosing a Face Mask
- Culture of Community and School Safety
- Helpful Definitions
- COVID-Positive Response Flow Chart
- Exposure Risk Chart
View our Re-Opening Plan to learn about the protocol we have created for a safe return to campus. This is the original plan created in August 2020 prior to re-opening school.
*An updated plan was provided to our families in February 2021 that outlines our continuing efforts to keep everyone healthy and school open.
- March 11, 2021: Looking Back to A Year Ago
- April 7: A Message from the Head of School to Our Larger Holy Child Community
- March 31: Finding Strength in Faith
- March 22: Introducing HC@Home
- March 21: A Video from the Head of School
- March 13: Changes and Cancellations
- March 10: Coronavirus Update
- February 27: A Novel Coronavirus
On March 12, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that all schools would be closing the next day—temporarily—due to COVID-19. Prior to that mandate, I had been wondering if we should close school, so I recall being relieved that the Governor made that decision for us. I also distinctly recall thinking that we were heading into spring and Easter breaks, so we would probably be closed for 2-3 weeks tops and would return in early April. Who would have imagined what the ensuing 12 months would bring?
And so, as we mark the one year anniversary of our dealing with this global pandemic, I think we should do so with equal parts humility and pride.
The humility comes from the realization that despite our (and by our, I mean people and societies throughout the world) vast knowledge and economic power, we were brought to our knees by a virus that knows no boundaries, that has killed over 2.6 million people worldwide, and that has exacerbated issues of justice and equity by disproportionately affecting people and communities of color and other economically underserved groups. As a Christian celebrating the liturgical season of Lent, with penance as a fundamental aspect of this holy season, this global pandemic has reminded me that I can't control my fate or determine outcomes nearly as much as I thought I could previously. It has humbled me in that way, and that is probably not a bad thing.
Juxtaposed with that personal humility is the tremendous pride I take in the way the Holy Child School at Rosemont community has responded to this pandemic. Kudos to:
- Our teachers, who created our virtual learning program (HC@Home) last spring "out of whole cloth," and have worked hard ever since to provide a safe and meaningful classroom experience for their students
- Our Senior Leadership Team (Robin Beaver, Jeanne Marie Blair, Brenda Cole, Christine Dymek, Diane Hren, Emily Rauch, and Rita Smith) who have gone above and beyond to guide us, to lead us, and to shepherd us through these challenging times
- Our Re-Opening School Task Force that created the protocols last summer that have enabled us to open safely, and stay open, the entire year
- Our Pandemic Advisory Council that has met every Thursday night (with just a couple exceptions) since late August, to adjust those protocols as needed and to help us stay safe
- Our nurse, Jessica Travaglini, for her efforts with testing, especially
- You, our parents, who have worked with us, and honored our protocols and by doing so, have helped keep us safe and open
I also want to thank and acknowledge all parents who are new this year to Holy Child, including some who trusted us enough to send their children here without ever having been able to take a tour. I am sorry that you especially have not been able to fully experience the Holy Child community, but you will, as soon as normalcy returns.
Lastly, I have not thanked Arnie Schneider P'10'12'15, our Board Chair, enough publicly for his leadership throughout this crisis. Arnie and I spoke on a daily basis last summer, often 2-3 times a day. He was extraordinarily supportive of and present to me and in extension to this school community. It was his vision and mine that we could and should re-open in September. He was an outstanding thought partner with me, and it is no exaggeration to state that we wouldn't have succeeded as we have without his wise counsel and leadership.
There is light at the end of this long struggle, but that does not mean that we can relax now or over these next couple months. Please stay strong and vigilant.
The Roman politician Seneca famously said that, "Fire is the test of gold, adversity of strong men [and women]." As we mark the one year anniversary of closing school last March 13, and ALL that we have achieved since, I would paraphrase that and say that "Fire is the test of gold, adversity of strong communities. . . like ours!"
Thank you for your support and for partnering with us in these challenging times.
Thomas G. Lengel P'12
Dear Friends of Holy Child School at Rosemont,
These are unprecedented times, and we are working through them as best as we can. I have spent all of my time since we closed school on March 13 helping devise our distance learning program (which we have named Holy Child@Home or HC@Home), getting that launched, and communicating with our current parents and families about how this crisis impacts the School. You can view a video I sent on March 21 and at the end of this letter a couple other communiques to our current families that describe some of the ways we are responding to this crisis.
We haven't forgotten about you however! I am now able to reach out to you as alumni, past parents, friends, and supporters of the School, simply to touch base and inform you how we are doing overall.
I am proud of the hard work the teachers and Division Directors have spent devising and launching HC@Home. As one nationally known independent school consultant whose webinar I saw last week noted, "What we all are doing is a grand experiment in emergency distance learning, but it's not a fully thought out home schooling program" and I would add, how could it be?
What I like most about HC@Home is that it reflects our Holy Child mission with its emphasis on connection and community. Especially in these first stages, we have intentionally prioritized connecting the children with each other, and with their teachers, and vice versa. This email we received from an Early Childhood parent reinforces that we chose the right priority:
"I have to tell you that we are loving the online sessions. I was literally in the background sobbing yesterday as each little happy face appeared on the screen. My son was beaming —he was so happy to see his teachers and friends. It's a wonderful tool and I'm so glad you're taking advantage of it for them. Have a great night! We'll 'see' you tomorrow!"
Other ways we are responding include the following:
- The Board has committed to pay all our employees, including our few hourly workers, their full salaries and benefits. This is the right thing to do and consistent of course with Catholic teaching on social justice.
- We have created an opportunity for communal prayer for our current parents, so they can come together virtually two times a week (to start), for spiritual growth and connection. That launched last week. And for Holy Thursday, we are encouraging our families to watch the live streaming of that liturgy from St. Thomas of Villanova. Feel free to join us in this spiritual solidarity.
- We are working with individual families who have been devastated financially and doing all we can to ensure that they can remain part of the School community.
We have had to cancel or at least postpone some of the many celebrations and traditions that are part of the fabric of this school, such as the 7th-8th grade overnight trip, which would have been next week; First Communion; the Middle School Play and Grandparents' Day; and the Auction. We are discussing how we might be able to hold some of these virtually, or otherwise re-purpose them, but as of yet have not made any decisions about that. The School is closed at least until Monday, May 4.
It is Holy Week. Clearly, as a nation, and as a School community, these are trying times. We are in the Garden of Gethsemane together, with the pain of Good Friday to follow, but we know as people of faith that the Lord's resurrection will follow, and that the Joy of Easter will mitigate the sadness and suffering of Good Friday.
I don't know when we will recover from this international crisis, but I truly believe that we will. We should all take comfort in Cornelia Connelly words that:
"It is not presumption to have hope and joy and confidence in God's grace. Jesus showed us that God is with us always and we are all God's presence in the world. So, let us presume as Cornelia did, this hope and joy and confidence that God has graced us with and bring it to every thought and endeavor, every word and action."
I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy and that you continue to keep all members of the Holy Child community in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Thomas G. Lengel P'12
From the Desk of Tom Lengel
These continue to be challenging times for us as a nation, as a world community, individually, and as a school. There are no easy or clear answers to the current problems we face, or to what lies ahead.
It is therefore easy to be anxious, to imagine worst case scenarios, and/or to focus subconsciously on small things that we (think we) can control, and become frustrated that the store is temporarily out of food or the internet is slow (a good reminder for me to be more patient). And don't even start me about toilet paper!
While I do not at all want to minimize the seriousness or extent of this crisis, I want to share the following excerpt from a professional newsletter that I read recently. Although it addresses leaders and leadership, I think its points are relevant to all of us as we deal with uncertainty:
Described in Leadership in a Crisis: Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak and Future Challenges, "the outbreak has the hallmarks of a 'landscape scale' crisis: an unexpected event or sequence of events of enormous scale and overwhelming speed, resulting in a high degree of uncertainty that gives rise to disorientation, a feeling of lost control, and strong emotional disturbance." The authors indicate, "What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviors and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting to yesterday's developments and help them to look ahead."
While I find this "secular" advice relevant and helpful, I have much greater confidence in our ability to deal with this crisis, because of our faith, and because of the strength of our community.
It is in times like these that we can–and should–rely on our faith, and take comfort in it. (In fact, you will see in a separate section of this newsletter that we are creating some opportunities for communal prayer, as a way to connect to each other and express our faith.) Jesus reminded his disciples of that, telling them:
"Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things."
We are a faith-based school and that is one of the characteristics that distinguishes us from the many other private schools in the area. Along with you as their parents, we teach the children to pray, to treat each other kindly, and to trust in God. In times like this, I am reminded of our Holy Child Mission, and am strengthened by it and by God's promise of salvation, that He will be with us "unto the end of time," and I hope you are as well.
Similarly, we have the added advantage of being a strong and vibrant community. We are not perfect, but Holy Child School at Rosemont is known throughout the area for being a tight knit, supportive community. I talk all the time to the children and older students about the importance of community, and our "Actions Not Words" as a school community reflect how much we all value a sense of belonging and common purpose.
It is precisely in times of anxiety and uncertainty that faith in God and belonging to a community are most necessary; take comfort that we are blessed in both of those ways.
We will get through this. We need to discipline ourselves to be patient, to find the positive, and not to worry unnecessarily or overreact. We will find and create moments of grace in support of each other, and we will get through this, of that I am certain.
Tom Lengel P'12
Head of School
As a follow up to the video I sent yesterday, and in preparation for our "soft launch" of HC@Home this week, I want to emphasize the following:
- We are going to crawl/walk/run on this project. In other words, despite the hard work we have put in planning for the implementation of our distance learning program, we know that the learning curve for it—for the students especially—will be steep. HC@Home will evolve, both in its schedule (we know that some classes will be easier to teach online than others) and in its effectiveness. We will seek your feedback and that of the (older) students so we can adjust accordingly, but we all need to be patient as we roll this out.
- Our goals for HC@Home are to connect the children to Holy Child School at Rosemont, and vice versa, and to connect the children to each other. We also of course will advance the curriculum with this project. The older the student, the more we will emphasize academics. The younger the student, the less. So HC@Home will look a lot different in Early Childhood than it does in Lower School, Lower School will differ significantly from Middle School, and there will be differences within the age range of each division. I'm sure you realize that inherently, but I want to manage your expectations about it. And even in Middle School, our goal is NOT to have 6 hours a day of students being online. In Lower School and Middle School especially, the teachers are working on a blended program that provides live instruction, videotaped lessons, and homework/assignments (reading, writing, math problems, perhaps drawing, singing, and exercise/workouts).
We are excited to launch our version of distance learning, and we have planned it to reflect our mission and values. Look for more details in subsequent emails from your Division Director and your child's teacher.
In the meantime, I send my best wishes and prayers for you to stay healthy and safe.
Thomas G. Lengel P'12
I am writing to follow up on the Governor's declaration yesterday, closing all schools in Montgomery County for two weeks, and on the phone message I sent yesterday about 4:15 p.m. alerting you to that directive.*
Although we have not had any reported cases of COVID-19 in our school, Montgomery County closures were initiated to prevent the rapid community spread of the coronavirus. There is no doubt among medical experts and epidemiologists that practicing social distancing is the most effective way to slow down the spread of the COVID-19, and thus mitigate its effects on vulnerable populations especially. My understanding and belief is that-at least as of now- we can still interact in small groups if/as necessary.
Holy Child's Senior Leadership Team and I had a long and productive meeting yesterday afternoon to discuss how we should respond to this sudden closure, especially in the shorter term. What follows is our best thinking on this. That thinking has been informed by the resources and recommendations of the CDC, NAIS, and other organizations, and our understanding of what other schools are planning to do. Please note, however, that what applies to colleges and universities as residential communities is largely different than what might or should work in an elementary school like ours, and that even high schools are fundamentally different than our Early Childhood and Lower School programs, (but not Middle School):
- We will consider today and the next 4 days as "extended spring break." We have not had any snow days this year, and our faculty met virtually this morning to continue to solidify our plans for distance learning (see below).
- We hope to return to school on Monday, March 30, the end of our previously scheduled spring break. If we are unable to do so however, we will provide an age- appropriate distance learning experience for PreKindergarten-grade 8. The Division Directors are finalizing plans for what that would look like and will communicate those plans to you if/as necessary. I can share now, however, that the goal for the PreKindergarten-4th grade is much less to cover content and much more about reinforcing our community bonds by having the children connect to each other, to their teachers and School, and vice versa. For Middle School-Spanish, math and language arts especially- in addition to keeping the students connected to our community, academic skills and content knowledge will also be a priority.
Calendar and upcoming events:
- We have cancelled the 7th and 8th grade trip to Pittsburgh that was scheduled for April 15-17. We are hoping to reschedule that for sometime in May, but that is far from a certainty at this point.
- We have begun discussions about the Auction on April 18, including how we might have a virtual Auction, ideally followed in May by a community party/celebration. We have made no decisions yet, and will of course communicate with you once we have.
- We also are unsure as of now about First Holy Communion. I am confident that we will be able to provide this sacrament to our children, but perhaps not in such a public way and in such a large gathering.
Lastly, and of extreme importance, are your travel plans. For those who may have already been exposed to the coronavirus, I ask and expect you to take advantage of these next 14 days by self quarantining, to prevent the spread of the virus.
I'd be surprised if anyone is planning to travel to a level 2 or 3 country during this extended break, but if you do, or if you are exposed to the coronavirus directly, once again, you need to self quarantine and report that to the School nurse. As I have written previously, we all have a responsibility to maintain the collective health of our community, which of course includes the children and adults in our community who have compromised immune systems. It is imperative for everyone to be honest about self identifying, and thus help protect the health of the School community.
These are unsettling and thus upsetting times for sure. It is important for all members of our community to trust each other, and to help and support each other (perhaps by offering child care to working parents, or cooking a meal for someone who is ill). I often remind the children of one of Cornelia Connelly's famous quotes, in which she encouraged her students to be "the best self God wants you to be." Let us all take that exhortation to heart and be our "best selves" to our friends and neighbors during this challenging time.
Thomas G. Lengel P'12
*I used our Connect5 rapid communication system-the same one we use for a "snow day call". If you did not receive my message, that is almost certainly because you have not signed up via your Parent Portal to do so. Go to your Parent Portal and under Essentials, select the tab for the Connect 5 Notification System and follow the instructions.
From the Desk of Tom Lengel: Coronavirus Update
I just want to provide a brief update-and some reminders-for you:
- Our maintenance and cleaning staff continue to perform deep and extra cleaning of the school, at night, after school, and in the morning (public spaces especially) before the children arrive.
- We cancelled the optional 7th and 8th grade trip to Spain over spring break, and have cancelled other one day field trips.
- We are discussing how we might provide distance learning in the event that we would have to close school for more than a few days. It's easier to see a path forward on that front for middle schoolers, but hard for us right now to imagine what virtual learning might look like for Early Childhood, and even the primary grades. The Division Directors and I are having those conversations.
- We have shown, or will by the end of the week show, this video to all our students PreKindergarten-grade 8. Additional supplies of hand sanitizer have been ordered and are being distributed to the rooms.
- We are continuing to communicate with the Montgomery County Department of Health and monitoring various other sources of information, including NAIS and the CDC.
I will communicate next week about those who might be travelling over break, but for now, and for those who have recently traveled to a country given a CDC level 2 or 3 travel advisory, the bottom line-as I wrote previously-is that it is each individual family's responsibility to exercise good judgement and to prevent the virus from spreading. Following these measures is essential to protect the community's health and well being.
There may well come a time when we need to have a more aggressive response to this situation, but I feel strongly that time has not yet arrived. For example, I heard on my drive in this morning that there are only ten presumptive cases of the virus in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Also, while we naturally tend to worry about how this will affect our children, the facts are that the coronavirus is having a much more significant effect on the health of (older) adults, so in an ideal world, we should probably be focusing more on them.
Dear Holy Child Parents,
By now you have heard of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the ongoing news reports surrounding it.
We devoted most of our Senior Leadership Team meeting yesterday afternoon to discussing this issue. I "attended" last night an hour long livestream session on this topic that was sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools, and our School Nurse, Jessica Travaglini, has been closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its latest recommendations and the latest developments of this global health challenge. Jessica has also been in contact with the nursing staff of Lower Merion School District; they are our liaison to the local public health officials.
While this situation is fluid and we will continue to monitor it closely, it is important to know that (according to the experts from NAIS):
- As of yesterday afternoon, there were approximately only 60 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the United States.
- This virus is highly transmissible, but less lethal than the common flu.
- The best way to prevent its spread is to practice good personal hygiene and proper respiratory etiquette. (See below)
- At this time we are at much greater risk for a severe case of the flu than the Novel Coronavirus.
We need your help to be as proactive as possible in maintaining the health and safety of our school community. Specifically, that means that you must notify us immediately if your Holy Child student or any member of your immediate family is diagnosed with the flu or the COVID-19 virus. Also, as we have previously communicated, we rely on your common sense and good judgement to keep your child home if s/he has a fever or other respiratory illness. Maintaining a healthy community is everyone's responsibility.
To aid in that effort, please note the following expectations and best practices:
To avoid spreading any infection:
- Remind your child(ren) that hands should be washed often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose. Dispose of tissues immediately and wash hands.
- Avoid contact with anyone exhibiting cold-like symptoms.
- As much as possible, avoid using elevator buttons, handrails and other public spaces where the virus can be easily spread.
A child with any of the following should not be in school:
- Temperature of 100 degrees or more within the past 24 hours without Tylenol or other anti-fever medications
- Vomiting or diarrhea within the past 24 hours
- A positive strep test (your child must be on antibiotics for 24 hours before returning to school)
- When strep is suspected, but the results of a throat culture are not yet known
- A red eye with crust, mucous or tearing (any child diagnosed with "pink eye" must be on medication for 24 hours before returning to school)
- Excessive coughing
If your student is sick or exhibiting contagious symptoms such as those described above, please keep them home from school to avoid spreading illness.
If or when the Coronavirus comes to Pennsylvania, this will be the best and most important way we can maintain the overall health of our school community.
We will continue to monitor the local and global health community's assessments and recommendations and will communicate with you if/as needed. (Families who have a child enrolled in our Spain Trip over Spring Break will be receiving a separate email about that.)
I will be out of the office Thursday and Friday attending the NAIS conference in Philadelphia and will be at Scranton Preparatory School Monday as part of its PAIS accreditation process. I will be available via email, and if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jessica Travaglini at email@example.com or 610-922-1007.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The global health community has assessed that we are at a low risk level, and we are continuing to stay updated on that status. More information on COVID-19 can be found in these links: