Getting Back to School

The USM administrative team has been busy planning for a fall reopening of campus. We are planning to fully reopen campus to students in all grades this fall starting on opening day, Tuesday, Sept. 1, with all necessary safety precautions in place for students, faculty, and staff, unless the state and/or local government would not allow it at that time. In that case we would look to implement a HyFlex (hybrid/flexible) model. Several study committees have been formed, and we look forward to sharing more information with you as our plans evolve and as we receive new advice and guidance from government and health officials.

The information on this site is not the official plan, and our plans will continue to evolve throughout the summer. The official school re opening plan will be finalized in early August. This site will be updated as new information is available, so please check back regularly for the latest information.

Teaching and Learning

We look forward to starting on-campus learning as scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 1 with as few disruptions to typical learning as possible. Although on-campus learning is our primary plan, USM is actively preparing additional scenarios in the event that typical on-campus learning is not safe, or distance learning is mandated by state or local governments.

Scenario One: On-campus Learning

Restricted campus access with new health parameters in place to allow for our typical education plan.

Scenario Two: HyFlex

Opening but with strict social distancing—fewer students in each class, some at-home remote learning each day with alternating or late schedule. May include starting online and shifting to in-person as year progresses.

Scenario Three: Remote Learning

An enhanced version of USM@HOME distance learning indefinitely until a vaccine or herd immunity lessens the impact of COVID-19.

The school is preparing to open under any of these scenarios, and is also implementing the following to ensure the best learning outcomes for all students in the event that HyFlex or long-term virtual learning is required or mandated. The teaching and learning team is:

  • Preparing all learning spaces with current health and safety guidelines.
  • Examining the feasibility of assemblies, retreats, field trips, and large group meetings in relation to social distancing and group gathering guidelines.
  • Developing strategies for long-term virtual learning and student assessment.
  • Providing faculty development opportunities, particularly as it relates to virtual learning.
  • Creating plans for community members to stay connected in virtual learning scenarios.
  • Planning for revised all-school events and traditions under social distancing and other health and safety guidelines.
  • Updating student handbooks with new policies where needed.
At this time, class sizes will not be changed due to the social distancing recommendations, but our administrators are evaluating the square footage of each classroom to ensure that proper distancing can be achieved in all learning environments.
No, we anticipate that the start and end times of the school day will not be changed.
The school is still developing the details of the HyFlex scenario. We will share additional details throughout the summer.
We are developing multiple plans in the event that we cannot hold classes on campus, which may include shifting to USM@HOME distance learning if required by the state or local health agencies. Our hope is that all learning will take place on campus this school year.
Fine arts courses will be subject to social distancing and other health measures, just like other courses. This does create unique challenges for drama, choir, band/orchestra, and other courses, but we are implementing these steps to ensure everyone in our community stays as healthy as possible. As for fine arts performances, we are still developing plans to safely hold these events based around social distancing guidelines and the limits on large group gatherings. We will share more details throughout the summer.
If you do not feel safe returning to campus, we encourage you to reach out to your child's division head and the school nurse's office to discuss your situation.
We are currently studying the student locker situation with our social distancing plans, and additional information will be shared later in the summer.
We are still determining the feasibility of field trips, and other off-campus learning opportunities. We will share more details on this in our full plan in August.
Yes, some classes will be held outside when the weather and curriculum allow for learning in a flexible environment. Learning outdoors can allow for additional social distancing and fresh air, but must be balanced to ensure that learning can continue in a productive manner.
Shared educational spaces, such as the Lubar Center for Innovation and Exploration, Nerdvana, and the Virginia Henes Young Theatre will be utilized, but at a smaller capacity due to social distancing guidelines. Our administrators are evaluating the square footage of these spaces. Community spaces, such as the Lee Community Room, will also be subject to distancing guidelines.
The school is working to have additional substitute teachers available in the event that any number of our faculty get sick or need to self-quarantine for any reason. These substitutes will be trained in the same manner as our faculty to ensure that all students remain as safe as possible.
Due to health recommendations, parents will not be allowed to enter the building without an appointment. We know that many parents bring their Preschool and Lower School children to their classrooms each morning, and we are working on a solution that would allow for a safe and modified version of this special tradition.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the entire USM community is our top priority. In all learning scenarios, the school will adhere to all health guidelines from the North Shore Health Department (NHSD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Department of Health and Safety (DHS).

The school will work to make sure all students and employees are safe, including those who are at a higher risk for severe illness due to preexisting conditions. Those who are at a higher risk due to a preexisting conditions worsened by COVID-19 may be allowed to study/work from home as recommended by their physician. The school is committed to the achieving the following health and safety goals:

  • Re open the school while following all guidelines and recommendations.
  • Work to make sure all members of our community are safe, especially those with an increased risk for severe illness.
  • Create a daily screening plan for all people on campus.
  • Create a plan for developing and maintaining healthy hygiene practices.
  • Develop a cleaning and sanitizing program for campus.
  • Create a student mental health awareness plan for school re-entry.
Student temperatures will be taken every day. The timing of the temperature checks may vary from day to day. Additionally, parents will be expected to complete a brief symptom screening tool daily before arriving to school, which will include at-home temperature checks.
Masks (cloth or surgical) are required for all adults, and for all students in grades 1 through 12. If younger students are comfortable wearing masks they are encouraged to do so. The school is also working on a plan to obtain additional custom masks. More information on that will be available soon.
The school is working to develop a feasible and developmentally appropriate social distancing plan, and appropriate signage will be placed throughout the building to help guide students and visitors. Classroom square footage is being studied to ensure classroom learning spaces are appropriately spaced.
Yes, the school will have hand sanitizer inside and outside all classrooms and common areas. There will also be extra time given for increased hand washing. Additionally, all students, faculty, and staff will be trained on proper hand washing and sanitizing practices. Hand washing will be emphasized as a primary form of prevention, and will be required when entering the building and throughout the day.
Classrooms, and all common areas, will be cleaned daily with CDC-recommended, EPA-certified, cleaning products. Our custodial team and school nurses have partnered with an outside consultant to develop a cleaning plan that meets or exceeds all recommendations for all indoor and outdoor spaces.
If parents have concerns about their student returning to campus, they should consult with their child's medial provider for consultation. USM is committed to working with families, and if you have questions please contact your child's division head and/or the school nurse's office.
Our campus will be open to students and employees, however, until further notice, campus will be closed during the school day to visitors and guests, including current parents. Parents may access division offices or meet with faculty by appointment only. More information will be available throughout the summer, including a drop-off plan for our Preschool and Lower School students and families.
The school will be in contact with the health department, and we will work with the health department on contact tracing. USM will be following all CDC guidelines related to isolation of the student/employee for at least 10 days and until they are symptom-free. The student/employee will also require doctor approval before returning to campus. Additionally, other students and teachers may be required to quarantine, based on the direction of the health department.
USM is aware that this has been a difficult time for students and parents, and the school will be working with staff members to monitor the emotional well-being of all students. Faculty, counselors, and our behavioral health team have already received training, and all USM employees will be on the lookout for students who may need help. If you have any questions, please contact your division's counselor.
Yes, our maintenance team regularly inspects and maintains the HVAC systems, and consults regularly with outside experts to ensure the system is working properly. The system is optimized to bring in as much fresh air as possible, and is balanced as guided by building codes, our current HVAC system, and the weather. The school is also evaluating additional systems and filters, and more information will be shared throughout the summer.
The school is currently working on a plan, which will include an isolation room for all students displaying COVID-related symptoms, or who require aerosolized treatments, and the room will have appropriate ventilation.
When should I keep my child home from school?
  • If your child has been exposed to someone with a positive COVID-19 test or your child has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • If your child has a fever of 100 degrees or greater
  • If your child has an unexplained cough
  • If your child has a sore throat
  • If your child has shortness of breath
  • If your child has an unexplained rash
  • If your child has a headache
  • If your child has muscle aches
  • If your child has diarrhea
  • If your child has one or more of these symptoms, you should contact your child's healthcare provider immediately. Your child may be required to take a COVID-19 test, and receive the results, before returning to campus.

    Athletics

    USM has developed a “return to play” plan that follows local and national safety guidelines, and we are anticipating guidance from the WIAA on how to safely resume athletic competitions.

    The “return to play” plan takes player, coach, and spectator safety into account, and provides details on keeping athletic facilities and venues clean and safe for everyone to utilize. All coaches and staff will be trained on safety procedures, and the school will continue to monitor recommendations and implement additional measures as needed.

    Under phase one of the “return to play” plan, spectators will not be allowed at athletic events. Parents and guardians who remain on campus during practices/games will be required to wait in their vehicle until the conclusion of the event. Additionally, locker rooms will be closed during phase one, meaning student athletes will need to arrive on campus ready to practice/train/compete, and they will not be allowed to shower/change in campus locker rooms following the conclusion of their workout/practice/competition. For additional details, please view the following guidelines, which will be updated as new information is available and new procedures are implemented. We are working on:

    • Returning to play while following all safety guidelines.
    • Safely returning to practice in July and August.
    • Establishing safety policies for all facilities (including locker rooms) and venues.
    • Establishing a spectator and event hosting policy.
    • Developing a transportation plan for off-campus competitions.

    Team sports, particularly contact sports, will still practice and gather as a team while following all social distancing guidelines. At this time, the WIAA has not given any direction in regards to competition resuming. We anticipate clear direction from the WIAA soon.
    If the WIAA allows for competitions to take place, and if the school determines that taking part in these competitions is safe, then transportation for players will be available. We will continue to monitor the situation and plan for a safe way to transport our student athletes.
    At this time, locker rooms are not available throughout July. Students will be expected to come to campus prepared to practice, and then return to their homes to shower and change. This may change as our reopening phases progress, however locker rooms will be closed throughout phase one of reopening.
    Most athletic camps that take place over the summer have been canceled. The school is still evaluating some camps that take place later in the summer, and we are coordinating with outside vendors to determine if it is still safe and feasible to host these camps.
    The WIAA passed an extension to the spring and contact plan that would allow student athletes who missed their spring sport seasons to practice and train together. At this time, the school does not feel that it is safe to move forward with practices or competitions under the conditions that the WIAA has passed.
    Beginning July 6, the fitness center will be open for phase one of reopening. Students must reserve a time to work out in advance, and they will be in a small group cohort with a very limited number of their teammates. The fitness center is limited to a total of 10 occupants during phase one, and that includes coaches and staff. For more information, please see the fitness center guide located above.
    Beginning July 6, the Uihlein Ice Arena will be open during phase one of reopening. There are very specific guidelines and limitations to the number of people who can be in the arena, and we encourage you to view the Uihlein Ice Arena guide located above for additional information.
    Yes. Although outdoor activities lessen the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19, we are implementing strict guidelines to ensure student and coach safety. Outdoor practices will be limited to 50 people (students and coaches), and students will be broken into small group cohorts for the duration of summer workouts to help minimize the potential for community spreading of the virus to take place. All attendees will also be required to wear face masks, unless they are properly distanced and taking part in strenuous physical activity.
    No. Students must bring their own water to practice. There will be no community water available, and students will not be allowed to share water bottle under any circumstances. Students water bottles must also be clearly labeled and identifiable.
    No, July contact sessions are not mandatory, and participation in them will have no impact on playing time if/when there is a return to competition. Coaches will make it clear to students and parents that no preferential treatment will be given to students who attend summer practices, and students will not be punished in terms of playing time for choosing to prioritize their safety throughout the summer.
    The WIAA will soon be releasing sport-specific plans for practices and competitions. The school will use those plans as the foundation and prepare our school-specific plans with additional safety measures if needed.

    Auxiliary Programs

    Food Service

    We are working with our partners at Flik Independent School Dining to develop a new lunch and dining room operating plan that follows CDC and local health guidelines, complete with new equipment where needed. This plan will ensure the safety of all students, faculty, staff, and Flik employees while maintaining as much of the USM dining program tradition as possible. More details on this new lunch plan will be shared throughout summer.

    We are working with our partners at Flik to create a safe dining plan for all of our students and employees. This will likely involve a significant reduction in the number of people allowed in the dining rooms at each time. We will share additional details on the plan throughout the summer.
    We are still developing our dining plan with our partners at Flik, so it is too early to know how specific dining locations will be impacted. Serving lunches in some grade-level classrooms is one option under consideration, and alternate dining locations are also being evaluated. The specifics will not be finalized until later in the summer. Our goal is to be able to maintain as much of the USM dining experience as possible.
    At this time, self-serve stations will not be allowed due to cross-contamination concerns. However, we will still be providing a full lunch service with choices.
    No. Students will not be allowed to bring lunches from home due to allergy concerns. USM remains committed to maintaining an allergy aware campus, and the only way to achieve that is by providing all lunches for students and faculty.

    Transportation

    We are committed to maintaining a safe and efficient transportation system for all students, drivers, and community members. Steps being taken include:

    • Examining social distancing options on buses and reduced seating capacity per trip.
    • Exploring plastic screens/partitions to ensure student and driver safety.
    • Requiring all passengers and drivers to wear masks while on buses.
    • Increasing bus cleaning and sanitizing between trips.
    • Coordinating with local public school districts to ensure the safety of USM students who utilize their transportation services.
    The buses will all operate at reduced capacity so that there are fewer passengers. Additionally, we are requiring an "every other row" policy to ensure students are well-spaced throughout the bus. For bus routes that are very busy, we will add additional buses to ensure that all students can be transported in a safe and healthy manner.
    Buses are being cleaned between each trip. Bus drivers are being trained on effective cleaning measures to ensure proper cleaning, even when the bus is away from campus for field trips and athletic events.
    We are coordinating with all public school districts to ensure the safety of all USM students who take the bus to school, even if they don't take our buses. More details will be shared as these conversations continue.
    Students and drivers are required to wear masks at all times when on the bus. The school is evaluating other protective equipment including plastic barriers, but no such measures are in place at this time.
    No, temperatures will be taken at home by parents as part of the health screening detailed in the Health and Safety section. Temperatures will also be taken at school during the day.
    We are discussing the logistics of transportation social distancing, and best ways to monitor students to ensure their safety.

    Before/After School

    We are exploring ways to incorporate new safety guidelines into our before and after school programs. “Drop-in” service will not be available for before school care. Families must make a commitment to using this service so that staffing and safety plans can be properly implemented. We are committed to offering these services with additional safety measures, including:

    • Utilizing additional spaces on campus to maintain proper social distancing.
    • Additional cleaning measures for all areas utilized by these programs.
    • Requiring additional hand washing and sanitizing when reentering the building.
    • Evaluating options for students to remain in their normal classrooms for after school care.

    Facility Rentals

    Each year, USM hosts many outside organizations and events on campus. We are currently reviewing all facility rentals for 2020 to determine if the school can still accommodate the events under the current guidelines. We expect all visitors to campus to adhere to the same health and safety procedures as our students, faculty/staff, parents, and the entire USM community.

    School Store

    The school store will be open, however changes will be made to ensure social distancing, to limit the number people in the store at each time, and procedures will be modified to ensure the safety of all students and employees.