COVID-19 Preparations at Swain
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement about COVID-19 (also referred to as coronavirus and novel coronavirus). As media outlets increase their coverage of it, we wanted to update you on the precautions we are taking at Swain to insure we are prepared.
The health and well-being of our entire community is always our first priority. We continue to monitor international and national advisories from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), remain in close contact with the local health department about the spread of COVID-19, and stand prepared to act with our students’ best interests in mind.
We are continuously monitoring COVID-19 and will continue to update you with any important details that may impact our community. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
Here are some important links and resources:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- PA Department of Health
- How to talk to kids about coronavirus
- NYT Parenting - Coronavirus
COVID-19 has forced us to continue learning remotely. Please refer to our Virtual Learning Page for more information.
Please see all of our updates below, regarding measures we are taking to keep our community safe.
Dear Families -
I am sad. I am very very sad. I know many of you feel the same way. I know our faculty and staff are equally upset with the news that our school will not be able to reopen this school year. I know our students are also disappointed. We knew it was coming, but we all held onto the tiny piece of hope that we would be able to return to our campus and end this school year together. Swain is synonymous with community, and this news is simply...heartbreaking.
Although it is completely natural to be sad, it is also important to focus on the hope of the future. We will return to school one day. Our students will continue to grow and learn - even at home - and we will one day look back on this time and realize that we were living through a moment - a moment that will change the world forever. That being said, it is completely normal to be sad and for our children to feel sad.
So given our new normal, I wanted to share a few updates and a timeline with you as our school calendar continues:
- Our Virtual Learning Plan will continue to be implemented and will evolve to meet ongoing needs . Each week we evaluate what is working and what can be improved. We will continue to ask our students what is working and elicit feedback from all of you regarding what we can do to make this experience better for your family. Please know, although we supply plenty of work and activities, we do not want any of this to result in undue stress for you or your child. The physical and mental health of our treasured community continues to be our top priority.
- We are currently considering how we will honor our favorite Swain traditions at the grade-, division- and school-wide level. Details will be shared about VIP Day, Graduation, the spring musical and other important milestones on our calendar as they become available. Some events will be postponed, others will be carried out virtually or in alternative ways. We are committed to honoring our students and our community throughout this unusual time and are actively working, now that we have some clarity, to amend plans through the end of the school year.
- We are already planning Bag Pick-up #2, as well as a possible Drive through Parade on Swain’s campus where we can join together (while maintaining sufficient distance) to provide smiles and connection for everyone in familiar and beloved surroundings.
- I will continue to provide my “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Fridays at 2:00 p.m.(click on the link below). Please feel free to join for five minutes or the entire session. Everyone is welcome and no question is too silly to ask.
- Our teachers continue to work tirelessly to provide opportunities for learning, connection and fun. I continue to be in awe of their dedication and ability to adapt to whatever it is our students and families need.
As always, I encourage all of you to Read, Make and Play Outside EVERYDAY! To reinforce this goal, next week we will begin celebrating weekly themes and feature adults in our community in “live” forums on Google Meet three days each week at 4:00 p.m. practicing the week’s theme. These sessions will be recorded for those who are unable to catch the “live” events. Students and families are also asked to share photos as they are “caught in the act” of reading, making and playing so we can document this time together apart. Stay tuned for more details in the Sunday Snapshot.
Thank you to everyone who donated baby monitors for the hospital this week. We have already delivered a box of monitors and continue to collect, I know everyone at LVHN is very grateful for your help. We will continue our commitment to help the greater Lehigh Valley community by giving a weekly suggestion of how you can help. These will be posted in the Sunday Snapshot, as well as on social media using the hashtag #SwainSupports.
Please reach out and let me know what else we can do to support you and your family. Although we are not together on campus, I feel incredibly connected and grateful to be a part of this AMAZING community.
Dear Families -
I hope you are finding ways to enjoy “spring break” in spite of the current COVID-19 quarantine situation. At our house I am allowing my kids to do mostly what they want and putting only small restrictions on their time. That will all change next week when they both begin their virtual learning adventures. It will be a shift for all of us I am sure.
Although Swain offered a trial run of our virtual learning the week of March 16th - it was only the beginning of our vision into how we will provide our program remotely. Starting on Monday, March 30th, the following structures will be put into place:
- Students in grades PS-K and grades 1st-3rd should follow these guidelines (PS-K or Gr 1-3) for academic and play time each day (we know that for some families certain restraints make this impossible - this is simply a guide). Teachers will be providing more specific details in their class emails. Students in grades 4 - 8 should follow these schedules to participate in the live teaching sessions, in addition to completing individual work each day.
- NOTE: Our schedules follow best practices for online and homeschool learning. Although the traditional school day goes from 8:00 - 3:00, it is not appropriate for students to be working on academics for seven hours a day at home. Please keep this in mind as you navigate your child’s needs.
- Homeroom teachers will communicate on Sunday and Tuesday evenings via email to outline the objectives, activities, and schedules for the week.
- Communication and Technology Systems: The table below, taken from Swain’s VLP provides a reminder of the channels we are using for virtual learning:
|Faculty, Staff, Families, Students||Email will be used for all major communications and announcements from the school.
Faculty may also use email to communicate (in addition to other platforms like Google Classroom and Seesaw).
*Grades 5-8 students should be checking Swain email daily.
|Google G Suite||Students in grade 5-8||Google GSuite (Gmail, Docs, Slides, Meet, etc.) will be used by 5th - 8th grade teachers.
For video conferencing with students, faculty will use Google Hangouts/Meet.
|Seesaw||PS-4th grade Students and Families||PS - 4th grade teachers and students will use Seesaw to share lessons and communicate with families.|
|Public Website||All constituencies||Swain will provide general information on its closure status at www. swain.org.|
- All live lessons will be recorded and archived on our secure google classroom accounts so that students may go back and review the lessons.
- All students/families will have weekly check-ins with their homeroom teacher or advisor.
- Additional resources including specialist (art, p.e., music, health etc.) lessons and general academic and enrichment activities are provided on the Virtual Learning page of our website. Please continue to check back often to see updates each week.
We appreciate your feedback from the surveys linked in the Snapshot last week. These results show that different families have varying needs during this time. In order to best accommodate all families, we have attempted to provide structure, as well as flexibility, in our virtual learning plan. Please know that the most important thing during this time is for your family to stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. There is no assignment or skill that is more important than your health, and no homework assignment that should result in stress for you or your student. Please keep this in mind as you navigate working with children who are reluctant or unmotivated about doing their work. I also suggest reading this article for more tips on how to navigate through this new territory with your family.
We are so pleased to see so many parents posting images on social media of our students’ virtual learning-in-action. Please accept this gentle reminder to only post pictures of your child or ask permission before posting pictures of other children, and to never post a child’s full name. That being said, keep them coming! Next week we conduct a virtual spirit week, and we would love to post your pictures on our social media pages to show off your Swain Spirit.
In order to provide the materials you may need over the coming weeks, we are asking families to drive by the school on Saturday morning, March 28th to pick up a bag that has been carefully prepared for each of your students enrolled at Swain. These bags contain novels, worksheets, art supplies and more. To provide an abundance of caution, we ask families to adhere to the following pick-up schedule:
- Families with last names beginning with A-K should come to the McCann Center entrance between 9 - 10:30am.
- Families with last names of L - Z should come to the McCann center entrance between 10:30am - 12:00pm.
When you pull up to the McCann Center entrance in the bus lane, please open your trunk or your back window so we can place your bag into your car while maintaining the suggested 6 feet of distance. If you are unable to come to the school or do not feel comfortable doing so, please let us know and we will deliver it to your house. The Governor’s most recent Stay-At-Home Order allows for the pickup and delivery of educational materials as an approved exception noted on the state website.
I hope you will join me for my first Ask Me Anything (AMA) session tomorrow, March 27, starting at 2 p.m. via Google Meet. Click on the link below to join the discussion on Friday or call 1-904-580-9028 and enter PIN: 682 222 404#
As the days and weeks of this lifestyle continue, it may become more and more challenging for all of us to maintain healthy habits, both physically and mentally. I encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to our counselor, Signe Whitson. Signe will also be facilitating her monthly Coffee with the Counselor on Friday, April 3rd for all who may be interested. We will share a link next week so you may join this event virtually.
Thank you for your continued partnership. We value each and every member of our community and are honored to be a part of this journey with your children.
Dear Families and Community Members-
It is hard to believe that just one week ago I met with administrators, faculty, and parents to review a plan for dealing with the coronavirus. In that plan, we created three levels of threat and how we would deal with each level. At the time of the meeting, we were at a low level. Just a few days later we moved into moderate, and then quickly moved into high threat. Once we closed the school, and the Governor required all schools to shut down for two weeks, our attention moved from the immediate to the short term.
Knowing we will be closed for several weeks, we have begun to discuss how we will deliver the personalized, hands-on, relationship-based program that we have always provided. Although this distance-learning environment will make that more challenging, I have full confidence that our faculty will do it - and do it well.
Yesterday we held virtual faculty meetings in small groups. We discussed everything from direct instruction to checking in with each child and family on a weekly basis. We also brainstormed ideas for assessing younger students from afar, teaching subjects like art class and ensuring that parents who work can help their child navigate the academic program during off hours. Although we are trying to anticipate every scenario, we are sure to make mistakes, and we, too, will continue to learn as we go. I want to thank you in advance for your patience as we navigate this new environment. If at any point our plans are not working for you or your child, please reach out to your teacher, division director, or me.
Although our scheduled spring break begins on Thursday, we know that most of our families will be staying at home and have limited activities and resources available to them. In that vein, we have decided to provide some additional academic work for families who are in need of structure and projects to keep our friends busy. Our Beginning and Lower School faculty will be reaching out in the next few days with additional resources to review and enrich previously taught material. They will also be creating videos that will teach new concepts. These videos will be short and can be viewed multiple times. Our goal in these divisions is to focus on key skill acquisition and to continue to create community and develop social emotional skills. In Intermediate and Middle School, teachers will be creating projects that can be completed over the break, as well as review work that will allow students to remain busy and keep their brains active. More specifics will be communicated at the end of the week. Again, all of this is being provided to help pass the time of spring break. If you do not wish to have your child do academic work during break that is perfectly acceptable.
Starting March 30th (assuming we are still out of school), we will begin our full entry into virtual learning mode. Homeroom teachers will communicate on Sunday and Tuesday evenings via email to provide the goals and resources for the week. Additional resources can always be found on our virtual learning webpage. Teachers of 5th - 8th grade students will be using our virtual learning schedule (stay tuned for a few small changes) and will deliver new content and skill instruction, as well as assign homework and assess learning. Your child’s advisor will also be checking in on how everything is working for you and your student.
I just heard from the community member who was tested for COVID-19. I am happy to report these test results are negative.
Please stay well, practice social distancing, and reach out if you need anything. As a community, we want to be sure to support your mental health needs in addition to your academic needs. There has never been a more appropriate time to remind ourselves that it takes a village; parent partnerships take on more meaning than ever as one of Swain’s pillars in times like this. We are fortunate to be partnering with you through this worldwide crisis and look forward to continuing to grow great adults together.
Dear Families and Community Members-
I want to thank all of you for your gracious and generous responses to our announcement regarding the decision to close this week. I am continually amazed by the strength of our community in trying times. During these unique times, I am especially glad to be a Swain Cougar.
Although we have not yet received the results from the community member who was tested, we have decided to remain closed for the days remaining until spring break. This decision was made based on the information we are receiving regarding social distancing, flattening the curve, and the declaration of the coronavirus being a pandemic. Campus will be closed beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27 for all activities and events, including both internal and external groups. During this time, a deep clean of the entire facility will be performed.
On Sunday we will be sharing additional information about our virtual learning environment via email. We will do a technology trial on Monday with students in grades 5 - 8 to make sure everyone understands the technology and how it works. We will begin our formal Virtual Schedule on Tuesday, March 17th and continue on Wednesday, March 18th. These two days will give us time to experience the virtual environment both from the teacher and student perspectives. Although there will not be much homework during these days, we do ask that students participate so that we can accurately assess the success of the program.
We will maintain our spring break days starting Thursday, March 19th through Friday, March 27th. During this time there will be no homework and we ask that students take a break from academics to read, make and play.
Since we cannot predict the future, we must plan for a variety of scenarios. In that vein, we will be communicating via email our plans to resume learning after spring break. Ideally, we would meet in person in our typical fashion, but there is a possibility we will have to continue in our virtual learning environment for additional days.
As always, our top priority is to keep our community safe. Thank you for partnering with us during this adventure. I have said many times this week, “we will never forget this time.”
Please reach out if we can do anything to support you and please take care of each other.
Dear Families and Community Members-
I am writing to let you know that we have learned that one of our community members has been tested for the coronavirus. In an effort to be extra cautious, we have decided to close school on Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th while we wait for the test results to be returned. We will be in touch as soon as possible with information regarding classes for next week.
During this two day closure no one will be allowed on campus except essential personnel. We will be doing a deep clean of the entire facility and we will not open campus again until we have more information and can ensure that it is safe for students and employees to return.
As mentioned in previous emails, we will treat these two days as snow days with no academic expectations for students. If we remain closed next week we will be employing technology and email to deliver academic content to students.
Dear Families and Community Members -
As promised, we are writing to provide an update to Swain’s response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. We met this morning to discuss specific preventative measures that further impact our community which are designed to assist in preventing the spread of the virus.
- Morning drop-off went so smoothly today, and we want to express our sincere appreciation for your continued patience, understanding and flexibility during this time. These new morning drop-off procedures will continue until further notice.
- Unfortunately, we feel it is necessary at this time to postpone our Matilda performances that were originally scheduled for this weekend. Veronica Bocian and her theatre team have met with all student participants this morning to share this news. Our hope is to be able to reschedule the performances for a later date, potentially as soon as the end of April.
- All field trips and special events scheduled over the next two week period have been cancelled or postponed at this time, including the optional spring break trip to Florida. Mrs. Mitchell will provide more information about rescheduling for later in the spring.
We encourage all of you to visit the following official websites for the most updated and accurate information about COVID-19 and its impact on our local area:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - https://www.cdc.gov/
- World Health Organization - https://www.who.int/
- PA Department of Health - https://www.health.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx
As more information becomes available and plans evolve, we will keep you informed. In the meantime, please reach out via email if you have additional questions or concerns.
Please click here to view the slides that were presented at the March 10, 2020 Swain Association meeting.
Dear Families and Community Members -
We appreciate your trust and patience as we continue to make preparations and plans with regard to the coronavirus outbreak. The health of our community is always our first priority and we would like to provide you with an update on the steps we are taking as a community to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare for the unknown. We are meeting daily to assess the situation and make decisions that are in the best interest of our entire community.
- Typically, we welcome families and visitors on campus and in our building during the school day; however, during this time of extra caution we will limit access inside the building to employees, students and those conducting pre-approved official business. Please note, this includes morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up.
- We will continue to provide additional daily cleaning and sanitation on our campus. In addition, we will use an outside cleaning contractor to do deep clean of our entire campus over spring break.
- We are currently in a low threat situation and we hope to stay that way. Until further notice, we will continue to deliver our academic and non-academic programs in the best manner possible given the circumstances. Field trips are being evaluated on a case by case basis as we are working hard to balance following preventative best practices and delivering our program to the fullest.
- Should the threat move up to moderate level, we may have to close for a few days. If we close for up to three days, these days will be treated as “snow days.” This means we are not likely to deliver any academic instruction during this time and will only ask that students read, play outside, and make something each day. In the event we remain open and increased absences occur, we will communicate daily through email and post all work on Google Classroom for grades 5 - 8.
- In the case of a high threat to our community, we will shut down all operations on campus and move to electronic academic delivery. This means that students in grades PS - 4 will be receiving review and enrichment work from their homeroom teachers via parent email. Students in grades 5 - 8 will be receiving live online instruction for two hours each day (through Google Meet) and will also be assigned one hour of homework to be completed on paper or on their iPad. Please remind your child to bring their iPad and textbooks home each evening. Now is also a good time to check that you have functional internet access (and ideally a printer with sufficient paper and ink). If you do not have internet access, please let us know so we can work with you to make accommodations. Should we be in a state of high threat for more than two weeks, we will institute additional learning time for all students, and this will be communicated to families in advance. Please be sure to check your email on a daily basis.
If you have traveled to or come into close contact with someone who has traveled to a Level 2, 3, or 4 country, we ask that you self-quarantine at home for 14 days from your date of return or exposure. The same applies to any individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or individuals who come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. In both cases, individuals will be required to show confirmation from a doctor that they are safe to return to school. If you believe you have been exposed to the virus or you have a confirmed diagnosis, please email me immediately.
It is our goal to foster a sense of normalcy and calm during these uncertain times. Please remember that children take their emotional cues from the adults. If your child has questions about the virus or has worries, please consider using these websites:
We will continue to communicate often to keep you up to date on our decision-making and preparation. If there is anything we can do to help you or your child please reach out via email.
Dear Swain Families,
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement about COVID-19 (also referred to as coronavirus and novel coronavirus) and media outlets are increasing their coverage of it, so we wanted to update you on the precautions we are taking as the coronavirus continues to spread.
The health and well-being of our entire community is always our first priority. We continue to monitor international and national advisories from the CDC’s World Health Organization (WHO), remain in close contact with the local health department about the spread of COVID-19, and are always prepared to act with our students’ best interests in mind.
It is important to stay informed of the facts about the coronavirus and not respond to fear. As of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. Swain is following the recommendations and considerations for schools shared by the CDC, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS). We are reviewing our safety and security plan, and have appointed School Nurse Jennifer Shingles to closely monitor the CDC's website to provide updates so the school can prepare for all possible scenarios in the event COVID-19 spreads to our area.
As always, we encourage everyone to practice the following general prevention measures:
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve
- Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds and using friction, especially after coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Get your flu shot – it’s never too late!
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick
Please know that our cleaning team is taking special measures, as we always do during flu season, to wipe all surfaces with antibacterial cloths and solutions – yes, even the doorknobs.
I want to reassure families again that we should not succumb to fear. Planning, monitoring, and remaining informed are invaluable to us right now. We are prepared for a number of different scenarios.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 and update you with any important details that may impact our community. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.