April 29, 2021
Dear MGCS Families,
As someone once put it, “in the Christian life you are either sailing into a storm, in the storm or sailing out of the storm…” In the gospel of Mark, after Christ commanded the storm to cease, He then spoke to His disciples: “…Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:40-41) Christ’s question is directed at each of us too. No need to fear. By the grace of God, it seems that we are continuing to sail out of the pandemic and into calmer waters over the summer. Here is our course as we move into May and the final weeks of our school year.
Into the Home Stretch…
There has been a lot of conflicting information, scientific advice and theories about COVID-19 since January 2020. Like so many things in life, the truth of a matter often lies in the tension between extremes, and only the passage of time may grant all of us clearer understandings about COVID-19. Now that concerns are waning, vaccinations are up, natural immunities are building, infections are down and governmental guidelines are slowly loosening, you may be wondering how and when we may adjust our protocols and procedures.
Our families, our students and our team at MGCS have all played a key role in a remarkable story from March 2020 until today. By the grace of God, we are navigating through this storm together, and we are almost at the finish line of the year. Thanks again to each of you, for your consideration and understanding over these many months. Everyone pulling together made this year of school possible.
With the finish line in view, we want to continue to do everything we can to ensure that all classes and grades remain on campus. As we wrote last month, that means many of our health and safety guidelines will remain in place, even as we begin to loosen up in some instances in May. We will communicate any changes to you. As we do this, it may seem to some that we are either being a bit inconsistent or overly cautious. Perhaps we are, but as we completed another athletic season, resumed field trips and began having more events on campus, we simply want to stay on track-and have a great month -until we all wave goodbye at the end of May. What we do with regard to health and safety protocols, we do not do out of a spirit of fear, but out of consideration and respect for others in our school community. For the sake of Christ, for the sake of others. This mindset always makes sense, even when nothing else does. There will come a day when we will move on from our current health and safety guidelines, but we are not quite there yet. So we are asking everyone to keep pressing on with our health and safety protocols until the end of this school year.
After Friday, we only have three weeks of school, and then it will be Celebration Week! As we close out the school year in May, we will be opening our campus more and more for events, graduations and awards. A detailed schedule of these events, along with applicable health and safety guidelines, will be sent to you tomorrow.
Plans For The ’21-’22 School Year
We will assess the current pandemic picture and outlook in June, then write to you in late June with plans for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. We look forward to welcoming many new families on that first day of school in August
Time and Tides…
I spent much of the day yesterday with our talented 8th graders on a science field trip cruising up the Cape Fear River north of Wilmington. The class was analyzing water samples at a certain point and recording their findings. It was nice to have just another normal day of school on calm waters. He is the Lord over the wind and the waves. Let us thank God for that.
Have a great weekend!
Head of School
MGCS has developed four alert levels of operation for the 2020-2021 school year. This plan will be continuously evaluated and updated as new information is provided by health professionals.
Green Level 1 – In-Person Instruction with Minimal Modifications
Yellow Level 2 – In-Person Instruction with Restricted Operations
Orange Level 3 – Hybrid Instruction: Optional In-Person Instruction with Additional Restricted Operations or Enhanced Virtual Learning Program
Red Level 4 – Remote Learning – All In-Person Instruction Suspended
Updated – 12/15/2020
MGCS will be remote learning from November 30 – December 18.
Christmas break December 19 – January 4
Planned remote learning continues January 5 – 8
On-campus classes resume January 11
MGCS will remain under the YELLOW alert level when on-campus classes resume on January 11. More details of this updated YELLOW plan are outlined below.
The MGCS learning environment looks different in many ways as we manage the challenges of a global pandemic; however, our love for our Lord and the MGCS Community, commitment to the highest quality education, and qualities that make MGCS who we are have not changed. In order to create a learning environment that provides an extra level of safety for our students and staff, the following guidelines will be implemented:
- Attendance requirements will be relaxed for the 2020-2021 school year as parents determine wellness needs.
- All students K-8 grade will be issued a school Chromebook. Teachers will continue to incorporate digital learning tools such as Google Suites and demonstrate how these tools are used for learning both in the classroom and remotely.
- K-5 grade students and teachers will be able to mix at grade level only. For example, both 2nd grade homeroom classes will be allowed to mix, however, 2nd grades classes will not be allowed to mix with 3rd grade classes.
- 6-8 grade students and teachers will be mixing within the grade levels.
- Furniture, such as desks or tables, in classrooms are arranged so that students are separated from one another by at least 3 to 6 feet when possible. If it is not possible to arrange seating 3 to 6 feet apart, MGCS will use protective barriers such as clear acrylic to create a divide between students. All Middle School tables will have clear acrylic dividers.
- In some cases where group work or collaboration is needed (such as the STEM Lab), MGCS will continue the use of face coverings, but will no longer require additional face shields. Interactive collaboration times will remain limited and student groups will be designated.
- Enrichment classes will begin to meet in designated areas with classes rotating to enrichment spaces. Proper disinfection of contact surfaces will be done in between classes. Weather permitting, P.E. classes will be encouraged to be outdoors.
- Middle School electives will begin on January 19th. These classes may include a mix of 6-8 grade students.
- Chapel will remain virtual with some limited in-person attendance.
- Tribes will meet both virtually and in small groups with proper social distancing.
Early Education programs present some of the most unique challenges during this season. Social distancing and face masks will be a part of the daily learning environment, but some exceptions will be necessary in order to maintain an effective preschool program.
- Preschool students will remain in homeroom classes and will stay together as much as possible throughout their day.
- Preschoolers will still participate in some group activities such as morning meetings, read-alouds, etc. During these times face masks will be used.
- In the event of a COVID-19 exposure or positive case, any affected preschool class will be asked to follow the CDC recommended 10-day quarantine. There will be no tuition reimbursement for any student or individual homeroom needing to quarantine.
- All preschool families will have access to the remote learning program materials and instruction during the school wide RED level 4 learning protocol.
- In the event that MGCS officially moves to the school-wide RED level 4 remote learning protocol, preschool families will be given a 25% credit of the next month’s tuition payment. Continued tuition payments are needed to ensure that teachers and staff can provide the remote learning programs.
Per guidelines set by NC Health Department and other agencies, MGCS has incorporated additional cleaning and sanitization procedures. During the school year you can expect the following:
- Increased sanitation of restroom facilities.
- Increased frequency of cleaning classrooms and high touch surfaces throughout the school day.
- Increased frequency of cleaning the gym, physical education/athletic equipment.
- Hand sanitizer dispensers/bottles in every classroom, at all large restroom locations, and at every entrance and exit.
- Installation of more efficient filtration systems on all HVAC equipment.
- Enhanced deep cleaning of the building weekly specifically targeting high touch surfaces such as walls, lockers and classroom furniture.
Faculty, staff and students all have a responsibility in helping us keep a clean and healthy school environment. faculty will continue to teach students to practice healthy habits that will help prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. During the school year you can expect the following:
- Students will be instructed on proper hand washing and additional ways to protect themselves and others (e.g. keeping hands away from face, how to remove face coverings, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.).
- Teachers will provide time for frequent student hand washing throughout the day.
- Water fountains will be closed off and not accessible. MGCS has installed touchless filtered water bottle filling stations in each building. Students must bring their own water bottles to school and use bottle filling stations.
- Students must store their own supplies in pencil boxes or pencil pouches. We will not be sharing these types of supplies.
- Signage throughout the building will be posted to assist with social distancing and as a reminder of safe hygiene practices.
- Middle school teachers and students will sanitize seating areas regularly..
- Elementary teachers will sanitize tables, desks, and toys, etc. throughout the day.
MGCS will require the use of face coverings for all students Pre-K through 8th grade.
- Face coverings must be a minimum of 3-ply material and may not contain a one-way valve. Students may choose their own style, but they should fit comfortably and cover both the mouth and nose. Coverings may have patterns/prints as long as the pattern or print does not contain offensive or divisive words, messages or pictures. The administration will determine the appropriateness of any questionable masks.
- Neck gaiter/scarf-style masks are often made of synthetic stretchy materials and will not be allowed. This material is often thin for improved breathability, which means it has a decreased ability to filter respiratory droplets and therefore not considered by MGCS to be an approved style mask.
- Requests for face covering exemptions may be made for medical reasons and must be submitted in writing to the school nurse and accompanied by a note from your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician.
- MGCS teachers will be permitted to wear face shields while actively instructing in order to allow students to see facial expressions and to hear pronunciation. Face coverings will be required at all other times.
The success of our plan to remain open for in-person instruction relies heavily on our community’s commitment to proper self-screening and strictly adhering to the “stay home if symptomatic” policies.
- Every family must complete the daily self-screening checklist for every child attending MGCS. Verbal confirmation will be validated every morning. The self-screening questions and checklist is available here.
- Daily temperature checks will be required for every student, staff and visitor. Students will be checked every morning with a non-contact thermal scanner when they enter their homerooms class.
- Any child with a temperature of 99 degrees or higher will be sent to the nurse’s office to be checked with an oral thermometer. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be sent home.
- If your child is showing signs of illness such as: fever (100.4), chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new cough, loss of taste or smell, vomiting, diarrhea or excessive fatigue, please do not send him/her to school until you see no symptoms for a minimum of 48 hours. He/she must also be fever-free without any fever-reducing medicines for a minimum of 48 hours. (ex. If they leave at 11:30 A.M. on Tuesday, they will not be able to return until 11:30 A.M. on Thursday).
- If a student is sick or becomes sick at school, that student will be brought to the Nurse’s Office. The school nurse will contact the parents or guardians to discuss symptoms. Special attention will be made to thoroughly clean and sanitize areas the sick student had contact with.
While our goal is to mitigate and reduce the possibility of a COVID-19 case at MGCS, how we manage a positive case will be vital in preventing any possible community spread. We recognize that each circumstance is different and the administration will review the specific circumstances of each case. As each situation presents itself, MGCS will collaborate with medical professionals to make an appropriate plan of action.
- If a student has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they should stay home and should not come to the school property for a minimum 10 days from the first day that symptoms appeared. The student must also be fever-free for 48 hours prior to returning. The school requests to be notified immediately of any COVID-19 case within our MGCS community and immediate family members.
- If we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our student body or faculty/staff during in-person instruction, the MGCS community will be notified and the building / classroom(s) will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, according to CDC guidelines.
- In the event of a positive COVID-19 case in one classroom, the entire class will move to virtual learning for a minimum of 5 days. During this time, appropriate contact tracing will be done to determine the level of exposure. The quarantine period may extend up to 10 days. Siblings of any students who test positive will be required to quarantine for a 10-day.
- If they have remained symptom-free during the 10-day quarantine period, they may return to school.
- If any student, staff or faculty has been directly exposed to COVID-19, he/she should notify the school and self-quarantine for a 10-day period. Exposure is defined by the CDC as: Anyone who has had close contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes or longer within a 24 hour period.
- Weather permitting, outdoor activities will be encouraged, including outdoor learning opportunities. Recess and lunch play, as well as physical education classes, will take place outdoors weather permitting.
- Students will eat lunches either in their classrooms, at socially distanced cafeteria tables or in designated outdoors locations. The cafeteria will continue to provide lunches from My Hot Lunch Box each day. Lunches will be delivered to classrooms for students grades K-5 in order to reduce lunch line congestion. Middle school students will be brought by the teacher to get lunches in grade level groups.
- The cafeteria will not be selling items during the YELLOW alert level. All orders must be done online through My Hot Lunch Box.
- Snacks will not be sold by the cafeteria during YELLOW alert level.
- At this time there will be no “heat up” lunches. Students must bring a lunch that does not require a microwave.
- All school field trips will be evaluated on an individual basis.
- Early Morning and Afterschool care will continue under the YELLOW alert level with some modifications.
- Boys and Girls basketball will continue as scheduled.
- Spectators are limited to immediate family members only. Screening questions and temperature checks will be required for in-person attendance.
- Games will be live streamed.
- MGCS will continue to be guided by current CDC and NCISAA COVID-19 recommendations.
In order to establish and maintain a healthy learning environment, visitation will be restricted under the YELLOW alert level.
- The school will remain closed to visitors.
- In the event an in-person meeting is necessary, an appointment will be required. Please contact your child’s teacher if you would like to schedule an in-person visit or virtual meeting.
- Visitors must check-in at the main office and adhere to appropriate screening and temperature checks upon arrival.
Morning Drop Off and Dismissal
In order to reduce congestion, morning drop-off and dismissal will be modified.
- No one except students may exit vehicles. Our friendly staff will assist all students in getting them into their classrooms in a safe and comforting manner.
- MGCS will have three designated drop-off locations. Self-screening confirmations and temperature scans will take place in homerooms classes.
- Dismissal will remain staggered by grade level beginning with Kindergarten. Designated dismissal locations will be assigned to reduce congestion.
In compliance with recent CDC recommendations, MGCS asks families to follow these carpooling guidelines .
- When traveling in a vehicle with anyone other than your immediate family, all individuals should wear MGCS recommended style face coverings.
Is there an online program option available while in-person instruction is provided?
- At this time, MGCS encourages all students to attend in-person instruction. However, we understand that not every student may feel comfortable or able to attend due to a high risk medical condition. For this reason, MGCS will be using a flexible attendance policy. While in-person classes are taking place, all assignments will be posted daily (by 4:00 PM) for those students that are remote learning. This will be an assignment-based option that will require parental guidance. While some instructional videos may be posted, they are only intended to supplement classroom instruction.
Will I still be able to celebrate my child’s birthday while the school operates under the YELLOW alert level?
- In order to protect the health and safety of our community, visitors will not be allowed. Any treats brought to share with the class must be prepacked and approved by the classroom teacher.
When should I keep my child home from school?
- If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms within the past 48 hours, they should stay home and you should consult your healthcare provider: Fever (100.4),Chills, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new cough, loss of taste or smell, vomiting, diarrhea or excessive fatigue. In addition, if your child has had direct exposure to someone with COVID-19, they should quarantine for 10 days and monitor symptoms.
If I need to drop off lunches/items or check out my student what should I do?
- When you arrive at the school visitors are required to come to the front office entrance and communicate with the front office from outside the building utilizing our bell intercom system. If you are checking out a student please remain under the front office overhang until your student meets you outside.