An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Return to School: Fall 2020

To SPA families,

Welcome back to school, and welcome to SPA’s “Return to School" website. We have created this site to give the SPA community a broad outline of the new routines, policies, and protocols that will be a part of day-to-day life as we return to on-campus schooling. The site will be updated routinely throughout the year, and we hope you will visit regularly. 

Our goal is to have every student on campus attending in-person class every day of the week as soon as it is safe to do so.  SPA is committed to fulfilling our mission by delivering an excellent educational experience, whether on-campus, in Distance Learning, or in a hybrid model which blends the two. 

This site also provides an overview of our data-driven approach to decision-making, which is based on the metrics recommended in Governor Walz's Safe Learning Plan, released on July 30, 2020. These metrics will continue to inform our decisions as the COVID-19 landscape inevitably shifts. We are also grateful for the guidance of Dr. Paul Anderson, our medical advisor, with whom we consult on the data and how it should impact our schedule and operations.

The health and safety of the SPA community is our highest priority. SPA’s ability to thrive during the pandemic depends on every member of the community doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This website includes a wealth of information about the many new routines and protocols that will define our life at school in the coming months. 

Please pay particular attention to the Shared Commitment to Community Health, a set of expectations and guidelines that will shape our community life at school this year. We ask that every member of the SPA community commit to following these guidelines. We need your cooperation and your support to sustain a healthy and safe environment for our students, faculty and staff.  

We have not been together at school since March 13, 2020. Therefore the first month of school will be an opportunity for us to re-acclimate ourselves to the texture of school and to adapt to the new protocols and routines imposed by the challenges of living with a pandemic. We will use these early weeks to define ways of learning and teaching that will shape our school life for the foreseeable future. 

Bryn S.  Roberts
Head of School
 

Shared Commitment to Community Health: The health and safety of the SPA community is our highest priority, and every member of the community has a part to play in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Below is our Shared Commitment to Community Health. A family's agreement with this shared commitment is part of the process of setting up the Magnus Health app, which will be required for a return to in-person school (more information about the Magnus Health app is below). Students and families who are unable to agree to these terms will be able to attend classes remotely. 

As a member of the SPA community, I agree to take active steps to protect the health and safety of every member of our community in the midst of this global pandemic. To protect myself and others in our community, I will:

  • Show compassion, care, and respect for other members of the SPA community. I will seek assistance from the school to support myself or other members of the community during this challenging time.
  • Monitor myself for symptoms of COVID-19 and complete the SPA health screening daily.
  • Stay home if I am experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms and report these symptoms to the school.
  • Maintain appropriate physical distancing while at school, including wearing a mask at all times in buildings on campus, and outside when physical distancing isn’t possible.
  • Practice consistent hand hygiene. Avoid touching my face, mouth, eyes, or nose; avoid sharing materials; and minimize touching surfaces in shared areas.
  • Prioritize getting a flu vaccine this fall, unless I have a medical reason not to.
  • Read all school emails to stay informed about health and safety updates.
  • Participate in testing and contact tracing as instructed to preserve community health.
  • Adhere to isolation and quarantine instructions if I test positive for COVID-19, if I am a presumed positive, or if I am exposed to someone who has tested positive.
  • Acknowledge that out-of-state travel may require me to follow additional public measures such as self-quarantining for 14 days.
  • Encourage other members of the SPA community to follow all health guidelines.
  • Demonstrate social responsibility by following public health guidelines in local businesses and public places.

Back to School: A Healthy Environment

Over the summer, SPA’s leadership and the school’s COVID Health and Safety task force engaged in a detailed study of SPA’s physical plant and it's capacity for bringing students and teachers back to our campuses within the parameters mandated by COVID-19.

The task force’s work was predicated on the state’s mandate that a school could only use no more than 50% of the capacity of its classrooms (capacity as defined by the fire code). We worked closely with the HGA architectural firm on planning for space and physical distancing protocols; and with the Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors (MMC) mechanical engineering firm to conduct a need analysis of our campus systems.

After detailed study, we concluded that our two campuses can accommodate our K-12 student population using 50% of classroom capacity, with the addition of portable classrooms on the Goodrich Campus and the repurposing of some public spaces on the Randolph Campus. SPA is in an enviable position, and we are fortunate that our physical plant is both large enough and sufficiently flexible to offer an on-campus option in the challenging environment that COVID-19 poses. 
 

Back to School: Orientation and the First Six Weeks

The first official day of school of the 2020-21 year is Tuesday, September 8. We will acclimate students to our new routines, schedules, and protocols during an Orientation Week that will run August 31-September 4. Specific information about academic classes and schedules will continue to be available to students and parents in the Veracross portal. 

Life at School: Routines, Protocols, and Practices for a Healthy Community

The key to our safe return to campus is ensuring that everyone in our community understands and commits to following the health and safety guidelines outlined in the plan. Keeping our campus healthy and able to “do school” is only possible if, as a community, we commit to support and uphold a healthy campus environment. With everyone’s understanding and cooperation, we have a much better chance of minimizing the risk and maintaining a healthy environment for our students, faculty and staff, families, and the larger community.

Our approach for the return to campus is comprehensive, with strategies for the individual student, the learning environment, and the campus.
 

When to Stay Home, Isolation, and Quarantining

As outlined in our Shared Commitment to Community Health, keeping the SPA community healthy is everyone’s responsibility. Every member of our community relies on you and your family to follow our protocols related to illness. The Centers for Disease Control website has a wealth of information regarding the symptoms of coronavirus, what do to if you feel sick, when to quarantine, and when you can be around others after falling ill.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

Stay Safe Minnesota: A comprehensive overview of Minnesota's response to COVID

Safe Learning Plan: Guidance for school reopening, issued by Governor Walz on July 30, 2020

MDH Decision Tree: Minnesota Department of Health's guidance on when to stay home.

Schools and Childcare: COVID-19: The Minnesota Department of Health's overview of data for schools, including the 14-day case rate by county

Facts about Coronavirus: The Centers for Disease Control's COVID-19 information center

covid-19 planning and response team

  • Bryn S. Roberts, Head of School
  • Dr. Jill Romans, Assistant Head of School for Student Development and Community Engagement
  • Dr. Cindy Richter, Assistant Head of School for Academic Programs
  • Max Delgado, Upper School Principal
  • Virginia Andres, Middle School Principal
  • Holly Fidler, Lower School Principal
  • Mark Dickinson, Director of Operations and Security
  • Chelsea Kimpton, Director of Finance
  • Courtney Barker, Director of Human Resources
  • Garry Clum, Director of Technology
  • Ami Berger, Director of Communications
  • Dr. Naomi Taylor, Director of Intercultural Life
  • Mary Hill, Director of College Counseling and Academic Planning