An Episcopal, co-educational boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Liz Torrey

Dear Parents and Students of St. Andrew’s,

I trust this important letter finds you and your families healthy and well.

I am pleased to share the news that St. Andrew’s plans to return to a full residential community and on-campus program as we begin the 2020-2021 school year.

Ever since our transition to virtual teaching and learning last March, we have worked intensively to understand how we might return to community life on campus that inspires the learning, personal development, and leadership skills of our students. We know that living in community is essential to the intellectual, spiritual, and moral growth of our students; we know that the United States and the world need to cultivate leaders who will heal humanity’s conflicts, division, pain, and suffering; we know that the St. Andrew’s experience will give our students the grace and inspiration to live with confidence, purpose, hope, and generosity.

Our plan emerged and developed through the work of several task forces: we created a trustee/faculty working group, as well as faculty task forces focusing on health and wellness, academics, residential life, and student life. We are honored to work with Dr. Stephen Eppes, Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Christiana Care in Delaware. In addition, we have worked collaboratively with colleagues at peer schools, colleges, and universities.

Even as we announce our program and intention to return to campus, we must recognize that our plan depends on a number of factors beyond our control. We will follow and honor guidelines and regulations set by Governor John Carney, the Delaware Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they collectively study the movement, severity, and transmission rates of COVID-19.

As Head of School, I base all reopening decisions on the best work and recommendations of the medical and scientific community and on my dedication to the health and welfare of the St. Andrew’s extended community and the community of which we are a part in Delaware. 

As we learned last year, the pandemic requires us to be flexible, nimble, and intelligent in our response to changing conditions, threats, and regulations. We have designed a plan to gather the community together in September, but we will also be prepared to use other approaches designed to protect, sustain, and strengthen the pursuit of our distinctive mission if we cannot gather on campus.

Whatever the challenge or circumstance, we at St. Andrew’s are dedicated to providing an exemplary educational experience and transformational community for our students.

All of the information outlined below, plus further details and answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on the 2020-2021 School Year page on the St. Andrew's website.

General Principles
The St. Andrew’s plan depends on the shared creativity, sacrifices, and discipline of all members of the community. We believe we have already built an ethos and spirit uniquely prepared for the challenge necessary for a healthy and successful year on campus. Our small all-residential community; our 2200 acre campus; the trust among faculty, staff, and students; and our commitment to honoring the full humanity of our school and local community give us reason for faith and optimism.

Together, we will embrace these principles:

  • Living in a community during a pandemic calls upon all of us to live intentionally, patiently, and generously.
  • We will define, respect, and abide by physical distancing regulations as an ultimate expression of the reverence we have for all members of the community.
  • We will wear face masks at all times (except for time spent in dorm rooms with roommates, dining, during hygiene practices, and outdoors with adequate physical space), a commitment and discipline that protects the health of others in the community.
  • We will set and follow comprehensive and intensive hygiene rituals in all areas of the school. We will set, practice, and maintain the highest standards for daily cleaning and disinfecting on campus. 
  • We will seek to significantly limit exposure to the residential community in a variety of ways: by making several school offices virtual, by virtually conducting college admissions representatives and admissions visits, by limiting student leaves, and by making Parents Weekend virtual. 

Academics
Teaching and learning at St. Andrew’s establishes the foundation and spirit of a community of intellectual passion, curiosity, creativity, and collaboration.

  • During the 2020-2021 year, St. Andrew’s will continue to use its two-semester academic calendar.
  • We plan a first semester with all students on campus up to Thanksgiving break. The semester will continue and ultimately conclude virtually in December.
  • We will return to our traditional number grade policy in both semesters; the III Form first semester will remain Pass/Fail.
  • The second semester schedule remains under study and will be finalized during the course of the fall.
  • We will maintain our daily schedule that features four 75-minute classes a day; we will allow for ample time for classroom/lab cleaning after every session.
  • We are carefully reviewing section sizes to ensure optimal physical distancing principles during class.
  • We will expand classrooms to include outdoor spaces and other new, spacious areas within the school.
  • The school will be flexible in our ability to provide virtual instruction to students who cannot be on campus because of travel restrictions or health issues.
  • During full virtual session in December, St. Andrew’s will teach classes five days a week, deepening the teaching practices developed last spring. All virtual classes during December will be held synchronously. We will provide flexibility for asynchronous classes, if needed.
  • We may use Saturdays for classes both on campus as well as during virtual session.

Student Life
As the school returns to community session, St. Andrew’s will develop a number of new approaches to student life, all designed to protect the health of the community:

  • Large community gatherings such as student orientations, School Meetings, special programs, and Chapel services will be held virtually or designed for outdoor spaces.
  • SAGE Dining Services will provide sequenced shifts for student breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We will use many outdoor spaces for dining during months of good weather and establish the Old Gym as a second servery and dining space with an outdoor tent.  
  • The school has taken steps to decrease dorm density in both the boys and girls’ dorms. 
  • We will create cohorts or family units within dorms for safety, meetings, and recreation. These cohorts will also serve as the groups with whom our students will eat meals.
  • We will ask students to remain on campus and not travel to town during the first semester of the year.
  • We will ask students to limit off-campus weekends to only emergency family situations.
  • We are in the process of studying fall athletics, along with other public and private schools in Delaware. If we do not have interscholastic athletic competitions, we will develop a great intramural program.

Health Services
The St. Andrew’s Health Center has prepared carefully for the 2020-2021 year and its many challenges. COVID-19 preparations include the following: 

  • Our COVID-19 testing plan for the community is as follows:
    • We will collect a specimen for SARS-CoV-2 PCR viral testing from each student upon arrival.
    • A second wave of testing all students will occur between days 7 and 10 on campus.
    • The need for ongoing testing of students and faculty (surveillance testing) will be determined. 
    • Testing will always occur with any symptomatic student.
  • Plans for quarantine and isolation care in the event of a positive COVID-19 case on campus include the following:
    • Temporary housing and dining arrangements.
    • Care algorithms.
    • Ability to continue learning virtually. 
    • Overflow rooms will be available in case of any viral clusters that require isolation until test results are available.
    • We will offer specimen collection for SARS-CoV-2 PCR viral testing to be sent to a lab for those students presenting with signs or symptoms or a known close contact who is COVID-19 positive.
    • Any positive COVID-19 student will remain isolated until parent/guardian arrival. 

Opening of School Procedures
Of course, one of the most important aspects of our plan involves the move in process for students. We have designed an approach that gives us the opportunity to begin the year with the community tested and healthy. Please click here to view the entire calendar for the fall semester, and see below for our Opening of School schedule.
 
2020-21 Opening of School Schedule 

  • Tuesday, September 1-Wednesday, September 2
    • Opening Faculty Meetings
  • Thursday, September 3
    • Department Meetings
  • Friday, September 4
    • Residential Meetings
  • Sunday, September 6
    • VI Form Girls Arrive 
  • Monday, September 7
    • VI Form Boys Arrive
    • 8:00 PM—International Families Orientation (virtual)
  • Tuesday, September 8-Wednesday, September 9
    • VI Form Leadership Program  
  • Thursday, September 10
    • III Form Girls and New IV & V Form Boys Arrive 
  • Friday, September 11
    • III Form Boys Arrive and New IV & V Form Girls Arrive
  • Saturday, September 12
    • III Form Orientation and New IV & V Form Orientation
  • Sunday, September 13
    • Chapel
    • III Form Orientation and New IV & V Form Orientation
    • 8:00 PM—Virtual School Meeting (all students)
  • Monday, September 14
    • Classes Begin (returning IV & V Form students virtual; new IV & V Form students in-person)
  • Wednesday, September 16
    • 8:00 PM—Virtual Convocation Chapel (all students)
  • Thursday September 17
    • V Form Girls Arrive
  • Friday September 18
    • V Form Boys Arrive 
  • Sunday, September 20
    • 7:00 PM—Virtual Chapel
  • Monday, September 21
    • IV Form Boys Arrive
  • Tuesday, September 22
    • IV Form Girls Arrive 

What To Do Before Arrival

  1. We ask our students to observe a strict 14-day quarantine before returning to campus. Please follow these guidelines from the CDC and the Delaware Department of Public Health as you observe your quarantine. If you are traveling to St. Andrew’s from overseas (regardless of your citizenship), you will need to quarantine off campus for 14 days after you arrive in the United States.
  2. We ask parents to arrange for a COVID-19 test for their child four or five days before your departure from home to return to St. Andrew’s. (You may get your COVID-19 test during your 14-day quarantine.) Please bring the digital or print results of your test with you when you return to campus. If you test positive for COVID-19 at this time, please do not come to campus for the Opening of School and please contact the Health Center (healthcenter@standrews-de.org) for next steps.
  3. We ask that all families who live 300 miles or more from St. Andrew’s designate a family member, guardian, or family friend who could arrive on campus within two to three hours in case your child is ill or has to observe a quarantine period. Please email your contact to covid19@standrews-de.org. We will work with you if you have difficulty identifying a person to assist your family.
  4. We ask parents to be sure students only bring essential clothes and belongings to school. Only school-provided furniture will be allowed in students rooms this year.
  5. We ask parents to provide their child with face masks for use during the year. If this is not possible, the school will provide masks.

Move-In Plans & Protocols

  • Only one adult per family should accompany students to campus on Move-In Day. If your family needs an exception to this policy, please contact Associate Head of School Ana Ramirez (aramirez@standrews-de.org) and we will work with you. 
  • Upon arrival at school, students will be tested immediately. We will use a PCR SARS CoV-2 viral test. 
  • In order to have a healthy transition period between the time of the test and the time of the result, we will stagger the arrivals of students into distinct phases, five days apart, moving seniors in first and then adding the respective Forms in phases. We will have students stay in their rooms alone until their test results allow them to move into roommate pairs. 
  • Once we fill the school towards capacity and cannot house students for the testing interim, we will have students quarantine with their roommates.

We ask parents not to bring students to campus for the Opening of School if they are ill, symptomatic, or positive for COVID-19. We ask parents not to come to campus for the Opening of School if you are ill, symptomatic, or positive for COVID-19. 

Next Steps
As stated at the beginning of our report, St. Andrew’s will be ready to be flexible and nimble should COVID-19 conditions change. If we determine that the spread and transmission of the virus have reached epidemic rates in our region, we will be ready to move to a complete virtual semester for as long as needed. 

If we determine that transmission rates warrant a middle step, we would be ready to lower the school’s capacity to the senior class and one other Form at a time.

As we share this plan with you today, we have also set up the following Zoom calls for parents in each Form:

  • Parents of Classes 2021 and 2022: Tuesday, July 21 at 8:30 p.m.
    • Zoom link here (password: 883364)
  • Parents of Classes 2023 and 2024: Wednesday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m.
    • Zoom link here (password: 976725)

We will send reminder emails to all of you with these Zoom links, plus call-in numbers, on the day of each talk. Please email any questions you may have in advance to covid19@standrews-de.org (you will also be able to ask questions during our calls, of course). If you cannot attend, both calls will be recorded and we will post links to each recording here and here after the fact.

Again, please visit our 2020-2021 School Year page on the St. Andrew's website for more information on all of the above and further details on how we are preparing to welcome students back to campus this fall. 

Best, 

Tad

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Tad Roach

I write to share an update on St. Andrew’s work supporting racial equity, inclusion, and understanding. This work has always been important for us, but the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the ongoing school and national conversations about racism and inequity make our commitment and attention even more urgent. We must focus our collective efforts and commitments on becoming antiracists and affirming, in all we say and do, that Black Lives Matter.
 
As you learned from my letter on June 29, we have developed opportunities for our Black alumni and alumni of color to meet with us on the telephone for one-on-one conversations to reflect on their experiences at the School, talk about transition to college and professional life, and share recommendations on the important specific action steps we can take to develop, improve, and strengthen our School culture. In the fall, I will expand those conversations to include all alums as well.
 
In addition to these conversations, I want to update you on the continued efforts of the St. Andrew’s faculty to advance our community’s understanding around justice and racial equity.

Dean of Diversity Education Devin Duprey continues to work intensively with our current students. She writes:

“Over the past weeks, I have met and worked with faculty, students, and affinity groups to develop a framework designed to support and guide students and faculty as they explore the individual and collective questions related to racism, white supremacy, and other forms of brutality, oppression, and injustice. ‘Cultivating an Antiracist Mindset, Community, and Culture’ is adapted from the model I co-created with Tracy Yuan for our Lyceum event exploring the rise of Anti-Asian Xenophobia during the COVID-19 outbreak. With opportunities for engagement co-led by students and faculty, resource lists, external events, internal programming, conversation groups, and workshops, this model centers the work of antiracism. Each module aims to promote reflection on key questions, explore our individual identities, foster habits of hearts and mind, and uncover ways that we can take action. It is our goal to use this framework to further advance our mission of creating a community in which all members are valued as their true authentic selves and where the humanity of all is honored, upheld, and protected.”

Dean of Faculty Development Emily Pressman continues to inform the full community of current students, faculty, and staff of important Lyceum events that feature conversations about race, equality, and justice both in schools and in our society. She writes, “As historian Ibram X. Kendi has put it: ‘To be antiracist is a radical choice in the face of history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness.’” Emily’s Lyceum document, open to all members of our community, offers multiple offerings that are part of the study of the history of race and power, implicit bias, and systematic racism. Emily also makes specific recommendations to faculty regarding important professional development opportunities in diversity areas. Last week, she convened a faculty group to watch and discuss a session offered by the Wells Collective on Teaching, Loving, and Believing in Black Girls. Emily described the session this way:

“It offered powerful frameworks for further understanding the experience of Black girls at St. Andrew’s, and our work as teachers, mentors, and coaches. It opened up spaces for great moments of reflection on our community and goal setting for how we can strive to be better. Each one of us must make sure we are centering teaching, loving, and believing in our Black students in our work as St. Andrew’s faculty.”
 
Dean of Teaching and Learning Elizabeth Roach shares her perspective on required school summer reading and guest author visits in 2020-21:
 
“For this upcoming school year, two brilliant, award winning writers will visit St. Andrew’s. Their novels, sent to all students for summer reading (and which will be studied in classes next year) will stimulate ongoing thought, reflection, and discussion about the complexities and importance of racial identity, the immigrant experience, storytelling, and the legacy of slavery.

Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican performer and writer of 
The Poet X, which won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Xiomara Batista, the narrator in The Poet X (a novel written in verse), explores and wrestles with her identity as a young Dominican American woman growing up in Harlem, a twin, and a poet. Her voice—often silenced in her house and at church—is persistent, clear, compelling, and urgent in her poems, allowing us—as readers—to access a multiplicity of thematic questions about growing up first generation American, Latinx culture, sexuality, religion, gender, and family. Xiomara needs to speak through her poetry. We need and want to listen.

Yaa Gyasi, born in Ghana and raised in Alabama, contends with the Atlantic Slave Trade in her ambitious and sprawling debut novel 
Homegoing. A series of connected stories, the novel ranges over generations and continents, showing how slavery and colonialism persist and transform through time and centuries. In 2017, when asked about the legacy of slavery, Gyasi responded: ‘Black people in America were slaves for longer than they have been free. That imbalance (over 200 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow, 50 years of post-civil rights freedom), is staggering to think about. It is ridiculous to argue that slavery ended many years ago and therefore doesn’t matter. History is not discrete or neat. It doesn’t happen and then end. It informs our present, and I hope that Homegoing is able to show how.’” 

Personally, I am reading and writing intensively, trying to understand and pinpoint just how St. Andrew’s must improve and sharpen its approach and dedication to the experience of Black students and students of color. I am seeking to understand how education can play a leading role in the changes we need in America.
 
In support of these goals, I am offering two classes this summer, one designed for new students introducing them to the opportunity and responsibilities involved in strengthening the ethos of the School. The course features important conversations and readings about St. Andrew’s approach to human rights, diversity, inclusion, and proximity. 
 
The second class will be held in mid-August on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative and Bryan Stevenson. The course will begin to formulate a new approach to American schools’ study of the history of white supremacy, racial oppression, and reform movements in the country. We will specifically discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, the recent murders and sustained violence towards Black people, and the urgent work ahead for all of us in the coming weeks and months. 

These are painful days of grieving and mourning, but we will get through these difficult times together. We express our solidarity with and support of the Black community by standing with and standing by your side, here at St. Andrew’s and beyond.

I will continue to keep you updated on our progress and next steps over the next few weeks and months.

Best,

Tad

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Next Steps & Conversations: Furthering Our Work for Racial Equity & Inclusion
Tad Roach

Dear St. Andrew’s Family,
 
As we continue to reflect on the trauma, pain, and outrage of the past month in the United States, we need and want to study and further the work of racial equity, inclusion, and understanding at St. Andrew’s. We have so much important work to do to make sure St. Andrew’s fulfills its full promise and potential for our Black students and all students of color.
 
In order to analyze and explore these crucial issues, I am inviting our alumni of color to have one-on-one conversations with me to share their experiences and personal truths from their time at our school. These conversations will help provide the school with vital feedback and evaluation on how St. Andrew’s culture, program, and spirit can be affirmed, developed, reframed, and transformed. We also welcome conversations about the alumni transition to college and professional life. 
 
This is the moment to do the work for future generations of St. Andreans. We will all build this plan together, connecting generations at the School. 
 
Dean of Diversity Education Devin Duprey, my school leadership team, and the faculty are eager to engage in this powerful community conversation. We look forward to your insights and recommendations.
 
From my own standpoint, I seek to understand how I can make my voice and values more clear, compelling, and urgent in my final months at the School. 
 
Given this urgency, we understand that there are action steps that we seek to take here in our community, including the following:

  • We need to intensify and innovate our hiring process as we seek greater diversity within our faculty.
  • We seek to further refine our approaches to student life diversity and inclusion explorations throughout the academic year.
  • We are committed to funding professional development opportunities for faculty as they seek to develop their understanding of their critical roles in this work.
  • We are dedicated to intensifying the work we have already pursued for years in the area of diversity education; we seek to support our Dean of Diversity Education Devin Duprey.
  • We are eager to do both internal and external studies of what needs new or renewed attention, creativity, and reform.
  • We want to develop stronger approaches to assure that all alumni of color stay connected to one another and St. Andrew’s for a lifetime.

I welcome your participation in our effort to extend these initiatives and to identify and develop new commitments to serve future generations at the School. I seek your wisdom and insights, now more than ever. 
 
If you identify as a person of color and you would like to talk to me and/or either Associate Head of School Ana Ramirez or Dean of Diversity Education Devin Duprey on the designated dates below and share your experiences, perspective, and recommendations, please email me (troach@standrews-de.org) and my Assistant Debra Gerardi (dgerardi@standrews-de.org), or simply reply to this email.
 
July individual call dates and times:

  • Monday, July 6, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of 2000-2005
  • Wednesday, July 8, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of 2006-2010
  • Monday, July 13, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of 2011-2016
  • Wednesday, July 15, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of 2017-2020
  • Monday, July 20, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of 1996-1999
  • Wednesday, July 22, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of 1990-95
  • Monday, July 27, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from the Classes of the 1980s
  • Tuesday, July 28, 4:30-6 PM, 7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from Classes of the 1970s
  • Wednesday, July 29, 4:30-6 PM,  7-10 PM—individual phone calls with alums of color from Classes of the 1960s

Of course, I will make the time to speak to every alum of color who wants to speak with me. If my dates and times do not work for you, we will develop alternative dates. I am here for each and every one of you.
 
I will continue to keep you and the extended community informed on my conversations, my learning, and my reflections on the School, as well as the actions we will take to strengthen our community.
 
Later this week, I will be writing to you again to share the work Devin Duprey, Dean of Faculty Development Emily Pressman, our faculty, and I are doing this summer to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year.
 
Thank you.
 
In community,

Tad

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