Since spring 2019, Mercersburg Academy has been working diligently to understand the impact of COVID-19 and to develop protocols to protect our community. We knew that planning to open to on-campus learning would be complex and would also require significant resources in order to feel confident in this direction. At this time, our goal is to protect those in our community who are most vulnerable while delivering on our mission for our students. We all must recognize that the way we live and learn together will look different, but in order to have the privilege of being on campus, we will make the necessary sacrifices to protect our community members most susceptible to the virus. Should we receive new information that impacts our plans, we will communicate promptly with our families.
Important Dates and Travel Information
Similar to the fall, students will need to take the following steps to return to campus:
- Students will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 7 days prior to arrival and submit the negative test to the Health and Wellness Center no later than March 4.
- Students will then take another COVID-19 PCR test when they arrive on campus March 6 or 7.
- Boarding students will quarantine in their rooms for five days and take a second PCR test at the end of the week on March 12. During the quarantine, students will leave their rooms to get meals from the dining hall and have recreational time. Day students will also take a second PCR test at the end of the week on March 12 and attend classes virtually while boarding students are quarantined in their rooms.
- If PCR tests return negative, students will be released from in-room quarantine and will be able to move around their “circle” and attend classes and PGAs in person.
- After 14 days from the last students’ arrival, it is our hope to allow students to move freely throughout the dorm and relax restrictions across campus.
*Emergency Contact and 48-Hour Evacuation Plan
An important reminder that every family must have a domestic contact or guardian and a 48-hour evacuation plan confirmed before arriving on campus. Please indicate the name and contact information for your child’s guardian in the Magnus Health Form located in the parent portal. Students that do not provide this information by March 4 will not be allowed to come to campus in March. Please contact the Office of Student Life at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not have a 48-hour evacuation plan for your child.
*Flu Shot Requirement
All students will be required to have the flu vaccine before returning to campus. If your child has not received this vaccine, please do so before arriving on campus and submit verification to the Health and Wellness Center no later than March 4.
The school has made the decision to begin the winter term virtually for the first six weeks of the nine-week term, delaying the return of students for on-campus learning to March 6. We will provide more details on the logistics of returning to campus in a future communication. In the meantime, the details outlined below should help you in planning your return.
January 11: Winter term begins virtually for all students
January 11-February 19: Classes will remain virtual during the first six weeks of the nine-week winter term.
February 20-March 5: Spring Break
*March 6-7: All students will return to campus for the remaining three weeks of the winter term and a 10-week spring term; receive their first on-campus COVID-19 test; and begin the quarantine period in their dorms.
March 8-12: Students will learn virtually while in quarantine and receive their second COVID-19 test at the end of the week.
March 15-March 26: In-person classes will begin for the final two weeks of the winter term.
March 30: Spring term begins
June 3: Last day of the spring term
June 4: All students in grades 9, 10, and 11 depart campus
June 5: Commencement for seniors and families
Spring Break will be from February 20-March 5, 2021. For the winter term, we are seeking to maximize in-person learning for all students. By moving Spring Break earlier in our calendar, we gain three weeks of on-campus time together. An updated calendar-at-a-glance can be found here.
We work with a professional third-party bus company to arrange the transportation of students on major arrival days. We are ensuring the practice of physical distancing and are requiring masks during transfers.
To request transportation from airports/train stations for the return to campus, please complete this form. Contact Transportation Coordinator Carol Ecton with any transportation-related questions.
Yes, every student must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 7 days before arriving on campus on March 6-7 and that test report must be submitted through the Magnus Health link found in the parent portal prior to arriving on campus. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to remain off-campus until 14 days after they are symptom free. If a student tests positive but has no symptoms, they must remain off campus for a minimum of 14 days following the positive test.
Enrollment and Tuition
The in-person schedule will be very similar to the fall schedule, with a few modifications intended to improve the overall student experience.
Virtual ’Burg students will be grouped into all-virtual classes if their schedule allows.
- All-virtual sections will be determined after February 15.
- For classes in which all-virtual sections are impossible, students will participate virtually in hybrid classes that are occurring within the in-person class schedule.
Co-curricular activities will be multifaceted in approach upon our return to campus. We have shifted our plans for the spring, continuing to “build the plane as we fly it,” with programming plans that best serve our students.
All Mercersburg students will be engaged in PGA programming in some way, including our Lifestyle Fitness programming. Seniors who do not plan to participate in another PGA will receive first priority for enrollment in Lifestyle Fitness, which is a combination of group activities and personal-choice fitness activities.
Students involved in the musical production (actors and tech crew) and in dance will remain in those activities, carrying over from the winter virtual time into the spring. Performing arts events are set for late April and mid-May.
Athletics will begin physical activities upon the end of our quarantine. Sports offerings in the spring will bring a combination of traditional offerings along with a few winter sports. While a number of factors remain in flux, a proposal to group Mercersburg with schools taking similar mitigation efforts to form competition partnerships is pending.
- Baseball, golf (boys and girls), softball, lacrosse (boys and girls), outdoor track & field (boys and girls), swimming (boys and girls), and boys’ tennis will all be offered.
- Basketball (boys and girls), diving (boys and girls), squash (boys and girls), and wrestling will also be offered. These activities are for varsity-level athletes and by invitation from a coach. Some of these sports will also cross-train in other sports and/or in our strength and performance program.
- Elevate is our seasonal preparation program for high-level/collegiate recruit athletes. This program is by invitation from athletic leadership, for athletes selected by coaches.
MOE programming will begin upon our return to campus, moving to in-person activities upon the end of quarantine. The following activities will be offered this spring, with a plan for off-campus excursions when cleared by school health officials and leaders. Students interested in these activities need to complete an application, which will be made available on February 15.
- Rivers and Trails
Further PGA Options
The rest of our spring programming activities will also begin upon our return to campus, moving to in-person activities upon the end of quarantine. The following activities will be offered this spring. All require completion of an application, which will be made available on February 15.
- Community Engagement
- Model United Nations
All faculty have been engaged in robust professional development courses and workshops over the summer. These courses and workshops focused on two areas: enhancing virtual learning experiences and diversity, equity, and inclusion work. In addition, the return of teaching faculty to campus in mid-August concided with the start of additional training and preparation to ensure our readiness to welcome our students back to campus.
As an example, here are some of the workshops and courses faculty took this summer:
New School Models Design Lab (from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education)
Designing Virtual Learning Environments (from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education)
Audio and Podcasting for Educators
Designing Assessments for Digital Experiences
Advanced Google Suite for Education
How to Facilitate Project-Based Learning in Remote Environments
Games, Simulations, and Virtual Field Trips
Creating Effective Hybrid and Blended Learning Environments
Creative Use of Google Slides
Creating, Engaging, and Effective Instructional Videos
Design Thinking: Fostering Innovation
Teaching History and Social Studies with Technology
Rethinking Makerspaces in a Remote Environment
Creating and Designing Digital Experiences for High School
Bias, Privilege, and Equity: Who We Are and What We Can Do About It
Health and Wellness
The health and safety protocols that were in effect during the fall term will continue in the winter term with a few exceptions.
Due to an increased risk during the colder months of the year, the school will continue to monitor the need to implement interval surveillance testing. We will determine when this is necessary using both internal and external case numbers and positivity rates. We will continue to symptom-test as needed with concurrent isolation and quarantine.
The flu shot will be required for employees before arriving on campus in January 4. (Good news—the majority of our employees have already received the vaccine!)
Yes, if a student has elected to purchase the health insurance provided through UnitedHealthcare, it will cover the cost of FDA-approved testing given in the U.S. Any hospitalization costs, including those for COVID-19, are covered under the insurance as well.