Since the spring, 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 in the coming weeks or months that impacts our plans, we will communicate promptly with our families. But for now, we are continuing to prepare to welcome our students back to campus with the guidance of medical experts and state policies, both of which currently support our initial plans to return to campus learning.
School Leadership Q&A Webinars
Important Dates And Travel Information
Friday, September 4: Student leaders
Sunday, September 6: New students who live abroad
Monday, September 7: New domestic boarding and day students
Tuesday, September 8 and Wednesday, September 9: Returning domestic boarding and day students (families will arrange move-in times through the Office of Student Life)
Thursday, September 10: Returning students who live abroad
Domestic Boarding Students: If you are within driving distance of the school (“within driving distance” refers to those families who can drive from their homes to school and back in the same day), you will be expected to move your belongings into the dorm between August 15 and August 20. The Office of Student Life will send out a sign-up sheet for times soon. Students will not stay on campus, but will return home to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. This process will allow us to ensure effective physical distancing while providing families with the opportunity to set up rooms together. Students living in the U.S. but not within driving distance must self-quarantine at home for 14 days before returning to school.
Students Living Abroad: Students coming to the U.S. from other countries should monitor CDC guidelines for reentry, which currently include a 14-day quarantine. As a result, both new and returning students living abroad are required to arrive in the U.S. at least 14 days prior to their prescribed arrival date:
Student Leaders: Quarantine in U.S on or before August 21; arrive to school on September 4
New Students: Quarantine in U.S. on or before August 23; arrive to school on September 6
Returning Students: Quarantine in U.S. on or before August 28; arrive to school on September 10
We ask families who are able to quarantine off campus during that time to do so. We also recognize that this may not be possible for everyone and will work with families to provide a safe quarantine option on campus if necessary. Students who elect to quarantine on campus must arrive Friday, August 21—two weeks prior to the arrival of other students. There will be an additional nominal fee for this service of $250 per week. Students planning to arrive after August 21 who need to be quarantined locally should contact Chris Howes for more information.
Virtual Orientation: Due to restrictions on having large gatherings of people on campus, we will provide virtual orientation opportunities for our new students and families in August. We will communicate those opportunities to you by August 1. In addition, once students are on campus, we will conduct our on-campus orientation for students to acclimate to school life.
Enrollment and Tuition
We are developing a variety of scenarios for our after-school and cocurricular activities. Due to the evolving landscape of the spread of the virus, we are closely monitoring the situation and have not made any final decisions. Regardless of our ability to participate in interscholastic athletic competitions or gather in performance spaces, we will ensure that our students have robust after-school programming that includes quality activity/sport-specific training. In addition, we are working to develop engaging new offerings for our students. We will provide more specific information regarding PGA plans in the coming weeks as final decisions are made.
No decisions have been made about interscholastic athletics, but we are in frequent contact with our athletic leagues (MAPL and PAISAA) and other peer schools about what might be feasible for this fall and beyond. Whatever those decisions, we are committed to providing a full and varied set of after-school offerings that will meet the needs of all students within the guidelines provided by state and local agencies and that align with our safety protocols. We hope to begin the fall with sport-specific training as approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We will have more information about the likelihood of interscholastic athletics later this summer.
All faculty are engaged in robust professional development courses and workshops this summer. These courses and workshops focus on two areas: enhancing virtual learning experiences and diversity, equity, and inclusion work. In addition, when we return to campus in August, all faculty will take part in nearly three weeks of additional training and preparation to ensure that we are ready to welcome our students back to campus.
As an example, here are some of the workshops and courses faculty are taking 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 Safety
- Sanitation - The school has created cleaning protocols that exceed the expectations set forth by the CDC. In addition, we will be creating cleaning and sanitation stations throughout campus as we encourage our community to engage in the most effective form of virus prevention: washing hands and disinfecting spaces.
- Campus Restrictions - Over the coming weeks, we will be developing our plans related to visitors to campus, as well as students’ ability to leave campus. All families should expect limited ability to visit campus, as well as limited options for students to leave during the fall term. Once we have our students on our campus, our primary goal will be to limit potential exposure as much as reasonably possible. We recognize that day students and faculty and staff will be traveling off campus regularly and will expect them to limit their exposure and to practice effective physical distancing and use of masks when away from campus.