Divine Mercy Academy’s comprehensive Health and Safety Plan is guiding our back-to-school efforts. It reflects input from our faculty, parents, community members and health professionals. The plan has been composed with great care, based on the most current information. It includes scientific, medical and educational safeguards to help us achieve a single goal: “To create safe, hygienic and social learning experiences that will help your child reach his or her potential.” Please click here to read the full plan.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding our plan:
What will transportation look like?
Parents who are able to transport their children to school are asked to do so. If that is not possible, your local school district will continue to provide transportation as outlined in their health and safety plan.
Will students have to wear face masks?
Yes. In the Green phase, students will be required to wear face masks in high traffic areas, such as hallways. However, students can remove their masks when they are in the classroom since several steps have been taken to provide protective social distancing, including new Plexiglas dividers on each desk.
How many masks do students need?
We recommend that students bring two masks on the first day of school – one which they will wear in school (and to/from school each day), and one that be a spare. Whatever kind; best kind is the one you wear.
Can students wear a mask of their choice?
Yes. Since the best mask is the one that your child will wear, students are welcome to wear a mask of their choice as long as it appropriate for the DMCA school setting.
What if students cannot wear a mask?
Students who are unable to wear a mask will be required to submit a document signed by a doctor that indicates why they cannot wear a mask. Documentation needs to be submitted prior to the first day of enrollment for the 2020-21 school year.
Who is overseeing DMCA’s pandemic preparations?
Mrs. Kristen Instone, RN, is our Health Services Coordinator, and is overseeing our health and safety plan. Her efforts are in accordance with Center for Disease Control (CDC) and PA Department of Health (DoH) guidelines, with input and support from local medical professionals and DMCA administrators and staff.
What will the classroom look like?
Teachers will be equipped with proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and student desks and workspaces will be spaced to meet 6’ social distancing guidelines. In addition, Lexan Polycarbonate dividers are being installed on every desk and workspace. Hand sanitizer dispensers and air purifiers will also be placed in every room.
Will there be special classes?
Yes. All instructors of our ‘special’ subjects (art, music, PE, Spanish, computer science and STREAM) will travel to each individual classroom to provide these educational experiences.
How will visitors be handled?
Visitors will be limited each day and by appointment only. Visits will be limited to the office area only.
Will students have recess?
Yes. Recess will be held outside each day, weather permitting, and in the gym or classroom in the event of inclement weather. Recess will be schedule for one grade at a time.
What will breakfast look like?
Students will report to their homeroom when they arrive at school. Once they have had their temperature checked, students can request a grab and go breakfast to eat in their classroom.
What will lunch look like?
Students will eat in classrooms. Meals will be delivered to PreK, K, 1 classrooms; students in grades 2-6 will be socially distanced as they walk to the cafeteria, pick up their choice of lunches, and return to their classroom to eat.
How will students who exhibit symptoms be handled?
Our nursing suites have been redesigned with multiple isolation areas which will house any student who may exhibit symptoms. Students who are directed to an isolation area will be screened and, if necessary, parents or guardians will be contacted to pick up them up. The room will be fully disinfected after a student is discharged.
Will the school be disinfected on a regular basis?
Yes. High traffic areas will be sanitized throughout the school day and teachers will properly clean instructional materials between uses. Classrooms and other school areas will be cleaned every evening and electrostatic foggers will be used to disinfect common spaces during the evening cleaning process. Hand sanitizer stations and air purifiers will also be available in every classroom.
Who created DMCA’s pandemic plan?
The plan was created using a collaborative and team approach that incorporated the skills, perspectives and experiences of several individuals including Kristen Instone, RN, DMCA’s Health Services Coordinator; Mary Fleck, Principal; Matt Ribblett, Dean of Students; and several members of our faculty and staff. It was reviewed by outside medical professionals and other stakeholders.
How will this plan affect extra-curricular activities?
We continue to move forward with a full range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, First Lego League, Reading Competition and more. We will provide these opportunities unless we are instructed otherwise by organizations such as DoH, PDE, or the PIAA.
What will happen if we move to yellow or red level restrictions?
Mask usage represents the biggest difference between the Green and Yellow restrictions. In the Yellow phase, students will be required to wear masks at all times. If Cambria County moves into the Red phase and schools are required to temporarily transition to remote learning. If necessary, we will conduct learning virtually using our library of research-based digital resources such as Freckle, and Google Classroom.
If I do not feel comfortable having my child participate in face-to-face instruction, is there another option?
It our goal to make in-person learning, our classrooms and our campuses as safe, hygienic and comfortable as possible. However, if necessary, students can participate in live classroom instruction from a remote location or access a recorded version later on.
Will my child’s temperature be checked?
Yes. All individuals will have their temperature checked upon entering the facilities. If an abnormal temperature is recorded, the individual will be relocated to an isolation area for a temperature re-check.
What if my child is not feeling well before going to school?
All individuals that are not feeling well are asked to remain at home until their symptoms have subsided or they have been cleared by a doctor. This requirement includes DMCA students and employees.
Will toys and equipment that children come in contact with be sanitized?
Yes. All school equipment (ex. toys, balls, computers, etc.) will be sanitized on a daily basis.