November 23, 2020
Dear Families,

I hope you continue to be safe and healthy. I am following up on the message I sent to you last week. 
 
As announced last week, the Board of Trustees met over the weekend to review the health situation and make decisions as to our on-campus operations. This exceptional meeting was convened because the COVID-19 test positivity rate in Montgomery County has been over 5% for several consecutive days and the number of new confirmed cases is nearing 30/100,000 residents. 

The Board’s review included the latest analysis of the COVID-19 Data Evaluation Working Group, letters and messages received by parents and members of our staff, decisions made by other private schools in the area, MSDE guidelines and recent Montgomery County recommendations. The Board also invited the presidents of PAR, Faculty and Admin, as well as its two advisors appointed by the French Embassy to participate in the meeting.

Our main objective remains to protect the health of our students, parents, faculty and staff while also providing as many on-campus learning opportunities as we are safely able to offer. To that effect, four key decisions were adopted. 
Four Key Decisions by the Board of Trustees
1. Distance Learning instruction for ALL STUDENTS for one week after Thanksgiving

Consistent with local and national recommendations, we strongly urge all families, students and staff to avoid nonessential travel in order to avoid exposure to the virus. Nevertheless like most private schools in the area we will transition back to distance learning for ALL students for the week of November 30 through December 4th.

Furthermore the Board has decided that classes will resume on campus on December 7th for the students that have already started in person instruction (Preschoolers, Kindergarten, grades 1-6, 11th and 12th grades with science spécialite for lab work).  

This mandatory period of quarantine is of utmost importance for ensuring the safety of all our students and personnel and should be observed rigorously, at home and with interactions only with close family.

2. Postpone the return of additional secondary grades

Due to the current epidemiological trends, the Board of Trustees has decided to postpone the implementation of its original plans regarding the return to on campus instruction of any additional grades. Two key factors weighed on the decision-making: 
  • In recent weeks we have worked with our teachers on a plan for the return to campus of the remainder of our secondary grades. The only viable plan involves increasing the cohort size to the full grade level given the numerous group changes that secondary school students have during a typical school day. 
  • Our COVID-19 Working Group informed us that the number of cases in Montgomery County in the 10-19 age group is around twice that of the 0 to 9 age group.

In the context of the current evolution, making such an exception to the CDC principle of small cohorting would imply an additional level of risk which does not seem reasonable. 

We will continue to monitor the epidemiological situation and if possible we will revisit the schedule for the return of additional secondary grades in January.

3. Virtual Instruction for ALL STUDENTS for 2 weeks after the Winter Break

Consistent with local and national recommendations, we strongly urge all families, students and staff to avoid nonessential travel in order to avoid exposure to the virus. Nevertheless like most private schools in the area we will transition back to distance learning for ALL students for the weeks of January 4 through January 18th. This mandatory period of quarantine is of utmost importance to ensure the safety of all our students and personnel and should be observed rigorously, at home and with interactions only with close family.

On-campus classes will resume Tuesday, January 19th.

4. Form completion prior to on campus return after Thanksgiving and Winter Break

Prior to returning to campus all students and staff will be asked to complete a form certifying that they have observed each mandatory quarantine period at home prior to returning to campus and with interactions only with close family. 
The Board of Trustees has decided to make and announce these decisions now to give families, faculty and staff visibility as you plan for the next month. We are urging everybody to continue to respect all the health and safety protocols that have kept us safe so far (social distancing, face coverings, frequent hand washing). Those 2 weeks of distance learning are not extended vacation time, but a way to ensure that our community preserves everybody’s health. 

Tuition modification: During those additional virtual weeks, the approved tuition reduction measures will be implemented as in the past: No classes and no fees assessed PS students, and 30% tuition reduction for grades MS, GS, 1 and 2. You will have an automatic credit to the student account.
Looking Ahead
As we navigate the changing public health environment and in order to protect our community’s safety, we will continue to monitor key public health metrics and to communicate our decisions clearly and promptly. We do hope that the public health conditions will improve to allow us to resume more in campus instruction in January. To that effect, the situation will be reassessed by the Board of Trustees every 2 weeks and we will give you updates in case new decisions are made. 

I feel very fortunate that we haven’t had a positive COVID case in our schools so far. As we head into Thanksgiving, I want to express how thankful I am for how dedicated our community of students, parents and staff have been in keeping one another safe and healthy during these last months. 

Finally, let me thank you for your cooperation and support in these extremely challenging times and wish you all a Happy yet prudent Thanksgiving celebration. 


Respectfully,

Hélène Fabre, Executive Director
Thanksgiving Break Reminder
Classes will take place this week only on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Enjoy your break and look for our special Thanksgiving email message on Thursday!
Useful Links