News from the St. Mark's Dean of Students, Dean of Academics, and Dean of Faculty
February 26, 2021
COVID-19 Updates

Reminder: St. Mark’s School Remains in Yellow Phase
St. Mark's School remains in the Yellow phase of our Campus Operational Phase Levels. Select this link to visit our COVID-19 Updates webpage.
Community & Equity

NEW: Community & Equity Day - Wednesday, February 24 
Community & Equity Day was held this past Wednesday, February 24. Students, faculty, and staff participated in Umoja (celebration of identity), student and faculty-led workshops, and presentations by John Daves, director of Community & Equity, and Michael B. Moore ’80. 
 
UPDATED: Celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth with St. Mark’s on Social Media #BHMatSM
Follow along as we celebrate Black heroes, provide C&E educational videos, and feature members of our community on social media this month! Select the links below view this week’s posts: 

Campus News

IMPORTANT: Spring Term Intentions
Dear St. Mark's Families,

As we look toward the close of our winter term and the arrival of spring we want to communicate key information and ask for your help in making the transition to spring as smooth as possible for you and your St. Markers.

Spring Term Status

Please kindly reply by March 1 with confirmation of your intentions for the spring term. We ask that you support our having accurate information by visiting the confirmation link even if you completed it earlier this year or have stated your intention by email.

We remain committed to health and safety protocols which require that we house all students in single rooms. Confirmations received by March 1 will be used to determine spring housing status for those who request boarding.

It is possible that some St. Markers may not be granted boarding status due to our health and safety capacity limits. The school will communicate to students on March 5 to confirm spring status as boarding. To determine which students receive boarding status our Capacity Task Force has created prioritization criteria (below) to ensure the process is clear.

Parameters for Boarding Prioritization:
  • Students outside of the Eastern Time Zone
  • Students who have demonstrated difficulties (academic, personal, technological) learning from home.
  • Students who distance from school and/pr family circumstances makes it difficult/impossible for them to be day students
  • Student leaders
  • VI Formers
  • V Formers
  • IV Formers
  • III Formers

Finally, if your child is currently boarding for the winter term and will be engaging as a day or remote for the spring, we request that your child depart campus on the weekend of March 20 to support the efforts of our facilities team as they turn over our residential houses for the arrival of spring term boarding students.

Transitioning from Day or Remote to Boarding
All St. Markers transitioning from Day or Remote to boarding are required to follow the re-entry guidelines shared below. These standards have supported our ability to keep our community safe and have been used for all students who exit the boarding community and return for any reason.

Protocol for Students from Day to Boarding
  • Must quarantine at home (remote) for 14 days prior to move in
  • Must bring a pre-arrival Covid PCR test (no older than 7 days prior to on-campus Covid PCR test),
  • Must come to MFAC with pre-arrival Covid PCR Test on Thursday, March 25 for on-campus PCR test,
  • Will return home to continue quarantine until results of the on-campus test are reported,
  • Once results are in, students may move into their dorm on Saturday, March 27.

Protocol for Students from Remote to Boarding
  • Must quarantine for 14 days prior to moving in,
  • Students may quarantine at home as long as they use private transportation to come to school (car-sharing services, Lyft, and Uber are not acceptable),
  • For students who are quarantining at the hotel, all testing (pre-arrival and on-campus) will be done at the hotel
  • Must bring a pre-arrival Covid PCR test (no older than 7days prior to on-campus Covid PCR test,
  • Must come to MFAC with pre-arrival Covid PCR Test on Friday, March 26 for on-campus PCR test,
  • Will return to quarantine site, at home if within driving distance or in the Health Services Annex if not within driving distance of home, until results of on-campus test are reported,
  • Once results are in, students may move into their dorm on Sunday, March 28.

Protocol for students going from Remote to Day
  • Must quarantine for 14 days prior to moving in,
  • Must bring a pre-arrival Covid PCR test (no older than 7 days prior to on-campus Covid PCR test,
  • Must come to MFAC with pre-arrival Covid PCR Test on Thursday, March 25 for on-campus PCR test,
  • Will return home to quarantine until results of the on-campus test are reported,
  • Once results are in, students may come to school on Tuesday, March 30 for in-person classes.

Additional Details
Students may take advantage of hotel accommodations for the quarantine period arranged with the support of St. Mark’s at the Residence Inn in Natick. A block has been reserved for St. Mark’s School; Please contact Ms. Anne Behnke (annebehnke@stmarksschool.org) with questions. 

Quarantine should begin for students no later than March 13.
Families will be asked to complete a Sign Up for arrival times on March 27 and March 28 to support socially distanced move-in opportunities. The link for sign-ups will be sent following status notification on March 5.

Sincerely,

David Vachris
Dean of Students
NEW: Spring Update from Head of School John C. Warren ’74, Ed.D.
Dear St. Mark’s Families,

As you can imagine, I have spent a significant amount of time thinking about the best way for the School to approach the remaining months of the academic year. It is my greatest hope that spring will provide an opportunity to return to an approach to school operations that feels more like life before COVID, to the extent that health and safety and practicality allows. Here are some aspects of school life that I hope we will be able to provide for students:

  • Allowing some boarder departure from campus (perhaps to Target on a Sunday afternoon, for example, or perhaps to spend a weekend night away from campus).
  • Allowing some day student participation in weekend activities once those activities are able to take place outdoors.
  • Engaging in some interscholastic athletic competition, perhaps between mid-April and late May.

I hope that health and safety considerations and pragmatic considerations will allow some greater flexibility in the spring for boarders leaving campus, for day students coming to campus on the weekends, and for students to engage in interscholastic competitions, because each of these activities individually, and all of the activities taken together, will be emotionally positive for our students.

The Health and Safety Task Force has begun thinking about what sort of greater flexibility might be possible in the spring and about how to approach decisions about particular elements of the spring. Interscholastic athletics, in particular, has been a topic of great interest for the task force with the goal I have shared with this group of the possibility of finding a way to compete with all of the necessary precautions to ensure community health and safety remains the priority. 

Recently, my fellow ISL heads and I collaborated on the letter below, which provides our current thinking about spring interscholastic athletics. As you can see, the statement offers hope for an athletic experience that expands upon what St. Mark’s has been able to offer last fall and this winter, and recognizes that different ISL schools will approach interscholastic competition differently, depending on the current practices at the different schools.

Since the ISL season will not begin until mid-April, we do have some time to determine logistics and details of how a potential St. Mark’s spring season could look. I will be in touch with those details as they become available. The health, safety, and emotional well-being of our students and adults will be the focus of all decisions made by St. Mark’s about the spring. 

Thank you, and I look forward to being in touch with more details in the weeks ahead. 

Sincerely, 
John C. Warren ’74. Ed.D.
Head of School

NEW: A Letter From the ISL Heads of School Regarding Spring Sports
Dear Independent School League Community,

As heads of the 16 Independent School League (ISL) schools, we are acutely aware of the challenges our student-athletes have faced over the last twelve months amidst the many cancellations, quarantines, and worries about health and safety that have impacted the sports they love to play. We have continued to collaborate throughout the fall and winter seasons and have remained centered around our shared values as a league and as colleagues. 

As we look ahead to the spring ISL season, we do so with greater hope and optimism, while also recognizing that individual ISL schools continue to face many discrete challenges. The spring 2020 season was the first to face the full impact of the pandemic, and we are eager to provide spring 2021 teams with opportunities to play interscholastic games where possible, mindful that not all ISL schools are in a place to participate equally, if at all, this spring.

We are happy to share our planning for the spring season that we believe best supports all ISL school communities: 

  • This spring's non-traditional ISL season will span from April 16 through May 29, 2021, for those able to participate. 
  • Some ISL schools may choose to play scrimmages before or after those dates, and some may not be able to participate for all or part of the spring season based on individual health and safety considerations and inter-state travel limitations. 
  • While we are eager to create a spring schedule that generates as much predictability and stability as possible, we are cognizant that we will also experience a good deal of change along the way, with schools coming in and out of the schedule based upon their ability to play. Our goal will be to accommodate all ISL teams interested and able to play each week, which will require agility and flexibility in our scheduling.
  • We will strive to play as many ISL games and levels (varsity and sub-varsity) as possible, depending upon individual schools’ abilities to participate.
  • We will continue to operate with agreed-upon safety protocols across the league for ISL sports, drawing upon the most recent state and CDC guidelines.
  • For those sports in which not all ISL schools compete (crew and track), athletic directors will collaborate to share best practices and establish guidelines that provide for the safest environments for competition.
  • Recognizing we will be missing some ISL teams from all or part of our spring season, there will not be any traditional ISL league champions this year. We will, however, continue to consider ways to create highlight moments for our students this spring season.

While we are eager to be on the other side of this chapter in our schools, we are also grateful for the many ways this challenging year has deepened our strength and collaboration as a league. Whether or not an ISL school is able to participate this spring in interscholastic competition, as heads of ISL schools, we stand united as a league, now more than ever. We trust this difficult year will prove to be one that only furthers our ability to fulfill our shared mission for our students.

Sincerely,

Gregory J. Schneider, Belmont Hill, John Packard, Brooks School, Jennifer Price, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, Peter Quimby, The Governor’s Academy, Temba Maqubela, Groton School, Dan Scheibe, Lawrence Academy, David Beare, Middlesex School, Todd Bland, Milton Academy, Cathy Hall, Noble and Greenough School, Ned Parsons, The Rivers School, Kerry Brennan, The Roxbury Latin School, Alixe Callen, St. George’s School, John Warren, St. Mark’s School, Bill Burke, St. Sebastian’s School, Julie Salit, Tabor Academy, Ted Koskores, Thayer Academy

NEW: Spring Days Off - March 4 to Mark First Weekday Off
As a reminder, next Thursday, March 4, marks the first weekday in a series of days off this spring in lieu of the traditional spring break. A complete calendar of days is listed below: 
 
  • Thursday, March 4
  • Tuesday, March 16
  • Friday, March 26—Monday, March 29 (Midsemester Weekend)
  • Tuesday, April 6
  • Monday, April 19 (Patriots’ Day Weekend)
  • Wednesday, May 5
  • Thursday, May 20
 
 
NEW: Quad Games | Trombetta’s Ice Cream | March 4, 2021
This Thursday, March 4, we will have Trombetta’s ice cream on campus and start the annual Quad Game competition between Phoenix, Fearing, Large, and Thayer. Day students may come to campus to participate in events on campus.

Student leaders, with faculty assistance, will organize the events. Students and teachers (in-person and remote) will compete at a variety of levels. Contests in health and safety-approved events will be scheduled and points for the winning teams will be tabulated. Team Phoenix was victorious last year! Students and faculty will be donning their colors (including masks) on these days throughout the spring.

  • Fearing: Black and Gold
  • Thayer: Purple and White
  • Large: Sky Blue and Royal Blue
  • Phoenix: Red and Silver
LAST CHANCE: VI Form Yearbook Recognition Ads
Are you or someone you know looking for a way to celebrate your graduating VI Former? What better way than to purchase a recognition ad in the yearbook! There is a range of sizes and costs available—and you can design and pay for your ad all on the convenient Jostens website!

This is your last chance to purchase a recognition ad! In an effort to help families take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, we have extended the deadline to submit ads until Sunday, February 28 at midnight. This is a hard deadline, and after this time, it will not be possible to purchase an ad.

Click here to access the ad website (select "Recognition Ads") and get started.
You can read this pamphlet if you need more information on logistics.

Questions can be directed to the St. Mark's Jostens representative, Chris Spelman.

Picture Day Ordering Information
Coffee Pond Photography recently sent information for ordering your child’s school portraits on February 19. If you did not receive this information via email, please contact their Customer Care Department directly for assistance.
Please be sure to have your spam blocker set to accept emails from lifeguards@coffeepond.com.

Customer Care Department Contact:
By Phone: 1-800-632-2323 ext. "0"

Picture Day Retakes | March 15
As a reminder, Picture Day retakes will be held on March 15. Please select this link to learn more.
Admission News

Re-Enrollment Reminder
To all non-graduating families: please stay tuned to the Dean's Weekly over the next few weeks for important information about the annual re-enrollment process. This process will be taking place in the second half of March. More details and instructions coming soon!
Parents' Association News

March 17, 2021 - Parent/Faculty/Staff book Club
The March meeting will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, March 17, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST. The title is The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. At the end of this meeting, we’ll choose a title for April. 
 
Interested in attending? Please email Laurie Kalapinski at lauriekalapinski@stmarksschool.org or Joanne Flathers at joanne@flathersfamily.net to receive the Zoom link invitation the morning of Wednesday, March 17.
 
Other book titles mentioned by members, in no particular order, are:
  • The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram
  • Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me by Sopan Deb
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Calendar News:
Weekend Activities - February 27-28
March 4 - No Classes, Spring Day Off
March 4 - Quad Games
March 15 - Picture Day Retakes
March 16 - No Classes, Spring Day Off
March 17 - Parent/Faculty/Staff Book Club
March 26-29 - No Classes, Spring Days Off/Midsemester Weekend
April 6 - No Classes, Spring Day Off
April 19 - No Classes, Patriots' Day
May 5 - No Classes, Spring Day Off
May 20 - No Classes, Spring Day Off