COVID-19 Information Center
Maintaining the richness of our academic program during the 2020-2021 academic year is of the utmost importance to us at Agnes Irwin. Despite the uncertainty of this year, we are prepared to offer a rich program to our students, whether they are learning on-campus or virtually.
Solid-colored or AIS-provided face masks are required at all times on campus. When students are outdoors and able to be 6 feet or more apart, they will have the opportunity to remove masks for a limited time at the discretion of the teacher.
Prior to coming to school each day, students and employees are required to conduct a symptom monitoring survey by 7:30 a.m. Anyone arriving at school who has not completed and passed the symptom screening will not be allowed on campus.
Students and faculty will be trained to support the sanitizing of our space through daily classroom practices such as wiping individual desks and chairs and sanitizing hands when entering or leaving any classroom space.
- Protocols Around COVID-19 Symptoms
- Campus Disinfection, Modifications & Staffing
- Social Distancing Protocols
Protocols Around COVID-19 Symptoms
Any individual who presents to the Health Center with flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms will be evaluated by the school nurses in accordance with the state, federal and CDC guidelines, and quarantined in a designated section of our Health Center until they are picked up by a parent or guardian.
Students or employees who are sent home during the school day with flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms or are absent due to a failed morning symptom survey must stay home until cleared for re-entry by the school nurse. At the nurse’s discretion, families may be required to:
• Discuss their daughter’s symptoms with their Primary Care Physician
• Follow their PCP’s recommendations
• Forward a PCP-signed clearance note to the school nurse prior to return to school
Positive Cases of COVID-19 in the AIS Community
In the event that an individual within our community tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact (as defined by the CDC) to another individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, Agnes Irwin’s comprehensive action plan will go into effect immediately. We will work collaboratively with each family and local PA Department of Health officials on a case by case basis regarding disease information, symptom monitoring, notification of the AIS community, contact tracing, quarantine, testing, and return to school requirements, to ensure the safety of the impacted individual and the entire Agnes Irwin community at all times.
Decisions Regarding School Closure
Decisions regarding the close of school to mitigate community spread or an on-campus outbreak will be guided by the local health department, state and federal guidelines, and made in consultation with the COVID-19 team.
We will work collaboratively with each family and local PA Department of Health officials on a case by case basis to ensure the safety of the impacted individual and the entire Agnes Irwin community at all times.
Campus Disinfection, Facility Modifications & Staffing
Hand sanitizing stations have been placed in every room on campus as well as in hallways and common spaces, to support enhanced hand sanitizing and handwashing protocols for all community members.
We have increased on-campus cleaning staff who will clean high- traffic and common areas regularly throughout the day and in the evening, with additional deep cleaning on weekends. Bathrooms will be disinfected hourly while students and faculty/staff are on campus. Our playgrounds and outdoor structures will be sanitized each morning, and students will wash hands with soap and water before and after visiting outdoor spaces on campus. Campus will be cleaned at the end of each day using high-grade disinfectant supplies which meet OSHA and CDC requirements for COVID-19. On weekends, the entire campus will be deep cleaned.
We are prioritizing ventilation of campus spaces. This includes reviewing, cleaning, and upgrading ventilation conditions throughout campus buildings. In addition, classroom doors and windows will remain open where possible to increase ventilation and circulation of fresh air throughout the building.
Access to campus will be limited to minimize exposure risks. Campus will be closed to visitors while students are on campus, including parents/guardians (with the exception of extenuating circumstances); visitations deemed necessary will follow school health screening protocols upon arrival and access to classroom areas will be limited to protect students and faculty. All rentals, both of our indoor and outdoor spaces, have been cancelled for the rest of 2020.
We have increased staffing of our Health Center by hiring an additional school nurse to help manage the impacts of COVID-19 on our school.
We are increasing staff as necessary, and training our existing faculty, staff and administrators, to provide ample coverage on campus in the event of extended absence of teachers due to illness or exposure.
To minimize the risk of spread, we are restricting the use of certain communal items:
Drinking fountains will be disabled and all community members should bring a filled water bottle to school with them each day. Refilling stations will be available.
Vending machines will be removed in the Middle and Upper School hallway.
Students will have limited access to lockers and/or cubbies (as determined by division), and will be required to keep their belongings on their person throughout the day. Students will need to minimize what they bring to school (information will be provided by division) and will need to have their school-issued computer device or their (fully-charged) personal laptop and chargers with them each day.
We will restrict the use of shared supplies in all classrooms; students will need to pack appropriate amounts of school supplies (pens/pencils, etc.) each day; dedicated supplies will be provided in classes such as art and physical education.
We have reconfigured our facilities to allow all students to safely access our program live on campus, as well as at home.
All classrooms will be configured with individual desks or tables facing the same direction and six feet apart. We will leverage the use of outdoor spaces, including the tenting of some campus spaces, for use as outdoor classrooms. All classroom spaces will be used for classes based on room capacity and not necessarily by discipline (i.e. a larger English class may meet in a room traditionally built for science, etc.). All classrooms will be equipped with technology to provide livestreaming and recording of lessons for any student who is not able to physically come to campus.
Some of our classrooms and campus spaces that have been configured for socially distant learning.
We are implementing cohorts for students, with no/minimal mixing between grades. Students will attend classes primarily by class-level or grade-level cohort.
Lower School will implement class-level cohorts during instructional blocks and grade-level cohorts during outdoor recess. In Middle and Upper School, students will be cohorted by grade. Some multi-grade classes in Middle and Upper School may be simulcast to grade-level classrooms to avoid mixing of grades.
Campus spaces will be designated for student use by grade to promote cohorting of students and to ease the process of contact tracing if necessary. Students will eat lunch with their class, either in their classroom or outside, weather permitting. (See “Food Service” on page 14 of Ready for Anything: Agnes Irwin’s Reopening Plan for Fall 2020 for more information.)
In addition to classroom setups, we are implementing the following measures to support social distancing:
- Students will be assigned specific entry points into the building by division to ease movement into the building and minimize the number of people in hallways and common areas.
- Some hallways and stairwells will be labeled as one direction to minimize the number of people in them at a time. Signage will be present throughout the campus to help everyone become familiar with these new processes.
- Passing time between classes will be increased in Middle and Upper School.
- Assemblies and larger events will be held virtually and livestreamed to classrooms; students will not gather as an entire division at any time while restrictions on large gatherings are in place.
- Staff will monitor hallways and help ensure all members of the community are honoring established health and social distancing protocols.
You can flip through Ready for Anything: Agnes Irwin’s Reopening Plan for Fall 2020 here, or download your own copy.
- March 5: Community Update
- March 1: Important Inter-Ac Spring Sports Update
- January 8: Important Inter-Ac Winter Sports Update
- December 4: Important Schedule Update for MS/US Winter Sports
- December 2: Your Response is Required — Thanksgiving Travel Survey
- November 24: Important Inter-Ac Winter Sports Update
- November 19: Schedule Change & Community Update
- November 13: Community Update
- November 4: Important School Calendar Updates for the Coming Months
- October 28: COVID-19 Note — AIS Winter Holiday Survey Reminder
- October 9: Inter-Ac Athletics Statement on Fall Sports
- September 23: Health Protocols, Compliance Policies, and Additional Requirements for the 2020-21 School Year
- September 7: A Start of Year Message from the Head of School
- August 27: Required Forms & Reopening FAQs
- August 26: Fall Athletics Update
- August 18: An Update on Our Return to Campus Plans
- August 16: An Update from the Head of School
- August 7: Agnes Irwin's Reopening Plan for Fall 2020
- August 3: Important Fall Athletics Update
- July 20: An Update on Fall 2020
- June 18: Athletics Preseason Announcements and Reminders
Community Update: 3/5/21
March 5, 2021
Dear AIS Families,
I hope you are well, and looking forward, as I am, to warmer weather in the week ahead! It is hard to believe it is already March, with spring break just a few short weeks away. Below, please find several updates, including a change to our travel quarantine policy, a reminder about spring break, and an update on vaccinations for our faculty and staff.
Travel Quarantine Update
After careful consideration, effective March 8, we will modify our travel quarantine requirements to align our school's policy with the recently announced changes by the state of Pennsylvania. The full context of the announcement can be found here. This means that no quarantine period is required upon returning to Pennsylvania after travel. We ask that you continue to practice physical distancing and limit interactions beyond your immediate family. We also require that you continue to monitor for symptoms, report all concerns or illnesses to the appropriate division nurse, and complete the daily health screening before traveling to campus. Our consulting medical experts have been clear that our commitment to responsible behavior, regardless of location, is the biggest factor in mitigating the risk of COVID-19. We continue to expect our community members to abide by the expectations outlined in our Community Agreement, both in and outside of school, as we continue to work to keep our community safe.
Please note that the CDC continues to advise that travel increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 and recommends that you do not travel at this time. When possible, delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Spring Break Planning
This change to our quarantine policy does not affect our plans announced Jan. 27 for all grades to operate in virtual learning mode for the week following spring break. We still plan to follow the same course of action we did after Thanksgiving and winter break, and operate in virtual learning mode for the week following this holiday.
- Friday, March 26 through Monday, April 5: Spring Break, no classes or meetings
- Tuesday, April 6 through Friday, April 9: All grades (PreK to Grade 12) in virtual learning mode; no in-person classes
- Monday, April 12: In-person classes resume for all grades
Vaccination Plan for AIS Staff
As part of our commitment to in-person instruction for our students, we are pleased to announce that the school is working with the State Department of Education to procure the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all Agnes Irwin faculty and staff, through the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. The administering of vaccines may necessitate temporary changes to our learning schedule. Any vaccine-related scheduling adjustments will be communicated ahead of time to our families.
It is our belief that through our collective mitigation efforts, such as masks, physical distancing, hand washing, continued surveillance testing and the addition of the vaccine to our faculty and staff, that we will be able to provide the same level of health and safety as we have all year to the Agnes Irwin community.
Please contact Tim Walsh, our Pandemic Coordinator, should you have questions or concerns. He can be reached at email@example.com or 610-801-1231. Thank you for your continued efforts to stay safe and work with the school to keep it safe.
Head of School
March 1, 2021
We write with an important update from the Inter-Academic Athletic League (Inter-Ac) Heads of School regarding spring sports. The Inter-Ac released the following statement on Friday:
"The Inter-Academic Athletic League Heads of School and Directors of Athletics are closely monitoring the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in our surrounding counties, as well as guidelines provided by our local counties, CHOP PolicyLab, and the CDC.
Beginning March 1, 2021, League schools are permitted to commence athletic activities for spring sports in accordance with local and school guidelines. Additionally, the League plans to proceed with a spring schedule that includes Inter-Ac, as well as non-league competition.
Consistent with the fall and winter seasons, individual schools may choose in which sports they will participate without consequence from the league. Additional information about schedules and health and safety protocols will be forthcoming. At this time, opposing teams' spectators will not be permitted at contests. League schools will communicate their individual policies for home team spectators. Should current trends reverse, and numbers of infections increase, this plan will be revisited."
AIS will begin Upper School spring sports practices today, and Middle School spring practices will begin on Monday, March 8. Student-athletes and coaches will wear masks at all times. Middle school practices will remain intramural, physically distanced and cohorted. Practice schedules for US are posted on the athletics webpage, and competition schedules for Upper School will be posted as they become available. Middle School practice schedules will be posted this week. We will continue to very closely monitor local, regional and national guidance on sport participation during the pandemic.
January 8, 2021
"The Inter-Academic Athletic League Heads of School and Directors of Athletics are meeting regularly to review the latest guidelines provided by our local counties, CHOP PolicyLab and the CDC. We remain optimistic that with strong protocols in place and vigilant adherence to state and local guidelines that we can move forward with an abbreviated winter sports season.
Beginning immediately, League schools are permitted to conduct athletic activities in accordance with local and school guidelines. Schools will begin League-only play the week of February 1, and the winter sports season will conclude by February 28, 2021.
Individual schools may choose in which sports they will participate without consequence from the league. Additional information about schedules, health and safety protocols will be forthcoming, including the high probability of extremely limited numbers of spectators at venues."
AIS will resume Middle and Upper School winter sports activities on Monday, January 11. All indoor activities, except swimming and diving during active participation, will be masked at all times. Middle school practices will remain intramural, socially distanced and cohorted. Practice schedules will be posted to the athletics website today, and competition schedules for Upper School will be posted as soon as they are available. We will continue to very closely monitor local, regional and national guidance on sport participation during the pandemic.
December 4, 2020
December 2, 2020
- PreK-Grade 6: Lorraine Lampe, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Grades 7-12: Kristine Birkmire, email@example.com
Head of School
November 24, 2020
Schedule Change & Community Update
November 19, 2020
Dear AIS Community,
I am writing today to let you know of a change to our learning mode for the coming week as well as to inform you of a situation involving our 10th grade.
Virtual Learning for 11/23 and 11/24
As we head into the upcoming Thanksgiving break, we are seeing a signiﬁcant increase in the number of families requesting remote instruction for their daughters on Monday and Tuesday. Given the high percentage of families requesting this option, we believe operating in a single mode of instruction is in the best interest of maintaining a strong academic delivery for our students. Therefore, classes for all students will be held virtually on Monday, 11/23 and Tuesday 11/24.
10th Grade Update
Out of an abundance of caution, our COVID Response Team and senior leadership made the decision to send the 10th grade home today after learning that over the weekend, there were multiple gatherings of 10th grade students that were in violation of our Community Agreement. While there are no known positive COVID cases in the 10th grade at this time, this type of behavior increases risk for our entire community, and we take it extremely seriously. We made the decision to send the 10th grade home today to allow time for our team to evaluate the extent of the situation and contact trace as needed.
Our team has already been in touch with anyone who needs to quarantine, and if you have not been contacted directly, you do not need to quarantine. Teachers and siblings of 10th grade students who were not contacted do not need to quarantine. Should the situation change, our contact tracers will reach out immediately. Regardless, as we ask you daily, you should still watch for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Anyone who develops any of these symptoms should stay home and contact your physician as well as the appropriate school contact:
- PreK-Grade 6: Lorraine Lampe, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Grades 7-12: Kristine Birkmire, email@example.com
- Employees: Michele Blickley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Being a member of The Agnes Irwin School community means that we each must take necessary steps to stay well and protect each other, on campus and beyond. It is critical that we are accountable to each other, knowing that our individual choices aﬀect our community as a whole. We expect all those who are a part of our school to agree to take responsibility for their own health, for the protection of others, and for the collective wellbeing of the AIS community, working in partnership to help keep us safe from the spread of COVID-19.
As a parent of two adolescents, I am living alongside you the challenge of supporting our children's natural inclination to connect socially on the weekend while also trying to determine what is safe. My children are both new at their schools this year and they are eager to make connections. With rising rates in our area and the recent guidance from the PA Department of Health, I am keeping my children home with us when they are not at school. We are saying no to social gatherings. We want to do our part to help stop the spread. I am asking all parents, along with our faculty and staﬀ, to make the same decisions. We all must do our part to protect in-person instruction and our community health.
While the Thanksgiving holiday will look diﬀerent for many of us this year, I hope your family is able to ﬁnd opportunities for gratitude, rest, and joy. We will miss seeing your daughters in person over the next few weeks, but look forward to a reunion on December 7.
Head of School
November 13, 2020
Dear Agnes Irwin Community,
The incidence rates of COVID-19 are on the rise in Pennsylvania and in Delaware County, and the related guidance for schools is rapidly evolving. These rising rates are very concerning, and I know many of you are wondering about our plans for the winter months. I am writing to you today to provide some clarity on this topic.
As it has been throughout the year, our goal continues to be to oﬀer in-person instruction for students as long as we are able to do so safely, based on the guidance of local health oﬃcials and medical experts. This guidance, at times, can be contradictory and change quickly. Please know that we are closely monitoring the data, gathering new information as it becomes available, and consulting with our local health department and medical experts as we work to make decisions for our school that are in the best interest of the health and safety of our community.
Today, neighboring Montgomery County announced a mandate requiring all schools to move to virtual instruction for a two-week period from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6 to counter rising rates. Our own county health authority, Chester County Health Department (which oversees Delaware County), stated on Wednesday that the Department is "in support of Delaware County schools continuing in their current instructional model plans while continuing to monitor data against the thresholds."
The thresholds referenced are part of CCHD's revised recommendations for schools in considering a move between instructional modes. The Health Department has indicated that these thresholds are intended as guidelines only, and should be considered along with other data, including evidence of linked transmission within a school and a school community's adherence to established safety measures. We are fortunate that at this time, there is no evidence of linked transmission (person-to-person) within our school. To date, we have had a total of two PCR-conﬁrmed COVID cases at AIS since in-person learning began in September, an incident rate of well less than 1 percent. This indicates that our safety protocols are working, and at this point in time, we believe on-campus learning can continue.
While we plan to continue in-person instruction, we are closely monitoring community transmission rates and recommendations from consulting health authorities and medical experts. We could transition to a hybrid or virtual model quickly, should conditions change in such a way that it is in the best interest of our community to do so. All of our teachers engaged in professional development this summer around best practices for remote learning, and should we need to move to hybrid or virtual instruction, I am conﬁdent that our girls will beneﬁt from a thoughtful, dynamic educational experience.
What factors will be considered when deciding whether to move to hybrid or virtual instruction?
- Recommendations from our local health department, PA Department of Health, and the CDC
- Evidence of linked transmission within our school — COVID-19 spread in classrooms or school buildings
- Lack of staﬃng due to illness, contact tracing quarantine requirements, or childcare complications as other schools and childcare facilities shut down. Absence rates among teachers, proctors, nurses, maintenance or custodial staﬀ could inhibit our ability to cover in-person classrooms, keep school operations running smoothly, staﬀ our health centers, or disinfect our buildings nightly and throughout the day.
The biggest takeaway from conversations with our consulting health authorities is that responsible behavior is integral to ensuring our community stays safe and our school can remain open as long as possible. We must all be extremely cautious in our daily interactions, both in and out of school:
- Wear face masks and practice social distancing in public and whenever you are around others besides your immediate family, including close friends. Remember that your "COVID bubble" may be larger than you think.
- Do not attend or hold large gatherings or parties.
- Do not hold sleepovers, birthday parties, etc., even if small.
- Wear masks while carpooling.
- Do not travel to a state on Pennsylvania's high-risk list; if travel is necessary, you must quarantine for 14 days upon returning.
- Monitor your health and your daughter's health daily, and complete the daily symptom tracker honestly.
- When in doubt, keep your daughter home.
The past nine months have been diﬃcult for all of us, with milestones missed, anxieties high, and many of the typical rhythms of life interrupted by the pandemic. While we all long for a sense of normalcy, we must continue to cultivate a school culture where we take these sacriﬁces in stride, consciously choosing to care for the health and wellbeing of our families, school, and greater community. I'm grateful for your continued partnership.
Head of School
November 4, 2020
Dear Agnes Irwin Families,
As we approach Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, we continue to evaluate our safety protocols and the academic calendar, as well as monitor current virus rates and predicted trends. We are writing to request your continued support of our school's safety protocols and to share several changes to the academic calendar as we work to ensure the health and safety of the Agnes Irwin community.
Reinforcement of Protocols
We have had a successful re-opening of school and are happy to have completed two months of in-person instruction. We are learning that there is minimal linked transmission in schools when the entire community adheres to the safety protocols in place. As we learn to live with the realities of the pandemic, we must continue to be vigilant, both inside and outside of school. We ask that families support our eﬀorts by limiting social interactions on the weekends, refraining from hosting social gatherings of students and families, and by requiring students to wear masks when carpooling. Attached here is an image you may ﬁnd helpful in reminding your daughter of the importance of maintaining a small "COVID bubble" to limit exposure and keep her, your family, and our community safe. Your partnership is key to our ability to continue in-person learning for our students in the coming months.
Upcoming Calendar Changes
As we look toward the upcoming holidays and anticipated travel schedules, we have decided that out of an abundance of caution, all grades (PreK to Grade 12) will operate in virtual learning mode for the week following the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as the week following winter break.
Monday, November 30: Inservice Day; no school for students
Tuesday, December 1 to Friday, December 4: All grades (PreK to Grade 12) in virtual learning mode; no in-person classes
Monday, December 7: In-person classes resume for all grades
Monday, January 4 to Friday, January 8: All grades (PreK to Grade 12) in virtual learning mode; no in-person classes
Monday, January 11: In-person classes resume for all grades
While COVID-19 illness has continued to increase throughout the country, our eﬀorts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in our school community have so far been successful. Agnes Irwin's contact tracing and access to timely test results help mitigate transmission of the disease, as do our protocols for masks, social distancing and handwashing. Looking ahead, however, local and national health experts warn that gatherings of family and friends over the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, and the return home of college students, will increase the transmission of the virus and the incidence of COVID-19 illness.
Families and individuals have sacriﬁced so much in the last eight months. We sincerely hope that everyone can design a Thanksgiving celebration and winter holiday that will bring you happiness and peace. Knowing that this will (based on our parent survey results) involve travel and socializing with extended family, the prudent response on our part is to switch to all-virtual instruction for the weeks of November 30-December 4 and January 4-8. We ask that families who travel out of the local area return home by November 30 and January 4 so we can ensure a safe return to campus the following week.
Furthermore, as noted in our Agnes Irwin Agreement, all families who travel to a "hot state" during the school break will need to complete a 14-day quarantine upon their return to Pennsylvania as recommended by the PA Department of Health.
Given the evolving nature of the pandemic, it may become necessary to make additional calendar changes in the coming months. We recognize that the changes we are announcing today could pose a hardship for some families. We appreciate your patience and ﬂexibility as we all work to keep our community well.
Head of School
October 28, 2020
October 9, 2020
Courtney Lubbe, Athletic Director
Health Protocols, Compliance Policies, and Additional Requirements for the 2020-21 School Year
September 23, 2020
As we get into the swing of fall classes, we felt it important to share with you additional details about Agnes Irwin's health protocols, discipline policies, and requirements for students and families for the 2020-21 school year. Please carefully review the information below. Should you have additional questions, please reach out to your division director or Bethel Mackiewicz, COVID Response Team Captain.
What to Expect in Response to a Failed Health Screening, Symptoms, Illness, COVID Cases, or Exposure
The ﬂow chart above (view larger size in our policies PDF) details what to expect in the event that an Agnes Irwin student fails a morning health screening, has symptoms of an illness, has been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, or tests positive for COVID-19.
These protocols, which have been created with guidance from the CDC and the Chester County Health Department, will be used by our nursing staﬀ to determine the timing of and requirements for your daughter's return to campus. Employees must abide by the same reentry guidelines.
These guidelines may change as medical guidance evolves; all decisions regarding reentry are at the discretion of our nursing staﬀ and COVID-19 Response Team. Please refer to the policies PDF for a more detailed explanation of this chart.
Sick Policies & Absences
To ensure the health and safety of our community, our school is operating out of an abundance of caution and has a very low threshold for illness this year. Should your daughter arrive at school with ﬂu-like or COVID-19 symptoms or begin experiencing these symptoms on campus, she will be escorted to the nurse's oﬃce, evaluated, and quarantined in a designated section of our Health Center until she is picked up by a parent or guardian. When in doubt, please keep your daughter at home. Please report all absences to your appropriate division:
Where to Send Test Results & Documentation
All COVID-19 test results or other paperwork required for reentry should be sent to the appropriate staff member:
- Lower School: Lorraine Lampe: Llampe@agnesirwin.org
- Middle & Upper School: Kristine Birkmire: KBirkmire@agnesirwin.org
We greatly appreciate your partnership this school year. As we work to keep our community safe, we have added several safety parameters around student life. Failure to comply will prohibit your daughter from coming on campus.
All families are required to complete several important forms prior to the start of the school year that are currently past due: a 2020-21 waiver, the Agnes Irwin Agreement, and contact tracing form. You can view a checklist and links here.
AUXS Screening App
All families have been asked to download the Agnes Irwin Safety App and complete a daily COVID-19 screening with their daughter prior to 7:30 a.m. each school day. Any student who has not completed the screening will be screened on-site and only allowed into the building after passing our screening protocols. If your daughter does not pass the morning screening, you will receive a phone call by 8 a.m. for clariﬁcation.
If your daughter will be absent from school, you must provide this information to the appropriate division. Selecting "no" when asked if she will be on campus is not an automatic report of absence.
COVID-19 Discipline Policy
All students have signed our community agreement to follow the highest standard of risk-mitigation on campus and at home. This includes, but is not limited to: washing your hands frequently with warm soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, wearing a face mask, and maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more from others. If students are repeatedly found to be in noncompliance with any of these requirements, they will be required to enroll in the AIS@Home program. Please read the full policy here.
Thank you again for your partnership in keeping our community safe.
September 7, 2020
This week, your daughters will be returning to campus for orientations that will help prepare them for a successful start to the 2020-2021 school year. We couldn't be more excited for the learning and growth that is ahead for your girls. The school buildings have been abuzz with opening meetings for new and returning faculty and staﬀ over the last two weeks and we cannot wait to see your daughters every school day whether in-person or on the screen —we have missed them! As we shared with you in our reopening plan, we have spent the summer months preparing for the upcoming school year and the unique opportunities and challenges inherent in the school year. I am conﬁdent that we are Ready for Anything and that our work and planning will oﬀer an exceptional education to the girls in our care.
Theme for the Year
As we have thought about the upcoming year, we have developed a theme of COMMUNITY to guide our work together. What has become apparent to me over the last six months is that we are stronger together and we can and should rely on each other. As educators, we know that when students are connected to each other and their teachers, they feel that bond and they develop a sense of belonging which leads to successful academic engagement and positive self-esteem. When students feel a connection to their community, they show more motivation, engagement, and self-eﬃcacy. There is much intention built into the daily life of the girls in our care that helps to reinforce their belonging: morning meeting in Lower School, Parliament in Middle School, advisory in Upper School, school assemblies to share common messages, and much more. We know that you, as families, have chosen Agnes Irwin because you seek that for your daughters and because you want to be part of a community which shares the same values.
We are living through unprecedented times. None of us know exactly what to expect during the next few weeks and months, but the Agnes Irwin team is working hard to make school safe for our children, faculty, staﬀ and community. While the 2020-21 school year will look diﬀerent, we are fortunate that our school has the space and resources to enable all of our students to be on campus at one time as detailed in our phased repopulation plans. All community members will need to do their part outside of school in order to keep the AIS community safe. Our mission and core values are the foundation for the work we do. Fostering connection with and supporting students are our goals, and the policies and procedures we have in place are designed to help nurture the feeling of community and belonging. Our goal is to always make the learning environment a safe and supportive place for girls to learn, grow, and challenge themselves to stretch beyond their limits.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Critical to this connection to our community is ensuring that every girl feels valued, respected and engaged in her AIS experience. Diversity of experience, thought, and ideas is not only a pillar of the School but also an integral part of the learning process, and we will continue to equip our students and our faculty, staﬀ, and administration with the opportunities and tools to build an inclusive and equitable community. In June closing staﬀ meetings and August opening meetings, we led educators through workshops on Culturally Competent and Anti-Racist Teaching Practice, and this summer, all members of the Board of Trustees and all members of the faculty and staﬀ have engaged in their personal DEI journey through reading, reﬂection and discussions led by our DEI coordinators, which will continue throughout the fall. Department chairs have begun the important work of curricular audits, a process they began preparing for last year by studying Gloria Ladson-Billings' work about culturally responsive teaching practice. Our Virtual Summer Program for students also featured courses on current events, social justice, democracy and civic engagement across disciplines. Over 400 members of our community engaged in the Summit for Racial Justice we hosted in mid-July (you can watch several recordings from the conference on our school's Vimeo page). Soon you will be hearing from John Gomes with an invitation to join year four of our Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) program for parents. This will be one of many oﬀerings for parents to engage in this work in support of our daughters.
We have spent the summer completing numerous projects essential to our safe return to campus. Last week, large tents arrived that we will use for student orientations as well as classes when they are in session on campus. We have also installed signage and directional markings to remind students of healthy hygiene habits, and to help ensure proper social distancing. We launched our daily screening mobile app to all employees and families, and have continued hiring additional faculty and nurses to ensure appropriate staﬃng across our classrooms and campus. We have completed a thorough assessment of our heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to ensure proper ﬁltration and maximization of outdoor airﬂow across our system.
We will continue sharing additional updates with all families as we walk through the opening weeks of school, and we appreciate your partnership as we continue to provide your daughters a joyful educational experience that is centered around learning, growth, and safety. We are honored you have shared your daughters with us and we look forward to a wonderful academic year ahead. We hope your family enjoys the waning days of summer.
Head of School
August 27, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the answers to a few frequently asked questions. These FAQs are also available on the Reopening FAQ page of our website, and we will continue to update this webpage as we answer additional questions you may have.
Why am I being asked to self-quarantine before my daughter's return to campus?
In order to minimize the potential for exposure on campus when we open this fall, all AIS families are being asked to self-quarantine for two weeks prior to the start of the school year on September 8. As outlined in the Agnes Irwin Agreement released to families on August 7, this means beginning your family's self-quarantine on August 25.
What does self-quarantine mean?
For our purposes, self-quarantine means mitigating potential exposure as much as possible — limiting travel outside the home to essentials, such as trips to the grocery store or work, where telecommuting is not possible. Families should restrict visits with others outside of their immediate family, and should not attend concerts, block parties, etc.
In situations where exposure to others outside the home is essential and unavoidable, all community members are expected to maintain 6 feet of distance from non-family members, wear a face mask (both indoors around non-family members, as well as outdoors when social distancing from non-household members cannot be maintained) and practice good handwashing hygiene.
What if my daughter will be returning from another state prior to school starting?
Families who are traveling are required to check the PA Department of Health travel page to see if their travel location is on the list of high-risk states. Agnes Irwin community members must self-quarantine for 14 days upon return from states designated as high-risk. Please note that even though the PA DOH guidance around post-travel quarantine is a recommendation, AIS is requiring community members to abide by this 14-day quarantine. Students will not be allowed on campus until the completion of their 14-day quarantine. This rule will be in place throughout the 2020-21 school year until further notice.
My daughter's grade does not return to on-campus learning until Oct. 5. When should I begin quarantine?
While Middle and Upper School students will not begin their academic year physically on campus, we still plan to hold in-person orientation for these grades beginning the week of September 8, as well as additional on-campus events during the month of September. We are asking that all Middle and Upper School families honor the 14-day self-quarantine prior to their daughter's return to campus for orientation. We also expect our Middle and Upper School families to commit to the guidelines laid out in the Agnes Irwin Agreement regarding social distancing, masking, handwashing hygiene, and non-essential travel during the month of September, even prior to resuming in-person classes. Our community's collective commitment to these measures will help ensure a safe start to the school year, and could provide us the ﬂexibility to accelerate our return to on-campus learning.
What type of face covering should my child be wearing or bringing to school? What isn't allowed?
Students should wear a clean, solid-colored cloth face mask (preferred) or a new disposable mask every day to school. Masks should have two layers of fabrics. Masks should be well ﬁtted to cover the nose and mouth, and be a near-complete barrier on the side of the wearer's face. Bandanas and gaiters will not be allowed. Face shields may be worn in conjunction with a face mask; these items do not serve the same purpose.
When should students be wearing a mask?
Face masks will be required at all times on campus, except when eating lunch. When students are outdoors and able to be 6 feet or more apart, they will have the opportunity for a "mask break" at the discretion of the teacher.
What are the procedures for lunch? Will students eat inside?
Students will eat lunch within their cohorts. For Lower School, this means their homeroom; for MS/US, students will eat with their third period class or by grade level cohort. During lunch, students will maintain at least a six-feet distance from others. We will utilize our outdoor space as much as possible during lunchtime. When not possible, students will eat at their desks, with plexiglass barriers.
Can my daughter buy a meal in the cafeteria? Can she use a microwave? What about snacks?
Families will have the option to pre-order meals through our food service provider, Culinart, each week, or to pack a lunch. Meals ordered through Culinart will be prepackaged and delivered each day. The cafeteria will not be open to purchase meals that were not pre-ordered. More details on lunch preorders will be shared soon by your division director. At this time, Culinart does not plan to be open for breakfast. Vending machines will not be available. All students, including Lower School, should pack snacks as needed for their day. Refrigerators and microwaves will not be available for student use. We recommend the use of thermos and ice packs when packing lunch for students.
Why do I have to complete symptom surveillance and report it each day?
We ask that family members/students check for symptoms daily to keep our community safe and healthy.
How long will these protocols be in eﬀect?
The procedures described are a result of guidelines provided by federal and state health authorities. As a result, these protocols will be in place throughout the 2020-21 school year, or until we get additional/updated guidelines from those organizations. Any change to these protocols will be communicated by your daughter's division director or the Head of School.
If a child becomes ill during the school day, how will this be handled?
Any individual who presents to the Health Center with ﬂu-like or COVID-19 symptoms will be evaluated by the school nurses in accordance with the state, federal and CDC guidelines, and quarantined in a designated section of our Health Center until they are picked up by a parent or guardian. Students or employees who are sent home during the school day with ﬂu-like or COVID-19 symptoms or are absent due to a failed morning symptom survey must stay home until cleared for re-entry by the school nurse.
Individuals should go home or to a healthcare facility, as directed by their primary care provider.
Are students sharing materials or equipment?
We will restrict the use of shared supplies in all classrooms; students will need to pack appropriate amounts of school supplies (pens/pencils, etc.) each day; dedicated supplies will be provided in classes such as art and physical education. Student belongings will also be kept separate from other students', as possible.
Students will be discouraged from sharing materials this year. Materials and equipment will be limited to use by one group of students at a time, with cleaning and disinfecting protocols taking place between each use.
What is your current visitor policy? Are parents allowed to visit campus?
Campus will be closed to visitors while students are on campus to minimize the risk for the broader community. Parents/guardians are not permitted on campus, with the exception of extenuating circumstances. If a visitor must come to campus, they must make an appointment with the division's administrative assistant before coming to campus. All visitors will be required to follow school health screening protocols upon arrival, and access to classroom areas will be limited to protect students and faculty.
What if my child forgets something (lunch, computer, other equipment)?
There will be a table outside of the entrance of each building where items may be dropped oﬀ for students: a table will be set up outside the Owl Lobby (Lower School) and under the overhang at the Schellenger Entrance (Middle/Upper School). Parents should contact the appropriate division assistant to indicate that a drop-oﬀ will be made. Make sure the item is labeled with your child's name, division and homeroom teacher/advisor.
What do I do if I want to meet with my daughter's teacher, division director, or an administrator?
Visitors and guests are not allowed in campus buildings at this time and, therefore, drop-ins are not allowed. In order to meet with your child's teacher, you will need to email the teacher and request a virtual meeting.
What if I need to go to the Admissions Oﬃce?
At this time, parents, visitors and volunteers are not allowed into campus buildings. To meet with Admissions, please call to set up a virtual appointment.
Is the school store open and can I buy items in the store? Is there an online store?
Due to our restricted visitor policy, parents should visit the school store website to make a purchase: agnesirwin.org/schoolstore. Purchases are available for curbside pickup or shipping. We are currently updating our online inventory; should you wish to purchase an item that is not online at this time, please call the school store.
Is the School's dress code changing?
Students are still expected to abide by our regular dress code, as outlined in division handbooks. All students and faculty/staﬀ will be required to wear a mask as part of their dress code.
Will students have cubbies or lockers?
Access to cubbies/lockers varies by division.
Lower schoolers will have access to cubbies, labeled and categorized to accommodate a six foot distance while students are gathering belongings.
Upper and Middle School students will not use lockers this year and will carry items with them. In most cases, students will be able to take textbooks home and keep them at home. Students will not need to carry all textbooks with them daily. Deans along with class teachers will assist the girls in planning what is essential to carry.
How do students join AIS@Home?
All students are welcome to apply for the AIS@Home program on a marking period basis. Re-entry for students learning from home will be determined in consultation with your daughter's division director.
I want my daughter to learn on-campus this fall, but she will be unable to quarantine for a full 14 days prior to her grade returning to campus. Do I need to enroll in the AIS@Home program for the ﬁrst marking period?
No, you do not need to enroll in AIS@Home for the entire marking period. Your daughter should begin the school year remotely until her 14-day quarantine is complete, but can return to on-campus learning at an appropriate entry point as determined by the division director. Families in this situation should reach out to their division directors through the appropriate "at home" address: LSathome@agnesirwin.org, MSathome@agnesirwin.org, USathome@agnesirwin.org.
Thank you for your partnership as we plan for a safe and successful new school year.
The Agnes Irwin School
Lauren Wray, Assistant Athletic Director
An Update on Our Return to Campus Plans
August 18, 2020
Dear AIS Community,
I write today to follow up on the AIS Reopening Plan we shared with you on August 7. As you know, our intended plan was to return to on-campus learning for the start of the school year, and we have been looking forward to our students' return to campus. Due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, however, we acknowledged this plan was ﬂuid, and a key input would be guidance from local and state health oﬃcials.
Together with other heads of schools in the area, I have been in regular contact with the Chester County Health Department regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which has responsibility for and authority over both Chester and Delaware counties during this emergency. Last Friday, the Health Department recommended that all public and private K-12 schools in Chester and Delaware counties begin their academic year virtually and assess their ability to transition to a more in-person instructional model after October 9, 2020. The Health Department believes this will "mitigate any impact anticipated by increased cases due to the end of the summer holiday" and ensure school districts have the necessary time to implement the Department's guidance.
We have also been reviewing policy recommendations from the medical experts at CHOP PolicyLab, which has provided guidance for schools to reopen for in-person instruction. These recommendations have been particularly insightful for a school of our size, which has the ability to cohort students with small class sizes and maintain social distancing practices, as part of a robust health and safety plan in line with recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. I have also been in regular, direct consultation regarding our reopening plans with Dr. David Rubin, Director of CHOP PolicyLab, and Dr. Adrianna Bravo, a consultant working with the National Association of Independent Schools to provide day schools and boarding schools with guidance on their reopening plans.
Based on this guidance, we have made the decision to begin the school year in a phased reopening model. We will begin the week of September 9 with in-person instruction for PreK-Grade 4 and virtually for Middle and Upper School girls using the AIS Online platform. Middle and Upper School students will return to campus in phases over the course of the month, and we intend to hold in-person student orientation sessions for all grades the week of September 8 as planned; details are forthcoming from your division directors this week. Parents who wish to keep their children at home will still have the option to self-select online learning, and should email the appropriate division for more information or to select this option (LSathome@agnesirwin.org, MSathome@agnesirwin.org, or USathome@agnesirwin.org).
As we methodically repopulate campus in September, grades that have not yet returned to campus will begin learning virtually using the improved AIS Online program. This phased schedule for a return to campus will enable AIS to carefully monitor the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staﬀ while ensuring all students are able to start the school year. We are starting with Lower School students in light of recommendations from consulting medical experts, and in consideration of our youngest students' developmental need for focused instruction. We are conﬁdent that with small class sizes, we can maintain a safe environment for these girls to learn and develop. We will share additional details on our plan for the start of the school year in the coming days. Over the summer, teachers have been participating in training and preparing for more robust virtual learning experiences for our girls that includes more synchronous instructional time, more community time, and an additional focus on individual attention. Our teachers are eager to put their professional development into practice, engaging students in meaningful teaching and learning in an online environment and in person, as circumstances require.
While we all want to return to a more "normal" school life, please know that this decision is driven by our need to strike the important balance between our very real and understandable desire to have our students back on campus, and the also very real and understandable public health concerns. Some of you may believe the decision to implement a phased reopening is the right one and others may disagree; I am thankful for all of the feedback and perspectives that have been and will be shared and look forward to continuing honest and consistent communication with you. We will continue to track data in our region and consult with health experts to inform our transition back to in-person instruction in the fall. We appreciate your ﬂexibility in allowing us to be nimble as the school year gets underway.
As both a parent of a new student as well as an educator, I understand the concerns and the challenges this presents, particularly the uncertainty we are all trying to navigate. One of the things I have loved about AIS in even just my brief time as Head of School is how we envelope and support each other in challenging times. I am grateful to be a part of this community as we face these challenges together. I look forward to seeing your daughters on campus soon.
Sally B. Keidel
Head of School
An Update from the Head of School
August 16, 2020
Dear AIS Community,
I wanted to share a brief update with you about Agnes Irwin's plans for the start of the school year.
Together with other heads of schools in the area, I have been in regular contact regarding the COVID-19 pandemic with the Chester County Health Department, which has responsibility for and authority over both Chester and Delaware counties during this emergency. Late Friday afternoon, the Health Department recommended that all public and private K-12 schools in Chester and Delaware counties begin their academic year virtually and assess their ability to transition to a more in-person instructional model after October 9, 2020. The Health Department believes this will "mitigate any impact anticipated by increased cases due to the end of the summer holiday" and ensure schools have the necessary time to implement the Department's guidance. Please click here to view the Health Department's full document, including detailed metrics for when schools should move between phases.
I appreciate your partnership as we collectively navigate these uncertain and challenging times.
Sally B. Keidel
Head of School
Agnes Irwin's Reopening Plan for Fall 2020
August 7, 2020
Dear Agnes Irwin Community,
Since campus closed last March, we have been looking forward to our students' eventual return to campus. This summer, our school's COVID-19 taskforce, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, has been diligently working to scenario plan using the latest guidance of medical experts and our regional and national networks, as well as valuable feedback from current parents and faculty and staﬀ. With that in mind, I am pleased to present to you Ready for Anything: Agnes Irwin's Reopening Plan for Fall 2020.
In developing this plan, our team has valued thorough and thoughtful planning, balanced with pragmatism and the need to be nimble while navigating a dynamic situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. I oﬀer this plan to clarify our goals for the 2020-2021 academic year and give you information you need to successfully navigate this year with your daughter. Here are a few highlights of what you can expect to ﬁnd in the plan:
- We plan to return to on-campus learning this fall. All on-campus learners must attend orientation on September 8, and classes for all students will begin on September 9.
- All students, PreK-Grade 12, have the opportunity to engage in on-campus learning, ﬁve days a week. Families can also self-select remote learning for six weeks at a time.
- New health and safety policies and protocols — including physical distancing measures, increased sanitation eﬀorts, and daily symptom monitoring procedures — are being implemented to keep all members of our community safe.
- All students and parents will be required to sign our "Agnes Irwin Agreement" prior to the start of school, promising to abide by guidelines intended to protect all members of our community. More information about this agreement (and collection procedures) will be shared in the coming weeks.
- Should remote learning be required at some point this school year, students will beneﬁt from several changes to our program, including more synchronous instruction and additional opportunities for community time, among other adaptations.
These protocols have been created based on guidance from health oﬃcials and best practices in educating girls. Due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, we expect that aspects of this plan will change throughout the coming weeks as new information becomes available. I will provide regular updates to you as our plans evolve, as well as opportunities for you to provide feedback. In the coming week, you will also hear from your daughter's division director about opportunities to learn more about information speciﬁc to your daughter's division.
Through clear communication and partnership between the School and each of our families, we are entering this "new normal" with a sense of optimism and hope.
Head of School
Inter-Academic Athletic League Statement
August 3, 2020
Over the past several weeks, the Inter-Academic Athletic League member schools have thoughtfully discussed the importance of opening our schools safely for the fall semester, and the vital role that sports play within our school communities. In order to accomplish our goal of safely opening schools, the Inter-Academic Athletic League will delay the start of fall sports until September 14. Member schools may continue to hold strength and conditioning activities for student-athletes from August 1 through August 21. Beginning on August 22, member schools will suspend activities for a minimum of two weeks (determined at each school's discretion). Member schools may begin fall practices in preparation for League-only competition on September 14. Updated schedules for the 2020 fall season are being ﬁnalized and will be available shortly. The situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve and remains very ﬂuid. The League schools will continue to evaluate additional information as it becomes available and utilize this information to alter these plans in the best interest of the safety and welfare of our community.
Additionally, we have made the diﬃcult decision to cancel Middle School interscholastic competition for the fall season. Each member school is developing a plan for middle school students that meets the goals of keeping our middle school students engaged, healthy and happy. The League schools will continue to monitor and evaluate additional information as it becomes available. At this time, our plan is to maintain our winter Middle School interscholastic season. However, as the situation continues to evolve we may alter these plans in the best interest of the safety and welfare of our community.
July 20, 2020
Dear Agnes Irwin Families,
It has been two weeks since I began my tenure at The Agnes Irwin School. Since then, I have spent time working with the administration to plan for the 2020-2021 academic year.
The Agnes Irwin School was founded in the spirit of innovation and boldness, and this past year, we have truly embraced that energy in our school as we responded to the challenges of COVID-19. I am proud of the thoughtful work that went into navigating the spring as each member of our community participated in reimagining our program, reinventing the art of teaching, pioneering new methods of learning, building connections in creative ways, bringing forth some of our most sacred traditions, and creating new ones, in that remote landscape.
As we look forward to the fall, there remains a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Our COVID-19 taskforce is intensely monitoring the evolving situation regarding the pandemic. We have enlisted the support of our regional and national networks, including the National Coalition of Girls Schools, and are using guidance from medical experts at the local, regional, and national levels, including CHOP PolicyLab and the CDC, to find ways to best mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and use what we know to reimagine school at Agnes Irwin for the 2020-2021 year.
Because of the dynamic nature of the pandemic, I write to you today to give you some high level information related to the start of school that will help you begin thinking about the fall for your family. It is my intention to be in regular contact with you for the remainder of the summer leading up to September to keep you informed as our plans are finalized. Toward the end of this letter, there is also a link to a survey requesting your feedback before July 30 to help inform our plans for the start of school.
Will our campus reopen for in-person instruction?
It is our primary goal that students will safely return to school this fall for in-person instruction, and we are planning new schedules, updating safety and cleaning protocols, rearranging classrooms to adhere to CDC physical distancing guidelines, maximizing our outdoor spaces, and utilizing other innovative strategies that will allow us to welcome students to school. Of course, while in-person instruction is our preferred scenario, our plans are based on state and federal regulations and may change as the pandemic progresses. We are preparing for all scenarios and are committed to offering the outstanding educational program expected of Agnes Irwin, whether live on campus, in a hybrid-learning scenario, or in a virtual classroom. As the local, state, and federal regulations currently stand, we believe that Lower School will be able to resume at full capacity in the fall when we are on campus. We are working to ensure the same for Middle School and Upper School through a thorough review of the capacity of all of our facilities, including classrooms, as well as shared community and outdoor spaces.
What will it be like on campus?
The health and safety of our community is our top priority and we are focusing our planning on reimagining our program to intentionally cultivate a rich experience for each of our students. Some key parts of what we are planning include the following, in accordance with recommendations released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health:
- Masks will be required for every person while on campus and other personal protective equipment will be present across campus.
- Appropriate physical distancing will be required, with classrooms set up to allow for six feet in between student desks; all desks will face the same direction.
- Class dismissal times will be staggered to minimize the number of students in hallways during transitions.
- All community members will be asked to wash their hands several times per day among other required hygiene practices.
- All community members will be asked to monitor their symptoms at home, and should not come to school if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 on campus will be escorted to a designated area where they will be monitored by health staff while they await pick-up.
- We will place restrictions on access to campus by visitors.
- We are considering virtual events where possible, and other options that will position us to offer the quality of program that is synonymous with the Agnes Irwin experience.
We recognize that, to decrease the potential for another wave of coronavirus, there will likely be health guidelines in place which may impact the logistics of how we engage with one another. We will, of course, follow these directives and communicate with you well in advance of our plans for the safety and welfare of our community, but also know that these directives will not dampen the enthusiasm for a new academic year.
What will the daily schedule be like?
As has always been our practice, we are carefully designing the 2020-2021 daily schedule based on what is best for girls. Some of the options we have explored include all students on campus together, staggered schedules with smaller groups of students coming to campus on alternate weeks, staying in cohorts by age, and adjusted start and ending times. Our final decisions about scheduling will be reflective of the nature of the pandemic at the time, with the safety of our students, faculty and staff as our utmost priority.
Will campus close during the 2020-2021 school year?
It is unclear how the pandemic will evolve over the next weeks and months. We are committed, no matter the circumstance, to providing an outstanding academic program, connection to the community, and the balance of care and challenge that AIS offers each day. One of the most important lessons we've learned this year is that planning too far in advance is not useful in an evolving situation, as there is new information to digest and use to inform plans every day. We are preparing for multiple scenarios, but recognize the need to be flexible, respond to new data, and pivot those plans.
What will school be like if campus closes?
In early June, we sent a survey to families asking for your feedback on AIS Online. We heard from families representing every grade level in our school and we have been using this data to prepare for the next iteration of AIS Online, should it become necessary to implement online instruction at some point this coming year.
A few key themes that we heard from you are the importance of:
- Outstanding academics consistent with the Agnes Irwin on-campus experience
- Balance of social-emotional support and rigorous academics
- Meaningful connections between student and teacher
- Balance of flexibility and consistency
- Clear, consistent communication
- Agile use of technology and necessary tech support
In the event we must implement AIS Online this school year, we will evolve the program to include those aspects that are most important to our community and those which will guarantee the strongest academic experience for students, including increased opportunities for synchronous, meaningful connection with faculty, staff and administrators, balanced with rich asynchronous learning, and a deliberate focus on social-emotional wellbeing. We are committed to providing an experience that honors who we are, allows us to execute our mission, live into our core values, and provide an outstanding educational experience rooted in best practice for girls. We know that uncertainty requires us to be nimble and pragmatic and will necessitate flexibility, grace, collaboration, and innovation.
How can I provide feedback?
We know that the nature of COVID-19 will require us to continue to reflect on and evolve our plans. Since the last time we asked for your feedback, much has changed, and many of your perspectives may be different now based on new information we've received about the pandemic and recommendations for school in the fall. To support us in planning for school, we want to make sure we hear from you as often as possible. Here you will find another short survey that will help us gauge where our community is today and inform our planning in coming weeks. Please complete this survey by Thursday, July 30.
While we cannot at this time provide our specific plans for September, we will remain in touch with you. You can expect to hear from us again by August 10. In addition, prior to the start of school, you will receive detailed policies, procedures, and guidelines designed to keep our community safe. In the meantime, if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me; Camille Seals, Assistant Head of School for Academics & Inclusive Excellence; or your child's division director with questions.
I am so proud to have joined a community of educators who leaned in and built an outstanding program for Agnes Irwin students last spring. I am confident that we are well positioned as a school to move into this next school year thoughtfully and with what is best for our girls at the center. I admire the accomplishments of the team so far and look forward to leading us through this challenging time.
Please be well and be safe.
Athletics Preseason Announcements and Reminders
June 18, 2020
Dear Agnes Irwin Families,
I hope this email ﬁnds you well and enjoying summer vacation! After a long spring, with many adjustments for AIS student-athletes and the cancellation of spring seasons due to COVID-19, the Athletics Department has been excitedly preparing for the upcoming fall season. We can't wait to welcome the girls back to campus this fall, and are busy planning for a number of diﬀerent athletics scenarios that could be in play pending the developing COVID-19 situation and guidance. Please read below for several important updates and reminders about the fall season.
AIS is closely monitoring the CDC, PA.gov, the National Federation of High School Sports and several other governing bodies for recommendations and guidance on the return of interscholastic sports. At this moment in time, the Athletics Department is planning for a normal return to Upper School fall sports beginning with preseason on August 24 and a normal return for Middle School fall sports beginning on September 10.
We are well aware that developing information, guidance and local government requirements may impact our return to normal sports, and we will send updates as they become available should normal operations be impacted. In the meantime, I felt it was important to provide as much information as possible right now, to aid in your family's planning over the summer, so you are aware of the participation requirements should we return to normal operations for the fall season.
PA YELLOW PHASE RETURN TO SPORT GUIDANCE
The Athletic Department is working closely with school administration to develop a plan to return to sports at Agnes Irwin during the yellow phase. The Governor's guidelines permit outdoor sports activity only for non-PIAA schools, and we are in active development of an Athletics Health and Safety Plan in accordance with the guidelines. This plan will allow Upper School Field Hockey, Soccer and Tennis to resume skill-based training on campus under the supervision of AIS coaches. Families with an Upper School daughter who has signed up for Field Hockey, Soccer and Tennis should expect an email with further details regarding scheduling, safety precautions, rules and regulations for yellow phase workouts in the coming week. Additionally, the Athletics Health and Safety Plan for yellow phase workouts will be posted on the Athletics section of the AIS website when complete.
IMPORTANT FALL SPORTS INFORMATION
Fall preseason for Upper School cross country, ﬁeld hockey, soccer, tennis, and volleyball will begin on Monday, August 24, and all student-athletes are required to attend preseason in full in order to play on a fall sports team. Preseason practice and competition schedules can be found on the team pages in the Athletics section of the school website. The fall rowing program for Upper School students is tentatively scheduled to begin on Friday, September 11. Additional information about this club program will be emailed to program registrants in the coming weeks.
Team sports for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Middle School students, including cross country, ﬁeld hockey, soccer, tennis, and volleyball, will begin with students meeting coaches on Thursday, September 10. Middle school practices will begin Friday, September 11. Please see the Middle School fall sports information letter on the Athletics resource board in AIS-On.
ATHLETIC PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS
The following requirements must be met prior to any and all aspects of participation in athletics for grades 6-12:
- A current physical examination, one year from the date of the last completed physical (on a rolling basis), must be on ﬁle with Jeannine Kelly, MS/US Nurse. As a reminder, physical forms are due July 15. Please email your updated physical to email@example.com by July 15. We recognize many doctors' oﬃces have not oﬀered routine physical exams in recent months; if you anticipate an issue with your daughter having a valid physical on-ﬁle prior to the start of her fall sports season, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Each student-athlete and a parent or guardian must complete Concussion and Sudden Cardiac Arrest education (SCA) each year.
- Upper School Student-Athletes and Parents are required to read the Upper School Parent and Student-Athlete Handbook. Once you have reviewed the handbook and viewed the Concussion and SCA presentation, please ﬁll out the acknowledgment and driving permission form, which can also be found on AIS-On.
- Middle School Student-Athletes and Parents are required to read the Middle School Parent and Student-Athlete Handbook. Once you have reviewed the handbook and viewed the Concussion and SCA presentation, please ﬁll out the acknowledgment form, which can also be found on AIS-On.
- All athletes in grades 6-12 are required to take a baseline ImPACT test. Baseline tests are valid for two years. Athletes will be required to update their baseline test on an as-needed basis, and this test is administered at school. Upper School fall athletes needing to update their baseline test will complete the testing during preseason practice times.
The athletics website will continue to be updated with scheduling information for fall sports. To stay up-to-date on scheduling additions and changes, I encourage you to check the website often and sign up for the scheduling alerts.
BEING PREPARED TO RETURN TO SPORT
To ensure the safe return to sport for all student athletes this fall, we highly recommend your daughter stay physically active over the summer. Not only does physical activity help prepare her for the fall sports season, but also provides mental health beneﬁts. We are in a unique situation this year, as we did not have organized spring or summer competitions, which help prepare the body for the stress of a fall sport. Lack of physical activity leading into preseason can increase risk of injury. Physical preparation also includes proper hydration and nutrition. As the temperatures start to rise, girls should remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. AIS Strength & Conditioning (information below) is a great way for your daughter to be physically active and get ready for the fall season!
SUMMER STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
AIS is pleased to oﬀer free summer strength and conditioning sessions for any girl in grades 6-12 who plans to play a sport at AIS next year. Sessions are led by our Certiﬁed Strength and Conditioning Coach, Emily Janis, and Interested athletes should contact Coach Janis at email@example.com to sign up! Click here for more information.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer, and I look forward to seeing you on campus this fall!
All the best,
- A Parent Guide to Talking to Talking about Coronavirus (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus (Child Mind Institute)
- Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus (NPR)
- Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks (Substance and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Talking to Teens & Tweens About Coronavirus (New York Times)