CAMPUS REOPENING PLAN
2020 has been a challenging and unpredictable year, to say the least. Throughout this uncertainty, be assured that we are placing safety and the quality of the learning experience above all else as we evaluate the alternatives for reopening our campus. On this page, you will find the latest information about our reopening plans and related resources.
August 27 Update
Dear Ursuline Parents and Guardians,
As we wrote earlier this month, a team of faculty, staff, and administrators has been working diligently over the last several months to plan for our return to campus in September. We are pleased to share the attached plan with you and ask that you and your daughter(s) read it carefully. You'll find details for an exciting September of learning and new experiences as well as our plans for October, which have evolved to best meet the needs of our community.
While this document covers many aspects of school life, details continue to develop; we'll communicate with you regularly to ensure a successful start to the new school year.
We look forward to welcoming your daughters back to campus soon. Until then, we hope you and your family enjoy the last days of summer with good health.
Kate Levesque '77
Mary-Kate Tracy '94
- Continuous Learning Plan
- Class Schedule
- September Bear Cave Days
- Keys to Success
- Health and Safety Protocols
Ursuline has developed a Continuous Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 academic year that allows the community to live our mission with excellence and to embrace our unique school culture in an ever-changing landscape. Under this plan, we will be able to shift among three instructional models as needed: fully online learning, concurrent (or hybrid) learning, and fully in-person learning. The adaptability of the Continuous Learning Plan is critical to community success both in the short and long term/s. This is a new version of Ursuline, but one that maintains the hallmarks of learning, serving the wider community, and building important relationships between all constituents.
We have designed the Continuous Learning Plan to support our eager and committed students and preserve the mission of Ursuline Academy. This plan adapts to changing circumstances by providing learning opportunities consistent with our curriculum and deliverable across conditions that may change due to health imperatives. Each model of learning under this plan facilitates development of a student’s self-regulation, accountability, communication and collaboration, hallmarks of the Ursuline experience, regardless of location. Students will be expected to be engaged and participate in active learning five days a week. Different from our model last spring, all classes will be Zoomed for synchronous learning according to the regular class schedule.
We have designed a new class schedule that supports health, wellness, and social distancing and extends several academic benefits across the Continuous Learning Plan. When on campus, longer passing periods de-densify corridors and allow time for cleaning between classes. The 8-day rotation is familiar to current Ursuline students and is easily managed by new students. It provides academic coherence because it is adaptable to the three different learning plans and does not change regardless of the learner’s physical location. It allows teachers to plan their activities across units with regularity and predictability, key factors for student success. Students will follow the 5-period a day schedule throughout the year.
The schedule also provides a new feature: increased time through an enrichment period in which students return to their first period class later in the day for an extended seminar-like experience to explore content with faculty members.
When classes begin on Monday, September 14, students will attend class online four days each week, following the 5x8 schedule. On the remaining day each week, students will gather with their classmates for “Bear Cave Days." On the day they are on campus, students will be excused from academic classes.
With the Bear Cave Days, our goal is to replicate, as best as possible, our typical back-to-school September experiences that promote social/emotional learning opportunities, engagement, relationship-building among faculty and classmates, and a shared understanding of the Ursuline community and our traditions. All participants -- students and adults -- will be required to observe social distancing protocols. Students will be assigned to groups of 8-10, and will be directed and supervised by adults throughout the day. Activities will include a wide variety of topics: technology, the iHub, UA life, class meetings, Serviam, guidance and the arts. Each group will be led by an Ursuline administrator, faculty or staff member. In addition, we will be bringing in outside professional programming to add depth and variety to the experience.
Week of September 14
Dr. Nadja Reilly, Ursuline Academy’s consulting psychologist since 2014, will be speaking to our students about managing the return to school as well as their social and emotional well being. Dr. Reilly’s research and practice interests are in the areas of school climate and social/emotional learning, systems change, and treatment of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. Her session is titled “Finding our Strength for Success, Resilience and Hope,” and in it students will share ways to approach the new school year from a strength-based perspective. Girls will reflect on their worries, and how to transform them into ways to create realistic goals, ask for help proactively, and create ways to promote their resilience.
Also during the first week, each class will participate in an Opening School Liturgy celebrated by Fr. Wayne Belschner of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Dedham. Fr. Wayne is well-known to the Ursuline community as a frequent celebrant of our school liturgies; St. Mary’s is also the host parish of the LifeTeen youth ministry.
Week of September 21
Ursuline has been partnering with Hale Reservation, a leader in outdoor education, for eleven years -- and this year, we are pleased to announce that Hale will be coming to the grounds of Ursuline Academy! The Hale Reservation staff are professional facilitators dedicated to providing a safe, active, and nurturing environment where participants can learn and grow. Hale staff will guide UA students (1 staff member per 8-10 students) through a series of outdoor and physically-distanced team building initiatives that can both help create a sense of connection across the community and set the stage for a successful high school experience together.
Week of September 28
Michael Delman and Jennifer Flewelling of Beyond Booksmart, the nation’s leader in executive function coaching, will present “The Boss of You: How Your Brain Helps You Win at School and Life.” Students will learn:
- What Executive Function skills are and how they develop
- Why these self-management skills matter now - and for the future
- What students can do now to improve their ability to resist distractions, stay organized, and more
- How to set effective goals for the school year
While learning at home, in either the online or concurrent learning models, students will continue to utilize Google Classroom to access class syllabi, course content, assignments and rubric expectations, and will rely on our 1:1 iPad program for access. Most learning materials will be exchanged electronically; all printing of materials has been discontinued on campus.
Classes will be conducted synchronously through Zoom and will be recorded for students who may not be able to participate in real time. Zoom is now a seamless component of Ursuline learning experiences; in addition, classrooms are being equipped with Swivl cameras, a video conferencing technology to support learners at home. Livestreaming permits students both at home and at school to be united as a single classroom; they can see and hear each other and participate as a whole in class discussion or group projects.
Ursuline is committed to providing a strong academic program in an optimal learning environment with a full curriculum of courses. To design and implement this robust plan, Ursuline provided its faculty with a wide variety of rich professional development opportunities over the summer from a host of experts in blended learning course design and development. Utilizing these in-person and distance education techniques, seeing themselves as collaborators with students and facilitators of their learning, faculty expect no disruption in their educational goals. Ursuline’s faculty will continue, across multiple means of course delivery, to ensure that students’ engagement with learning is not interrupted. While the implementation of best practices may look different among teachers and departments based on their own objectives, all teachers will use a combination of those techniques at various times and inculcate critical thinking skills across the breadth of content.
Daily health screening is mandatory for all community members as well as any visitors before they are allowed admittance to the Ursuline campus.
- Parents are the first line of defense against transmission of the virus. Please utilize the Ursuline Daily Wellness Check to screen your daughter carefully EVERY day before leaving home. (The Wellness Check will be distributed prior to September 8.) Please do NOT send your daughter to school if she has any of the symptoms listed.
- Fever (temperature of 100℉ or higher, chills)
- Cough (not due to other known cause)
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Headache when in combination with other symptoms
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms
- Recent exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Tested positive for COVID-19
- Some symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as the flu or a bad cold. Please do not assume it is another condition. When in doubt, STAY HOME.
- All students, faculty and staff returning to campus from outside Massachusetts must review and follow the Massachusetts Travel Advisory. If individuals are returning from states or countries with significant community spread, there may be a required quarantine period.
All students, faculty, staff and visitors are expected to wear a school appropriate mask without writing, characters or large logos. Masks may be any color, a mixture of colors, or have a pattern. All masks must cover both the nose and mouth all day. Bandanas, scarves or gaiters are not permitted. Masks with valves or vents are not allowed. Ursuline will provide each student with two cloth masks, which they may wear if they choose. Students will be required to have a spare mask available in their backpack should it be needed. We ask that masks be laundered nightly.
Everyone is expected to practice social distancing on campus at all times. At least six feet of separation should be maintained while interacting within the school community. No congregating will be permitted in lavatories, the parking lot, or in cars. High-fiving, hugging, and physical contact of any kind are not permitted.
- Students are expected to come to school with their own personal hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer will also be available in all classrooms and common areas.
- Students are required to exercise sound hand hygiene (hand washing or sanitizing) upon arrival at school. Hand sanitizer will be available at all entryways.
- Students should make a conscious effort to engage in routine hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When hand washing is not possible, use of hand sanitizer for 20 seconds will suffice. Special attention should be paid to hand hygiene at mask breaks; before, during, and after eating; after restroom use; after blowing your nose, or after coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow while wearing a mask.
- Absolutely no sharing of items is allowed. This includes but is not limited to food, drinks, utensils, brushes, hair items, makeup, school supplies, iPads, etc.
- Should a student exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day, they are expected to inform the school nurse immediately.
Code of conduct
Just as Ursuline requires parents and students to sign that they’ve read and agree to the policies in the Student/Parent Handbook, families will be asked to sign a Code of Conduct regarding policies and procedures so that all community members will take reasonable precautions to minimize transmission of the virus and help protect the health of our community. This Code of Conduct will be distributed before the start of school.
- March 27, 2020: Message to Parents from President Kate Levesque
- March 16, 2020: Update on Ursuline School Closure
- March 13, 2020: Important Announcement: School Closure
- March 12, 2020: Important Update on COVID-19
- March 6, 2020: Message from the President and Principal
- March 2, 2020: Important Information about Coronavirus
March 27, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians of Ursuline Students,
"Wherever God has put you, that is your vocation.
It is not what we do, but how much love we put into it."
How Mother Teresa's words take on a new meaning today! Through these uncertain times, her words are a persuasive reminder that what matters most is taking care of one another. As we all manage at home with walls that can be too thin, voices too loud, or internet bandwidth that's not quite wide enough, I hope you and your family are strong and well, and finding the silver linings in time spent together.
I wanted to address a few of the questions that we are hearing often from our families:
- In keeping with Governor Baker's directive issued earlier this week, Ursuline will continue to engage in remote learning through at least May 4th . READ MORE.
March 16, 2020
Dear Ursuline Families,
It's Monday, the start of a new week and a new chapter for us all. In compliance with Governor Baker's order, Ursuline will remain closed until April 6. We will continue to evaluate the feasibility of opening that day as the coronavirus health situation evolves.
In the meantime, our students and faculty are settling into their first day of remote learning. Our administration and technology teams are behind the scenes, working to smooth out the bumps and help with any issues. We recognize that this is an adjustment for everyone and ask that we be patient with one another. We will be evaluating and providing feedback in real-time whenever possible to ensure the successful implementation of this learning platform. READ MORE.
March 13, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians of Ursuline Students,
The rapidly evolving COVID-19 health situation prompts us to continuously evaluate our practices. Ursuline Academy continues to have no suspected or known cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty, staff, administration, or family members of any of these groups. At this moment, we have received no indication from the state and local Departments of Public Health that it is necessary to close. However, out of an abundance of caution, Ursuline Academy will close at the end of today and we hope to reopen on Monday, March 30.
Departure from School Today:
We will dismiss students today at 2:44 PM per usual. In yesterday's communication to students and families, we asked that students leave school today with all materials (books, iPads, etc.) needed in case of a school closure. If you're picking up your daughter today, please allow her a few extra minutes to gather her belongings at the end of the day.
If your daughter is not in school, and did not bring home the necessary academic materials, please contact Christine Henken at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements to pick up these materials today. READ MORE.
March 12, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians of Ursuline Students,
We are writing to update you on Ursuline's most recent actions with regard to the health crisis brought on by coronavirus (COVID-19). We appreciate your patience as we deal with this evolving situation and are working diligently to keep your daughters and all members of our community safe at this time.
Currently, Ursuline Academy continues to have no suspected or known cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty, staff, administration, or family members of any of these groups. While we take comfort in the fact that our community is currently healthy, we recognize that circumstances will change rapidly, and we are preparing for various scenarios. Our administrative team is continuously evaluating the situation, is in touch with the state and local Departments of Public Health on a daily basis, and is monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). READ MORE.
March 6, 2020
As promised in our letter to you on Monday, we will continue to communicate with all members of our community regarding the coronavirus. It is a rapidly evolving situation in which we ask everyone to remain calm and healthy by following sound practices in handwashing, staying home when ill, and covering coughs and sneezes without sharing germs.
We remain in contact with state and local public health officials, and are monitoring the situation carefully. We'll review the individual circumstances of each school activity and trip as the situation further develops, and ask your cooperation in carefully reading all communication from the school. In the meantime, please keep in mind that according to the CDC, "most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus."
March 2, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians of Ursuline Students,
We are writing to update you on Ursuline's actions with regard to the recent outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and well-being of our community members are most important to us, and we will continue to provide you with updates as the situation evolves.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that "for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low." While there is obviously a degree of uncertainty in a health situation such as this, our focus is on keeping our community members calm, informed, and most of all, healthy. We are carefully monitoring updates from the CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and other authorities as this global situation evolves and will communicate regularly with you as needed. (More detailed information from the CDC is available here.) READ MORE.
“Whether it is learning how to teach or learn remotely, embracing our blessings while still praying for and reaching out to others, each person connected to the Ursuline community has been asked to learn and excel in things that are brand new to us. What a blessing, and what an awesome confidence to take into the future for all of us, no matter where we’re going, whether back into a classroom or on to college or life in general.”
Ms. Stacie dowling,