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COVID-19 Updates

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Grier is following updates and precautions from CDC, WHO, and other agencies committed to maintaining public health regarding COVID-19 in the United States along with guidance from school-focused organizations such as the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS). The information on this page provides official updates from Grier about COVID-19 and its impact on the Grier community.

Messages to the Grier Community

List of 8 items.

  • 3/25/20 - Spring Semester & Virtual Classes

    March 25, 2020
     
    Dear Parents & Students:
     
    Let me start by sharing how much we miss having all of our students, faculty and staff on campus! As I have said in other letters, the safety and well-being of the Grier School community and extended families will always be our number one priority. That said, this letter today is meant to accomplish several goals:
     
    • Provide calendar dates and update the school time-line for the spring semester.
    • Give directions on how to participate in online/virtual classes beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020.
    • Attach copies of the class meeting time schedules and teacher office hours (with explanations).

    TIME LINE/SCHOOL CALENDAR UPDATES:
     
    1. Online/Virtual Classes begin on Monday, March 30, 2020
    2. Students may NOT return to campus on April 13, 2020 - the school will use virtual/online classes through the end of the spring semester. Students are not returning to campus for the remainder of the school year.
    3. The spring musical, dance performance, prom, senior trip, horseshows, and any other on campus events are cancelled for this year.
    4. AP Exams will take place online. College Board is sending out specific information on testing dates and optional online study support by April 3, 2020. The school will keep all updated via email. The attached link gives you direct access to College Board: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/_about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update
    5. Juniors and seniors may contact the college counselors (Ms. Cheryl Price cprice@grier.org and Miss Kitty Moyer kmoyer@grier.org to set up meetings about college concerns.
    6. Mrs. Davis will be sending out information, to all returning students, regarding scheduling for the fall semester in the next few weeks.
    7. The traditional graduation ceremony will not take place on campus this year. More information about this subject will be sent out by mid-April.
    8. The school will not be doing traditional final exams this year.
    9. All international students living on campus must depart by May 10, 2020.
    10. The last official day of the school year will be Friday, May 15, 2020.
    11. Information on packing, shipping, and storing student belongings will be sent out by mid-April.


    RECORDINGS/CLASSES:

    The Grier School is using an online/virtual classroom protocol for conducting academic classes throughout the remainder of the 2020 school year, beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020 and concluding on Friday, May 15, 2020. Due to the diverse population of our student body, the school is utilizing a class schedule to meet the needs of our students all over the world. For this reason, all online/virtual class times will be recorded as an additional means of sharing classroom instruction. Students may also request a meeting with teachers during office hours one-on-one or in small groups. These online meetings will also be recorded. Parents who are not comfortable with the recording of your child during these class times, please contact me immediately but also understand, by not having your child participate in the virtual classes, the school cannot guarantee the most productive level of learning for your child.


    VIRTUAL/ONLINE CLASS DIRECTIONS:

    1. All students MUST sign up and register for Zoom (an online video learning site) at Zoom.us.
    2. Students should access their email accounts and check them daily.
    3. Students will have classes in English (ESL), Math, History, Science, Modern Languages, Psychology, Art History, Art Portfolio, and Computer Science.
    4. Teachers will send an email to all students in their classes before Monday, March 30th with the link students will need to use for participating in the Zoom classes. (There will be a different link for EACH academic class - ONE FROM EACH OF YOUR TEACHERS ).
    5. A schedule for your class time is attached to this email. Please review the chart carefully to understand when the class is meeting. Class time is listed as if you are at the Grier School.
      1. EXAMPLE: If the time is listed at 9-10am (this is EST so in California for example that would be 6am or in China it would be 9pm). Please email your teacher with any questions.
    6. There may be more than one class section participating in a ZOOM meeting each week. To find when your class is meeting look at the day (each subject meets on a different day, look at the subject and then look at the class period and teacher name).
      1. EXAMPLE: If Mr. Lang is my English teacher -English meets on Monday —I then find the class period (P2 would mean Period Two from my regular schedule).Looking at the time-that is from 9-10am. This means that my English class will be on Monday from 9-10 am with Mr. Lang and P2,4,5,6-all meeting at the same time on ZOOM. Please email your teacher with questions.
    7. The other schedule attached to this document is the teacher office hours - students may email or request a Zoom meeting with any teachers during the posted hours (or set up another time if needed).
    8. Teachers will send regular emails to their students outlining weekly assignments, quizzes, testing or projects. Feel free to contact your teachers with any questions. WE REALIZE MANY STUDENTS DO NOT HAVE THEIR BOOKS SO ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS WLL BE PROVIDED BY THE TEACHERS.


    ONLINE/VIRTUAL CLASSROOM RULES:
     
    1. During all Zoom meetings students/faculty must follow appropriate dress code. (Everyone in the class will be able to see each other).
    2. During all Zoom meetings students/faculty should be in an area that is conducive to learning (not in a bed, not in a car, not in the bathroom- you get the idea.)
    3. Students need to participate in all of the online Zoom classes, this will be part of your participation grade for the marking period.
    4. Just like at school, acceptable internet usage policy applies as well as appropriate behavior (foul language, inappropriate texting, or disruptive behavior) will NOT be tolerated. If an issue occurs, the teacher will notify Mrs. Borst, and I will notify your parents.

    I realize this is a scary, sad, and very confusing time for everyone (students and adults). I also know you are all strong, bright, resilient and caring people who will come together to help each other out and make the most of this unprecedented crisis impacting all of us right now. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers, feel free to contact me with any questions and Happy First Day of Virtual Classes on Monday!
     
    Fondly,
    Mrs. Gina Borst
    Head of School
     


    Read More
  • 3/17/20 - Update to letter sent 3/13/20

    Good Morning!

    I hope everyone is making the best of this extremely difficult time.  We are safe at the Grier School.  I wanted to send a quick update to the letter I sent out on Friday, March 13, 2020.  At that time we set a target date for returning to school on April 13, 2020.  Due to the ever changing guidelines and recommendations set by the CDC, WHO and the US Federal Government, the school is asking everyone to please hold off on making official plans to return to Grier on April 13, 2020.

    I promise to keep sending updates on a regular basis.

    Next week I will be sending the following academic update to all students:

    1. Class Schedule Meeting Times
    2. Zoom registration instructions
    3. Teacher Extra Help/Office Hour meeting times (for individual instruction or questions with the teacher).

    Again, please do not make travel arrangements for returning to Grier.

    Stay Safe, We miss you all.

    Regards,
    Gina
  • 3/13/20 - Changes to Instruction following Spring Break

    Friday, March 13, 2020
     
    Dear Grier School Community,
     
    From the beginning of this COVID-19 health crisis, the school has communicated openly with families about the illness, the safety and well-being of our students, the school community concerns, and the plan of action we were following to continue our school year with the least amount of disruption as possible.
     
    COVID-19 is now impacting all globally, but I am very happy to report that we do not have a single case of COVID-19 in or around the school. We are committed to keeping our campus safe and secure in the coming days and weeks.
     
    With this continued safety goal in mind, the following protocol has been developed regarding Grier School classes for after spring break:
     
    • Grier School will be extending spring break by up to one additional week. Academic classes will begin no later than Monday, March 30, 2020.
    • Students that did not remain on campus for spring break will NOT be permitted to return to Grier School for classes (this includes all international, US boarding, and day students)
    • Grier School will operate with a virtual/online academic schedule from Monday, March 30 - Friday, April 10, 2020. At that time, it is the plan for all students and faculty to return to Grier School in order to resume regular classes on Monday, April 13, 2020.
    • A specific online schedule, internet site, and any other school work information and guidelines will be sent to the students prior to March 27, 2020, so that all questions and concerns are addressed and resolved prior to the start of the virtual/online classes on Monday, March 30, 2020. Students will use their Grier email accounts as well during this time.
    • For the students who remained on campus during spring break, I assure you the school is providing a safe, engaging, and productive school experience for your daughters. There have been some questions as to whether or not any on campus international student should return home for the remainder of the year. At this time, the school is discouraging this practice. Mrs. Jennifer Neely, our Director of Enrollment, has been working with SEVP to obtain the most recent information with regard to I-20 and F-1 Visa questions. If an international student returns home while the school is still operating, and it is more than five months prior to the start of a new school year, there could be problems with the current documentation-thus making it necessary for the student to obtain a new I-20 and F-1 Visa prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Obviously, this is not just about paperwork, but the school truly believes we can continue to provide a wonderful academic experience for our students staying on campus, while shielding them from the “outside” community. Grier School is a country boarding school set in a rural and mountainous setting located 100 miles from the nearest large city, Pittsburgh.
    • Mrs. Mary Lytle, our Testing Coordinator, has also been in touch with College Board in an effort to determine how to proceed with AP classes and testing. The good news is that College Board will happily work with Grier School, and all schools, to provide whatever support is needed for our students enrolled in AP classes. (More information about these classes will be provided when the virtual/online class schedule is sent to students and parents prior to the start of classes on Monday, March 30, 2020).
    • All belongings left on campus will be safely secured for when the students return to Grier in April.
     
    I realize this is a very difficult and scary time for everyone. The COVID-19 health crisis is unprecedented and has created disappointments, challenges, and worry for all like never before. I certainly cannot make the decision whether or not your daughter (international students currently on campus) should remain at Grier, but know that the safety and well-being of everyone involved in this campus, students, faculty, staff, and other administration is my top priority.
     
    Please feel free to reach out to the school, and to me in particular, with any questions. I am certain there will be many. I promise to continue to send regular updates as information develops. As we go through these next few weeks, hoping that many things will be able to get back to a regular routine in April, I ask for your support, cooperation, and understanding as we navigate through this together.
     
    Sincerely,
    Gina Borst
    Head of School
     
  • 3/3/20 - Grier to remain open for Spring Break, Update to Spring Break Return

    Dear Parents:

    The safety and well-being of our students is always a priority at Grier School.  After much discussion with key administrators, faculty, and parents, the school has decided to make a change to our original spring break homestay plan by keeping the school open to students instead of going to the hotel in State College.  While the school feels safe with our small surrounding communities, we realize international families going through this scary health crisis are nervous and we want to honor and respect their concerns. The students will be staying in their dorm rooms during break with housemothers and faculty as chaperones.  Additionally, the students will be able to participate in a variety of on campus activities including riding, exercise classes, game nights and special dinner events throughout the break.  

    Originally, the cost of the homestay was set at $4000 but since the students will now be staying at the school, we are able to reduce that fee to $3000 for the two weeks to cover the additional costs associated with keeping the facilities open, meals, staffing costs, and special events planned for the students.  As I have stated before, while no one can guarantee about such health situations, please know the school is working to provide all students with the best possible outcome to this medical crisis.

    Parents of international students, whose daughters are still planning to travel to other locations for break, may still take advantage of this on campus spring break option but we must have a final decision by Wednesday, March 4, 2020.

    Spring Break Return

    It is important to understand the protocol the school must follow as determined by the guidelines established by NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in order to make sure the well-being of everyone at Grier School is considered during this time.   To this end, please carefully read the following protocol guidelines that will be implemented for any student returning from spring break from a restricted area of travel due to an outbreak of the coronavirus:

    1. If a student travels to a location that becomes restricted through the CDC due to the coronavirus during break, there is the possibility travel restrictions, may prevent the student from getting back to school at the end of spring break vacation.
    2. Any student returning from a restricted travel area will be transported back to the school separately from the other students.
    3. Any student returning from a restricted area could be quarantined for up to two weeks, depending on the guidelines set by the CDC, at the hospital. During this time, the student will not be permitted to be in contact with anyone at the school.
    4. A health screening will be conducted throughout the quarantine period to make sure the student is not showing any symptoms of the coronavirus (which are outlined by the CDC).
    5. If a student develops any symptoms during the quarantine, parents will be notified and expected to come be with their daughter.
    6. A student cleared at the end of the quarantine period will be able to return to Grier School.
      
     
     School Preparation for a Pandemic Situation:
     
    1. Following the task force recommendations in the event of an outbreak in our region, the school has purchased abundant supplies of the N95 protective masks, supplements and any other medications to be dispersed as directed.
    2. The best way to combat any virus is through hand-washing.  The school has provided each student with a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer for regular use.  (Additional bottles will be available for purchase in the bookstore.)
    3. As a school, we recognize the importance of educating our students about the virus and all the ways the girls can protect themselves.  We will continue to provide this information to the students during appropriate gatherings throughout the spring.
    4.  All classrooms and other high-traffic areas such as the library, book store, dining room and weight room will have sanitizers available for the students use upon entering and exiting.
    5. A special Clorox solution will be used to disinfect all public areas on a daily basis.  It is also recommended that students use Clorox wipes in their dorm rooms for cleaning desks, computers and such.  Those wipes will be available for purchase at the book store.
    6.  School trips to large metropolitan cities have been postponed or cancelled as a precautionary measure.  Any trips will be limited to local areas, or if necessary, canceled altogether.
    7.  The school is well equipped with supplies, including food and water for an extended period of time should the need arise for any type of restricted stay on campus.
    8.  Several faculty and staff, including the head of school, director of enrollment, director of counseling, maintenance supervisor and other key members of the school community live on campus, ensuring structured, safe, and uninterrupted care for students should a campus restriction occur.
     
    Feel free to reach out to the school with any questions. We will continue to monitor this situation very carefully and keep all parents updated as we work together to get through this challenging situation.
     
    Sincerely,
    Gina Borst, M.Ed.
    Head of School, Grier School
    gborst@grier.org
     
  • 2/11/20 - Letter from Director of Enrollment

    Greetings from Grier School, where our students' education carries on as usual, though our hearts are filled with concern and best wishes for our friends and family affected by the coronavirus. The Grier community recognizes that illness does not discriminate with regards to race, nationality, gender, or belief. This medical emergency is frightening for everyone, but especially our young people who are looking to trusted adults for reassurance and safety precautions that will keep them healthy and well. Remaining calm and reasonable is imperative. Like the rest of the world, we are defending against disease, not people. This time calls for humanity and solidarity in addition to quick thinking and novel solutions. Fortunately, Grier School's Head of School, Mrs. Gina Borst, has been communicating regularly with our students, parents, faculty, and staff to confirm our community is free of the coronavirus and remains so.

    Current Students
    Head of School Gina Borst has quickly and expertly arranged an alternative spring break option available to all international students planning to travel over the Spring Break, and we are pleased that parents have made the wise decision to keep their children in the US rather than traveling home during the break. While scheduled maintenance projects and supervision concerns require an empty campus during the school vacation, most of the students will participate in the newly organized spring break vacation that will be hosted in a small town close to Grier School; others will stay with family and friends elsewhere in the US. Grier students are very familiar with the school-sponsored location thanks to both weekend activities and the annual Thanksgiving break option, which is also hosted in the same town, and many teachers and staff members will be serving as chaperones during this time to provide the 24/7 supervision that our students and families expect.

    Should students or other Grier community members travel to Asia during the remainder of the spring semester, Mrs. Borst has also implemented a protocol aligned with the guidelines established by the National Association of Independent Schools and the Center for Disease Control, which includes a 14-day quarantine prior to returning to Grier School's campus. This will ensure that our community continues to remain a risk-free environment.

    Recruitment Efforts and Future Students
    Due to the Travel Advisory issued by the US Department of State, Grier's Admissions team will not be traveling to China for recruiting events at this time. Our enthusiasm for finding the best candidates for Grier School does not waiver, however, and we are excited to participate in virtual events offered throughout the spring. Thanks to technology available today, we look forward to introducing Grier School to families far and wide throughout the spring of2020 and will continue to utilize video chatting platforms, such as WeChat, Zoom, and Skype to meet and interview candidates.

    We recommend that students continue to prepare for their studies abroad at home through personal study, online tutoring sessions, and virtual learning experiences provided by their schools. Additionally, students seeking an advanced learning activity should look no further than reading fiction written in English, an exceptional way to increase receptive language skills and boost vocabulary.

    In an effort to put safety first, SSAT and TOEFL tests have been postponed in many locations. As a result, Grier will accept the Duolingo English Test, which students can take on-demand from the safety of their homes. In following the footsteps of well-respected universities such as Columbia University and Johns Hopkins-schools that have recruited top Grier students-we are confident that this test is a reasonable alternative for the standardized tests on which we have long relied.

    Thank you,
    Jennifer Neely
    Director of Enrollment
  • 2/7/20 - Update to Families in China

    Dear Parents,

    We are at the end of the marking period here at Grier School and I wanted to reach out to the parents to let all know things are going well and our students are safe and sound at school. We have not had any issues with the coronavirus.   Thank you to all the families for being so willing to make other arrangements for your daughters during spring break, including the homestay trip being offered by the school.   Limiting the international travel certainly will help in our continued efforts to keep our students as safe as possible while this serious health issue continues.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
     
    Best wishes to all families as we navigate through spring semester.
     
     
    Regards,

    Gina Borst, M.Ed.
    Head of School
    Grier School
    gborst@grier.org
  • 1/29/20 - Spring Break Homestay Option

    January 29, 2020

    Dear Parents:

    With the growing concern regarding the coronavirus and how this situation may impact the school and our international students, I am writing once again with an update on the Grier School’s plan of action for spring break and after, particularly for students from China and the surrounding Asian countries:

    Spring Break Homestay Information:

    Date: March 7-22, 2020

    Location: Days Inn Hotel, State College PA (This is a rural local town close to Grier School where the girls have gone for day trips throughout the school year and are quite familiar with the area).

    Chaperones: Several faculty members from the school including but not limited to: Mrs. Wendy Warner, Mrs. Holly Carper, Mrs. Gretchen Hensor, Ms. Stacey Hamilton.

    Fee:
    $4000 (price includes hotel, all meals, transportation, and any planned activities for the students)

    Registration Deadline:
    The school must have a definite answer if you plan to have your daughter participate in this spring break option by Wednesday, February 5, 2020 due to finalizing the hotel accommodations.

    General Information:
    The location of the hotel is convenient for the students in terms of local restaurants, shopping for essential items, and safety.  There is a restaurant in the hotel and take-out service is available from the local restaurants.  Students will be able to relax, study, rest, and go on local trips such as ice-skating, if they wish to participate.

    Return Protocol for Students Choosing to Travel to China for Spring Break:
    While the school is not insisting students from China and the surrounding countries remain in the United States during the break, the school is strongly encouraging families to consider this for your child by participating in the school sponsored homestay. It is important to understand the protocol the school must follow as determined by the guidelines established by NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in order to make sure the well-being of everyone at Grier School is considered during this time.

    1. Flights are already being cancelled to and from China and boarders are being closed. If your daughter returns home during break, there is a strong possibility she may not be able to get back to school at the end of spring break vacation.
    2. Any student returning from China will be transported back to the school separately from the other students.
    3. Any student returning from China will be quarantined for up to two weeks, depending on the guidelines set by the CDC, in a housing facility near but not on the Grier School campus. Meals and full-time supervision will be provided for the quarantined student but she will not be permitted to be in contact with anyone at the school.
    4. A health screening will be conducted at the beginning and end of the quarantine period to make sure the student is not showing any symptoms of the coronavirus (which are outlined by the CDC).
    5. If a student develops any symptoms during the quarantine, she will be transported immediately to the hospital and parents notified.
    6. A student cleared at the end of the quarantine period will be able to return to Grier School.
    7. Cost for the quarantine protocol will be approximately: $1800-$2500 depending on the length of the entire safety protocol.
     
    With the uncertainty of the coronavirus, it is my recommendation, as the Head of School, that your daughter strongly consider remaining in the United States for spring break. The Grier School and the town of State College are nestled in the mountains of a beautiful rural area several hours away from any major city. While no one can guarantee about such health situations, please know the school is working to provide all students with the best possible outcome to this scary medical crisis.

    Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

    Sincerely,
    Gina Borst, MEd
    Head of School, Grier School
    gborst@grier.org
  • 1/24/20 - Initial Communication to Families about COVID-19

    Dear Parents,
    Indeed, the 2019-2020 school year is going by quickly. The students are already back into the routine of classes and after-school activities. It snowed last weekend and many of the girls had a great time sledding, taking photos and playing outside.

    The reason for my letter today is to take a moment to discuss any concern parents may have regarding the outbreak of the coronavirus and to update all on the school’s plan of action for addressing this situation. We have been back in session for two weeks without any signs of illness with the students traveling from Asia. The incubation period for the virus is approximately 3-5 days so the school is well beyond that time frame.

    Still, the infirmary has been updated on the symptoms to look for and the protocol to follow should there be a need, but for now, the school is fine. The school is also reminding students about practicing good hygiene and preventative measures to take regarding general illness since this is also the flu season.

    Additionally, we are offering a spring break option for international students who are not comfortable traveling home for the March break. I will be providing more details about this trip once we have a final count on the number of girls wishing to participate.

    As always, the safety and well-being of our students is Grier School’s top priority. Please feel free to reach out to me with any other questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Gina Borst, MEd.
    Head of School
    Grier School
    814-684-3000 ext. 7009
    gborst@grier.org
     

Planning & Preparedness

Excerpt from CDC’s article on “Prevention & Treatment” 2/15/20
 
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Updated 3/6/20
©2017  Grier School. All Rights Reserved

Grier School

2522 Grier School Rd. | P.O. Box 308 Tyrone, PA 16686-0308
Phone: 814-684-3000 | Fax: 814-684-2177