Marin Academy is tracking news and information related to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may impact our community. This page provides information and resources for MA families and will be updated as the situation evolves.
- November 13, 2020: Our Cautious Approach
- October 30, 2020: Updated Calendar
- October 21, 2020: Testing, Lunch, and Final Reminders
- October 19, 2020: Student Testing and Daily Health Assessments
- October 16, 2020: Athletics Q2
- October 14, 2020: Student COVID Testing and Re-Orientation
- October 9, 2020: Return to Campus Practices and Protocols
- October 7, 2020: Important Information about Our Return to Campus
- October 2, 2020: Return to Campus Update
- August 24, 2020: Email from Travis: Welcome to the 2020-21 School Year
- August 9, 2020: Email from Travis: Important Update on the Start of School
- July 17, 2020: Email from Travis: COVID Update
- May 29, 2020: Email from Academic Dean: Last Weekly Update
- May 22, 2020: Email from Academic Dean: L4L, Week 6 Student Email
- May 20, 2020: Email from Travis: A Look Ahead at the 2020-21 Academic Year
- May 8, 2020: Email from Travis: Notes from the Circle
- April 18, 2020: Email from Travis: Notes from the Circle
- April 10, 2020: Email from School Counselor: Support to Help Manage Student's Emotional Health
- March 30, 2020: Email from Travis: Notes from the Circle
- March 23, 2020: Email from Travis: Notes from the Circle
- March 16, 2020: Email from Travis: Notes from the Circle
- March 16, 2020: Email from Travis: Important Safety and Social Distancing Responsibilities for Students and Parents
- March 6, 2020: Email from Travis: Coronavirus Update
November 13, 2020
Good Afternoon MA Community,
As you’ve probably already heard, a couple of high schools in Marin County have had to move from in-person classes back to distance learning. While these decisions are difficult and multi-faceted, I applaud the swift and decisive actions of these schools. At Marin Academy, we’ve been incredibly fortunate in no small part due to your cooperation and commitment to protecting our community’s health and safety. As you’re undoubtedly aware, there has been a resurgence of the virus across the nation and in many parts of the world, and again, we humbly ask that you please continue to hold our whole community’s well-being top of mind every day, and with every choice you and your family make.
Each week we balance positive momentum with new realities. Decision-making has never been so complex. With every option, every learning model, and every scenario, we have had to weigh carefully competing demands. Our cautious, science-driven approach to decision making has thus far served us well. We hope with your continued support and commitment to our community’s safety we will be able to offer hybrid in-person learning in January. That said, with science as our guide, we will have to stay flexible and nimble. We may not have details for several more weeks and if Marin County returns to the purple-tier we will be returning to distance learning. Living with uncertainty is challenging, but we will continue to monitor, research, and investigate every available option.
Weather permitting, we will savor our final two days of in-person instruction before Thanksgiving and join together virtually on Thursday evening to share gratitude and appreciation. A few weeks ago we shared our revised academic calendar. Marin County Public Health has also released new information about holiday travel. Please take a moment to review and consider these recommendations carefully. Should you choose to travel, please note you would need to return no later than January 3 to participate in the January 9 student COVID testing fair in order to return to campus on January 13 and 14. I will leave you with this—we can’t know what lies ahead. By leading with empathy, questioning, and thinking critically and creatively, together we can embrace ambiguity and discover safe and novel ways to continue to provide a robust learning experience for our students in the midst of this unprecedented global pandemic.
Good afternoon MA community,
In these waning days of October, despite the many things weighing on our minds, our students returned to campus, and in those two days of monitoring classes and supervising lunch on the field, I felt immersed in that important hallmark of Marin Academy: joy.
I want to notify you of our updated academic calendar. Quarter 2 will now end on January 15 with Quarter 3 beginning on January 19, and we have changed the projected mini-course dates. Please note that work will not be assigned over winter break.
We’ve also planned a student testing fair for January 9. Please note: students wishing to take this test need to have concluded any winter break travel by Jan 3. Given current COVID-19 projections, we encourage you to carefully consider the new CDC travel guidelines, or consult with your healthcare provider as you make plans.
While our first days on campus went smoothly, we ask that you please take some time with your students before next week to review the information and protocols we’ve shared. Remind your students again of our lunch and mask-wearing protocols, and review the Marin County Exposure Protocols also featured in the Return to the Circle Brochure.
In our house we will not be trick or treating; my boys, however, have constructed a coronavirus piñata which we will be beating with sticks!
Whatever this weekend represents for you, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, or just another weekend, please be safe and well.
Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.
Dear MA Community,
Tomorrow is a big day. At 10:00 a.m., we will begin welcoming back our Seniors for orientation with the other classes to follow. We are excited while also recognizing that we will need to work together to actualize all of the details of our new health and safety protocols and procedures. There are many details and these details, as small as they may seem, are all critical components to protect the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff and the many lives intertwined with ours. We are all a part of a circle of trust. As you trust the safety protocols we’ve laid out, we are relying on you to carefully follow these policies and protocols and keep our community top of mind as you navigate your daily life in this ongoing pandemic.
This communication, the last of a series of important emails, will have the final reminders and additional details for you about our return to campus. Please review it carefully, and while you are at it, please take the time to go back and confirm you’ve read and absorbed all of the information posted online here.
Before a student is allowed on campus, they must:
- have a negative COVID-19 test on file here at school. If you participated in Saturday’s testing fair you are all set; if you decided to test elsewhere, you must upload a copy of the negative test on SportsWare online and email Gayle Masada that you have done so.
- have completed all of the necessary forms on SportsWare online.
- have completed your daily health assessment (DHA) on Ruvna. Please do not come to school if you feel unwell!
- reviewed all of the detailed communications and P&Ps on MyMA.
While on campus students must:
- practice careful hand hygiene all day every day.
- always remain 6 ft away from others (even if you are related to others on campus).
- always wear an approved mask (no bandanas or gators) except when actively eating during lunch.
- adhere to all guidelines and guidance issued by adults on campus.
Below you will find the last remaining details for in-person classes beginning on Tuesday, October 27.
What to bring to school:
Students should come to campus every day with their devices fully charged and their own personal set of necessary materials including, but not limited to:
- Charging/Power supplies for all devices
- Whiteboard markers
- Personal whiteboards
- Art supplies
- An extra clean mask in a ziplock bag or other container
- A clean empty ziplock bag or other container to hold a mask removed for eating.
- An approved water bottle (with secured lid with a retractable drinking spout).
The school’s lunch provider, Epicurean Group, is implementing a new, easier to use online ordering system that will allow you to pre-order meals for your student. Meals are now open to pre-order. For the first week of Q2 on-campus learning, you must pre-order student meals by tomorrow, October 22 for lunch starting Tuesday and Wednesday, October 27 and 28. Going forward, the weekly lunch order cutoff time will be Thursday at midnight for the following week.
To order lunch:
- Go to myschoolbucks.com.
If you are new to MySchoolBucks, create your free account, then add your student(s) using their name and student ID. For existing users, continue to use the same account as last year.
- View meals on our online store and choose from the varied menu options.
- Decide for each item you purchase – pay now with your credit card, or have it deducted from your student’s account (account charges are processed every Friday for the following week). You must select for each meal ordered to pay with a Credit Card or use your Declining Balance.
- Add meals to your basket.
- Check out and pay with your credit card, E-check, or let us deduct it from your account – make sure you have enough money to cover your purchase!
- Meals will be delivered to your student’s designated lunch location set by the school.
If you need assistance with your account, you can find helpful how-to videos and answers to commonly asked questions by visiting myschoolbucks.com. Alternatively, you can contact MySchoolBucks directly by logging into your account to start a chat conversation, or give them a call at (855) 832-5226.
All school-served meals are packaged and labeled according to HACCP standards in compostable packaging. Epicurean is working closely with the school to determine your lunchtime favorites! Please provide feedback via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Testing Dates
Our COVID-19 Coordinator shared with you on Monday all of the upcoming Student COVID-19 Testing Fair dates. Please note the next testing fair is this Saturday for students with last names starting with A-K.
Again, thank you for your attention and collaboration. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Dear Students and Families,
We are excited to welcome you back to your campus! Please read the following information about testing and daily health assessments.
Thank you to all who participated in our first COVID-19 testing fair. We tested 365 students! As this is pooled testing you will not receive notice if your test is negative. We typically will receive test results on the Tuesday following the testing. If your test is positive, you will be notified by us directly with additional information.Therefore, if you haven’t heard from us on the Tuesday following your test your result is negative.
If you are testing elsewhere, please upload your test results to the SportsWare platform and email Gayle Masada at email@example.com and Aaron Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm we have it. If you were not tested on Saturday and do not have plans to test elsewhere before your orientation day you will not be permitted on campus.
We will begin our surveillance testing for approximately half of our student body on Saturday, October 24. Please refer to our upcoming student testing schedule below for the dates of your future tests. For those of you who chose to test elsewhere please email me to let me know.
The testing should be faster as you are now familiar with the process. Please bring your QR code with you.
As usual, please contact me as soon as possible if there are obstacles with your attendance on any of the testing dates. We can work together to find a solution.
Our testing partner has confirmed the 2 hour pre-test restriction is for mouthwash only. Brushing teeth, eating, drinking, and chewing gum are all restricted for 30 minutes prior to testing.
Daily Health Assessment (DHA)
You will be required to complete a DHA prior to arriving on campus. If you have not reviewed the DHA Practice and Protocol (P&P) you can find it in MyMA.
Marin Academy is utilizing Ruvna as our DHA. There is nothing to download, as the Ruvna platform is not an app. You will receive a text message and email each Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m. Just click on the link, answer the questions, and submit. The Ruvna platform will direct you to either stay home or come to school. All students must complete the DHA whether you are physically present or learning remotely.
Here are some tips to help you:
- In order to get a text message from Ruvna, students should confirm their cell phone is listed in their MyMA profile under the wireless. If you have listed it as your home number, you will only get an email. Go to MyMA, use the drop down menu by your name, choose profile, and enter in the correct information under the categories of phone and email.
- The text/email message will be from Marin Academy with the topic Health Screening for (date) - Ready to Complete.
- Open the text/email and you will see a secure single-use link. Click on this link, and it will take you to the screening.
- You will see a number of symptoms. Only click on the symptoms you are experiencing. When you are finished with the screening, click submit and a message will appear directing you to either stay home or come to school.
- If you enter and submit an entry incorrectly and it denies you entry to school, please contact me immediately, and I will delete your entry so you can re-enter and submit a correct one.
- Please see Ruvna information here.
- Once you have received a message that you can come to school, do not delete your Ruvna invite until it has been seen by the teacher or supervising adult for your first class of the day.
This week you will receive your first DHA notices on Thursday and Friday October 22 and 23. Please complete the screening each day and submit it, even if you do not plan to be on campus.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation, and please email me if you have any questions.
We are just over seven weeks away from the start of the fall season! It’s go time! MA Athletics is back!
Led by our Athletics Department, training staff and our varsity head coaches we are excited to launch Wildcat Training Camps!
What is Wildcat Training Camps (WTC)? WTC program will be based on sport-specific programming and will include all our Marin Academy athletic programs. WTC is an opportunity for our varsity head coaches and student-athletes to connect with their teams, coaches, teammates and their program as a whole, as well as an opportunity to begin planning and working toward the season ahead. While some programming will be virtual and other programming will meet in-person all programming will be fun and rewarding.
We will utilize Championship Field and the swimming pool, as well as, some off campus facilities and our local neighborhood for a program that will run from Monday, November 2 through Friday, November 20.
The WTC sign-up form can be found here, and a one page program schedule grid can be found here. We are asking students to sign-up for their top three choices with our goal being to get everyone into one of their top two choices.
Sign-ups will close on Friday, October 23, no exceptions. Programming will run as scheduled on non-school days (Nov. 11 & 12).
Student-athletes may only participate in one in-person group during the WTC. Student-athletes may participate in multiple groups only if no more than one of those groups meets in-person. If an activity meets both in-person and virtually it is considered an in-person activity. We understand this may cause a conflict for multi-sports student-athletes, please do understand that selecting one sport over another has no bearing on your interest or commitment to another sport once the official seasons begin.
For groups that meet in-person, we will continue to follow the guidelines provided by Marin County Childcare & Youth Programs. As a reminder, all MA student-athletes that are participating in on-campus in-person activity must have a negative COVID test. Click here for Student COVID Testing and Orientation.
Families will need to review and complete the following information:
- Submit a Pre-Participation Physical signed by a physician, and valid for the 2020-21 school year.
This form can be found by logging in through the parent/guardian’s access to SportsWare. The required form is located on the “Forms” page.
- Submit an updated Medical History. This form can be found by logging in through the parent/guardian’s access to SportsWare. The Medical History is located on the “Med History” tab.
- Electronically sign the “MA Athletics Forms” document within SportsWare. This form can be found by logging in through the parent/guardian’s access to SportsWare. The required form is located on the “Forms” page. Note that this form can be completed by completing the required fields and clicking “Save & Submit”
Any questions regarding athletic medical forms can be addressed to MA’s Athletic Trainer Aaron Gill, ATC.
Dear MA Students and Families,
We are now just days away from welcoming students to campus for our first student COVID-19 Testing Fair on Saturday, October 17, followed by our student orientation days on October 22-23. While we are excited to see everyone again, it will feel different on campus, and we must remember that our community’s safety begins with each and every one of us. Starting on October 22, we will launch our new daily health assessment (DHA) app, Ruvna, for all students. Please watch this safety video and note:
- Masks must be worn at all times on campus (confirm your mask is approved here).
- Everyone must maintain 6 feet of physical distancing.
- Please review the Transportation P&P and the Student Movement On-Campus P&P.
Below you will find details about Saturday’s COVID-19 testing fair and information about our upcoming Student Orientations. We recognize that we’ve been sharing a lot of detailed information, so we've archived everything on our website here for easy reference and placed all the detailed protocols and practices on the MyMA Resource Board.
STUDENT TESTING FAIR: THIS SATURDAY
A negative COVID-19 test is mandatory for all students who plan to return to campus for orientations and classes. Testing is not required for students electing to remain in remote learning for Q2. If you are unable to make this test date, please notify Gayle Masada, and she will assist you. We will be working with Mirimus Labs and RTW Health Services to conduct non-invasive saliva-based pooled COVID-19 tests for students and are assuming the costs for on-campus student testing fairs. Our first on-campus drive-thru testing fair is this Saturday, October 17. Tests will be administered at the following times; please plan to arrive during your assigned window.
You will receive instructions and a test kit when you arrive on campus. Please enter the campus via the service drive adjacent to the Visual Arts Center (between the VAC and The Circle). Stay in your vehicle, and drive up the road toward Foster Hall. You will be directed by Marin Academy and RTW Health personnel on how to self-collect your saliva sample. Please note: students should not brush their teeth or use mouthwash within 2 hours of their scheduled sample time. Also, please do not chew gum, eat or drink anything within 30 minutes of your scheduled time. Please review this video to learn more about the drive-through testing process:
Students will be tested approximately every two weeks during Q2, with testing occurring every Saturday through November 14. (Students will attend test dates on alternating Saturdays.) Please contact Gayle Masada with questions.
STUDENT ORIENTATIONS: NEXT THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
- 9th Grade Orientation: October 22 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
- 10th Grade Orientation: October 23 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- 11th Grade Orientation: October 23 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
- 12th Grade Orientation: October 22 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
As referenced in earlier communications, we will be holding mandatory on-campus orientations on Thursday, October 22, and Friday, October 23, for all students returning to in-person instruction for Quarter 2. Students will complete a campus walkthrough covering health and safety protocols and engage in some group bonding activities in their advising groups during these sessions.
Upperclassmen may drive themselves or carpool following all protocols on the Transportation P&P. Students who are being driven to campus should be dropped off on The Circle or on Cottage Avenue. Upon arriving on campus, students should go directly to the meeting space their advising group has been assigned. This information will be sent to all students from their respective class deans. At the end of the program, students who have driven to campus should proceed directly to their vehicles and leave the grounds. Students who are being picked up should meet their rides on The Circle.
Please remember no food or drink should be brought to campus, and bathrooms will only be available for emergencies during orientations.
If you have any questions, please contact your class dean: Freshmen - Kevin Rees, Sophomores - Jared Baird, Juniors - Mary Collie, and Seniors - Sanjai Moses.
I appreciate your time and attention to these crucial details.
Dear MA Community,
I hope this letter finds you well. With one week left until the end of our first quarter, our return to campus is approaching quickly. I’m sincerely excited to see everyone again while recognizing we all have work to do to get us safely in proximity again. This moment is yet another opportunity to continue to be collaborative and flexible with a deep commitment to the well-being of the entire MA community. Below you will find a message full of details, deadlines, and information; I recognize it’s a lot to hold and consider. Please take the time to review each item carefully.
- If you missed it last night, you can access the recording of the Zoom meeting here (Access Passcode: Y5z?+5E6).
- We’ve already shared our Return to the Circle Booklet and the Travel, Transportation, and Testing COVID-19 Policies and Procedures (P & P) but we’ve now added an entire section of COVID-19 Resources on MyMA where parents and students can access all of the detailed information about our return to campus during this pandemic. Log in here, and, under Resources, you will find a board titled MA P&P for COVID-19. Please take your time to review all of this information.
- Once you have reviewed all of the practices and protocols we have in place and you have decided you will be joining us for in-person learning, please log on to your SportsWare Online Account and complete the required forms in your student(s) profile by October 16, 2020.
- Finally, if you have not already done so, please complete the Transportation Form and the Intent to Return Form by October 16th. If you have any questions about parking or transportation, please contact Lynne Hansen, Dean of Students.
Here I am sending you off into the weekend with a stack of heavy reading materials and a growing to-do list!
There will be more information coming about student testing, lunches, athletics, and activities, next week but, for now, I do hope you enjoy your weekend.
Good Afternoon MA Community,
As I announced last Friday, we are preparing for a careful and deliberate return to campus in October. We’ll begin with Student Safety Orientations on October 22 and 23 and return for on-campus learning the week of October 26. This is the first of several communications chock-full of important information and action items. Please take your time to review each item below:
Today, I’m delighted to share with you our revised Level 3 Learning (L3L) schedule. We have revised our schedule based on updated health and safety mandates and feedback from our constituents. With this schedule, students have on-campus instruction on Tuesday and Wednesdays complemented with our continuing after school activities program Monday through Thursday. Monday, Thursday, and Friday will continue virtually.
I encourage you to watch this quick video for a detailed explanation of the new schedule.
- We expect you may have questions, and invite you to email email@example.com with questions and attend our Zoom Q&A tomorrow, Thursday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m. Log on with this link or use the Zoom meeting ID: 960 4267 0176 and passcode: 898549.
To get an understanding of your intention to return. Please take a moment to complete this important form at your earliest convenience.
Last Friday, we shared the details of our transportation policies, today we are sharing both the form to sign up for transportation (with updated pricing) and if you have not already requested a parking spot you can do so here.
On Friday, we will release our schedule of upcoming on-campus testing days, and a full set of detailed policies and procedures to keep our community safe. You can also refer to the Return to the Circle Brochure for more information.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom.
Dear Marin Academy Community,
Yesterday, through my role as Board Chair for The Heads Network, I had the opportunity to lead a powerful panel for my fellow Heads of School and senior education and business leaders. The seminar titled “Leading Through the Election with Grace and Vision” was focused primarily on the upcoming election. Still, the conversation inevitably encompassed the many challenges of running a school in the midst of a global pandemic and national discord. Many shared feelings of being daunted by these complex and uncertain times and then in the early hours of the morning the news broke of President Trump's positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Yet, here we are holding our communities close, leading with newfound agility, and continuing to find a way forward.
Today, I am reaching out to share some good news. With our community’s social-emotional well-being and health and safety guiding us, and as long as Marin County remains in the Red Tier, we hope to begin gathering on campus for in-person instruction in L3L in Quarter 2.
We recognize that there is no perfect schedule or solution that can solve a pandemic. We will begin with a conservative Level 3 schedule to see how it goes; as you might recall from our work last spring, the Level 3 scenario is one wherein we reduce the number of people on campus and/or we reduce time on campus for all persons. We will provide details about our revised schedule and other health and safety protocols next week. Today, I want to address some of the most critical information.
- We are extending the break between Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 from 1 to 3 days. There will be no school from October 19-21.
- Students will return on October 22 and 23. We will hold mandatory health and safety orientations for students:
9th Grade Orientation: October 22 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
10th Grade Orientation: October 23 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
11th Grade Orientation: October 23 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
12th Grade Orientation: October 22 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- Classes for Quarter 2 will now begin on October 26.
- We will return to virtual instruction from Thanksgiving through the end of the Winter Break for our community’s safety.
HEALTH and SAFETY:
- On-campus learning will be optional; for those students with specific health and safety concerns, you can opt to continue learning from home. We have done extensive work with technology so that students can participate in classes remotely.
- We are happy to launch our Return to the Circle Guidelines Booklet. In this document, you will find the outlines of our health and safety protocols and practices. We will share more details in future communications, and this document should answer many of your pressing questions.
- We want to address three matters that will likely be weighing most heavily on your mind right now:
The first matter is COVID-19 testing requirements. We will require bi-weekly testing for all of our students and on-campus employees, and we will provide on-campus testing services. For details about testing, please refer to our Testing Protocols and Practices.
The second matter is transportation. Our transportation partners Michaels and KidzJet, have developed detailed policies and protocols to offer safe transportation for those who need it. We will also permit student carpools. Regardless of how students are coming to campus, please know that they must abide by our school protocols, wear masks, practice hand hygiene, and maintain as much physical distancing as space permits. For more information, you can review our Transportation Protocols and Practices.
Finally, there’s the matter of travel. We require that families who have traveled out of state remain in quarantine for fourteen days OR produce a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Travel Protocols and Practices are available for review here.
COMMUNICATION AND FEEDBACK:
We recognize that communication and regular feedback are critical as we move forward. You will receive an abundance of communications from us in the coming weeks; for now, we want you to know we are in this together, and we value your input. We anticipate hosting one Q&A Zoom Session next Thursday at 6:30 pm to answer your questions. Keep an eye on TW@MA for sign-ups and further details. We are also planning an additional survey in late October or early November to collect your feedback and input.
I’ll end with this: we still have a long road to travel through this ongoing pandemic. The news of COVID-19 transmission at the highest levels of our government should remind us all of the importance of social distancing, masking, hand hygiene, and more. We cannot afford to relax our commitment to containing this virus. I believe in our community. As long as it is safe, we are ready to return. Should we find that a rise in COVID rates prevents us from enacting this plan, we are committed to making adjustments to L4L to address the important feedback we received from you and our faculty regarding pace and homework load. We will remain flexible and forthright as we navigate this together.
Dear MA Students and Families,
Welcome to the 2020-21 academic year!
Much of our summer has been spent waiting and wondering. How will school start? When will something different happen? Who can we see? What will tomorrow be like? I’m sure, like me, you are feeling a mix of emotions. On the one hand, this year begins in a momentous time in history, one we will likely talk about for the rest of our lives. On the other hand, we welcome a return to routine and purpose. We’ll meet with teachers and classmates in virtual classrooms, we’ll juggle schedules and assignments, we’ll get involved in co-curricular activities. In a nutshell, it will feel very much like high school—students and teachers will meet each day to discuss, explore, think, write, and solve in a learning community that seeks to ignite each student’s passions.
But more than that, we are poised and prepared as a school to meet inevitable uncertainties with resilience, grit, and creative thinking. This has always been the MA way.
Assessing the Present, Charting the Future
We recently surveyed our faculty and staff as well as our students and families to gauge their readiness for the school year ahead. I’m deeply grateful for everyone who took the time to provide us with your comments and suggestions. The vast majority of our community is looking forward to a return to school as soon as it is safe (and permissible) to do so and with the right health and safety protocols in place. You’ll be hearing more about these protocols and preparedness in the weeks ahead as we build upon the work accomplished over the summer with an expanded team of people that now includes administrators, faculty members, and students. I am also pleased to announce that we’ve hired Gayle Masada, a registered nurse, as our COVID-19 coordinator to help us in the work of ensuring the health and safety of our community.
Many of you also encouraged us to find safe ways to bring small groups of students to campus during the fall L4L quarter to help students maintain a sense of connection with the school and to prevent social isolation. We hear this loud and clear. At orientation, students have learned about the many ways they can engage and get involved with their classmates, teachers, and advisors in the first quarter. We are also hosting a Zoom session on September 2 at 6:00 p.m. for parents/guardians to discuss their role in supporting student emotional well-being during remote learning. And you’ll hear more from the leadership team as we work through the complexities of opening campus to certain groups. The health and safety of students, teachers, and staff is our North Star in all of our decisions.
Planning for an Eventual Return to Campus
Like all of you, I hope to return to campus as soon as possible. How will we make this decision? It is complex, involving dynamics both within and beyond our control, including state mandates, the robustness of testing in Marin and surrounding counties, campus readiness, and where we are in our learning cycle. In other words, is it Safe? Are we Ready? Does it make Sense? (SRS)
Once we are closer to a date to return to campus, we will share our Return to the Circle protocols. These protocols will be based on the most up-to-date guidelines from the Marin County Office of Education, Marin County Public Health, California Department of Public Health, and the CDC, as well as input from medical professionals and learnings from other schools and universities. I am grateful to the expanded team of administrators, faculty, and students who will be involved in making these protocols effective and practicable for our community.
Keeping You Informed
As the school year gets underway, we want to continue to communicate frequently and openly as we find ourselves on paths that are both familiar and unfamiliar. I’ll be scheduling Zoom calls in the first few weeks of school for both new and returning families, with updates on virtual learning, our return-to-campus planning, and an opportunity to answer more of your questions. We have also scheduled a Town Hall with students on Friday, September 4 at 3:00 p.m., to continue the important conversation around systemic racism and to ensure we are leaning into our vision of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.
We begin this year in momentous times: a global pandemic, addressing systemic racism, and the challenges of a Presidential election year. The journey ahead requires our partnership and commitment to community, now more than ever. We will work together to find solutions with empathy, curiosity, and flexibility. We stand by these MA Competencies; they will guide our decision-making as we partner to create another meaningful year of learning and evolving at Marin Academy.
Dear MA Families and Students,
I’m fortunate that I live within walking distance to the Marin Academy campus. Today, I stopped by the school garden for the first time in weeks. Figs, apples, plums, and persimmons are thriving in the school garden, and the next round of strawberries are ripening. Sunflowers tower in the SIC garden. Nature persists as do we.
Much has changed in these few weeks. This is the nature of life and decision-making in the midst of a pandemic that moves quickly and impacts each of us in very different ways. The governor’s announcement on July 17 has placed new restrictions on every public and independent K-12 school in Marin County and other counties in California on the watch list. Data trends tell us that the virus is still too prevalent in Marin and the Bay Area, causing many schools and businesses to reassess or retract re-opening measures. Daily, we see evidence of what happens when schools and businesses reopen too quickly—a spike in new cases and hospitalizations.
This new mandate by the State of California as well as our review of the data have led us to the decision to begin school at Level 4 Learning (100% remote) and remain at that level through at least the first quarter (October 16).
This difficult decision requires us to hold two contradictory truths: returning to in-person instruction is best, and doing so would pose health risks given current data trends. First and foremost in our decision-making is the health and safety of our MA community—students, employees, and families. We are justifiably concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases in Marin and the Bay Area, that testing is still not widely available, and that test results aren’t obtained quickly enough.
It boils down to this: the likelihood of individuals in the MA community testing positive or spreading the virus at this stage of its trajectory presents a real health risk.
With an all-virtual Q1, we minimize health risks and the disruptions that seem likely, such as sending cohorts home if a member tests positive for COVID-19. We give ourselves another six weeks to monitor the pace of the pandemic in our community. More importantly, we afford ourselves the opportunity to take a gradual and safe approach to our return to campus at the time when the virus is better controlled and testing is easier and faster to obtain. For example, if and when circumstances allow, we want to find safe ways to bring small groups to campus so we can teach, learn, and practice the new health and safety protocols that will become part of our school experience when we do return.
Although I am heartbroken that we cannot return in person at this point, we are poised and prepared to provide an exceptional virtual learning experience for all of our students. At MA, we believe that education at its best incorporates experiential learning with intellectual rigor and global citizenship. We strive to create a learning community in which adults and students are engaged and connected — with each other and with the world around us. That’s our ‘why’, and it remains constant. Only our ‘how’ is changing. These are the steps we are taking to deliver on our educational promise:
We’re making remote learning highly effective.
We are confident that remote learning will be a very powerful way to engage and to connect. While teachers have worked hard to envision and plan for teaching in the L2L mode we had hoped for in August, starting with L4L will allow for more student group work, collaboration, and connection, given the health and safety risks that are present now.
Based on feedback last spring from students, faculty, and parents/guardians—as well as ongoing research and information shared by other institutions (local, national, and international)—we have made adjustments to our L4L instructional design. That is, L4L in the 2020–2021 school year will take the best parts of the spring experience and incorporate these learnings and your feedback.
We’re developing forward-leaning skills in remote learning.
I’m confident in this pedagogical approach in large part because of our remarkable faculty. Our teachers have spent significant time this summer redesigning our entire curriculum. They have been online learners themselves in a course on the best practices for online learning, supplementing this required learning with additional professional development and consulting in competency-based learning, developing community in virtual settings, caring for the well-being of all students, and continuing to focus on creating equitable and inclusive classrooms.
We’re investing in new technologies.
We’re launching a new Learning Management System, Canvas, that is far superior to the MyMA platform we were working with last year. Teachers have been meeting in small groups up to twice a week since the start of summer to get up to speed with the new platform, and we are genuinely excited about our new-found functionality in this realm. Teachers are building out robust course pages, and students will find that regardless of which level learning is occurring, all of their work will be consolidated in a single location and that they are able to Zoom with classes, submit work, and access a “to do” list of their asynchronous assignments all in one place. We’ve also equipped classrooms with enhanced audio and video technology for the moment when we do return to campus.
We will continue to help students thrive in all the ways MA is known for.
We know school this year will feel different for students, whether we are learning virtually or back in the classroom with new safety protocols in place and conditions permit. We’ll continue to offer ways to connect and feel supported as we travel unfamiliar paths together. Even in L4L mode, students will meet weekly with their advisors in small groups, have monthly class meetings, and join twice weekly all-school assemblies—via Zoom. Student clubs will continue to meet virtually, as will the student government. There will be virtual art shows and performances, as well as virtual wellness offerings such as yoga, mindfulness classes, and online workouts. Virtual events for parents will include new parent coffees with me, parent education, and Zoom meetings on a variety of topics. I am also looking at other ways to connect with our students, given our virtual presence. Everything that makes MA a great place to go to high school will be on offer — just in a format that respects COVID-19 concerns.
Since the onset of this pandemic, I’ve promised to communicate openly and frequently, sharing the best information as I have it. I will continue to do so as new information emerges. And now we need your feedback. We want to hear what you anticipate about remote learning, an eventual return to the classroom, and what ideas you might have for ensuring the best possible educational experience for our students. Please take a moment to complete this very short survey by August 7. Your input helps shape our decisions and provides feedback on the equity and educational effectiveness of our approach for the 2020-2021 school year.
I am looking forward to the start of school in spite of how different it will be. I’m confident that our learning community will lean into these new challenges with empathy, curiosity, and intellectual flexibility as we always do. Please refer to our updated FAQs for more information.
With gratitude and optimism,
Dear MA Students and Families,
In my June 26 letter to parents and guardians, I promised to share with you today our return to campus guidelines and other decisions about the start of school.
Since I sent that letter, our decision-making landscape has changed significantly. On July 3, Marin County was placed on the California watch list due to a spike in COVID-19 activity. On Wednesday, the Marin County Office of Public Health changed their guidance for reopening schools, pushing back in-person instruction. Today, the State of California mandated that all schools in counties that are on the governor’s COVID-19 watch list may not begin in-person instruction until the county has been off the watch list for 14 consecutive days. While our hope was to start classes in person, we will likely start school at the Level 4 Learning level, and continue in that mode until restrictions are lifted and guidelines evolve. I will be communicating with you more details in the coming weeks.
Since the first outbreak of the pandemic, our shared goal has been the health and safety of our students and employees. The developments of these past few days have put into very sharp relief for me just how important it is for us all to take personal and collective action to help slow and limit the spread of the coronavirus. We know what to do. Wear masks. Practice physical distancing. Wash our hands frequently. We are all deeply eager to return to campus in person. Now it is up to each and every one of us to take responsibility so we can help make this happen. It starts by doing our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Marin County.
This time has been exceedingly difficult for us as a nation; it has been a challenging set of circumstances in which to lead an independent school. That said, I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiasm and intention with which all members of our community have embraced these new and unfolding challenges. I’m also grateful for the fact that MA is well-poised to navigate the unfolding challenge of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. First, we have exceptional faculty who have dedicated themselves this summer to extensive professional development in online and flexible learning modes. They are joined by talented administrators and dedicated staff members who are working diligently to ensure educational excellence for all of our students while protecting the health and safety of our community. Second, our campus affords us great flexibility for physically distanced in-person learning, both inside and outdoors. Finally, we have developed an incredibly robust plan for Instructional Continuity that will allow us to pivot quickly and intentionally between different learning levels as the pandemic evolves and guidelines change. In fact, our four-level learning framework and new quarter on/quarter off schedule positions us well for this very moment—and others to come.
We feel confident, well prepared, and nimble. And while we would very much love to welcome you to campus with open arms at the end of August, please know that we will welcome you with open hearts.
We will continue to communicate openly, honestly, and frequently as new information emerges.
- What level will we start at next year?
- What protocols—like mask wearing or temperature taking—will be in place next year?
- What will happen with athletics and co-curriculars?
- Seniors can come to campus today (Friday, May 22) between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. or tomorrow, (Saturday, May 23) between 10:00 a.m. and noon to pick up their cap and gown, yearbook, and a couple other special surprises. Please drive in the Circle, up to the porch at Foster Hall, wearing a face covering. You will not exit your car.
- 9th–11th graders can come to campus tomorrow (Saturday, May 23) between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. or Tuesday, May 26 between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. Please drive in the Circle, up to the porch at Foster Hall, wearing a face covering. You will not exit your car.
- Classes will start the week of August 24th as originally planned. Orientation for new students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors will take place the week of August 17th.
- Our schedule will be built to flex. We are prepared to meet the challenge of intermittent and unpredictable closures based on the trajectory of this pandemic, as well as the possibility that illness or immuno-compromised health may keep some students and teachers away from school for extended periods. We are building a schedule designed to minimize the impact of these inevitable disruptions in terms of scheduling, grading periods, workload demands, and assessments. Classes may be held face to face, or in a hybrid model, or in 100% virtual mode as circumstances warrant. The important thing to know is this: every day’s class schedule will remain constant even if the learning mode may vary.
- We will use our spaces differently. When we return to campus, we will do so in a way that complies with the most current guidelines and requirements for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 exposure for everyone in the MA community. This may include social distancing, minimizing overall campus density, grouping students and teachers into smaller classes, frequent sanitization measures, deep cleaning between groups, scheduled use of cafeteria and library, and re-envisioning our larger group gatherings such as class meetings, tutorials, and assemblies.
- Financial assistance will be available to families that need it. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant economic disruption for our community, and we expect more students will need tuition assistance in the coming academic year. Marin Academy has set aside additional funds for tuition assistance in order to meet the demonstrated needs of our students and families.
- Routines will be messy or nonexistent, things may feel very out of sorts, and productivity may be at an all time low. And that’s okay! The anxiety of the current situation is a lot for us all to manage, and giving ourselves and our children permission to prioritize our mental health is so important. Reassure your teens that everyone is struggling to adjust to this new reality.
- I find it helpful to focus on this rare and uninterrupted family time. Years from now, our children won’t remember the schedule they had during these strange months. However, they will remember how their families made them feel loved and gave them a sense of safety in a time where so much is uncertain and unknown.
- Self care. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your own needs. It may be tempting to put ourselves aside to care for others in our family, especially when we see that our children are struggling. However, prioritizing our own mental and physical health is just as important.
- Create a safe space for your student to talk, if they want. Let them know that you’re here to talk with them whenever they feel ready, and allow them to determine when and if they want to engage. You might say something like “I know this is all really difficult and overwhelming. I’m here if you want to talk about it, and it’s also okay if you don’t want to talk.” Give them the choice and space to decide what feels best to them.
- See something, say something. If you are worried that something deeper is happening and you’re noticing changes in sleeping/eating patterns and behavior, name your worry. Again, no need to press them to open up, but letting them know that you’re worried might help them feel seen. You could say “I’ve noticed that you aren’t sleeping a lot these days and I’m worried. If there’s something you want to talk about, I’m here. And if you don’t want to talk, that’s okay, though I will probably check in with you about how you’re feeling because I love you and I care about you.” You can let them know that there are other supports available (school counselor, another trusted adult, outside therapist) available to them if they would feel more comfortable speaking to someone else.
- Work to validate and not solve. When your students come to you with a social, academic, or personal issue, I imagine most parents are ready with a list of amazing suggestions to help. However, for many of us when we’re feeling upset or anxious, we just need to talk and have someone hear and validate our feelings. Let your teen know that you completely understand their feelings, and that you’re feeling frustrated too. Let them know that they’re doing a great job balancing all of these new challenges and that if they want to talk through ideas of ways to manage this time, you’re here to help them brainstorm.
- The importance of naming feelings. Right now, emotions are running high and when your teen yells at you, lashes out at their sibling, or won’t come out of their room (all ways of externalizing their emotions), they might need your help in naming what’s happening for them. Simply saying “It sounds like you’re angry that you can’t see your friends, and I totally understand that feeling” can help calm them down and reduce their anxiety.
- If you need to reach the school during this time of closure, please email firstname.lastname@example.org instead of calling.
- If your child will be absent please email email@example.com.
- If you have a concern about your student please email Lynne Hansen.
- Please do not call the school during this time and leave voicemails, communicate through email only.
- If your child will be absent please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you have a concern about your student please email Lynne Hansen.
Challenge Success Workshop: Navigating Remote Learning for Families
Many families are concerned about the impact that remote learning will have on their child’s academic journey and what role they should play along the way. If you were not able to attend this Marin Academy workshop, please see the resources below including a recording of the 45-minute webinar with Challenge Success that explores practical tips and guidelines for what families can do to best support student well-being and engagement with learning right now.
- Video: Navigating Remote Learning for Families
- Additional Tips and Resources
- Q&A Videos from Denise Pope Sorted by Topic
Marin Academy Family Community Action
We can continue to feel connected through service, and there are ways we can support our community partner organizations at this time.
MAPA Recommendations for Support in the Community
Our MAPA community of parents are always tirelessly working in a myriad of ways to support members of our community. During this pandemic, there are many ways to get involved and volunteer to support your neighbors, the elderly, and those communities that are hardest hit. Below are some ways you can get involved:
MA-Affiliated Businesses and Services to Support