Updates and information about The Academy at Penguin Hall’s continued preparedness and response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Distance Learning Response & Resources

Emails to Community

Dear APH Community,

The end of the school year is upon us, and what is meant to be a joyous and celebratory time is undoubtedly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the tragedy of George Floyd’s death and the nation’s ensuing response. Both have shone a bright spotlight on the continued systemic injustices that shake our communities and country daily. We mourn what has been lost and what can never be replaced, both by the pandemic and continued oppression of communities of color.

I want to take this time to assure our community that APH is committed to anti-racism beliefs, practices, and policies—within our school and within our local communities. We are living through a landmark time with many possible outcomes. Each one of us has the power to effect change through our ongoing actions. I encourage us to examine our own potential biases and to invite open and respectful discussion with others about their biases, to truly treat each person we meet with kindness, and to extend a helping hand whenever and wherever we can. It is our everyday words and actions, even when no one is looking, that ripple out and have a lasting impact on the greater community.

I can only imagine that this time is particularly painful for our students, families, faculty and staff of color. I hope we can use this time to listen to one another, to build confidence and trust in our precious relationships, and to further our understanding of the shared work that we will continue to do, in and out of school, to build a more inclusive community with equitable opportunities for all.

Please reach out at any time if you would like to share how these current events may be affecting you and your family. We welcome any ideas you may have on how we can continue to make APH a safe and empowering place for all young women to learn and thrive.
Warmly,

Molly Martins
President

Dear APH Seniors & Families,

After meeting with the Class of 2020 in small focus groups, the Leadership Team at APH has decided to move forward with plans to postpone a full graduation ceremony to August 2, 2020. The time of the ceremony will be announced later with more details. Not only will August 2nd host the graduation ceremony but also the Baccalaureate and Legacy Garden Ceremonies in a full day of events to honor and celebrate the inaugural Class of 2020.

The date of June 5th will still mark the date conferred on senior diplomas, as the Academic Office will need to submit final transcripts to each senior’s chosen college. The Leadership Team feels it is important to also mark that date for our students and will host a virtual celebration sharing a collection of images and videos of the students over the course of their time at APH.

It was through great deliberation and conversation that we came to the decision to postpone graduation. The agreed-upon postponement was in an effort to allow our country time to heal and allow for larger groups of people to gather. The senior class, our inaugural class, wanted to have a chance to have graduation as it has been for the last three years and all of the wonderful traditions they have looked forward to. The leadership team agreed and want to be sure to do what we can to support our seniors in this very important milestone.

As we move closer to the postponed date in August, it should be understood that several things are still very much unknown. APH will continue to work in concert with Massachusetts’ Government restrictions and under the guidance of the WHO and CDC. We will keep a vigilant watch on the protocols as we approach the August date. In the event that we are still unable to gather in person at that time, we will host an alternative ceremony in some form. It is important to us that we have a way to celebrate our seniors even if we cannot celebrate the way it was intended.

As always, we are thankful for our wonderful students for voicing their opinions and advocating for their needs, as well as their family’s needs at this time. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Leadership Team with questions or ideas for the graduation ceremonies.

Sincerely,
Molly Martins

Dear APH Student,

We hope this letter finds you well, your extended family and friends safe and healthy. Although our current situation is indeed challenging, we are grateful to have you as members of the APH community.

Our leadership team met at length this past Monday and, in consulting with a variety of healthcare and educational partners, we have determined that APH will not be holding in-person classes on campus again this spring. However, we will continue our Distance Learning Model through the end of the school year. Rest assured we are hard at work planning for our important year-end events so that we can celebrate you, the students and families we value so much! We hold out hope that some of these celebrations may be able to be held in-person.

To that end, we have developed a survey for you to offer feedback on the APH Distance Learning Model. We would appreciate feedback on how academics and advisory are going, and we welcome your thoughts about end-of-year events.

All questions in the survey are in paragraph form, so that you can add as much specific detail as you would like. You have the option to type N/A for any of the questions if you do not have specific feedback to offer. We ask that 100% of our students and parents provide their feedback by Tuesday, April 14. That will allow us to discuss your recommendations and make any necessary adjustments over the April break.

We want to thank you for your continued support and engagement with APH. We look forward to hearing from you.

Warmly,

APH Leadership Team

Dear APH Families and Students,

In the spirit of community service, connectedness and support during this uncertain time, The Academy at Penguin Hall is launching APH Bistro-To-Go beginning tomorrow, Thursday, March 26th. APH families can order online and pick up fully-cooked, prepared meals and other items curbside! We are pleased to be offering these items at APHs cost of food and labor.

Choose from a variety of Bistro favorites, including healthy, hearty entrees, sides and soups. We also have fruits, snacks, and homemade desserts. Let us do the cooking to save you trips to the store. New menu items will be added each week.

Knowing that some of you are having difficulty finding household products, we are also offering some cleaning items and paper products that are available from our suppliers. You can add these items to your order online.

Find more information about ordering and pick-up days and times on our APH Bistro To-Go page. If you have questions or suggestions please email Chef Rich. We look forward to serving you soon!

Sincerely,

Molly Martins
President
The Academy at Penguin Hall

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, The Academy at Penguin Hall will utilize a full distance learning model of education through April 17, 2020. Attendance in virtual classes will be taken just as it is for on-campus classes and will be reflected in MyAPH. As such, we will honor the April Break from April 20-24, 2020. It is our intention to return to on-campus learning on April 27, 2020. The school building will remain open. Administrative staff and many of the faculty will be on campus.

During this time, each student will be supported in continuing her education remotely to prepare her for graduation and/or promotion in the Fall of 2020. These are unprecedented circumstances and we are joining our colleagues at public and private schools, colleges, and universities across the globe to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Class attendance in our distance learning program is required and absences could affect her ability to graduate or be promotional. The following includes an outline of APH’s distance learning model.

All students may come to school on Tuesday to pick-up any materials that may be necessary to support learning. All students and families should enter through the spider door at the front of the building. For any students who are not able to pick up materials on Tuesday, members of the APH administration, faculty or staff will deliver packages of students’ belongings to designated locations. These drop-offs will be coordinated based on information received on the attached survey. Please complete the attached form to let us know your intentions by 12 p.m. on Monday.

At 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 students will begin their distance learning journey. In an effort to maintain consistency, the distance learning model will closely follow our normal schedule with appropriate breaks between classes. Classes will be held in a synchronous method, meaning that students and teachers will meet in real-time by signing in through the video meeting platform Zoom.

Due to the extended nature of this distance learning model, all spring sports are canceled. However, we will continue to encourage students to maintain healthy lifestyle habits by providing them with different in-home friendly exercise routines. Additional information is forthcoming.

Even during this time of distance learning, APH wants to be mindful of our mission of serving our students intellectually, spiritually, socially, physically and creatively. We continue to explore and will provide more information about how we can come together as a community through these times while respecting social distancing. Advisories will meet regularly to provide different points of connection.

Parents, we appreciate your support as we work to ensure the highest quality education possible with minimal impact on your daughters. We look forward to your partnership in helping your daughters access and succeed within this learning model. We will diligently monitor the evolving Covid-19 situation via all responsible sources of information – collegial schools, government officials, the DESE, CDC, WHO, and the US Department of Education.

As always, we thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we continue our mission to educate, enlighten and empower your daughters during this challenging time. More than ever we are relying on the core values of resilience, integrity and courage we have celebrated over the last few years. Please continue to check your email regularly for important updates and additional information about the distance learning model.

Best,

Molly Martins
President
The Academy at Penguin Hall

Dear Students and Families,

As we continue to address the ongoing Coronavirus situation, we have decided to cancel classes on Monday, March 16, in order to hold a professional day for our faculty and staff. The purpose of this professional day is to finalize a distance learning plan for students should the need arise. If APH were to move to distance learning, classes would be taught remotely in real time following our current schedule. For example, on an A-week Monday, students could count on blocks A, B, C, and D meeting for seventy-five minutes as normally scheduled. All students and families will receive comprehensive instructions on how to access the distance learning classes if they become necessary. As you can imagine, given the discussion-based, collaborative nature of our curriculum, distance learning is far from our ideal. We will be working hard on Monday to ensure a robust and engaging experience for our students should we have to enact this plan.

In the event that we need to move to a distance learning model, all currently scheduled athletic activities will be cancelled. Students who have not completed the athletic requirement will be sent a schedule and plan of easily accomplishable exercises that will be signed off on by a parent or guardian. As soon classes resume as scheduled, all expectations of both athletic teams and fitness center requirements will continue. All hours completed under the supervision of parents will be counted toward any remaining fitness center hours.

Clubs working on goals and preparing for activities can arrange meetings through GoogleHangout to stay on track with their progress. All activities scheduled during the distance learning model will be rescheduled once the normal routine has been resumed.

Classes will resume as usual on Tuesday, and we will continue to follow the health and safety protocols outlined in previous messaging. Our expectation is that all healthy students will be at school every day, and all APH attendance rules will apply.

Dear APH Community,

In an effort to keep you informed of Penguin Hall’s ongoing response efforts to the COVID-19 situation, I am writing to tell you about some important developments today and to inform you of the precautions we are taking to maintain the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a State of Emergency due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Per Baker, this declaration came in an effort to provide his administration with more resources to effectively respond to the situation.

As a result, I want to share how Penguin Hall is working to keep our school safe and share important reminders that help control the spread of all contagious illnesses:

Education Matters
We continue to inform our students about COVID-19 through discussions. This includes providing students with facts-based information about the virus, how it spreads, and what measures students can take to help protect themselves. We also continue to share the importance of practicing effective hand-washing and hygiene, with some important reminders below:

  • Frequently wash your hands, especially before and after eating, and using a restroom
  • Use alcohol-based sanitizers if soap and water are unavailable
  • Avoid sneezing into your hands. If you must do so, wash your hands as soon as possible with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Try utilizing the “Happy Birthday” washing technique, singing the song through two times as you wash
  • After washing your hands, use a clean paper towel or tissue to turn off the faucet and open doors
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbows, forearms or tissues

Prevention of Illness
Our conversations also include reminders of illness prevention, which includes avoiding close contact with people who are visibly ill; and by staying home when you’re feeling ill, especially if you are running a fever or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Remember, in order to return to school, you must be fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Increase Cleaning
To help keep our community safe, APH Administration has asked our custodial teams, faculty and staff to increase their cold and flu seasonal cleaning efforts. Using approved disinfectants and cleaners, our teams are frequently wiping down all community surfaces including: doorknobs, light switches, desks and chairs, all bathroom surfaces, and much more. We are also well-stocked on disinfectant sprays, paper towels, cleaning wipes, gloves, and other cleaning supplies that will help us continue to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

We remain vigilant in our efforts to keep our community safe, and will continue to monitor the situation very closely. We are relying on many resources, including our local authorities, for the most up-to-date information: the Town of Wenham, the Wenham Board of Health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, (MADPH) and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC.)

If you have planned travel out-of-state or internationally, we ask you to please fill out this Google Form, which will help the APH Administrative team determine whether a self-quarantine is appropriate.

Again, I recognize this is a rapidly evolving situation, but please rest assured that the health and well-being of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff remains our Administration’s top priority.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best,

Molly Martins
President
The Academy at Penguin Hall

Dear APH Community,

As you know, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has been receiving a lot of media attention. I want to share some important information about The Academy at Penguin Hall’s Health and Safety Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus.) This communication includes important details about COVID-19 and contains essential updates to our International Travel Policy as a result of the virus outbreak. We understand the abundance of news regarding COVID-19 is unsettling, and recognize our families may have questions as to how the virus could impact them and our school.

We know this is a dynamic situation, but please rest assured that as a school community, the health and well-being of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff is the Administration’s top priority. We are very closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which originated in Wuhan, China. While the risk of the spread of COVID-19 continues to remain low in Massachusetts and throughout New England, we are vigilant in our efforts to stay current on all available information. This includes the daily monitoring of COVID-19 updates from the World Health Organization, (WHO) the United States Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) and local authorities, including the Wenham Board of Health.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and after careful deliberation with all members of Penguin Hall’s Administrative Team, we have made important updates to our school’s health and safety protocols, which are listed below. We also want to share the most current information available about COVID-19 and its impact on Massachusetts residents, and provide preventive care resources and hygiene reminders to help reduce your exposure to all contagious illnesses.

Travel Policy

In efforts to preserve the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, The Academy at Penguin Hall now asks all members of our community to make the APH Administrative team aware in advance any planned travel, especially international travel. If your planned travel is to countries or states that are deemed of medium to high risk by the CDC, and you are unable to postpone your travel, please understand that we expect you to participate in a two-week quarantine period upon your return to the United States. We will help students coordinate academic work through the quarantine period.

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recommended that all Massachusetts schools cancel their planned international school trips, amid concerns of the spread of Coronavirus. As a result, we have decided to cancel the APH Foreign Language Department’s planned trip to Costa Rica over the April Vacation break. We did not make this decision lightly; however, as a school, we must adhere to Governor Baker’s warning. For families who are directly impacted by this decision, please know we are actively working with our trip’s vendor and we will be in touch with more details soon.

Facts about novel COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. As of March 6, 2020, there is only one confirmed case of Coronavirus in the state of Massachusetts. The virus demonstrates Influenza-like symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The virus incubation period is believed to be 2-14 days, and is thought to spread from person-to-person; and between people who are in close contact with one another; and through respiratory droplets produced through coughing or sneezing.
According to the CDC, people are thought to be the most contagious when they are symptomatic; however, as with most viruses, it is possible to contract the virus through touching a contaminated surface.

We ask that you continue to help keep our community safe by taking the following precautions to prevent the transmittal of infectious diseases, especially during Flu season, which remains ongoing.

Important Reminders and Best Hygiene Practices

There is no current vaccine to prevent or eliminate the spread of COVID-19, and the best way to prevent contracting the illness is to minimize your exposure risk to the virus. Here are a few helpful reminders and best practices to stay healthy from Coronavirus, Influenza, and other contagious illnesses:

  • Frequently wash your hands, especially before and after eating, or using a restroom
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable
  • Cover your coughs and sneeze into your elbows, forearms or tissues
  • Avoid sneezing into your hands. If you must do so, wash your hands as soon as possible with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Try utilizing the “Happy Birthday” washing technique, and sing the song through two times while you wash
  • After washing your hands, use a clean paper towel or tissue to turn off the faucet and open doors
  • Stay home if you’re ill, especially if running a fever or have flu-like symptoms Please note: in order to return to school, you must be fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects or common surfaces (door knobs, light switches, etc.) with a disinfecting cleaning wipe or spray

I recognize there is a lot of information circling through the media about COVID-19, and that new stories are emerging daily. Please know the health, safety and well-being of every one of our students, faculty and staff is my highest priority, and that I will continue to provide this community with the most up-to-date information available as necessary. I have also listed some helpful resources below that will provide you with more information.

On behalf of the entire Penguin Hall Administration, Faculty and Staff, thank you for your attention to this very important matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Best,
Molly Martins
President
The Academy at Penguin Hall

Helpful Resources