Making our way back to MPA.

Trust & Togetherness

a message from Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

With the dog days of summer now fully upon us, the beginning of the new school year is right around the corner. The energy and anticipation that normally ramp up at this time are accompanied this year by a new degree of uncertainty and anxiety. However, I am extremely excited to greet students once again on campus and meet the 90+ new students and their families we welcome to the MPA family. While it will no doubt be a year like no other, the mission of MPA will persevere and the faculty and staff of MPA are committed to ensure each student has an excellent education and safe experience like no other.

It is increasingly obvious that the spread of COVID-19 both locally and nationally has yet to be contained and will complicate the opening of school. While much of what Governor Walz announced last week is already reflected in MPA’s plan, as an independent school we have the autonomy to make our own decision. At this time, I am moving MPA’s dial to stop two with Lower School on campus each day in a cohort model and Middle and Upper Schools in a synchronous hybrid rotation. This decision is based on a number of criteria, including multiple data-driven metrics and the confidence we have in our extensive health and safety measures and has been made in consultation with our medical advisors, Community Advisory Group, and Board of Trustees. (Please take the time to read the division-specific information being shared below.)

MPA is very fortunate to have a strong partnership with parents and we will have to rely on this crucial partnership more than ever this school year. In order to open the campus and stay open, we will all have to do our part. It will not always be easy to follow all of the safety measures we are asking of families, but is essential to contain the spread. We all must work together—and trust one another—so that our children can benefit from an on-campus experience and we can keep everyone safe, notably including our at-risk children, families, faculty, and staff.

The MPA community continues to inspire me as we triumph over the obstacles and challenges presented by COVID-19. Over the summer months, faculty, staff, and administrators have all worked extremely hard preparing for this school year. Teachers have immersed themselves in professional development, HVAC upgrades have been made and new cleaning protocols have been adopted by the facilities staff, new classroom technology has been installed by the technology team, and administrators have worked around the clock to create and implement a comprehensive, detailed plan. The plans in place reflect an incredible amount of thought, attention to detail, and dedication displayed by more than 100 faculty and staff members coming together to make it possible.

Students are at the heart of all we do and the health and safety of our community is paramount. It will be a school year like no other because MPA is a school like no other. I have the upmost confidence that the strong, safe, close-knit MPA community, united in shared values and committed wholeheartedly to one another, will withstand and transcend this crisis. And we will do so together.

If you have any symptoms, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19, please email covid19tracing@moundsparkacademy.org immediately.

Learning
Living
Thriving
Planning
FAQs
LEARNING: THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

At this time, MPA’s dial is on stop two with Lower School on campus each day in a cohort model and Middle and Upper Schools in a synchronous hybrid rotation. This decision is based on a number of criteria, including multiple data-driven metrics and the confidence we have in our extensive health and safety measures and has been made in consultation with our medical advisors, Community Advisory Group, and Board of Trustees.


Moving the dial

by Renee Wright, Lower School director, rwright@moundsparkacademy.org

MPA continues to prioritize welcoming Lower School students back on campus while taking precautions to protect students, teachers, staff, and all families. At the second stop on the dial,  Lower School students in grades K-4 will be on campus five days each week in cohorts to minimize exposure and allow for contact tracing. PreK will also be on campus five days each week, but will not be cohorted due to the varying nature of its daily enrollment, room size, and the latest guidance that applies to licensed program’s like MPA’s. At the same time, layers of safety measures will be  in place. 

You may be wondering what a typical day will look like in grades K-4 with implementation of the cohort model. The term cohort refers to a group of students that remain together during the learning process. The features of the MPA cohort model are listed below:

  • Cohort size will range from 9-15 students based on the enrollment of the grade and the physical size of the classroom (available space to physically distance). Most grade levels will be divided in at least half creating small cohorts of students.
  • Cohort groupings will be made based on the world language class designation for each student. When world language designations don’t allow for a relatively equal cohort size, a small number of students may change cohorts for their Spanish or French class.
  • The homeroom teacher for each grade level will be the lead teacher for both cohorts but will have an additional highly qualified cohort teacher to help with leadership and academic support for students. A great deal of planning and intentionality is going into selecting highly qualified cohort teachers to work with homeroom teachers and students. When selecting them, we are seeking faculty and staff who are trained educators and/or have a great deal of relevant experience with young children. Planning in this area is still underway to ensure the highest quality. Teacher pairings and class lists were shared in the August family mailing from the Lower School Office.
  • Students will remain in their cohort room as much as possible with limited access to hallways to reduce exposure.
  • Specialist teachers will come into the classroom to teach according to the Lower School schedule. Students will not be changing classrooms.
  • Music, art, drama, technology, library, and world language lessons will be presented live by the specialist with some lessons delivered via video technology in each classroom on a rotating basis.
  • Physical education classes will be conducted as a grade level (not in cohorts) by the physical education specialist utilizing outdoor spaces, weather permitting, or in the Lansing Sports Center with physical distancing and mask wearing protocols in place. 
  • Students will eat lunch in the classroom following the latest health and safety guidance. Students taking hot lunch will have their chosen lunch delivered to them and they will have a choice.
  • Students will have opportunities to get outside as much as possible and will have recess daily with physical distancing protocols in place.

I am including a Q&A to address any questions you may have after reading about the features of the cohort model.

What will the Lower School schedule look like?
You will receive a copy of your child’s daily schedule from the homeroom teacher during Back To School Days on August 24 and 25. Your child will continue to have instruction from the homeroom teacher and all specialist teachers on a regular basis. The lead teachers will rotate between the two cohorts to deliver instruction and guide students in the learning process with assistance from the cohort teacher.

What will lunch look like in the classroom?
Lunch will be delivered to classrooms. Students will be able to make a choice between options provided that day. Masks will be removed during lunch, but students and teachers will follow strict hygiene rules such as washing hands and cleaning surfaces before and after eating. Whenever possible, students will go outdoors to enjoy their lunch. 

What will recess look like?
Students will continue to have recess every day for 25 minutes. Schedules will be adjusted to limit the number of students on the playground at any given time. Each grade level will have recess together so students can connect with friends. Adequate teacher supervision will ensure the health and safety of our students. We are committed to keeping students moving and active, so additional recess time may be granted throughout the school day. 

What safety protocols will be followed in classrooms, hallways, or outdoors?
Physical distancing protocols will be followed in classrooms, hallways, and in outdoor spaces. Classrooms have been measured to determine student capacity allowing for six feet between desks with additional space in high traffic areas. Hallways will be marked with arrows and distancing markers to remind students to physically distance. Students will wear masks at all times indoors, except during snack and lunch times. Students will also wear their masks during recess. Mask breaks will be given throughout students’ days. Students and teachers will be washing hands often and cleaning surfaces multiple times throughout the school day. We suggest students bring water bottles with straws to school daily since drinking fountains will not be available for use. Water bottles must be labeled with your child’s name and must go home each night and be cleaned thoroughly. For a full, detailed list of safety protocols that will be in place, please click here.

Why did you divide cohorts based on world language choice and what if my child is not with his/her friend(s) in the cohort?
As mentioned above, students will be divided into cohorts based on their world language class. Since students have world language classes multiple times per week and must be divided for these classes, it is the safest way to minimize cohort switching and reduce exposures. In some grade levels there is an imbalance between Spanish and French class size so a small number of students may need to switch cohorts for their world language class. Every effort will be made to minimize the switching of students between cohorts.

Please note that cohort class lists are non-negotiable. If you child is concerned about not being with a best friend, please encourage them to use this as an opportunity to connect with classmates they don’t know as well and develop those relationships. Remember students at each grade level will be together for physical education and recess to enable students to connect with friends at a distance.

How will teachers prepare the parents and students for the possibility of online learning if we need to move to that stop on the dial?
Lower School will continue to use Schoology as the platform to deliver information to parents and students. We are changing the set-up of Schoology slightly to make delivery of information consistent across all divisions and more user friendly for students and parents. Students will be instructed on these changes and given practice in using Schoology to ensure more independence with the platform. A parent information video for using Schoology effectively with these changes will be made available on August 20 followed by a Zoom session after school starts to clarify the information and address questions.

We are excited to share that Lower School will be providing technology devices to students on a one-to-one basis. PreK through grade two students will have access to iPads and grades three and four will have access to laptops. These devices will remain at school during on-campus learning, but students will be allowed to bring them home if we need to transition to virtual learning. This will ensure all students have access to a device while at home that they are comfortable using. Our Acceptable Use Policy will be sent home in the August family mailing that will require a signature to allow for use of the device in the home. Make sure to return that policy form at the start of the school year.

Students will have the opportunity to see friends, meet new students, connect with their teachers, learn more about cohorts, hear about safety protocols, and get settled into their classrooms during the Back To School Days on August 24 and August 25. We will welcome at least 41 new students to the Lower School and we look forward to introducing everyone! Click here for the full schedule.

School starts Wednesday, August 26 at 8 AM.  The short week will allow students to settle into new routines and acclimate to new protocols. 

I cannot wait to reconnect with our Lower School families! A Lower School Town Hall is scheduled for August 11 to provide more information and allow you to ask your questions. In the meantime, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Click here for more information about the student experience, PreK-12.

by Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director, jmilam@moundsparkacademy.org

The foundation of the MPA Middle School experience is the belief that the middle years are the most remarkable time of becoming in a young person’s life. They often hold for us unexpected twists and turns, some unpredictable ups and downs, and a really cool journey if we embrace the ride! It seems fitting that the fall 2020 return to MPA Middle School experience would also be a remarkable time of becoming—a little bit unexpected and new, a few twists and turns, and, an adventure we’ll all be a part of realizing each step of the way.

MPA Middle School will begin the 2020 school year in a hybrid synchronous learning model. While we would love to have all students on campus, each day, we believe beginning in such a way that lessens the density of students on campus to maintain proper physical distancing, allows for more controlled movement through the building, and keeps at the forefront of the educational experience the health and wellbeing of our students and their families, is most important.

In the hybrid synchronous learning model, we limit the number of students (density) on campus at any given time as an important safety measure for students, faculty, and staff. In this model, we will be on campus in a rotation where some students are at school and others are engaged, at home, in a real-time virtual school experience. This balanced approach to teaching and learning gives all students the opportunity to be in person with their peers and teachers in a regular and predictable schedule, and still maintain those connections virtually as well. We know, in theory and in practice, that a rigorous, consistent, and predictable schedule is best for middle school students.
This model holds alternating BLUE and WHITE weeks where grades five and six and grades seven and eight take turns being on campus and learning from home in virtual school to ensure a balance of days and instructional opportunities on campus each week. This model allows for regular classroom rotation throughout the day, an A/B schedule, with a focus on maximizing instructional experiences best had in person while planning for virtual learning experiences at home. Virtual classes will continue to be offered synchronously as they were in the spring with Zoom and supported by Schoology, our learning management system.

  • During BLUE WEEKS, grades five and six will be on campus for three days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) and home in virtual school for two days (Thursday and Friday), while grades seven and eight are learning synchronously from home in virtual school for three days and on campus for two.
  • In WHITE WEEKS, grades seven and eight will be on campus for three days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday), and at home for two days, while grades five and six are learning synchronously from home in virtual school for three days and on campus for two.

The daily schedule for all Middle School students will remain the same and hold to our A/B Day rotation. Just as students are expected to be on time, ready to learn for each class on campus, they, too, will be expected to do so in virtual school. Students will log in to Schoology, access course materials, and locate the Zoom link for each class at the top of the page. As we learned in the spring, the Zoom classroom can be a dynamic, engaging, and fun learning space in the virtual world where connection to the content and to each other is preserved, as much as possible.

#EVERYONEGETSAFIRSTDAY: First Days of School
When we decided to begin the fall semester in a hybrid model, I was certain that I did not want anyone’s first day of school to be virtual—I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to take a first day of school picture as you head out the door, get to experience what it will be like in the new year on campus, and mark the beginning of this year with an official first day. More, there is a growing body of research in education right now that highlights the importance of attending to students social-emotional wellbeing first, before academics, in this challenging moment in our world as we acclimate to school in a way that is new to all of us. With this in mind, our first few days will look a little different in such a way that everyone gets a first day!

  • Wednesday, August 26: First Day Of School For New Middle School Students
    On Wednesday, August 26, we will welcome all students new to MPA in grades five through eight to campus for a day all their own. This year we are excited to welcome more than 40 new students to Middle School at MPA (this includes the three new students who joined us at the start of virtual school last spring)! On this day, new students will meet each of their teachers, get to know Schoology and the building, work on their locker combination, and ask as many new student questions as they want. This will be a day for trouble shooting, team building, and tradition learning to really welcome warmly our newest students to the community.
  • Thursday, August 27: First Day Of School For All Students In Grades Five And Six, No School For Grades Seven And Eight
    On Thursday, August 27, we will welcome all students—new and returning—in grades five and six to campus. This will be their first day together, as grade level cohorts, to meet their teachers, learn the details of the new schedule, acclimate to the building as a little larger group, and practice all of our health and safety protocols. As our youngest learners in Middle School, this day offers all of us a chance to get settled, get to know each other, and get a good solid start for the year.
  • Friday, August 28: First Day Of School For All Students In Grades Seven And Eight, No School For Grades Five And Six
    And on Friday, August 28, we will welcome back all of our seventh and eighth grade students—new and returning—for a day all their own. As our leaders in Middle School, this day will allow them the same opportunities for acclimating, adjusting, and spending time together to learn our new normal. Because our seventh and eighth graders will begin the first long week in virtual school, this day offers them a chance to make sure they are really ready to jump in from home!

NOTE: Our first full week of instruction in the fully synchronous hybrid model will begin on Monday, August 31 with a BLUE WEEK (see schedule). New students, you’ll be on campus for your day and then with your grade level. Returning students, you’ll get at least one extra day of summer. The calendar reflects the days that students are on campus and the days when they are not, they will be engaged in synchronous learning from home.

Click here for the Quarter 1 Middle School Synchronous Hybrid Calendar

Technology Use And Enhancements
Each Middle School student will be issued a MacBook Air during Back to School Days on campus (an email was sent to each family with each student’s advisory assignment and Back to School Days information). As a fully functional and dynamic learning technology, the laptop enables students to access our Schoology, our learning management system, fully engage with the suite of software in Office 365, and stay seamlessly connected at school and at home. It is essential that this computer remain charged and ready for use, stored in a safe place, and used wisely and well for school purposes only.

All students are required to review, sign, and return both the ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY as well as the MPA LAPTOP AGREEMENT during their Back to School Day orientation to receive their laptop.

Additionally, technology enhancements and upgrades are underway on campus to allow students to connect, in real time, with their classes if they are being held on-campus and in the event that a student must learn from home. It is our wish that all students who can come to campus do so with their classmates; however, we also know that there is a great need for flexibility and accommodations for students for whom this is not possible. Our goal is for all MPA students to have a rigorous, joyful, and enriching learning experience in the fall no matter the platform or mode of delivery.

Lunch And Recess
Following the best in health and safety guidance, Middle School students will eat in classrooms or outdoors (as weather permits). While this is not ideal, and it does limit to some degree the social aspects of sharing a meal together, we know that limiting the group size when students are eating (and unmasked briefly) is currently best practice. SAGE Dining Services will continue to provide excellent lunch options and students will be served by SAGE staff rather than self-serving at the buffet-style lines.

We will stagger lunch and recess times, again, to maintain lower numbers in our lunch cohorts and ensure proper physical distancing whether in the classroom or outdoors. Students are welcome to bring a small blanket/towel to school with them, to keep in their locker, that they may use to place on the grass to sit on while having lunch.

Recess and time outdoors will remain an important part of our day—perhaps more important now than ever. Please ensure that your student, when coming to campus, is dressed appropriately for the weather as we will strive to be outdoors for learning, moving, eating, and play as much as possible.

Hallways, Lockers, and Supplies, Oh-My!
Middle School students will be using their lockers on a very limited basis to discourage hallway congregation and to protect physical distancing among students during transition periods. With this in mind, we are asking that all Middle School students purchase a backpack that is comfortable, has room to hold their supplies, and preferably a laptop sleeve. As students move from class to class, all supplies will need to be safely stored inside the backpack to allow for hand washing and/or sanitizing upon leaving one room and re-entering the next. We also suggest having a pencil pouch or small pencil bag to hold pens, pencils, glue sticks, highlighters, etc. Additionally, when selecting a binder for organization, please make sure that the binder can fit inside the backpack with room for other items. If selecting a smaller binder, or multiple small binders/folders (one for each class) is easier, we welcome students doing that as well.

Students will be allowed to drop their coat or items not needed before lunch at their locker as soon as they arrive in the morning. They will not be allowed to visit their locker again until lunch—when they can retrieve their lunch, coat, etc. for recess. They will be allowed, again, to visit their locker to pick up the items required for their afternoon classes and not return until the end of the day. All locker visits will be coordinated and supervised to ensure physical distancing and safety in the hallways.

On-Campus Supervision For Virtual School
The Middle School age is unique in that students are old enough to do many things independently but not always able to be left alone at home to manage their own virtual learning during the days they may be in off-campus rotation. For those students with parents that work outside of the home and are unable to supervise their virtual learning (or are unable to plan for supervision/childcare), MPA will offer limited on-campus supervision for Middle School students.

Students requiring on-campus supervision, will attend virtual classes while supervised in a school space. Our goal is to make this a comfortable place for learning for students and to support the social, emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing of students who must be in virtual school but cannot be at home unsupervised. All on campus safety processes and protocols will be maintained and there will be opportunities for students in on-campus supervision to interact with other Middle School peers.

If your family will need on-campus supervision for Virtual School for your younger Middle School student, a formal request must be submitted to the Middle School office by Monday, August 17 outlining the needs and specific family circumstances that required your student to be on campus on the days for which their grade level is to be at home in virtual school. All requests will be reviewed by MPA Administration and approval will be sent from the Middle School director.

Back To School Days
We are really excited to welcome your students to campus for Back to School Days. It is ideal (and encouraged!) that all students attend with their advisory as this will be an important first opportunity for socializing and getting a great and positive start to the new school year. Please find the full details here. More details will be sent later this week with details about drop-off, activities, and need-to-know information for Back to School Days. Students should dress comfortably and wear a mask. If they’d like to bring a water bottle, they are welcome to do so.

Middle School Town Halls—Mark Your Calendars
Next week, on August 12 at 7 PM, we will gather as a Middle School community in our first Town Hall of the 2020-21 school year. In this first session, we will cover lots of details about return to school, what you and your student can expect in the first few days and weeks, and answer your questions. We will also discuss in detail expectations for virtual school learning, how parents will be engaged in supporting students in our new hybrid model, and I will share some learnings and thoughts as we move into the new year.

Also, on Monday, August 24 at 7 PM, I will host a “HERE WE GO!” Town Hall just before we begin with our first days of school. I have found that a gathering like this, before we embark on this new journey together, helps to put everyone’s worries at ease and gives us a little chance to laugh, connect, and look forward as a Middle School family. Find a link to this event on the calendar.

Click here for more information about the student experience, PreK-12.

by Mark Segal, Upper School director, msegal@moundsparkacademy.org

I hope this note finds you well and enjoying the waning days of summer. It is hard to believe that we will be back on campus in just three weeks. This note will serve as an Upper School update as we look ahead to the 2020-21 school year.

At the second stop on the dial, we are planning that the Upper School will be following a hybrid model where our goal will be to have as many students on campus as possible, while strictly maintaining safety protocols. Due to the Governor’s statement about schools last week and recent research and findings on contact tracing, the Upper School will be divided in half, alphabetically by last name and grade, and will be on a rotation whereby students will either be on campus two or three times each week. The two student groups are named Panther Pride and MPA Spirit and the breakdown for each grade will be:

Grade 9 Panther Pride: Maya Alexa–Jacob Leier
Grade 9 MPA Spirit: Ella Li–Parker Ziegler

Grade 10 Panther Pride: Alex Appleton–Michael Mairs
Grade 10 MPA Spirit: Noah Marnach–Jacky Zhou

Grade 11 Panther Pride: Maya Abla–Augie Mandarano
Grade 11 MPA Spirit: Will Marnach–John Zhan

Grade 12 Panther Pride: Eva Benson–Ayoub Mahamoud
Grade 12 MPA Spirit: Amit Manicka–Luke Zscheile

One of the many valued aspects of MPA are the strong relationships built between students, faculty, and administrators. One way these relationships are typically initiated for new Upper School students is when the ninth grade attends a special off-campus retreat at the beginning of the school year where they get to know each other better in a more casual setting. As we are unable to do this this year, in place of all Upper School classes, August 26 will serve as an on campus, in-person Retreat Day for all ninth-grade students. To accommodate this, the Upper School will adjust the first day of classes from Wednesday, August 26 to Thursday, August 27. All Upper School students will then start their first quarter and A-day classes on Thursday, August 27. The calendar reflects the days that students are on campus and the days when they are not, they will be engaged in synchronous learning from home.

Click here for the Quarter 1 Upper School Synchronous Hybrid Calendar

The in-person learning component is highly valued by our students and families as being on campus and in the classroom provide crucial social and intellectual support. Mounds Park Academy recognizes the importance of in-person teaching and learning experiences, yet also realizes that due to the current metrics related to the pandemic this is not possible 100% of the time. Therefore, each student will be on campus for in-person learning with the days not on campus incorporating synchronous (real-time) virtual learning. To support those students who will be learning from home, Mounds Park Academy has invested considerably to upgrade its technological capabilities. The internal Wi-Fi system has been upgraded to handle additional users at faster speeds and each classroom will have a large (65-inch) monitor and camera system to make those at home feel as though they are in the classroom with their peers.

Lunch & Recess
Following the best in health and safety guidance and the developmental readiness of students, Upper School students will eat in one of six locations on campus: the Family Commons, the Nicholson Center, the Lansing Sport Center, the Upper School Commons, in their second block classrooms or, weather permitting, outdoors (students may bring a small blanket/towel to school with them that they may use on the grass to sit on while having lunch). It is important that Upper School students are provided the opportunity to spend time, in a physically distanced way, with their peers. SAGE Dining Services will continue to provide excellent lunch options and students will be served by SAGE staff rather than self-serving at the buffet-style lines. Students will also, as have always been the case, have the option to bring lunch from home. More will be shared about lunch at the Upper School Town Hall next Thursday, August 13.

Upper School recess, student club meetings, and time outdoors will remain an important part of our day—perhaps more important now than ever. Please work with your child to ensure that when coming to campus they are dressed appropriately for the weather as we will strive to be outdoors for learning, moving, eating, and physically distanced socializing as much as possible.

Lockers & School Supplies
It has been my experience that Upper School students rarely use their lockers, and I do not expect this trend to change anytime soon. Most students carry their backpack and school materials with them throughout the day for ease of transition between classes. Therefore, students will not be automatically assigned a locker for the 2020–21 school year. One will be made available should a student wish. For this reason, it will be important that students have a backpack that is comfortable, has room to hold all their supplies, and preferably a sleeve to protect their valued MacBook laptop. As students move from class to class, all supplies will need to be safely stored inside the backpack to allow for hand washing and/or sanitizing upon leaving one room and re-entering the next. As the weather changes, and we learn more about what the school year will look like, students will be assigned a locker where they may drop their coat at their locker as soon as they arrive in the morning and then access it, in a coordinated and physically distanced way.

Back To School Days
As we look ahead, it is critical that we are all aware of the measures and protocols that are in place on campus to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate risk for our MPA community. As previously shared, our annual Back to School Night will take a new form this year and we will be holding a number of in-person, on campus small group meetings for Upper School students (parents will learn about campus safety measures and protocols via a prerecorded video). This is required for all ninth and tenth graders and highly recommended for all students. Click here to find all of the details and click here to sign up for the session that works best for your student and family. 

We know that the start of this school year will be different than any we have previously experienced and we continue to plan and work to maintain the same quality education, supports, and program that MPA families are used to and expect. More information will be shared over the coming weeks via email communication and there will also be an Upper School-specific Town Hall at 7 PM next Thursday, August 13. In order to be able to address some of the questions you have, please email me in advance of the Town Hall and I will strive to address them in my comments.

I am looking forward to keeping the lines of communication open and to seeing your children on campus soon. I have missed you all!

Click here for more information about the student experience, PreK-12.

Dial
The image above is MPA's dial, designed to reflect the learning environment the school is currently in, or will be in, when in session next. It contains four main scenarios and illustrates there are options between the main scenarios. As a private, independent school, we have more flexibility than public school systems, thus we have more possible scenarios.

Cohort
Prioritizing the unique needs of Lower School children, a cohort model at MPA is one that keeps groups of young students together and limits their movement on campus. For example, during a cohort model at MPA, teachers would rotate rather than students. This would be used as a protective safety measure.

Hybrid Learning
This is used to describe learning in which some, but not all, traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by virtual learning activities. For example, during hybrid learning at MPA, Middle and Upper School students would be on campus for the learning activities that are most successfully done in person.

Density
The hybrid learning option at MPA would reduce the number of students on campus. This allows for greater social distancing, a key protective safety protocol. The small class sizes that we enjoy allow us to start from a lower density position.

Virtual School
Similar to how it was implemented this spring, virtual school will vary by division. With a focus on maintaining routines and meeting families where they are, learning under this model would continue to be rigorous, reliable, and joyful.

PreK-12 On Campus With Safety Measures In Place
This will be possible when COVID-19 metrics improve.

PreK-4 On Campus In Cohorts, 5-12 In Hybrid Learning Model
The MPA dial will move to this scenario if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the state or local level and/or MPA community spread occurs. MPA has the flexibility due to campus and class size to keep PreK-4 on campus in cohorts due to the unique learning and childcare needs of Lower School families and welcome students in grades 5-12 on campus on a rotating basis.

PreK-4 On Campus In Cohorts, 5-12 In Virtual School
The MPA dial will move to this scenario if COVID-19 metrics continue to worsen and/or MPA community spread occurs. This is a more restrictive hybrid scenario designed to further reduce the density on campus and prioritize the unique learning and childcare needs of our Lower School families. It may be possible for MPA to use this scenario while public schools are only able to be virtual.

PreK On Campus, K-12 In Virtual School
The MPA dial will move to this scenario if COVID-19 metrics continue to worsen and the Governor orders all schools in virtual learning. This would be a shelter in place type situation. The State of Minnesota would likely allow childcare centers to remain open, which is why PreK may remain open, as a licensed childcare center.

Click here for more details on the factors that move MPA's dial.

LIVING ON & OFF CAMPUS: SAFETY

Scientific evidence from public health experts and the MN Department of Health indicates that risks to students and staff can be kept low if schools adhere to strict control measures and dynamically respond to potential outbreaks. While there is never a “zero risk” scenario, we strive to achieve low risk through layered protocols that can adapt to the uncertainty of this pandemic.

MPA will continue its focus on layered protection, shared responsibility, a commitment to equity, being flexible, and erring on the side of caution. Planning and adaptation will continue this summer and throughout the school year as we react to the dynamic changes occurring in our school and local communities. Teachers will educate students on the importance of these protocols, provide ample opportunities to practice these safety strategies, and shepherd students in a positive and non-threatening manner throughout the school day.

If you have any symptoms, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19, please email covid19tracing@moundsparkacademy.org immediately.

Making Our Way Back

FAMILIES' ROLE

All of these preventative safety protocols will be in place at the beginning of the school year and families should begin preparing for them this summer.

Families Role

MPA'S ROLE: HEALTHY STUDENTS & STAFF

All of these preventative and protective safety protocols will be in place at the beginning of the school year. MPA is also preparing for additional protocols and will be ready to implement if needed.

Commons

MPA'S ROLE: HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS

All of these preventative and protective safety protocols will be in place at the beginning of the school year. MPA is also preparing for additional protocols and will be ready to implement if needed.

Community Gatherings

COMMUNITY GATHERINGS

Coming to campus will look a little bit different. Just as soon as we are able, we will loosen restrictions. Alternative plans are being developed for choir and ensemble classes and lunchtime, for example.

Community Gatherings

ATHLETICS

The MSHSL will move to a new four-season plan for 2020-21. The timing for fall and winter seasons will move forward as planned. Spring season is now mid-March to mid-May, summer season is now mid-May to early July. The following program decisions were voted on and passed: Cross Country, Girls Swim and Dive, Girls Tennis, and Boys and Girls Soccer will start August 17 with a reduced number of weeks in their season and a reduced schedule; fall Football and Volleyball games have been moved to the spring. More information will be forthcoming about practicing Football and Volleyball this fall; and traditional spring sports will move to the summer season from May-July, More specific information will be shared as it becomes available from the MSHSL and the CAA (Catholic Athletic Association), which coordinates our Middle School athletics.

Athletics

 

These should be done every morning before arriving at school and every evening.

Take your child’s temperature. If it is higher than 100.0 degrees, do not enter campus.

Answer the following checklist questions. If you answer yes to any of these questions, do not enter campus:

  • Are you experiencing any of the following: fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?
  • Do you have any reason to believe you or anyone in your household has been exposed to, cared for an individual who has tested positive, is in quarantine, or has or acquired COVID-19? 

Begin your screening routine at least 14 days prior to August 26 and continue screening during breaks and temporary closures.

The school has contracted with a safe and confidential safety screening app company to make this process simple and easy for your family. The week of August 10, your family received a "Welcome to the AUXS Safety Screening App" email that will guide you through the installation process. The screening app will work on any smartphone and will send you reminders and notifications to help you remember to complete the screening. You will complete the screening for each of your students through the guided questions provided through the app. Your responses will be recorded and provided to MPA seamlessly, as well as your green light to bring your student to campus, or your red light to stop and contact the school for next steps. Click here for more information about the AUX Safety App.

To aid in establishing this routine, we ask families to begin screening students 14 days prior to the start of school to identify any possible exposures or symptoms.

If you have questions about this screening process, or if you need to report possible symptoms or exposure throughout the school year, please email covid19tracing@moundsparkacademy.org.

Staggered Arrival

  • If your family didn’t select an arrival time, one will be assigned to you.
  • Students will not be allowed in the building prior to 7:15 AM in order for staff members to arrive on campus and be prepared to begin the screening process.
  • Please have the green badge that is emailed to you by The Safety App Powered By Aux out and ready to show upon arrival. If your child is driving themselves to school, please forward the email to them or take a screenshot and text it to them. The same applies for carpools. If you or your student is unable to show the green badge for a positive screening result that morning, staff will ask your child the screening questions, which will significantly slow down the arrival process. All students must be screened prior to entering the building.
  • Each student will arrive at their pre-assigned door. The doors are pictured above and will be marked with flags and balloons for easy locating. Note that parents will need to drive through the lot and stop at each applicable door.
    Door 1: PreK, K, 1
    Door 2: Grades 2, 3, 4
    Door 4: Grades 5, 7
    Door 5: Grades 6, 8
    Door 7 East & West: Grades 9-12
  • When lining up to do the screening, students should be wearing masks and physically distant.
  • Parents are encouraged to allow their student to make the last part of the journey into school independently unless delivering a reluctant student. All new families with Lower School students will be welcomed to accompany their child through screening and to their locker or classroom door for the first week of school.

Dismissal

  • Each student will depart from their pre-assigned door noted above. For families with students in multiple divisions, please begin with pick-up for your youngest student to ease traffic congestion and flow through the parking lot, then proceed to the next applicable door for your next child. Please be extra mindful and cautious of these new traffic patterns for students exiting the building and being picked up as you make your way around the building.
  • When you arrive, your division assistant will scan a barcode that signals to the classroom that you have arrived, and the student may depart.
  • Please print your student’s/students’ name on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and put it on the passenger side of your dashboard so that your family may be easily identified by the division assistant.
  • Upper School students may remain at MPA until their parents arrive, if needed. They will remain in the Upper School Commons or the Lansing Lobby so that they may be supervised. Please call or text your child when you arrive, and they will be noted as dismissed when they leave through door #7. We ask that all Upper School students are picked up by 5 PM unless they are in an organized afterschool activity.

 

Teach healthy hygiene.

  • Handwash frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. 

Teach and encourage MPA's health protocols.

  • Practice wearing a mask.
  • Practice keeping physical distance.

Practice respiratory etiquette.

  • Cover your mouth and nose while you cough or sneeze.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.

The extended MPA community is one of its treasured hallmarks. We have made the difficult decision to restrict access at the start of the school year to parents and outside visitors. Campus access may change and will vary depending on the MPA dial and other community spread factors. If and when parents and visitors return to campus, they will be expected to follow all school-established protocols while on campus, including physical distancing, screening, and mask-wearing.

Please note: If needed, parents of our new Lower School students for the 20-21 school year will be permitted to accompany their child through the screening process and inside the building for the first week of school to acclimate and orient them to their new environment.

As the state of Minnesota continues to reopen and expand access, we would like to encourage you to consider how your student and your family could participate in what we’re calling quasi-quarantine before the first day of school. Fourteen days is an important period for COVID-19 exposures, because this is the length of time someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 might have before they begin to experience symptoms of their own infection. Please consider limiting potential exposures to others who may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus during this crucial period.  

This is also the right time to teach and reinforce new practices that will be important in the upcoming school year, including: purchasing and practicing mask-wearing, handwashing techniques, respiratory etiquette, and preparing them for the changes they’ll experience coming back to campus such as physical distancing, new signage helping them to stay safe, staggered arrival and screening, among others. 

MPA will continue to monitor domestic and international travel advisories and considerations when determining who may enter campus in order to prevent community transmission. MPA may require students or staff to quarantine themselves if out-of-state travel occurs to states or areas with high or increasing rates of transmission, or for international travel to places identified as high-risk travel advisories. No restrictions are in place at this time, although MPA encourages all families to err on the side of caution when traveling a minimum of 14 days prior to the start of school, and to notify the school of any airplane or travel to states with increasing community transmission rates. See the FAQ below for more information and helpful resources.

  • The mask should fit snugly to cover the nose bridge, mouth, and chin and should not gap.
  • Masks should be made of tightly-woven cloth such as higher thread count cotton and 2-3 layers thick.
  • Ensure the mask fits around the ears, but isn’t too tight. 
  • Masks should be washed daily, so multiple masks are recommended to have on hand at home, and your student should arrive to school with two masks each day: wearing one, and an extra on hand.

Adult-sized or standard sized masks may be too big for K-5th grade students, or smaller faces of older students. We recommend trying different types and sizes made for your child’s age and size. Many masks you might buy online for adults may not fit our younger students. Their mask should fit over their nose and to their cheekbones, and the bottom of the mask should cover below the chin, but not be hanging.

How To Safely Wear Your Mask
Guidance For Buying A Mask For Children
MPA Alumnus-Owned Love Your Melon Face Masks

Physical distancing: MPA is committed to six-foot physical distancing among students, faculty, and staff.

K-12 wear masks: It is recommended families find the appropriately sized mask for their children, to have several masks available, and to wash them frequently according to Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. For any student or staff member with an underlying health issue or sensory sensitivities, face shields may be utilized as an alternative protective layer.

  • Face masks are especially important when in hallways or bathrooms or in proximity to students from other classes.
  • Training will be provided for students/families and staff on how to wear and care for masks, including daily washing and rotation and proper placement, among other topics. 
  • We are committed to building in time throughout the day where students and staff don’t have to wear masks, but we will maintain other layers of protection and physical distancing. 
  • Teachers may wear transparent face shields when teaching at the front of the room and face masks when working more closely with students. 

Home health screening: These will be completed by all employees prior to entering campus.

Student health screening: These will be done upon arrival of school, including taking temperatures and asking screening questions.

Frequent hand washing and sanitizing: There will be scheduled and structured opportunities for students and staff.

  • Students and employees will wash hands immediately before: leaving home, leaving the classroom, eating, touching shared objects, touching one’s face, and leaving school.
  • Students and employees will wash hands immediately after: arriving at school, entering classroom, finishing lunch, touching shared objects, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, and blowing one’s nose, and arriving at home.
  • Use of hand sanitizer will be encouraged when washing hands is not possible.

Smiles, waves, and thumbs-ups: MPA teachers and staff will replace hugs, handshakes, and high-fives temporarily.

Training: Training will be provided for students, parents, and employees.

Limited campus access for visitors: This will be combined with enhanced screening procedures for essential one-time visitors.

Just as important as being mindful of your student’s and family’s possible exposures during this period before the start of school are the ways you can support reinforcing these changes and preparing your students mentally and emotionally. MPA is also pleased to share enhanced mental health and social supports for all students in the upcoming year, including: 

  • Conducting minute meetings (every student gets a face-to-face introduction with their counselor) at the start of the school year. It is critical for all students to know who is available and how we can help.  
  • Offering affinity and/or processing groups for students who have particular needs (new student groups, mindfulness groups, lunch bunches, coping skills group, to name a few). Groups may also be offered virtually or outside to promote additional physical distancing. 
  • Traditional individual meetings may be scheduled, either virtually or in person throughout the school year.  
  • Weekly wellness check-ins between teachers and staff to identify students who may be struggling. 
  • Weekly social and emotional learning (SEL) “challenges” or activities for parents/guardians and teachers to help students expand emotional vocabulary, regulation skills, and practice ways to safely connect with others from a distance. These resources will begin to be shared prior to the start of school. 

Mental Well-Being During COVID-19

Supporting Children During COVID-19

One of the challenging aspects of the presenting symptoms of COVID-19 is that they often present with other types of illness, allergies, or other health problems as well. After consultation with the MPA Community Advisory Group, and other medical and epidemiology experts, MPA has developed the following symptom response, reporting, and testing strategy for the upcoming school year.

We recognize every community member at the school has a dual wish of continuing the high-quality educational opportunities families have come to know and expect, while also maintaining health, safety, and wellness for themselves and others. MPA seeks to implement screening and physical distancing expectations with a focus on health, safety, and compassion for all.

Key Definitions and Details

Screening: Questions asked of students or visitors related to the known symptoms and potential exposure to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. Screening also often includes temperature checks. MPA will be conducting temperature check screening onsite for all students, employees, and campus visitors and asks families to complete twice daily screening and temperature monitoring at home as well.

Symptoms: Individuals with COVID-19 have a wide-range of symptoms from mild to severe. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, which has driven the testing and quarantine protocol MPA has developed. The current symptoms list includes: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Stay up-to-date on symptoms from the Minnesota Department of Health here.

If a student or staff member exhibits any of the symptoms listed in the screening protocol, they must not return to campus until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours and have received a negative COVID-19 test. MPA has a robust plan in place to respond and isolate anyone who begins experiencing symptoms while on campus, with a focus on preventing additional spread, and an empathetic and caring response for the individual who is impacted.

Testing: Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. 

  • A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
  • An antibody test might tell you if you had a past infection. An antibody test might not show if you have a current infection because it can take 1–3 weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies. Having antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 might provide protection from getting infected with the virus again. If it does, we do not know how much protection the antibodies might provide or how long this protection might last.

Antibody testing is more uncertain at this time, and in consultation with our planning team and medical professionals, MPA will not be requiring or asking families to undergo antibody testing. An MPA student or staff member is required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result or doctor’s release to return to school if symptoms occur or if they have been exposed to a confirmed case.

Quarantine: An individual is asked to quarantine when they have been identified as a “close contact” of a confirmed case of COVID-19. A close contact is defined as any person who was within six feet for longer than 15 minutes (regardless of whether masks were worn) of someone with a positive or presumptive positive COVID-19 test or had direct contact with infectious secretions of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, shared utensils, kissed, etc.). Based upon the public health guidance at the time, any close contacts of a positive test may be required to quarantine for 14 days and/or document a series of negative COVID-19 tests.

Isolation: If a community member has a positive COVID-19 test, documentation of the minimum of 14 days of home isolation is required prior to returning to campus. The revised COVID-19 Student Absenteeism Policy will be implemented based upon a student’s unique learning needs, level of symptoms and sickness, and if they are able to complete schoolwork during the isolation period. All MPA families and staff must report a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in their immediate family within 24 hours and as quickly as possible.

Community Spread: According to the Minnesota Department of Health, community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Each health department determines community spread differently based on local conditions. Learn more about community spread in Minnesota here.

Community Mitigation: The Minnesota Department of Health defines Community Mitigation activities as actions that people and communities can take to slow the spread of infectious diseases, and prepare for it if it occurs, including COVID-19. Community mitigation is especially important before a vaccine or drug becomes widely available. MPA is committed to its robust health and safety protocols to keep our own community safe, and to promote community mitigation strategies.

Response to Confirmed Cases: If a case has been confirmed of an MPA community member who has been on campus, MPA will coordinate the appropriate response and contact tracing with state and local health officials from the Minnesota Department of Health.

  • Notification to community members who had close contact with the confirmed positive individual. This person’s name and identifying information will not be provided to those close contacts. All close contacts of a confirmed case will be required to quarantine.
  • Additional notices may be required to the community for campus cleaning or changes in dial status. The positive case individual’s information will be kept confidential in any of these additional notices.

Privacy and Confidentiality: All personal or identifying information related to MPA’s response to COVID-19, including screening, protocol, contact tracing, and community notifications will be kept confidential. MPA community members have a right to privacy, and certain data points outlined above must be collected for the health and safety of the entire community. Screening data will not be shared with outside third parties. Contact tracing procedures will take into consideration the necessary information to be shared with public health officials support MPA should an outbreak occur. MPA has identified specific steps during the screening, symptom identification, and contact tracing process to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of community members during this pandemic.

For more information about MPA's Symptom and Case Response procedures, please click here.

If you have any questions about the above, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19, please email covid19tracing@moundsparkacademy.org immediately.

Enhanced facility cleaning and sanitizing: Includes sanitation for shared supplies between use, three times daily cleaning of all spaces, including high-touch items such as doorknobs, light switches, and other common use items.

Proper ventilation: MPA has the recommended negative return room ventilation model and will be utilizing outdoor classroom spaces, open doors and windows as often as possible and weather permitting. The air in each space of the building is completely cirulated two to three times per hour, which is far beyond the recommended frequency.

Revised traffic flow: The use of signage, carpet stickers, and employee oversight, students and staff will maintain altered and staggered traffic patterns in the hallways and other shared spaces. Each division’s students will have access to certain parts of the building and the use of common areas will be restricted.

Revised use of social spaces: Shared campus spaces may be converted to accommodate large classes’ physical distancing requirements, for storage, and to ensure proper cleaning protocol can be implemented every day.

Disinfection: This includes shared objects and spaces between uses. Students will also be provided separate supplies when possible.

Move class outdoors: This will be done whenever possible, weather permitting.

Avoid large groups and gatherings: This includes orchestra, band, and choir classes and concerts. Small group ensembles and individual instruction will replace large-group classes.

Limit student movement: This includes moving between different classrooms and keep class groups as distinct and separate as possible.


THRIVING, NOT JUST SURVIVING

No matter what the coming school year holds, the virtual learning program at MPA is designed to be a seamless extension of the care we always provide our students, families, and community. It’s not only rigorous and reliable, it’s also engaging and infused with joy from beginning to end.

PLANNING

Planning for the 2020-21 school year began on April 7 by the Board of Trustees and the Administrative Team. A Teacher Task Force was created to draw upon the expertise and experience of our exceptional faculty to formulate proposals that respond to the unique pedagogical and developmental needs of learners at each grade level and division. At the same time, the Administrative Team consulted with other independent schools in the United States and around the world, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (our regional accrediting agency), and with state and local public health officials to create a plan to bring all students on campus as soon as we are safely able.

MPA has also formed a Community Advisory Group comprised of members of the larger MPA community with medical, public health, higher education, government, and legal experience. The purpose of the group is to review recommended steps and regularly provide insights, suggestions, and best practices considering their personal connection to the school and their professional areas of expertise.

All decisions related to the plan will be made by Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the Administrative Team, and the Community Advisory Group.

Community Advisory Group

Dr. Emily Binstadt '91, Regions Hospital, Emergency Medicine Physician
Jeremy Drucker '97, State of Minnesota, Public Affairs Consultant
Kevin Goodno, Fredrikson & Byron, PA, Attorney & Shareholder
Dr. Courtney Herring, Children’s Minnesota, Pediatric Hospitalist
Dr. Kurt Keogh, Allina Health, Emergency Medicine Specialist
Maurice Kuypers, Retired 3M, Global Business Manager, MPA Board of Trustee
Caroline Portoghese, Handi Medical Supply, Inc., Director of Rehab Operations

 

Matt Larson, City of St. Paul, Chief Innovation Officer; University of St. Thomas, Adjunct Faculty; MPA Board of Trustees Chair
Martha Burton Santibanez, Minnesota Department of Health, Assistant Division Director, Health Regulation Division
Brett Schreiber, Hennepin County, Senior System Software Engineer
Suzanne Schwartz, Hennepin County Medical Center, Director of Operations
John Willis, Carleton College, Associate Professor of History, Director of Africana Studies

Guiding Principles

Prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our community.

Alignment with government orders and the guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Advance the continuity of learning.

Promote the social and emotional health of our students and, faculty, and staff.

Bring all students on campus as soon as we are safely able.

Focus on flexibility and nimbleness as the external circumstances change.

Honor the whole child education approach in arts, athletics, academic areas.

Transparent and frequent communication.

Unique pedagogical responses based on appropriateness for each developmental stage, PreK-12.

FAQs

Please direct your questions to communications@moundsparkacademy.org. Commonly asked questions will be catalogued here.

A: MPA is not currently requiring students to quarantine following out of the area travel at this time. We will continue to monitor the recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health in how we set policy for student interstate travel. There are risk levels associated with different modes of travel, and we do recommend limiting travel when possible, particularly within the two-week period prior to school reopening. Preventative and protective measures such as maintaining six-foot physical distancing when traveling to and from other areas, wearing masks at all times regardless of masking mandates in the places the student may visit, and always monitoring symptoms and obtaining the appropriate testing if needed upon return are all strategies families should consider and implement. Similarly, although we are not requiring students to quarantine if they travel by flight, that is considered a higher risk category of activity than traveling by car at this time. Here is a link to the CDC travel considerations page for additional information and recommendations.

One way that families can assess the safety of their travel plans is through the COVID testing positivity rate for their destination in comparison with Minnesota when possible. Here is a link to reference for recent updates close to your travel dates.

You should also monitor if Minnesota places travel restrictions on anyone entering the state in the coming weeks. New York and many other states, for instance, have determined criteria that require individuals to self-quarantine when returning from states with high transmission of cases. Minnesota is not currently limiting travel as a state, which has informed the MPA travel policy for return to school, but is an important consideration to monitor.

Reminder: The Health & Safety Pledge requires that you notify MPA of your travel. Please email Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement at jrogers@moundsparkacademy.org to do so.

A: MPA's routes serving Highland/Saint Paul, North Oaks/Roseville, Stillwater/Lakeland, Woodbury, and Minneapolis will run as usual. MPA and First Student will keep the bus capacity at 50% or lower and will be doing daily deep cleaning of the buses. Click here to learn more about the safety protocols that will be in place. Changes to the District 622 bus service were communicated via email the week of August 17.

Please contact Janet Vue, student billing coordinator, to sign up for an MPA bus route if you haven't already.

A: Please plan ahead for your arrival time and leave extra time if traffic or weather is a concern. It will take time to complete the temperature checks and stay physically distanced as students arrive each day and will be important that families adhere to their arrival times. That being said, a student will not be denied entrance into the building if they arrive early or late. We ask for your partnership in the arrival process and greatly appreciate your support.

A: The extended MPA community is one of its treasured hallmarks. We have made the difficult decision to restrict access at the start of the school year to parents and outside visitors. If needed, parents of our new Lower School students for the 2020-21 school year will be permitted to accompany their child through the screening process and inside the building for the first week of school to acclimate and orient them to their new environment.

A: Yes, MPA’s building capacity is more than 700 students. Enrollment PreK-12 is 510. Visitors, including current parents and prospective students and parents, will not be allowed in the building. In addition, at the second stop on the dial where we intend to begin the 2020-21 school year, only half of the Middle and Upper School students will be on campus at any given time.

A: MPA will run the heating and ventilation (HVAC) fans continuously. Times when the fans may need to be turned off are weather extremes such as extreme heat or cold that would prevent the HVAC system from operating. In the past, fans were shut off during hours the building was not occupied. In addition, MPA will leave open the fresh air dampers as much as possible. Again, these may need to be shut in extreme weather conditions. In the past the dampers were not left open to maximize efficiency of the heating and cooling systems (efficiency in terms of electricity use and keeping building temperature levels consistent). With these important changes in MPA’s HVAC protocols, the air in the building will be completely cycled through the new ultraviolet (UV) air filtration system at minimum once every 24 hours.

A: Lower School cohort teachers will be shared in the August mailing from the Lower School office. The cohort teachers were selected very carefully based on their formal education and experience with young children. The homeroom teacher will continue to be the lead teacher in the cohort model and will continue to guide all instruction and the student experience. Click here for more information about the Lower School cohort model.

A: Please reach out to your division director as soon as possible to discuss the learning environment that will be best for your child. The deadline to do this was August 17.

A: MPA has a robust plan for symptom response and testing. More information about this may be found above under Living On & Off Campus: Safety. If you have any questions about the above, test positive, or have been exposed to COVID-19, please email covid19tracing@moundsparkacademy.org immediately.

A: Lunch Credits while on Hybrid mode (dial 2) will be issued after the end of the quarter. A lunch credit will be given for days that the student was not scheduled to be on campus. This credit will be applied to future tuition payments owed, if appliable, or a check will be issued if the billing account is paid in full. You may cancel or add lunch at any time and charges will be adjusted accordingly. Contact Janet Vue, Student Billing Coordinator, at jvue@moundsparkacademy.org, to make any adjustments to your lunch selection.

A: No, unfortunately the risk of students sharing a microwave is too great at this time.

A: No, unfortunately the senior privilege of an open campus will not be possible at this time.

A: Yes, the Upper School zero-hour classes will be meeting and will begin at the regular time. The zero-hour teachers, Ms. Lawson and Ms. Wantock, will be in touch regarding the first day zero-hour classes will meet.

A: MPA is working to determine which afterschool activities will be able to take place in a safe manner and families will be notified just as soon as possible.

A: MPA’s 1:1 laptop program has been expanded to include grades three through 12 and PreK through grade two students will have access to iPads. As a fully functional and dynamic learning technology, the laptop enables students to access our Schoology, our learning management system, fully engage with the suite of software in Office 365 and stay seamlessly connected at school and at home.

Technology enhancements and upgrades including wireless connectivity, hardware, and software are underway on campus to allow students to connect, in real time, with their classes if they are being held on-campus and in the event that a student must learn from home. Every classroom is being equipped with large display monitors dedicated computers and state-of-the art webcams to make access via Zoom even more life-like. It is our wish that all students who can come to campus do so with their classmates; however, we also know that there is a great need for flexibility and accommodations for students for whom this is not possible. Our goal is for all MPA students to have a rigorous, joyful, and enriching learning experience in the fall no matter the platform or mode of delivery.

A: The factors that move MPA’s dial may be found under the Student Experience section above.  

A: Families should be prepared for change stops on the dial quickly. COVID-19 is not a predictable virus. We will change stops on the dial when metrics we are monitoring change and will provide as much notice as possible given the conditions at the time.

A: Every one of our teachers and academic administrators has gone through rigorous training in best practices related to delivering instruction online. Many have pursued additional opportunities as well. All have spent the summer preparing for every possible scenario and adjusting their curricula accordingly. They will be more than ready to pivot, if or when they need to.

A: Those are being shared via email. If you are not receiving emails from Mounds Park Academy regularly, please reach out to communications@moundsparkacademy.org.

A: Enrollment is strong—in fact, we plan to welcome at least 110 new students to the community, despite COVID-19 and a nation-wide recession. Coupled with 21 mid-year enrollments, that is the most new students our school has welcomed in many years. This is thanks, in large part, to referrals from community members like you. Thank you for your ongoing support as MPA's Office of Admission will remain virtual through the coming school year.

A: Tuition will remain at levels communicated in February for the 2020-21 school year. Whether on or off campus, tuition is necessary to deliver the MPA mission and education we all value. Together with annual giving, tuition is largely invested in the salaries, benefits, and professional development of our exceptional faculty and staff, whom we need to retain to deliver any of the scenarios detailed above. Tuition also provides the materials, supplies, and infrastructure required to advance the continuity of learning. Finally, whether on or off campus, we must continue to fund the fixed costs of maintaining our physical campus.

A: Once the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the MPA community quickly mobilized to raise nearly $150,000 for the MPA Community Care Fund to support important and emerging needs. Thanks to your generosity, the Community Care Fund has assisted many MPA families during their time of need, including:

  • financial assistance and flexibility for families impacted by COVID-19;
  • virtual learning technology and other expenses;
  • support for graduating MPA seniors in need; and
  • employee support funds.

As the pandemic continues to impact our families, the need continues to grow. The future is uncertain for many and thanks to the gifts from hundreds in our community, we have made a profound and meaningful difference when they needed it the most. If you would like to make a gift, please click here.

If you any have questions about the Community Care Fund, please email Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement.

A: Once the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the MPA community quickly mobilized to raise nearly $150,000 for the MPA Community Care Fund to support important and emerging needs. Thanks to your generosity, the Community Care Fund has assisted many MPA families during their time of need. Is your family impacted by COVID-19 and in need of assistance? Click here to fill out a confidential form and a member of our administrative team will be in touch with you soon.

If you any have questions about the Community Care Fund, please email Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement.