- Update to Stuart Community - 5/4/20
- Distance Learning Announcement
- COVID-19 Positive Announcement - 3/24/20
- COVID-19 Positive Announcement - 3/21/20
- Distance Learning Announcement - 3/18/20
- COVID-19 Positive Announcement -3/15/20
- Update to Stuart Community - 3/13/20
- #LEADLIKEAGIRL Update - 3/11/20
- Update to Stuart Community - 3/10/20
- Update to Stuart Community - 3/6/20
- Update to Stuart Community - 2/28/20
Distance Learning Will Continue - May 4, 2020
Dear Stuart Families, Faculty and Friends,
This week marks nearly two months of social distancing in our country and Stuart's sixth week of distance learning. I am incredibly proud of our faculty and staff as they have met the challenge of providing a Sacred Heart education in the midst of a pandemic. Similarly, I am so grateful for the partnership of our parents throughout all of this! Your daughters and young sons have shown incredible flexibility and determination to continue learning and working together. As the weeks turn into months, and the challenges of distance learning and working weigh heavily on us, I know that our community will continue to adapt and rally to support each other. And while we mourn our inability to be together, we also celebrate all that we have been able to accomplish.
Distance Learning to Continue
Last week, at my request, fellow independent school heads joined me in a meeting with Mayor Liz Lempert and Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser to discuss the likelihood of safely re-opening our schools before the end of this academic year. As we awaited word from the Governor, the majority concluded that distance learning should remain in effect for all of our schools for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year. As we anticipated, Governor Murphy announced this afternoon that "All schools will remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year – to protect the health of our children, our educators, and their families."
Thus we will begin creating virtual programming to celebrate our key end-of-year ceremonies. Through the leadership of our faculty and administration, we will virtually observe hallmark milestones in each division and memorialize our girls' many accomplishments over the course of this year. Most significantly, we look to honor our seniors. With the support of the Upper School faculty and administration, they are designing their leave-taking. We will continue to acknowledge these exceptional young women through a variety of virtual celebrations — and a few surprises along the way.
The summer camps we had planned to offer are also impacted. Director of Auxiliary Programs Anne Pierpont is working to transition our summer programming to a virtual academic and enrichment experience. Please look for further details on this in the coming days.
The 2020-2021 School Year
We are at the beginning stages of planning a complex and multi-faceted response to how we will be educating our students in the 2020-2021 school year. Though the path may be uncharted, we are committed to delivering our mission and providing the highest quality of education in the safest manner possible. Decisions must be made based on current facts and evolving mandates, and with the safety of our students and faculty at the forefront.
The Leadership Team has joined with school administrators, infectious disease specialists, technologists, distance and hybrid learning experts, and health and safety professionals across the country and around the world to determine next steps. I have convened a cross-constituency task force that has begun planning for how we can most effectively and safely return to school in the fall. As some countries in Europe are reopening schools, we look to leverage our Sacred Heart network to learn from their experiences and ensure we have structures and protocols in place to ensure your child has the safest and best education possible. We will continue to study recommendations from local and state health departments, the CDC, and other relevant sources of information to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure we are best prepared for whatever is to come.
While the unknown can often be frightening, we have time to plan and be intentional about what the fall will look like. As St. Madeleine Sophie Barat said, "Hard work, dangerous for an imperfect soul, brings a great harvest for those who love the Lord." Through collaboration, analysis and informed decision-making, our greatest harvest will be the safe return of you, your daughters and young sons, and our faculty to Stuart. As more information becomes available, we will continue to be transparent and share with you.
I know you join me in praying for everyone affected by the current global pandemic and for a swift resolution. I pray that I will be able to greet you in person sooner than later. Together, we will get through this.
Patty L. Fagin, PhD
Head of School
In a March 26, 2020 press release from the NJ Department of Education, Commissioner of Education Lamont O. Repollet reiterated that "as directed in Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 104 and affirmed in Executive Order No. 107, all public, private, and parochial preschool program premises, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, shall remain closed to students as long as the executive orders remain in effect."
The memo went on to state that "the decision to reopen schools lies squarely with Governor Murphy. We do not intend to assess the reopening of schools until at least April 17, 2020, at the earliest."
Distance learning at Stuart will start on Monday, March 30 and run through Monday, April 20. We are closely monitoring governmental mandates and will provide updated information should we need to extend the date of our closure.
Dear Stuart Community:
Over the weekend, I shared in a video message that another member of our school community had tested positive for COVID-19. Late yesterday, as further evidence of the virus's growing prevalence within the Princeton community, I learned of a positive test involving a member of our staff.
I am happy to say this individual presented with very mild symptoms and is completely recovered. After an assessment of the dates during which this individual first demonstrated symptoms and subsequently was diagnosed, it is very likely that the individual was not contagious when school was in session.
To echo my sentiment from this weekend's message: Stay home. Social distancing is not enough. Monitor yourself and your family for symptoms, but use discretion even if you are not demonstrating symptoms; we should all act as if we are carrying the virus, even if we have no reason to believe we are. I should also note that these announcements do not go to students so you can share the news in a manner that is most comfortable and appropriate for you and your family. Our school counselors are available for support should you have questions about talking with your children about COVID-19.
As we look ahead toward our first week of distance learning, our staff and teachers are doing all they can to ensure a smooth transition and positive experience for your daughters and young sons. I have also set up a Google Classroom to share weekly prayers, reflections and other examples of positivity in our community. Stay tuned as you and your children will be receiving information throughout this week on our move to distance learning.
I continue to hold each of you in my prayers, asking that the God of hope fill you with peace and that you stay confident in His deep and abiding love.
Patty L. Fagin, PhD
Head of School
Distance Learning Plan - 3/18/20
Dear Stuart Community,
I want to thank you for your kindness and patience through the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19 in both Stuart and the Princeton community. I have appreciated your messages and your understanding during these difficult times. It is heartening to see how our students and faculty have been connecting virtually over spring break to make this next transition to distance learning as smooth as possible.
With that said, you have probably assumed by now that we will not be back after spring break. This week, the governor issued a mandate that all schools will close on Wednesday, March 18 along with a restriction on public gatherings of groups of 50 or more. I need to take this, and every opportunity possible, to remind our community about the importance of social distancing and self-quarantine during this time. I recognize how hard this is for our close community, but it is vital that we do not engage in social gatherings, play-dates, sleepovers or birthday parties. In doing so, we help limit the spread of this virus, and protect our community and families. As I know your children will miss seeing their friends, I do encourage staying connected through virtual methods of communication like FaceTime and Skype.
At this time, our distance learning plan will start on Monday, March 30 and run through Monday, April 20. However, we are closely monitoring governmental mandates and staying in communication with our local schools. If we need to extend our remote learning past April 20, I will send an email to update you.
With regards to a daily schedule, the division heads and I want to provide as much structure and clarity as you get your homes ready for distance learning. We have set up a page with the daily schedule and online resources for each division along with contact information for our counseling staff and division administration. The distance learning page is available through the myStuart parent portal.
We know that this new mode of learning will come with its challenges. Many of you will be working from home as your daughters and young sons are participating in remote learning. Similarly, many of our faculty will find themselves leading classes while their own children are at home as well. News from parts of the world that have been under quarantine indicate that the first two weeks of remote learning will require patience on all of our parts but that a rhythm and comfort will emerge. We hope you will continue to email teachers, division heads and the task force with any struggles you may encounter. We want to work closely with you to make this time as productive and engaging as possible.
I want to close this email with a message of positivity and encouragement. We are a community with a vibrant school spirit, and I am channeling that energy as we approach distance learning. I will miss seeing your children and our teachers every day, but I know that we are all only an email or a Google Meet away. We will get through this together.
Patty L. Fagin, PhD
Head of School
COVID-19 Positive Announcement - 3/15/20
Dear Stuart Community,
On Saturday, the Montgomery Township Health Department reported that a student in the Montgomery School District and that student's parents tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. I have now received word from the Princeton Department of Health that three members of our Stuart community have also tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Stuart parents and their Middle School daughter are currently symptom-free and will remain in quarantine for two weeks.
According to the Princeton Health Department's investigation, these community members were on site while potentially infectious between March 4 through March 9. We closed the School March 10 upon learning of potential COVID-19 occurrences within Princeton. While we await further instructions from the Princeton Health Department, Stuart parents should monitor their families for fever, cough and shortness of breath until March 24 and contact their health care provider should these symptoms develop. In accordance with HIPAA laws and out of respect for the privacy of our family and student, we simply won't be able to identify these individuals by name. Please know that the affected family will be reaching out to those students or other individuals with whom they and their daughter may have been in close contact and might thus be at elevated risk of exposure. Now as this virus comes to our school community and the greater area, we ask that everyone practice "social distancing" in the community: avoid crowds, stay home when you are sick, and maintain 6 feet distance between other people. I echo the warning of the Montgomery Township Health Department in saying that this is not the time for sleepovers, birthday parties, or hanging out at the mall.
As our school remains closed, at a minimum, for the next two weeks, our Director of Facilities and his team has commenced a thorough cleaning following a protocol in accordance with CDC guidelines, including all frequently touched surfaces and utilizing a cleaning agent from the EPA's registered list of effective products. This includes: Door handles, desks, tables, chairs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, reception desks and visitor management kiosk, keyboards, gym equipment, student and gym lockers, upholstered furniture, early childhood sleep mats, gym mats, nurse office beds, all school counters and flooring.
We will be communicating next steps for remote learning in the coming days. In the meantime, please remember during these rapidly changing and uncertain times, it is more important than ever that we are kind to one another. Please continue to direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I continue to hold all of you in my prayers during these unprecedented times.
With my love,
Patty L. Fagin, PhD
Head of School
As we head into spring break, I wanted to thank everyone in our community for their patience, understanding, compassion and kindness during these unprecedented circumstances. While so much about this virus is unknown, I do know the strength of our Sacred Heart community in times of crisis and uncertainty. I also wanted to recognize the members of my task force as well as our technology innovation specialists Alicia Testa and Sarah Rusnock for their assistance in preparing our faculty and staff for distance learning.
This week, we began making distance learning arrangements for students in EC through grade 12 should we need to extend our planned school closure. We recognize that school closures will create challenges for our families and our community, but we also recognize our responsibility to address this public health concern. Additionally, our priority is that our students feel comfortable and supported through this period and will have a remote learning experience in a format that they are already familiar with. I will follow-up next week with a more detailed remote learning plan.
I know this is an unsettling time for you and your families. My hope is that you are able to enjoy your spring break and time with your family as we continue to process the impact of COVID-19 on our community.
I will remain in contact with our state and local health officials and be in touch over the next few days to provide an update on our plan for distance learning. As a reminder, all communication related to COVID-19 as well as helpful resources for your families will be posted to our resource page, www.stuartschool.org/about/
Patty L. Fagin, PhD
Head of School
Dear #LEADLIKEAGIRL Community,
It is with an abundance of precaution in response to the COVID-19 virus, that I write to share with you that Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart will NOT be hosting its fourth annual #LEADLIKEAGIRL Conference, scheduled for Saturday, April 4, 2020.
Over the last few weeks, Stuart has been paying close attention to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 virus. As a community, we are ever mindful of the health, safety and well-being of our community. Whether it be for a day or a full K-12 learning experience, our number one priority is, and always will be, the well being of those entrusted to our care. While much remains unknown about the COVID-19 virus, given the uncertainty of its impact, it is vital that Stuart take precautionary measures against the further spread of COVID-19.
I understand, and do not take lightly, how much you and your daughters look forward to #LEADLIKEAGIRL. It is central to Stuart's mission and public purpose, and we are immensely proud of our role in providing girls and young women with the opportunity to become "risk-takers and change-makers." While we recognize the disappointment that the conference's cancellation may cause, we strongly believe that cancellation of a conference that hosts over 1,200 attendees is not only prudent but an important decision for the health and safety of the broader community.
I would like to thank our faculty, staff, speakers and generous sponsors who have invested in #LEADLIKEAGIRL and the experience of your daughters. This conference would not be possible without their vision, commitment and generosity, and we are so grateful for their partnership in providing girls opportunities to #LEADLIKEAGIRL.
Plans for future leadership programming through the National Center for Girls' Leadership at Stuart will be forthcoming. Please continue to visit www.stuartschool.org for additional information on programs.
Patty L. Fagin, PhD
Head of School
Late this afternoon, we learned that several people in the Princeton area were exposed to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. It is important to share that as of this moment, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Stuart community.
In an abundance of caution, Stuart has decided to cancel classes beginning Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Students will be allowed in the building for 15 minute windows on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 from 7 AM - 9 AM and 6 PM - 8 PM to pick-up any belongings they will need over break or afterward should we be unable to return to school. It is important that students take home all books, devices, and personal items so that we can thoroughly clean the building over spring break. After 8 PM on Wednesday, March 11, no one will be permitted on campus until further notice. Given the nature and spread of the virus, we will continue to keep you updated on our return date to school. Should we not be able to open on March 30, 2020, we will begin to deliver remote learning. We will continue to update you as needed. There will be no remote learning for the remainder of this week as teachers make preparations.
All Stuart events are canceled through March 30, 2020. This includes athletics, arts, academics and third-party and outdoor rentals.
I thank everyone in our community for their understanding, compassion and kindness during these unprecedented circumstances and will be in touch very soon regarding next steps. All of you are in my prayers. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly, the division heads, or the email@example.com email with any questions or concerns.
Stuart has been monitoring the COVID-19 updates and making preparations should it spread to our local community. In an effort to ensure that our students are able to learn in a safe environment, a special task force has been meeting daily to discuss recommended strategies to protect our students and families. We are blessed to have members of our community with expertise in this area to give us the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 through the NJ Department of Health.
The following is an update on our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our students and families:
- Task Force: I have appointed a task force that meets daily to discuss our approach to COVID-19. All questions or concerns can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Resources: It is important to rely on the facts and not secondhand information. As indicated in the New Jersey Family article, "What Parents Should Know About Coronavirus," the best reliable sources are CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the NJ Department of Health. In addition, this New York Times article provides some good strategies on how to talk with your daughter about COVID-19 without raising her anxiety.
- Hygiene and Handwashing: As we always recommend to our students, it is vital that everyone practice proper handwashing and hygiene. Our school nurse has recently led an assembly in each division to reinforce effective ways to stay healthy and practice good handwashing routines. Avoid contact with sick people, and if you or your child is not well, please stay home and consult your doctor. If you are unable to wash your hands, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative.
- Seasonal Flu Shot: While there is no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, we remind all families that general influenza is still active and that, it too, has serious consequences. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children ages 6 months and older are vaccinated for influenza.
- Cleaning: Stuart will continue to clean the building on a daily basis and undergo a thorough cleaning following any major events such as #LEADLIKEAGIRL. Facilities staff will be considered essential personnel and will be asked to monitor the campus throughout any closure.
- Planning for Remote Learning: We will continue to monitor student attendance and health authority guidelines. In the event that Stuart is unable to offer classes, we are developing plans with the division heads for remote learning for all students. If your family does not have access to the internet at home, please reach out to your division head to coordinate alternative arrangements. As students leave for spring break, we are asking that they bring home books, devices and any other personal items that might be needed for distance learning.
- Emergency Alerts: Should we need to cancel school next week or after spring break, we will issue alerts by phone and text through our emergency alert system.
- Travel: As the spread of the COVID-19 presents us with an unprecedented situation, student travel is assessed daily, if not hourly, based on information as it becomes available. We encourage all members of the Stuart community to follow travel advisories and directives from the World Health Organization, CDC, and governmental organizations. If you and/or your family are planning to travel (or come into contact with someone who has traveled) to level-2 or higher locations as determined by the CDC, please contact the task force email below. Please know that discretion and appropriate confidentiality will be upheld with this information. This information will help us make appropriate determinations about the timing of a student's safe return to campus.
The spread of COVID-19 has led to an increase in discrimination against those of Asian descent. As an institution for which diversity and inclusion is central to our mission, discrimination in any form is not acceptable. Please reach out to me directly should you or your child have any concerns regarding this.
We are closely monitoring CDC, WHO, and NJDOH updates and recommendations with regard to the coronavirus disease 2019, now known as COVID-19. These organizations provide critical, up-to-date information that informs our decision-making. The following links may address some of your questions and concerns:
The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is always our highest priority. We have policies in place that outline the steps and procedures we follow in any situation involving communicable disease, and we comply with all regulations of the New Jersey Department of Health. We are also ready to adjust any of those procedures should circumstances call for additional compliance with other agencies. Thus, given the internationality of our school and our Sacred Heart values, we hope that all members of our community, regardless of their country of origin, will be treated with respect and warmth.
Please review the following updates as they involve students and families:
As the spread of the COVID-19 virus remains in flux, we remain nimble in our response to student travel. Currently, the portion of the Middle School Exchange and Upper School Sacred Heart Academic Exchange Program (SHAEP), in which students travel internationally independently, has been suspended. Our programs where students travel independently within the United States remain in place. Additionally, Stuart student travel programs with Stuart chaperones taking place within the United States, its territories and in countries contiguous to ours will also continue at this time. However, we are closely monitoring the situation and will act in the best interest of our students and faculty as this situation continues to develop.
Out of caution, we're also planning for the possibility of school closings and remote learning scenarios. Plans are in place to deliver education remotely across all divisions so that the academic program can remain intact.
The CDC recommends everyday actions to help prevent the spread of any respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick and remain home until you have been fever-free for 24 hours.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you have any questions, please contact me directly (609-921-6112). Your understanding and support during this situation is so greatly appreciated.
The NJ Poison Control Center and 211 have partnered with the State to provide information to the Public on COVID-19:
Call (24/7): 1-800-962-1253
Text: NJCOVID to 898-211
Text: your ZIP code to 898-211 for live text assistance.
PA residents are advised to direct COVID-related questions to 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258)
Penn Medicine (with a location in Princeton) recently published a list of FAQs addressing COVID-19 concerns like identifying symptoms, testing, treatment and illness prevention. Click here for the full list of questions.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- NJ Department of Health
- "How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus" - New York Times
- "Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus" - New York Times
- "Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus" - NPR
- Coronavirus archive on NJFamily.com
All questions or concerns can be directed to email@example.com.
News about COVID-19 and the adjustment to distance learning may cause stress and anxiety in your children. Stuart's counseling staff will be available to help support students and families. Click here for a letter to parents from our school counselors.
EC & Lower School
From the Office of the Governor of NJ