Beyond COVID-19: Next Steps

(UPDATED 6/24/20)

Wyoming Seminary's community draws from 18 states and 35 countries, so events playing out at a distance from our schools can have a real, concrete impact on our campuses and our students' experiences. We are closely monitoring the evolving domestic and international response to COVID-19 and will make every effort to stay in communication with you on the proactive steps we are taking to safeguard, as much as possible, your child's health and safety and that of our entire community, and to approach this challenge in a deliberate and thoughtful manner. We have been and will continue to be informed and guided by advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. State Department, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and state and local authorities on how best to care for our students and community. This is an uncertain and evolving situation, and our students' safety is always our first concern.

Wyoming Seminary has established a COVID-19 Response Group to track developments related to COVID-19, setting policy, and communicating with the Sem community. This group meets on a regular basis and will continue to provide updates.

We have created this page as a means to keep you informed of school plans and procedures for the foreseeable future, and we will be updating it on a regular basis. We also will continue to stay in touch through our established email and newsletter methods.

If you have any questions after reading through the information below, please email COVID-19faq@wyomingseminary.org.

SUMMER AT SEM UPDATE (UPDATED 5/5/20)

In response to the ongoing efforts regarding COVID-19, Summer at Sem has made the difficult decision to cancel all on-campus programming. We are, however, offering many online summer camp options. More information can be found on our Online Programs page.

SEM TO CONTINUE VIRTUAL LEARNING THROUGH SPRING TERM (UPDATED 4/9/20)

As of Thursday, April 9, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf extended state-wide school closures for the remainder of the academic year. Click on the link to read the Governor's announcement.

Wyoming Seminary will continue with its virtual learning programs for the remainder of the spring term. Click on the link for President Kevin Rea's announcement.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS AND STUDENTS

Wyoming Seminary began offering classes to students at both Lower and Upper School on a virtual school platform on Wednesday, March 18. The links below provide information about what students and parents can expect, what is expected of students and parents, and answers to frequently asked questions.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL GUIDELINES

VIRTUAL LEARNING FAQs

Recommendations for health

SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19: (UPDATED 4/29/20)

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION:
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

We urge you to follow these general health tips:

  • 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 that contains 60-95 percent alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissues in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

We encourage you to watch this video on basic COVID-19 prevention from the WHO.

Additional Resources:

COMMUNITY UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT KEVIN REA (6/24/20)

Dear Wyoming Seminary Community:

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones healthy, safe and experiencing joy this summer. I am excited to write to you to announce that Wyoming Seminary will welcome our students back for our 177th academic year on August 31 for in-person teaching and learning.
 
Virtual learning is a possibility depending upon levels of interest in all-year groups, except for Early Childhood. Our approach allows us to deliver our exceptional academic program while prioritizing the health and safety of our community.
 
If you have questions regarding Upper School enrollment, please contact admission@wyomingseminary.org or 570-270-2160 and for the Lower School, lsadmission@wyomingseminary.org or 570-718-6610.
 
The safety of our students, our faculty and our staff is our highest priority, and we are adjusting our campus operations to create the conditions to ensure the well-being of our community.
 
No amount of precaution can guarantee that Wyoming Seminary will remain COVID-19 free in the coming year. We choose to open our campuses and return to in-person programming fully aware that our planning must account for this possibility and take steps to mitigate possible transmission.
 
Here are some of the steps we are taking:

  • arranging classrooms to provide safe social distancing,
  • distancing by activity in Early Childhood,
  • providing hand sanitizer stations at key points in school buildings,
  • engaging in ongoing education regarding hand washing and personal hygiene, and
  • regularly cleaning our facilities. 

Students in the Lower School will remain with their classes in their rooms throughout the day with breaks. We are adjusting our visitor policy to keep our campus community safe and secure.
 
While aftercare will not be available during our opening phase and likely not during the majority of the fall, we will review our ability to provide it as we adjust to our new normal. If this presents your family with a challenge and you would like to discuss your individual circumstances, please be in touch with the Lower School directly.
 
Upper School classes will entail physical distancing in an expanded range of places as we use our entire campus to support personal, face-to-face instruction. During the opening phase of the first three weeks and based upon the recommendations of the CDC and our local infectious disease specialists at Geisinger, we will ask students to wear face masks or face shields.
 
For Early Childhood, we will not be requiring masks or shields within the classroom, but they are recommended for students walking in and out of the building and when they are outside classrooms. We will support all Early Childhood families who choose to have their students masked throughout the day.
 
We will evaluate the wearing of masks and shields on an ongoing basis throughout the summer and as we move through the first three weeks.  Faculty and staff will be masked or shielded.
 
For symptom checking, we will be utilizing a mobile app for daily self-reporting of symptoms for students, faculty and staff. More information on this app will be available in the coming weeks.
 
In the event that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf instructs schools to cease operations because of a change in state health requirements, or the Board of Health instructs us to close school due to local conditions, we have a new and improved distance learning experience for our families.
 
This summer, Wyoming Seminary faculty are engaging in professional development to reflect on their experiences teaching in a virtual platform and to further develop their skills in this area. At the same time, faculty committees at both our Upper and Lower divisions are developing virtual learning handbooks to create more structure, clarity of expectations, and predictable schedules at all levels of the school.
 
Should we need to return to full virtual learning at any time in the coming year, parents and students can expect daily schedules of synchronous learning at all grade levels. In our spring distance learning surveys, we learned a great deal about what you liked and what you did not. That survey indicated 84 percent of parents expressed satisfaction.  At the same time 41 percent of parents indicated that there should be more synchronous, face-to-face instruction.
 
We have listened and have incorporated your feedback into our new schedule. Additionally, our revised schedules for virtual learning incorporate regular advisory meetings and assemblies at the Upper School and daily instruction in specials, including art, music and foreign language in the primary grades. We will issue a 15 percent prorated tuition discount for any period of time the school is under a stay-at-home order and by necessity fully virtual.
 
Boarding students' return to campus begins with student leaders and fall athletes on Saturday, August 22 and will continue through Friday, August 28. Our large boarding rooms will accommodate two students per room with social distancing strategies in place in the dorms.
 
Boarders arriving from international locations will need to engage in a 14-day quarantine in the United States prior to arriving on campus. We will support any boarders who are unable to arrive in August with a virtual option to maintain continuity of curriculum and connection to the Sem community until their arrival. Parents of boarding students can anticipate more detailed information arriving in a forthcoming communication from the Upper School.
 
Please monitor international travel guidelines as they vary for different countries. If you have questions, please contact international admissions at admission@wyomingseminary.org or 570-270-2166.
 
Amidst the many challenges of this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, our faculty and staff have demonstrated Sem's mission through their dedication to our students who represent our collective hopes for a bright future.
 
I have cherished seeing and hearing the many instances of our teachers' care for our students during this crisis, whether it was the way they organized class visits in cars to fellow students' front yards for birthday parties or delivered signs to the homes of our proud Class of 2020 graduates or the way they checked in personally with students on a regular basis.
 
The writer Joshua J. Marine once wrote, "Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." This year the challenge is real but so is the opportunity to make something meaningful.
 
We ask for your partnership and support as we move forward together through this unprecedented period in the history of our school, our nation and our world. It is a world which needs students who honor and strive for the true, the beautiful and the good now more than ever.
 
I look forward to welcoming your children back to school in August!

Sincerely,
Kevin Rea
President, Wyoming Seminary
krea@wyomingseminary.org

President's Community Updates: