Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

St. Mark's Episcopal Day School is tracking news and information about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). As this is a quickly evolving situation; please check this page regularly for updates. 

St. Mark's Updates

List of 7 items.

  • March 2, 2020 - Message from the Interim Head

    Dear St. Mark’s Community,

    We are currently monitoring the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) globally, domestically, and within the State of Florida and if it may, in time, affect our school operations. We want to assure you that we will take necessary precautions so that our students, faculty, and staff are protected. 

    WHAT WE ARE DOING
    Currently, our faculty and administration are working together to create a plan should we have to close school for a certain period of time. This plan will include how students may continue their studies from home. We are also working with our faculty, staff, and housekeeping team to ensure additional sanitization steps are in place for classrooms, bathrooms, and other public spaces.

    In addition, we are also thinking ahead regarding the potential impact on spring-break travel and upcoming school trips should the situation escalate. An increasing number of countries are being placed under travel advisories due to the coronavirus. We ask that you stay informed of the CDC’s guidelines on travel, particularly because we cannot know what the status of the outbreak will be when spring break time arrives.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO
    We cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping children home who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, as outlined in our Wellness Policy, found on page 10 of our Family and School Partnership Guide

    The CDC also recommends practicing good health habits or everyday preventive actions (non pharmaceutical interventions) that include the following:

    • Students, faculty, and staff must stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone.
    • Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue with immediate disposal into a trash can.
    • Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before eating or after coughing and sneezing. If soap and water are unavailable, using at least 60% alcohol-based sanitizer is acceptable.
    • Refraining from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as they are gateways to infection.
    • Cleaning surfaces to remove germs from frequently touched objects such as desks, chairs, computers, and bathrooms.
    Given the level of media attention to the coronavirus, some children may become anxious and have concerns about the virus and its transmission. This article may be helpful to you and your family. In addition, it’s important for families to make contingency plans and preparations at home. 
    We will continue to monitor information we are receiving daily from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and local governmental organizations and will communicate further information as it becomes necessary. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff continues to remain our top priority.

    Sincerely,

    Ed Costello
    Interim Head of School
  • March 9, 2020 - Grandparents' & Special Friends' Day - Cancelled

    Dear St. Mark’s Families,

    As we continue to monitor the evolving news and information about the spread of COVID-19 within our country and state, we want to let you know we have made the decision to cancel Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day scheduled for this Thursday, March 12 (Early Learning Program) and Friday, March 13 (Pre-K 3 - 6th grade). Please make sure to share this information with the grandparents or special friends who planned on attending.

    Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we believe this is a necessary decision to honor and protect our grandparents and special friends who may fall within the groups most at risk. 

    The 4th, 5th, and 6th grade musical performances of The Jungle Book will continue as scheduled on Thursday, March 12, at 8:30 AM and 6:30 PM in the Lori Schiavone Commons. For those unable to attend, or who wish to keep their distance from the crowd, Facebook LIVE will be available for the morning performance. 

    With Spring Break ahead of us next week, our concern and safety of students and staff continues to be our top priority. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in keeping our school community healthy and safe.

     
     
    Sincerely,

    Ed Costello
    Interim Head of School
  • March 11, 2020 - Important Spring Break Information from the Interim Head

    Dear St. Mark’s Parents,

    As spring break approaches, I know we are all looking forward to a week of relaxation and spending time with family. 

    With vacation comes the opportunity to travel. We know that many of you planned trips months before COVID-19 became a global concern, and we understand the desire to continue with your plans and follow through on the financial investment you have made. Unfortunately, the breadth and scope of international and domestic events caused by COVID-19 require that we consider COVID-19’s impact on our community. 

    Our first priority is keeping our students healthy and safe. We understand that your plans to travel abroad or to different parts of the country may now be affected by the virus. A State of Emergency has been declared in Florida and several countries are now on the CDC’s “avoid nonessential travel” list. We encourage you to follow the CDC’s recommendations in relation to your travel plans.

    In order to provide the highest level of protection for our school community, we would like to request that families who choose to travel to areas deemed to be high-risk self-report their plans to the school. If you are traveling internationally, taking a cruise, or traveling to an area in the United States that is on the CDC list or that may be a cause for concern, please send your plans to me (ecostello@stmarksdayschool.org) by Friday, March 13. We have asked the same of our faculty and staff. With restrictions on travel and mandatory quarantines changing daily, depending on the destination, a return home could be affected by unforeseen factors and may result in a child unexpectedly missing school.

    St. Mark’s is a close-knit community and that closeness is something we all value highly. We trust you to weigh the risks of travel, but also ask you to keep the health of our community in your thoughts. To date, school trips and other events scheduled after spring break have not been cancelled. However, each is being individually assessed by administrators and faculty.

    In terms of current actions, our faculty in Kindergarten - 6th grade are planning for remote learning in the unlikely event that a closing of school is required. You may have already received communication from your child’s teacher regarding their plan. In addition, during spring break, the campus will be deep cleaned with an antiviral solution with special focus on all hard surfaces, restroom facilities, door handles, water fountains, and light switches. The antiviral solution will continue to be used by faculty for daily use in their classrooms and in the lunchroom.

    We cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping children home who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, as outlined in our Wellness Policy, found on page 10 of our Family and School Partnership Guide. We will continue to monitor information we are receiving daily from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and local governmental organizations and will communicate further information as it becomes necessary. 

    As always, please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns, and I wish you all a great spring break.
     

    Sincerely,

    Ed Costello
    Interim Head of School
  • March 13, 2020 - Message from the Interim Head - March 23-27 Schedule

    Dear St. Mark’s Families,

    St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School, Beaches Episcopal, and Episcopal School of Jacksonville are working closely together regarding decisions surrounding the spread of COVID-19 as we want to ensure we are doing the best we can to mitigate the effects on our community. Accordingly, St. Mark’s will be closed beginning Monday, March 23, through Friday, March 27, and we will implement the remote learning protocol as communicated by teachers this week in Kindergarten - 6th grade. Pre-Kindergarten teachers are currently working on their plans and will be in touch with parents in the coming days. We will plan to resume classes on Monday, March 30, unless there is a need to remain closed.

    Spring break care for pre-registered students only will remain open next week. We hope this will allow these families time to plan and make arrangements for childcare the week of March 23-27. If there is an option to keep your child home next week, we strongly encourage you to do so. 

    Please continue to monitor your email for further communications from teachers regarding remote learning instructions. 

    Thank you for support and understanding during this time of uncertainty. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me (ecostello@stmarksdayschool.org).

    Please find below a letter from Adam Greene, Head of School at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. 

    Sincerely,

    Ed Costello
    Interim Head of School



    Dear Episcopal Parents,

    As we all depart for Spring Break, we want to confirm our current plan with regard to the impact of coronavirus. We have made the decision to implement our Remote Learning Protocol beginning Monday, March 23, through Friday, March 27. Our teachers have been preparing for the past two weeks to make this transition successful and productive. 

    We make this decision for the health, safety, and well-being of our community following the travel that many are taking during spring break, and because of the volatile nature of this pandemic. There is considerable anxiety about this unprecedented situation, and our goal is to provide predictability and flexibility as well as ongoing learning for our students.

    We will be following the Remote Learning Protocol and a special schedule with classes beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 23. 

    Extracurricular events, practices, and rehearsals will be canceled for the week of March 23. Directors and coaches will provide guidance for individual teams and groups during this remote learning protocol. Local athletic contests scheduled before March 23 will continue as planned unless further changes are needed. 
    Our plan at this time is to resume class on campus beginning Monday, March 30. We will keep parents and students informed should there be a need to further extend our remote learning protocol.


    During this time of uncertainty and rapid change, we are extremely grateful for our Episcopal community. Grace, faith, and patience will continue to guide us. A constant focus on the needs of, and care for, our students, their learning, and their health will inform all that we do. Thank you for your constant support, and blessings for a safe and happy spring break.
    Sincerely,
    The Rev. Adam Greene
    Head of School 



  • March 13, 2020 - St. Mark's Spring Break Care - Closed

    Dear St. Mark’s Families,

    After further consideration and the decision by the Governor of Florida to close public schools for two weeks, we have made the decision to close spring break care next week, March 16-20. Prevention remains the number one priority in keeping our students and staff healthy, and this is a necessary step in the interest of protecting all members of our community.

    We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but, we appreciate your understanding.
     
  • March 20, 2020 - Coronavirus Closure Update from Interim Head

    Dear St. Mark’s Community, 
     
    I hope you have found moments of relaxation amidst the many changes we have been experiencing during our Spring Break. Our team of faculty and staff continue to be dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for our students and our community.  We are committed to the highest possible educational outcome and our faculty and staff have been hard at work preparing for students’ return to school as remote learners. 

    In keeping with the closing of all public and private schools in Florida, St. Mark’s will be extending remote learning in Pre-K 3 - 6th grade through April 15. Our first day of remote learning will begin with a “late start” on Monday, March 23, at 10:00 AM. We have also built flexibility into the schedules. Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s Homeroom teacher with any questions or concerns as we navigate the coming weeks. 

    Since we won’t be back at school for a while, we will have to make many changes to scheduled events and meetings. Here is what we know at this point:

    The following have been canceled:
    • March 26 - 2nd Grade field trip to the Cummer Museum of Art
    • March 26 - 5th Grade Parent meeting for Washington DC
    • March 26 - 6th Grade Parent Meeting for Kanuga
    • March 30 - April 2 - 3rd - 6th Grade CTP5 Standardized Testing
    • April 26 - 30 6th Grade Trip to Kanuga, NC
    The following have been postponed:
    • April 7 - 1st Grade field trip to MarineLand (moving to a date in May)
    • April 25 - 29 5th Grade Trip to Washington DC (joint 5th/6th trip possibly in the fall)
    The following is under consideration:
    • April 17- 21 A Vision for Art
    We will continue to keep you apprised as we move forward. Our community is strong in faith and dedicated to our children's growth in body, mind, and spirit. 

    Please find below a letter from Adam Greene, Head of School at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. 

    Sincerely,

    Ed Costello
    Interim Head of School


    Dear Members of the Episcopal Community,

    I hope and pray that this note finds you and your family safe and healthy, and that you have had some rest and family time over this spring break week. As we look ahead to beginning our remote learning on Monday morning, we want to provide you with a few key updates:
    • Per the Governor of Florida’s guidance, Episcopal will be employing remote learning instead of on-campus school through April 15.
    • All extracurricular activities, events, and gatherings are canceled through April 15 as well. Our coaches and directors will provide our students with athletic and arts guidance while we are off campus. 
    • We will continue to review Prom and other school sponsored events currently scheduled for or after April 15. If we are forced to cancel any of these events, we will do our best to reschedule them or provide alternatives as we are able.
    • At this time, we will continue to plan for our traditional Commencement ceremony on the Acosta House porch - one of Episcopal’s great traditions. We will update the community immediately if we are forced to amend anything that is currently scheduled as we remain mindful of how disappointing any changes would be for our Senior Class. 
    • At this time, because of our remote learning planning, we do not anticipate having to extend the school year beyond our current schedule.
    I know that there are many other questions that you may have as we begin remote learning. Please know that our incredible team of educators, our faculty and staff, are here for our community. Together, we will learn and grow in the coming weeks. Together, our Episcopal family - our students, parents, teachers - will continue to support one another and come through this trying time even stronger.

    This week, I was reminded of St. Paul’s wonderful words from his letter to the Romans:  “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    Please let us know if you need any additional individual support at this time.

    Blessings,

    The Rev. Adam Greene
    Head of School  

  • March 31, 2020 - School Closure Update from Interim Head of School Ed Costello

    Dear St. Mark’s Community,
    I hope you and your family are settling into a new “normal” in our second week of remote learning. This is an unprecedented time in so many ways, and we cannot say thank you enough for the patience and support you have given us over these past few weeks. It has been a humbling experience to watch how our teachers, students, and families have come together to navigate this new path with open minds, open hearts, and resilience.

    As you are aware, President Trump announced an extension of social distancing through the end of April. Following his announcement, the Florida Department of Education has recommended extending school campus closures through Friday, May 1. Therefore, we will follow that guidance and continue with the remote learning program (Pre-K 3 - 6th grade) and closure of the Early Learning Program. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to return to campus as soon as it is safe to do so. At this point, we are planning to go ahead with as many of our traditional year-end events as possible and will do all we can to celebrate our 50th Anniversary and the Class of 2020.

    We realize this transition has not been easy, and we will continue to ask for grace and patience as our teachers strive to provide the best learning experience for their students and families. Please know that we are closely following the guidelines and standards of the Florida Council of Independent Schools when it comes to maintaining lesson plans, teaching hours, and student attendance. In addition, our teachers have been incredibly responsive as many of them are also experiencing the balance of working from home while teaching their own children. With that said, we have asked them to be mindful of working a normal school day so they can take care of themselves and their families.
    Thank you for your support during this transition. Please take care of yourselves and stay well!

    Please find below a letter from Adam Greene, Head of School at Episcopal School of Jacksonville.

    Sincerely,

    Ed Costello
    Interim Head of School


    Dear Members of the Episcopal Community,

    As we come to the end of March, I pray that you and your loved ones continue to be safe and healthy. I also pray that in these times of change, uncertainty, financial upheaval, and isolation from our friends and family, you are able to find joy in all of the many ways that our community has come together to support one another. The strength of the commitment, the faith, and the love of our Episcopal family has never been more apparent than in these last few weeks. I could not be prouder of how our remote learning program has been implemented and embraced, and we have all of you to thank for that. The success of our remote learning program has allowed us to continue to be together as a community, to learn and to teach, even as we are separated physically from each other.

    Yesterday, following our Governor’s guidance, the Florida Department of Education has extended school campus closures through Friday, May 1. For the health and safety of our community, Episcopal will follow that guidance and continue with our remote learning program through that date. It is our hope and our prayer that we will be able to return safely to campus on Monday, May 4, to finish out the rest of the regularly scheduled school year together, in person.

    We will continue to communicate with FHSAA and update you as we learn more about athletic possibilities for the month of May. We will also share what events Fine Arts may hold. At this point, we are planning to go ahead with as many of our traditional year-end events as we possibly can. This includes Baccalaureate and Commencement. We also hope to be able to reschedule or replace Prom if we are able to finish out the school year on campus. Finally, as of right now, summer programs will begin May 22.

    Members of the Class of 2020, I will be sending you a separate letter in the coming days. For now, know that we will do everything in our power to make the end of your senior year as joyful as we possibly can. As hard as this time is for all of our community, we know that it is especially hard for all of you to potentially finish out your high school career under these circumstances. Keep the faith, and know that we will do all that we can to celebrate all that you have accomplished.

    As we look ahead at the next thirty days, we can imagine a difficult time for our country. But as we look ahead, we also see a month filled with possibilities for continued learning in new ways, for time with family, for time for reflection, for time for worship and gratitude. Episcopal community, know that we will get through this season of uncertainty together, and be an even stronger body for what we have endured.
    With my heartfelt blessings,
     
    The Rev. Adam Greene
    Head of School

Preventing Illness

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping children home who exhibit signs of illness, such as a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, as outlined in our Wellness Policy, found on page 10 of our Family and School Partnership Guide

The CDC also recommends practicing good health habits or everyday preventive actions (non pharmaceutical interventions) that include the following:

  • Students, faculty, and staff must stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone.
  • Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue with immediate disposal into a trash can.
  • Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before eating or after coughing and sneezing. If soap and water are unavailable, using at least 60% alcohol-based sanitizer is acceptable.
  • Refraining from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as they are gateways to infection.
  • Cleaning surfaces to remove germs from frequently touched objects such as desks, chairs, computers, and bathrooms.

Family Resources

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Florida Health Department

Florida Department of Education

COVID-19 Tracker by Johns Hopkins


HELPFUL ARTICLES AND VIDEOS:
"Get the facts on coronavirus," interview with Dr. Peter Lin, CBC

Event Changes & Cancellations

March 16 - 20
Spring Break
School Closed
Spring Break Care Closed

March 23 - May 1
School Closed

March 26
2nd Grade field trip to the Cummer Museum of Art - Cancelled

March 26
5th Grade Parent meeting for Washington DC - Cancelled

March 26
6th Grade Parent Meeting for Kanuga - Cancelled

March 30 - April 2
3rd - 6th Grade CTP5 Standardized Testing - Cancelled

April 7
1st Grade field trip to MarineLand (moving to a date in May) - Postponed

April 25 - 29 
5th Grade Trip to Washington DC (joint 5th/6th trip possibly in the fall) - Postponed

April 26 - 30
6th Grade Trip to Kanuga, NC - Cancelled

April 17- 21
A Vision for Art - Postponed
New Dates: Saturday, August 29 - Wednesday, September 2