Bishop GuertIN COVID-19 PAGE
June 15 - Final Update, New Site
With case rates dropping, vaccinations increasing, and our increased knowledge of how to minimize the risks of COVID, we are optimistic that the fall will bring a more normal experience. For that reason, this will be the final update on this COVID page. The page will remain available for now for reference.
We have received a great deal of positive feedback about this format of a regularly-updated website, so we are introducing the Bishop Guertin Updates page. This site will contain information about many different programs at Bishop Guertin in a similar format.
Over the past fifteen months, the pandemic has tested every community and individual, including Bishop Guertin High School. In the end, thanks to the efforts of our students, teachers, and parents, we transitioned quickly to remote learning last year and were able to spend three quarters of class time in-person this past year. We experienced few transmissions of COVID within the school community. We held many performances, ceremonies, and athletic events that had seemed unlikely in August. Our Cardinals created these opportunities one adjustment and sacrifice at a time by investing in the idea that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL. Thank you to our entire school community for making the 2020-2021 school year a success!
June 7 - Dashboard, Masks
As of today, the BG COVID Dashboard has received its last update for the school year. We will continue to monitor the pandemic over the summer and into the next school year and will begin updating the dashboard again if needed.
With the decrease in case rates and the high rates of vaccination among Bishop Guertin's faculty and staff, masks are no longer required inside the school building. When working with student groups, staff members do have the discretion to require masks to be worn if the activity is conducted in closed spaces or with large groups.
May 29 - Memorial Day Update
As we approach the Memorial Day Weekend, it is a good time for an update. In recent weeks, cases have dropped to late-September levels due to a combination of vaccinations, herd immunity from prior infections, the changing of the seasons, the use of masks, and the many precautions/sacrifices taken by individuals.
We hope that our families will enjoy Memorial Day Weekend. (Please use a bit of caution to avoid any infections that detract from our final days of school.)
With many schools discussing their plans for next year, we want to review our own approach. Please note that Bishop Guertin is an independent school, and so we will continue to synthesize various guidance and set our own direction. We will monitor the recommendations of health professionals, city/state/federal officials, and new research and data. This approach allows more nuance and freedom to respond to our own circumstances. In any event, please only rely on communications directly from Bishop Guertin regarding plans for next year.
In recent weeks, we have been able to remove some layers of protection - one-way hallways, the daily screening survey, and outdoor masks. Per the continuing recommendation of the City of Nashua, State of New Hampshire, and CDC, we will continue requiring masks indoors through the end of the year, as not all students have had the chance to be fully vaccinated yet.
Looking to next year, we believe that the year can be relatively normal. At present, we expect the following:
All instruction will be conducted in-person. Now that the vaccination option has been made available, teachers and students will participate in classes from school. We will maintain our infrastructure for remote learning in case of extended illness, weather, or other disruptions (pandemic or otherwise) and to enable better collaboration and interaction for our classrooms.
Vaccination will be recommended but not required. Until/unless the State of New Hampshire requires or recommends that vaccination be made mandatory in schools, we will leave the choice to the individual family. We will make decisions as a school based on the assumption that all students will have had an option to be vaccinated to contain their own risks, meaning that precautions will continue to be lifted into next year.
We do not expect to require masks. It is likely that the indoor mask requirement at Bishop Guertin will be lifted during the early summer. Assuming case rates are low and we do not see infections in schools, we do not expect to require masks next year. We will support those who do wish to wear masks and reserve the right to re-institute masks if the pandemic situation deteriorates for some unexpected reason (variants, etc.), but we do not expect this to be needed.
There is still some uncertainty. We may still be cautious in some regards - large indoor assemblies, crowded cafeterias - and certain events may still need some adjustment at the start of the year. Rapid testing may play a significant role for schools next year to help avoid quarantines and extended absences. We will continue to stay ahead of these concerns.
The pandemic has brought many twists and turns and we are hopeful that it will not be a major factor next year. No matter what, we will remain ready for future developments while leading our students back to normalcy in 2021-2022.
May 24 - Daily Survey and Remote Learning
With cases dropping in our area and 97% of our student body attending daily and in-person, we are announcing the following changes to our daily policies:
Students and parents will no longer need to complete the daily screening survey each morning.
Students who need to shift to remote status during the remainder of the school year should contact Mrs. Caito, Attendance Officer, directly at email@example.com. The online form will be closed down.
We cannot completely drop our guard during the remaining two weeks. We ask that you continue to be mindful of the following:
stay home if sick, whether or not you are vaccinated
quarantine if you are exposed to someone with COVID, especially if you are not fully vaccinated
avoid high-risk travel and crowded indoor settings, especially if you are not fully vaccinated
wear a mask at all times when indoors at school and maintain distance at all times.
May 18 - Spots Still Available - Vaccine Clinic
Limited spaces are still available in Friday's Rite Aid / Bishop Guertin Vaccination Clinic, which will be held from 11 AM - 4 PM in the BG Field House and will offer the Pfizer vaccine.
This clinic is open to any student, staff member, parent, family member, friend, or member of the public who is at least 12 years old.
Please share this link with anyone who might be interested in obtaining the vaccine on Friday at BG.
Registration closes at 7 AM on Wednesday.
Thank you for sharing this opportunity!
May 14 - Vaccine Clinic at Bishop Guertin High School
In partnership with Rite Aid, we are are announcing an on-site clinic on Friday, May 21 from 11 AM to 4 PM. This clinic will be open to any individual, age 12 and older, who has not yet been vaccinated.
This clinic will offer the Pfizer vaccine. Students who are being vaccinated will bring a parental permission form to the clinic that day. The cost will be charged to an individual's insurance, and any individual who does not have insurance will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine free of charge to them. The follow-up second dose clinic will be on 6/18 from 11 to 4 PM at Bishop Guertin. If you have a conflict with this date, you will be able to obtain the second shot at your convenience from a Rite Aid location or other vaccination site.
As Friday is our Student Appreciation Day, the schedule will be as follows:
We will offer the vaccine to current Bishop Guertin students (Classes of 2021-24) between 11 AM and 1 PM. (Dismissal for the day is at 12:00 PM.)
The clinic will then open to all others - family members, friends, etc. - from 1 PM - 4 PM. It is not necessary that an individual have a connection to Bishop Guertin.
Please feel free to share this email with any individual/family who may be interested; they are asked to fill in the link as well.
Please remember that the vaccine is not, and is not expected to be, mandatory at Bishop Guertin High School. We encourage families to consider it and we will strive to facilitate the process whenever possible. However, receiving the vaccine is ultimately a family decision.
May 14 - Mask Policy Update
Yesterday, the CDC announced a substantial change to their mask recommendations for vaccinated individuals. This unexpected announcement raises the question of how our school policies may change during the final three weeks of classes.
It is important to note that the CDC and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services continue to recommend masks in schools, and that the City of Nashua maintains a mask mandate at this time.
Additionally, we have stated our position as a school that we will not create differential expectations based on vaccination status. Instead, our policies will be determined for the whole school community based on whether all community members could reasonably expect to have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated at a particular point in time. From that point, the choice to be vaccinated lies with the family.
At this time, a significant number of sophomores, juniors, and seniors have been able to initiate and even complete their vaccinations. However, with 12-15 year olds just being cleared, many students will not have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated - two weeks past the final dose - by the end of the year.
There is still risk of indoor transmission and even an outbreak among unvaccinated individuals. Transmission of COVID in school has the potential to disrupt our final weeks of classes. For this reason, we will not be changing our indoor mask requirement for students or staff during the upcoming few weeks. Masks remain mandatory indoors at all times, for all students and staff.
We have decided to formally adjust our outdoor mask requirement. Throughout the year, there has been increasing scientific data and consensus that outdoor transmission is truly rare. During the spring, we have not placed great emphasis on outdoor masks for this reason.
At this point, we can formally announce that, as long as individuals maintain a reasonable distance (especially if they are not yet vaccinated), masks do not need to be worn outdoors by students or staff on the BG campus. Of course, any individual who considers themselves to be at greater risk is encouraged to continue wearing a mask. There may also be exceptions if a circumstance or event does not permit sufficient distancing - students are expected to follow instructions of teachers or staff members.
There are some athletic considerations.
As has been our policy this spring, student-athletes in active athletic participation outdoors (on the field, practice) do not need to wear their masks. Indoor sports still require masks while participating. Athletics will continue to pose complex challenges:
During the regular season, our teams will often wear masks when competing against teams that require masks. Without this adjustment, our athletes would not have had many games this spring, as most schools are requiring masks and would not have added Bishop Guertin to their schedules without our cooperation with these requirements.
With the end of the regular season and the start of tournament season, we expect to follow the NHIAA requirement, which does not require masks for student-athletes when competing in tournament games.
There may be special circumstances or exceptions. Student-athletes should follow the instructions of their coaches as we continue to navigate the varied dimensions of this issue.
We still require student-athletes to wear masks at indoor or outdoor athletic activities when the athlete is not actively participating (sidelines, huddles, etc.) as distancing is generally not maintained. This is consistent with the NHIAA's requirements for upcoming tournaments.
When distanced, fans at on-campus games may choose not to wear masks if distanced. This is, of course, subject to the venue. At any venue off our campus, it is important that our fans comply with local mandates/requirements without debate if those requirements are in place.
We anticipate that this change in our outdoor mask policy will open the door to a better experience at many of our key end-of-year events, including Student Appreciation Day, Commencement, Green and Gold, Convocation, Prom, etc. The new CDC recommendation is a great sign for our summer and fall as we know that much of our school community will be vaccinated soon. We still must maintain our guard, as case rates are still high enough to cause a disruption during the final weeks of school.
May 13 - Graduation / Senior Update
By tomorrow, seniors and parents can expect to receive an email with details about upcoming senior events. Thank you for your patience as the various times and details have come together for these unique events that will be tailored to this year's circumstances.
May 13 - Vaccination for Ages 12-15
Several families have reported that the New Hampshire vaccination registration site is now available to those who are twelve and older. There is good availability of appointments, so those who wish to do so should be able to obtain the vaccine rapidly. This means that as of now, all day-to-day members of the Bishop Guertin community are eligible to be vaccinated. (Remember that MA residents are eligible to be vaccinated in New Hampshire.)
May 7 - School Calendar for 2021-22
The School Calendar for 2021-2022 has been released. This calendar will be finalized with additional details during the summer months. Please note that President's Day will be a school day next year, and that the Monday after Easter will not be a school day.
This tentative calendar assumes a relatively normal school year and is subject to change in case of unexpected developments - pandemic or otherwise.
May 5 - Graduation Date Change
Due to a number of conflicts that have already arisen based on our planned date of graduation, our commencement ceremony is being moved to the first rain date, Sunday, June 6, in the early evening.
Exact details will be released when we get closer to the ceremony and the timing is finalized. Families should plan on us having space to accommodate one car, and the guests inside, per graduate.
May 3 - End-of-Year Plans and Next Year Information
Today, this letter was sent home to parents regarding the end of the school year and our plans for 2021-22. All families are encouraged to review this information.
A formal final exam week will not be offered this June.
For freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, the final schedule of school days, including some special events, will be as follows:
Thursday, 5/20 – Convocation (daytime) and Green & Gold (evening)
Monday, 5/31 – Memorial Day – No Classes
Tuesday, 6/1 and Wednesday, 6/2 – Normal Class Schedule
Thursday, 6/3 – Periods 1-4 meet; dismissal at 12:00
Friday, 6/4 – Periods 5-8 meet; dismissal at 12:00 – Last Day of Classes
Monday, 6/7 – 2nd Semester grades close – long-term assignments may be due electronically
Thursday, 6/10 – Junior Prom @ Castleton
The process of preparing for a final assessment is important training for future studies. Most classes will still conduct culminating assessments during their final days. Teachers have the flexibility to assess in a consistent format with the rest of the school year to provide students with a final opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the content. These assessments will be a part of the 2nd Semester grade for the class. We have scheduled four-period days on Thursday (6/3) and Friday (6/4) to spread out any final tests that are given in class and to provide time for students to prepare.
April 20 - Travel Reminders
With April Break coming up, here are some important reminders about our travel guidelines:
Students who travel internationally (defined by BG as outside the 50 states) must quarantine for 10 days, or until a negative PCR test is obtained starting on the 5-7th day since return.
Students who travel domestically (inside the 50 states) are not required to quarantine. However, it is still recommended that individuals quarantine after travel, particularly if the travel is to areas with high rates of infection, or if the travel includes high-risk activities or gatherings.
Individuals who have completed their vaccine course (2 shots for Pfizer/Moderna or 1 shot for J&J) at least two weeks prior are not required to quarantine. Additionally, those who have been positive for COVID over the past 90 days are not required to quarantine.
Please see the post from March 29 for a detailed discussion.
Thank you for your help as we strive to finish out the year with minimal impacts due to COVID.
April 19 - Vaccine Webinar
Thank you to all who joined us for last evening's webinar: Making the Vaccine Decision: A Conversation. We also thank Dr. Duxbury, Dr. Granok, and Mrs. Raymond for their presentations. If you missed the program, you can view it here:
April 19 - Notification
This morning, Bishop Guertin became aware of a student who had tested positive. A number of students were close contacts around the start of last week and have been asked to quarantine.
All school community members should continue to be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members experience symptoms and seek testing if you have new or unexplained symptoms.
April 16 - Notification
Yesterday evening, Bishop Guertin became aware of a student who had tested positive for COVID. A small number of students were close contacts and have been asked to quarantine.
All school community members should continue to be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members experience symptoms and seek testing if you have new or unexplained symptoms.
April 16 - Masks
With today's announcement of the expiration of the New Hampshire mask mandate, it is important to clarify:
MASKS ARE STILL MANDATORY AT BISHOP GUERTIN
As New Hampshire transitions back to local decisions about masks, the City of Nashua has a local mask mandate in place. Additionally, masks are strongly recommended by both the CDC and the NH Department of Health in all school settings. Masks have proven to be an essential tool in preventing the spread of COVID among students, teachers, and families.
We anticipate and await the day when masks are no longer necessary in the school. In the meantime, thank you for your support of this expectation!
April 16 - Vaccination Webinar
With many families making decisions about vaccination of their students, Bishop Guertin is proud to host the following webinar:
Making the Vaccine Decision: A Conversation
Monday, April 19 at 7:00 PM
Bishop Guertin High School presents a discussion among medical and ethical professionals regarding vaccination. The purpose of this program is to provide new perspectives about vaccination as families make this decision. The safety and efficacy of the vaccines, the differences among the vaccines, the risk-benefits of receiving the vaccines, and Catholic ethical concerns will be addressed.
Dr. Melissa Duxbury, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hudson
Bishop Guertin Parent '19, '22
Dr. Alexander Granok, MD, FACP
Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine, Southern New Hampshire Health
Mrs. Beth Raymond, MTS
Teacher, Bishop Guertin Theology Department
Certified in Catholic Healthcare Bioethics, National Catholic Bioethics Center
Open to the public - all are welcome to attend.
Please register online.
April 11 - A Reminder About Cases and Precautions
Please note the following graph from the NH Department of Health, which shows the current NH case rates among those aged 10-19. While there has been a plateau in overall cases (especially as vaccinations have increased among older demographics), young people are seeing a continuing increase, up toward levels seen during the winter months:
It is important that students continue to take precautions. It is likely that we will continue to experience some cases during the remainder of the year and it is critical that these cases remain contained if they occur. While we are hopeful that the end is in sight, an outbreak during April/May could still pose a significant disruption to the school community, activities, and athletics.
We need all community members to continue taking steps to ensure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL!
April 11 - Notification
On Saturday night, Bishop Guertin was informed of a student who had tested positive for COVID. The student was in close contact with a very small number of other students, who have been notified to quarantine.
All school community members should continue to be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members experience symptoms and seek testing if you have new or unexplained symptoms.
April 9 - Vaccine Eligibility - MA Students
Yesterday, it was announced that New Hampshire vaccination registration will open to residents of any state (16+) starting on April 19. This may be a viable or preferable option if you are a Massachusetts resident experiencing delays in registering. Starting on 4/19, interested individuals may register for an appointment via the New Hampshire vaccination site.
April 9 - Senior End-of-Year Dates
We are looking forward to celebrating the Class of 2021 during the month of May and June.
We are announcing the following events:
May 20 - During School - Cardinal Convocation
May 20 - Evening - Green and Gold Academic Awards
May 25 - Last Day of Classes for Seniors (Senior Final Exams are waived)
May 26 - June 1 - Seniors will not have in-class commitments, but will have some tasks to complete in advance of Senior Week
Wednesday, June 2 - Senior Send-off and Alumni Association Lunch / BBQ
Thursday, June 3 - Morning - Graduation and Baccalaureate Rehearsal
Thursday, June 3 - Evening - Senior Prom @ Castleton in Windham
Friday, June 4 - Early Evening - Baccalaureate Mass and Senior Awards Ceremony
Sunday, June 6 - Early Evening - Commencement Ceremony [CHANGED on 5/5]
Monday, June 7 / etc. - Early Evening - Rain Date for Commencement
Additional details will be provided for each event as soon as they become available. Please note that, unless otherwise communicated, most of these events will be held outdoors on campus. This approach will allow us to include parents and guests as in-person attendees for the seniors (and other recognized students). As a consequence, each event will have multiple rain dates, and we will need to remain flexible regarding weather based on the forecast at the time.
April 2 - Vaccination Details
As of today, all NH-resident students who are aged 16 and older are eligible to register for vaccination appointments. The state has recently released information regarding these students.
Those under 18 must receive the Pfizer vaccine (not Moderna or Johnson & Johnson). This vaccine is available at Walgreens locations and at the state-run sites (such as the site at Nashua South), as well as at certain hospitals in the Lakes Region and North Country. Those who have turned 18 may receive any vaccine.
It is required that a parent or guardian accompany any 16 or 17 year old to the vaccination.
Students who do not have a driver's license should bring a birth certificate or passport to prove their age. Additionally, parents should bring their driver's license or other ID to verify residency. These documents are not required now to register - they are only needed on the day of the appointment.
To sign up, visit the New Hampshire vaccination site. Teachers who have utilized this site have found it very intuitive, and have discovered appointments to be readily-available and convenient, often within a matter of days. It is recommended that the parent be present when the form is filled out, as there are several questions about medical history.
While we encourage families to avoid appointments during school hours, Bishop Guertin will support students who obtain a vaccination appointment during school. Parents should email Mrs. Caito (firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance to be excused for the appointment with no penalty regarding eligibility for extracurriculars, etc.
Those MA-resident students over age 16 will become eligible on 4/19. Please follow this site for details about the Massachusetts process.
There is no requirement to report the vaccination to the school. However, we do welcome you to pass along any relevant experiences that you have obtaining a vaccination appointment, as we can share this information with other families.
To reiterate prior messages, vaccination is not a requirement at Bishop Guertin. However, we strongly encourage that all families consider vaccination and speak with your child's PCP regarding any concerns that you might have. We will be providing educational resources on vaccination throughout the springtime for those who are uncertain. As more of our student body is vaccinated, our school's risk profile improves, allowing us to offer a greater degree of normalcy in the spring/summer/fall.
Bishop Guertin High School will be extending the Easter Holiday to include Easter Monday. There will be no classes on Monday, April 5.
In recent days, many teachers, students, and parents have expressed that this would be a good time for an additional "pause" beyond the holiday itself - a chance to catch up, spend time with family, or simply to decompress. This year has forced many adjustments on everyone, and it is important to find time to refocus. We are halfway between February and April Break. Additionally, we experienced minimal snow disruptions during the month of March. This is a calendar change that we have considered making for several years. All things considered, this is a good year to experiment with taking the Monday after Easter off from school.
The calendar in MyBG will be updated to reflect the change. The class rotation will be pushed back by a day.
Thank you for taking precautions in your holiday celebrations to help ensure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL. We hope that you and your family will have a safe, happy, and blessed Easter!
(This is not an April Fool's Day joke.)
March 29 - New Travel Policy
March 28 - Notification
Today, Bishop Guertin High School learned of two positive cases among staff members - one teacher and one activity moderator. These cases are unconnected to each other and not known to be linked to any existing known cases at Bishop Guertin. Due to distancing protocols, no students or staff are believed to have been close contacts of either individual.
March 26 - Vaccination Resources
With the rapidly-expanding availability of vaccines, many families are seeking information to help make decisions. We are planning some Bishop Guertin-specific sessions in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime, here are some resources that may be useful to you:
On Monday, 3/29, Dartmouth-Hitchcock will be offering a free session: "But do I Still Need to Wear a Mask? Your Guide to the COVID-19 Vaccines" The full description may be found here. Preregistration is required. Click here to sign up.
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Daniel Griffin's clinical experiences and research have been helpful to our planning process. Recently, he was interviewed here regarding COVID and kids. This interview provides detailed information about the current thinking regarding risks to young people, including a discussion of vaccines.
There are also many ethical considerations and dilemmas around the vaccines. The Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has produced a statement on the ethics of vaccination. We also encourage you to view this panel discussion from the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame, which has offered numerous programs at Bishop Guertin over the years synthesizing science and religion. This video examines various ethical and scientific dimensions of vaccination.
As a reminder, Bishop Guertin has no intention of mandating vaccination for students or staff. This remains an individual/family decision. The role of the school is to provide useful information from reputable sources when it is available.
As of today, about 94% of our teachers and staff, as well as a significant number of vulnerable parents, students, and community members, have received at least their first shot, offering significant reduction to our risk level as a school. We do expect that school activities will grow safer and less restrictive as more individuals are vaccinated. Increasingly (late spring/summer/fall), we will be able to proceed under the assumption that those who wish to receive a vaccine will have had the opportunity to do so. Still, the current spike in cases requires us to remain cautious and vigilant in the short term.
March 22 - Notification
This evening, Bishop Guertin learned of a positive test among our student body. This case is not connected to any existing known cases at Bishop Guertin. A small number of students were exposed at school on 3/19. These students have been notified and asked to quarantine.
All school community members should continue to be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members have symptoms and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
March 20 - Screening Policy Change
On March 9, we removed the daily screening condition that household members of quarantined individuals should quarantine from BG. This step turned out to be premature. We are reinstating this condition to our daily survey:
No household member is quarantined due to an exposure to COVID. (This requirement is waived if the quarantined individual obtains a negative PCR COVID test starting on the sixth day after exposure.)
Students with quarantined household members must quarantine until the household member's PCR test result is received.
This policy was important during the winter months in minimizing "in the bubble" cases. The past week's experience shows that it is still necessary.
March 19 - Notification
This morning, Bishop Guertin learned of a positive test among our student body. The student was exposed at work. A number of students were exposed at school on 3/15. These students have been notified and asked to quarantine.
This evening, Bishop Guertin learned of a presumed positive case (test pending) among our student body. The student was exposed through a household member. A number of students were exposed at school on 3/18. These students have been notified and asked to quarantine. [UPDATE - 3/23: This presumed case tested negative on 3/22. Students have been released from quarantine.]
Bishop Guertin has asked families to quarantine students with household contacts attending a particular school that has experienced several cases. Parents should check their email for further information.
While Bishop Guertin has experienced five cases this week, all are the result of known outside exposures. No in-school transmission has been identified at this time. We are monitoring the situation and will change plans for next week if the circumstances dictate.
All school community members should continue to be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members have symptoms and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
March 18 - Notification
This evening, Bishop Guertin learned of a positive test among our student body. The student was exposed via a household member. A number of students were exposed at school on 3/15 and 3/16. These students have been notified and asked to quarantine.
All school community members should continue to be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members have symptoms and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
Update on School Status
Starting on Monday (3/22) Bishop Guertin will be inviting all all students to attend each day and transitioning back to YELLOW.
The reasons for this change in status include the following:
A successful shift to full 80% occupancy over the past several weeks with attendance scaling up gradually as students returned from quarantines after the February break.
Strong habits regarding guidelines (masks, distancing) in the school.
The arrival of spring weather, permitting greater use of outdoor spaces and better ventilation in classrooms.
Few incidents of transmission at Bishop Guertin and minimal cases within the school community.
Continued research findings supporting the safety of an increased occupancy when precautions are taken in schools.
The importance of in-person instruction during the closing months of the school year.
The increasing rate of vaccination among vulnerable adults within the school community.
Even if we can prevent transmission in school, the rates in our broader community do remain a concern. Local cases are plateauing or even increasing slightly, still remaining at a fairly high level. Some local schools have had recent difficulty with COVID cases.
Maintaining a high occupancy requires us to continue our focus on safety protocols. Our protocols remain as important as ever. We especially encourage students to be mindful of wearing masks, distancing in public spaces, and maintaining one-way traffic in the hallways. We also remind students to be cautious in their outside-of-school risks. While we are looking forward to the springtime, we need to remain cautious to avoid going backwards during the remaining months of the year.
In recent days, various agencies (CDC, New Hampshire Department of Health) have released new recommendations regarding travel and exposure quarantines. Bishop Guertin is reviewing, but has not adopted these changes yet. At present, our top priority is returning to 100% occupancy. Some of the existing protocols are helping us to reach that point. (For instance, we have kept numerous cases "outside the bubble" thanks to our travel protocols.) Please continue to follow the Bishop Guertin daily screening survey criteria rather than anything that you hear on the news.
March 17 - Notification
Today, Bishop Guertin learned of two positive tests among our student body, both linked to the same out-of-school exposure. A number of students were exposed at school on 3/15. These students have been notified and asked to quarantine. All school community members should be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members have symptoms and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
During the winter months, we adopted several extra policies that enabled us to maintain some in-person learning amidst high case rates. These changes kept us in school during December/January/February. With the prevalence of COVID in our area now declining, and with the ongoing vaccination process, we are adjusting our daily screening policies slightly to reflect improving circumstances and to match our approach earlier in the year.
We no longer require household members of quarantined individuals to quarantine themselves. However, if the household member becomes symptomatic or is suspected of being infected, the student should quarantine. (For instance, if a student's sibling is exposed to someone with COVID and quarantines, the student does not need to quarantine. However, if the sibling then develops a fever and goes for a test, the student should quarantine until the test result is received.) [THIS CONDITION WAS REINSTATED ON 3/20.]
We are no longer requiring automatic quarantines of an entire team or athletic group based on a positive diagnosis in a team member. Each situation will be evaluated individually for any close contacts. (Note that in many cases, most/all of the team will still be close contacts. However, this is no longer an automatic trigger, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.)
Individuals who completed the full vaccine course (two shots for Pfizer/Moderna or one shot for Johnson & Johnson) at least 14 days prior to an exposure do not need to quarantine due to the exposure. However, these individuals should continue precautions such as masks, distancing, avoiding large groups, etc.
Similarly, those who completed the full vaccine course (two shots for Pfizer/Moderna and one shot for Johnson & Johnson) at least 14 days prior to an exposure do not need to quarantine from travel outside of New England.
We hope that all students, teachers, and families had a great February Break!
Thank you to all who took a moment to complete our "start of March" survey. The survey remains open for any who did not have a chance to complete it - see your email for details.
School Status for Next Week
For the upcoming week, we will open by inviting 4 cohorts (80% attendance) each day.
The following are the reasons for this decision:
We have seen continued declines in case rates in our area.
We are not aware of any "in the bubble" cases or exposures within the Bishop Guertin community.
Our trial of 80% occupancy prior to vacation was a success.
We have already been notified of a significant number of students who are protecting our community by shifting to remote learning after travel. We expect that our actual attendance will be far below 80% for the next week or two.
We feel that this status is the most appropriate combination of caution and in-person instruction at the moment.
During the month of March, we hope/expect to continue progressing toward 100%. This assumes that rates continue to decline, that we experience minimal impacts, and that our school community abides by all precautions. We also depend on the availability of outdoor spaces to take this step, so please hope and pray for good weather! As always, we may make adjustments depending on circumstances that emerge.
The Past Year and Looking Ahead
Our first COVID communication was posted here a year ago, on 2/27/20, dealing with travel over the February break of last year and the potential for school closures: "...we hope that the impacts of the virus will be minimal."
They weren't minimal, but over the past year, the Bishop Guertin community has risen to the challenge of COVID, first by transitioning rapidly to a "virtual" school over a weekend, then by opening in the fall with 100% of our students, and subsequently by adjusting to the challenges of the winter months. Our students have been resilient despite many sacrifices, our educators heroic and flexible, and our families supportive. We thank all members of our school community for supporting our essential priorities as stated last March:
to ensure the safety of students, staff, and families
to fulfill our civic responsibility by not contributing to the spread of the virus in our region
to maximize the live / in-person education and ongoing formation of our students into, as our mission states: "tolerant, just, and involved men and women of faith who accept the task of building the Kingdom of God and of transforming, for the better, the world in which they live."
These priorities continue. As we reach the one-year mark, we all grow weary of the many precautions, restrictions, and sacrifices. Many around us can be seen dropping their guard, even though cases remain relatively high. We have to remember that sacrifices and safeguards have brought us to this point, and the outcomes for us as a school community are likely to have been different without them.
We have seen minimal spread of coronavirus at school during the past year and avoided extended closures. With vaccinations and treatments improving, the finish line is getting closer. Cases are still high and we have a bit more time before we can let down our guard. We must be careful not to lose the race on the home stretch. Please:
wear your mask at all times
stay home if you are sick
quarantine if you travel or are exposed
avoid high-risk settings and activities
Now, when we are most eager for normalcy, we need the help of our community more than ever to continue to ensure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL during the last third of the school year.
The measure of any community continues to be its response to times of adversity, and the Bishop Guertin community has continally demonstrated its strength during these times. As our theme states, COMMUNITY IS ABOUT DOING SOMETHING TOGETHER THAT MAKES BELONGING MATTER. Thank you for being a part of this effort over the past year!
We are anticipating another round of inclement weather. Tomorrow will likely be an early-morning decision based on the conditions. Given the special events of the day and the short week, we are hopeful to have an in-person day.
If we have an in-person day, we will extend our experiment with 4 cohorts, so Cohorts CDEA may attend in-person. If this change causes difficulty for any Cohort A members who intended to be remote, simply email Mrs. Caito at email@example.com. Please note that this change still does not affect athletic attendance - we are continuing existing limits on attendance to two family members per athlete. Thank you to all students for your cooperation and support of distancing, masks, and one-way hallways!
The planned in-person schedule for the day is as follows:
Day 7 - Space Station Visit / Cohort CDE
Per. 7 8:00-8:50
Per. 8 8:55-9:45
Per. 1 9:50-10:40
Per. 2 10:45-12:10
Per. 3 12:15-1:55 (includes ISS visit)
HR 2:00-2:30 (Virtual Pep Rally)
If we cannot be in-person, tomorrow will be a shortened remote day. We will participate in the ISS visit virtually. The schedule will be published with the morning message if a remote day is necessary.
As we approach the school vacation week, we know that many Cardinals and families are looking forward to a well-deserved change of pace.
The month of March will be an important transitional period as we look to expand daily attendance. It is our intent and hope to keep moving forward to full in-person attendance, rather than taking steps backwards. We need your help.
We continue to encourage all students and families to avoid high-risk situations, such as crowded indoor settings where masks are not worn. It is also important to remember that small social gatherings - household visits, sleepovers, etc. - have been seen as significant spreaders. Precautions such as distancing, masks, and ventilation should remain in effect in all settings.
We recognize that some families are planning to travel during the break. It is important to clarify expectations regarding travel. At the holidays, we were able to keep the school operating, and almost all cases outside the classroom, because of the help of our families in abiding by our screening protocol.
Bishop Guertin's policy remains:
Individuals who travel outside of the New England states are required to quarantine for ten (10) days after their return.
A student may obtain a PCR test starting on the 6th day since return. Upon receiving a negative test result, the student may return to school prior to the ten days. (Test results should be sent to Nurse Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This applies to all travel. While some organizations have adopted exceptions for certain categories of travel, COVID does not differentiate based on the reasons for travel. For that reason, Bishop Guertin is not distinguishing, and quarantines must be followed after any travel.
Thank you for your support of these mandatory requirements as we strive to avoid any disruptions upon our return in March.
February 14 - Plan for the Upcoming Week
The upcoming week may bring some weather disruptions, requiring us to be flexible. With a short week and a vacation next week, students should plan on "remote" instruction days in case school is closed for the day. In case of a disruption, cohorts for the day will be pushed back.
We will continue with 3 cohorts per day, except for THURSDAY, when we will conduct a trial with 4 cohorts attending. As we have not experienced this level of occupancy during cold weather, this trial will allow us to make any necessary adjustments over the vacation week before we make the permanent transition to 80%. The calendar in MyBG has been update to reflect this cohort rotation.
Please note that Thursday's trial does not affect athletic attendance at this time, and through the vacation week. We are still limiting fans to two family members per student-athlete when we play at home, and no fans when away. Please note that this rule applies to Bishop Guertin events at all venues, even if the venue itself holds a less-restrictive policy.
February 10 - Notification
Today, Bishop Guertin learned of a positive test that was linked to the case reported on 2/5. This case is our first known in-school transmission, which likely occurred at lunch. This new case is not believed to have added any additional exposures within the Bishop Guertin community.
This is a follow-up to the 2/7 post about masks.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control released a summary of mask research. This table illustrates the growing body of research on mask effectiveness:
February 8 - Notification
Today, Bishop Guertin learned of two positive tests from last week. A number of students were exposed at school on 2/1. These students have been notified and asked to quarantine.
All school community members should be aware of any symptoms. Please remain home if you or your household members have symptoms and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
There is a possibility of another weather disruption tomorrow, 2/9. Due to the timing of the storm, a delay or early release is unlikely. If it is necessary to close school, tomorrow will be a remote learning day for all students, with classes meeting online at their usual times. If this occurs, cohorts that would have attended on Tuesday will shift to Wednesday, and subsequent cohorts will be pushed back in the rotation.
The decision about our status for tomorrow will be announced this evening or early in the morning.
Throughout the pandemic, the use of facemasks has been found to be effective in reducing cases and hospitalizations. There have been a number of recent press headlines about changes in mask recommendations. This discussion is covered well in this frequently asked questions article in the Wall St. Journal.
We do not envision an impending change in school policy regarding types of masks (eg. required N95 masks, double masking, elimination of cloth masks), but there are indications that some mask strategies may be better than others. Especially with new variants, masks will likely remain an important way to protect each other.
In particular, it is important to think about these factors:
Masks that do not cover the nose are not helpful.
The "seal" formed by a mask is very important. As described in the above article, an ideal mask fits tightly on the face so that air is filtered through the mask and not around the edges. (The "double masking" phenomenon is really about enhancing the tight fit.) If you feel air coming in/out around the mask, that can be a sign that the fit is not tight.
Some masks are better than others. The effectiveness of cloth masks depends on the materials used and fit. Blue disposable surgical masks, when tightly-fitting, may be more effective than cloth masks. Some countries in Europe have begun requiring surgical masks, or even FFP2 masks (broadly equivalent to N95 / KN95 masks) in response to recent variants. The CDC currently does not recommend that the general public wear N95 masks, as there are still supply concerns for medical professionals. However, KN95 masks may be considered if you find that you can wear them properly for extended periods of time.
February 5 - Notification
Last evening, Bishop Guertin became aware of two positive tests among our students. These cases resulted in a number of classroom contacts, as well as an extensive number of contacts through outside athletic activities. All known affected students have been contacted and asked to quarantine.
Because of the relatively large contact list, all Bishop Guertin students are urged to be aware of any unexplained symptoms during the week ahead. Please remain home if you or your household members have symptoms and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
With Superbowl Sunday approaching, it is important to remind ourselves to maintain our precautions. (G.O.A.T. = "good opportunity for airborne transmission") As we saw after Christmas and New Year's Day, gatherings and travel can create a great deal of spread. There is potential to undo some of our recent progress. We're eager to make the leap to 80% as soon as it is a safe step to take. However, a period of significant cases at BG as occurred at the holidays could force us to slow or reverse our reopening process. We ask and urge all members of our school community to celebrate safely this weekend!
The CDC offers recommendations for safe celebrations.
The month of January was our most challenging month yet. In January, BG students were in-person 47% of the time as community rates reached their highest levels of the pandemic. We thank our families and staff for their trust in our safety precautions as we remained open at a reduced occupancy (instead of a shift to "remote" instruction) after the holidays.
From a safety standpoint, precautions held up - during the break and into the first two weeks of January, students and staff experienced approximately 25-30 cases, but few exposures in school. Of the post-break cases, all were linked to external exposures (family, travel, friends, etc.) - the virus was not caught at BG. While we know that it can pose an inconvenience, the policy of quarantining household contacts of quarantined individuals (above and beyond the state recommendation) proved critical in preventing exposures within the school. As the testing infrastructure was burdened and slow in January, this step was essential. As a result, most cases were safely "out of the bubble" and did not affect other BG students or families. We thank all of our families for the steps that you have taken to keep our school community safe.
Our recent expansion to a higher level of "orange" has been largely successful, again thanks to the work of our school community.
Recent Surveys and Plans for School Status
For the upcoming week, we will remain at three cohorts (60%) per day. If there is a snow day, cohorts scheduled for that day will attend on the subsequent day, and the cohort and class schedule rotation will be pushed back.
Thank you to all of our students and parents who completed Thursday's survey about status. The intent of these surveys is to ensure a voice for every community member to inform our decision-making. Recent weeks have brought good news - continued vaccine roll-outs, declining local infection rates, news about treatment options, and encouraging research about school safety. There are also cautionary points - new variants have shuttered schools in Europe, we have seen clusters/outbreaks at local schools, and overall local rates do remain high.
The issue of schools and COVID is increasingly polarized and politicized, making it easy to become distracted by the vortex of opinions. Our community's strong response to our surveys has proven valuable in separating the signal from the noise as we gauge the sentiment and comfort level of all of our families. We strive to make rational and responsible decisions that best reflect the BG community as a whole, not just the most vocal perspectives. We will likely continue offering these surveys and weighing all views as we navigate our late-winter/early-spring transition up to 100% occupancy. Know that your time on these surveys is well-spent and truly helpful.
With our expansion to 60% showing success thus far, we are now considering the timing of a transition to 80% (four cohorts). Thanks to strong planning by several administrators and staff members, we have improved indoor space availability and will be able to accommodate 80% occupancy prior to warm weather. The recent survey showed that our students, teachers, and parents are growing more comfortable with an 80% occupancy, but not yet confident at 80% to the same degree as with the transition to 60% when we made it. We do expect that, if declining rates continue and BG cases remain low, we may have the opportunity to make the transition to 80% soon, potentially during February.
In order for success, this next leap will require the help of our Cardinals. As noted, several schools in our area have experienced significant recent disruption due to COVID cases. Vigilance must continue. Over the coming week, we will be emphasizing several points:
Some students have become less cautious about spacing and distancing. We need to reduce close grouping during unstructured times - between classes, before/after school, at the start/end of class.
We are all weary of wearing masks, but need to remember that they do little good if worn beneath the nose or mouth. Especially in light of new variants, masks will continue to be essential.
We will be reinforcing one-way hallway traffic to avoid any congestion at 80%.
We're excited to take these next steps very soon. In the meantime, there are many good signs, but we must remind ourselves that we likely have more peaks and valleys ahead in our efforts to move beyond this pandemic. We all have to embrace realistic optimism now.
January 30 - COVID Notification
Last evening, Bishop Guertin was notified of a COVID case in one of our students. A small number of students were exposed on 1/27 and have been contacted and asked to quarantine.
While case rates have decreased from their post-holiday peaks, our region continues to experience high rates. All community members are reminded to be aware of any COVID symptoms, remain home if sick, and seek testing if you have unexplained symptoms.
During a financially-challenging year for many families, we are excited to share good news about tuition and fees. Please take a moment to read this letter from Mrs. Linda Brodeur, President.
January 21 - Special Schedule on 1/26
On January 26, we will be offering a special schedule to accommodate testing that was re-scheduled from October.
The whole freshmen class will be on-campus and will participate in two events.
First, students will complete PSAT 8/9 testing. Students will arrive at normal school time and should report directly to their testing sites, not to their advisory rooms, at the bell (students will receive information about sites in Advisory). Testing will be arranged to ensure appropriate distancing among students. Following the test, lunch will be provided (details to be provided in Advisory).
Beginning at 12:30, freshmen will participate in a mini-retreat sponsored and run by Campus Ministry. The afternoon will provide the opportunity for the class to get together and experience some culture building activities designed to build community, spirit, and friendships.
The day will be a "casual dress" day. Students should bring a jacket and wear footwear suitable to an outside activity. The day will conclude at 2:30 with students being picked up in the front of the school. All students are asked be in-person for the day. If students can not be in the building, please contact Mrs. Caito.
Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors
On Tuesday, January 26th, there are two priorities for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Those sophomores and juniors who missed the PSAT in October are encouraged to participate in a one time make-up day that the College Board is offering on the 26th. These students have been contacted personally by Mr. Poznanski regarding the timing and schedule for testing. Students should be sure to check your email. All students testing must be in the building by 7:40 am. All sophomores or juniors who are supposed to be taking the PSAT and are unable must contact Mrs. Poznanski.
Through online programs, students who are not testing will be offered a variety of choices designed to build leadership and spur interest in a myriad of opportunities from student athlete leadership forums to other programs and activities.
The day’s programming will run from 8:00 am to noon. Details and a listing of both required and optional activities will be posted at the start of the week. Following the day’s activities, most teachers will hold open office hours (via Zoom) from 12:30 - 2:30 for extra help, meetings, etc. Students wishing to schedule time should speak directly to their teachers for specific timing and arrangements.
January 17 - Status for This Week
Effective on Tuesday, 1/19, we will be inviting three cohorts to attend school each day. Cohorts C, D, and E may attend on Tuesday (1/19), and the rotation will follow from there.
The post-holiday increase appears to be easing up. The rates of local cases have leveled or dropped and the positivity rate is trending down.
While we have continued to see a number of cases among students and adults, our quarantine policies have kept in-school exposures to a minimum. We thank all of our families for being so transparent, communicative, and supportive.
Our lunch/distancing precautions within the school will be effective in handling an increased occupancy.
Please note that this step is occurring against a background of a very challenging period of the pandemic. We recognize the importance of continuing to maximize in-person instruction. We are also confident in our school community's precautions. However, safety will continue to be the top priority, so it is possible that we may need to adjust attendance at short notice based on community or school impacts.
With this status change, starting on Tuesday, we will permit the attendance of two (2) parents per student-athlete at home basketball, hockey, wrestling, and bowling events. We will continue to provide livestreams for home events whenever possible so that all others may join our student-athletes.
Tuesday, 1/26, we will offer all freshmen the PSAT, which was postponed from November. Other grade levels will have obligations that day. Information will be shared this week.
January 11, 2021 - Athletic Return-to-Play after COVID
One significant concern about COVID involves the longer-term health consequences of the virus. A variety of symptoms can arise after recovery, even in individuals who experienced minor symptoms. Some young people are experiencing these long-term symptoms. Despite the relatively low rates of death/hospitalization in young people, the possibility of long-term effects is yet another reason for our students to avoid exposure to COVID.
In particular, there may be lingering cardiac effects of COVID in student-athletes at the high school and college level. The prevalence of these issues is a point of active scientific debate at this point, but the potential life-and-death impact of this complication calls for an abundance of caution. Bishop Guertin will be adopting the "interim guidance" of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) regarding the return to play of a student-athlete after a COVID infection. The AAP has adopted the protocol shown below.
A student-athlete who has experienced a case of COVID-19 will be required to follow the following protocol:
When released from isolation, he/she must be evaluated by their medical provider and given written medical clearance to return. (The form for this clearance is obtained from the athletic trainer.)
When cleared, physical activity may be resumed when (1) at least 14 days have passed since the student's diagnosis and (2) the student has been symptom-free for 7 days.
The student-athlete will begin a graduated return-to-play protocol that will increase physical activity over six phases, with monitoring by the athletic training staff for any symptoms of concern. The student advances in the protocol when it is confirmed that no symptoms have occurred at the prior step. The final conclusion of this protocol is a release to participate in competition.
Graduated return to play guidance following COVID-19 infection
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:1174-1175
There are many parallels to the return-to-play process completed by athletes who have had concussions.
While the student's practitioner clears the student to begin the protocol, the return-to-play protocol is a requirement of Bishop Guertin and cannot be waived by outside clearance. Additionally, deviations are not negotiable based on circumstances (senior nights, tournaments, team competitiveness, individual preferences, etc.).
In stepping up to provide an athletic experience this fall, we are up-front about the disruptions and disappointments that may occur, as well as the need to make some sacrifices/modifications to ensure the safety of our students. Unlike concussions, the body of knowledge around long-term COVID impacts is just beginning to develop. As we learn more and see indications of concern, it is important that we act out of an abundance of caution to protect our student-athletes from potential life-altering consequences.
As mentioned, this is an active area of scientific inquiry and this policy is likely to evolve as more is learned.
January 10, 2021 - NOTIFICATION
On Sunday evening, Bishop Guertin learned that a student-athlete tested positive for COVID. No students were exposed in classes at school. A number of student-athletes were exposed at an athletic practice and have been advised to quarantine.
January 8, 2021
We will continue with two cohorts per day (40% occupancy) for the next week. We will start the week with Cohorts C and D on Monday.
This decision is based on the following factors:
A 15% increase in regional case rates during the past week, as well as a regional positivity rate over 10%.
We have learned of 8 new cases among the BG student body since our return from Christmas. (There have been no "in school" exposures to date - these individuals had quarantined appropriately and were mostly "outside the bubble.")
A high quarantine rate among BG faculty members due to exposures or cases within their households.
The recommendation of the Department of Public Health and medical professionals consulted by BG.
The comfort level of parents, students, and teachers as reflected in the survey that is underway.
We recognize that 40% attendance is challenging for many students, teachers, and families. We had hoped to increase occupancy but circumstances do not yet allow this to occur. We look forward to transitioning to 60% and higher as soon as possible, and will reevaluate our status weekly.
As expected, the month of January is proving quite challenging. We look forward to improved conditions ahead. We thank our families for their caution and communication about cases or exposures that have occurred. Thanks to the abundance of caution of our Cardinals, there were no in-school exposures to this week's cases.
January 8, 2021 - Athletics Update
Here is an update from Mr. Ryan Brown, Athletic Director:
Interscholastic contests for our winter sports are just around the corner. We are excited to have the opportunity to compete right now. The student-athletes and coaches have been hard at work preparing for the upcoming season. Our goal at BG this winter is to maximize opportunities for our student-athletes.
Winter sports will be faced with unique challenges due to the increased levels of infection in our area and the fact that they are all played indoors. We are committed to doing everything possible to allow our student-athletes the chance to compete. However, we all must be prepared that unexpected circumstances will interrupt, pause and change schedules as we proceed. These decisions may need to be made swiftly and may occur at crucial points throughout the season (senior nights, postseason, etc.). All participants must understand that their season may be cut short. The focus of the decisions will be ensuring the safety of all participants and our school community as our highest priority.
The number of spectators allowed at home games will be as follows:
40% (2 cohorts) of students in school: No spectators allowed
60% (3 cohorts) of students is school: 2 immediate family members per student-athlete
80% (4 cohorts) or greater of students in school: 4 immediate family members per student-athlete
If we as a school find ourselves in an extended period of fully-remote learning, all athletic activities will be paused.
Masks are required for all fans at all times.
Visiting team fans will not be allowed at away contests.
Spectators should not arrive earlier than 15 minutes prior to the game.
Social distance must be maintained at all times.
No outside food; concessions are closed; tailgating is not permitted.
Fans will be screened upon arrival.
Families should plan to meet their student-athletes outside of the venue upon completion of the game.
Family members will need to stay together during the contest. Children should stay with their family.
Additional Protocols for Basketball/Wrestling
All spectators will enter through the main gym entrance. Masks must be worn.
After a Reserve and/or JV game, spectators will be asked to leave the gym. The spectators for the next game will be allowed to enter after the bleachers have been sanitized.
Spectators are asked to stay on the bleacher (Cardinal sign) side of the gym.
We will follow all protocols in place for any venue that hosts a BG team. Please familiarize yourself with the protocols of the specific venue before you arrive.
Based on new research regarding potential long-term effects of COVID on student-athletes, we will be implementing a return-to-play protocol for student-athletes who have experienced a case of COVID. Details on this protocol will be sent next week.
Bishop Guertin will be providing transportation to some away contests this winter. We have the ability to use buses with a maximum capacity of 24 students per bus. The students will sit by themselves, close to the window, with the window open, and wearing a mask. It is encouraged for families to transport students to games on their own. If your family or student-athlete is going to drive themselves to a game, please inform the coach by the morning of the contest. The coach will tell you what time they would like the student-athlete to be at the game. As a reminder, visiting fans will not be allowed into the game, even if you drive the student to the game.
Game and practice schedules can be found at https://www.bgcards.org. This website contains real time information regarding all of our schedules. Please register for a fan account and opt in to receive instant notifications for all schedule changes.
We hope to safely complete this season with the cooperation and vigilance of everyone involved!
December 30, 2020
Our intent is to open on Monday, January 4 with two cohorts per day, starting with Cohorts C and D. [CORRECTED 1/1: Cohorts changed to reflect the correct cohorts for Monday.]
We feel that this approach balances the uncertainties and high rates against the importance of providing some in-person contact for students. As always, we don't know what is around the corner. We are continuing to monitor the COVID situation between now and Monday. A post-holiday surge or an influx of cases at Bishop Guertin might cause a change in status.
After our return, we are hopeful that the recent decline in cases will continue into the New Year. We are prepared to transition up to 60% occupancy if downward trends are confirmed after the holidays and if our school cases remain low. And, we look forward to further progress toward 100% over the coming weeks/months.
We have extended the 1st Semester until January 12 to accommodate the disruptions to our schedule before Christmas. Students will begin their 2nd Semester schedules on January 13.
Remember: there is a travel restriction in place. Students who were outside New England from 12/25 onward should not be in school on Monday, 1/4. A negative PCR test obtained on the 6-7th day after return allows the student to waive this requirement and return to school.
If you/your family have a COVID diagnosis, quarantine, or exposure during the break, it is critical you notify Nurse Turner (email@example.com) immediately. Please do not wait until the start of next week to notify the school of any COVID-related concerns.
Thank you for all the sacrifices made over the vacation week. Happy New Year, and see you soon!
December 28, 2020 - A COVID Year-in-Review
In our first communication about COVID on February 27, 2020, we stated that, “we hope the impacts of the virus will be minimal.” That hope proved to be wishful thinking. Instead, the past ten months have required amazing flexibility, ingenuity, and patience from every Cardinal. As 2020 moves to the rearview mirror (where it belongs) it is an appropriate time to review our successes and challenges over the first half of school year.
As described in our communication on May 18, our strategy for this school year has been based on flexibility and our emphasis on live classroom instruction, in-person when possible, remotely as necessary. Our top priorities have been (1) safety and (2) continuity of our programs and school community. The purpose of this update is to offer an overview of where we stand.
Starting with safety considerations:
Our immediate school community (students and staff) has experienced 20 known cases of COVID, representing 2.2% of our school community. This compares to the approximately 2.9% of the Nashua and regional population infected since August 25. (Please note that we report more BG cases on our own dashboard than the State of New Hampshire reports for Bishop Guertin on its dashboard. The state does not always trace/connect cases to schools. We are aiming to be as transparent as possible.)
Cases have become more frequent in recent months. As expected, when cases rose sharply in our area, we experienced more cases at Bishop Guertin. We experienced 1 case in August, 2 cases in September, 2 in October, 8 in November, and 7 in December.
Screenings and quarantines have reduced the impact of many BG cases. So far, 11 of our 20 cases were “inside the bubble” cases, meaning that the individual was in the school at some time when they might have been contagious. Thanks to our protocols, the remaining 9 cases involved individuals who were already quarantined when they tested positive, so their cases had no impact on the school.
As the year continued, we experienced progressively fewer quarantines with each case. Several of our initial cases resulted in 30-60 quarantined individuals. Our December cases averaged 4 quarantines per case. This outcome is due to our cohort model, which reduced the density of our classrooms. Additionally, with community testing so slow, our new requirement that household members of quarantined individuals attend remotely has kept several recent cases “outside the bubble.”
Overall, zero teachers have been exposed to COVID by a known student case. Our classroom distancing protocols have maintained a strong barrier. We have a number of teachers who could be vulnerable to COVID, and who have assumed personal risk to continue teaching. So far, we believe that in-person instruction has been safe for them. We have also supported teachers who have opted to teach remotely due to their individual risk factors.
Only one infection may have been transmitted at BG, during an outside-of-the-classroom interaction among students. Thus far, we have not seen any known classroom transmission. We also have not experienced widespread out-of-school transmission among our students. From masks to screening requirements to quarantines to good precautions outside of school, our community has taken responsibility for making sure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL.
While these trends and indicators are generally strong, past performance is no guarantee of future success. As we await the impact of vaccination, we need to remain vigilant.
Programs and School Community
Our program continuity has been strong, especially against the context of the worldwide disruption that has occurred in education:
As of the start of break, if they chose to attend in-person, BG students have experienced 64% of their instructional time in-person. We have held 24 days at 100% occupancy, 2 days at 80%, 26 days at 60%, 8 days at 40%, 5 days at other hybrid levels due to special events, and 7 days of fully-remote instruction. Recognizing the importance of in-person instruction, we will be tracking in-person instruction on our dashboard moving forward.
As we all anticipated, we have experienced more remote learning as cases rose in November/December. After a brief ramp-up in August, our students were in-person 98% of the time in September, 74% in October, 48% in November, and 27% in December. The mostly-in-person start of the year was integral to establishing a successful routine in anticipation of these tough months. November and December have been challenging. Late winter/spring should be better.
Academic progress has continued in all subjects as teachers implement new methods and approaches for teaching a mix of remote and in-person students. We recently received the results of our fall testing. We wondered if the disrupted spring/fall would have an impact, but we did not identify any negative patterns in our students’ PSAT results as compared to prior years. Our early college application season has progressed smoothly, with high numbers of students submitting early college applications.
We maintain opportunities for our students to continue their whole-person formation. All of our fall athletic teams completed their seasons, with mostly-minimal disruptions. Our winter teams have started practices, and we’re hopeful to maximize their seasons as well. Our music program recently performed a full-school virtual concert in place of the traditional Christmas concert. From a virtual schoolwide Mass to Christmas Drives, our students have been challenged to continue growing in faith and service through our campus ministry offerings. Other extracurricular activities continued in a mix of virtual and in-person formats, adjusting to the fall’s circumstances while still offering social and whole-person development opportunities.
In recent weeks, recognizing the continued impact of COVID on all of us, we have increased programming around mental-health and well-being, which has included the unveiling of the BG Wellness Page.
We have noted that social adjustments have been a challenge for many students due to masks, distancing, and different patterns of attendance. Still, new traditions such as outdoor lunch have taken shape, and are expected to continue long after the pandemic.
Our priorities for the first half of 2021 are as follows:
Our first priority will always be safety. We are encouraged by research that supports in-person instruction if appropriate precautions are taken. However, we also recognize that an outbreak can escalate quickly if precautions are relaxed.
We continue our commitment to maximizing in-person instruction throughout the remainder of the school year. We believe that January and February will be on the low side of occupancy due to high case rates, but we hope that March through June will allow much higher occupancy, especially as the vaccine begins to make an impact. No matter the scenario, we are ready to transition rapidly and will do so based on circumstances.
We are actively monitoring developments in infection control, screening, testing, treatment, and vaccination that, if implemented, may serve to accelerate our return to full attendance and to greater normalcy.
As we pass the New Year, we recognize that many students and adults are struggling with the social and emotional burdens of the pandemic and all the uncertainty it brings. This important concern will remain a focal area for us, both in opportunities offered to students and in our parent programming.
We will offer the best-possible opportunities for the Class of 2021 to celebrate its senior traditions. Our seniors have given up a great deal with no complaints. This class has taken complete ownership for the challenges of the school year, and we are excited to celebrate them as individuals and as a group.
While many challenges await us in 2021, the Bishop Guertin community is up to the task.
The Charism of Fr. Andre Coindre, the guiding document of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, calls for Brothers’ schools to serve as sanctuaries from the outside world in which students can develop not only intellectually, but also as compassionate and faithful people. In a year with no script, Bishop Guertin has continued to live out our mission, while adjusting to changing circumstances. We could not be prouder of our school community for its response. We thank all of our teachers, parents, and, most importantly, Cardinals for their trust and support shown throughout 2020. We look forward to emerging from this pandemic even stronger in our commitment and ability to form, as our mission states, “tolerant, just, and involved men and women of faith who accept the task of building the Kingdom of God and of transforming, for the better, the world in which they live.”
December 22, 2020
As our families approach Christmas and other holiday celebrations, we want to refer all community members to the CDC's Winter Holidays recommendations. We hope that you will have a Blessed, Merry, and Safe Christmas.
December 19, 2020
Last evening, Bishop Guertin learned that a student had tested positive for COVID. A small number of students were exposed on 12/16 at an athletic practice and have been notified.
December 18, 2020
Thank you to all who attended our program last night, A Season of Hope: Panel on Well-being During the Holidays of 2020. We have provided the video below for any who missed it:
Also mentioned in the chat were books by Dr. Tim Elmore and Mr. Andrew McPeak (past presenter at BG) about Generation Z. You may be interested in two of their recent books, Generation Z Unfiltered and The Pandemic Generation, as good resources.
A special thanks to Mrs. Brenda Poznanski for moderating, to Mr. Ron Noel and Br. Larry for participating, and to our guests, Dr. Laura Landerman-Garber, Mr. Jeff Levin, and Chief Justice John Broderick, for joining us for a great program.
December 16, 2020
With the impending bad weather, we are announcing the following changes to the schedule:
Thursday, December 17 will be a REMOTE day for all students. It will be a Day 2 and we will follow our usual schedule.
Friday, December 18 will be a NO SCHOOL day. No classes will be held.
During 2020, yet one more thing that we've lost is the feeling of having a snow day. Many students and staff rely on snow days throughout the winter as a gift of "time," and a chance to catch up on work, rest, and their busy lives. Particularly at this time of year, students feel stressed about end-of-semester assessments and our teachers experience the demands of parallel online and in-person instruction (along with the ever-increasing load of covering for colleagues who are remote or quarantined, as well as their own concern over the rise in local cases). With our newfound experience with remote instruction, we all wondered if we'd ever see a snow day again.
In looking at all these considerations, we felt that a true snow day would be beneficial to all. We decided to hold remote classes tomorrow during the storm and place the "snow day" on Friday, so that everyone's Christmas break could be extended. We hope that all of our students and teachers will take advantage of Friday in the true spirit of a snow day.
As our students and teachers leave the building today, many for the last time in 2020, we anticipate a joyful and relaxing, even if distanced, Christmas and holiday season. We also look forward to putting 2020 in the rearview mirror, knowing that our school community has met the challenge and that we all will emerge stronger from this pandemic. With the vaccine starting to arrive, we can sense the dawn coming and can meet the new year with a sense of hope.
We continue to pray for all whose families have been affected by COVID, while giving thanks for the strength of the Bishop Guertin community for all of its efforts during this time.
December 15, 2020
We are excited to invite all parents to a special forum on mental health during the pandemic. On Thursday evening at 7:00 PM, Mrs. Brenda Poznanksi, our Director of School Counseling and Admission, will moderate a panel of distinguished guests to discuss how families can address the effects of the current pandemic on the well-being of our students. To RSVP and submit questions, please visit: https://forms.gle/eZD3giA8ss5xJdDRA. A Zoom link to the event will be sent to you by Thursday afternoon.
A Season of Hope: A Panel on Well-being as We Look Ahead to 2021
December 17, 2020 at 7:00 PM
Mrs. Brenda Poznanski, Director of School Counseling and Admission
Br. Larry Beaunoyer, Bookstore Manager and Brother of the Sacred Heart
Former New Hampshire Chief Justice John Broderick, Senior Director External Affairs, Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Dr. Laura Landerman-Garber, Psychologist
Mr. Jeffrey Levin, Founder/Director of the Reconnection Project
Mr. Ron Noel, Bishop Guertin School Counselor
December 13, 2020 - Notification
Last evening, Bishop Guertin learned that a student had tested positive for COVID. A small number of students were exposed on 12/10 and have been notified.
December 10, 2020 - NOTIFICATION
A number of Bishop Guertin students were exposed to COVID by an adult who was present during a BG athletic workout on 12/7. All students who were involved have been contacted and notified about quarantine guidelines.
December 10, 2020
Please see below for an update that was shared with us by Nashua Mayor Donchess.
December Update from Mayor Donchess
As the doctors and scientists expected, the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is getting more serious as the weather turns colder. Gatherings are moving inside, accelerating the spread of the virus. Since we are seeing more cases in our own community, I wanted to update you on the situation in Nashua.
Transmission in Nashua, and the rest of New Hampshire, is substantial. As of today, per the State COVID-19 Dashboard, the situation in Nashua is:
393 active cases, with 598 new cases in the last two weeks.
Our rate of infection is 669.2 new cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days.
There are 35 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
Our PCR Test Positivity Rate is 11.1%
There have been 42 deaths in Nashua since March, including 1 last week.
All of these indicators are up from last week. We are starting to see the post-Thanksgiving surge in our city and around the country. The next few weeks and months will be a very difficult time for our brave and committed healthcare workers as this influx in cases starts to crowd hospitals.
If you or a loved one needs to be tested, the City offers a testing clinic every Tuesday. To make an appointment, please call Nashua’s COVID-19 Hotline at 603-589-3456.
Our Department of Public Health is working tirelessly to fight this pandemic. For more information on what they are doing, and for resources on how to stay safe from COVID-19, you can visit the City’s website at https://www.nashuanh.gov/1332/COVID-19
I know we have been in this for a long time, and we are all tired of the restrictions and the masks, and a vaccine is on the horizon. But we must continue to be diligent, or else this could get worse before it gets better. There is plenty you can do to keep your family and our community safe.
Please consider not gathering with family and friends this holiday season. Even the smallest gathering that takes place indoors can be a place for the virus to spread.
Wear a mask when out in public, as required by City Ordinance and the Governor of New Hampshire.
Practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet away from others.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. If you can’t do that, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
Lastly, if you feel even the slightest bit unwell, stay home if possible. A runny nose or a tickle in your throat might be the only symptoms you get, but can still spread the virus to others.
I know I sound like a broken record, but it is very important that we do not let our guard down. We have all had to make sacrifices, and now we can see the vaccines coming. If we can continue to work together, we can prevent a lot of people from getting sick, and make sure that the people who do get sick can get the treatment they need.
Be well and stay safe.
December 7, 2020
Today, we have made two changes to our screening policy (link):
Based on the State of New Hampshire's changes, the travel quarantine is now ten days, with the option of testing out after the sixth day.
We have added one alternative to the "quarantine if a household member is quarantined" condition on our daily survey. If the quarantined household member obtains a COVID PCR test after the sixth day (or later) since exposure, and the test is negative, the student may return to school once the negative test is received. (The quarantined individual, if a student, still needs to complete the ten day quarantine.)
December 6, 2020
We are aware of some power outages, particularly in the Litchfield/Londonderry/Derry, Bedford/Amherst, and Tyngsborough/Chelmsford/Westford areas, that might not see full restoration.
Students who were (1) scheduled to be remote, (2) whose outage is not repaired by Monday morning, (3) who can sign off on our safety protocols to attend in-person, and (4) who have no way to attend remotely may attend school in-person on Monday. Parents should email Mrs. Caito (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your household is in this situation and a student is attending in-person for the day.
THIS APPLIES STRICTLY TO STUDENTS WITHOUT POWER. Thank you for reserving this opportunity for those who need it in order to attend classes.
December 4, 2020
Plans for Next Week
We are confirming our plan to return to in-person instruction on Monday (12/7) with Cohorts B and C attending.
Changes in Quarantine Requirements
Based on the recommendation of the State of New Hampshire, Bishop Guertin will reduce the quarantine requirement for exposed individuals to 10 days after the date of exposure. The CDC has presented data indicating that this change reflects only a 1% increase in the risk of transmission (very few individuals transmit COVID 10-14 days after exposure).
Changes in Protocols
Research shows that, when precautions are taken, the rates in schools are lower than they are in the broader community. Given heightened infection rates in our area, it is important that we take additional steps to ensure safely. As cases increase, our protections must evolve. The cases prior to Thanksgiving prompted us to review our procedures for ways to further reduce the risk of infection at school.
A daily screening survey will now also be completed daily by all students who are in-person in each advisory. Parents will continue to complete their survey as well. Instructions to students will be given in advisory.
We are changing our daily screening guidelines to include the following:
Students should attend remotely if they have any symptomatic/suspected/exposed/quarantined individuals in their household. (In the past, quarantines were based on positive test results in the household member. Testing turnaround is not fast enough for effective screening at this time.)
We are also asking if students have followed precautions (masks, distancing) at all times, and avoided "high risk" settings in recent days. Those who have experienced situations that they consider to have been extremely risky, especially crowded/indoor/unmasked locations, should consider remote attendance.
These new requirements are above-and-beyond the minimum guidelines of the State of New Hampshire. We feel that they are necessary in order to protect our community and to prioritize in-person instruction. Existing requirements (symptoms, travel, exposure) remain in effect.
We are implementing changes to our lunch period, including the addition of a third lunch period. Lunch in the classrooms was one of our highest-risk periods of the day. Lunch will now be split among the cafeteria and field house, with distancing procedures in effect. Students may still eat outside if they so choose, but we can no longer permit more than one student in any particular vehicle due to the risk of unmasked individuals spending 20-30 minutes swapping air in a non-ventilated space.
Many athletic programs will begin limited workouts during the week. We are appreciative of our student-athletes for respecting the spirit/intent of this past week's remote format by avoiding gatherings of student-athletes. Your patience will help us to get your season off to a solid start. It is essential that student-athletes follow protocols involving masks and social distancing during practices.
The winter months will remain extremely challenging. We will continue to seek opportunities to keep our students and staff safe.
December 2, 2020
We hope that you had a Happy Thanksgiving! We know that this year's holiday posed many challenges, but hopefully provided us with needed perspective on what is important in our lives. We thank all of our students, families, and staff for their support of our "pause" of in-person learning. As of mid-week, there have been no reported linked cases to the exposures before Thanksgiving.
As of this afternoon, we plan to return in-person with 40% of our student body (Cohorts B and C) on Monday, 12/7. We will continue to monitor the situation and will confirm this status by the weekend. We will also address additional steps that are being taken to minimize the risk to our students and staff in light of high transmission rates in our area.
We have been asked several times about whether Bishop Guertin will follow the new CDC recommendations about quarantines. (There is increasing evidence from other countries that a shorter quarantine period for those who are exposed might not add much risk.) At this time, our quarantine requirement will remain at 14 days in accordance with the State of New Hampshire's requirements. The State of New Hampshire is evaluating the new CDC recommendations and may adjust its requirements in the near future. If/when New Hampshire changes its requirements, Bishop Guertin will also adjust accordingly.
December 2, 2020 - NOTIFICATION
Over the past few days, we have been made aware of two additional COVID cases that occurred in individuals who were already quarantined and not in contact with the Bishop Guertin community. These cases are not believed to be linked to Bishop Guertin in any way. (Moving forward, we will continue to track "outside the bubble" cases on the dashboard, but we will not send a separate notification unless a case is believed to have an inside-the-bubble impact/connection.)
November 25, 2020
Bishop Guertin High School will extend its period of remote learning for another week, the week of November 30.
Yesterday, learned that our most recent cases may have involved up to a week of exposures within our school community. The students who are known “close contacts” have already been notified. However, the extended exposure time is a significant concern when it comes to contact tracing and the potential for asymptomatic infections. This week’s two days of remote learning already proved helpful in reducing the risk. Another remote week will provide more time and separation to further reduce the risk. We will evaluate our status for the following week (the week of December 7) and beyond based on the situation next week.
During this time, it is important to be aware of any symptoms that arise. Beyond Bishop Guertin, cases are occurring at a high rate throughout all of our communities, and you could be exposed to COVID anywhere. If you become symptomatic while we are remote, please contact Nurse Turner (email@example.com), who can provide input about testing and isolation. It is important that she be made aware of any potential cases within our school community.
The MyBG calendar has been updated. Classes will be held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. We will utilize our “Midterm Exam Makeup Day” on Wednesday, December 2 and classes will not be held. All in-person extracurricular activities are canceled for next week unless specifically approved by the administration.
November 24, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin became aware of another student case today. This case was linked to the case reported yesterday, and both cases are connected to an exposure that occurred outside of Bishop Guertin. A number of students were exposed over the course of last week and have already been notified and asked to quarantine.
November 24, 2020
Here is another resource for the CDC regarding Thanksgiving celebrations. We urge all of our community members to be mindful of these precautions as you seek safe ways to celebrate the holiday!
As we break for Thanksgiving, we offer our sincere gratitude to all of our teachers, parents, and Cardinals for your support, trust, and hard work over the course of this year as we've continued to live out our mission under challenging circumstances. The Bishop Guertin community has been inspiring. We hope that you have a safe and refreshing holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!
November 23, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin is aware of a student who has been diagnosed. A small group of students was exposed on 11/18. These individuals have been notified and asked to quarantine. (UPDATED 11/24: This case is believed to be linked to an exposure outside of BG.)
November 23, 2020
As we approach the holidays, many families who are trying to take precautions have described challenges due to family members who are disregarding the risk of COVID and holiday precautions. Masks seem to be a common point of contention within extended families due to polarization about the issue.
In a blog post this morning, Dr. Emily Oster, an economist who focuses on parenting and a strong supporter of in-person school, provides a detailed overview of the research on masks. We hope this is a tool that you can use in encouraging family members to have a safe Thanksgiving.
November 21, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin has become aware of a new COVID case. The individual who tested positive was already quarantined and there are not believed to be any Bishop Guertin exposures.
November 20, 2020 (PM)
Our families residing in Massachusetts should be aware of a new travel restriction on travel to New Hampshire.
Fortunately for our students and staff, the order includes the following exemption regarding school/work:
People who regularly commute, at least weekly, outside of Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work or any person who regularly commutes, at least weekly into Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work; provided that in either case, this exception applies only to and from the person’s residence and place of work or school. Workers or students who travel to any place that is not their home state for personal or leisure reasons cannot rely on this exemption.
Therefore, Massachusetts-residing students and staff who are traveling to BG or its associated venues strictly for the purpose of attending school (or school activities) do not need to quarantine. However some examples that would affect our families include:
A New Hampshire student visiting a Massachusetts student's home socially could not do so - to visit, they would likely need to fill out an online form and quarantine on entering Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts student visiting a New Hampshire student in their home could do so, but would need to fill out an online form and quarantine on returning to Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts student or parent going Christmas shopping at the Merrimack Outlets or going out to eat in Nashua after school could do so, but would likely need to need to fill out an online form and quarantine on returning home to Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts family that attends BG but drives up North to go skiing could do so, but would likely need to need to fill out an online form and quarantine on returning home to Massachusetts.
There is a fine of $500 per day, so please be aware of these restrictions.
None of these restrictions would have any bearing on Bishop Guertin - travel to Massachusetts is not restricted by New Hampshire, on which Bishop Guertin bases its policies.
November 20, 2020
As mentioned in our evening presentation last week, we continually adapt our plans to changing circumstances.
Since last week, cases have continued to sharply rise in our area. We have experienced increasing school impacts in the form of cases, quarantines, and heightened concern about safety. A number of our families have reported difficulty obtaining prompt testing when needed, and contact tracing has been more limited as cases have grown beyond containment. Hospitalizations are on the rise in our region. The combination of "COVID fatigue" on the part of individuals, the reluctance of communities to adopt new restrictions, and the likelihood of Thanksgiving-fueled spread all mean that we can expect cases and hospitalizations to continue to rise for some time.
Despite these impacts, in-person schooling is safe. Schools structure and require many of the steps that could taken broadly by communities to slow the spread of COVID. In this sense, being at school is safer than being out and mingling in the community, where safety protocols are often more relaxed. We still are not aware of any transmission events at BG. We also have testing options in place for urgent situations thanks to a partnership with St. Joseph Hospital.
While we considered all options in light of rising rates, we remain committed to avoiding remote learning. While many schools have moved in this direction, in-person schooling has been supported by state officials, public health research, and, most recently, addressed by the director of the CDC.
However, given the increasing impact, we do need to take some additional steps to protect our community during the surge.
We are announcing the following changes:
Monday (11/23) and Tuesday (11/24) of next week will be remote learning days for all students. While the school building will be open for any who wish to retrieve books, classes will not be held in-person. This brief pause, plus the Thanksgiving break, will provide for a full week's buffer and allow us to create some separation from the cases of the past week. We encourage students to minimize their community interactions during this time.
Starting on Monday (11/30), we will temporarily shift to TWO cohorts per day (40% occupancy). While we previously indicated our intent to avoid a 40% status, a lower occupancy is a reasonable alternative to remote learning given continued rise in cases. This step will help us to reduce our density and eliminate any contacts when cases occur. Lunch is our highest-risk part of the day. As we move indoors, a lower occupancy will help us to maintain distancing and spacing and minimize contacts during lunchtime. Monday (11/30) will be a Day 3 with Cohorts B and C, with the rotation continuing from there.
We will not hold a formal midterm week this year. While we had intended to hold in-person midterms, circumstances do not lend themselves to a safe and fair mandatory "on campus" assessment. Our teachers have asked that we devote the time to continuing teaching/learning/contact with students. We will continue classes right through the end of the semester. Cumulative assessments may occur in many classes, held during regular class time.
Athletics as a whole will remain "on hold" during the week after Thanksgiving. However, some individual sports may gain approval to begin optional skills workouts during the week as protocols are established and approved. Students should expect strong precautions to be in place for all athletic activities if/when they are approved.
We still need your help. We remind families that they should quarantine if they travel outside New England (fourteen days, which can be waived if a negative PCR test is obtained after the seventh day home). Additionally, students who attend a "high risk" event with many people outside their household are encouraged to voluntarily quarantine after the event.
We intend for the change in occupancy to be short-term, to avoid shifting to remote learning amidst the current spike and holidays. We will reevaluate throughout December if we see an improvement in our local situation.
In the meantime, like all schools, we ultimately depend on our broader communities to make sacrifices and control the spread of COVID. Community cases do have a school impact; community actions affect students and schools. We hope that all of our communities will make necessary sacrifices and reduce the impact of COVID while we all await the vaccine. Our priorities as a nation, states, and communities are demonstrated by the sacrifices and commitments made during these challenging times, and we must put our young people first.
Within The Nest, let's continue all our efforts to ensure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL!
November 19, 2020
Bishop Guertin will hold all classes remotely on Monday (11/23) and Tuesday (11/24) of Thanksgiving week. We will follow our normal school schedule. Students will utilize the usual Zoom link to access their classes.
This is a proactive step, rather than a reaction to any additional cases or exposures. Utilizing two remote days next week allows nine days of separation for our school community. This will provide a buffer from the cases of this week and a pause during a time of exponential growth in cases in our region.
Today's announcement about the possibility of remote classes next week reminded many students of the similar announcement made on March 12. This is not the same situation. It is important to be clear that we intend to return in-person after the Thanksgiving Break. Still, we are concerned about the increase in cases and the impact of these community cases on the school. We will be announcing several adjustments to our plans that will help us respond to the current situation while maximizing in-person instruction during the winter months.
November 17, 2020
Bishop Guertin has become aware of two students who were diagnosed with COVID on Tuesday, 11/17.
These connected cases are believed to be linked to an external contact/exposure. A number of BG students were in contact with the students and have been asked to quarantine. At this point, all who were in close contact have been notified.
As we continue into this difficult stage of the pandemic, we remind all students to be aware of any new/unexplained symptoms and STAY HOME if you are sick or if you may have been exposed.
November 14, 2020
Daily Schedule Update
With the recent news about cases, as well as the arrival of winter months, we are implementing the following adjusted schedule, which removes the "break" between 2nd and 3rd period. This change will reduce indoor crowding. Students are still able to stop at lockers between the 2nd and 3rd classes. (For curious students, efforts are being made to offer walk-in chicken tenders during lunch period, as we understand that there was appreciation for this food option.)
General COVID Update
Bishop Guertin has noted the sharp increase in regional cases over the past few days. As discussed on Tuesday's Zoom call, our primary focus at this point is preventing cases and exposures within the school. As cases increase in the wider community this will become increasingly challenging.
The State of New Hampshire announced on Friday that it cannot keep up with the contact tracing of all new cases. Effective contact tracing of cases is important for safe school reopening. It is a concern that the state has already fallen behind on this long-anticipated fall surge. With this situation, more responsibility for contact tracing now shifts to schools, as well as to medical providers.
Now, more than ever, our continued in-person presence lies in our school community's hands.
We need your help with the following:
You may not be contacted by the State of New Hampshire if you experience an exposure outside of a school setting. If you have (1) any unexplained symptoms, no matter how mild, or (2) contact with someone who is diagnosed with, or suspected/being tested for symptoms of, COVID-19, STAY HOME. Contact the school nurse at firstname.lastname@example.org to report any contacts and to receive further guidance regarding testing/quarantine/isolation. During this higher-risk period, if there is any question, STAY HOME.
Take steps to reduce your own risk. Recall the "Swiss Cheese" model discussed on our call this week (covered in today's Wall St. Journal, pictured below). Wear a mask; avoid indoor gatherings; avoid long-duration time with others; avoid busy restaurants and other crowded public places; wash your hands; keep your distance. Students who find themselves in high-risk situations are urged to consider transitioning to remote learning for a period of time to protect the school community as a whole.
If our whole in-person community takes these steps seriously, we can maintain a partial "BG Bubble," and keep our risk level at a lower level than the population as a whole. Our community has done exceptionally well so far. As we move into the winter months, we need the help of each and every Cardinal to maximize our in-person time together.
November 13, 2020
Bishop Guertin facilities will be closed to all athletic activities between Monday, 11/16 and Monday, 11/30. In combination with this restriction, there will be no school-affiliated team workouts, “open gymnasium” sessions, practices, team lifts, or competitions allowed during this time, regardless of venue.
These steps are meant to provide an opportunity to evaluate indoor athletic protocols and to reduce the risk of COVID spread as cases increase rapidly in the surrounding area. We continue to assess the safety and practicality of offering each of our winter athletic programs, and we hope to offer all sports. However, our top priority remains with maintaining in-person instruction and preventing the spread of COVID.
CHANGE TO TRAVEL QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS
In accordance with recently-announced changes by the State of New Hampshire, starting on 11/16, Bishop Guertin will permit students and adults who have traveled out of New England to take a test to release them from quarantine beginning on the seventh day after return to New England. The negative test must be a PCR/molecular test (not a “rapid” antigen test). The test can be taken on the seventh day after return, or later, and the result must be received by Nurse Turner at email@example.com before the individual’s return.
Please note that an individual cannot "test out" of quarantine due to an exposure to COVID. This change only pertains to travel.
November 10, 2020
Thank you to all parents and students who joined us for our COVID Update Zoom call. Here is the video if you missed it.
THANK YOU to all members of the community for your help ensuring that #COVIDSTOPSWITHACARDINAL!
November 9, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin has been notified that a staff member has tested positive for COVID. This staff member was exposed outside of school and has been quarantined for some time. There were no in-school exposures, and therefore no additional BG quarantines.
November 9, 2020
Tomorrow (Tuesday, 11/10), from 7:00 - 8:00 PM, there will be a Zoom update on the Bishop Guertin COVID response. This update will cover the current wave of cases, new information about school safety in the pandemic, our approach to status (orange/yellow) for the winter months, the results of the recent survey, winter sports, holiday travel, and other items that were raised on our recent survey.
All students, parents, and school community members are welcome. The Zoom link to the meeting has been sent to all parents and students. If you are unable to attend the meeting tomorrow evening, it will be available on our Youtube channel and on the COVID page.
November 8, 2020
Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for the evening of Thursday, November 12th. This year, conferences will be held remotely using pre-scheduled Zoom meetings. Signups will be conducted this week. Parents should review the email that was sent by Mr. Gurall containing this information.
November 5, 2020
We are introducing additional sweatshirt options for all students. The new pullover half-zip or crewneck will be available to order. To place an order, see the information sent this week.
November 2, 2020
Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for the evening of Thursday, November 12th. This year, conferences will be held remotely, with teachers posting invitations for parents to schedule 5-minute conversations via Zoom. Links to request conference times will be posted to individual teacher’s MyBG pages. An announcement will be made when scheduling links are available.
It will be important for each meeting to adhere to the five-minute conversation window. If you believe that a longer conversation may be needed, the parent can reach out to the student’s teacher directly in order to schedule such a meeting. Similarly, if a teacher feels that a longer meeting is warranted, the teacher will contact the parent.
Thank you in advance for your patience as we once again try a new approach to a traditional event. Your cooperation and support of our teachers, students, and school community have allowed us to provide a Bishop Guertin experience which has seemed as familiar as possible.
October 30, 2020
We are in the process of planning for the winter months. We would like your feedback about your perceptions of safety as we move into the winter. We would ask all parents and students take 1-2 minutes to complete this brief survey.
October 29, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin has been advised of a new positive COVID test.
The individual who tested positive has not been at school, nor in close contact with Bishop Guertin community members, for an extended period. There are no close contacts at Bishop Guertin.
There is also no linkage between this case and the case reported yesterday.
October 29, 2020 - A Message Regarding Gatherings
Recently, we have been approached by several parents deliberating whether to allow their son/daughter to attend substantial sleepovers, parties, or events that are being scheduled. In addition, several teachers and staff members have overheard students planning these gatherings.
With Halloween and other holidays approaching, it is important to communicate our expectation about this issue.
To be very clear: Bishop Guertin High School does not support, encourage, promote, endorse, or recommend that BG students hold or attend gatherings of large or small groups. If you, as a parent, support such a gathering or permit your son/daughter to attend, you are detracting from every effort and sacrifice on the part of our students, teachers, and parents to maintain the greatest extent of in-person instruction and normalcy. You are also acting in direct contradiction to the guidance and input of public health authorities.
The efforts of our community to ensure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL have been nothing short of humbling. We are grateful for the many sacrifices made by our 2,095 students, teachers, and parents. We maintain our commitment to supporting the vast (often silent) majority that realizes that throwing a party is a reckless idea at the moment. As a school, we will respond strongly to any who feel entitled to ignore the rules and jeopardize the safety and continued functioning of our school community.
Why is this issue so important? With many schools now reopened, data about infection rates is available and significant research on school-based transmission has commenced. Globally, in-school transmission has been minimal, but transmission has occurred through outside social activities that involve students who attend the school. So, a school may have experienced several cases, but most student infections often turn out to be transmitted via a party or social gathering that occurred outside school. We’ve seen this scenario play out in several of our local communities that have experienced cases in their schools. The same has been true of many infections involving athletics – they often stem from gatherings surrounding the activity, not the athletic activity itself. Similarly, public health authorities are advising us that private/small gatherings are strong drivers of the current regional increase in cases in our region. Gatherings matter.
The new data on the low rate of in-school COVID transmission has allowed us to remain in-person at higher community infection rates than we had originally planned over the summer. It has also permitted us to maintain our athletic programs this fall despite increasing rates. Low school transmission rates are the reason why European countries are now locking down non-essential businesses but keeping schools open. As we move into the winter, we are reviewing our own decision-making cutoffs to allow more flexibility to remain open based on this recent data. Schools have proven safer-than-expected, and we intend to make the most of this for our students.
With community infection rates high, the only way we can remain open for in-person learning is to prevent any spread of COVID within our school community. We cannot experience cases in any substantial numbers; there is little margin for error. A “superspreader” event would shift us to remote learning for an extended period of time. This means that we need your continued support.
We recognize that we have asked a lot this year of all of our families, and particularly our Cardinals. When we transitioned to remote learning in March, we never imagined that COVID would be with us eight months later. Some experts now suggest that we might be in the sixth or seventh inning of this COVID ballgame, and that a difficult winter is ahead of us. More than ever, we need all of our parents and community members to continue to step up to the plate. We are all weary of the restrictions that COVID has required, and we all wonder, at times, whether they are really necessary. The reality is that whenever we lower our guard as a community, we only extend the duration and magnitude of COVID’s impact on our lives.
As our theme for the year states, “community is about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” The Bishop Guertin community has been nothing short of spectacular this fall – thank you for joining all Cardinals in this continuing effort during the most challenging months of the pandemic.
October 28, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin has been informed that a school community member has tested positive for COVID-19.
Because of cohorts and distancing strategies, there are not any student "close contacts" who need to quarantine.
All community members should continue to be aware of any new/unexplained symptoms or potential COVID exposures, and should stay home, contact Mrs. Turner, and seek testing if symptoms do appear.
October 28, 2020
With the reopening of New Hampshire ice arenas and the institution of testing and other safety protocols, Bishop Guertin will be eliminating its ice hockey restriction starting on 10/30. Student-athletes who return to participation on outside ice hockey teams starting on Friday do not need to quarantine.
As for school teams, Bishop Guertin will not be offering any school-sponsored ice hockey workouts or sessions until at least 11/30. This will provide time to evaluate the effectiveness of the new safety precautions that have been instituted. (The same is broadly true of workouts for any winter sport. More details on the winter athletic schedule are coming soon.)
We continue our expectation that a student will quarantine for 14 days if a teammate (BG or outside team) tests positive.
We will also continue to monitor exposures that occur within the school community. We are hopeful that the hockey community has addressed its safety issues. If we experience a wave of exposures via ice hockey, Bishop Guertin reserves the right to re-institute this restriction.
October 27, 2020
We are announcing two upcoming Professional Development days. Students will not have classes on these two days:
November 3 - Election Day - With COVID having many effects on the voting process, we want to provide the time and opportunity for staff and eligible students to vote during non-peak periods. We urge all community members who are eligible to vote to exercise this important civic responsibility.
November 13 - We will follow our "virtual" parent conference day (November 12; information coming soon) with a Professional Day on the 13th. This is a day that we generally take for Professional Development, but had waited to input into the school calendar given the uncertainty of the year.
Of course, we also are keeping a close eye on Friday's snowfall, which could amount to several inches. In case of a delay or cancellation, we would be likely to call a "remote" day for all cohorts/teachers.
October 23, 2020
We have been pleased to see a drop in the overall infection rates in our area, leaving Bishop Guertin's risk index around 80. Just as we waited for the upward trend to continue before transitioning to cohorts, we are now watching for the downward trend to be confirmed over the weekend. If this occurs, we will consider expanding our attendance to four cohorts next week, and then eventually to full attendance if rates continue to drop. We thank our community for its continued great work in taking precautions against COVID. (UPDATE 10/25: Based on case numbers on Friday/Saturday, we will continue with three cohorts to start the week.)
We also continue to monitor the situation involving ice hockey, with Massachusetts now placing a moratorium on the sport as well as New Hampshire. Should testing requirements be instituted as a future requirement, Bishop Guertin is confident in its ability to provide a prompt testing resource that will allow our students to participate.
October 20, 2020
As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, many have inquired about our plans for the holiday season.
Some schools and districts are transitioning to fully-remote in December or January to accommodate holiday travel. At this point, we do not expect to make a significant calendar adjustment. Our rationale: this approach provides the most flexibility while supporting travel guidelines and the overall safety of the community.
Since travel is a significant risk factor, we anticipate that many of our families will stay home this year. We will support these families by remaining in-person throughout December/January. Those who do decide to travel outside New England will individually be able to transition to remote learning for two weeks following their return.
As always, we will remain aware of cases in our area and adjust as necessary.
October 18, 2020
As we continue to monitor local infection rates, we do not have immediate plans to change our status. We have updated our dashboard to reflect the two key considerations - community spread and school impact - and help you to orient yourself to our current situation.
Many of our communities, as well as our overall average, are classified as "substantial" community spread. However, we have been fortunate to experience a low school impact. For this reason, it is deemed safe to remain in our current format, and we will do so for as long as possible.
Our status depends on all Cardinals. At the current community infection rates rise, a small number of cases could drive us to remote learning, as has occurred at a number of local schools. This shift, if it occurs, could occur rapidly. Please be cautious about risky activities that might bring COVID into our community and be vigilant in taking precautions (masks, distancing, avoiding gatherings, washing hands, staying home when sick). Remember that, as the winter months approach, even small indoor gatherings (limited gatherings of extended families, close friends) are becoming a point of concern for the spread of COVID.
Our community has taken ownership throughout the fall to make sure that COVID stops with a Cardinal. We especially need your help now!
October 15, 2020
This afternoon, Governor Sununu ordered that all ice hockey activities be paused throughout the state.
As discussed in today's press conference, the state has experienced substantial spread to the broader community that is connected to ice hockey. Over the last two months, ice hockey cases have included 158 cases, 23 different teams, and 8 outbreaks in New Hampshire. Hockey-related spread has led to the introduction of COVID into 24 different schools statewide, including Bishop Guertin. Within the Bishop Guertin community, we have experienced a number of quarantines of students who were exposed to COVID in the course of ice hockey participation. Additionally, beyond New Hampshire, our partner Brothers of the Sacred Heart schools have experienced substantial spread into their schools due to ice hockey.
Although our students participate in ice hockey across state lines, at Skate 3 and other venues, Bishop Guertin will be upholding the state restriction, regardless of location.
Effective immediately, all formal or informal Bishop Guertin ice hockey workouts/activities are prohibited.
Additionally, effective immediately, any student who participates in an ice hockey activity for any team/program, at any location, is required to quarantine and transition to remote learning for two weeks following the student's last participation in an ice hockey activity. (Students who participated in ice hockey activities prior to this communication do not need to quarantine. This condition goes into effect starting with this announcement. This includes all extracurricular activities.)
If your son/daughter must quarantine due to this requirement, please reach out to Mrs. Caito directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This condition will be added to the daily screening survey starting on October 16. Bishop Guertin will reevaluate this restriction once Governor Sununu's restriction is lifted and the underlying safety concerns are addressed to our satisfaction.
October 13, 2020
As we transition into "ORANGE" status, it is a good time to provide details about the considerations that guide decisions about school status. Also, many are asking what they can do to help maintain an in-person status at BG.
As we make these decisions, we are informed by our own planning as well as a set of guidelines released by the State of New Hampshire. This Department of Health and Human Services outlines two considerations for schools.
1. LEVEL OF COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION: Schools must consider the level of transmission in the communities that they serve. A typical statistic is the number of cases per 100,000 people. This is the "BG Risk Index" that is updated on our dashboard each day. The recent history is shown in the graph below. This number represents how many cases are in our students' communities, on average. It reflects the broad risk that a student or staff member would be infected. When a community experiences 50 or more cases per 100,000 people, that community is considered to have a "medium" level of community transmission. At 100 or more cases per 100,000 people, the community is classified as having a "high" level of transmission. At this writing, we are near the cutoff of a "high" level of transmission.
The state also uses test positivity rate (5% = medium; 10% = high) and hospitalization rate as additional indicators. These are also tracked on our dashboard. Positivity rates are currently increasing over time to match the increase in infections and currently sits at 4%. Hospitalizations generally lag infections by some days. This rate is currently very low.
2. LEVEL OF SCHOOL IMPACT: The state also asks schools to consider the direct impact of COVID. If a school has only experienced a low number of isolated cases, or no cases at all, it is considered to have a "low" school impact. If the school experiences a cluster, three related cases, it is classified as having a "medium" school impact. If the school has multiple clusters that cannot be linked, that means that COVID is likely spreading undetected, and the school is identified as having a "high" school impact. The state also asks schools to consider attendance rates. At Bishop Guertin, we have been fortunate to remain in the "low" school impact category all year. Our limited number of cases has remained contained due to all of our students' efforts.
These two considerations - community transmission and school impact - form the following decision matrix (color coding adjusted to match Bishop Guertin's operating modes):
Over the course of the year, we have followed the path marked by the arrow. We have seen increasing community transmission, but a low level of school impact. We find ourselves at the threshold of the lower right quadrant, which calls for "hybrid" learning, and we have therefore shifted to "ORANGE" status.
We all recognize that in-person instruction is critical. What do we need to consider moving forward?
Outside of our own individual choices, we cannot do much to influence community transmission. The sacrifices that our communities are willing to make and the priorities that we choose are decided by residents and by elected officials. The decisions carry many political and economic dilemmas.
At BG, we must focus on what we can control: we must avoid cases of COVID at BG to keep our "school impact" low. The margin of cases that would require a transition to full remote learning is very thin.
The steps we can take are not new, but they require us to re-focus our efforts. These include:
Maintain physical distancing, indoors and outside. Avoid physical contact with others. This is challenging for students to remember, but very important.
Wear masks at all times indoors, and whenever not eating outdoors. We have noticed that many students do not wear masks in social situations or when congregated outside. This is a risk.
Stay home and get tested* if you have any symptoms of COVID, even if minor. In 15-19 year old individuals with COVID, the most common symptoms are headache (50% of cases), cough (45%), fever (41%), loss of taste/smell (40%), and sore throat (38%).
Wash your hands regularly.
Avoid gatherings, especially indoors, and high-risk activities that have been shown to create a risk of COVID. Recent research (and a second recent study) has identified parties, restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, public transportation, and church gatherings as areas of concern.
None of these protections is 100% effective, but the gaps in one can be filled by the other strategies. A good metaphor for COVID precautions is a stack of Swiss cheese - every layer has holes, but the holes in one slice are covered up by the other layers.
At a time when many of us are weary of the sacrifices that COVID has required of us, it is important that we renew our focus on those things we can do to protect ourselves. We can continue to ensure that "COVID stops with a Cardinal." That is the path to keeping school open and in-person for as long as possible.
* Regarding testing, BG is finalizing an agreement that will make same-day PCR/antigen testing readily available to its students and staff. This will help facilitate our response and internal contact tracing if we have a case. It will also allow our families to avoid the urgent care wait times that currently exist for rapid testing. We have also received FDA approval to perform certain COVID tests on-site if these new rapid tests become available to us in the near future.
October 8, 2020
Starting on Tuesday, Nexdine will no longer be able to accommodate walk-in purchases at lunchtime. Please remember to order in advance using the app!
October 7, 2020
Starting on Tuesday, 10/13, Bishop Guertin will transition its status to "ORANGE 2," with three out of five cohorts (60%) of students attending each day. On Tuesday, Cohorts BCD will be in-person and Cohorts EA will be remote.
As discussed in last Friday's update, we have been monitoring the recent increase in cases in our region. We have seen our "risk index" increase to approximately 3-4 times the risk level of the start of the year. This next phase of our plan is an important way for us to keep our students, teachers, families, and broader community safe. Cohorts permit us to decrease the density of classrooms, shared spaces, and hallways.
Based on various projections for the fall/winter, we have anticipated that this phase would be necessary at certain times of year. This status shift does not have a particular end date. If we are fortunate to experience a substantial drop in cases during the days or weeks ahead, we will increase attendance as soon as possible. If we experience new cases, we may be forced to adjust our attendance downwards.
Please note that this decision is not tied to cases within Bishop Guertin High School. As of this message, we have not experienced additional cases. Cardinals can be assured that they have done their part to ensure the safety of our school community. As cases around us increase and we move indoors for the winter, our awareness of safety (masks, distancing, hand washing, isolating when sick) must also continue. Keep up the good work!
Here are some additional considerations:
We are postponing the freshman PSAT 8/9 that was scheduled for next Wednesday. The sophomore/junior/senior PSAT and SAT tests must be offered on Wednesday's date and will run as scheduled. The freshman exam can be rescheduled later in the year, and we will announce a date in the future. All freshmen should remain home on Wednesday.
This announcement does not affect athletics. However, if cases continue to increase, we will need to consider curtailing some athletic programs, starting with indoor and high-contact sports.
The daily schedule rotation/times will not be changing. We will continue with the current six period rotation for now.
Thank you for your trust and understanding as we make this change to maintain a safe environment for students and teachers. We are appreciative for the six weeks that we have been together as a full school community. We continue to thank our students, parents, and teachers for all of the hard work and sacrifices that have brought us to this point. Your efforts and your flexibility will continue to carry us through the year.
October 3, 2020
Several community members have inquired the large increase in local case rates that occurred on Friday. This jump was discussed in Governor Sununu's press conference on Thursday and covered by WMUR last night. It resulted from the addition of antigen tests (the "rapid" tests that are offered in urgent care centers) to the state totals. (An adjustment to the BG rate formula was made to address this change in reporting.)
The resulting rate is quite high (56 two week cases per 100K people), and would push us into orange status (cohorts). Because the other indicators remain within the state guidelines to operate at full capacity, we will maintain our yellow status for a few days (full occupancy) and monitor the trend over the course of the week.
Regardless of whether it occurs this week, or in several weeks, families should prepare themselves for the transition to cohorts. As we reach the colder season, it is almost certain that we will shift to cohorts, or even fully remote, for some periods of time. In recent weeks, the COVID hotspots have shifted to the north, and most projections suggest that the indoor season will bring more cases to the Northeast. Rather than trying to guess where we will be in November/December/January/February, we will maintain our flexible model, maximize in-person contact when it is safe, and rely on our cohort/remote options when cases increase.
Speaking of antigen testing, the Department of Health has released this map of rapid test locations that are available to the public. Because any new/unexplained symptoms (even minor symptoms such as a sore throat or congestion) require a student to stay home from school and get tested, a rapid test result can be the quickest way to get cleared. We recommend this option for anyone who is symptomatic. (Students who have symptoms, even minor, but do not get tested, are "presumed positive" and must isolate for an extended period.) Always call ahead to check about insurance coverage, rapid test availability, and wait time at a particular site - the format of these sites is continually changing.
As we get into cold/flu season, and as rapid testing options increase, this type of testing will be a significant and increasingly-utilized weapon in our arsenal against COVID.
September 29, 2020
As we approach the end of September, we are excited to complete our first full month of in-person school. For most of the month, we have been operating with our full student body. We thank students and parents for all your support and cooperation thus far.
As of today, we are moving beyond the quarantine period that resulted from our first two cases in the school. We are reassured by the fact that no related cases were reported. This suggests that our protocols helped to minimize the risk in school. We will remain vigilant, as we will likely see other cases during the school year.
Those who follow our data dashboard, as well as the local news, have noted that cases in our area have increased over the past few weeks. As of today, the "BG Risk Index" has increased to 46, doubling over the past three weeks. This statistic estimates the number of cases per 100,000 people in the towns from which we draw. There is more COVID in our communities compared to a month ago, which reflects a higher risk. It also means that more of our students are quarantined or isolated due to contacts with individuals who have COVID.
We are ready to implement cohorts if the rate of cases continues to increase. Other indicators are still encouraging (low test positivity rate, low hospitalization rate, minimal impact at BG), giving us a bit of a cushion from an immediate status change. However, we are prepared to implement the cohorts if our risk index significantly exceeds 50 (per the state recommendation) and appears to be continuing on an upwards trend. We will provide as much warning as possible, although a rapid change could occur in case of a sudden spike.
Certainly, we are hoping that the numbers peak and decline before we need to make that decision. However, we want the community to be aware of this possibility. We hope to remain fully in-person for as long as possible, but are also mindful of the safety of our students and teachers.
September 23, 2020
Here are a couple of assorted reminders and observations that are important for our families to keep in mind.
What can we expect of a quarantine situation?
At times during the year, it is likely that students will be quarantined due to suspected close contacts with COVID cases. The state's requirement (the "6/10/48" rule) is that we quarantine any individual who has been within six feet of an infected individual for ten minutes during the forty eight hours prior to the infected individual (1) displaying symptoms or (2) testing positive.
As we did last week, we will take the most cautious-possible approach when we learn of a case. Likely classroom contacts are quarantined immediately. Then, we will follow up with classroom measurements and further investigation to release as many students as possible from quarantine. For instance, last week, a number of quarantined students were cleared to return because their desks/seats were indeed more than six feet apart when measured due to distancing arrangements in the classrooms.
In case of sports where students mingle together both socially and athletically, we will generally quarantine the whole team as a precaution. Students may also be quarantined due to outside athletic contacts who tested positive for COVID. In the case of students on opposing teams, this decision will be reached based upon an assessment of the exposure risk.
Unless specifically stated, the BG quarantine follows the same conditions as the State of New Hampshire. This means that quarantine extends to other areas of a student's life. Quarantined students should not be working, participating in social gatherings, or otherwise circulating in the community. Generally, the Nashua Department of Public Health will be in contact with quarantined students.
We encourage families to discuss COVID testing with the School Nurse or their Primary Care Provider at any time. There are a number of testing locations around the state that can also be utilized. Testing can provide some peace of mind, but a negative test result does not waive the quarantine.
What steps are helpful in reducing the impact of exposures?
The events of last week generated many questions about ways that they can avoid exposures and protect the activities that are important to them. If all of us think in terms of reducing exposures, we can minimize our risk. Each individual's choices affect the community.
Here are some strategies that can help to protect our community:
Social distancing to the greatest extent possible and avoiding long time periods in close proximity to others (keeping in mind the "6/10/48" rule described above).
Stay home when sick and report any symptoms to the School Nurse immediately. Do not come to school until cleared to return , following testing recommendations as explained by the nurse and by your practitioner.
Avoiding social gatherings (parties or gatherings outside of school), as well as high-risk locations such as restaurants and public events. Recent research is showing that restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are associated with a higher risk of infection. Parents need to help us ensure that parties and gatherings are not held.
Voluntary quarantines are encouraged in cases when a student or parent recognizes that they might have been exposed outside of school.
Masks and gathering outdoors rather than indoors substantially reduce the chance of infections spreading within the school community.
Regular hand-washing (or use of hand sanitizer) and respiratory etiquette (sneezing into arm, cleaning hands after sneezing) help to reduce infections.
These strategies remain important ways to make sure that when a case occurs, it only involves a limited number of students.
Remember: your individual choices affect the entire school community. During these times, none of us can eliminate risks completely. However, your careful choices can greatly reduce the impact of COVID on our community.
Where should we seek information about any cases at Bishop Guertin?
As we have experienced our first cases and followed our protocols, we have been challenged by rumors and false information that arises, or by the rapid spread of partial information. The stakes riding on each report are truly high, but we are confident in the protocols that exist to protect our community. We are also committed to transparent and direct communication.
Amidst the situations that have arisen, we find that we are responding to speculation or unfounded panic that is generated. We've had to contend with some alarming, but untrue, rumors, and these rumors also circulate in the broader community. We urge you to be skeptical of rumors and wait for official communication before reaching out to the school or sharing information. At all times, our first priority will be to communicate with those directly affected by a situation so that the safety of the community can be ensured. Then, we will communicate as broadly, transparently, and clearly as possible to the whole community.
September 18, 2020
Here is a special announcement to close off the week:
September 16, 2020 - Notification
Bishop Guertin has been notified of a second student case of COVID that is related to the case reported on 9/15. The exposure likely occurred outside of school.
Any additional students who may have been exposed in school have already been contacted, and will shift to remote learning for 14 days. Additionally, one varsity team will shift to remote learning out of an abundance of caution. (The JV and Freshman teams in that sport are not quarantined based on risk assessment of no exposure; these students should continue to attend.)
As this case is directly linked to the existing case, and because the transmission likely occurred outside of school, this additional case likely does not reflect a substantial additional risk to the school community beyond yesterday's case. We will continue to closely monitor any cases and will share information as appropriate. We are still within the boundaries of "low impact" to the overall risk profile of the school, based on the guidelines established by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
(As this is related to yesterday's situation, please review the 9/15 notification for further details.)
September 16, 2020 - New Screening Policy
Effective on 9/17/2020, Bishop Guertin High School is adding the following fifth condition to the daily screening survey:
5. In the past 14 days, my son/daughter has not participated on (practice, game, locker room, team transportation) a non-BG athletic team that includes any player or coach who was diagnosed with COVID during the prior two weeks. Additionally, my son/daughter has not been in athletic contact or proximity with any individual (eg. an individual on an opposing team) who is known to have been diagnosed with COVID during the prior two weeks.
If a student-athlete is on a team and a COVID case is reported, the 14-day quarantine period begins with the Bishop Guertin student's last day of participation (game, practice, etc.) with the individual who tested positive. A negative test does not eliminate this quarantine.
This is an additional Bishop Guertin requirement that exceeds state guidelines. It has been added after consultation with local health officials about current transmission risks and clusters within youth sports leagues, as well as our own increasing awareness of inconsistent protocols for maintaining distancing, wearing masks, and handling cases that may exist in these leagues.
We anticipate implementing a similar internal standard for Bishop Guertin's own athletic teams if cases arise within those teams and their activities. This condition establishes an equivalent standard for out-of-school activities.
September 16, 2020 - Athletics Update
This update sets the stage for the start of athletic events.
We are in a fortunate position to be able to offer athletic programming during the fall of 2020. While many states in the northeast have curtailed various programs, New Hampshire has placed a priority on athletics, and we hope to offer athletics in all sports for as long as circumstances and infection rates permit. This is not likely to be a season of smooth sailing for teams or student-athletes, but we will do our best, always putting safety first.
In planning for athletics, the athletic directors in the state have developed shared protocols for games and events. For events that occur at Stellos Stadium or Bishop Guertin, we have finalized our protocols in collaboration with the Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Services. We will communicate these expectations by team during this week, as they vary depending on the venue and sport.
It is important to note that the student-athlete experience has been the top priority. The benefits of physical activity, competition, and team participation are all clear positive factors for our student-athletes. Holding athletics and prioritizing the student-athlete means many sacrifices. For instance, most of our home games will permit just a small number of guests per student. Guests will need to be screened at arrival. Parents and fans will typically not be able to attend away games. (We will attempt to livestream games whenever possible, but this is dependent on connections at venues.) Masks will be required at all times by all fans, and distancing must be maintained throughout the stands. We will not be able to permit tailgates, concessions, or other shared food at events. These protocols, while restrictive, are our only alternative to prohibiting fans altogether, or worse, not holding athletics at all.
Our protocols represent a consensus among athletic directors in the state and should be relatively consistent from venue to venue. Especially because many private leagues and tournaments have experienced relaxed expectations through the summer, we realize that this approach will seem restrictive. However, schools must be cautious because athletic exposures can affect the safety and smooth functioning of academic programs.
Because our protocols reflect a broad agreement among schools, we cannot negotiate the conditions. If an opponent that we play has a more open policy, or if we have an opportunity to be less restrictive, Mr. Brown will be sure to notify our parents and student-athletes prior to the games. We certainly hope that these opportunities present themselves.
As always, we recognize the inconveniences and disappointments of 2020, look forward to the opportunities we can provide, and we thank you for your understanding and support. We need your support in order to make the season a success!
September 15, 2020 - Notification
This afternoon, Bishop Guertin was informed that a current student has received a positive COVID test result.
A number of Bishop Guertin students were potentially exposed on Monday due to classroom or social contact. We have implemented the protocols that have been developed in anticipation of this situation.
Any potentially-exposed students were dismissed from school immediately, and will be completing the required 14-day quarantine period. (At this time, we have directly contacted all students who would have been considered exposed. Students who have not been contacted are not considered exposed. If other contacts are identified at a later point, we will reach out directly to those individuals/parents.)
We are actively working with and following guidelines from the Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Service. The Department has requested that we provide contact information for anyone who has been identified as having had close contact (within 6 feet for longer than 10 minutes) with the infected person.
Exposures do not mean that an individual is positive. Many of the protective steps that are in place - masks, distancing - are intended to mitigate these risks, as is intent of our quick response in quarantining all affected students.
All students should continue to monitor themselves for any symptoms, should stay out of school if they experience any symptoms, and should contact the school nurse immediately at email@example.com if symptoms do arise.
September 10, 2020
Today, we have three significant updates. First, in response to a number of situations that have arisen, we've developed a concise guide to how to respond to common COVID scenarios. Secondly, starting next week, we are adjusting our daily schedule to reflect a more "normal" 6-period rotation. Finally, we are changing to "assigned" student parking, as the lot is filling up - students should park in the numbered slot on their tag. We have some requests and suggestions to improve traffic flow.
Responding to COVID
It is likely that over the coming months, most of us will face some contact or exposure involving COVID. As we learn more about the illness, we learn that many of these circumstances are not a reason to overreact or panic, but they do need a specific response on our part. In order to keep the school community safe, these are our guidelines for responding to COVID if it arises in your sphere. These guidelines are consistent with the guidance of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
The preferred way to reach Nurse Kerry Turner is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Close contact is defined as sharing a household or being within six feet for 10 minutes, whether at once or cumulatively.
COVID-19 symptoms here include: fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion, muscle or body aches, fatigue, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.
Daily Schedule Update
As noted over the summer, when in "yellow" status, we are choosing between a 6-period schedule like our traditional daily schedule and an 8-period schedule like the one we have been running. Based on our assessment of the year thus far, along with the feedback of students and teachers, we have decided to return to a more "normal" 6-period schedule, starting on Monday, 9/14. We feel that this is the best option for maintaining normalcy, continuity, and quality instruction.
Please note that the rotation is different from how it has been in the past. Each day will pick up where the last day left off. We will fit special events into this schedule so that the class times do not change. MyBG has been updated for the next two weeks so that you can see how this will work for your own schedule.
We will continue to evaluate the optimal schedule, and will consider a change if we find ourselves in extended period of "orange" or "red" at some point during the year.
Thank you for your flexibility as we make adjustments to optimize the way that we serve students during this unusual year!
Parking and Traffic
Starting on Friday, 9/11, students who drive to school should park in their numbered slots, according to their parking tag. As we approach full occupancy, using assigned spots will improve the traffic flow into school by reducing "hunting" for spaces.
Recently, it has been observed that the traffic in the Lund/Almont area has been heavier than in the past. Please remember to follow this traffic flow:
A note on parking - in the morning, the LEFT turn out of the parking lot onto Almont Street after drop-off can be a challenge. This will only get more challenging when Nashua reopens the middle school up the road. We encourage you to turn RIGHT from the Bishop Guertin lot, and either take a left on a side street to rejoin Lund Rd. or follow Almont St. to Lake St. Depending on which way you are heading, it may be quicker to return to the highway via the Exit 5 interchange.
Thank you for your patience. Every year brings delays with traffic and parking, and this is only exacerbated by the timing changes related to COVID.
September 8, 2020
We hope you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend. Thank you for your safe and socially-distanced activities during the holiday.
Today, we continued building our comfort level with full occupancy. We appreciate the cooperativeness and investment of our students in making this process a success so far. There are still improvements and refinements to be made. As we hope that we are settling into a routine (for as long as it lasts) this will be the last "daily" update for now. Further updates will be on an "as-needed" basis.
Of course, we will continue to update the COVID page with new information throughout the year and our dashboard will offer information about where we stand relative to state guidelines. We will email significant updates that arise.
As we build on a strong start, we know that the year will bring challenges. We are ready to be flexible and make adjustments in the interests of safety and the optimal formation of our students. Thank you for all your help in ensuring that COVID stops with a Cardinal!
Notes for today:
Good luck to all of our athletic teams as they begin their seasons!
We apologize for conflicting information regarding events of this week. Our original calendar listed a Freshman Parent Orientation for this evening, and a Back to School Night for next week. These events were postponed in August to allow the faculty and staff to fully devote itself to the reopening of the school, and due to the challenges of holding large groupings of people. As we enter a rhythm for the year, we will be looking to reschedule these events in the coming weeks, likely in a virtual/hybrid format. We will send details once they are finalized.
All parents have been sent a survey regarding early dismissal of students. It will appear when the parent logs into MyBG, much like the daily COVID screening. This year, we are offering students the ability to sign out when they have a last-period study hall. In order for the student to do so, the parent must give one-time permission to allow the student to sign out. This is done by completing the form. If you do not wish for your student to sign out, simply omit completing the form. If there are changes at any point, contact Mrs. Caito at email@example.com.
September 3, 2020
Thank you for your support and flexibility over the past two weeks. We are pleased with our reopening process thus far. We know that we must remain vigilant. We will continue to refine the flow of the day to provide for an optimal student experience. We hope that you and your family enjoy a great Labor Day weekend! (Please remember that there is no school TOMORROW, Friday. This is part of our Labor Day Recess.)
I ask for your mindfulness, support, and assistance in avoiding high-risk activities over the long weekend. Other holiday weekends, including Memorial Day and Independence Day, have served as the acceleration points for COVID outbreaks in certain parts of the country. Our success as a school will only continue if all of our families avoid travel, high-risk activities, and congested gatherings (particularly indoors or without masks). A single gathering or event could cut short our reopening if one or more students arrives at school infected. Please make safety a priority as you make plans for Labor Day. We need your help.
As in March, the past two weeks have represented a heroic investment on the part of our faculty as they have adjusted to new instructional formats, schedules, pandemic precautions, and many other changes. We are asking our teachers to take a true break and spend some time with their families over the weekend. Please note that faculty/staff members have been asked to step away from their screens and to take a break from email over the weekend; any emails will receive a response when we open on Tuesday. Thank you for supporting this opportunity for our teachers to recharge from the start of school.
We close the week with a number of miscellaneous updates.
We will be making a slight adjustment to the daily schedule. This change will shift five minutes from the morning break to lunchtime. This additional time at lunch will accommodate/encourage students to spread out on campus.
We have experienced an increase in students who are being called in to shift to remote learning for a single day. Please note that the intent of remote learning is to support students who cannot be in the building over a period of time due to concerns about COVID. Starting on Monday, requests for remote learning that were not sent in by the day before will be classified as absences. Students who are absent are still welcome to attend classes remotely so they do not fall behind, but they will not be eligible for extracurriculars, and the absence will be recorded. The only exception will be in the case of a medically-advised quarantine/isolation situation due to a COVID exposure or symptoms that occurred overnight.
We are not able to support/entertain/permit deliveries at lunch. This was an enterprising idea for the first students who tried it. As delivery attempts increased, we are not able manage the convergence of DoorDash drivers on the school campus at the start of lunch. Inevitably, deliveries will be misdirected or lost. For security and safety purposes, it is also important to minimize traffic in the parking lot during lunchtimes.
Please remember that visitors to the school should contact the individual whom they intend to meet prior to their arrival. While we can permit drop-offs / pick-ups of items in the front office, we are required to minimize the traffic of individuals through the building. Wherever possible, we will handle meetings via Zoom or phone call.
We are approaching the start of athletic season. A summary of fall sports tryout times is available. Please be sure that sign-ups have been completed - these sign-ups are integral to our process in case of a COVID exposure or case on a team.
Starting next week, we will be introducing an early dismissal process by which students who have a last period study will be able to check out of school. There will be two steps: (1) before the first time, parents will need to sign off on an approval to allow their student to sign out, and (2) every time, the student will sign with their study hall proctor. Students who sign out early are asked to depart the building/campus and avoid disrupting academic activities in the building. Students who drive should exit directly to their vehicles. Students who are picked up should meet their ride in the front loop. Students who have an extracurricular activity immediately after school should not dismiss themselves. (As the year continues, the periods of the day will rotate in such a way that all students will eventually have the opportunity to take advantage of this.)
September 2, 2020
As Mr. Cote announced at the end of the day, tomorrow will mark our first return to full attendance by all cohorts.
The past two weeks have been focused on establishing a framework for success. The faculty has invested an amazing effort in the classroom with little downtime for planning or breaks, students have been incredibly cooperative with the many changes we’ve asked of them, and we have also enjoyed a bit of luck and good grace from above. As we conclude a strong week, we feel confident that a foundation is in place.
With that said, I must emphasize: we are glad to announce this next step, but this is not the time for us to sit back and celebrate. Reopening is the starting line of a marathon and not the finish line of a sprint.
COVID is fueled by complacency. The burden and opportunity weighs on all of us – students, teachers, parents – to recommit ourselves each day to keeping COVID at bay at Bishop Guertin. Opening school is easy. The hard part lies ahead. We now have to make this sustainable. We will have cases, quarantines, and periods of higher community spread. We each have the ability to control the impact of these events on our community. Keeping school open this year will require a dedicated and sustained effort by every member of our community to make sacrifices and act thoughtfully to protect the whole community.
As our theme reminds us, the challenge ahead of us defines COMMUNITY – doing something together that makes belonging matter. It remains our shared responsibility to make sure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL.
September 1, 2020
We are confirming that tomorrow will be a four-cohort day, COHORTS C, D, E, and A will be in-person and COHORT B will be remote.
If we continue with four cohorts, Thursday will involve COHORTS B, C, D, and E in-person and COHORT A will be remote.
Today was a good day, overall. With the increased number of students, we identified some parts of the school that are becoming congested. We are in the process of addressing these, and will benefit from an additional day to refine and adjust. Students are doing a great job supporting the mask requirements indoors. Some students still need to distance when outdoors - with the increased number of students on campus, these habits will need to be demonstrated before we progress to the next level of occupancy.
Yesterday's email included an error: the correct contact information for Mr. Christman from Nexdine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Mr. Christman with any dining-related questions or concerns.
Please be aware that, due to increased enrollment at the start of school, we have been monitoring class sizes in certain classrooms. In a couple of instances, we have decided to add extra class sections to reduce class sizes. These new classes may involve a schedule change for a limited number of students. We feel that the immediate inconvenience will be outweighed by the educational and safety benefits of being in a smaller class for the year. You will be contacted if this affects you; otherwise, this does not impact you.
Finally, as of today, the state has released guidelines for schools to use in deciding whether to open for the fall. Fortunately, the guidance agrees with the decision we made a few weeks ago. With this guidance now released, we will be adding a "dashboard" to the COVID page. This regularly-updated page will allow you to track where Bishop Guertin stands relative to these guidelines at any point in time. As noted, the state's guidance firmly supports our decision to (1) open in-person, and (2) pursue 100% live and in-person instruction.
August 31, 2020
Thank you to our students for another great day! Students have been incredibly supportive of our mask expectations, and are getting better each day about distancing and hallway flow. The only significant challenge came at our break period; we are working to improve traffic flow during this time so that students are appropriately distanced, can get some air outside, and can get back to class in a timely manner.
Based on our successful day, we are moving up to 80% occupancy - 4 cohorts - tomorrow. Tomorrow, COHORTS D, E, A, B will be in-person and COHORT C will be remote. As always, depending on how this next step progresses, it is possible that we may spend a few days at 80%. If so, Wednesday would involve COHORTS C, D, E, A in-person and COHORT B would be remote. Stay tuned!
As we establish our new normal, there are certain questions that will arise often. We are working to direct certain questions to key individuals so that we can give consistent guidance and support to our families.
Here are some guidelines about whom to contact regarding each issue, and best way to reach them:
Attendance, cohort assignments, remote vs. in-person learning - Mrs. Amy Caito, Attendance Officer (email@example.com)
Symptoms, daily screening (medical questions), quarantine or exposure concerns, medical questions - Mrs. Kerry Turner, School Nurse (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lunch/dining ordering, billing, payment - Mr. Patrick Christman, Nexdine Manager (email@example.com) LINK CORRECTED 9/1
Classroom technical support - remote learning, Zoom, etc. - Mr. Steve Duprat, Technology Support Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MyBG issues, logins, daily screening (technical questions) - Ms. Ellen Gillis, Registrar (email@example.com)
Regarding meals and cohorts, please note that meals may be charged and refunded over the course of the day if your cohort was not in school. The balance at the end of the day should reflect whether/not your cohort was in school.
August 28, 2020 - Afternoon Update
Congratulations to our Cardinals on a terrific first week of school! Today, we scaled up to a bit below 50% of our student body and were extremely pleased with the flow of the day. Students remain outstanding in their mask usage and are gaining a comfort level with outdoor distancing.
As we enter our second week, the goal is to continue increasing our population. We will use COHORTS to do so. On Monday, we will invite COHORTS A, B, and C to attend in-person and COHORTS D, E to attend remotely. On Tuesday, COHORTS D, E, and A will attend in person, at a minimum. Once we feel comfortable with the flow of three cohorts, we will add a fourth cohort, and then add the last cohort to bring us to 100%. We anticipate that these steps can/should occur quickly over just a few days if our excellent start continues.
Since there is uncertainty involving the attendance of particular cohorts each week, students who order lunch assume that their cohort will be attending a particular day. Nexdine is aware of the cohort assignments. If the cohort does not attend, the lunch will not be made and students will not be billed.
Congratulations to our whole community - this week would not have been possible without hard work and flexibility by our dedicated teachers, the support of our parents, and the enthusiastic participation of our student body.
Have a great weekend! Welcome home!
August 28, 2020 - Morning Update
Expect information tonight or early in the weekend about the next phases of our reopening. If all goes well with two grades in the building, we will continue "leveling up" at the start of next week, hopefully reaching full occupancy over a few days.
In preparation for next week, and for higher populations of students, we are adjusting our daily schedule slightly.
Lunchtime is the most difficult period of the day with regard to social distancing. We are splitting lunch so that two sessions are held, cutting in half the number of students who need to distance. Otherwise, next week's schedule is unchanged.
August 27, 2020
We have been extremely proud of the response of the student body to our reopening process. The sophomore class today continued a great first week, and we look forward to welcoming our freshmen back to campus on Friday. We're looking forward to seeing the Class of 2024 build on a great school-wide performance thus far.
We have made one change to our in-person/remote rotation. Seniors, we are shifting you to attend in-person on Friday. Due to the strong efforts of the seniors on Tuesday, and the overall positive response of our students throughout the week, we have decided to "scale up" the attendance on Friday to include all seniors. We would also like to have the seniors with us to serve as role models and to be of assistance to the freshmen. We believe that a school occupancy of 50% is a good next step as we complete this week and look ahead to next week. (Seniors who need to attend remotely due to prior conflicts are asked to email Mrs. Caito.)
At the end of the day on Friday, we will be making a determination about the scheduling arrangements for the start of next week. If all goes well, we will be continuing to scale up our occupancy.
We remind our students that continued vigilance and attention is important as we develop the habits needed for a safe and productive school year. As the novelty wears off and we embrace this new normal, we must continue to be intentional in keeping our school community safe.
Reminders for FRIDAY:
FRESHMEN and SENIORS are attending in-person (polos permitted/encouraged).
SOPHOMORES and JUNIORS are attending remotely via the Zoom link on MyBG (RESOURCES tab > Zoom Classrooms, BG polo).
Freshman and senior parents will receive a reminder in the morning to log into MyBG and certify your son/daughter's COVID temperature screening and other conditions.
Advisory begins at 7:40 AM. Students who visit lockers should do so before 7:35 AM. Students are encouraged to visit lockers and then congregate outdoors or spread throughout the building. Students being picked up are encouraged to arrange afternoon pickup as close to the end of school (2:30) as possible.
Students should check MyBG, as there have been some changes made to schedules/rooms.
Let's finish the week strongly!
August 27, 2020 - Notification - Updated 2:10 PM
Bishop Guertin asked a group of student-athletes to shift to remote instruction today due to a potential COVID exposure. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to allow the situation to be evaluated by health officials and the school.
These students participated in a workout on Monday, August 24 that was conducted at Bishop Guertin. The instructor was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 on the evening of August 26. (The instructor is not employed by Bishop Guertin.) The workout was conducted outdoors and with distancing and was brief in duration. Students who were not contacted were not in programs that were involved.
Following a review by the Nashua Department of Public Health, it has been determined that this situation did not meet the criteria for an exposure or 14-day quarantine. The students and staff have been cleared to return to school.
While this is our first situation of this nature, it will likely not be the last. We have expected and planned for the need to occasionally quarantine or isolate individuals or groups. We will apply a cautious approach at all times, knowing that the infrastructure is in place for quarantined individuals to continue teaching and learning.
August 26, 2020
To promote effective communication, we will continue these daily updates throughout our "phase in" of back-to-school.
We were excited to welcome the junior class back to school. They built on a strong foundation established by the senior class. Juniors were outstanding in their adherence to mask and distancing requirements in the building.
Some new habits still need to be reinforced, especially mask/distancing etiquette outdoors. Students should keep in mind that masks may only be removed outdoors IF distancing exists from other individuals.
The junior class was flexible and patient with a mix-up that occurred with lunch distribution. We also experienced a technical glitch that led to the daily screening survey being sent late. Our apologies - both issues have now been sorted out. Additionally, we have identified several minor adjustments to our daily schedule that will go into effect next week. All of these refinements speak to our reasons for phasing in our student body gradually at the start of the year.
Thank you, juniors, for your flexibility and strong efforts today! The sophomores are up next.
Reminders for THURSDAY:
SOPHOMORES are attending in-person (oxford, with tie for gentlemen, for pictures).
FRESHMEN, JUNIORS, and SENIORS are attending remotely via the Zoom link on MyBG (RESOURCES tab > Zoom Classrooms, BG polo).
Sophomore parents will receive a reminder in the morning to log into MyBG and certify your son/daughter's COVID temperature screening and other conditions.
Advisory begins at 7:40 AM. Sophomores who visit lockers should do so before 7:35 AM. Students are encouraged to visit lockers and then congregate outdoors or spread throughout the building. Sophomores are encouraged to arrange afternoon pickup as close to the end of school (2:30) as possible.
Thank you to all for your ongoing patience and flexibility as we continue our successful reopening.
August 25, 2020
Today, our seniors enthusiastically accepted the challenge of leading Bishop Guertin back to in-person learning.
The Class of 2021 assumed ownership for making the most of all the changes that we have made. We offered exceedingly few reminders regarding masks and distancing; seniors were responsive to feedback and provided excellent suggestions. We couldn't be prouder of our seniors for taking ownership and setting the standard for our re-opening. Thank you, seniors!
In addition to our seniors, we must thank our teachers and staff for all the hard work invested in making today a success!
The Class of 2022 has been given a tough act to follow. Tomorrow, we expect the juniors to step up to the challenge to FILL THE NEST and KEEP IT FILLED throughout the year.
Reminders for WEDNESDAY:
JUNIORS are attending in-person (oxford, with tie for gentlemen, for pictures).
FRESHMEN, SOPHOMORES, SENIORS are attending remotely via the Zoom link on MyBG (RESOURCES tab > Zoom Classrooms, BG polo).
Junior parents will receive a reminder in the morning to log into MyBG and certify your son/daughter's COVID temperature screening and other conditions.
Advisory begins at 7:40 AM. Juniors who visit lockers should do so before 7:35 AM.
Together, we continue our yearlong challenge to ensure that COVID STOPS WITH A CARDINAL! Keep up the great work!
August 24, 2020
Reminders for Tuesday:
SENIORS are attending in-person (oxford, with tie for gentlemen, for pictures)
FRESHMEN, SOPHOMORES, JUNIORS are attending remotely via the Zoom link on MyBG (RESOURCES tab > Zoom Classrooms, BG polo)
Senior parents will receive a reminder in the morning to log into MyBG and certify your son/daughter's COVID screening.
Advisory begins at 7:40 AM. Seniors who visit lockers should do so before 7:35 AM.
See you tomorrow!
August 22, 2020
Bishop Guertin's hallway traffic flow plans are shown below. Please note that the main halls are one-directional. In general, Ground Floor traffic is two-way. Traffic on the first and second floors follows two loops - out/up on the First Floor and in/down on the Second Floor. Students will often take indirect routes to classes to avoid congestion.
Traffic flow rules only apply before classes. After school and during class times, all hallways are two-directional. Additionally, regular emergency evacuation routes are in effect in case of an evacuation.
August 21, 2020
Meal Ordering Process
Students wishing to order school lunch may place a pre-order from Nexdine. (Meal ordering is still open for next week.) Meals may be ordered from www.mykidsspending.com by selecting the ORDER MEALS option to the lefthand side of your account balance line. If you have questions about www.mykidsspending.com, please review these Frequently Asked Questions.
Remote Access to Classes
Any student attending classes remotely should join their classes via a link to the classroom camera system.
Make sure that you have Zoom installed on your computer.
Log in to MyBG.
Select the MY DAY >> SCHEDULE tab at the top. Note the room numbers of your classes in the "details" column. (Schedules are not published yet; this page will be populated at the start of the week.)
Select the RESOURCES tab at the top.
Select the blue ZOOM CLASSROOMS button.
Find the classroom number matching the class you wish to join. If the class is not online yet, wait for the session to begin. If you have difficulty, contact Mr. Duprat.
Procedure for Positive Cases
The New Hampshire Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services have released this flowchart, which explains the procedure that will be followed in case of positive cases within a school. The school will report any cases to the public health department, which will commence its investigation and provide guidance about quarantine and isolation.
August 20, 2020
We are looking forward to the start of classes next week. During the closing days of the summer, we have learned lessons from schools and colleges that have already reopened around the country. We are now ready to release details about the format of the first week of school.
Below, you will find:
The rationale for our final decision to re-open in-person.
Information about our phased re-opening during the week of August 24.
An invitation for students in Grades 10-12 to attend a "first day walkthrough" online meeting on this Sunday evening.
Students will return to a different school environment from the one they left 165 days ago. It has been nearly half a year since we experienced a normal school day. Now, there will be new traffic flow patterns, expectations about masks and social distancing, a new protocol for lunch, a new daily schedule, comprehensive classroom and schoolwide precautions, and remote learning options for many students. While there is excitement and enthusiasm, there is also much fear, uncertainty, and anxiety for students, parents, and teachers.
Despite all that has changed on the surface, the essential hallmarks of Bishop Guertin remain stronger than ever: academic integrity, supportive community, values grounded in faith, and a shared responsibility among all Cardinals to ensure that every student will be known, valued, and treasured. These commitments will carry us through these times.
Safety: The Essential Question
Is it responsible, safe, and appropriate to return to in-person instruction? Yes. We have monitored the school reopening guidance published by numerous states and organizations. Our region is fortunate to be at a low level of infection thanks to sacrifices made this spring and summer.
To date, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has not published quantitative guidance about safe levels of infection for reopening schools. A few miles to the south of us, Massachusetts has indicated that schools should generally reopen in-person if there are fewer than 4 average daily cases per 100,000 people in a community. (Among states, Massachusetts has set a relatively cautious guideline.)
At present, we draw from 35 communities in NH and MA. Daily, we gather data and calculate metrics specific to Bishop Guertin's student body. As of last night, Bishop Guertin's communities averaged fewer than 1.91 average daily cases per 100,000 people, well below the Massachusetts cutoff for in-person instruction. (For reference, the hardest hit counties in the US are in the 70's, 80's, 90's, or even higher, in their daily cases per 100,000 people. We would never be open in-person under those circumstances.)
Clearly, our scenario is much more secure than other parts of the country. That does not mean there is no risk. During the year, we will experience cases of COVID in our school community, we will contend with quarantines of teachers or students, and we will need to act each day to ensure that any cases do not become widespread outbreaks that affect our students, teachers, and families. Our first case could occur on the first day of school, or it could arrive weeks or months from now. For that reason, we must start the year strong and build the right habits and culture. And, we will be ready to respond effectively when cases do emerge.
First Week Attendance in Phases
In recent days, several "best practices" have emerged regarding reopening schools and colleges for in-person instruction. Many institutions have discovered the importance of bringing back students gradually so that new procedures can be learned before the full school population is present. States have experienced similar success with gradual reopenings following the spring's lockdowns.
We are opening the year with an Orientation Week by grade. During the first week, we will rotate students through campus by grade level to permit the opportunity to adjust to being back in school under these new circumstances. Having already held several in-person events with students, we observe that we will need to reinforce new habits around the importance of masks and distancing. It is essential that we build a strong foundation and culture that embraces these safety requirements if we are to have a safe, in-person school year.
We know that students are eager to return. For the first week, we decided to offer students the opportunity to be together with their classmates, rather than a random grouping in cohorts. This means that classrooms will be near their full capacity, but public spaces (hallways, locker rooms, etc.) will be at 25%.
This will still be an academic week; all classes will meet each day. Each grade level will attend their classes in school on one day next week, while attending remotely (live via the new videoconferencing technology) on the other three days. Thus, we will ease into in-person learning while still enabling each student to see each teacher/class every day. Meanwhile, all students/teachers will gain proficiency on our remote setup so that we can seamlessly transition to remote learning if necessary later. (Students are eligible for in-person sports or activities on any day that they attended school remotely or in-person.)
School pictures will be taken on the day when the particular grade level is "in person," and oxfords (with ties for gentlemen) will be required during the picture. Students who have selected fully-remote learning will also have the opportunity to come in for pictures at any time on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
The schedule for the week of 8/24 will be as follows:
Monday - Freshman Orientation (morning) - oxfords, Transfer Orientation (afternoon), Senior Kickoff (evening)
Tuesday - SENIORS in school - oxfords; others virtual attendance
Wednesday - JUNIORS in school - oxfords; others virtual attendance
Thursday - SOPHOMORES in school - oxfords; others virtual attendance
Friday - FRESHMEN in school; others virtual attendance
Tuesday through Thursday will use the eight-period schedule that was published yesterday. When students are remote, they will join Zoom through the link to the classroom camera videoconferencing system. This link is found by clicking the Zoom button on the RESOURCES tab of MyBG.
On each day of in-person attendance, the parent will be responsible for filling out a screening survey that will be sent in the morning through MyBG. This daily screening is required for any student who attends school in-person at any school in New Hampshire. Per state and CDC recommendations, we are asking parents to serve as screeners for their students.
Student Walkthrough (Grades 10-12) on Sunday Night (8/23)
The experiences of other schools have also demonstrated the importance of preparing students for the first day on campus prior to their arrival. Otherwise, the exuberance of being back on campus can get in the way of effective communication.
On Sunday evening at 7 pm, we will hold a Zoom meeting for students in Grades 10-12. This meeting will cover the various changes to the school day that can be expected. This meeting will also be livestreamed on Youtube and available later for any family that is unable to attend due to prior plans. (We recognize that this is a late notice. This meeting is a late addition to the plan.)
Whether live or at the start of the week, it is important that all students in Grades 10-12 (new and returning) watch this meeting prior to the first day of school in-person.
Students in Grade 9 are welcome, but might find the meeting confusing due to lack of prior familiarity with the flow of the day. All relevant procedures for freshmen will be covered at Boot Camp today and at the Orientation program on Monday. Transfer students will have an opportunity to ask any questions at the Transfer Orientation on Monday.
Plans Moving Forward
Based on the smooth flow of our new procedures, and assuming strong buy-in to social distancing and mask wearing, we will increase the in-school population during the subsequent week, the week of 8/31, aiming to reach YELLOW (100%) occupancy. If difficulties arise, we will go more slowly. We will provide transparent feedback on successes and challenges throughout the week.
We know that students are looking forward to being back in-person. We are confident that by starting slowly and getting our procedures and culture right, we will be able to overcome any challenges that arise. As Governor Sununu has noted, opening schools is easy; staying open through the fall and winter will be more difficult. We are confident that next week's program will establish a strong foundation for our continued return to in-person instruction.
We are ready. Our students and teachers are up to the challenges before us.
We are truly excited to welcome the Cardinals back to the Nest!
August 19, 2020
Student cohort assignments have been sent out via email. Shortly, these will also be viewable within the MyBG platform under the student's contact card.
We have established our starting daily schedule (PRINTABLE). There will be two "types" of days - Green Days and Gold Days. All classes will meet on each day. There will be four long periods in the morning and four short periods in the afternoon.
Students participating remotely will attend classes virtually / live on Zoom. The RESOURCE tab on MyBG now contains a Zoom button that includes links to each classroom's videoconferencing unit. Students will choose the Zoom link based on the assigned room in their schedule.
Students will be able to access lockers during the BREAK and LUNCH periods. Details about lunch are coming very soon. Students who have brought lunches will be asked to bring them to Period 4/8. Students will also have the opportunity to order lunches, which will be delivered to Period 4/8.
Homework load is being managed by the faculty to prevent the 33% increase in the daily homework that might otherwise result.
As with all things COVID, this schedule will apply until it is revised/changed!
August 17, 2020
Here is a video explaining the cohorts model. This model will be used in an ORANGE scenario to adjust the number of students in the school, as dictated by the epidemiological situation and school status at any given point. This week, families will be receiving an email confirming their assigned cohort.
August 13, 2020
Please see below for the Back to School Letter sent to all parents.
Back to School Letter
With the school year approaching quickly, I am writing with some important Back to School information.
KEY DATES AND TIMES
Friday, August 14 - 8:00 PM - Back to School Movie Night - Open to All Students. Bring your chairs, snacks, and masks to the back parking lot for a socially-distanced night under the stars watching Jumaniji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Thursday, August 20 - 1:00 - 3:00 PM - Freshman Boot Camp. Optional (but strongly encouraged) opportunity for freshmen to meet new friends and take care of starting logistics. Freshmen should bring computers/learning devices. Casual dress. Drop off at Gym.
Monday, August 24 - 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM - Freshman Orientation. No books or learning devices are needed. Lunch provided. Full dress code, including oxfords (with ties for gentlemen), is required for school photographs. Drop off at Gym.
Monday, August 24 - 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM - Transfer Orientation. Keegan Leadership Center on the ground level. Bring computers/learning devices. Casual dress.
Monday, August 24 - 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM - Senior Kickoff Dinner. All seniors invited/envouraged to attend. Outdoors, weather permitting. Casual dress. Dinner provided.
Tuesday, August 25 - First Day of School for all Classes. Oxfords/full dress code (ties included) for school photographs for all students.
Freshmen must be in full dress code on Monday (8/24) and Tuesday (8/25), including oxfords (ties for gentlemen). Photos will be taken on Monday during Orientation.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors should be in full dress code, including oxfords (ties for gentlemen), on Tuesday. Photos will be taken during Academic Period on Tuesday for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
On the day of photographs, students should bring the envelope that was sent to them by Mark Lawrence, the school photographer.
Masks are required for all events.
Parents and students are expected and encouraged to check the COVID-19 page daily. Keeping up-to-date on our COVID response is the responsibility of the parent and student. Many updates about the start of school will be posted there.
As of today, we would start in YELLOW, but cases are pushing up in some areas and we may adjust.
Next week, families will be notified about which cohort they will be assigned to. These assignments are based on the survey that you completed. In case we shift to ORANGE status, an announcement will be sent out by email indicating which cohorts will attend on each day.
Please consult the school's dress code when shopping for school. Parents and students are reminded that shoes should be leather or suede dress shoes that do not have a "sneaker" sole or style. There is often confusion about fabric shoes, especially Sperry shoes or similar styles that are not made of leather. Thank you for your help in reminding your child of the shoe dress code.
After Tuesday (8/25), ties will not be required for gentlemen when oxfords are worn. This dress code adjustment will apply until the mask requirement is lifted.
Students participating in remote learning are required to wear the Bishop Guertin polo shirt or oxford and keep cameras turned on during class.
Students should be attentive to their summer reading. They will be assessed and graded at the start of school. Summer reading information may be found online.
Families who are interested in utilizing our various bus options are encouraged to sign up immediately.
Students residing outside Nashua may be able to take advantage of our Student Transportation of America service while those who live in Nashua may take advantage of the local school district transportation options. Please visit our Transportation Page for more information.
To sign up for Student Transportation of America, families should contact (603) 668-2878.
The Nashua School District will continue to offer transportation to students residing in Nashua. In the mornings, students ride their neighborhood high school bus to either Nashua North or South, and will then take a shuttle bus from either school to Bishop Guertin. In the afternoon, buses will leave BG at 3:30 PM to drop students off near their home. Bus passes may be obtained via the Nashua School District's Transportation Office at 966-1055 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bus schedules may be adjusted due to the Nashua School District's COVID plans.
PICK UP / DROP OFF
In order to accommodate the one way traffic flow, students being dropped off will enter by the gym and/or field house entrances at the end of the loop in the front of the school. Students should not be dropped off at the Main Lobby or on the first half of the loop. Students driving to school will enter through the cafeteria or locker rooms.
With the recent announcement by the NHIAA that the fall season will start on 9/8, we are making plans to maximize our student-athletes' experience for the season. Currently, we are planning to start after-school programming on 8/24 to coincide with the opening of school. The exact times and locations are still being worked out. Official practices and tryouts will start on 9/8. The game schedules are still being developed. They will be completed as other schools determine their plans for fall sports.
We are very excited to announce that we have partnered with FinalForms, an online forms and data management service. FinalForms allows you to complete and sign athletic participation forms for your students. The most exciting news is that FinalForms saves data from season-to-season and year-to-year, meaning that you will never need to enter the same information twice! FinalForms also pre-populates information wherever possible for each of your students, saving you time. This new process for registration will help us to equip our coaches with emergency medical information, track eligibility and manage student data more efficiently.
Click on the Parent Playbook to get started in FinalForms. If you require any support during the process, scroll to the page bottom and click “Use Support”.
We are asking that anyone interested in participating in fall athletics register on FinalForms. Please register at https://bishopguertin-nh.finalforms.com/ and electronically complete ALL forms! This is a prerequisite of participation. We would like to have registration completed ASAP!
"BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE" RECOMMENDATIONS
All students are expected to bring an electronic personal learning device to school each day. A personal learning device should include a keyboard. During the pandemic, personal learning devices are absolutely necessary.
Rather than adopting a single technology platform (eg. iPad, laptop), Bishop Guertin encourages each student to bring the “personal learning device” that best meets his/her individual needs.
We will continue our policy of permitting the use of phones and other devices in the first floor common spaces (academic locker rooms and cafeteria) but ask students to leave their phones in their lockers during academic classes.
PARTNERSHIP AND COMMUNICATION
As we embark on this unique school year, I close with my usual comment about partnership, which is more essential than ever during times of great uncertainty and fear.
We look forward to a great year working in partnership with you towards the formation of your daughters and sons. Good communication is important. For your convenience, please reference our Whom to Contact List to guide you if you need to reach out. Generally, the individual listed with each topic will be the best person to resolve the matter, or can connect you with the best resource(s) as needed.
When problems arise, we recommend that the student work out most situations because self-advocacy skills are critical in preparation for college and life. However, if you sense that a matter may be beyond your son or daughter's ability to resolve on his/her own, do not hesitate to speak with your child's teacher, coach, or school counselor before a concern grows into a larger issue. When significant challenges arise, we must work together!
Thank you for your attention, for the trust that you have placed in us, and for your ongoing partnership. We are looking forward to an outstanding 2020-2021 school year as we overcome challenges and make the most of the opportunities posed to us by the pandemic.
August 11, 2020
Here are some new Frequently Asked Questions to address the latest developments and planning.
What is the current state of travel restrictions as they apply to Bishop Guertin?
The New Hampshire quarantine for travel outside of New England applies to all Bishop Guertin students. As we posted on July 21, students who leave New England (whether NH or MA residents) must quarantine for 14 days before attending school. A negative COVID test does not exempt an individual from this requirement.
Please note that the State of Massachusetts has extended its travel quarantine to states including Connecticut and Rhode Island. An exemption to this quarantine exists for students traveling to school. However, the quarantine would exist for any other activities in the state of Massachusetts.
To minimize risk to our school community, Bishop Guertin encourages all families to limit domestic and international travel during the pandemic.
(Please do not ask the school for an interpretation of a specific travel plan. These guidelines are issued by the state, and are the responsibility of each family to interpret/report based on the family's travel decisions.)
Exposures within Community
What will happen if a Bishop Guertin student is diagnosed with COVID, or suspected of having COVID?
If a student becomes symptomatic during the day, that student will be isolated until he/she can be picked up.
In case of a suspected or positive exposure within the school, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services will be contacted immediately. The school will support and participate in contact tracing by state and local agencies. Additionally, the school will identify and communicate with any students who may have been exposed to cases within the community.
Quarantine and isolation will be conducted in accordance with the CDC and state guidelines. Remote attendance in live classes will be permitted for any student who is quarantined or isolated.
An individual who tests positive for COVID-19, is suspected of COVID-19, or whose family member (or close contact) tests positive will be required to isolate from school as follows.
If a person was suspected of having COVID-19 or presents with symptoms consistent with COVID (fever, chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, cough, loss of taste or smell), but has a subsequent negative COVID-19 test, he or she can return to school once free of any fever or other symptoms.
If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 (by a medical professional or a positive test), he/she should remain out of the school community until (1) at least 10 days have passed since first symptoms, (2) at 24 hours have passed since any fever subsided, and (3) the individual’s symptoms have improved. In case of asymptomatic positive diagnoses, the individual must remain out of school until 10 days after their first positive diagnostic test, assuming that no symptoms are developed.
If an individual has been determined to have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 (defined as being within six feet for a ten minute period during the prior 48 hours before symptom onset in the individual’s close contact) or has participated in high-risk travel, he/she must remain out of school for 14 days since the last date of exposure. A positive test would require the individual to follow the criteria for diagnosed cases in the section above. A negative test does not exempt an individual from these requirements.
Parallel steps will be taken in case of an adult case of COVID within the school.
If a student becomes quarantined or isolated due to an exposure or illness outside school, how should the parent report it?
Some students may be quarantined for a period due to circumstances beyond their control.
If a student is quarantined for a period of time, that should be reported by a parent call to the office on the first day of the quarantine.
In both cases, assuming the student attends classes, the student will be classified as PRESENT/REMOTE.
If the student may have exposed others in the school, the parent should contact the School Nurse to report the case. For confidentiality and procedural purposes, we encourage the parent to reach out directly rather than placing the school in the role of contending with rumors/assumptions.
Do not use the form on this website. The form on this website is for family decisions to shift to remote learning, not for decisions that are determined by public health considerations.
What is the current status of athletic programs?
We are committed to maximizing the engagement of our student-athletes this fall. As of today, we are planning to compete interscholastically at a level that is safe and in conjunction with the level of school operations.
The NHIAA has moved back the start dates for all sports. Fall athletic seasons will officially begin on 9/8 for all teams. On this date, tryouts and practices will begin. We are currently planning to offer open after-school programming for fall sports by 8/24 to coincide with the opening of school. These workout sessions will follow the guidelines we have used throughout the summer. More information from teams and coaches will be forthcoming as it becomes available; details will be sent to students who have signed up for each team.
How will Health and Fitness (Physical Education) courses be handled?
All activity-based Physical Education classes will shift to a “wellness” model during the school year. Techniques and concepts surrounding overall wellness will be taught in a classroom setting; these classes will move outside whenever the weather permits, but will not conduct heavy physical activity in class. Students should prepare for physical activity outside the school day as this will play an integral role in practicing and integrating concepts from the Wellness model. Health classes will still be conducted as scheduled, as will Sports Psychology and Principles of Coaching.
There are several reasons for this decision. Where participation in athletics is voluntary, participation in Health and Fitness courses is required. Current circumstances do not permit us to use the locker rooms for changing, and heavy physical activity does not permit students to wear masks. Physical activity also carries increased COVID risks. Finally, large spaces used for Health and Fitness courses are being shifted to other uses. For these reasons, we are adjusting the format of Health and Fitness courses until further notice.
School Day Concerns
Will the dress code be modified (including masks)?
Students participating in remote learning will be expected to wear the BG polo or oxford while attending classes online.
Ties will not be required with oxfords at any time that masks are mandatory. The only exception to this rule is school pictures, during which students will be asked to wear a tie for the photograph.
The period for polo shirts to be worn will be extended into the winter for as long as masks are required.
Masks are required at all times indoors, including before/after school. When physically distanced and outdoors (during breaks) students may remove masks for brief periods. (Masks are required at outdoor scheduled events, programs, assemblies, meetings, etc. in accordance with Governor Sununu's new order.)
Masks should be cloth or surgical masks. Students may not wear bandana or gaiter masks.
Will students have the ability to store books, jackets, and materials in their lockers?
Students will be able to store materials in their lockers, but will not be able to congregate in the locker rooms. Students should go to their locker, exchange materials as needed, and go to class. Locker rooms will only be accessible before school, during two long breaks in the day, and after school. Rolling backpacks or carried backpacks are permitted.
Teachers have been asked to structure classes to minimize the amount of back-and-forth of books and materials.
Students will be permitted to carry a water bottle, as water fountains will be restricted to bottle filling only.
What types of screening should be expected?
While the exact format is being finalized due to changing recommendations, students and adults will be screened daily according to the public health criteria in effect at the time. Currently, attendees at school must meet the following criteria:
No fever in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
No COVID symptoms, including: respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath; general body symptoms such as muscle aches, chills, and severe fatigue; gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; changes in sense of taste or smell.
During the past 14 days, individuals must not have spent ten (10) or more minutes within six feet of someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
Individuals must not have traveled during the prior 14 days outside of New England (NH, VT, ME, MA, CT, RI).
Specific guidance for isolation and quarantine will be provided for individuals who are unable to meet the above criteria. In most cases, a negative test result does not exempt an individual from these criteria. (Eg. A student who traveled to Florida and obtained a negative test result would still not be cleared to return until 14 days have passed. That is New Hampshire's guideline, not Bishop Guertin's.)
In general, many individuals will need to isolate at times over the course of the school year. Our remote learning infrastructure will support the ability of these individuals to do so without losing academic progress.
How are lunches being handled?
Nexdine is arranging an online pre-order that will enable students to receive a lunch in the classroom. Lunches will be distributed to the classroom for distribution during the period before lunch. Students may also bring their own lunches.
During lunch, in an effort to reduce density, students will be able to spread out among a number of spaces – outdoors in the courtyard and athletic fields, the classrooms, locker rooms, the field house. In case of inclement weather, lunch will be eaten indoors in classrooms or spread-out spaces, but we hope to encourage outdoor eating whenever possible.
How will study halls be held?
Study halls will be held in large spaces – the Field House, cafeteria, and Keegan Leadership Center – and students will be asked to space out.
Any student – Grades 9-12 – who has a free period during the last period of the day may be dismissed. An online form will be provided for parents to do so, and this will require parental permission. Students should not congregate in the school building or parking lot if utilizing this option. (While the schedule will not rotate daily, we will arrange a rearrangement of class periods once per month to allow all students to take advantage of this option during the year.)
Will the school be open early/late for students who must be dropped off or picked up early/late?
Yes. We are strongly encouraging drop off and pickup to occur as close to the start of school as possible, as we will not permit congregation in the locker rooms. Students are welcomed/encouraged to socialize outside prior to the start of the day.
We know that this will not be possible for some families. Students arriving early or staying late may use any space usually available, but may not congregate in large groups. Masks must still be worn at all times inside the building or outdoors when distance cannot be maintained.
How will decisions about the status of school be reached?
We are closely watching case counts in Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Middlesex counties, as well as the testing positivity rate in our area. We have established targets for each phase, based on epidemiological benchmarks. Bishop Guertin's statistical benchmarks are consistent with, and towards the cautious side of, those states that have issued them - Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts.
The COVID page graphically shows where we stand. We are currently at the high end of the “YELLOW” range. Recent trends have shown fluctuations, and an “ORANGE 1” (80%) or “ORANGE 2” (60%) status is possible.
We will also adjust our status in case of mandates or recommendations from the Governors of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, or the Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Services.
August 7, 2020
One parent from each family is asked to complete this School Reopening Survey, which gathers a variety of information needed to finalize our plans for the reopening of school. Families are asked to complete this survey by Wednesday, 8/12. Please allow 15-20 minutes to complete this survey.
The survey asks each family to indicate an initial preference regarding remote learning, which is an option for any student. Please have this family discussion before beginning the survey. This preference may be changed later by the parent using the link above.
August 4, 2020
Elaborating on many elements of the written FAQ of last week, here is a third video Q&A:
July 29, 2020
Instead of the video FAQ, this week's information will be written out in order to establish some key details about the start of the school year. Please see the questions and answers below, which reference the overview chart below.
How will Bishop Guertin High School open for in-person instruction this fall?
School will start on August 24 (freshmen) and 25 (all), regardless of the decisions of other schools/districts regarding start date. It is our position that, with cases likely to increase at times during the year, we should maximize our in-person contact at the start of the school year to provide the most flexibility later.
Our model includes four models of operation: GREEN, YELLOW, ORANGE, RED as described in the chart.
As long as we avoid a major spike in cases or statewide lockdown, we should not be in RED at the start of the year. We are also certain that GREEN lies in the distant future, likely after a treatment/vaccine reduces the risk of COVID significantly.
We are aiming for YELLOW to start the year with all students in the building. This status is possible if infections in NH/MA remain under control. If cases increase, we may be forced to consider ORANGE, which would involve a reduced school population ranging from 20-80% of students in the building on any given day, with the others remotely participating in their classes via live stream.
The final determination of ORANGE / YELLOW status will be made very close to the start of school. The format of school is similar in both YELLOW and ORANGE; the difference between them is the number of students in the building.
In all scenarios, students can expect live classroom instruction every day and every period. In all scenarios, students will receive a Bishop Guertin education. Students who are not in the building will participate in live instruction via videoconferencing setups that are tied into Zoom.
In early August, a survey will be sent out to gather information needed to establish student cohorts in case of ORANGE status, to assess community-wide comfort level with returning to school at various percentages of population, and to identify families who may wish for their families to participate remotely this fall. The survey will provide us with all the information needed to implement all the different models, and we will be ready to shift rapidly. It will be essential for all families to complete this survey.
Athletic programs will be largely determined by decisions made throughout the state, by the NHIAA and other schools. No matter the circumstances, we will strive to maintain engagement and participation for our student-athletes throughout the fall.
Parking information will be shared in the next two weeks.
How is Bishop Guertin addressing those who are vulnerable or quarantined?
We recognize that while we can act to reduce risk, we cannot completely ensure the safety of our community for as long as this pandemic lasts. Any student or teacher will be offered the option of participating remotely due to medical vulnerabilities that would make school attendance risky.
Students learning from home will be able to live stream and participate in their classes via Zoom. We will ask students to commit to remote learning for a period of time, rather than changing their status on a day-by-day basis. However, this decision is not permanently binding and may be reversed at the discretion of the parent.
Our teachers have dedicated their lives to the education of our students and to living out our school's mission. Their safety is important. For this reason, some teachers may be authorized to instruct from home to their classes at school due to risk factors.
We anticipate that we can manage the staffing considerations involved. To assist, we do intend to put out a call for parent volunteers as the school year approaches, recognizing that circumstances may require us to seek out adults in our community for assistance. Any selected volunteers will need to receive a background check. Additionally, due to likely leaves of absence along with a significant summertime increase in enrollment, we are seeking teaching candidates in a number of subject areas. Please pass this along to qualified educators in any discipline who would be a fit for Bishop Guertin; they are encouraged to send their resume to email@example.com.
Through strong technical preparation, we are ready to optimize the experience of all students and teachers who require a remote option.
Will masks be required at Bishop Guertin?
Yes. All students and staff will be required to wear either a surgical-style mask or a cloth facemask at all times. (Bandanas and other similar masks will not be sufficient.) There will be no exceptions to this policy – individuals who cannot wear masks will still have the option of participating in remote live instruction. The evidence in favor of masks is compelling - at this point, we believe that the precaution is a necessity if we are to hold in-person instruction.
(What does the alternative to wearing masks look like? In May, a reopened school in Israel, about the size of Bishop Guertin, decided to give students a break from its mask policy for three days amidst a heat wave. A week later, after a couple initial cases were found, testing was done, and officials discovered 153 COVID infections among students and 25 among teachers. It's difficult to find any similar narrative of an outbreak that occurred while masks were being worn. Masks are critical to overcoming COVID.)
What measures are in place to reduce risk?
This summer, we have developed and implemented comprehensive protocols to reduce risk to students and staff members during the school day. The reopening of school means a different mode of operation from what we may be accustomed to, and many of these procedures may be with us throughout the year, to varying degrees.
Procedures will include:
Policies requiring masks and social distancing.
Physical rearrangement of classrooms to allow greater spacing of desks and distance (3-6’) between teacher and students.
Rescheduling of larger classes into large spaces.
Closure of student locker rooms and cafeteria - students will report directly to classes and will eat lunch in the classrooms. Nexdine will provide pre-order/delivery lunch options each day. We are also planning to address the issue of storage for students.
Institution of one-way traffic flow in the hallways, with expanded passing time.
Installation of medical-grade filters in classroom air conditioning units, and installation of air purification units for rooms not connected to central ventilation.
Intensified cleaning and sanitation routines, both throughout the school day and in the evenings.
Signage including reminders about hand hygiene.
Water fountains available for filling water bottles only; no direct drinking from fountains.
Strict limitation of visitors to the school. Parents will be asked to meet virtually with counselors or teachers rather than coming into the school.
Reinforced policy of “stay home if you are sick,” including the temporary elimination of academic or disciplinary consequences for absences without a doctor’s note.
These procedures, and others, will mean that our school day will look different from what students have come to expect. However, based on exhaustive research and input, these modifications are necessary in order to ensure the health and safety of our school community.
How will the school respond to cases of COVID in the Bishop Guertin community?
If an individual becomes symptomatic during the day, the person will be isolated and sent home, or to the hospital in case of an emergency. Students who are symptomatic or diagnosed with COVID will be given guidance as to the appropriate return time in accordance with the guidelines at that point.
The school will keep careful records of seating arrangements in classes. In case of a positive diagnosis within the school, the Department of Health will be notified and a contact tracing process will be initiated. The school will also conduct its own internal contact tracing. Students who were likely in close contact with an infected individual will be notified and, if warranted, asked to isolate for an appropriate period of time. At all times, confidentiality will be maintained as to the identity of the positive case, although the nature of the situation may lead students to determine the identity of the case on their own. Under the circumstances, these communications are necessary.
How can I help to ensure a safe and successful reopening?
1. Prevent COVID in your household and be an advocate and role model for social responsibility in your communities. At a time when political messages and opinions from both extremes are badly muddying the legitimate safety considerations about opening schools, it is easy to lose perspective. A safe reopening is possible, but the actions of the culture as a whole will determine the outcome. Every educator and parent is in favor of reopening schools (in concept). However, behavior shows that in practice, many find it more important to attend bars, parties, and events, to ignore state-issued guidelines, or to avoid wearing a mask, than it is to reopen schools.
If the BG school community as a whole prioritizes safety over the next few weeks, we will be safe when we reopen. Our students and staff will not be able to experience an outbreak if the virus is not present in anyone's family. We can keep the number at zero if we all make the commitment. Opinions are opinions and politics is politics; now is a time to align actions with values.
2. Adults need to keep our own fear and anxiety at bay. Our students will be adjusting to a great deal; adults need to be leaders for them. We all have our fears, we confront incredible uncertainties in these times, and there will be aspects of reopening that frustrate all of us. Reopening will be too slow for some, too fast for others. Things will go wrong. The precautions will not be perfect, and may need to be adjusted as we learn more. There is no script for any of this, and there is much we simply don't know. But we will get through it. However, adults cannot transfer their fears to the students.
If ever there was a time to put aside the hysteria and spin generated by social media and the news, this is it. (There will certainly be an ample supply of both in the weeks ahead.) You can trust that we at BG will strive to maximize in-person education while ensuring safety. In no case will we compromise either priority. We’ll be ready for whatever we need to do, and will make prompt and thoughtful decisions that are grounded in facts and safety, not in hype. Please help us by keeping fear and uncertainty at bay as we strive to set a confident direction.
3. Students must set reasonable, but positive, expectations for the year. Even if our in-person opening occurs flawlessly and we maximize opportunities, 2020-2021 is still going to be a different year that will include some disappointments and missed traditions.
Being a Cardinal is never about choosing the easy path. As our seniors showed this springtime, the things we miss can easily turn into new opportunities, both individually and as a school community. Place value on the learning opportunity of the school year and on any chance to be together as a community. Make the most of every moment, and find the opportunities behind every disappointment. Gain more than you lose. Be confident that we will leave you well-prepared for your future endeavors if you work hard. Wear your mask with pride as you do your part to keep our community safe. Expect an unusual year, make the most out of it, and continue contributing to our community’s incredible response to the pandemic.
Thank you for taking the time to read these FAQ's, and don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! See you soon!
July 21, 2020
It is important to emphasize one point from our recent Frequently Asked Questions video.
In recent dates, the state has adjusted its travel guidelines. It is currently the requirement of the State of New Hampshire that travelers to any state outside of New England must quarantine for 14 days upon return. This quarantine is a condition of participation in any school activity.
Families should be aware that travel within 14 days of the start of athletics (for student-athletes), activities such as Band Camp, or the start of school (for all students) would subject the student to this quarantine requirement. Students who find themselves in this position would have the option of participating remotely in instruction.
These requirements are somewhat fluid and based on changing conditions around the country, so they may be loosened or tightened between now and the start of school.
July 20, 2020
Our second "episode" of questions and answers regarding COVID:
July 13, 2020
Here is the first "episode" of a series of "frequently asked questions" pertaining to the start of school:
July 9, 2020
We have received inquiries about articles in the press regarding Catholic schools and their plans for reopening. As an independent Catholic school sponsored by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, we are not part of the decision by the Diocese of Manchester. Bishop Guertin will make an independent decision about the reopening of school based on the best interests of our school community.
We remain committed to reopening on August 24. We are equally committed to doing so safely and prudently. In the coming weeks, we will be providing additional information about our detailed plans.
As always, please remember that all announcements that pertain to Bishop Guertin's status will be found here on this site and will be sent via email.
June 29, 2020
I hope that you have been enjoying your summer. As we approach July 1 and look to “turn the page” on the 2019-2020 school year, I am reaching out with a brief update and clarification about our COVID planning. I would also like to ask for your assistance as we plan to return for the fall.
Thank you to all parents who have completed our parent survey about this spring’s remote learning experience. We know that many families are in and out of contact due to summer vacation, and so we encourage you to complete the survey when you can.
The survey responses thus far support our ongoing intent to safely re-open the building for classes on August 24. Our comprehensive reopening plan has been developed and is currently being refined.
Because it asked for detailed feedback about remote learning, some felt that the survey implies a change in our position regarding the start of school. IT DOES NOT.
We cannot escape the uncertainty of COVID, which means that we must be prepared for any scenario. We owe this preparation to our families and students. This spring, we promised to refine our Remote Learning protocols should they become necessary again. The survey was a part of that process. Moving forward, we will be transparent about other contingencies and options being considered. These conversations should never be seen as a signal of a change in intent, but instead as an indication of preparedness for a range of circumstances.
Reopening the building remains our priority. If that priority changes, it will be for good reason and communicated clearly.
As a closing thought, I want to remind you that your help is also essential if we are to have a smooth start.
Recent developments in parts of the country have shown that there is still high risk attached to large congregations and gatherings at indoor/congested spaces. Many infection clusters are linked to restaurants, parties, or gatherings. A high percentage of the newest cases are young people. Nothing has the potential to disrupt the reopening of Bishop Guertin like an increase of COVID cases in our school (or broader) community between July and November.
As a number of public health officials have recently noted, the pandemic has forced us to constantly think about risk. We all must decide whether the things we want to do are worth risking the things we need to do, such as reopening schools, operating the economy, and seeing loved ones. You can help Bishop Guertin’s reopening to be a success by avoiding unnecessary risk in your family and by supporting the CDC’s recommendations for controlling the spread of infectious disease.
Just as remote learning was a full-community effort, the reopening of Bishop Guertin will be successful with the support and assistance of our entire school community.
Thank you for your ongoing trust. We hope you safely enjoy the Fourth of July holiday and we will be in touch as August approaches.
See you during the week of August 24!
Mr. Jason Strniste
June 26, 2020
We hope that you are having a great summer.
As we continue to plan for the upcoming school year, we would ask your assistance in completing this survey regarding your family's remote instruction experience this spring:
As you know, it is our intention to be in session on campus this August. Planning is underway. We must be prepared for all circumstances, including the possibility of some remote learning. There are also elements of remote learning which were successful and may be incorporated into our programs in the future. Now that you have had time to reflect on the spring's experiences, we would welcome your input. Thank you for taking a few minutes of your time to assist us.
Our remote learning experience was largely successful as a result of the cooperation and feedback from parents and students as we made our way through unique circumstances. Thank you for your support of your student, our teachers, and the BG community as a whole.