Thank you for visiting this webpage dedicated to the 2020-2021 school year. Comprehensive planning began during the summer to ensure a safe, effective, and meaningful return to School this fall. Throughout this school year, our primary goal has been to preserve our ability to hold in-person classes. To achieve this goal, we have been flexible in our approach to day-to-day operations, and found new meaningful ways to think, work, and interact with one another. The health and safety measures developed for students, faculty, and staff include a daily health screening process, face masks, social distancing, and routine hygiene practices. In addition, extensive measures have been taken in every building, classroom, and teaching space across campus to support the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff.
Our planning decisions have been and will continue to be guided by the following:
Deliver our full program consistent with well-established high expectations.
Maintain robust health and safety protocols and practices across the campus.
Focus on high-touch relationship building with every student.
Minimize disruption to the student programs and experiences.
Decisions about ongoing campus operations will continue to be guided by information from local, state, and national public health experts. We are maintaining regular communications with Dallas County Health and Human Services, our School’s Medical Advisory Committee, and peer institutions locally, regionally, and nationally as circumstances continue to evolve. As we continue to refine plans, you can find the latest information available on this page.
Our Reopening Team worked throughout the summer planning for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, project teams are addressing a wide range of important priorities, including academic and co-curricular programs, technology and remote learning, campus safety, student health and wellness, facilities, governance, and communications. Additionally, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees met throughout the summer, along with the School’s legal counsel, to support planning for the 2020-2021 School year.
Health & Wellness
St. Mark’s is committed to the safety, health, and wellness of our students, faculty, staff, and extended School family. The School isexcited to have boys back on campus and have put in place a comprehensive strategy to maintain safe andhealthyin-person instruction. These include extensive infrastructure improvements and safety procedures to address campus access, social distancing, traffic patterns, air quality, cleaning protocols, health resources, and personal hygiene. An additional school nurse was hired this summer to expand our capacity to support student health needs across our community. New Upper and Lower School Counselors were hired this year to support the social and emotional health and well-being of our boys.
In every classroom and teaching space on campus, desks have been rearranged to maintain a 5- to 6-foot radius between students, and the desks face in the same direction. Additionally, excess furniture has been removed from classroom spaces to minimize shared surface space.
Pedestrian traffic plans have been developed for the entire campus that facilitate safe distancing between students and adults as they move about the facilities. This includes one-way traffic patterns in every building to limit face-to-face interactions.
Dismissal from School is staggered and closely supervised to limit large groups congregating at the beginning and end of each school day.
Middle and Upper School boys pick up their lunches and have the option of eating in designated public spaces that support social distancing, including outdoors and in classrooms. Lower School students are served lunch in the Lower School building, and will eat in their classrooms.
All Middle School and Upper School boys are encouraged to bring their own laptops or tablets to school each day to minimize the need to share devices. Tablets should have attached physical keyboards.
Lower School boys remain in homeroom groups throughout the school day.
Middle School and Upper School boys have staggered period changes and are clustered by division and grade level to minimize congregating in hallways.
Only students and School employees are admitted on campus until further notice.
Large-group programs such as Chapel, Divisional Assemblies, and Class Meetings are being delivered in new ways using online tools.
St. Mark’s requires face coverings to be worn at all times by all faculty, staff, and students (grades 5-12). Masks will be worn by Lower School (grades 1-4) students while in public spaces. During class, Lower School students must wear either a mask and/or a face shield provided by the School.
The School provides face masks for both students and employees.
Frequent handwashing with soap and water is encouraged. In addition to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are available throughout campus.
Water fountains are closed for drinking. But students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to bring a personal water bottle to fill in the newly installed touchless water fountains. Drinking fountains in Centennial Hall and Hoffman Center have been retrofitted with touchless water bottle fill stations.
We encourage students to bring only necessary items to school.
The School will no longer administer nebulizer breathing treatments at school, but students may use their inhalers with spacers.
Parents and other visitors are not be allowed on campus.
The Schools asks that parents remain in their vehicles and wear a face mask during carpool.
On-campus parent volunteer opportunities are suspended this fall. The School will continue to monitor the situation, and looks forward to welcoming parent volunteers back to campus when circumstances improve. The School will notify parents and resume the use of the online volunteer scheduler (Sign-Up Genius) at that time.
Essential campus visitors are screened for symptoms and have their temperature taken before being admitted to campus, and are required to wear a face covering at all times.
Daily cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces will continue in every building.
Playground equipment is cleaned regularly throughout the day. Lower School boys use the Ellipse and the fields in front of the School for additional play spaces.
To provide additional air filtration throughout campus, HVAC filters in all buildings have been upgraded to a MERV-13 rating, capable of trapping airborne bacteria.
The Dining Hall serves individually plated meals, and students will eat in designated areas to ensure safe distancing. Meals are delivered to Lower School boys.
Click here to view more information from SAGE about its plans to continue providing safe and nutritious meals to St. Mark’s boys.
Touchless fixtures have been installed in buildings across the campus.
Pedestrian traffic patterns have been developed to limit face-to-face interaction
Nearly two-thirds of the classrooms and teaching spaces across the campus support a full six feet of separation between students, while every classroom provides a minimum of between five and six feet of separation.
Students and all employees are required to complete a daily health screening questionnaire before coming to campus. Additionally, we ask that parents take their son’s temperature each day prior to arrival at school.
If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is in close proximity with a COVID-19-positive family member, the School asks that parents report this information to the School Nurse.
The School Nurses monitor community illness for communicable-disease trends.
In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, the Clinic will notify local health officials, staff, and families of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The School will monitor daily the health and wellness of employees and students, and make regular assessments of COVID-19 transmission, safety protocols, and disease mitigation strategies.
The School will continue to consult with DCHHS and CDC guidelines on interventions when considering campus safety and the need to transition to remote learning.
Social & Emotional Health
St. Mark’s places great importance on the health and well-being of all students and community members. The Counseling Office staff are always eager and ready to provide care for students who could benefit from additional support. Counseling is provided by licensed psychologists and is available to students and to their families in the service of student care. The Counseling Office psychologists offer individual therapy sessions, parent and family consultation, referral to community providers, and coordination of care with mental health professionals outside of the School. Within the Counseling Office, the Coordinator of Academic Support is also available to help students bolster their study and organizational skills across grade levels. During virtual instruction, Counseling Office services were offered via a secure telehealth platform. Students and their families can reach out to the Counseling Office for support by emailing their counselor directly.
Understanding and knowing when to keep your child home from school is a very important part of keeping campus healthy. We have outlined key protocols to help families determine when a child should stay home. Students who exhibit symptoms on campus will be isolated in a special area until a parent can pick them up.
A student must stay home if he or a member of his household has:
Tested positive for COVID-19.
Been exposed and is awaiting testing or testing results.
Exhibited COVID-like symptoms.
Students who stay home for any of the reasons above must contact the School and should also inform their doctor.
Students must be fever-free (temperature under 100.0° F without medication for 72 hours) to return to School.
Students who stay home must contact the School Nurse the day before returning to school.
Before students, faculty, and staff returned to campus, the School reviewed all aspects of campus life to ensure students and teachers can operate in a safe and healthy environment. Many steps have been taken to support a healthy environment during daily campus life, from the flow of foot traffic to the use of classroom spaces.
With the start of the 2020-2021 school year, St. Mark’s transitioned to an updated daily schedule. In light ofthe pandemic, this schedule had been modified so thatMiddle School and Upper Schoolclass times are staggeredby five minutes. This will minimize the number of students in hallways between classes. Click here to download a PDF of the staggered schedule, compared to the normal daily schedule.
At the conclusion of each day, dismissal from classes are staggered in a way to minimize large-group gatherings.
To assist with carpool management, the Lower School has implemented a software application called SchoolPass, and students will be released from cohort homeroom classes as their carpool arrives on campus.
To support a staggered entry and departure from campus, students in grades 5–12 will report to campus based on their first scheduled class each day. Students must depart campus after their last scheduled class. Thus, if a student’s day begins with a study hall, he may arrive in time for his second-period class. If his last period is a study hall, he may leave campus rather than attend study hall.
The School has implemented an organized departure from campus to manage group size. Departure at the end of the day is managed in a controlled manner to facilitate small group sizes.
Students in Lower School remain in homeroom groupings (cohorts) throughout the course of the day. Teachers come to the students in their classroom rather than having boys travel to fine arts, language, and physical education programs. This limits opportunities for viral transmission and make contact tracing easier in case of infection.
Over the summer, all faculty have worked hard to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers have completed an online professional development course focused on online and hybrid learning. Teachers have also completed training on Microsoft Teams as well as other technology tools and websites they will use throughout the year.
The School provided all faculty with a webcam and wireless microphone to assist and enhance teaching remotely.
Upon return to campus, teachers will livestream classes using Microsoft Teams when students are absent.
All Middle School and Upper School students will be required to bring their own laptops when returning to on-campus instruction. There will be no shared technology.
The School will provide every Lower School student with a dedicated device for the coming school year. Students will be able to use the device for remote learning and will use the same device when we return to campus.
As we continue classes in a COVID-19 environment, boys in grades 5-12 need to have a personal computing device to support their remote and on-campus learning. Given the many laptop and tablet choices available, listed below are recommended specifications to support each boy’s classroom experience.
Have a physical keyboard to facilitate typing.
Have a functioning webcam, microphone, and speakers.
Run a modern web browser. (Chrome, Edge, Firefox or Safari)
4 GB RAM or higher (RAM affects how quickly a device can run programs and open files. Students taking classes such as Photography, Film Studies, or Publications should consider increasing RAM).
A protective case is highly recommended when students return to campus.
For the remainder of the school year, St. Mark’s will regularly update parents with the most current information on health, safety, and School programs. We acknowledge that the impact of the COVID pandemic affects all of our daily lives and evolves constantly. In an effort to support families, communication from the School includes a weekly newsletter with important news and messages from the Division Heads as well as a monthly School-wide newsletter with major announcements and updates.
Visit the School’s COVID-19 information page to view all of the recent Community Updates related to the pandemic and school operations.
St. Mark’s School of Texas is a private, nonsectarian college-preparatory boys’ day school for students in grades 1 through 12, located in Dallas, Texas. St. Mark’s aims to prepare young men to assume leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world.
St. Mark’s does not discriminate in the administration of its admission and education policies on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.