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High Meadow School Reopening 2020
Frequently Asked Questions

(last updated December 17th, 2020)


The NY Governor’s Reopening Schools Task Force met on Monday July 13th, and instructed all schools to submit reopening plans to the state by July 31st. On August 7th, Governor Cuomo determined which schools could move ahead with reopening plans and also provided information regarding what circumstances could force schools to close. This guidance has changes frequently and drastically since that time, and we are working to keep our community updated.

As we continue to monitor all the information available to us, we want to be as transparent and clear as possible. We understand how challenging this is for everyone – school leadership, teachers, parents, and kids alike. Answers to your questions, and any “decisions” that we make could be changed overnight as the various authorities shift their approach and introduce new mandates. 

Our Plans are Based on Current Data available from:

  • NYS Department of Health

  • NYS Education Department

  • Ulster County Department of Health

  • Rondout Valley School District

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

  • NYSAIS (NYS Association of Independent Schools)

  • NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools)


For specific information on the most recent guidance from NY State, please visit these sites:

COVID-19 Regional Metrics Dashboard

NY State Travel Guidance & Protocols


As of December 18th, our health staff is trained and authorized by the local health department to perform on-campus testing should the needs arise.

We have also established a partnership with the Ulster County Department of Health, registering HMS as a Limited Service Laboratory. We have a limited number of tests at this time, and details regarding procedures and protocols are currently being developed with the local school district and health department.

For more information about the type of tests HMS has been provided with – the Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid Test – visit this link.

Some classroom materials will be shared if they can be thoroughly and readily disinfected between uses.

Students will have their own collection of frequently-used items, such as tools for writing, crafting, and drawing. Some of these items will be provided by High Meadow, and some were included in the supply lists sent by your child’s lead teacher in their 2020/21 Welcome Letters.

Masks are required for all students 3-and-up any time a student is indoors unless they are eating (seated 6+ feet apart). Mask breaks take place outdoors when students are 6-or-more feet apart. Teachers take all of this into consideration when planning their lesson and activities, and are committed to using our expanded outdoor classroom facilities (as well as the nature trail, and other outdoor spaces) as often as possible, weather permitting. Students are also allowed individual mask breaks outside when necessary, escorted by a teacher.

All staff are required to wear masks while indoors unless they are eating (and seated 6+ feet from others).

To avoid exposure to multiple groups of children, we are not able to offer before-care, after-care, after-school enrichment, or team sports unless we return to a pre-COVID school program.

Yes, they have signed the same pledge. This is guidance, and there are no stricter requirements at this time.

We have protocols in place for specials teachers which help protect both the students and teachers. All specials teachers are required to wear KN95 masks and wash hands both before and after leaving classrooms.

Yes; on-campus students and staff complete a daily online heath screening through the HMS Portal before arriving on campus, and a no-touch temperature check each morning as they enter the buildings. Teachers have been trained to recognize other symptoms associated with COVID-19 in children.

Our screening follows NYS criteria and is used to help us make determinations on who can safely be on campus. Using local outside contacts as a disqualifier for attending school is not advised at this time.

On Friday, November 13, at 10 p.m. Gov. Cuomo issued a directive on social gatherings stating: Indoor and outdoor gatherings statewide at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people.

In this case, we would be contacted by the Ulster County Department of Health (DOH) if a contact trace establishes a connection to our student or the school. If this happens, please also contact our Health Office as this would give us an earlier jump on our contact tracing.

If they have a COVID test and it is negative they don’t have to wait 14 days. All students returning to school after recovering from a fever will require documentation from a healthcare professional.

The student should do the health screening; if they are not symptomatic they can come to school.

The student would have to follow quarantine instructions.  


As of June 13, 2019, there is no longer a religious exemption to the requirement that children be vaccinated against diseases to attend either public, private or parochial school in New York State. All students that were attending school at the time the revised immunization law was enacted are expected to be fully up-to-date on their required immunizations as of June 30th, 2020. Any extension allowing such children to be enrolled as long as they have scheduled appointments to complete their immunization series according to the ACIP schedule has expired. In summary, to attend High Meadow, all students must be completely up to date on the immunizations required for their age.
Medical exams (Physicals) are only valid for 1 year and immunizations completed after May 1, 2020 must be submitted prior to the start of the new school year. Any physical performed by a New York State Licensed MD/NP/PA on or after September 4, 2019 will be considered current.


We are aware that there will be a heightened need for social and emotional support and will continue to identify peer support groups based on student need. 

  • Daily morning meetings will provide opportunities for support

  • Optional workshops in stress management and mindfulness will be available

  • Jackie Katzen, Director of Student Support Services, is available to consult with individual students and families who need additional support

Our incredible and creative teachers have made sure HMS still feels like HMS during this strange time. And, we want to hear your ideas about how we can do this, too! For instance, there was an amazing outdoor drive-in 8th grade graduation ceremony that was brought the HMS spirit while keeping everyone safe. In October, our 8th graders were able to reinvent their tradition of hosting an indoor haunted house, moving it to the nature-trail. They were able to provide a fun Halloween experience for our upper schoolers while adhering to COVID protocols. Please submit your ideas HERE.


Nursery and Pre-K

Attend school 5 days a week, 3 days a week, or engage entirely online through our distance-learning program.  There are three groups of 7-10 students, divided by age, that meet separately as different classes in three individual locations, each with its own entrance.

  • Former dance studio (converted into a classroom with new bathroom)

  • Current nursery room

  • Current Pre-K room


 Kindergarten-3rd grade students: Attend school in-person 5 days a week OR engage entirely online through our distance-learning program.

4th-7th grade students: Hybrid model (attend school 2 days in-person & 3 days through distance-learning) OR engage entirely online through our distance-learning program.

  • Grades are divided in half, with half attending in-person on Monday & Tuesday, and half on Thursday & Friday.

  • Wednesday, everyone has classes together, virtually

  • On the days a student is learning remotely, instruction is live-streamed from the classroom or teachers prepare asynchronous lessons and activities.

8th grade students
The 8th grade class is small and these students attend school on campus all together on Monday and Tuesday (with the option to engage entirely online). On Wed, Thurs, and Fri the whole class is learning virtually through our distance-learning program.

When we began remote learning in March, we did so with only two weeks of preparation and a single day of teacher training. We held meetings with the parents from every grade and conducted two all-school surveys. With your help and feedback, we made many improvements along the way. 

The teachers have worked to prepare the best possible remote-learning program for all grades, using their own time as well as seven days of professional development. There are teachers available online to support students when they are engaging in distance learning, and increased clarity around the schedule and access to virtual learning platforms.

We have also introduced new platforms like Seesaw (learn more HERE), invested in enhanced online safety and security, and provided information to parents on how to best protect children when they are online.

All classes would be taught remotely, using our distance-learning model.

We will make every effort to accommodate requests, while recognizing that it will probably be impossible to meet all requests. We will do our best to ensure siblings attend on the same days.

We will do everything we can to accommodate this, but multiple students shifting back and forth would impact our staff’s ability to meet the needs of all students and would have to be carefully considered.

Current guidance from NY states that all bus companies and districts are required to continue to offer bussing to local independent schools.
The buses are following COVID protocols, all passengers and drivers are wearing masks. They are carrying a limited number of students to allow for physical distancing. The buses frequently arrive with only a few students on board.

Parents/Guardians & their child(dren) are met by a teacher for drop-off at a designated spot in the parking lot. For end-of-day pickup, teachers bring students back to the same designated spot to oversee each student’s pickup by an approved guardian.


The blended model involves delivering in-person instruction two days per week, while simultaneously delivering live lessons for children learning from home three days a week, as well providing ongoing academic support for students choosing the distance education program.

It will be necessary to hire additional teaching staff so that we have adequate in-person and remote/online support in each grade level. This will ensure a robust remote AND in-person program, in addition to seamless live-streaming of lessons.

Having students on campus requires significant upgrades to our facilities, as well as more frequent and meticulous cleaning and disinfection of all spaces. If you would like to make a financial contribution to support these upgrades, including enhanced WiFi, additional classroom space, signage, PPE distribution stations, additional sinks etc. Please do so here: link to Annual Fund.

There would be tuition credits given if school were to move to an entirely virtual, distance education model. We would offer a 40% credit for nursery and Pre-K, and 10% credit K-8 if we have a mandated closing. The vast majority of the school’s expenses would not change if circumstances mandated that we shift to an entirely virtual, distance education model. 

If you find your question has not been answered here,  please continue to check back as the Summer progresses