Guiding Tomorrow's Hearts and Minds

Fall 2020 Return to Campus

FAQs: Fall 2020 Return to Campus

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) listed below for answers regarding our Fall 2020 return to campus. 

(Last Updated: July 24, 2020)

Our top priority is keeping our St. Matthew’s students, families, and staff safe. The evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic requires our school to rethink common protocols and practices in our school and put plans into place with the understanding that these guidelines could change as the situation evolves and state/county mandates are updated.
During this current period of COVID-19, St. Matthew’s will operate under one of the following models:
  • St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School will be fully open but will operate under specific protocols for Lower School classes. Our Middle School will follow a hybrid rotation of instructional delivery to include on campus, classroom teaching, and remote instruction.
  • St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School campus is closed and all students will be engaged in our highly successful Distance Learning program. 
  • The Lower School (Pre-K through 4th Grade) will offer 100% on-campus learning each day. 
  • Middle School (5th - 8th Grade) students will be on campus in a rolling, hybrid model of 2 days virtual, 2 days on campus, based on their grade level.
  • We will move to 100% Distance Learning if/when directed by State and County officials.

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 39 frequently asked questions.

  • When is the first day of school?

    Our planned first day of school is Wednesday, August 26th.
  • Will school look the same in the Fall?  What changes can we expect?

    School-life will not ‘look’ the same as in previous years, but we strive to maintain our strong Mustang Spirit, guided by the San Mateo County Office of Education Pandemic Recovery Framework.
  • Will our traditional school events, such as Back to School Night and Fall Festival, still be taking place? What about service-learning projects?

    At this time, we are not planning on holding any of our traditional events on campus, but we are excited to host many of them online. Our on campus service learning projects will be on hold as well. We will evaluate Spring 2021 events later this year.
  • Will there be other school gatherings such as assemblies or board meetings?

    All school gatherings will not take place until further notice (a gathering is any meeting or social activity outside of classroom instruction that includes more than four people). All other meetings will be convened remotely.
  • My family is traveling out of the immediate area over the summer.  Will we have to quarantine prior to returning to school? What if we have an out of area visitor?

    Yes, if you or a member of your family travel beyond the local area or internationally, we ask that you quarantine following county health guidelines before you or your child(ren) return to campus. In addition, if a visitor to your household travels outside the immediate area (including internationally) we ask you to quarantine consistent with county health guidelines before you or your child(ren) return to campus. If any of these scenarios apply to you, please contact your Division Director to discuss your options.
  • Will classes be on-campus, virtual, or both?

    We plan to give all students the opportunity to return to campus in the fall for instruction full time or in a hybrid model. We do, however, have contingency plans in place should the county implement a directive for distance learning.
  • Is there a plan in place should we have to return to 100% Distance Learning again?

    Yes, we are prepared to return to 100% Distance Learning should the State and County order it.
  • I do not feel comfortable sending my child back to school at this time and would like to continue with Distance Learning from home. Will that be an option for my family?  Who can I discuss this with?

    We will also have measures in place for those families who do not want their child to return to campus but would like to continue their child’s matriculation with Distance Learning.

    Students who remain home due to personal choice or a significant health risk will be able to access similar lessons and activities as their classmates who are on campus via Distance Learning.  Please contact your Division Director to discuss your specific circumstances:
  • Will all students be on campus every day?

    The Lower School (Pre-K through 4th Grade) will offer 100% on-campus learning each day. Middle School students will be on campus in a rolling hybrid model of 2 days virtual, 2 days on campus, based on their grade level.
  • Will drop off and pick up time(s) change? Can I bring my child to their classroom?

    Yes, drop off and pick up times will be staggered by grade, with drop off no earlier than 7:40 am, and pick up no later than 3:40 pm (a specific schedule will be released in early August). 

    Students may not be escorted to their classroom in order to keep campus visitors to a minimum. Parents may drop their children at the curb and depart after health screening.  They are also allowed to line up with their students for arrival each day, but will only be allowed access into our school buildings in the case of an emergency. 

    It is critical that families are on time and prompt during their assigned arrival/dismissal times. Please note students cannot arrive earlier than their drop off time and it is not possible for parents to collect students from school at an earlier time than stated for their grade. 

    Morning care will not be offered this fall.  We will revisit this policy later this year. 
  • Who, besides students, faculty and staff will be allowed on campus?

    Visitors, including parents and volunteers, will not be allowed on campus.
    For an emergency situation, parents should call the main school number (650) 274-0700 to make necessary arrangements.

    Essential visitors, such as repair personnel, will go through a health check/survey and will be required to wear a face-covering at all times and practice social distancing.
  • Will the Mustang Aftercare Program (MAP) be available this year? If so, what will that look like and what precautions will be in place for my child?

    Yes, we will be providing MAP to interested families. More information will be sent to families soon about the structure of MAP and the precautions that will be in place.
  • What will my child's schedule be each day at school?

    We are currently working on schedules for each campus and will share them with each grade level’s parent community in August.
  • Will there be a special process for entering and exiting the school and classroom?

    Yes. There will be special systems in place for arrival at school in the morning, the classroom during the day, as well as when a student departs. These systems will be communicated with families at each grade level prior to the start of school.
  • Will my child stay in one room each day with a set group of classmates or will they travel between classrooms with different classmates?

    Depending upon their grade level, students will be in either ‘Bubble Cohorts’ or ‘Stable Cohorts’.

    Bubble Cohorts (Pre-K through 2nd Grade) follow the current state and county guidelines for emergency child care which requires that a group of no more than 16 children, plus classroom teachers and assistants, exists within a defined location with no mixing between any other groups or individuals for a period of three weeks. Teachers and staff must remain solely with their Bubble Cohort, and if a child is absent, their space may not be filled by another child new to the cohort. If a bubble is intact, then children do not need to wear face coverings or practice physical distancing; children may engage with each other as in typical play.

    Stable Cohorts (3rd through 8th Grade) refer to a defined group of students whose size is dictated by the ability to implement physical distancing of 6ft within the classroom or primary learning setting. A Stable Cohort aims to minimize the mixing of the group members with others but allows for necessary and practical considerations in a student’s educational program. A stable cohort is not limited to a given number of students. A Stable Cohort may have more than one teacher during the instructional day and students, though assigned to a particular area of campus, may move to classrooms as necessary to access required courses.

    Cohort types will be communicated with families during our Town Hall Meetings as well as in  grade level communications prior to the start of school.
  • How will classrooms be configured?

    Classroom spaces have been specifically measured and arranged to maximize the floor space and meet county health standards with regard to physical distancing among students. (expand with map making, etc.)
  • Will students still have instruction in specialist subjects such as religion, world language, music, art, theater as well as the learning center/learning support and the library program?

    Yes. Depending upon grade level and cohort type, specialist teachers will either teach virtually or live in the classroom.
  • Will there be Physical Education?  What about team sports?

    We will continue to offer physical education as part of our curriculum either remotely or through individual workouts that align with health and safety guidelines.  There will be no sharing of equipment.

    Team sports will be on hold until further notice and guidance from the West Bay Athletic League (WBAL) officials, the state and county.
  • Will there be chapel each week?

    There will be chapel each week, however, it will take place virtually. The start time will change to 8:40 am to accommodate our staggered arrival times.
  • Will students share supplies, computers, and/or desks?

    Students will not share supplies, computers/electronics, or desks. Students will have a dedicated workspace of their own. No materials/supplies/personal toys may be brought to school and all school materials will be kept in the classroom.  Students will have dedicated supplies for daily use and other materials, such as shared art supplies, will be cleaned before and after use.  Staff will maintain the sanitizing of the classroom and ALL class materials. Class materials and computers/electronic devices will also be wiped before and after use and several times daily. 

    Students will be required to wash hands before and after use of any class materials and computers/electronics.  
  • Where will my child eat lunch and snacks?  Will there be hot lunch available?

    Snacks and lunches will be supervised and eaten in their designated classroom.  Students and staff will wash their hands before and after eating, and staff will clean and disinfect tables before and after eating.

    Students must bring their snacks and lunch each day in a resealable bag along with a full water bottle as water fountains will not be available for student use. Water bottles can, however, be filled during the day at school at designated faucets. Consistent with our policies with regard to food allergies, please do not pack anything with nuts in your child’s lunch. No food preparation will be done on campus. Hot lunch will not be available.  Students will be supervised to take off their face coverings for lunch, store them in an appropriate container (envelope or face covering container), and once finished eating will be asked to put their face covering back on.

    Please pack lunch items in easy to open containers that your child can open themselves or with little help from staff. This will help prevent cross contamination of allergens/germs and prevent staff from touching anything your child may ingest. Please practice opening items at home before the start of school.
  • Will my child have recess?

    Yes. Students will be outside for recess. A revised recess schedule has been created to provide increased outdoor playtime for all students and limit the number of students outside and/or on the playground at one time. Play structures will be off limits and students will be required to maintain physical distancing. Specific parameters will be in place depending upon their cohort type.  This information will be shared with families prior to the start of school.
  • Will there be adequate air circulation on campus and in classrooms?

    Each classroom has a dedicated air conditioning system that is not connected to other classrooms or campus locations.  In addition, ALL classrooms on campus have windows that will be open for additional ventilation as recommended by governing agencies. We are currently researching additional methods to be doubly certain that all classrooms are well ventilated since we recognize that windows will be closed during cold days and/or inclement weather. The school will continue to monitor recommendations by county officials. Our systems are in line with recommendations by the State, County, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Will classrooms share bathrooms?

    Bathrooms will be assigned to cohorts, classrooms, and at specific grade-levels. Bathrooms will be cleaned at regular and required intervals throughout the day and after school.
  • How often will the campus, including classrooms and school bathrooms, be cleaned?

    Cleaning of classrooms, bathrooms, and other campus locations (such as offices and common areas) will take place each evening after school ends.  Bathrooms will be cleaned throughout the day. In addition, faculty will maintain the cleanliness of the classrooms and supplies/materials throughout the day.
  • Will there be grade-level class trips and field trips this year?

    There will be no class trips or field trips for the rest of 2020.  We will evaluate planned trips for Spring 2021.
  • Will students, faculty, and staff be required to wear face coverings?

    Yes. Students, faculty and staff, as well as parents dropping off or picking up their child(ren) will be required to wear a face covering while they are on campus in shared or common areas.  

    Specific rules apply in the classroom and are incremental at different grade levels.  There are  exceptions to these rules, such as during snack and lunchtime, when face coverings may be removed during eating (and replaced when eating is done). Rules and guidelines for each grade level will be communicated to families prior to the start of school.

    Face coverings may be of the individual’s choosing, as long as they are appropriate by school standards and follow these guidelines from San Mateo County’s Health Officer:
    • made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes
    • covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. 
    • should not use a valve device. 
    • should be considered essential clothing that is laundered at home by hand or machine washing and worn to school each day.
    Familiarity with wearing a face covering will assist your child’s transition to school.  We encourage parents to use the summertime period to prepare children for this requirement.
  • Will physical distancing be maintained on campus and in the classroom?

    Yes. Students, faculty and staff will be required to maintain physical distance on campus of 6 ft or more in common areas. Physical distance rules will be applied in the classroom based on their cohort type.

    Summer is a good time for students to get used to practicing physical distancing (a critical element of our reopening plans). We ask that you model safe behavior for your children at home with regards to physical distancing so they have the knowledge, personal boundaries, and confidence to sustain appropriate physical distancing in this new school environment.
  • What health checks will be in place each day upon arrival at school?

    Parents should monitor their children’s symptoms as well as their own and report them to health care providers. Anyone showing symptoms of illness must remain home. This includes: cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, or fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.

    The following health checks will be in place this fall:

    Health Checks for Students:
    Students arriving at school will be greeted at different entrances with adequate separation and will undergo a health and safety check. The health and safety check will include taking the temperature of your child, a recent health history, and completing a visual inspection of your child for signs of possible illness. Once a health and safety check has been completed, students will be able to go to their classroom spaces. We will not be logging temperature readings.

    If a child’s temperature is above 100.4F/38C, or they exhibit flu-like symptoms, they will be excluded from participation in the school day. Students with elevated temperatures will be sent to a designated location on campus, where they will stay until arrangements have been made for their safe return home. 

    Parents should check their child’s temperature before arriving. It is vital that parents keep children at home if they are sick or until a fever has been gone for 72 hours without the use of medicine. Parents should NOT bring their child(ren) to school if they have any COVID-19 associated symptoms or a fever. In addition, parents should NOT bring their children to school if they OR ANYONE the child lives with develops Covid-like symptoms. 

    Health Checks for Faculty & Staff:
    School faculty and staff will also undergo a health and safety check each day when arriving on campus. They will be excluded from the facility should they have a fever or cough. They will also be required to practice good respiratory hygiene and wear a face covering throughout the day. Should a faculty/staff member become ill, they will exit the classroom immediately and be required to leave campus.
  • What if a student becomes ill during the day?

    Students will be monitored for signs of illness throughout the day. If a child shows signs of illness, we will immediately separate them from the group and require that they be picked up. Parents must agree to come pickup their child without delay if they complain about or we notice them exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
    • Headache or tiredness, unable to participate in routine activities or need more care than staff can provide.
    • Fever with behavior changes, difficulty breathing, coughing, unusually tired, persistent crying, etc.
    • Open sores, rash, signs of infection, etc.
    • Runny nose with colored mucus.
    • Diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Will strict hygiene measures be in place in classrooms, offices, and shared spaces?

    Yes.  All individuals must adhere to our face covering guidelines, physical distancing of 6 ft or more, as well as strict hand washing and hygiene protocols.

    For example, students and adults must wash their hands and/or sanitize their hands before they enter/exit the classroom, before and after recess, before and after PE, after using the bathroom, or any other time they enter/exit a room.
  • How will St. Matthew’s support students’ mental health and wellness? My child is anxious about returning to school in the Fall.

    St. Matthew's is aware that all of our students and families have been impacted in some way by COVID-19, and we are prepared to continue to support our students when they return in the fall. Resources are available to assist your student with mental health needs, this ranges from direct support from our faculty as well as linking your child with community resources if needed. There will be more frequent student check-in occurring in the fall to ensure students aren’t missed who may need additional emotional or mental health support.

    Parents are encouraged to talk with their children daily to determine their cause for  their anxiety and/or concern. Provide them reassurance and answer their questions, share information pertaining to their concern and seek answers if you are unaware. If you still need support, reach out to your Division Director for additional assistance.
  • What happens if a student, faculty member, or staff member contracts COVID-19?

    Consistent with San Mateo County Health guidelines, if one student, teacher, or other staff member is confirmed positive for COVID-19, the school will:
    • Work with the infected individual to confirm they are under medical care and have a plan to self isolate according to County Health’s protocol
    • Confirm that other members of the household who are also part of the school community remain at home in self-quarantine per County Health guidelines
    • Take immediate measures to sanitize and disinfect the school property impacted by the case
    • Determine whether cleaning measures can be implemented without temporarily closing the school campus or if temporary closure is necessary
    • Communicate with the school community that a confirmed case has been identified and outline the actions being taken to ensure a safe return to school 
    • Maintain the privacy of health and medical information for all individuals at all times per the ADA and FERPA laws
    Students and staff who become infected with COVID-19, and those who are directly exposed, may miss two or more weeks of school during the required quarantine and recovery. In some households, children may miss school for an extended period if the virus spreads through the family household.
  • What if a student, faculty member or staff member is exposed to COVID-19?

    Consistent with San Mateo County Health guidelines, the school will take the following steps if one student, teacher or staff member is confirmed to have been in direct and close contact with someone who is confirmed positive for COVID-19, the school will: 
    • The student, teacher, or staff member will be referred to as the Contact.
    • Work with the County Health and the Contact Tracing team to confirm the Contact will remain at home in self-quarantine per County Health guidelines
    • Take immediate measures to sanitize and disinfect the school property impacted by the Contact
    • Determine whether cleaning measures can be implemented without temporarily closing the school campus or if temporary closure is necessary
    • Consult with County Health officials if needed
    • Communicate with the school community that a confirmed Contact has been identified and outline the actions being taken to ensure a safe return to school
    • Maintain privacy of health and medical information for all individuals at all times per the ADA and FERPA laws
    • Prevent discrimination against students who (or whose families) were or are diagnosed with COVID-19
    Students and staff who become infected with COVID-19 and those who are directly exposed may miss two or more weeks of school during the required quarantine and recovery. In some households, children may miss school for an extended period if the virus spreads through the family household.
  • What other precautions will be taken at school?

    The following are additional precautions we will take to help limit exposure of children and staff to COVID-19 and other communicable illnesses:  
    • Regularly review all updates from San Mateo County Education, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), California Department of Social Services (CDSS,) and local public health on guidance for schools and childcare centers.
    • Post signage of COVID-19 risk assessment and preventative measures.
    • Restrict activities and visitors including parent visits.
    • Implement social distancing best practices including no hugs or shaking hands.
    • Teach and model physical  distancing greetings
  • Will you be having a town hall meeting to discuss our return to campus in the Fall and to answer questions from the community?

    Two Town Hall Meetings are currently planned:
      • Town Hall: Lower School - Plans for Reopening
        Monday, August 3rd @ 5:00 pm PST
      • Town Hall:  Middle School - Plans for Reopening
        Monday, August 3rd @ 7:00 pm PST
    We plan to record these webinars for those who cannot attend. Details, including login credentials, will be sent to the community via email.
  • When will communications and updates from the school be sent?

    As we enter August, we anticipate sending communications to the school community on a weekly basis, and more often if needed.
  • I have additional questions. Who may I contact?

    For questions related to academic programs, please contact your Division Director:
    For additional questions, please contact our Interim Head of School, Ralph Wales, at