New COVID Rules

Include Random Testing and Voluntary Home Stays


Photograph by Morgan D

Head of School Mariandl Hufford spoke to Editors Giulianna Bruce and Morgan Dent in October.

With a full return to school on November 12th, laughter, shouting, and greetings of hundreds of students, teachers and staff once again graced our campus.  Yet, the pandemic still loomed over everything. Families were given the choice to stay remote or come for live, in-person learning. Every student and faculty member needed proof of a negative COVID test to return the first week. Whether you entered on the south side or through the garage, big tents were among the first things you noticed. That is, tents meant to separate students from each other within social distancing guidelines as well as to have outdoor places to eat and study during free periods.

Mrs. Hufford explained to us in an October conversation that the decision to bring everyone back was one of the toughest she’d had to make. “I don’t like to make decisions impulsively,” she said. But she assured us that she and her team had been looking deeply at current data to make their decisions, as well as having the constant guidance of the Department of Health at their side. “Of the studies that were coming out regarding the reopening of schools around the world and what impact that had on the spread of the virus, we’re finding that… [the studies] all agree that a community spread is not impacted by school reopenings.” Furthermore, she added that doctors and clinicians are seeing that “not having kids in school [for] the long-term is detrimental to their physical health, their mental health and has led to an increase in anxiety, feelings of isolation, depression, [and] obesity.” Of course, being one of the last independent schools still in hybrid mode was a factor. She told us how we were one of the last schools to go back fully. 

Now, approaching the 3rd week of our fully operational schedule and routine, with masks, plexiglass separators, one-way hallways and stairs, and with the holidays upon us, we are facing some new rules and regulations. Mrs. Hufford told us back in October, “We are asking that if you travel, [or if] you have gone to a large gathering or a place with a spike in cases…when you come back, we encourage you to stay online for the three weeks between Thanksgiving and the winter break.” She explained that these regulations should not affect student-athletes who are playing during the breaks and she felt that games should not be a reason to stay away because students will be allowed to participate in sports upon their return.

Upper School Director Jill Robert affirms, “As always, though, if a student suspects they have been exposed to the virus, we ask them to stay at home, attend their classes online, and communicate with both Mr. Oronoz and Nurse Ricart to assess their unique situation.”

Students will not be required to report whether or not they had traveled, nor do they need to show a negative test when they return. However, this past Friday, Mrs. Hufford announced to faculty and staff that the school would be implementing random COVID-19 testing on campus. Over the weekend, the faculty received a waiver to sign that included this:

“After reviewing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and applicable state and local orders regarding COVID-19, Miami Country Day School has decided to require that a percentage of all students and employees who will regularly be on campus be tested for COVID-19 on a schedule deemed appropriate by the School.  The School will utilize the services of an outside testing provider.” 

Testing is intended as another way to keep us all safe. Mrs. Hufford tells us she knows it will not be a hundred percent perfect, but that she has great faith in the MCDS community. Now, as these are the current protocols for Thanksgiving and Christmas break, know that they are more than likely to change, and we will keep you updated on any changes. As Mrs. Hufford reminded us, the original Spartans were famous for having each others’ backs. In that same spirit, she said, “If we are going to be good Spartans, it’s not just about protecting yourself but about protecting people in your community.”

Use your best judgment…be a good Spartan.