coronavirus/COVID-19 Information Page
As we closely follow the evolving situation around COVID-19, our goal is to keep the GFS community informed at every step. The safety and health of our students is our top priority.
Please use this page as a way to stay up-to-date with information about COVID-19 as it pertains to our community.
To keep information organized and easy to access, we've created online learning pages for each division. There, you will find policies, expectations and contact information, as well as resources from our counseling staff and additional learning resources. Click below to access:
Though our campus is currently closed due to Covid-19, we would love to show you around and tell you more about the exceptional education and unparalleled sense of community we offer at Garrison Forest.
We welcome you to learn more by clicking here for our virtual tour, or contact us to speak with an admission representative today!
Is GFS closed?
Our campus will be closed beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13. We will transition to online learning beginning on Thursday, March 26, and expect online learning to continue through Friday, April 24 at a minimum. During this time, athletics and other extracurricular programs are canceled. UPDATE: The campus closure is extended through the end of this academic year.
What happens after May 15?
We will continue monitoring the situation. It is rapidly evolving, but measures to contain and limit the spread of the virus are far-reaching, and our hope is to be able to resume in-person classes after May 15. However, if we feel this is not possible, we’ll let you know as soon as that decision is made. In addition to regular communication with teachers throughout this online learning period, you will also receive updates from the school as needed. UPDATE: As of 5/6/20, GFS will remain closed through the end of the academic year. As state and federal mandates around social distancing and proper health precautions, we will re-evaluate plans to re-open our campus.
What about upcoming events?
Events scheduled through the end of the academic year, including Career Day, the Spring Tailgate, and all athletic games, are canceled. Information about the possibility of rescheduling will be available as we work through the logistics and continue watching the progression of the virus. We are meeting regularly to evaluate events planned for later in the spring and will make decisions closer to that date. In addition, families will receive details about end-of-year celebrations.
We know that it’s disappointing for students to miss out on anticipated events and to be unsure about how the spring calendar is going to look; we will do our best to reschedule events as possible and provide up-to-date information as we have it.
A NOTE ABOUT REUNION: We have made the difficult decision to postpone this year's Reunion Weekend scheduled for May 1-2. Alumnae celebrating their reunion will receive information regarding rescheduling.
What does this mean for student athletes?
We will update our athletics as we receive more information on the schedule. Again, we know our athletes work hard and are looking forward to competing, especially our seniors, and we understand the frustration and disappointment. We will provide updates as soon as we have them. Update as of 4/21/20: The Interscholastic Athletics Association of Maryland (IAAM) and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), the governing bodies for our athletics program, announced that a joint decision has been made to officially cancel the spring sports season. We will be in touch with our athletes for support and guidance.
How do I talk to my daughter about what’s happening?
Given the nearly constant news coverage of COVID-19 and the extensive closures happening locally, your child will surely have questions about what’s going on. Many families will also be impacted by modifications to parents’ jobs or general interruptions to daily life. A few helpful articles on talking about the virus can be found in the Resources section below, and our counselors are also available to help students who feel anxious or are having trouble adjusting to changing environments. In addition to ensuring the safety and physical wellness of our students, we also want to prioritize the social and emotional wellness of all students as we move through this challenging time.
One of the most helpful things you can do as a parent is to maintain structure and routines during the online learning period. This will help your child stay in a school-focused mindset. While the online learning experience is meant to be comprehensive, it’s also not meant to keep students (or their parents) locked behind a computer all day. The amount of time students are expected to spend on their work will be outlined by each Division Head; this will leave spaces for breaks, relaxation and other work. If possible, your student should be getting outside or having other physical activity. We recommend monitoring and limiting your child’s intake of digital content, whether it’s social media, YouTube or television.
How does online learning work?
Our Division Heads and faculty have been working diligently over the past few weeks to develop a robust and thoughtful online program that is specific for each division and grade. Our goal is to maintain structure and have all students continue their academic progress throughout this time. Division Heads will be providing more information about the specifics of online learning, including expectations for students and parents. The tools we will be using are age-appropriate and are familiar to your child. Teachers will be in regular contact with students (and/or parents for younger students) and clear directions will be provided.
What if my student or I have questions about the assignments?
Please email your child’s teacher directly. Teachers will be available to answer questions and assist students, just as they would be during a school day. If email isn’t sufficient, teachers may use tools like Google Meet or Google Hangouts to connect with students. We will also have our counseling and academic support staff available for students who may need additional assistance and support.
What if we need technical support, additional academic support or other emotional/social support?
The note from your Division Head will outline who you should contact in each of these cases, or you can use the reference below.
- Lower Division:
- Middle School:
- Lindsay Kelland, Director of Educational Technology & Libraries email@example.com
- Academic support: Reach out to your advisor or Emma Parsons, Middle School Academic Resource Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emotional/social support or counseling: Lisa Fleck, Director of Counseling & Middle School Counselor, email@example.com
- Upper School:
- Technical support: Start with your advisor. If they’re unable to assist you, they can help you elevate your concern to the appropriate party.
- Academic support: Reach out to your advisor or Katie Baughman, Upper School Dean of Academic Development, KathleenBaughman@gfs.org
- Emotional/social support or counseling: Aminah Wells, Upper School Counselor, firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I make sure my child isn’t falling behind?
Our goal is to ensure students continue their academic progress during this time. The parent-teacher partnership is vital in ensuring your child’s success, and we encourage all parents to be as actively involved in their child’s online learning program as they are able to be. Though our teachers are readily available, it’s also important for parents to understand the expectations and help their student maintain a serious approach to schoolwork during the online learning period.
If you have any concerns about the work your child is doing or their academic progress, please do not hesitate to reach out to their teacher, advisor or Division Head.
- Prevention and Wellness
- GFS Community Travel
- Online Learning: Beginning Thursday, March 26
- Email and Other Communications
This is a good time to revisit common sense guidelines for avoiding all types of contagious illnesses. In addition to this virus, the flu is especially prevalent this year, so we encourage our entire community to help stop the spread of illness and disease.
- Thoroughly wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- Cover up coughs and sneezes
- Disinfect high-touch surfaces
- Remain home (including from school) if you don't feel well
INCREASED EFFORTS AT GFS
While our housekeeping staff is always dedicated to ensuring our learning and work spaces are clean and safe, we have added protocols to support illness prevention across campus.This includes practicing high-level intense cleaning and disinfecting, which we have been implementing since the beginning of the outbreak. In addition, our Health Center staff has been vigilant in educating students, faculty and staff about the virus and general good health practices.
As mentioned above, this is a rapidly evolving situation. If you have travel plans--domestic or international--we recommend all community members follow the guidelines below:
- If traveling internationally, be sure you check any restrictions put forth by the country you'll be traveling to before you depart and continue monitoring the situation throughout your travel. Have a back-up plan in case your arrangements are suddenly interrupted due to changing restrictions.
- We strongly recommend all families follow CDC guidelines and avoid traveling to countries designated as a Level 3 or 4 Travel Risk.
- It is especially important to follow the tips above for avoiding illness while traveling.
- Be prepared for delays and interruptions as more airports, even domestically, add screening processes.
- Be aware that many states, including Maryland, are imposing restrictions on public gatherings and events. We encourage all families to follow the recommendations around "social distancing" to limit and contain the spread of this virus. Please see this information from the CDC for more details.
Returning to the US/GFS:
- Any student or faculty/staff member returning from a trip with a potentially contagious condition should consult their physician immediately. Do not return to campus until given the all-clear.
- Any community member who knows or is concerned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 while traveling internationally is required to report that upon re-entry into the United States.
- The US has a mandated quarantine period for those who may have been exposed to the virus, domestically or internationally.
Garrison Forest will be moving to online learning following Spring Break, to begin Thursday, March 26 and go at least until April 10. Each division has developed a robust, detailed online learning plan that is age-appropriate and specific to the needs of their division and will provide continuity of each student’s program. Faculty is ready to implement these plans quickly. Please see the FAQ above for more information.
Your Division Head will follow up with more information and expectations, but here are a few key things to know now to help your family prepare:
- Technology used will vary by division and needs, but will be platforms your student has used before and is familiar with.
- The main goals throughout this period of online learning are to maintain structure and ensure that academic progress continues. You should anticipate academic time every weekday, but also time for exercise/recreation.
- Teachers and advisers will be available for questions and concerns. Tech help and troubleshooting will be provided as much as possible.
- Understanding that this is a challenging time for many families, the programs are designed to be flexible and accommodate different family circumstances.
How you can help:
- Your daughter should bring home any items she may need—books, supplies, computers, etc.—to prepare for online learning.
- Take a moment to evaluate your family’s computer equipment and access to technology and make preparations in advance if possible.
Reunion Postponement Social Media Announcement -- 3.20.20
During this unprecedented time, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this year's Reunion Weekend scheduled for May 1-2. Alumnae celebrating their reunion will receive information regarding rescheduling. While we were looking forward to welcoming you back to the Forest, the health and safety of all members of our community are our top priority. We appreciate your flexibility and patience during this time, and look forward to reconnecting soon.
Divisional emails / Online learning follow-up -- 3.13.20
While we are actively monitoring this situation on a daily basis, we encourage all of our community members to do the same in order to keep themselves healthy and make informed decisions about their own travel and plans. Keep an eye on reputable news sources to ensure you have the information you need. Here are a few resources:
- COVID-19 information for Travelers (CDC)
- "Social Distancing"
- World Health Organization: Coronavirus
- Frequently Asked Questions: Guidance for Schools About the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- White Paper developed by PRA Health Sciences
SPEAKING WITH YOUR CHILD ABOUT COVID-19
With near-constant press coverage and the rapidly changing nature of the situation, many people may be feeling anxious, including your children. If you are looking for productive ways to discuss the virus with your child, please see this New York Times article, this USA TODAY article and this article from the Child Mind Institute for guidance.