Reopening Plan Fall 2020

Plan for Safe Reopening

Guiding Principles

In many senses, the decision to return to campus during this pandemic is forcing people to choose between mental and physical well-being - a Solomonic choice that involves some degree of risk on either side. In addition, we recognize our important role in enabling parents to be able to work to support their families. Therefore, we will do all we can to safely replicate Upland’s unique, personalized educational approach and offer flexibility during this extraordinary time. By offering distance learning in addition to in-person instruction, we hope to offer options to our families. There will be instances where things may look and feel a little different, but we will do our utmost to continue to deliver an inspiring, challenging and dynamic learning experience.

Our school and community will be impacted by the novel coronavirus at least through the 2020-21 school year. Throughout the school year, there may be spikes of COVID-19 that will require the reintroduction of stricter control measures, possibly with very little notice, which will demand significant flexibility from our school community.

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and families is of paramount importance. On campus learning requires that all community members follow appropriate procedures and protocols both at home and at school, including physical distancing, personal protective equipment, personal hygiene, sanitation of facilities, and health screening and monitoring.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control, state and local departments of health and education, the CHOP PolicyLab, and national medical associations will guide school policies and procedures.

What We Know

  • Upland is uniquely nimble and equipped to educate students according to the safety guidelines. Small class sizes, spacious classrooms, twenty-three acres, seven buildings and a well-established predisposition to “open air” learning all work together to put us in an enviable position compared to most schools to offer a learning environment that is dynamic and as safe as can be hoped for.
  • Kids thrive most when in school around their peers and teachers. During our distance learning period in the spring, we learned what was missing the most was human-to-human interaction, which was very difficult to replicate in a two-dimensional format (computer screen to computer screen). We believe that restoring the “third dimension” (people to people), even if socially distanced or masked, is vital to better learning and wellness.
  • Educators are essential workers. We have the utmost admiration for our faculty and staff for their willingness to even allow us to be in a position to offer in-person instruction to our students. We love our kids and our jobs, and we will do everything we can to mitigate risk for our community.
  • People have varying comfort levels and personal circumstances. By offering a distanced option, we hope to respect and accommodate anyone who is unwilling or unable to place their child(ren) in an in-person setting.
  • There will be bumps along the way. Any number of obstacles may arise - student illness, teacher illness, state/local mandates, etc. Throughout the emergence of the pandemic, this community revealed tremendous patience, understanding, resilience and support. More of this will likely be necessary along the way.
We have framed our reopening in three major categories:
Health & Safety, Teaching & Learning, and Operations & Facilities.

Health & Safety

Our plan is based on guidance provided by the Chester County Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education regarding the phased re-opening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Please know that the broad information below is taken from a much more comprehensive document that will continue to evolve and grow. Our School Nurse, Mrs. Rosa Moore, has moved to full-time status and will be the lead person in designing our health protocols as well as administering care to our students, faculty and staff.

Decision-Making Process: Color-Coded Phases

The three-tiered color-coded system defines the school COVID response structure for the 2020-21 school year. These tiers are informed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Process to Reopen and provide guidelines for the health of our community and our learning environment.

List of 3 items.

  • Green: Low to No Risk

    General Conditions:
    • Incidents in the Chester County region remain low, based on daily reports received from the Chester County Department of Emergency Services. 
    • No known cases on the UCDS campus. 
    • Faculty, staff, students, and families closely adhere to safety protocols. 
    Learning Conditions:
    • Campus is open. 
    • Students are on campus, or in hybrid mode if they choose. 
    • UCDS is open all school days according to the scheduled school calendar. 
    • Socially distant learning remains as a priority.
  • Yellow: Moderate/Heightened Risk*

    General Conditions:
    • Incidents in the Chester County region remain low, but starting to increase based on daily reports received from the Chester County Department of Emergency Services. 
    • Higher risk of cases in the school community. 
    • Faculty, staff, students, and families closely adhere to safety protocols. 
    Learning Conditions:
    • Campus is open. 
    • Students are on campus, though more students may need or choose to attend school through the hybrid model.
    • UCDS is open all school days according to the scheduled school calendar. 
    • Elevated safety procedures are in place. 
    • Socially distant learning remains as a priority.

    *Stricter control measures, possibly with very little notice, may be introduced if general conditions worsen including sharper increase of regional infections and/or non-compliance by UCDS community members.
  • Red: High Risk

    General Conditions:
    • Chester County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania imposes a stay-at-home order and closes all schools, or the administration of UCDS determines conditions necessitate a return to distance learning through Upland Online. 
    • The Chester County Health Department determines that UCDS must close based on the identification of an outbreak on school grounds based on reporting from the school.
    Learning Conditions:
    • UCDS campus is closed except for essential employees.
    • Upland Online is the sole vehicle for teaching and learning. 

Symptom Monitoring

Families, faculty and staff are asked to monitor their households for symptoms of COVID-19 and to stay home if sick.  Upland is working on a digital tool to enable families to report the results of at home screening quickly and easily.

Students who are symptomatic will be separated from other students; parents must pick up their child promptly after being notified by Upland.  Prior to leaving school, the School Nurse will provide guidance for self-isolation at home and for returning to school.


As referenced by the CDC, Upland will consider both "primary" and "secondary" exposures when determining any COVID related health and safety determinations. 

Primary exposure (close contact) is defined by the CDC as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. Primary exposures will likely require that the full grade level transition to remote learning.

Secondary exposure is defined as all others who have been on campus during a primary exposure. 

Quarantining and Return to School


List of 2 items.

  • Staff member has symptoms

    • Not allowed at school
    • Employee must notify school if an absence is due to COVID-19
  • Student has symptoms

    • Not allowed on a bus or at school
    • Family must notify school if an absence is due to COVID-19
Quarantined individuals may return to school under the following conditions:

Situation (Students/Staff):

List of 4 items.

  • Individual had fever or COVID-19-like symptoms

    Return to School Protocol:
    Individual should be tested:
    • If test result is negative return to school following readmission criteria in PA Code 27.73 (confirmation from a healthcare provider that the individual has a noncommunicable disease)
    • If test result is positive, return to school when fever free for 24 hrs without the use of medication AND improvement in symptoms AND 10 days have passed since symptoms appeared
    If individual is not tested, return to school when:
    • 24 hours have passed without a fever and without using fever-reducing medication
    • Improvement in symptoms
    • 10 days since symptoms have appeared
  • Individual with positive COVID-19 test and no symptoms

    Return to School Protocol:
    May return 10 days after the PCR test was collected

    If symptoms develop during 10 days, follow the guidance for positive PCR test with symptoms
  • Individual who has had a direct exposure to a person with COVID-19 will be considered a probable case

    Must stay home from school or work until release from isolation criteria has been met.

    These individuals must also self-quarantine from the person with COVID-19.

    Individuals with symptoms should be tested:
    • If result is negative, return to school 14 days after last exposure to the person with COVID-19 and symptoms have resolved
    • If result is positive, follow guidance for Positive COVID-19 test with symptoms
    • Individuals may not return to school while awaiting test results
    • If not tested, individuals may return to school 14 days after last exposure to the person with COVID-19 and symptoms have resolved
    Individuals without symptoms:
    • May return 14 days after the date of last exposure to the person with COVID-19.
    • If symptoms develop during 14 days, follow return to school guidance for symptomatic individuals
  • Individuals who travel to areas with travel restrictions as identified by the PA Department of Health or the CDC

    Individuals with symptoms should be tested:
    • If result is negative, return to school 14 days after last exposure to the person with COVID-19 and symptoms have resolved
    • If result is positive, follow guidance for Positive COVID-19 test with symptoms
    • Individuals may not return to school while awaiting test results
    • If not tested, individuals may return to school 14 days after last exposure to the person with COVID-19 and symptoms have resolved
    Individuals without symptoms:
    • May return 14 days after the date of last exposure to the person with COVID-19.
    • If symptoms develop during 14 days, follow return to school guidance for symptomatic individuals
Exposure/Isolation Scenarios 

Example 1: Ms. Black is a third grade teacher, who becomes ill with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 
  • Students in 3rd grade have had a primary exposure to Ms. Black and therefore transition to the Upland Online. 
  • Siblings of students in 3rd grade only have secondary exposure and therefore, may remain at school while monitoring for symptoms. 

Example 2: Jane and John Gold are siblings. Jane is in first grade and John is in 7th grade. John becomes ill with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 
  • Jane enters the hybrid model, as she has had primary exposure to John through family, but first graders may remain in school because of secondary exposure through Jane. 
  • Grade 7 enters Upland Online as students in John’s class have had primary exposure to John.
  • John has several teachers. In the case that an upper school faculty member believes s/he has had primary exposure to John (based on the CDC close contact definition), s/he will teach virtually so her/his other students may remain at school, monitored by other unexposed faculty members.
  • Siblings of 7th graders may remain on-campus, since they have had only secondary exposure. 

Example 3: Mr. Sisu is an Upper School math teacher, who teaches all four grade levels (6th-9th), and becomes ill with COVID-19. 
  • All Upper School students who have Mr. Sisu will go into remote learning as primary exposure.  
  • The remaining Upper School students and faculty may remain on campus (secondary exposure).


Upland will continue to expand our wellness program by incorporating stress and anxiety -reducing strategies such as mindfulness in the classroom setting.  In addition, the School Nurse and the School Counselor will provide self-care resources for all families.


We request that families, faculty and staff consult the CDC and the state health department websites before making travel plans.  Upland reserves the right to ask students and employees to self-quarantine if they have travelled to an area deemed unsafe by the CDC and/or the state of Pennsylvania.

Hand Hygiene

Students and faculty follow regular hand-washing and sanitizing routines throughout the day.  Upland is installing touchless hand-washing and sanitizing stations throughout campus to ensure regular access.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting

Daily cleaning practices are compliant with CDC recommendations.  Special attention will be paid to cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces throughout the day.  Upland is also investing in additional sanitizing tools such as UV wands to be used for technology hardware and after hours disinfecting.

Face Coverings

All students, faculty, staff and visitors will wear proper-fitting facing covering on campus when indoors and when unable to maintain social distancing outdoors.  Teachers will provide monitored mask breaks throughout the day.


Schedules and classroom use have been modified to keep students in smaller, consistent grade-level groups during the school day. Our goal is to reduce the risk of transmission and facilitate contact tracing in the event of infection without requiring the entire campus to close and shift to distance learning.

Physical Distancing

Movement on campus will be controlled and directed to reduce the mixing of students outside of their pods.  Upland will take advantage of our beautiful campus and will use outdoor classrooms as much as possible.  Within classrooms, students will be seated with appropriate physical distancing as per PA Department of Education guidelines.

Lunch and Snack

Students will bring snacks and lunch from home and will not share food or drinks with other students.  Students should also bring their own utensils if needed.  No shared snacks will be distributed among students or staff. Lunch will take place within grade-level classrooms or outdoors.


While we realize that there will be times when parents need to access campus, we would like to limit visits as much as possible during the school day. If the need does arise, we ask that parents contact the reception desk in advance, check in at the Farmhouse as usual, maintain appropriate social distancing, and wear a mask. Per the County Health Department, all visitors and volunteers must be screened for symptoms and temperature upon arrival.

“New” School Supplies

In addition to the “traditional” school supplies (pencils, folders, notebooks), each child must come to school with his/her own supply of hand sanitizer, face masks and a portable stool for outside classes. While we will have extras on hand, it will be important for each student to have ready access to these items.

Teaching & Learning

Our plan to teach in-person safely revolves around the key concepts of physical distancing, limited cross-utilization of space and readiness to implement hybrid and/or distance learning.

Academic Calendar

Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, it is our intention to follow the typical school calendar regarding start and end dates as well as breaks. We reserve the right to alter the posted school calendar based on real time conditions. 

Physical Distancing/Masks

Most of our classroom spaces will allow for appropriate physical distancing. However, students and teachers will be required to wear masks indoors and in any circumstance where social distancing cannot be consistently maintained outdoors. In many cases, we will need to utilize additional spaces on campus (indoor and outdoor) and rearrange or replace furniture to allow for appropriate distancing in class. For example, we will temporarily need to remove our beautiful Harkness tables, but the spirit of that instructional approach can still take place in a safely distanced environment.

Utilizing Campus Space

We are in a fortunate position to be able to maximize the use of our spacious campus for learning, play, lunch and more. Our goal is also to create a “home base” or “pod” in each specific grade level to limit the cross-utilization of space. This already exists naturally in the lower school, and we will follow a similar model in the upper school. Rather than students moving to a new space for different classes, the teachers will move into a common student space. We will also schedule our Specials classes in two-week increments to limit cross over use of space.  This approach will allow for less cross-exposure and better contact tracing should an exposure occur. (Rest assured, students will have ample opportunity to access the outdoors either for class or to move around and “stretch their legs” between classes.) Because there are some classes where space is clearly linked to program (art, science labs, the IDEA Center), in cases where more than one grade level will utilize a space during a school day, the space will be thoroughly cleaned between classes. 

Hybrid/Distance Learning

We would like to offer the opportunity for any family who is uncomfortable or unable to access in-person learning to join school remotely. Indeed, this may be a necessity for many or all if illness occurs, quarantine measures take effect, or authorities mandate a return to distance learning. To help in our preparations, we ask any family electing to choose distance learning for health reasons during the fall 2020 semester to notify the School Nurse ( no later than August 15.  

Upland Online, our distance learning platform, will build upon our experience and feedback from the spring. Our goal through distance learning will be to provide a reliable and dynamic program that provides predictable and consistent access to material and assignments as well as a synchronous component for students regardless of their ability to be on campus.

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)/Mental Health

When the COVID-19 pandemic initiated a stay-at-home order for two and a half months, Upland students, parents, and teachers moved quickly into remote learning. We are proud of the way that the community responded during this unprecedented time, however, we recognize that the isolation that this caused, coupled with the economic distress that many have experienced, compounded by the trauma that many have felt in the wake of national protests may have heightened the level of stress and anxiety for many.

At Upland, we believe that addressing the social and emotional well-being of our children’ must be considered along with inspiring their intellectual growth and development. With this in mind, we will be enhancing our SEL efforts to support wellness, social justice, and Mindfulness, and modifying our PE/Athletics program to amplify our focus on the social-emotional health of students.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

We recognize that the global pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing inequities in our school, neighborhoods, and country. Current events have put systemic inequities at the forefront for us to examine how we engage around these important topics while maintaining a safe environment for all. We aim to facilitate an increased level of developmentally appropriate conversations around bias, prejudice, and privilege; offer affinity groups; provide resources to the community to engage around these topics; address any emerging equity challenges we may face; and continue professional development on DEI for faculty and staff. 

Operations & Facilities

We are taking proactive steps to foster continued good health and promote a clean environment on campus, with improvements being made this summer to our facilities and enhancements in our approach to maintenance and custodial activities. 

Personal Sanitizing

Improvements are underway starting with simple signage to remind all of the importance and proper methods of handwashing and moving to more practical measures including ordering of new, touchless faucets for our lavatory facilities.  Similarly, new, touchless, automatic soap and paper towel dispensers will be installed at all sink locations, and touchless hand sanitizer stations will be installed at strategic locations throughout campus.  

Health Room/PPE

We are also investing in our nursing station with added PPE stock, additional sterilization tools and a redesign of our sick room protocols to promote isolation and protection for our sick students awaiting pickup.  Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in class will immediately be separated from their classmates and sent to an isolation room within reach of the nursing station.

Cleaning Practices

We are strengthening our custodial practices to include more frequent disinfectant cleaning of all regularly used surfaces such as desks, doorknobs and implementing UV light wands for cleansing tech equipment. Expanded custodial practices will include more frequent HVAC filter replacements and whole-room disinfectant spray-downs. In development too is a playbook for a series of action plans and protocols to be implemented if we have a suspicion of COVID presence on campus. 


Ventilation helps reduce the spread of coronavirus and other air-borne pathogens.  To this end, teachers will use outdoor spaces as well as open doors and/or windows to maximize air flow in classrooms whenever possible.  All classrooms will be equipped with fans to keep air currents moving and dilute air.

Campus Safety/Security

With the generous $25,000 grant from the state of Pennsylvania, we have contracted with ADT to greatly improve security and building access features across campus. Replacing our former system with the state-of-the-art ADT programs allows for expanded and improved off-hours monitoring of campus, dramatically improved building access controls and intelligence, and enhanced communications with first responders.

Community Expectations

We are all responsible for the safety of our school community. It will be critical that parents closely monitor the health of their children and keep sick children home. It is also vital that parents support our safety policies and encourage their children to do the same.

Because these measures are critical to the safety of all, students or parents who fail to comply with our safety requirements and protocols jeopardize the well-being of our community and therefore may be restricted from in-person learning.
To that end, as a community, we ask for and commit to the following:

  • All families and UCDS faculty and staff adhere to directives from the Centers for Disease Control, the PA Department of Health and the Chester County Department of Health for reducing the spread of coronavirus.
  • All students and UCDS faculty and staff must stay home if they are sick.
  • Families and UCDS faculty and staff must stay home and notify the School Nurse if notified by the state or local health departments that they or a member of their household has been exposed to an individual with COVID-19.
  • All families and UCDS faculty and staff must notify the School Nurse if they or a member of their household tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Families will promptly pick up children from school if the child shows signs of illness and needs to go home.
  • Students and UCDS faculty and staff will wear face masks or face shields while on campus and unable to maintain social distancing except during meals and teacher-directed “mask breaks”.  Washable face masks must be cleaned after each use and disposable masks disposed of daily or when wet or visibly soiled.
  • Students will not bring items not required for school to campus.
  • Students will not share food or drinks.  Students, faculty and staff will bring food and reusable water bottles from home.


Given the changing nature of the pandemic and response, the information we share and post is best characterized as a living document that will likely adapt and evolve along the way. Upland commits to communicating with our families frequently and openly in a number of ways, including:

  • Posting the Plan for the Safe Reopening of Upland Country Day School on the school website. 
  • Providing public access to this Plan for the Safe Reopening and making it available to be read by all members of the UCDS community. 
  • Informing families if the Plan for the Safe Reopening has been updated. 
  • Notifying staff, families, and public health officials of school closures and in-school-year changes to safety protocols. 
  • Alerting staff, families, and public health officials of positive cases of COVID-19 in our school community. 
  • Sharing local, state, and federal guidance on mitigating the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Creating and distributing developmentally appropriate information (i.e. instructional videos and graphics) to families on personal hygiene, physical distancing, and other safety practices. 
  • Posting visible signs on our campus that promote personal hygiene, physical distancing, and other safety protocols. 
  • Responding to pandemic-related concerns from community members as promptly and thoroughly as possible.
Additionally, members of our team will convene regularly to monitor changes regarding the health and safety of our specific community, taking their lead from local, state, and federal guidelines.  If you have questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact any of the following people:


List of 12 items.

  • What are school hours?

    Students should arrive at school between 7:45-8:05am. On Mondays and Fridays, school ends at 3:00pm. On Tuesday-Thursday, school ends at 3:00pm for Lower School (PK-Grade 5) and at 4:20pm for Upper School (Grades 6-9).
  • How will you help ensure students or teachers don’t come to school when they are sick?

    Each morning prior to coming to campus, a health assessment check, completed via an app, will be required for all students and staff. Students who repeatedly fail to fill out the daily assessment may lose on campus privileges and move to hybrid learning.
  • What about transportation - Busing and Pick-up/Drop-off?

    We will utilize the traditional pick-up and drop-off locations and times, but will be certain that students waiting for cars or buses are physically distanced.

    Unfortunately, we are not in control of bus transportation and are beholden to the local districts’ plans. We recommend that you are in touch with your school district for specifics. We will attempt to be flexible should “staggered schedules” be implemented.
  • What is your policy on masks vs. face shields?

    The current science suggests that masks and face shields both provide sufficient protection in appropriately spaced and normal-volume interactions. In a classroom setting where the volume of the teacher’s or students’ voices may be increased, a mask is a more suitable option.  However, in a learning environment, teachers’ ability to read students’ facial expressions (and vice versa) is important in the learning process. Therefore, the ideal solution would be a clear mask. Any face covering should come all the way around the face and below the chin. Gators and bandanas are not permitted as face coverings.
  • What does the hybrid option look like?

    Whenever possible, a student who is in the hybrid learning model will “virtually attend” the in-person class via Zoom or other medium. When this proves impractical, students will also have asynchronous work to accomplish. It is our intention that any student in the hybrid mode will keep progress with in-person instruction.
  • What about sports?

    Interscholastic competition will not occur in the fall season, though we will craft a dynamic physical education and athletic experience for our upper school students. Winter and spring sports competition is to be determined.
  • What will performances and student activities look like?

    Concerts and theater performances, and other group or audience-related activities will need to take a different format. We will develop engaging and exciting alternatives for our students.
  • Will there be tuition discounts for either the hybrid model or if we return full time to Upland Online?

    While achieving a break-even proposition is our goal, the school currently only sets its tuition levels to cover most (but not all) of the cost to educate our children.  These costs include maintaining campus and student amenities, investments in technology, student instructional materials and, of course, salaries to our educators and support staff.  All of these costs continue unabated whether on-campus or in either a hybrid or online scenario and Upland cannot reduce these tuitions without impairing its programs.  
    However, we do recognize your tuition to Upland does include fees to cover certain stand-alone activities such as field trips and other class-specific activities.  Where those activities may be cancelled and not replaced with other enrichment or other add-on elements to strengthen a hybrid or on-line experience, we will make full consideration for a return of those fees to you at the conclusion of the school year.
  • What will After School Care (ASC) look like?

    We do intend to offer After School Care for families who need it, maintaining our physical distancing and space usage protocols. It is likely that in order to maintain our attempts to minimize cross-over of students in various grade levels that ASC 
  • What about special events?

    It is likely that any event that brings groups of people together (i.e. all-school picnic, Founders’ Day, the Auction) will be canceled, postponed or dramatically altered. Specific information will be released closer to the dates of each program.
  • Will we host international students?

    This decision may be out of our hands due to ever-changing government policies as well as country-specific guidelines. We are preparing to allow for our Finnish exchange students to attend, but this will likely be a last-minute determination. We will avoid other international exchange or visit programs for the coming school year. 
  • What will the governmental authorities require?

    Despite our best planning, we are ultimately subject to higher authorities, therefore updated mandates or phase-changes could impact our decisions and precipitate a return to online instruction.