Click below for important forms and information for parents and students
NOTE! Only medical exemptions from immunizations are accepted by Mercy as mandated by New York State Law (see Nonmedical Vaccine Exemption FAQ July 2019).
Click the box below to view updates regarding Mercy’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and our Back-to-school plan for 2020-2021.
Online Learning/COVID-19 Updates:
July 31, 2020 – At noon today, Mercy’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan to explore leasing space with larger classrooms and greater square footage for our middle school for the 2020-2021 academic school year. This decision was made in direct response to the challenges faced by our school due to COVID-19 and the social distancing mandates in place throughout the state. This potential new space will not be on the Mercy campus; rather, it will be nearby so parent transportation and busing should not be greatly affected. Faculty/staff were made aware of the plan today.
When this new building space is acquired, we anticipate shifting all of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students to the new location with larger classrooms, which will allow them to safely attend in-person instruction five days per week. Confirmation of the new space and additional details will be shared with families before August 7.
July 31, 2020 – Since March, Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women has led the way in responding to the coronavirus public health crisis while maintaining high academic standards. As one of the first schools to close in anticipation of the New York State mandate, Mercy was fully prepared to launch our heralded Synchronous Online Learning Program. While not the typical method of experiencing Mercy’s world-class education, the Online Learning Program nonetheless was championed by parents as “being on the forefront of keeping the students safe” while “giving parents and their daughters comfort during a difficult time.” Our students rose to the challenge and excelled at online learning… seeking help and assistance when necessary, and finishing the school year far ahead of students in so many other educational institutions.
We are taking the formidable strengths of our successful online program and blending them with much-desired in-person instruction which will serve as the bedrock of the Mercy HyFlex Learning Model when we reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. A summary infographic as well as detailed information of the Mercy Back-to-School plan can be viewed here. Soon, we will announce a ‘town hall’ event for parents/guardians and students so we may answer any questions you have about our reentry plans.
June 26, 2020: Thank you all for your efforts in supporting our students, each other, and the mission of Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women during such an immensely challenging time of COVID-19 and online learning. We hope you and your daughters are enjoying the beautiful summer weather and can recharge your body, mind, and spirit. On a very positive note, we are encouraged to see a daily decline in cases in New York and the gradual reopening of the state and region.
One thing is clear from the recent parent surveys – the vast majority of us want to see a safe return to school in the fall. Mercy’s path to returning to school in September will be guided by two principles: the continuity of our academic mission and protecting the health and safety of our community of students, faculty, and staff. Sub-committees of Mercy’s COVID-19 Reentry Advisory Task Force are working daily to plan for September.
Currently, we are hoping and prepared for a full return to campus. However, the academic subcommittee has been tasked with evaluating several ‘hybrid’ plans (on-campus and online) should state regulations and the health of our community preclude a return to normal. The details of these plans will continue to be determined over the next several weeks. While we understand the desire for immediate answers, we are bound by the time frame established by the Governor and the New York State Board of Regents. Our final decision will be based on their latest health/safety guidelines and restrictions which they have scheduled to release sometime after July 13. Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, thorough planning will position Mercy to best respond to evolving circumstances.
As you can imagine, our teaching spaces must align with all safety standards, which will be no easy feat. All health guidance will be followed to ensure the maximum degree of safety possible for students and faculty. By taking all reasonable steps to create safe teaching and learning spaces, we hope that faculty members and parents will feel comfortable with in-class student instruction, and we can ensure the safety of all.
Ongoing communication with Mercy families will be crucial during this process. You will continue to receive scheduled updates on the progress in all areas of the fall planning process, including any new guidance on health and safety requirements. We know we can count on all members within the Circle of Mercy to rally behind this important work. Thank you for your kind attention and your support for reopening the school in the fall. Happy summer!
May 22, 2020: Today, Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women announced its COVID-19 Reentry Advisory Task Force. Chairing the Task Force is James “Jim” Maxwell, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Chief of Neurosurgery at Rochester General Hospital. As a father of two Mercy graduates, and himself a graduate of McQuaid, Georgetown University, and Columbia University, Dr. Maxwell will lead a team of health, academic, financial, and facilities subcommittees.
Task force subcommittee chairs include: Colleen Davis, M.D., MPH, Chief of the Pediatric Emergency Department at University of Rochester Golisano Children’s Hospital; Sue Moore, retired Xerox Vice President of Finance; Rich Laudisi, retired LeChase Construction Vice President (all three of whom are serving/have served as members of the Mercy Board of Trustees), and Marty Kilbridge, Ed.D., Mercy Principal. We are grateful for the service and hard work of these individuals.
Over the upcoming weeks, Task Force members will be guided by federal, state, and county regulations while researching best practices from around the country, modeling a variety of scenarios related to the reopening of the school, and advising Mercy leadership on proper procedures and protocols for preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Task Force will not only act as the school’s primary interpreter of the legislative directives and mandates for student, faculty, and visitor safety, but will also work in conjunction with the Sisters of Mercy, who own the school property, to ensure the well-being of the residents of the Motherhouse.
In the last 24 hours, Governor Cuomo announced that schools will be given guidelines in June to begin planning for potential reopening in September. We are proud that Mercy has our plans for this Task Force well underway, in the same manner we planned for our successful online learning program. Our extensive preparations will continue to bring confidence as we look to the future.
During these difficult and uncertain times, ensuring the safety of all within the Circle of Mercy while continuing to offer an exceptional education is paramount. With our thoughtful response to this crisis, the love within the Circle of Mercy will grow ever-stronger and carry us to a brighter tomorrow. Thank you for your continued support and partnership.
April 30, 2020: Although this message may come as no surprise, it is not the message we ever wanted to send to you and your daughters. We have all been living these past weeks with uncertainty and looked to our national, state, and local leaders for legislative guidelines. As May 4 approaches, the date we told you last month that we intended to return to campus, it is clear this cannot happen. We want you to know that our judgment to extend online learning through the end of the school year was made with deep prayer, much research, and clear decisiveness for what is best for everyone.
Primary in our consideration to not reopen is the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and our extended Mercy community. Unlike other schools, OLM must take into consideration the 41 Sisters of Mercy who live in the Motherhouse. Due to the age and health of many of these resident sisters, we had no choice but to come to this decision. As we were one of the first schools to close in our community, we will have to be one of the last to reopen.
As you know over the past seven weeks, few schools have engaged in direct, synchronous instruction like Mercy. It was very distressing for us to read a recent New York Times opinion piece, The Coronavirus’s Lost Generation of Students, which painted an alarming picture of the consequences of lost instructional time due to school closings. Nevertheless, our girls do not share that fate. Mercy’s online learning program continues to set the standard by which others are measured. While synchronous learning places incredible demands on our faculty, staff, and families, the benefits are undeniable – our students will not be part of a lost generation. As a Mercy Girl, your daughter’s future remains bright!
Having made the decision to remain online, we move forward with fresh enthusiasm and hope. In addition to academics, we continue to plan for end-of-year events and activities. As you read through the following list, keep in mind the in-person events listed below will occur only if social distancing requirements have been lifted.
- Motto Presentations have been recorded and are available for panelists to view this week.
- The Senior/Alumnae Breakfast, with guest speaker Abby Wambach ’98, was held as a remote event this morning.
- May Crowning will be held virtually on May 22 with the May Queen’s speech and crowning of Mary. Ballots for the May Court were collected electronically from juniors and seniors this week.
- The NHS Induction for seniors will be held remotely on May 27. Juniors will be inducted into the NHS in person on September 30 at 7 p.m.
- Career Day will be held virtually on May 27.
- Art Fest will be held May 29 as a virtual event.
- Decision Day is June 1. More details to follow.
- Final Exams: Teachers have revised their curricula and assessments, including year-end assessments, to respond to the challenges of online learning. Teachers have communicated these changes in their revised syllabi which can be found in their Google Classrooms. Some end-of-year assessments will be administered during the week of June 8 as originally planned. The schedule for these will be communicated to students and parents by May 8.
- 8th Grade Commencement is scheduled for June 10 as an online event at 7 p.m.
- Senior Ball is scheduled for August 5.
- The Rose Mass for our seniors will be held August 7 at 5:30 p.m.
- Senior/Parent Breakfast will be August 7 at 8 a.m.
- Graduation has been tentatively rescheduled for August 8 at 7 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre.
- Moving Up Ceremony is scheduled for September 8.
- The Class of 2021 Junior Ring Ceremony and Junior Prom have been rescheduled to September 25.
- Yearbook and Literary Magazine: Accolade and Mercedes will be distributed in a manner yet to be finalized.
- The Senior Experience Team, consisting of some of our dedicated staff, continues to plan special ways to honor the Class of 2020. A beautiful video was shared recently with the seniors, and more surprises are in store (one surprise is coming to seniors’ homes tomorrow!).
Thank you for supporting our efforts to provide the highest quality education under difficult circumstances and for inspiring your daughters to persevere. We both believe that the uncertainties of the present always give way to the possibilities of the future. This is how we promise to continue to lead Mercy. We are in this together. We are Mercy strong!
April 30, 2020: In an email sent to seniors and their parents/guardians today, it was announced that the last day of mandatory senior classes will be Friday, May 22. This decision was made due to two main factors: given what the seniors (and all of our students) have accomplished over the course of their Mercy careers (especially past two months) and recognizing they will be transitioning to college. Seniors are certainly welcome to continue attending their classes that will be carrying on and, in some individual cases, will be required to do so. We hope our seniors will be able to enjoy the last few weeks of the school year as they wrap up projects and devote themselves to serving others and celebrating their sisterhood.
April 3, 2020: As we announced on April 1, Mercy has made the decision to continue with online learning through the month of April with the hope and intention of returning to the building on May 4. Because of the uncertainty regarding future stay-at-home directives, we have been looking at the events on our calendar for the remainder of the year to determine which can be postponed, which can be redesigned, and which will need to be canceled. As we work through these events, we will be updating the Google Academic Calendar to reflect these decisions and will be communicating with individual groups or the entire community based on the nature of the event. We have made the following decisions already that affect the entire community or are long-standing traditions:
- We will be holding Commencement exercises for the Class of 2020, whether on June 5 as originally planned, or at some later date prior to mid-August when our graduates depart for college. This special event marks the culmination of our students’ experience; it is a celebration that we all cherish and we will not abandon it.
- The Senior/Parent Breakfast will be rescheduled accordingly.
- The Rose Mass that traditionally takes place the night before Commencement will be rescheduled accordingly.
- Decision Day has been moved to June 1.
- Motto Presentations will be redesigned.
- Career Day will be redesigned.
- The Junior Ring ceremony will be postponed until the fall when our current juniors return to take on their role as student leaders of the school.
- The NHS Induction Ceremony will either be postponed to later this year, or, in the event we do not return, current seniors will experience a virtual induction ceremony in May and current juniors will be inducted in the Fall.
- The Senior Ball and the Junior Prom are postponed until further notice.
- The Senior/Alumnae Breakfast will be redesigned.
- The Spring Choral and Instrumental Concerts are canceled.
- May Day is being redesigned.
- Arts Fest may be redesigned as an online experience.
- Moving Up Day will be celebrated in the fall, if we cannot return before the end of the year.
Whether it is a significant event that marks our school year, or our daily routine that has helped us maintain our bonds as a community, the spirit of Mercy carries on in our work. Thank you for being a part of the Circle of Mercy, a circle that remains unbroken!
April 1, 2020: We are coming to the end of three weeks of online learning at Mercy. We have been leading the way with our well-thought out plan for synchronous learning. Our teachers have risen to this immense challenge, and our students and parents have embraced this new experience in true Mercy fashion. We are grateful to each and every one of you. COVID-19 has upended our lives this spring, and that has led to the disruption in your daughter’s education; we continue to ask for your patience as we navigate this uncertain future. In carefully assessing the situation, monitoring the evidence of community spread, and attempting to remain aligned with New York State directives, Mercy has decided that we will continue with online learning through May 1 with the intention and hope of returning to the building on Monday, May 4. Because of the fluidity of this situation, this date may be extended once again.
In light of this decision, we are making plans for the continuation of learning and preservation of community that has held us together and given us purpose over the past three weeks. Our teachers are gathering virtually on Friday to revisit their curricula in light of the slower pace that online learning demands. Our online learning program, while seen as a model for what can be accomplished, is evolving as we better understand the demands it places on all of us.
Recognizing the impact of these demands, we are instituting Wednesday Recharge Days for every five-day week of online learning going forward. This means there will be no school on Wednesdays of five-day weeks (the first being April 22). However, we will maintain Mercy’s high academic standards, even while adjusting to the limitations imposed on us by the circumstances. Academics are only a portion of what makes a Mercy education so special. We are a community of faith and love that is often expressed in the events and traditions that have emerged over the course of our 92-year history. Our staff is working on contingency plans for school events for the remainder of the year as well as special ways we can honor our seniors in the last quarter of their Mercy experience.
We recently learned that the Governor’s office announced that school districts are expected to provide continuous instruction during Spring Break. This was confirmed by the NYS Department of Education. As a private school, Mercy does not need to follow this directive. We are offering an excellent education that surpasses that being offered by districts around the state. It is our firm desire that our families enjoy the break and find spiritual nourishment in these holy days of solemnity followed by the joy of Easter. Our reunion may be delayed, but it will come; that is the Easter promise. In the meantime, we pray that you and your families remain healthy and God continues to shed his grace upon the Circle of Mercy.
March 30, 2020:
- We remind families that next week, March 30 to April 3, is a four-day week with no classes on Friday, April 3.
- Out of an abundance of caution – and in an effort to curtail the potential spread of COVID-19 – Mercy will be limiting our usage of mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS) to and from current parents, accepted families, vendors, donors, and other Mercy friends. We are developing alternative methods for communicating with these recipients. However, since the school continues to function at 100% during this challenging time, we must allow certain pieces of mail to be delivered (financial, admissions, etc.), and only when we’ve followed all viable safety protocols. We do not anticipate this decision to affect student academics, technology needs, or parental involvement in any way. We thank you for your understanding and remind you to continue to wash your hands often.
- Last week, some Mercy students experienced technical difficulties utilizing Google’s suite of programs and applications (there was a problem with Google’s servers). Mike Saputo, Mercy’s Director of I.T., and his team were aware of the situation and worked to mitigate downtime for students to the best of their ability. With the exponential increase of web traffic caused by online learning (more and more schools and colleges are going remote), we may need to brace for more of these incidents. While we cannot predict when they may occur, we can plan! Mercy I.T. staff work very closely with faculty members and students/parents to ensure all technical resources are available and working perfectly. If you have any questions or technical issues, please direct all inquiries to email@example.com or 288-7120 x306.
- No doubt parents, guardians, students, and family members are wondering, “What is going to happen to Mercy events? What about Senior Ball? Graduation? Ministry Days? May Day? Junior Ring? What about the D.C. trip we paid for? The NYC trip? What about sports? Clubs? Father-Daughter Dance?” Rest assured, a team of Mercy administration members, led by Mrs. Whipple, Dean of Student Life, is working to answer all of your questions. As you are aware, there were events that have been postponed or canceled… and events that will/may be postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. The team is looking at the list of upcoming events and putting plans in place to ensure the most positive outcome for each affected event. We have begun notifying parents and students via email regarding the status of specific events (e.g. 8th grade D.C. trip and Father-Daughter Dance). We will continue to communicate to involved parents/students (and to all Mercy parents) as we work through potential new dates, refunds, credits, etc. for events.
March 18, 2020: (From the Counselors: Mercy Wellness Wednesday) We are thinking of you and we are here to support you. As the Mercy Counseling team, we are focused on your social-emotional wellness. Counselors are committed to supporting students during this adjusted format for learning. We will work to stay connected and available to all Mercy students and parents. Here are ways that we are available:
- Email is the best way to communicate with us. We will continue to check our email regularly and will do our best to answer any questions you may have. Counselors will also be communicating over the phone to students and families; feel free to schedule a time to chat.
- We recognize you may have questions regarding academics. Teachers are your best resource; please contact them directly.
- Administration is sending regular communication about any/all updates related to COVID-19; please continue to check and review all communications.
As you adjust to a ‘new normal,’ we encourage you to review CDC guidelines for managing stress and anxiety. Some easy ways to lower stress include:
- Maintaining healthy sleep practices
- Eating healthy foods/structured meals
- Taking walks outside
- Listening to music
- Daily gratitude journaling
- Connecting with friends over the phone (hearing their voices/seeing familiar faces)
- Disconnecting from technology for a period of time during the day
- Organize a game night with family members
- Perform a daily, small act of kindness
- Prayer and quiet reflection
Thank you for your patience, flexibility, and support in the coming days. All of us in the Counseling Department at Mercy wish you peace and wellness during these uncertain times.
The Mercy Counseling Team:
• Ms. Lisa Costello, Counseling Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mrs. Jane Searl, Middle School Counselor, email@example.com
• Mrs. Caitlin Schmalstich, 9th Grade Transition Counselor, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mrs. Emily Cady, Director of Wellness/School Counselor, Grades 10-12 (Last names A-E), email@example.com
• Mrs. Sara Thomas, School Counselor/International Counselor, Grades 10-12 (Last names F – O), firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ms. Lori Purcell, Director of College and Career Advising, Grades 10-12 (Last names P -Z) email@example.com
March 17, 2020: Well, we made it through the first day of Mercy Online! It was a remarkable day. Attendance was up, student engagement was strong, and students and faculty moved smoothly through their classes. The plans we made set us up for success. Last Friday, our teachers prepared the girls for what to expect in their online classes. For the most part, their expectations were met. The day wasn’t without its bumps. One homeroom had problems with its Google Classroom, some teachers and students in Greece experienced a power outage, and a few students had issues with Google Meet. But overall, for a first day of online learning, things went far better than could have been expected.
As an example, not only of the creativity and sensitivity of our faculty, but the resilience and optimism of our girls, Ms. Gizzi had her Choir 8 class develop a ‘Coronavirus Playlist’ that captured their emotions during this period of uncertainty, change, and adaptation. It includes: Let it Go, We’re All in This Together, Hundred, Stressed Out, Impossible Year, This is Home, Don’t Stop Believin’, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, and Here Comes the Sun. What I see in this list is a recognition that things aren’t the way they once were, but there will be a brighter tomorrow. What I see is the Christian virtue of hope. I look forward to the day when we hear our choir singing these songs for the assembled school! As we move forward, I know not everything will be as we would want, but we will make the best of this bad situation. With faith, hope, and love we will arrive at a better day. (Dr. Martin Kilbridge, Principal)
Send us Selfies!
As part of an upcoming Mercy social media post, we are asking your daughters (with your permission) to send us selfies of them ‘in class.’ Big smiles, thumbs up, and waves will all work for this photo montage! Have them send pics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Lola DeAscentiis who created a humorous, yet educational, video as part of a personal project she started to spread positivity and women’s history through social media! Advice from Florence Nightingale on the Coronavirus.
March 16, 2020:
Online Classes Begin Tomorrow, March 17:
- We hope your daughters are able to enjoy today’s sunshine and are getting ready to shift to online learning beginning tomorrow morning! In last Friday’s Parent Update, we outlined the plan for continuous instruction. Our days will continue to follow the standard schedule. Tuesday will be an ‘A Day’ with homeroom beginning at 7:53 a.m. You can support your daughter in the following ways:
- Be sure she keeps to the regular daily schedule; teachers will be taking attendance.
- Set her up in a quiet study space free from distractions (including cell phones and social media) where she will be able to participate in group discussions.
- Let us know if your daughter is experiencing difficulty of any sort, whether technological, academic, or emotional. Our I.T. Help Desk (email@example.com), teachers, counselors, and administrators are all available as usual during the school day.
- Try to arrange your daughter’s screen to be at eye-level to prevent neck strain; make sure she takes screen breaks. We have asked teachers to build occasional stretch breaks into their lessons.
- The Circle of Mercy is made up of resilient problem-solvers; we will all get through this! Let us all remember to remain positive and encouraging.
Over the next several weeks, Mercy will continue to send urgent updates and critical pieces of information to you via email regarding COVID-19 and our shift to online learning (please ensure your contact information is up-to-date in MercyLINK). We expect there will be a lot of information to share regarding these topics; we do not wish to inundate your inbox with multiple daily emails. To avoid this, but keep you in-the-loop on the most current updates, we request you visit the Online Learning/COVID-19/Nurse page on Mercy’s Student-Parent Portal on our website. Updates will be made to this page as soon as information becomes available. This could be several times per week, or several times per day. Access the page at www.mercyhs.com/covid. Mercy will also continue to send the weekly Parent Update on Fridays; be sure to keep an eye out for this communication.
Support for Those In Need
FoodLink (Julia Tedesco, CEO is a graduate of Mercy’s Class of 2001) is providing food for those in need, especially when so many school children may not be getting the school lunches they normally rely on for nutrition. If you require assistance from FoodLink, or can help support their efforts, we encourage you to reach out to them at https://foodlinkny.org/
The following protocol was established by Mercy’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee with the guidance of Dr. Colleen Davis, Board Member and Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center:
Any person in quarantine or isolation (or living with a person in quarantine or isolation) CANNOT come to Mercy for any reason; nor can a device be submitted for repair from the quarantined location. Please call the Mercy Tech Support Hotline at 288-7120 x306 to troubleshoot.
Parent/Teacher/Staff Tech Support (Surf Shop) Protocol
If you have a problem with your Surface Pro, Chromebook, or accessories, call the Tech Support Hotline at 288-7120 x306 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Do NOT bring your device to the school for service unless instructed to do so.
Steps for parents and faculty/staff device drop-off:
- If you are instructed to drop-off your device/accessory, you will be provided with a date/time by the Tech Support Team. Please adhere to your appointment; a support person will be waiting specifically for you. Call or email if you cannot make your appointment.
- PRIOR to coming to school, clean your device and accessories (e.g. pen, charger) with soap (mild dish detergent like Dawn) and a damp (not wet) cloth or Clorox wipes (do not use Clorox wipes on Chromebook monitors; mild soap only).
- Come to the Gallery entrance with your device/accessory. If no one greets you at the Gallery entrance when you arrive, call 585-288-7120 x306 and someone will come right away.
- You will be instructed by Tech Support to place your device/accessory in a bag labelled Drop off. You will also fill out a form with your name and a description of the problem to place in the bag.
- To avoid potential cross-contamination, pick-up is in a separate location. Exit the Gallery and proceed around the corner of the building to the pickup area (follow signs).
- Once in the pickup area, a clean, working device/accessory will be given to you.
March 14, 2020:
- Teacher Communication – Phone Calls: Teachers will be working from home while we continue with online learning; they may wish to reach you by phone. For the sake of maintaining their privacy, we are instructing them to block their number when calling from their personal phone. If your phone settings prevent blocked calls, they will be unable to reach you by phone. If they are unable to do so, they will try to reach you by email.
- Surf Shop: The Mercy Surf Shop addresses problems related to our Surface Pros and Chromebooks. Because our devices will be the primary tool through which online instruction and learning will take place, the Surf Shop will remain open even while the school is closed. In order to protect our I.T. staff members (Mr. Mike Saputo, Mrs. Dani Lose, and Mr. Joe Tiffany and their families), we are instituting strict protocols regarding the handling of these devices and the environment in which they work. Details will be forthcoming.
- Spectrum Internet Service: According to Channel 8, Charter will offer free services to families around the nation in the middle of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. The changes will be offered on Monday, March 16 and will continue for the following 60 days. Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households. Charter will partner with school districts to ensure local communities are aware of these tools to help students learn remotely. For eligible low-income households without school-aged children, Charter continues to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, a low-cost broadband program delivering speeds of 30 Mbps. Charter will open its WiFi hotspots across our footprint for public use
March 13, 2020 – Mercy Shifting to Online Learning: After careful deliberation, Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women has made the decision to close the school and begin remote instruction. Students will not report to school Monday, March 16, 2020 through Monday, April 13, 2020. Remote instruction will begin on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
This decision was not made lightly, nor was it in response to any current or specific cases of COVID-19 at our school. This decision affirms our responsibility to best ensure the health and safety of our school community and our communal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus. Our Mercy values compel us to protect the most vulnerable among us by taking preventative measures through social distancing. This is of particular importance at Mercy due to our relationship with the Sisters of Mercy and our physical connection to the Motherhouse – a residence for many elderly or immune-compromised sisters who receive medical services.
Today’s Parent Update will contain information regarding online learning that we’ve developed over the course of the past two weeks in preparation for this possibility. Please read this important communication as it includes valuable details about our new online learning community.
In an effort to allow our families to fully prepare for remote instruction, Mercy will be open this Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. so students and parents can collect what they need. Administrators will be on campus during these times.
As a result of the decision to close the school, all events and activities, including spring sports, are cancelled through April 13, 2020. Some of these may be rescheduled, but we do not have details at this time. We will reassess the situation the week of April 6, 2020 and provide updates regarding future plans for classes, events, and activities. As of now, we anticipate reopening the school on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support as we venture into new territory. Despite our extensive preparation and the skill of our faculty and staff, we imagine there may be some unexpected challenges as we transition to online instruction, but we know we will respond to these challenges with patience, good humor, and grace. We remain committed to sending you updated information as it becomes available. We are here to offer your family care and support now and in the days ahead.
March 12, 2020 – Cancellations at Mercy: As you are well-aware, Mercy’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee and sub-teams, with the support of our Board of Trustees, have been proactive in planning for an outbreak of this virus in the Rochester area. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced this morning by the Monroe County Department of Health. With this new information, Mercy is implementing the next phase of our deliberate planning which includes cancellations of events with greater than 50 people* through April 13 (date subject to change). We understand this decision will cause anxiety and confusion among everyone within the Circle of Mercy; please understand the situation is fluid and is constantly changing. More details about these cancellations and the impact they will have on students and parents will be relayed to you as soon as possible.
Related to the event cancellations, all Mercy-related travel is also canceled through April 13 (again, this date is subject to change). This includes all field trips, athletic games, seminars, club competitions, etc. Again, there are many details we are working out with regards to these travel cancellations and their impact on students and families; we will relay all new information as soon as we have it.
Please note, due to our unique relationship with the Sisters of Mercy (and our physical attachment to the Motherhouse), we are limiting visitors to the school. As many of you know, the Motherhouse also serves as a residence for a number of Sisters of Mercy; we must adhere to the recommendation by the Monroe County Department of Health regarding the safety of the patients and residents in facilities such as this. We are asking parents and guardians to communicate with the school via email or phone as much as possible rather than entering the building. Also unique to Mercy is our student population. Unlike public schools, Mercy’s students hail from nearly 40 school districts across multiple counties. This places the school at a greater risk of interaction with an individual who may have come in contact with the virus.
Parents may wish to visit this web site; it is a helpful resource for speaking to your daughter about the COVID-19 virus. Please remember that all of Mercy’s precautions are being put into place in an effort to reduce any possible spread of this virus. While the situation with the COVID-19 virus is changing rapidly, our commitment to the safety and security of your children and everyone within the Circle of Mercy is unyielding. We will get through this together!
* as recommended by the Monroe County Department of Health
March 9, 2020: Dr. Kilbridge attended a meeting of public-school officials at Monroe County’s Public Safety Training Building this past Saturday to hear about the current situation regarding COVID-19 and CDC recommendations for responding to it. Presenting at the meeting were Dr. Mike Mendoza, Commissioner of Public Health for Monroe County, Tim Kohlmeier, Emergency Manager for the county, County Executive, Adam Bello, and Congressman Joe Morelle. It was clear from the meeting that Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women has been out front in terms of preparation and communication.
It is important to know the facts regarding COVID-19: what it is, where it is, and what the CDC recommends regarding preparing for it. What we know about COVID-19 is that it is a viral respiratory illness with an incubation period of 14 days; patients usually show symptoms within 5-7 days. The symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath… not nausea or other gastrointestinal-related flu symptoms. It is transmitted by respiratory droplets, meaning it is not airborne. The very young and the elderly, as well as those with ongoing respiratory problems, are most at risk of developing a severe response to the virus.
As for its spread and rate of infection, it is a rapidly evolving situation. It has a mortality rate of 1.5 to 2 percent, but this is based on limited testing. On an 18-point scale of contagiousness, it rates a 2, similar to the common cold and the flu. The goal in mitigating its spread is to lessen its impact on the population as a whole and delay its spread while a vaccine is developed. We should not expect a vaccine to be developed for a year, though the federal government has devoted half of the recently approved funding to research and development.
The best response at this time is to follow guidance from the CDC for a Flu Pandemic. Until a vaccine is developed, individuals and communities should implement Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs). NPIs fall into three categories: Personal, Environmental, and Community.
- Personal NPIs include hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and voluntary isolation. Washing your hands, coughing into your elbow, staying six feet away from others, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and staying home when sick are all good practices to prevent the spread of any respiratory illness.
- Environmental NPIs are focused on routine and extraordinary cleaning of surfaces that can harbor the virus. We do not know how long the COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces. The flu virus can potentially survive on hard surfaces for 48 hours, so regular cleaning of surfaces is an important intervention.
- Community NPIs mostly have to do with ‘social distancing’ such as keeping people six feet apart, encouraging the ill to stay home, canceling group gatherings and travel, and even closing schools.
At Mercy, we have been proactive in planning for and responding to the outbreak. We have established an Advisory Committee to monitor the outbreak and oversee our response. We have established four teams to look at environmental and community NPIs:
- The Medical/Health Team is looking at: 1. Communication with government agencies, 2. Appropriate messaging and guidelines to Mercy students and parents to minimize risk of contracting the virus, including proper hygiene practices, 3. Protocols to properly respond if an individual is suspected of being in contact with the virus, 4. How to monitor absentee patterns and what to do with that information, and 5. Research guidelines that can help us determine under what conditions to close school.
- The Environmental/Sanitizing Team has been developing and implementing practices to enhance the cleaning/sanitizing of surfaces at the school.
- The Gatherings, Travel, Closing Team is developing protocols and criteria for canceling school-related travel, group gatherings, and school.
- The Continuous Learning Team has developed a plan for continuous learning in the event of an extended school closing. The faculty is collaborating this week to prepare for this possibility.
March 5, 2020: Reasonable caution in the face of the spreading COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) dictates that we prepare for its arrival. Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women has formed an official COVID-19 Advisory Panel to coordinate a number of initiatives we have been pursuing over the past several weeks. The Advisory Panel will continue to monitor the epidemic and develop medical/health protocols for dealing with the outbreak if and when it should reach our community. In addition to Mercy leadership, Dr. Colleen Davis, Mercy Board of Trustees member and Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, is on the Advisory Panel. Additional members will be added as necessary.
- Monroe County Health Department
- New York State Coronavirus Hotline 888-364-3065
- Centers for Disease Control
February 28, 2020: COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, has infected tens of thousands and led to the death of thousands, especially in China. The situation is rapidly changing, so material that was disseminated even two weeks ago regarding the disease may no longer be pertinent. Your best source for current information is the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Frequently Asked Questions.
What has been consistent in communications has been that “everyday preventative actions” are a key component to limiting the spread of any respiratory disease, including COVID-19. The following comes from the CDC website:
Prevention and Treatment (from the CDC)
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
• CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
• Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Mercy is sending a representative to a seminar provided by Bond, Schoeneck & King that focuses on the tools that are available to public health authorities, how those tools may be utilized, and the issues related to an epidemic present in the workplace, as well as other places such as schools and colleges. If we receive any updates from the New York State Department of Health or the New York State Education Department regarding a more active response, we will act on it and inform you.
Also, we are looking into several measures to safeguard our students, including installing additional hand sanitizing dispensers. In the meantime, Mercy encourages families to consider sending their daughters to school with personal hand sanitizer solutions with at least 60% alcohol content. We join our prayers to the many that are being said on behalf of those who suffer from this ailment and their loved ones.