2021-22 Academic Year


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What are some of the physical changes to the Academy?

A: At the Academy, we have added social distancing signage, touchless hand sanitizer stations in each classroom & at the entrances, safety dividers in the restrooms, and water bottle filling stations (replacing our drinking fountains). In the classrooms, desks are 6 feet apart, desk shields have been ordered and will be installed, and extra tables/furniture removed to accommodate social distancing.


Q: Will there be barriers at the desks?

A: Yes, there will be additional protection at each student desk in the form of clear desk shields which will be installed around the perimeter of each desk.  This will provide additional protection during mask breaks, and for typical sneezing and coughing that happens daily.


Q: What are the expectations for mask wearing?

A: As stated in the reopening plan, St. Mary’s Academy requires all individuals in school facilities and on school grounds to put on a face covering. All students and staff members must wear cloth face coverings.  This is an expectation for all students, staff, parents, and visitors while on school grounds, in school facilities, and on school buses. St. Mary’s Academy will allow masks to be removed for two reasons:  eating/drinking and mask breaks.  At least 6 ft of social distancing will be in place during these mask breaks and lunch. St. Mary’s Academy has purchased disposable masks for students who forget one at any point. We do recommend all students and staff choose their own mask that fits comfortably and bring it to school/work with them.  Routine cleaning of masks is the responsibility of the individual student, or staff member. Masks cannot be shared.


Q: What do mask breaks look like?

A: We recognize that masks may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school, and therefore mask breaks will be scheduled throughout the day. Specifically, students will be seated at their desks, with their desk shields and at a minimum 6ft apart, and will remove their masks.  Mask breaks will be required several times a day at all grade levels.  Specific times and locations for mask breaks are specific to each classroom schedule and nature of instruction, and will be communicated with families from each teacher.


Q: Are there exemptions to mask wearing?

A: Mask exemptions will be rare. Exemptions for mask wearing will require a doctor’s note.  


Q: Will temperatures be checked daily for staff and students?

A: Yes. As outlined in our reopening plan, students and staff will have daily temperature checks upon entering the building. Mrs. VanLiew and Mrs. Keeney will be out to meet and greet students, as well as to conduct a touchless temperature check daily.  In addition, weekly screening questionnaires will be sent out to families electronically in accordance with our plan.  Daily home temperature checks are a possibility in the future, but for now, all temperature checks will be done at the Academy each morning.


Q: What are the screening questionnaires?

A: All faculty and staff will complete this questionnaire daily, and it will be sent to parents (electronically) weekly to complete on behalf of their child(ren). 


Q: What time is student arrival and dismissal this year?

A: Since temperature checks need to be checked daily for students arriving on the bus and via parent transport, staggered arrival schedules may need to be implemented, depending on the drop-off times for the buses.  We are awaiting those scheduled times and will then be able to release arrival times.  Once students arrive at the academy, they will need to go directly to their classrooms as there is no congregating in the hallway before school.


Q: What about the shared bathrooms? How will that work?

A: The PreK4 and kindergarten classrooms have their own bathrooms in the classroom and do not need to access the shared bathrooms.  Grades 1, 2, and 3 (classrooms located on the main floor) have developed a bathroom break schedule to ensure that multiple classrooms are not accessing the bathrooms at the same time.  Grades 4, 5, and 6 will access the bathrooms located on the lower floor, and have also developed a bathroom break schedule.  Classroom teachers will adjust as needed to accommodate emergency trips to the bathroom. Bathroom cleaning and disinfection will happen throughout the school day, as outlined in our reopening plan.


Q: What if I chose remote learning instead of in-person schooling, what will that look like?

A: For families that elect not to send their child to school due to safety concerns, St. Mary’s Academy is committed to working with those families to provide a robust education, including synchronous and asynchronous learning. This may require a commitment by the parent or guardian to facilitate instruction.


Q: Can my child(ren) bring their own device to use at school?

A: Diocesean Tech Support has said that we are unable to allow students to bring their own devices, at this time.  We are hoping with some upgrades to our infrastructure at the Academy, that this may be possible in the future.


Q: What about celebrating birthdays? Can I come into the Academy and into the classroom to celebrate my child’s birthday?

A: We will still celebrate birthdays at the Academy (your child’s teacher will let you know what those celebrations look like), but at this time, parents will not be able to come into the Academy to celebrate. Guidance from NYS Department of Health and NYS Education Department have stated the visitors will not be admitted to school buildings except in unique or emergency situations. 


Q: What are the class sizes?

A: With the support of the parish (financial and spiritual) we are committed to class sizes of no more than 12, which allows us to maintain social distancing, and as a result we are able to have in-person instruction 5 days a week.


Q: What about lunch?

A: With our class sizes, social distancing using desks we are planning on lunch in the cafeteria.  The cafeteria will be cleaned and disinfected between lunch periods.


Q: What is the contract tracing protocol?

A: The Onondaga County Health Department has released a detailed contract tracing protocol that they will initiate in case of a confirmed COVID-19.  (See the top of this document for links to the Health Department process.)


Q: What about voluntary testing?

A: The Onondaga County Department of Health has developed a voluntary testing protocol for any staff and high school age students that wish to get tested prior to the start of school.  (Exact locations and details have not yet been released, but see the top of this document for a link to this process.)


Q: If SMA were to have to resort to remote learning (per order of the County Executive, Governor, or the Onondaga County Department of Health) what will remote learning look like?

A: While all of our teachers worked hard to make the best of an unprecedented situation last spring, we all recognize that we need to make changes. Many families provided feedback on our surveys which will assist us in putting together a comprehensive educational plan. We will be working together PreK4-6th, to put together our continuity of learning plan and will present that at our Meet The Teacher Night on September 24th. (More details on that evening to follow.) The expectation from the NYS Education Department is that attendance is taken daily, and that instruction more mirrors the educational components of a typical day.


Q: If SMA were to have to resort to remote learning (per order of the County Executive, Governor, or the Onondaga County Department of Health) what is our financial responsibility to St. Mary’s Academy?

A: The expenses to keep a school building open and student learning continuing, do not go away in the event of a switch to remote learning. With a commitment to smaller class sizes, tuition, along with generous support from the parish, is needed to cover the operating costs of the academy.