Covid Updates

St. Catherine's Response to COVID-19


We began the 2020-2021 school year with in-person teaching and learning five days a week. In addition, we have developed learning models and a decision matrix of how we intend to pivot to enable teaching and learning to continue throughout the school year. These plans include new procedures and best practices to maintain a healthy school environment and to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Governor.

Learn more about our Opening School Plan 2020-2021.

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Frequently Asked Questions

List of 15 items.

  • What do I need to know about exposure, close contact and quarantine?  

    Please review the VDH website for definitions and guidance about exposure, close contact and when to quarantine.
  • What if there is a confirmed case on campus?

    As stated in the Opening School Plan, parents of students and members of the faculty or staff who are identified to be in close contact with an infected person will receive an email notification followed by contact by a school nurse or school representative. We will only contact those families whose students are considered exposed due to close or prolonged contact with the infected individual. We plan to communicate the first known case on campus since school has started to all parents and employees. With subsequent confirmed positive cases in Early Learners through grade 8, we will notify the affected grade level. In the event of a confirmed positive case in grades 9-12, we will notify the entire Upper School. 
    Please remember that the confidentiality of the diagnosed student, family member, or employee will be maintained.
  • How will the School determine who has been exposed to a positive case and needs to isolate?

    In the event that a student or employee tests positive for COVID, our Health Team, supported by school administrators, has a comprehensive process that begins with direct communication with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) who provide guidance through all phases including testing, contact tracing, determination of exposure, and the appropriate notifications by the School to those impacted.
  • How will I know if my daughter has a KNOWN EXPOSURE and must quarantine?

    As stated above, if your daughter is identified as a person with KNOWN EXPOSURE to a confirmed positive COVID case, our school nurses will contact you with an email notification containing detailed quarantine instructions and a follow-up phone call as well. Our school nurses will stay in contact with you throughout your child's quarantine period and her ultimate return to campus. Children and faculty/staff who are identified to be in close contact with an individual confirmed to be infected by COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days. Any student or employee awaiting test results also must remain at home. Concurrent Virtual Learning options may be utilized during the quarantine period.
  • Can a student or employee come to school while they await COVID test results? 

    No. While a person is awaiting a test result, he/she should quarantine at home. 
  • How will the School determine if a division or the whole school has to close?

    Under the guidance of the Virginia Department of Health, we will review many data points in order to determine if a partial or full school closure is necessary. 
  • When should I report any known exposure or positive COVID-19 results?

    If a student, employee, or their household members have a known exposure or have tested for COVID-19, you must report this information to the School immediately by contacting the School nurses or your daughter’s Division Director.

    The confidentiality of the diagnosed student, family member, or employee will be maintained. The School will contact the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for further guidance, with each situation being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Will you tell us when a student or teacher in my daughter’s class has tested positive for COVID?

    Yes. If a student or faculty/staff member tests positive and has been on campus during the infectious window, we will conduct contact tracing, supported by the VDH, to identify which individuals (students and/or employees) have a KNOWN EXPOSURE and which individuals have NO KNOWN EXPOSURE, our Health Team will share the following notifications: 
     • KNOWN EXPOSURE Notification will be sent to the parents of girls who were in close contact with a confirmed positive COVID case. Just because your daughter was in a class with a confirmed COVID case does not automatically mean she has known exposure. There is a complex set of guidelines from the VDH that we review on a case-by-case basis to determine exposure levels. 
     • NO KNOWN EXPOSURE Notification will be sent to all parents in that grade level to advise that there is a confirmed case in your daughter's grade level. If we have a confirmed positive COVID case in the Upper School, we will notify the entire Upper School. No action will be needed as this notification is an informational message only. 
    • If a person tests positive during quarantine, the School will not notify families as there is no exposure. 
  • Who should get tested?

    The CDC recommends testing for the following groups:
    • People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
    • People who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
    • People who have taken part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot socially distance as needed, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings.
    People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider, local or state ​health department.
  • Which COVID-19 test is best?

    The PCR test is considered the “gold standard.” This test uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to detect viral RNA. PCR tests are more sensitive than rapid antigen tests. PCR test processing takes longer than rapid antigen test processing.

    Rapid antigen tests look for proteins, called antigens, on the virus’ surface and can identify people with high virus levels. According to the VDH, a negative test does not accurately rule out infection. Antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, meaning there may be false negative results. False positive test results are also possible. For this reason, and after discussion with VDH epidemiologists, we are not recommending rapid tests unless someone is symptomatic. CDC acknowledges that, even in that scenario, rapid antigen tests sometimes give inaccurate results. 

    Antibody tests look for antibodies produced by the immune system to determine if there was a past infection. These tests should not be used to determine current infection.
  • How can I get tested? Who can get tested with our BetterMed Agreement?

    St. Catherine’s families can use their pediatrician, family doctor, local clinic, city or state testing drive, or our concierge service with BetterMed. This service is only for household members of St. Catherine’s students or employees. It may not be used by neighbors, babysitters, extended family, etc. During periods of high testing demand, it may take more than 24 hours for appointment availability.

    If you would like to schedule an appointment with BetterMed, please email the information listed below to You will receive a phone call from a BetterMed Registration representative during office hours with further instructions and scheduling information. 

    Information to email:
    School: St. Catherine’s School
    Your name
    Your phone number
    Reason for visit: COVID-19 test
    Your date of birth
  • Should I get a rapid test before attending an event?

    Any COVID-19 test is a “point in time” test and people who test negative at one point may test positive the next day. A negative test does not mean that people can forgo social distancing, mask wearing, and other risk mitigation measures.

    The VDH notes that a negative rapid test does not accurately rule out infection. Antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, meaning there may be false negative results. False positive test results are also possible.
  • Why is test timing important?

    Tests should be taken 5-7 days after the last exposure to the positive individual. Tests taken before the 5th day may result in a false negative as the viral load is insufficient. St. Catherine’s requires test results in the 5-7 day window after the last exposure. Families that choose to test early will need to take a second test in that recommended timeframe. People with symptoms should get tested as soon as possible.
  • Whom do I contact if my daughter is being tested for COVID?

    In order to protect your privacy, we request that you only notify the school nurses and/or the divisional director when your daughter has a presumed exposure or will be tested for COVID. Our school nurses will guide you through the process for testing, quarantine, and contact tracing based on VDH recommendations.
    • The student should quarantine at home. 
    • Parents should report their child's absence (not the COVID testing) as you normally do through the divisional attendance office emails or phone numbers. 
  • Should we share things about other families that we hear through the grapevine?

    No. The School will only act upon positive test cases when a family or employee contacts the division office or school nurse directly. We will not investigate secondhand information, including anonymous tips or rumors. 

COVID-19 Reporting Expectations

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