COVID-19 Information Hub
This page will serve as the primary location for information for the Mount community during state and national efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. During this time, this webpage will be updated with all announcements and communications. Please check this page regularly for the most current information.
Pertinent info, such as schedules, appear at the top of the page. The most recent updates and communications appear below that. Archived information is located below that, in drop-down menus organized by date. Click the arrow to the left of the title to read the full text. There are two sections of drop-down panels: one for the 2020-2021 school year, and one for the 2019-2020 school year.
COVID-19 Screening Form
For the safety of our community, students, faculty, & staff are required to complete a health screening through the Ruvna app before school each day. They are to scan their results at the time they get their temperatures checked upon entry. If a student cannot access the Ruvna app on any given day, she will need to fill out the paper form below and bring it to school with her.
SCHOOL SCHEDULE SCENARIOS
- November 30: Update on Virtual Learning Order and Upcoming Schedule
- November 17: Virtual Model Information & Details
- September 10: Important Schedule Updates
- September 9: PowerSchool & Canvas Login Documents, Ruvna App Setup
- August 21: School Year Opening Information
- August 19: Reopening Plan
- August 13: Reopening Webinar
- August 6: Update on Reopening and Safety Progress
- July 31: Letter to Students, Parents, & Guardians
- July 24: Reopening Survey
- June 16, 2020: Reopening of School
Dear Members of the Mount Community:
The Montgomery County Board of Health has affirmed that schools may offer the educational method they choose beginning on Monday December 7, 2020. Resuming in-person education does not require any vote or other action by the Montgomery County Board of Health (BOH).
We are pleased to share that we will return to the hybrid learning model that day. Students still have the option to attend school virtually if they prefer. On behalf of the Administration, we look forward to welcoming back our students, faculty, and staff!
The schedule for next week is as follows:
Monday, December 7: A Day (Purple Cohort attends)
Tuesday, December 8: No school - celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Wednesday, December 9: B Day (Purple Cohort attends)
Thursday, December 10: A Day (Gold Cohort attends)
Friday, December 11: B Day (Gold Cohort attends)
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the area and across the nation, it is of utmost importance that we make every effort to keep our community safe. Students, faculty, and staff are reminded that masks are mandatory in school, as is social distancing whenever possible. Everyone should practice good hygiene by washing hands frequently, using the hand sanitizer stations placed around the school, and staying home if you feel unwell. Now more than ever, we need to work together as a community to keep ourselves and those we know and love safe.
This pandemic has stretched on for longer than most of us could have imagined. Many in our community are anxious, tired, and facing great sacrifices as the holidays approach. Yet the Mount Community continues to demonstrate great resilience. We have risen to the challenges presented and have overcome so much together. We will get through this.
As we have seen many times before, the pandemic situation could change at any moment. Should the County Board of Health feel it is necessary to extend the current virtual learning order, they have indicated that a special meeting will be planned to discuss this topic. No meeting is currently scheduled. If the situation does change, the Administration will continue to communicate with you directly, and all updates will be posted to the Covid Information Hub on the Mount website.
We look forward to welcoming our community back next week!
Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ and Judith A. Caviston, Ed.D.
November 17, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students,
These certainly are strange times in our community and our school! We acknowledge that many of our students are struggling through the Hybrid Teaching and Learning Model and have anxiety as we move toward our Fully Virtual schedule. We, like you, are hoping that our virtual experience is limited to two weeks.
In order to get positive results from this move to virtual education, and more importantly, in order to return to in-person education as quickly as possible, all of us must cooperate with the rules. As parents and students, we need to follow the directives of wearing a mask, limiting the size of social gatherings, and of course, following sanitation procedures. It does disturb our school community when students return from their weekend activities, and the rumors of big parties and gatherings spread across the school family. In order to limit additional closings, we need to work together as a community to keep ourselves and all those we know and love safe.
The Virtual Model is difficult for us all, however we are certain that if we work together to make the sacrifices needed to keep the virus under control, we can keep family and friends healthy while maintaining the academic rigor for which the Mount is known.
Our goal is to return as quickly and as safely as possible to a fully in-person educational experience for our students. We believe that this temporary shift to virtual learning will bring us closer to that goal in the long term.
This is the video that will be shown to our students. It outlines the virtual schedule that we will review with all of our students during Advisory on Wednesday and Thursday, November 18th and 19th.
The video explains in simple detail the full virtual schedule we will follow. All students will be attending four 80-minute virtual classes each class day, with teachers presenting a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Our teachers have been preparing for this, and we are confident that we will maintain high quality instruction despite the challenges presented by this government-ordered transition.
All freshmen are expected to attend school on Friday, November 20, 2020 from 8:15 to 11:15 A.M. We will have an additional review of our Virtual Schedule with the freshmen at the conclusion of morning activities prior to their dismissal.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to communicate with a member of the administration.
Thank you for your cooperation. We pray that your family will have an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving!
The Administrative Team
SEPTEMBER 10: IMPORTANT SCHEDULE UPDATES
We hope that the information below will assist you as you plan for the next two months. This information also appears on the calendar page of the school website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any member of the administration.
The Mount Administrative Team
Virtual Office Hours
Teachers hold virtual office hours from 1:00-3:00. Office Hours will take place on the following schedule:Block 1: 1:00-1:30
Block 2: 1:30-2:00
Block 3: 2:00-2:30
Block 4: 2:30-3:00
Morning Schedule for September and October Flex Days
Students will report to school by 8:15am and be dismissed at or before 12pm.
September 11: Purple A (make-up day from Monday Sept. 7)
September 17: Virtual Back to School Night
Our Virtual Back to School Night will be held on Thursday, September 17th! Parents will be able to view videos created by their daughters' teachers to learn about classroom policies and expectations.
In order to view the Back to School Night videos, parents will need to access their daughters' Canvas pages by creating Parent Observer Accounts. Detailed instructions on how to create these accounts have been sent via email. If you need help setting up a Parent Observer account in Canvas, please contact Mrs. Herne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 18: Friday Flex (Seniors ONLY report to school)
- Student Leadership Council Presentations
- Athletic Association Presentation
- Seniors College Guidance Sessions
- Senior SAT Preadministration Gridding
- Senior Retreat Leader Training
- Cyber Assignments
- Virtual Office Hours
September 23: Wednesday Flex Day (All Freshman Report; Seniors enrolled in School-based SAT report)
- Senior SATs (dismissal no later than 1pm)
- Freshman retreat (dismissal at 12, lunch will be provided)
September 25: Purple B Day (Make-up day from Wednesday Sept. 23)
October 2: Friday Flex Day (Sophomores ONLY report to school)
- Sophomore Activities (dismissal at 11am)
- Sophomore Honors Convocation
- Cyber Assignments
- Cyber Office Hours 1:00-3:00
October 5: School Closed
October 9: Friday Flex Day (Juniors ONLY Report to school)
- Junior Activities (dismissal at 11am)
- Cyber Assignments
- Cyber Office Hours 1:00-3:00
October 14: PSAT DAY. Sophomores and Juniors ONLY report to school. Dismissal at noon. Freshmen and Seniors OFF.
October 16: PSAT DAY: Freshmen Report to school at 8:15. Dismissal at 12. Juniors and Seniors involved in Honors Convocation report from 9-10am.
- Cyber Assignments
- Cyber Office Hours
October 23: Marking Day: no cyber assignments given
- Student Leadership Council Inductions at 10 am (all students involved report to school by 9:30).
- Dismissal at conclusion of activities.
October 30: Friday Flex Day (Freshmen and Seniors ONLY Report at 8:15)
- Halloween Activities
- Dismissal at 10:30
- Cyber Assignments
- Cyber Office Hours 1:00-3:00
Dear Mount Parents,
The documents attached to this email include instructions on how you can set up your access to Canvas and the Ruvna App.
Canvas is the site where your daughters' teachers will post assignments and any other course materials. This is the site on which you will be able to view our Virtual Back to School Night on Thursday September 17th. Simply click on each of your daughter's classes and you will be able to view a video introduction created by her teachers and her advisor. If you have trouble logging into Canvas, please contact Mrs. Meridith Herne (email@example.com).
Ruvna is the mobile app which you will use to submit your daughters' answers to the health screening questions each morning. We will notify you when the app is fully functional. If you have trouble setting up Ruvna, please contact Mrs. Lydia Quiñones in the Student Affairs Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All new parents should have received instructions for logging into PowerSchool last week. Remember that PowerSchool is the site through which you will be able to see your daughter's grades and her schedule. If you need assistance with this, or if you have trouble logging in to PowerSchool, please contact Mrs. Donna Boyle in the Studies Office (email@example.com).
We're looking forward to a great year!
Mr. Don Holdren, Dean of Studies; Mrs. Kathleen Guyger, Dean of Students; Dr. Judy Caviston, Principal; Sr. Charlene Diorka, President
Dear Parents and Guardians,
You have been in my thoughts and prayers during these past months. I know the spring and summer months were difficult for many of you, for many reasons. I pray that as we return to the opening of school, a measure of normalcy will prevail in our lives. The administrative staff and committees have been working all summer to create a program that will benefit our entire student community. We look forward to working with you to ensure that this school year, even if filled with uncertainties, is an enriching and rewarding one for all.
Some of the matters I wish to bring to your attention are listed below:
The day prior to your daughter's arrival for the new school year, we ask that you check your email for updates. These updates will contain information that will ensure a smooth opening of school. Please submit questions you may have prior to your student's arrival on August 26th, 27th or 28th to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The bus information listed below is current as of today, August 21st. It is important that you contact your local school district for more information.
- Abington 47 Undetermined, Meeting August 25th
- Centennial 1 Yes
- Cheltenham 11 Undetermined, Meeting August 20th
- Colonial 45 Yes
- Hatboro-Horsham 43 Yes
- Lower Merion 2 Yes
- Lower Moreland 4 Yes
- Methacton 19 Yes
- Norristown 15 Yes
- North Penn 36 Yes
- Springfield 49 No
- Upper Dublin 23 No
- Upper Merion 3 Undetermined
- Upper Moreland 5 Yes
- Wissahickon 54 Yes
- Private Transportation Yes
The Mount provides FREE, round-trip van service to/from the Chestnut Hill East and Chestnut Hill West train stations for those students who ride SEPTA rails. Arrangements also can be made for student pick-up/drop-off at the Route 94 bus stop in front of the CVS on Bethlehem Pike and Montgomery Avenue in Erdenheim. Please contact Mrs. Quinones via email at email@example.com or Dr. Caviston at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in utilizing this service.
We welcome Ms. Carissa Manley to our Science Department. Ms. Manley holds a B.S. in Biology from LaSalle University and an M. Ed. in secondary Education. Most recently, Ms. Manley has worked with biology and anatomy students at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. She is a great proponent of an all-female educational experience and we welcome her to the Mount community.
We are pleased to announce that Mr. Ryan Lattanze will fill the position of Academic Coach in the Guidance Department. Mr. Lattanze has served for the last two years as Administrative Assistant in our Guidance Office. Mr. Lattanze has a B.S. degree in Psychology and is presently completing his M.Ed. in education. Mr. Lattanze will work in concert with our teachers to assist our students who receive academic accommodations.
Joining us as a sub for Ms. Megan Rodolico while she is on maternity leave is Ms. Venecia Lucia Perez Rivera. Mrs. Rivera, a native of Mexico, will be a great addition to our community. She has experience as a professor of the culinary arts and in planning and executing staff development and training seminars in Guadalajara, Mexico.
After twenty-two years, Mrs. Sharon Statmore is retiring from the Admissions Office. By our count, Mrs. Statmore assisted over 1,000 students in transitioning into secondary school. We thank Mrs. Statmore for her contribution to the Mount and we wish her well on her new journey, and many happy hours in her favorite spot on earth, Ocean City, NJ.
Each time you are asked to complete the COVID information form, we ask that you consider your answers carefully. It is vitally important that a student who has any COVID symptoms be identified. If the information on the COVID form is deliberately incorrect, disciplinary action could result in suspension of the student.
The Mount has invested a great deal of resources into the safety of our school community. As I write, our maintenance team is installing the acrylic safety guards on each student's desk. If we wish to remain in the Hybrid model, all members of our community must cooperate. Our students must understand the restrictions of space and activities which we have put into place. We ask for your cooperation in discussing these directives with your Mounties.
Summer Staff Development
Multiple faculty and staff committees have been preparing for the opening of school. In addition, many of our academic colleagues have been attending webinars on a variety of topics that will enrich our programs this year. Some of these programs include: Webinars on Virtual Learning, Virtual Assessment, Anti-racist Education, Mental Health of Students in a Virtual World, Blended Learning, Health and Safety of Students and the School Community, Design of COVID-19 Safety Classrooms, and workshops in math, science, social studies, theology, and publication.
As we approach the beginning of the school year, our opening professional development program includes sessions presented by members of our faculty on formative and summative assessments in the hybrid and virtual environment, new applications for the Smart Board, and the creation of Virtual Lessons. New technology has been purchased to enhance our educational program during these extraordinary times. Additionally, we will have a report from the Faith Development and Campus Ministry Committees.
Our teaching and administrative colleagues will also participate in a presentation by Alphonso Nathan, LPC, Co-Founder of Brightside Counseling. Mr. Nathan will speak to us on the topic of White Fragility, a book written by Robin D'Angelo, which was read by our colleagues this summer. Mr. Nathan will also lead us in a discussion on how we can be more sensitive to the needs of our young women of color in a majority white environment.
New Parents Information Session
A virtual session will be held for new parents on Tuesday, September 8th at 7:00 PM. More information will be forwarded in a future communication.
Back to School Night
A virtual Back to School Night will be held on Thursday, September 17th . More information will be forwarded in a future communication.
Renovated Cafeteria and Bathrooms and Building Preparations
Plans were put into place prior to our shutdown in March 2020 to renovate the cafeteria, cafeteria hallway, and the bathrooms outside of the auditorium. When our Mounties return to school, they will be greeted with attractive changes that not only brought our building up to current codes, but gave a fresh look to our facilities. We are grateful to our maintenance team
who have worked long hours to prepare our building for the return of our students.
Student schedules were distributed via their Mount emails. Please have them check for this communication in case they haven't received their roster as of today.
We welcome any available adult who can assist us in monitoring our hallways during the students' lunch periods. This supervision will give our teachers a well-deserved break during the school day. In order to assist us, the follow clearances must be submitted:
- Volunteer Requirements: For the safety of our students, all volunteers are required to complete a Pennsylvania Criminal History check, FBI Criminal check and Pennsylvania Child Abuse clearance. The forms can be obtained in the Finance Office and the clearance check will be paid by Mount Saint Joseph Academy. Volunteers will also need to complete the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Safe Environment Training. Please check the website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for locations and training times. A copy of the training certificate should be sent to the attention of Kathleen McGirr, Director of Finance. Clearances obtained within 2018-2020 will be accepted to fulfill the requirement. Please submit those documents to Kathleen McGirr.
The cafeteria will not accept cash. If you wish your daughter to purchase lunch in the cafeteria, they must have funds loaded onto their ID card. Information on this process can be found under the student portal on the Mount's webpage. The cafeteria will not be serving breakfast items until further notice.
Hybrid students are required to wear their uniforms on their first day back to school. All students, when virtually attending class, are expected to be up, dressed, and settled in a proper work place prior to the beginning of class.
Return of Books
As the students enter the building through their assigned doors, they will travel to the gym and place their books on the assigned tables. Please remember, if a book is not returned, you will be responsible for the cost of the book. The books will sit for a few days to ensure that they are sanitized prior to their re-distribution.
All virtual students must arrange for the return of their books prior to Friday, August 28, 2020.
I pray that the school year 2020-2021 will be filled with good health for all members of the Mount community. Let us continue to pray for each other's safety and success.
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students,
As we prepare to open school for the academic year, the health and safety of our community remains our top priority. For your convenience, we have compiled a pamphlet containing details on reopening and COVID-related safety procedures. Please click or tap here to read the pamphlet.
Additionally, all student rosters have been emailed to the students' Mount email addresses. If you have questions or concerns regarding your daughter's schedule, please contact Mr. Holdren at email@example.com.
We look forward to welcoming students next week.
The Mount Administrative Team
Dear Students, Parents, and Guardians,
Thank you to those who submitted questions regarding the reopening of school for the upcoming academic year. Please click or tap here to watch the webinar in which we address these questions.
All communications regarding reopening are archived here. This page also contains a link to reopening FAQs.
Thank you for your continued support as we prepare to welcome students to the Mount.
The Mount Administration
AUGUST 6, 2020
Dear Students, Parents, and Guardians,
As promised last week, our goal is to work to ensure you receive up-to-date and timely communication as we prepare for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. You can expect a weekly communication for the foreseeable future. The goal of these communications is to provide you updates on the progress we are making in campus and academic preparation, important dates, needed parent/student action, and more. Now more than ever, communication is critical. Working together, administration, faculty, staff, parents, guardians, and the Mount student body will accomplish our mission of providing our students the academic, spiritual, and community experience expected of Mount Saint Joseph Academy. We look forward to working with you to ensure that this school year, even if filled with uncertainties, is an enriching and rewarding one for all.
Thank you for your support.
Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ (President) and Dr. Judith A. Caviston, Ed.D. (Principal)
Weekly Update – August 6, 2020
- Parent/Guardian/Student Webinar: Thursday, August 13th, the administration will release a webinar that is aimed to provide answers and additional insight to questions that you send directly to us regarding numerous aspects of the upcoming school year. To ensure your questions are addressed, please submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, August 10th.
- Virtual Only Model: For students and families who will opt for this model, please email your name, daughter's name and year, and the parents' email address to email@example.com by Monday, August 10th.
- Athletics: Our Athletic department is in the process of organizing an informational Zoom meeting for parents of fall athletes on August 12, 2020 at 7:00 PM. All are welcome to attend.
Please go to this link to register for the Zoom meeting.
Students who choose to attend school virtually may not participate in any sports program.
- Summer Staff Development: We have had multiple faculty and staff committees preparing for the opening of school. In addition, many of our academic colleagues have been attending webinars on a variety of topics that will enrich our programs this year. Some of these programs included: Webinars on Virtual Learning, Virtual Assessment, Anti-Racist Education, Mental Health of Students in a Virtual World, Blended Learning, Health and Safety of Students and the School Community, Design of COVID-19 Safety Classrooms, Workshops in Math, Science, Social Studies, Theology, and Publication.
- Hybrid Cohorts: As communicated, we will conduct our academics utilizing the hybrid process, at least through the end of September. Work has been underway to ensure a seamless transition for faculty, staff and students. A much-anticipated deliverable to prepare for this process is the finalization of the Purple and Gold cohorts. Numerous inputs are required to finalize these lists, individual rosters, sibling rosters, etc. Mrs. Guyger and a committee of faculty members are currently working to finalize cohorts. We anticipate being able to share cohort and hybrid schedules the week of August 17th.
- 2020 -2021 Course Schedules: Course schedules are currently in process. The Senior schedules have been released. Junior, Sophomore and Freshman schedules will be released the week of August 17th. Then there will be the opportunity to schedule a Zoom meeting with Mr. Holdren for those who have concerns about their schedules.
- Opening Week...what to expect: Opening week will be an exciting week for faculty, staff, and students. It's a time to see friends, classmates, teachers, and also meet new members of the MSJA community. We are pleased we can kick off the school year in person. Freshmen and Sophomores can expect an opportunity to walk through their roster and meet with their classmates and teachers. Juniors and Seniors can expect a warm welcome back as well as a presentation to review back-to-school Covid-19 guidelines and complete a one-way tour of the building to ensure the adherence to all protocols once all classes begin on Monday, August 31st.
- Forward all questions to be addressed by administration on the upcoming webinar by Monday, August 10th to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For students and families who will opt for Virtual Only option for the semester, please email your name, daughter's name and year, and the parents' email address to email@example.com by Monday, August 10th.
- 8/13: Administration webinar
- 8/26: Welcome Freshmen (Arrival 8:00am; Dismissal 12:30pm)
- 8/27: Welcome Back Sophomores (Arrival 8:00am; Dismissal 12:30pm)
- 8/28: Welcome Back Juniors (Arrival 8:15am; Dismissal 11am)
Welcome Back Seniors (Arrival 12:15pm; Dismissal 3pm)
- 8/31: Hybrid Schedule: Purple Cohort attends in person; Gold cohort attends at home
- 9/1: Hybrid Schedule: Gold Cohort attends in person; Purple cohort attends at home
- 9/2: Hybrid Schedule: Purple Cohort attends in person; Gold cohort attends at home
- 9/3: Hybrid Schedule: Gold Cohort attends in person; Purple cohort attends at home
- 9/4: No School
- 9/7: No School
Dear Parents, Students, and Guardians,
I hope that you are enjoying some summer fun even as we continue to experience tremendous uncertainty and challenge in the midst of COVID-19. Although we hoped and imagined that the return to school would bring us all together once again, we find ourselves in very unusual circumstances. Just in the last few days we have heard of numerous school districts that are going virtual for the beginning of school.
At the Mount, it has always been our desire and hope to return to school in person 100% as safely as possible. In person, together, is how the best experience of education happens especially as we root ourselves in our mission, in our values, and in relationship to one another – together in the Mount Community.
We also recognize in this current environment that now more than ever the safety of your daughters, the faculty and staff is of utmost importance. We have been working hard at Mount to ensure that our campus is prepared to meet CDC guidance and the environment to learn is both safe and engaging. Providing for the recommended six-foot distance in most of our classrooms, that usually accommodates 25 students, limits the number of students possible in any given room.
We also recognize that the preference and decision on how your daughter returns to the academic year is a personal decision. For a variety of reasons, some students and parents prefer a return to a full, face-to-face experience; others prefer the hybrid experience; and still others prefer a full virtual experience. No one decision is correct. Rather, what is best for each student is what matters. Your choice matters.
After hearing from 89.3% of parents via a survey early this week, the return to school preference identified 52.5% who desire the 5-day, in person school experience; 28.5% who desire the hybrid experience and 8.4% who prefer the full virtual experience. Each experience reflects what is best for each family.
As I stated in the beginning, our hope will always be for a 100% student return to campus, and we will work to do it in a way that meets your personal/family needs and preferences as well as the safety of the entire community. Given this information, our goal is to create options that address your feedback: a virtual option, a hybrid option, and a full-on campus option. All three learning options will not be feasible on day one, but we have plans to build out and eventually offer all three. As communicated earlier, to start the academic year, we will return to school on August 26 with Freshmen only; August 27 with Sophomores only; August 28 with Juniors and then Seniors. We will employ the hybrid model or complete virtual model (where needed and for whom it’s needed) at least until the beginning of October or until we are confident that everyone has a chance to gradually and safely return to the Mount Community.
During this time period the administration and faculty will have the opportunity to execute and evaluate teaching in this new environment, which will enable us to shape and design the third option that will allow students, who desire, a full on-campus experience. We would like to target a full on-campus option as soon as possible after September, but many variables and those things we cannot control will dictate our ability to do that especially if there is a resurgence or dramatic disease progression.
As we work towards the ability to offer a full on-campus option, know that we will continue to update you on our progress, as well as welcome your feedback to help shape this plan.
As we move through the semester, we have the safety and security of the hybrid model, the virtual model as needed, and the hopeful possibility of the full Mount Community. The complete Mount Community is our ultimate goal. No matter how we return or what we are called to at any given time, we are ready and will work toward the best Mount experience possible. Likewise, at any given moment we may need to respond to a government order to shift all learning to virtual…and we will be ready.
Expect to receive weekly communications. We will continue to update you weekly as we move toward the opening of school the week of August 24th. You can also anticipate a more comprehensive plan for the fall reopening including details about health and safety, the learning environment, sports and activities, campus ministry and more.
Thank you for your support.
Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ
Dear Students, Parents and Guardians,
We continue to listen and learn in these uncertain and changing times of the pandemic. Since our last communication about the reopening of school, (July 16, 2020) we continue to plan for a safe way to reunite our students, faculty and staff for the 2020-2021 school year.
We are aware that the ideal circumstances would be for everyone to be together for in-person learning. We acknowledge that strong relationships make a difference in the Mount community. We are also aware that we may have to make a choice for another form of learning, and we are prepared to do that without hesitation. Should this scenario occur it is our intention to return to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. In all scenarios, we will follow the guidelines of the CDC and other relevant agencies.
Please complete the survey below by clicking on the link to identify the learning option that you prefer as we prepare to reopen school at this time. This data will be helpful as we consider the number of students that need to be accommodated safely according to the recommended guidelines.
Your prompt response to this survey will help us to continue to monitor the needs for reopening school. If at all possible, your response would be appreciated by Monday (7/27) by noon. You can expect ongoing communication as we move closer to the reopening of school scheduled for the week of August 24, 2020.
Sister Charlene Diorka, SSJ
REOPENING OF SCHOOL
June 16, 2020
I hope that you and your family are well as we navigate "the yellow phase" of this pandemic. I noticed on the calendar that the summer solstice is Saturday, June 20th. Although officially it will be summer, many eyes are on the reopening of school.
MSJA is working conscientiously on a plan to open school in this time of COVID-19. We have followed national trends and engaged in conversations with comparable independent Catholic high schools in the area. In addition, we have met with the teaching colleagues and several focus groups of parents with representation from each class.
At this point, there is clarity and strong support to reopen school earlier for the 2020-2021 school year. The Mount will reopen the week of August 24, 2020 with two professional development days for teaching colleagues and the gradual welcome of each of the four classes. Further details for that week will be forthcoming. Students will return on the following days:
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – Freshmen only
Thursday, August 27, 2020 – Sophomores only
Friday, August 28, 2020 – Juniors and Seniors only
The first semester will end on December 18, 2020 and assessments, in whatever form they may take, will conclude on that day. The Mount will not reopen for the second semester until after January 18, 2021. It is our hope that this time frame will provide a significant, uninterrupted span of learning before any resurgence of COVID-19 and the flu season. It is still uncertain whether we will have in-person or virtual learning after the Thanksgiving break.
Your support and understanding are essential as we move forward in these uncertain and challenging times. While our routine may be changing, our commitment is not. Our primary concern is for the health and safety of your daughters and the teaching colleagues and staff. We will continue to work on the details to provide for a smooth, creative, and safe return for all.
The education of the young women entrusted to us is at the heart of our mission. Thank you, in advance, for all the ways that you collaborate with us in making the Mount a place of excellence, no matter what the circumstances.
Know that we hold you and your family in prayer. Be well and stay well.
S. Charlene Diorka, SSJ and Dr. Judith A. Caviston, Ed.D.
- May 20, 2020: Update on Student Events
- May 19, 2020: Letter to Parents & Families
- May 4 - Letter to seniors
- April 21 - Letter to families and calendar update
- April 10: Easter Letter from Sister Mary and Dr. Caviston
- April 10 - Update from Sister Mary Dacey and Dr. Caviston
- April 9 - MSJA closed for the remainder of the school year
- April 6 - Report Cards
- April 2 - Letters to Parents, Guardians, & Students
- March 31: Letter to Families & Students/Indefinite Closure
- March 31: Employee Notice Regarding COVID-19
- March 25 - Academic Update
- March 27 - Academic Update
- March 23 - Governor issues stay-at-home order, MSJA closed at least until April 6
- March 23 - Letter to students from the Dean of Students
- March 19 - Letter to students, parents, alumnae, colleagues, and Board from Sister Mary Dacey
- March 17 - Letter to parents & guardians
- March 17 - Letter to students
- March 16 - Letter to parents & guardians, alumnae, and Board of Directors
- March 12 - Governor orders school closures in Montco at least until March 30
- March 11 - Letter to parents & guardians
UPDATE ON STUDENT EVENTS
Please follow the link below to see the information shared with our seniors today via their school email.
Mount singers and instrumentalists performed the annual spring concert from their homes. The concert features musical selections by the Sweet Madelines, junior and senior voice scholars, and junior and senior piano scholars. These students logged many hours preparing for the concert, and performing virtually is no easy task. They did a phenomenal job, and put on an inspiring performance. You are invited to watch the full concert here.
Thank you to our vocalists and musicians, and to Ms. Danielle Molan for her instruction and organizing the virtual performance.
While we were unable to host an in-person Art Show this spring, we are happy to announce that the Art Department has put together a Virtual Art Show hosted on the Mount’s website! Please join us in congratulating all of our fabulous artists for the beautiful creations they have accomplished this year. You are invited to visit our Virtual Art Show here.
A special thank you to our senior artists, Mrs. Croke, Mrs. Hamilton, Miss Gryscavage and Mrs. Toth for encouraging our artists and posting their work.
The Class of 2020 will be inducted into the Mount Saint Joseph Alumnae Association on Wednesday, May 2020 at 9:30 am. The Alumnae Induction ceremony will take place virtually. At this time, we will welcome the Senior alumnae mothers to participate in the memorable event. Their participation will make this a very special event for our graduates.
The Senior Recognition Night will be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm. All are welcome to join us as the event will be aired on the Mount’s webpage.
The Young College Alumnae Panel will be held on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm. We are very excited to have 5 alums from the class of 2019 share their college experience with members of the class of 2020.
Graduation will take place on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Our rain date is May 31. We are thrilled to invite the Class of 2020 to their live graduation! We will host graduation in the Mount parking lot. We have enlisted the services of Joe Bradley Digital and his associates to help us with staging, sound, and filming. Each Mountie will be limited to one car of guests. The parents of each Mountie, or two significant people, will be invited to participate in the ceremony. We will follow the directives for social distancing in our organization and seating arrangement.
The Junior Honors Convocation will be on Monday, June 1 at 2pm. Junior yearbooks will be available for pickup at the front of school on Tuesday, June 2, from 3-5 pm.
Junior College Week: June 1- 4, 2020
Monday, June 1
Topic: The College Search
Presenter: Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of La Salle University
Time: 9:00-10:00 am (Zoom link will be emailed at 8:45 am)
Tuesday, June 2
Topic: The College Essay
Presenter: Tyra Crosbie, Admissions Counselor, Gettysburg College
Time: 9:00-10:00 am (Zoom link will be emailed at 8:45 am)
Wednesday, June 3
Topic: The College Interview
Presenter: Abbey Morris, Associate Director of Admission, Saint Joseph’s University
Time: 9:00-10:00 am (Zoom link will be emailed at 8:45 am)
Thursday, June 4
Topic: Searching for a College During a Pandemic
Time: 9:00-10:00am (Zoom link will be emailed at 8:45am)
- Andrew Cox, Associate Dean of College Admission, The Catholic University of America
- Brendan Corsones, Senior Assistant Director, The University of Notre Dame
- Matthew Metzger, Director of First Year Admissions, Penn State - Abington (Mount University Park Liaison)
- Julie Chapman, Admissions Counselor, Vanderbilt University
College Information Sessions (students sign up for at least one per day)
Monday, June 1:
- 11:00 am - Boston College
- 12:00 pm - Providence College
- 1:00 pm - Xavier University
Tuesday, June 2:
- 11:00 am - University of South Carolina
- 12:00 pm - University of Tennessee
- 1:00 pm - George Washington University
Wednesday, June 3:
- 11:00 am - Penn State University
- 12:00 pm - Temple University
- 1:00 pm - University of Pittsburgh
Thursday, June 4:
- 11:00 am - University of Michigan
- 12:00 pm - Swarthmore College
- 1:00 pm - Quinnipiac University
Sophomore yearbooks will be available for pickup at the front of school on Wednesday, June 3, from 3-5 pm.
The Sophomore Honors Convocation will be held on Tuesday, June 2 at 10:30 am. Following the distribution of awards, there will be a Spirit Activity for the Class of 2022.
Freshmen yearbooks will be available for pickup at the front of school on Thursday, June 4, from 3-5pm.
The Freshmen Honors Convocation will be held on Wednesday, June 3 at 10:30 am. Following the distribution of awards, there will be a Spirit Activity for the Class of 2023.
Last Day of School
The last day of school for the 2019-2020 academic year will be June 4, 2020.
Information regarding the collection of books for the classes of 2021-2023 will be posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
Last week, Mr. Holdren reminded the students in his daily update that it had been 8 weeks of virtual learning since Governor Wolf closed schools in March. Even as the Mount’s administration has concentrated on ensuring quality education and support for our students, and creating virtual replacements for as many activities and events as possible, we have also been focused on the future.
As recently as last week, Dr. Fauci and other medical experts have warned that openings and the lessening of restrictions should be done cautiously and with strict adherence to CDC guidelines. Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera announced that the state is working to open schools to students in the fall. All of these experts maintain their commitment to closely monitor data to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the students and the staff.
Like so many other schools at every level, we have created a team to engage in “scenario planning.” Because things have been changing so rapidly, we are looking at a number of possible options for every area of school life from education, to health and safety, to facilities management. We are assessing a variety of options for instruction, from face to face, to virtual, to a hybrid of both. We are considering different schedules to determine what best supports the method of learning. We are measuring classrooms to assure adequate social distancing. We are investigating the additional procurement of standard precautionary materials like sanitizers, wipes and masks, even as we consider testing, screening and more protective accessories. And, we are committed to providing additional support for the wellness of all our young women who have been affected by this sustained quarantine.
As you know, we have established a “Dear Neighbor Fund” for Emergency Tuition Assistance so that those negatively impacted by COVID-19 will receive needed financial support. We are committed to ensuring that our young women will not have their Mount education disrupted.
We are grateful that many of you have already responded to this critical need.
A final step that is vital to our planning is to get your input. In the next week we will send a parent survey to get your best thinking on our response to this unusual time. Your participation will be critical for our planning for the future.
The bottom line is that we are committed to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, even as we attempt to return to some kind of normalcy at school. Thank you for your support, for your confidence and your patience.
Know that we hold you in prayer as the effects of this pandemic continue to affect us all.
Sister Mary Dacey, SSJ, President
Dr. Judith Caviston, Principal
May 4, 2020
Since this pandemic has turned our lives upside down, we have communicated with you and your parents that your health and safety have been our highest priority. That continues even as guidelines and restrictions change by the day.
What has not changed is our awareness that this has been a particularly painful time for you, our senior class. We share your disappointment! Prom, alumnae induction, Baccalaureate, graduation – even skort designs – are events that we will not celebrate together as we would have, should have pre-virus.
The prom favors that surprised you on Friday were surely poor substitutes for the real thing. But you should know that faculty and staff vied for the opportunity to deliver them. They wanted to see you, to connect with you and to let you know in person that they were thinking of and missing you. It’s that Mount community connection.
For the past weeks, the administration has been wrestling with how to celebrate these events, knowing full well that we will never provide what you deserve. Postpone and hope that actual events could happen at a future time? Connect through virtual experiences? Reach out (from a safe distance) offering mementos that symbolize our thoughts of you?
Now we would like to share some particulars with you about our plans for this month. We have decided to keep to our original schedule for these special events –especially graduation.
UPCOMING SENIOR EVENTS
Graduation will take place on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Our rain date is May 31st. We are thrilled to invite you to YOUR live graduation!
We will host graduation in the Mount parking lot. We have enlisted the services of Joe Bradley Digital and his associates to help us with staging, sound, and filming. Each Mountie will be limited to one car of guests. The parents of each Mountie, or two significant people, may be invited to participate. There will be assigned parking. The graduate will be asked to sit in the front passenger seat. Our teaching colleagues will assist in ushering duties. We will follow the directives of social distancing in our organization and seating arrangement. Details to follow.
Our graduates are invited to pick-up their graduation gowns during the week of May 25th. We are hoping that the yearbooks will arrive by that date and will be distributed during your visit to school. Details and schedule to follow.
Pictures of the students’ decorated skorts must be submitted by May 25th. Photos will be posted on the Mount’s website. Details to follow.
SENIOR RECOGNITION NIGHT
A virtual presentation of Seniors Awards will be presented on Wednesday, May 20th at 7:00 pm. Zoom details to follow.
JUNIOR/SENIOR PARENT PRESENTATION
Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of La Salle University, will present a virtual information session on College Transition to all parents of the classes of ’20 and ’21 on Wednesday, May 14th; at 7:00 pm. Parents and students are encouraged to attend. Zoom details to follow.
Alumnae Induction for the Class of 2020 is scheduled for May 20th at 9:30 am. Mounties are asked to wear their blazers. Zoom details to follow.
YOUNG ALUM PANEL
May 21st at 3:00 pm, Mount Saint Joseph Academy College Counseling Department will be hosting a College Alumnae Panel for the Class of 2020.. Seniors will have the opportunity to hear from the class of 2019 about their college experience. After the panel, there will be a Q & A session. Zoom details to follow.
PROM AND BACCALAUREATE
With deep regret, due to the restrictions on social distancing and limited crowd size, we have not put plans into place for your Prom or Baccalaureate. We will continue to study the possibility and will inform you if it becomes possible to schedule these events on the calendar.
Our Music Scholars and members of the Sweet Madelines have posted their Spring Concert, under the supervision of Miss Danielle Molan, Director of Music. Please take a few minutes to visit the school’s website to watch this wonderful presentation.
As we acknowledge the real sadness and disappointment of this tragedy of COVID-19, let us recognize and celebrate the bonds of our Mount community and this senior class that cannot, will not be broken. We are better than, stronger than what would seek to separate us.
Know that we will and do celebrate you. We are proud of you. And…we love you.
Sister Mary Dacey, SSJ, President
Dr. Judith Caviston, Principal
Mr. Donald Holdren, Dean of Studies
Mrs. Kathleen Guyger, Dean of Students
Dear Students, Parents / Guardians, and Colleagues:
We hope that everyone had a blessed Easter and a good break, despite all the circumstances that make this such a trying time.
As we return to our classes this week, we are profoundly aware of all the questions and concerns that you have about the closing weeks of the school year. Paramount is the "end of the year" for our seniors with all the significant activities and events to celebrate them.
On Monday, Montgomery County officials announced that there would be no graduations in the county but suggested creative and safe celebrations to replace traditional gatherings. As recently as Tuesday morning, we met with other independent Catholic school leaders who are facing the same questions and challenges. As we have indicated in earlier communications, we have been focused on planning for weeks.
We want you to know that we are committed to the following:
- We will celebrate our seniors
- We will have a graduation ceremony, obviously not the traditional one
- We will be as creative as possible in all celebrations, while being attentive to the common good and the safety of all
- We will replicate ancillary events such as senior awards, alumnae induction, T-shirts and decorated skorts
- We will reschedule events such as Baccalaureate Mass and Prom, depending on state and county decisions
We are dedicated to communicating specific details about all of the above in a timely manner. What we wish to avoid is promising something that we cannot deliver or that we have to rescind.
While we share your disappointment that these changes have to be made, we know how resilient, how talented, how committed this class of 2020 is. We will make every effort to acknowledge them and celebrate them and their significant accomplishments.
Thank you, as always, for your understanding, your support and your patience.
Know that we hold you in prayer, aware more than ever, that even though we are apart, we are still one.
Sister Mary Dacey, SSJ
Dr. Judith Caviston
Please see the update below.
Calendar Update for April 21, 2020
Listed below is an update regarding recent decisions that have been made as we review the remaining days for this academic year. Be advised that details for many of the events will be communicated as soon as they are finalized.
May 20th: Virtual Alumnae Induction at 9:30 AM. Details to follow.
Virtual Senior Recognition Night at 7:00 PM. Details to follow.
May 21st: We will have a virtual panel of young alums who will share their college experiences with members of the class of 2020. Details to follow.
May 11-22nd: Students will take AP exams at home. Mounties are not required at attend class on the day of their AP exam.
May 29th: Last day of instruction for all students. Teachers will discuss the closing events of the academic year with their students.
After consultation with the Academic Board, the administration has made the decision that final exams will not be given in June. Final grades and awards will be established on student progress, intellectual curiosity, class participation, personal responsibility, preparation for class, working to potential, display of initiative, following directions, attitude and spirit of cooperation in class work and small group instruction.
May 30th: Graduation exercises for the class of 2020. Diplomas, class awards, and Alumnae pins will be distributed. We intend to be creative, however, we will follow the Montgomery County directive, which states that large gatherings should not be held through the end of June. Details to follow.
June 1st-5th: Office hours for teaching colleagues and closing ceremonies for grades 9-11. Details to follow.
The Mount will host a virtual Junior Interview Day. This event will be organized by the Guidance Department. Details to follow.
If possible, the distribution of our yearbook, The Sheaf, and our literary magazine, The Muse, will be distributed to our students prior to the close of the school year. We will also set a schedule for the collection of all textbooks that belong to the Mount. Details to follow
September: The Ring Mass for the class of 2021 will be held in September 2020.
Elections for student officers for the school year 2020-2021 will be held in September.
We will host a Baccalaureate Mass for the class of 2020. Details will be finalized when a date permitting possible large gatherings is announced.
It is our desire to schedule a Senior Prom for the class of 2020. However, we will follow the Montgomery County directive which states that large gatherings should not be held through the end of June. Details to follow.
Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of LaSalle University will present a virtual program to our Juniors, Seniors, and their parents. The topic of her presentation will be "The College Search" and 'Transitioning to College Life." Details to follow.
The Finance Office is in the process of addressing refunds for the Disney trip and the Junior Prom. If there is someone specific who should receive the refund, please send your request in writing to the Mount's Finance Office.
When Governor Wolf announced yesterday morning that Pennsylvania schools would be closed for the rest of the year, the decision was disappointing for many, even though we understood that he made the decision for the health and safety of us all. We had been poised to celebrate Easter and begin a well-deserved spring break.
Given this decision and the events of the past few weeks, we could feel caught in the dying phase of the Paschal Mystery that we observe this Holy Week. So much has been changed, lost and taken away. Daily we are surrounded by stories of the impact of the pandemic on ourselves, our families and friends, and the dear neighbor in our communities, country and world. It seems like Good Friday each day. Images of the cross and the isolation of the tomb are oddly appropriate.
But for all of this, we see signs of hope, of courage, of people showing up, reaching out and coming together in ways big and small. And creativity abounds. Last Wednesday, we prayed a virtual Stations of the Cross created by members of the Mount Community—by our campus minister, faculty and students. They reminded us through music, narrative, and dance of our call to live this mystery of dying and rising, of transformation and of self-emptying love.
Pope Francis has challenged us that, we mustn't be like "Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. We are an Easter people, a community whose identity and hope are rooted in the impossible love of God for whom nothing is impossible."
Through community we discover Easter, live Easter and celebrate Easter. We do it together. We don't pretend that we are not afraid, that we are not disappointed, that we do not crave a certainty in the midst of the unknown. Rather, we come together in hope and in faith and in love, aware as never before that we are indeed in one another's hands.
In the meantime, know that we hold you in prayer. We look forward to being reunited with you in real time…seeing you safe and healthy…grateful to touch hands as well as hearts…united in the impossible love of God for whom nothing is impossible.
With great gratitude,
Sister Mary Dacey, SSJ
Dr. Judith Caviston
To: Mount families
From: Sister Mary Dacey, SSJ and Dr. Caviston
With the announcement by Governor Wolf, we are once again in uncharted territory. The administrative team will continue to explore options for Mount events and communicate decisions after Easter break.
Special consideration will be given to senior year-end events so that the class can be honored appropriately!
We can tell you:
- Our virtual classes will continue to be held daily after the break. A schedule for the end of school will be announced in mid-May.
- AP exams will be taken at home. Students will receive directions from teachers and the Guidance Department.
- Course selection sheets for grades 9-11 were due April 3, 2020. If you have not given them to your counselor, please do so as soon as possible.
- The Senior Prom, which was scheduled for May 21 st at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, is postponed to a later date.
- The Junior Ring Mass will be transferred to a date in September.
- The freshmen Disney trip in June has been cancelled. The trip will be rescheduled for a later date.
- Refunds will be issued after the break for the Disney trip, the Junior Prom and private busing. Details will follow.
We remind you to watch the website for updates and further information.
April 2, 2020
To: Mounties, Parents, and Guardians
From: Judith A. Caviston, Ed.D., Principal
Included in this Memo is a variety of points of interest. Please read carefully.
The Mount will be closed until directed to open, according to the March 30th announcement by Governor Tom Wolfe. We are grateful to our teachers and students who have been working diligently to keep our educational program on track. A very special thanks to our teachers and their families who are making sacrifices to ensure that our Mounties receive quality instruction during these uncertain times, as they strive to take care of their own families.
Holy Week/Spring Break
The Holy Week schedule/Spring Break at the Mount is as follows.
April 6: A Day schedule
April 7: B Day schedule
April 8: Spiritual Reflection Day/9am: Stations of the Cross
April 9-19: Easter break. We will return to virtual schooling on April 20 (A Day).
All SAT testing for April is canceled. More information will be released once we receive it from the College Board.
The Senior Prom for May 1 has been rescheduled to May 21, 2020. Our vision is to honor the seniors, schedule the Senior Prom, and celebrate our Graduation ceremony. Hopefully, we will return to school in May. If we don’t, then we will review the calendar and reschedule dates as necessary. We will celebrate!!!
The Disney Trip remains on the calendar for June 8-12, 2020. A decision will be made by the administration at the beginning of May.
Our musical for the academic Year 2020-2021 will be 9 to 5: The Musical. The musical is based on the 1980 movie of the same name, and features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. It centers on the downtrodden working lives of three women, Violet, Judy, and Doralee. They all work at Consolidated Industries, which is presided over by the sexist, lecherous, and pompous, Franklin Hart. Violet has worked at Consolidated for many years, but has never been given the chance to rise above senior supervisor status, although she is capable of much more. Judy is newly separated and joins the company having never worked before. Doralee is a happily married country girl, but she is ostracized from the other female workers. After Judy has an awful first day, Hart passes Violet over for another promotion, and Doralee finds out that Hart has been telling everyone lies about her, the three women unite in their hatred of Hart. They put their heads together and fantasize about how they would kill him. When Violet almost unwittingly poisons Hart the next day, he blackmails the three women, threatening them with the police. Doralee ties Hart up with the phone wires and, feeling empowered, they decide to imprison him in his own house while his wife is away. In Hart’s absence, Violet, Judy, and Doralee run the office to great effect. They introduce childcare, hour-long lunch breaks, rehab programs, and much more to benefit the staff at Consolidated. While Hart is tied up, the women also use the time to gather evidence that Hart has been embezzling from the company, but Hart breaks free and surprises the women at the office. However, his attempts to reveal the truth about his kidnapping are foiled when the Chairman of the Board arrives to praise the company’s increased productivity. The Chairman sends Hart to head up the Bolivia office and promotes Violet to the first female CEO. With Hart gone, the company reprise 9 to 5, in the happy knowledge that times have changed for the better.
- Meet our new Musical Director: Kaitlin McCool
Kaitlin McCool is thrilled to be stepping in as the new director of the musicals at the Mount! First and foremost, she is a proud alumna of the graduating class of 2007. While at The Mount, she participated in our musicals, the glee club, Sweet Madelines, and was a Mount vocal scholar. The musical program at The Mount cultivated her love of both music and theater, and has fond memories of her time here. Katie is extremely excited to return to the Mount stage, but in a completely new capacity. Katie earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in Music from West Chester University, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Saint Joseph's University. She is currently in her sixth year of teaching 10th grade English at Haverford High School; prior to that position she taught 8th grade English for three years at a bilingual charter school in North Philadelphia. Katie was formerly involved in the theater program at Haverford and capably directed three of their musicals. She has been a very active member of Methacton Community Theater for the past twelve years. While she has primarily been a performer with MCT, she also enjoyed directing, choreographing, and acting as stage manager during that time. In her free time, she loves to read, cook, and go to the movies. She is eager to meet our Mounties and get started. We are happy to welcome Ms. Mc Cool to the Mount!
- Meet the new Choreographer: Becca Wexler
Becca Wexler has been passionate about dancing since she started classes at the age of 3. She enjoys sharing her love of dance and has been choreographing community theatre and at St. Hubert High School since 2016. While she's finishing her degree at Drexel, she teaches religious school teacher at Temple Brith Achim. Becca is looking forward to creating a more exciting theatre experience with everyone at The Mount!
- Meet the new Producer: Mr. Matt Dominick
Matthew Dominick, a graduate and performer of La Salle College High School, has been involved with theater for as long as he can remember. Matt is thrilled to accept the position as producer of the fall musical: 9 to 5. He has performed in his own high school productions, and at his Alma Mater, the University of Dayton. Matt has been assistant director of the La Salle shows for the past five years. He is looking forward to collaborating with a vibrant production team who will put their best foot forward. Best wishes to our own Matt Dominick!
Returning to the Mount as members of our production team are:
- Director of Music: Danielle Molan
Danielle Molan holds degrees in music from both West Chester University and Westminster Choir College. She currently serves as Director of Music at the Mount where she conducts the Glee Club and Sweet Madelines. In addition to these, she directs the Archdiocesan Children’s Choir at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, and founded and directs Epiphany Singers, a choir of young adults. Ms. Molan has directed music in numerous theater productions, and looks forward to returning for her second Mount production this fall!
- Orchestra Director: Mr. Bill Whitaker
Mr. Whitaker holds a Master's degree in music from the College of New Jersey. His is currently the conductor of the Villanova Jazz Band as well as the All-Catholic Jazz Band. He has been the conductor of the Mount Saint Joseph Academy Orchestra and Pit Band since 2005.
Virtual learning brings with it many challenges. The administration and teaching colleagues are here to support you. Due to the issue of test integrity, the Academic Board, which consists of the administration and Department Chairs are implementing the following MSJA Code of Honor. You will be asked to affix your initials at the bottom of each assignment prior to handing it in to your teachers. Your teachers will review the code with you in your classes.
MSJA Honor Code
Mount Saint Joseph Academy is committed to providing an environment in which young women are enabled and empowered to realize their fullest potential. Mount students are encouraged to be young women of courage, conviction and compassion, for whom honesty and integrity are respected values practiced in all situations. Therefore, each student has the responsibility to submit work that is solely her own. To that end, please sign the statement below.
“I pledge, on my honor, as a student of Mount St. Joseph Academy, that I have neither given nor received any unauthorized assistance on this assessment (test, quiz, assignment) and that this assessment (test, quiz, assignment) is my own original work.”
- The Mount’s grounds are closed. Mount reunions in the parking lot are discouraged.
- Mounties area expected to be out of bed and dressed for class. Our male and female teachers do not wish to see you in your pajamas. Thank you for your cooperation.
Dear Parents and Families,
In an announcement yesterday, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania schools will remain closed indefinitely. We will continue our current virtual learning throughout the closure and make announcements regarding schedules as needed.
We will post updates and announcements at mjsacad.org/coronavirus as more information becomes available, and previous communications will remain archived at the bottom of the page.
Our administrative team continues to meet daily via Zoom. Our faculty are teaching virtually each day, with office hours available on Fridays. Our staff are working from home to ensure that things continue to run smoothly. We are making every effort to keep the academic programming and schoolwide operations functioning normally, even though we are not physically in the same building.
I know this is difficult to hear, and that many of you are disappointed. Your safety and wellbeing remain our top priority, and so we must comply fully with the statewide order.
If you need anything, please don't hesitate to reach out to a member of our administrative team, faculty, or staff.
I pray that you, your family and the whole Mount community are safe and healthy. These are truly times of the Paschal mystery of dying and rising. The only way through it is together. Stay well.
S. Mary Dacey
March 27, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, Students,
It is hard to believe we are about to begin week three of quarantine. On behalf of the entire Mount community, I extend our gratitude to all of you working in the medical community, first responders, those working to provide the goods and services we need, and especially, our own team, our teachers, who are working endless hours to keep our educational program moving forward. Your sacrifices, and the sacrifices of your family, do not go unnoticed. I ask everyone to pray for the safety and good health of the members of our school community.
As we move forward into week three, our new class schedule has been posted on our website (see above). We thank our Mounties who have been working cooperatively with our teachers. It is important that students participate in their classes on a consistent basis. This method of learning and teaching is new for all of us. The teachers are approaching their responsibilities with integrity and a sense of professionalism, rooted in long hours of preparation. We need our Mounties to get out of bed, dress appropriately for class, (remember everyone in the Zoom class can see you!), and be prepared for instruction. Assignments are expected to be completed on the schedule established by the teachers and verbal participation in the classes is imperative. Attendance at classes is not optional. The Mount’s attendance policy as outlined in the student handbook is still in place for virtual classes.
I call your attention to the Friday schedule. This day is not a day off for students nor teachers. The intention of this day is to provide students with the time they need to collaborate with their teachers on a personal level, to gain an understanding of any new work presented, to work in small groups on projects, or to use the time to complete assignments that are due the following week. A reminder that Friday begins with the Advisory class and all students are expected to attend.
The Mount’s policy on plagiarizing remains in effect as we continue in this virtual learning model. All students are expected to honor the policy.
The quarantine has brought many challenges to family and school schedules. At this time, the Senior Prom remains on the schedule for May 1, 2020, and we are hoping that and the Disney trip will run as planned. However, we regret that we must cancel our Spring Concert. We assure every student who is disappointed by the many cancellations that we understand and support you.
We are especially mindful of our Seniors and the disappointment they feel with the cancellation of end-of-senior-year events. We continue to review the calendar and will make needed decisions as we progress through the remainder of the school year.
The College Board has posted their options for the AP Exams. After checking with our Department Chairs, who met with their teams, the Administration, in conjunction with our Academic Board, has decided that the Mount will continue to require students to take their AP exams. The date of the exams and the form of the testing is still being established. We do know that the majority of the exams will be written; our teachers have completed the curriculum for the exams and have entered the review period. It is the policy of the Mount that if you take an AP course, you must take the exam.
We will continue to wait for more information on the AP English Language exam before we make a final decision on this test. If any student has anxiety about taking the exam, I ask that they contact their counselor. An interview with their counselor is required before we will extend AP test exemption to any student. (Additional information will be posted next week by our Guidance Department on the website.)
We’ve had some parents ask if our teachers will post their assignments. All assignments are posted on the students’ Canvas accounts. We ask parents to check your daughter’s Canvas account as our teachers are required to post their assignments on that site. You may use your daughter’s password or create a parent account. Directions for creating parent accounts are posted on our website.
Students who receive academic testing accommodations will continue to do so with the assistance of the Guidance Department. Instructions for this assistance will be given to the students by the teachers. (Additional information will be posted next week by our Guidance Department on the website.)
As we continue to deal with this health, social, and financial crisis, the Mount will follow the directives of our local and state government leaders. We ask that you continue to remember everyone in your prayers, especially those who are experiencing
periods of unemployment.
The Admin Team is discussing our Spring Break. An announcement will be made next week. Have a peaceful weekend. May God bless us all!
Judith A. Caviston, Ed.D
March 23: GOVERNOR ISSUES STAY-AT-HOME ORDER
In an announcement this afternoon, Governor Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for five counties in Pennsylvania, including Montgomery County. The Mount will be closed at least until Monday, April 6 to comply with the order. We will continue our current virtual learning during this time, and make an announcement regarding schedules for the upcoming weeks shortly.
We will continue to post updates here as more information becomes available.
Well, as I am sure you have heard, the Governor of Pennsylvania announced today that schools must remain closed until at least April 6th . We will continue using the Virtual School Schedule that is posted on the website and Mr. Holdren will continue to issue schedule day reminders each morning. Additionally, I will post the schedule on the website calendar.
Knowing that you must miss me as much as I miss you, I wanted to share the following reminders with you:
- Please remember to email your teacher for any class absences and CC me each time.
- Proper Virtual School etiquette and dress code (yes, I even want you to follow a dress code for Virtual School!!) requires you to GET OUT OF BED, get dressed in comfortable clothes (at least change out of your PJs) , maybe brush your hair, and MUTE your audio if you are eating or drinking while in class. Remember that we can see what you are doing even if you are not speaking!! It is inappropriate for you to be lying in bed while signed in to your class. Be prepared for class with a pen, paper, and text if necessary.
- Please check your email and Canvas pages every day as this is our only means of communication for now.
I know that these days are long without your friends, your teachers, and me! Just take one day at a time, and we will get through this together! Stay tuned for some Mount Spirit Days to be announced shortly. If you have any themes you would like to suggest, please let me know.
If you need my assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask. Like your teachers, the administration is available to you every day to answer your questions or listen to your concerns.
Wishing you good health and many blessings,
In these times like no other time, on this St. Joseph’s Day like no other St. Joseph’s Day, I want to wish you a Happy Feast Day as we celebrate our special patron.
It strikes me that, in many ways, St. Joseph is a saint for this time.He lived a hidden life, caring for the family he cherished.He was forced to go into hiding for the safety of that family, a self-quarantine of sorts.He made decisions, about situations and circumstances not of his own making, that once could have seemed unimaginable, if not impossible.
In response to the current pandemic, someone offered this advice:“Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.” These words speak to me of Joseph as well.When God spoke to him in dreams, as God so often did, Joseph awoke to a whole new reality and a whole new set of choices.A life that had seemed so typical, so routine was turned upside down.And yet, Joseph allowed himself time after time, dream after dream, to respond to God’s grace and say “yes” to an ever-changing reality.
As I celebrate and pray for you–students, parents, colleagues, alumnae, board members and friends--I am grateful for all the ways you partner with us to live the mission of Joseph.That even in times of self-emptying we know the graces and blessings of a loving God who calls us to be one. And, perhaps, it is in these very times, as we try to figure out how to live now, that we know more clearly the gift of persons and community.
Lines from the poem Pandemic by Lynn Unger say it well.
Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life.
Reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
Know that our lives are in one another’s hands.
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart. Reach out your words.
Promise this world your love—
For better or for worse,
In sickness and in health,
As long as we all shall live.
Let us continue to reach out our hearts to one another this day and in the days to come!
Dear Parents and Guardians:
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This is certainly a very unusual year like none we have experienced in our careers.
We are writing to update you on the status of various Mount events that are on the calendar for the next couple of weeks. We understand the importance of each event in your daughters’ lives and do not take the decision to cancel or postpone lightly. As stated earlier, we are following the recommendations of the CDC and Federal and State governments very carefully to protect our community.
The closing of school next week has necessitated cancelling all alumnae class reunions and postponing the Junior Retreat, Junior Interview Day preparation meeting and mandatory Junior/Senior Parents Pre-Prom Meeting. Beginning March 30, 2020, given the most recent information provided to us, we feel it necessary to also POSTPONE the Grandmother Luncheon, Junior Interview Day, Junior Ring Mass and Junior Prom. If time permits, we are hoping to reschedule all of the above events; however, with the uncertainty ahead, we are not prepared to commit to any specific dates.
We understand the disappointment and frustration these cancellations and postponements may cause for our community. We will be continuing to communicate with you and our students often to keep you abreast of all changes and will update the website regularly.
The administration thanks you for your support and understanding. If you have any questions or concerns that we have not addressed, please feel free to contact us.
Wishing you health and comfort during this difficult time!
Mrs. Kathleen Guyger
Dean of Students
Mount Saint Joseph Academy
March 17, 2020
Can you believe school is closed for at least two weeks? It is amazing to me how quickly things are changing for all of us. I pray that you are feeling healthy and all is well with your families!
As we continue distance learning, I understand that this is new territory for all of us. Your teachers are working diligently to provide you with a quality education that helps you stay on track and moving forward in the curriculum. IF YOU NEED ANY HELP, PLEASE LET US KNOW. I encourage you to forward any concerns or questions to your teachers, counselors, or any member of the administration. You are not alone; our job is to support you in any way necessary.
As each day passes, we get different directions from our civic and medical leaders. Please know that we follow their directions carefully. I ask that you continue to check the school’s website for any schedule changes or new information. As the year progresses, we may need to reschedule or cancel some events. I am aware that this may cause disappointment to many. This experience will certainly help us develop grit, which is strength of character, courage, and resolve that will help us to make and accept difficult decisions in the future.
With that said, the administration, after much consideration and prayer has made the decision to postpone the Junior Prom until a future date that has yet to be determined. We will also suspend the down payments for the Senior Prom. If you haven't paid yet, you can hold your payment until further notice. Mrs. Guyger will put out additional information via a letter to the parents.
Sister Mary Dacey, Mr. Holdren, Mrs.Guyger and I communicate daily. Mr. Holdren and I are meeting twice weekly with the Department Chairs via Zoom in order to keep us moving forward. Each of us is committed to responding to your needs and helping make this experience as positive and successful as possible.
Many thanks for all you did to prepare the school for the successful deep cleaning that took place this past weekend. The building looks very lonely without you! Hope to see you soon!
Blessings! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
March 16, 2020
Over the past few days, your inboxes have been flooded with news and logistics surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on your life and the lives of your daughters. In a short time, you are probably feeling like your world has been turned upside down.
As late as today, the CDC has asked us to avoid gatherings of 50 or more persons for the next eight weeks! Governor Wolf continues to issue directives to contain the spread of the virus.
At Mount Saint Joseph Academy, we continue to be focused on ensuring the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff colleagues, as well as providing consistent, quality, online learning.
Each day, Dr. Caviston, Mr. Holdren, Mrs. Guyger and I meet via conference call to share updates and to respond to evolving needs and questions. Dr. Caviston and Mr. Holdren are in constant contact with teaching colleagues to ensure the smooth operation of virtual and cyber learning.
Today, I did a walk-through of our building following the deep cleaning that occurred on Sunday. According to our Maintenance Supervisor Mr. Webb, the operation ran smoothly and the building has been electrostatically sanitized.
As you know, all activities and events for students and alumnae have been cancelled for the two weeks beginning March 15 and March 22. We promise that we will give significant deliberation to any other closures or cancellations. Be aware, however, that any decision that we make going forward can be superseded by health or government agencies.
We will continue to be in touch and share any updates that we have.
In all of this, Dr. Caviston and I have full faith in the resiliency of our students and parents, and the commitment of our colleagues and loyal alumnae community.
Let us hold in prayer our global, national, and school communities, and one another in this time of crisis.
Update: March 12, 3:00 pm
In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf ordered the closure of public venues in Montgomery County, including schools, community centers, gyms, and entertainment venues. The closures start Friday and will last 14 days.
We will continue to post updates here as more information becomes available.
Update: 11:30 am, March 12
If anyone in your household tests presumptive positive for coronavirus, or if you are exposed to someone who tests presumptive positive, please email S. Mary Dacey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to Next Week’s Schedule
Monday, 3/16: Cyber A Day
Tuesday, 3/17: Cyber B Day
Wednesday, 3/18: Virtual School A Day
Thursday, 3/19: Virtual School B Day
Friday: NO SCHOOL
The 3rd quarter will be extended by one week. Quarter 4 will begin on March 30. Further directives will be given.
If a student is unable to attend her virtual class meetings, she must email her teachers and carbon copy Mrs. Guyger. This will be a documented absence. Please send an email even if you have already notified the Student Affairs office of an anticipated absence.
Activities and Events
The following events have been cancelled:
- Acadram Performance
- Robotics Competition at SCHA
- 7th Grade Practice Test (Pre-HSPT)
- Unitas Retreat
- Faculty Retreat
- Alumnae Reunion
- All events scheduled to occur after March 22 will be under further consideration.
Cleaners will begin the "deep cleaning" and disinfecting that we have previously described. During and subsequent to these days, the campus is closed to faculty, coaches, staff, and students. All athletic practices and competitions (softball, lacrosse, track, crew) have been cancelled through March 22. All events scheduled to occur after March 22 will be under further consideration. We will inform you when practices and related activities may resume.
Update: 10 am, March 12
Due to recent circumstances, we have new plans in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). We wish to reiterate that there is no confirmed case of the virus at the Mount, nor do we have anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case of the virus.
With an abundance of caution, the Mount will be closed until at least Sunday, March 22nd. All school activities and events during this time are cancelled.
On Thursday, March 12, we have moved to an Extended Advisory 1:30 schedule with a dismissal time for students at 2:15. Buses will arrive at their regularly scheduled time.
Friday, March 13 is a free day for everyone.
On Monday, March 16 we will begin our Cyber and Virtual Learning Program. Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 will be traditional Cyber Days. Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19 will be Virtual School Days. Friday, March 20 will be a day off.
We will continue to monitor the developments of the virus. As circumstances evolve, this plan may change. Should that happen, we will contact students and families as soon as possible. As always, the health and safety of our students is our highest priority.
We appreciate that you are being inundated with information regarding the Coronavirus, COVID-19. We wish to be respectful, but at the same time, keep you informed of our current situation.
As you probably know, yesterday Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School received official notification that one of their students had been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. As a result, the school will close for three days, and the student will self-quarantine for 14 days.
This morning I spoke directly with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. I explained that we have no known person in Mount Saint Joseph Academy who has tested presumed positive for the virus, nor do we have anyone who has been exposed to someone who has. Our decision to stay open at this time was corroborated by them as appropriate.
Unfortunately, in this time of uncertainty and concern, misinformation and rumors can lead to increased anxiety. That is precisely why we have been and will continue to be in contact with the Office of Public Health.
Obviously, our situation could change. If it does, we will act accordingly. In the meantime, we reiterate what we have said earlier:
- We will continue to follow the directives of national and local healthcare offices.
- If a student is sick, she should stay home – that is our policy with any illness.
- We will continue institutional cleaning of the school each day.
Above all, we will continue to update you with any changes. In the event of a school closure, we will utilize both a cyber and virtual school to continue with classes. This has been presented to the academic colleagues today and will be explained to the students on Friday. Details about this approach will be posted on the school website under academics.
Know that the safety and wellbeing of our students and colleagues is our first priority. We will continue our vigilance here and our communication with you.
Sister Mary, Dr. Caviston, Don Holdren, Kathleen Guyger