The Return of K - 6 Tartans Brings Wonder and Joy

Adhering to protocols and procedures in place for the safe opening of campus, St. Margaret’s welcomed students in grades K – 6 this week in a long-awaited return to in-person learning. 

Students quickly noticed an upgraded campus complete with health and safety measures including additional hand-washing stations, an expanded health center and outdoor areas converted into flex learning spaces to support cohorts and physical distancing while in classes. 

“Students did a wonderful job learning and adapting quickly to all the new protocols and changes the school has in place,” Head of School Will Moseley said. “It has been magical to welcome them back, to see them in person reconnecting with classmates and teachers, and enjoying school. The campus was once again filled with the energy and joy of young people, and that is very rewarding for our entire professional community who has worked very hard and stayed committed to bring about our return to campus. We look forward to the return of all Tartans to campus soon.”

St. Margaret’s opened for grades K -6 after receiving a waiver for in-person instruction from the State of California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency. The school is hopeful that grades 7 – 12 can return to campus later this month.

The arriving students took part in an orientation on Monday, learning health and safety protocols, familiarizing themselves with touchless outdoor handwashing stations, updated restrooms and touchless water bottle stations around campus, touring the Health Center and learning new campus guidelines, including staying six feet apart and directional walking patterns.

Classes resumed on Tuesday, both for students learning on campus and those away from campus using St. Margaret’s myriad technology enhancements to learn concurrently.  

Patrick Bendzick, director of student wellness and athletics said, “Everyone has been very cooperative and supportive, even when we’ve needed to make adjustments. As a result, implementing and orienting adults and students to new policies and procedures designed for student health and safety has gone very well. We are very grateful for our community’s engagement and partnership on these efforts.” 

Early Childhood School
St. Margaret’s Early Childhood School opened its doors on August 24, reducing class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios to ensure smaller cohorts and limited contact. Students stay with a cohort of classmates, with a student-to-teacher ratio no higher than 10:2. A structured schedule allows students to play in the Outdoor Classroom, Demonstration Lab, Atelier and school garden without coming in contact with outside cohorts. 

Lower School
The Lower School came alive as students learned inside classrooms and outside in flex spaces, played on Chalmers Field and the Lower School playground and connected with peers and teachers alike.

Students remain in classroom cohorts throughout the day. To provide space for physical distancing, classrooms split into two cohorts of 10 to 12 students, each with a teacher in a separate classroom or flex learning space. A newly designed schedule facilitates core academic instruction and learning experiences with special subject teachers rotating into the cohorts, in-person and virtually. 

Students in all Lower School grades wear masks throughout the day, and have several designated times during the school day for hand washing and space sanitizing.

“Months of work and planning for a safe return to school were worth it once we saw the smiling faces,” Lower School Principal Jennifer Blount said. “I’ve never been more excited for students to return from summer!”
Grade 6
St. Margaret’s has one Middle School grade back on campus, as grade 6 students began in-person learning in cohorts of 16-19 students that stick together for most of their day.

“All core grade 6 courses fit into classrooms with six feet of physical distancing, but with our beautiful open spaces, students have been seen reading or writing outside in the outdoor classrooms and courtyard,” Middle School assistant principal Mike Allison said. “Our Middle School building, along with the ingenuity and creativity of our teachers, is set up to handle our flex learning structure.”

Grade 6 students are wearing masks throughout the day and are following adjusted foot traffic patterns to support physical distancing on stairways and walkways.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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