Covid-19 

2021 Policies & Guidelines

We are maintaining our 2021-22 academic calendar and plan to return to campus on September 7.  As we prepare for the new school year, The Nest Academy continues to carefully plan to safely conduct school on campus. While we cannot predict the impact of new COVID-19 variants or the rate of community spread that may occur, we will continue to rely on guidance from Atrium Health regularly, monitor CDC guidelines and data from the NC Health Department, and inform you if we need to adjust our plans due to the fluid nature of this pandemic and to minimize risk for our community.

The following measures apply to all our students, faculty/staff, and community members.

VACCINES
  • We strongly encourage vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff who are eligible. Employees who are not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19.
  • Per Atrium Health and the CDC data,  the vaccine helps to prevent community spread and widespread absences and minimizes risk for vulnerable community members.
  • If your child has been vaccinated, please update this information on their medical record as soon as possible after vaccination. Understanding the percentage of our population that is vaccinated allows us to make appropriate decisions.
MASKS
  • Masks are required indoors for all students and employees, regardless of vaccination status.
  • We will continue to monitor our policy against our vaccination data, as well as data on community transmission, and adjust our protocols if necessary.
  • When outdoors for recess, PE, or athletics, students are not required to wear masks unless three feet of distancing cannot be maintained (such as class changes).
PHYSICAL DISTANCING
  • In nearly all on-campus circumstances (classrooms, dining hall, chapel/assemblies, etc.) we will maintain three feet distancing as per CDC guidelines, and take additional precautions as necessary if three feet cannot be maintained. 
  • Overnight trips or events where three feet distancing cannot be maintained will require vaccination and masking for participation
SCREENINGS AND CONTACT TRACING
  • Daily temperature checks are not required; however, we will continue to rely on the full cooperation of parents to immediately report exposures to our Head of School and keep children home if they exhibit any signs of COVID-19 or other illness
  • Your pledge to keep our community safe also helps our staff to continue contact tracing protocols. 
lunch
  • Lower and Upper School students will be able to pick up lunch in the dining hall with varying grade-specific guidelines created to ensure physical distancing and will eat outside as often as possible.
  • Middle School students can either bring their own lunch or pick up a boxed lunch from the dining hall and will eat lunch outside as often as possible. 

At this point in time, based on the current state and national guidelines and health recommendations, we have outlined below the modifications being developed to be on-campus. We are being realistic about the possibility of spikes and intermittent transitions from on-campus learning to online learning and preparing for all options and transitions. 

Depending on the fluid nature of the pandemic, and in compliance with all government restrictions and health guidelines, we will be ready to adjust to a variety of scenarios. Those scenarios include the following and all work toward the full return to normal campus activities.

  1. On Campus Learning with health and safety modifications in place.
  2. Hybrid Learning that will give us greater capacity for social distancing and other measures to limit the virus spread.
  3. Distant Learning includes regular, live Google classroom/ZOOM experiences as a component of instruction.

The academy is committed to accommodating students, faculty, and staff who need to operate remotely due to being in a high-risk category related to COVID-19. 

We remain committed to the following: 

  • We are closely monitoring the virus and are in touch with Atrium Heath and local health guidance for updates on the rise in COVID-19 cases in the surrounding areas.
  • We continue to take regular steps at school to try to limit the transmission of illnesses, including daily use of Clorox wipes in the classroom, reminding students about hand-washing and the proper way to cough and sneeze, and emphasizing that students and employees should stay home if they are ill.
  • We are re-educating the students about personal space and social distancing in terms of health. 
  • Our dedicated faculty and staff, committed parents, and celebrated students will ensure The Nest emerges from these uncertain times strong and united. 

 

Join our relief efforts HERE to help our school during this time.

On Campus Learning Model

Health and Safety Precautions

These additional health and safety precautions are in place to acknowledge potential exposure, mitigate risks, and promote safety for our entire community while on campus. 

 

  • Adhere to school, local, state, and federal recommendations and health guidelines as it relates to health and safety precautions.
  • Daily screenings will no longer take place in the form of self-reporting, independent precaution, and symptom evaluation by the administrative staff and other licensed practitioners to inform the up-to-date risk level for the school.
  • Based on current health protocols and requirements, masks are required for everyone while on campus, regardless of vaccination status (two cloth masks will be provided for staff and students).  We understand and acknowledge that developmentally our youngest learners may have difficulty wearing masks all day. We will continue to research options to stay within recommendations and guidelines while paying particular attention to our Lower School students’ needs.
  • Sanitizing and cleaning processes will remain in between classes.
  • Increase protocols to ensure proper hygiene, including hand-washing/sanitizing stations, tissues and paper towels, disinfectant wipes or spray, and gloves.
  • Annual health forms for all employees and families including a new COVID-19 high-risk assessment, COVID-19 waiver, and COVID-19 school policy compliance pledge.
  • Infection control measures in accordance with the new Nest Academy COVID-19 policy.
  • Continuing education and training requirements, along with increased communication for all members of the community related to policies and procedures.
  • Campus signage on preventing illness, health and safety precautions, social distancing, and way finding.
  • Follow CDC and NCDHHS protocol regarding notification and contact tracing in the instance of a confirmed positive for COVID-19.
Social Distancing

Classrooms, Group spaces, Events, Visitors, and Lunch.

 

  • Adhere to school, local, state, and federal recommendations and health guidelines as it relates to social distancing and group size.
  • In our current planning, you can expect typical classroom sizes while maintaining 3-4 foot social distancing. The school will maximize classroom usage for all grade levels as good stewards of our resources.
  • Bus transportation may be limited  due to social distance requirements. Every effort is being made to accommodate the needs of our families.
  • School lunch will be consumed outdoors with the option to remain in the classrooms. Middle and Upper School lunch will take be consumed outdoors with staggered lunch times to allow for social distancing requirements. We will limit unnecessary interactions with outside food delivery. This includes parent deliveries of forgotten items such as lunches and books.
  • School day arrival and pickup modifications with faculty and volunteers assisting car exiting, but with protective measures, no direct contact, and limited interactions.
  • Institution of capacity limits to allow for social distancing in spaces such as the gym, special area classrooms, hallways, etc.
  • Limited  field trips through September. Progression will seek advice from a wide variety of available sources, including athletic and academic associations.
  • Establish dedicated entrances and exits to ensure proper traffic flow and adhere to social distancing requirements.
  • Modification of programs and events in compliance with limits on crowd sizes and social distancing measures.
  • Utilize staggered scheduling as needed.
  • Changes to campus access for visitors and parents. Initially, we will limit volunteers to essential Classroom Volunteers until such time state guidance allows this.
  • Continued use of online and virtual platforms in conjunction with in-person services to keep contact at safer levels in the areas of academic instruction, student activities, and volunteer group meetings.
Illness on campus or at home

Illness at School

Anyone with symptoms during school should immediately be sent to the office. Our campus will have one health facility for isolation of suspected COVID-19 patients and or daily health room operations. We will adhere to local and state government policies in regard to communicable diseases. We also follow national recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) for the most up-to-date information on current COVID-19 best practice.

Notification and Contact Tracing

Follow CDC and NCDHHS protocol regarding notification and contact tracing in the instance of a confirmed positive for COVID-19.

 

Preparing for Interruptions

If public health conditions do not permit on campus learning, we have a plan to maximize in-person learning while giving us greater capacity for social distancing and other measures to limit virus spread. Faculty will utilize tools and best practices to serve our students through any disruptions and transitions that may occur through the year. There may be situations in which our lower, middle and upper school operates in differing learning models in order to mitigate risk while maximizing in-person learning. Every effort will be made to ease transitions and family situations throughout these times.

If that data is either unavailable or insufficient, the academy will make our decisions for which learning model to use based on the number of COVID-19 related cases and hospitalizations given to us by the county at a given time.

 

Hybrid-Learning Model

Hybrid Learning creates opportunities for social distancing AND in-person instruction where on-campus operations resume at a limited schedule (2/3-days a week), with restrictions imposed by public health authorities and following recognized health and safety best practices, while continuing online instruction on the other days. The school is committed to accommodating students, faculty, and staff who need to operate remotely due to being in a high-risk category related to COVID-19.

 

  • All health and safety and social distancing protocols and procedures from the On Campus Model will be required for on campus time in a Hybrid Learning Model.
  • The hybrid model for Lower School will be very similar to the on-campus model. Every effort will be made to have all Lower School students on campus within the restrictions of a hybrid model.
  • For Middle and Upper School, alternating between distant and on campus learning.
  • Students and employees that are healthy, but documented as immunocompromised by their doctors, will be able to experience school remotely through online content delivery and regular check-ins with teachers.
  • All extracurricular activities will be altered and modified to meet the policies and protocols of the school during on-campus learning (Athletics, Arts, International Studies, Coordinate Programs, Clubs, Faculty/Staff Wellness Programs).
  • Large gatherings will need to be significantly modified or postponed.
Distant (online) Learning Model

Classrooms, Group spaces, Events, Visitors, and Lunch.

 

  • Adhere to school, local, state, and federal recommendations and health guidelines as it relates to social distancing and group size.
  • In our current planning, you can expect typical classroom sizes while maintaining 3-4 foot social distancing. The school will maximize classroom usage for all grade levels as good stewards of our resources.
  • Van transportation may be limited or unavailable due to social distance requirements. Every effort is being made to accommodate the needs of our families. Decisions regarding van transportation will be made by the end of July.
  • Lower School lunch will take place in the cafeteria with the option to bring or purchase lunch for delivery to the classrooms. Middle and Upper School lunch will take place in the cafeterias with staggered lunch times to allow for social distancing requirements. We will limit unnecessary interactions with outside food and material vendors. This includes parent deliveries of forgotten items such as lunches and books.
  • School day arrival and pickup modifications with faculty and volunteers assisting car exiting, but with protective measures, no direct contact, and limited interactions.
  • Institution of capacity limits to allow for social distancing in spaces such as the gym, special area classrooms, hallways, etc.
  • Limited or rescheduled group activities such as no field trips through September. Progression will seek advice from a wide variety of available sources, including athletic and academic associations.
  • Establish dedicated entrances and exits to ensure proper traffic flow and adhere to social distancing requirements.
  • Modification of programs and events in compliance with limits on crowd sizes and social distancing measures.
  • Utilize staggered scheduling as needed.
  • Changes to campus access for visitors and parents. Initially, we will limit Classroom Volunteers until such time state guidance allows this.
  • Continued use of online and virtual platforms in conjunction with in-person services to keep contact at safer levels in the areas of academic instruction, student activities, and volunteer group meetings.

AS WE PLAN 

Please know that our mission, value and affirmation of community guide our planning while we work to mitigate risk to our community given the current global pandemic. We are committed to upholding The Nest Academy’s excellence across all of our plans and prepared to transition through them when and if the situation necessitates. 

YOUR PARTNERSHIP & TRUST

Please know that our mission, value and affirmation of community guide our planning while we work to mitigate risk to our community given the current global pandemic. We are committed to upholding The Nest Academy’s excellence across all of our plans and prepared to transition through them when and if the situation necessitates. 

Communications timeline

  • -An e-mail will be sent July 31 with updates and results of the planning taking place.
  • Weekly updates will be posted on this website and on social media every Monday starting in July.
  • Bi-weekly e-mails will begin in August from the head of school.
  • Any changes to the learning models will be communicated by an e-mail from MC Hildreth as well as a phone call and text message.

The Nest Academy In The Media

‘What we’ve built is a family’: 3 graduate from East Charlotte school for refugees     BY ANNA MARIA DELLA COSTA ,   JUNE 04, 2021

MC Hildreth, founder and head of school of The Nest Academy, left, embraces 2020 graduate Emily Adrong, right, during graduation exercises on Friday, June 4, 2021. The Nest Academy is a tiny school on Charlotte’s East side that is primarily for refugee and immigrant students. Friday the school graduated three students two from this year’s class and Adrong who did not have a ceremony last year due to COVID-19.

There was a time when Emily Adrong took refuge cowering behind her mom — a woman who sold cows and borrowed money to help her family flee the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
Emily was barely out of her toddler years when she came to the United States in 2007. The family had survived for weeks in rain-soaked jungles to escape religious persecution.

The little girl was shy and avoided people. She didn’t know English. She really didn’t even know how to speak her own language. She languished in the Charlotte public school system for years, struggling to make friends and falling into what she calls “a deep pit.”

At one of her lowest points, she was introduced to The Nest Academy, a tiny, tuition-free private school on Charlotte’s East side — a sanctuary, of sorts, where refugees, immigrants and under-privileged students learn to thrive.
“I see people get scared about where they came from and their story,” she said. “I just want to inspire them that it’s OK to open up because that’s what makes you special.”

Pushed back one year because of COVID, Emily, now 19 and a college student, went through commencement exercises with two other students Friday morning during The Nest Academy’s class of 2021 graduation. She’s the first in her family to graduate from high school and attends Central Piedmont Community College. She’s planning to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“I can honestly say that coming here to The Nest Academy was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

SCHOOL PROVIDES SERVICES FOR FREE

Mary Catherine (MC to those who know her) Hildreth was directing a nonprofit for refugee youth in East Charlotte and heading an after-school tutoring program for K-12 refugees when she felt compelled to do more.
“These children were slipping through the cracks in the educational system,” Hildreth said. “They were struggling academically, socially and emotionally to the point where they were honestly hopeless.”

Hildreth opened the academy in 2009 with five refugee girls — it was initially for girls-only. Since, The Nest has grown to 27 enrolled students at the end of this recent school year, including boys, and it’s watched 12, first-generation students earn their high school diplomas.

Students have come from as far as Vietnam, Thailand, Ethiopia, Iraq, Malaysia, Uganda, Mali and Cambodia. All are legal immigrants.

Emily Adrong, left, smiles with fellow graduate Tuet Siu, right, during graduation exercises on Friday, June 4, 2021. The Nest Academy is a tiny school that is primarily for refugee and immigrant students. Friday the school graduated three students two from this year’s class and Adrong who did not have a ceremony last year due to COVID-19.

“It’s hard work,” said Hildreth, whose school includes eight paid staff members, five full-time volunteer teachers, and a slew of specialists and volunteers. “My thinking, starting out, was if we could teach one girl to read and write, show her to believe in herself, the ways of the American culture, it would be a success.”
Unlike most private schools, the students at The Nest Academy pay nothing to attend. They are fed breakfast, lunch and a snack free-of-charge. Fundraising from individual and corporate donors also helps pay for uniforms, transportation, textbooks and supplies and birthday presents.

A private donor also paid for the 4,500-square-foot building on Eastway Drive that is leased. It contains four classrooms and a cafeteria.
Several local agencies refer students to the school, Hildreth said, including Catholic Charities and the city’s Refugee Support Services.
“We really didn’t speak about the academy publicly because these students had faced really tough circumstances — refugee camps, sexual abuse, witnessed murders,” Hildreth said. “The girls were very fragile. Education was the draw, but it was about helping them find hope. We had to create a nest just to be able to teach them.”

‘IT’S AN UPHILL BATTLE FROM DAY 1’

Since the mid-1990s, about 17,000 refugees have resettled in Charlotte, according to SHARE Charlotte, a one-stop shop connecting nonprofits in the city. About 130,000 immigrants live in the city, making up about 14% of Mecklenburg County’s population.

Most refugees, Hildreth said, are seeking safety in the U.S. because of famine, persecution and war. When they arrive, many students can’t speak English, and can’t read or write.
“It’s an uphill battle from Day 1,” Hildreth said. “Children even become translators for their parents.”

MC Hildreth, founder and head of school of The Nest Academy, left, and 2020 graduate Emily Adrong, right, applaud her graduating during graduation exercises on Friday, June 4, 2021

Elias Enniss is a middle-upper school teacher who joined The Nest staff in the spring. He was drawn to the school because of the unique nature of its mission.
“The kids at The Nest Academy weren’t supposed to make it,” Enniss said. “The public school system combined with other difficulties brought situations in the lives of these children that left them broken and seemingly hopeless.”
But he added, “No child is too far gone.”

SCHOOL FACES LOSING ITS HOME

While Hildreth’s mission is to provide a safe haven for these children, the school is facing a crisis.
The Nest Academy operates on a $375,000 annual budget — all coming from private funding. All the food the school feeds the students is donated.
“We are in desperate need of doubling that,” she said. “We’ve hit the bare minimum. We are month-to-month with our budget.”

Students also are in danger of not having a school building. Hildreth said the situation “is messy,” but the academy’s lease is nearly up and it won’t be able to stay in its current location at 2223 Eastway Drive. They may have to be out by August 2022.

The Nest Academy is a tiny school on Charlotte’s East side that is primarily for refugee and immigrant students. The school has survived against all odds. It operates on a $375,000 annual budget and relies on donors to help out the school’s 27-student enrollment. On Friday the school graduated three students — two from this year’s class and one from last year who did not have a ceremony due to COVID-19. Jeff Siner [email protected]

“We opened Aug. 19, 2020, despite COVID, and we never closed the doors,” Hildreth said. “We beat the odds of a worldwide virus. We learned through this pandemic to find out what happens when you don’t give up.
“This is nothing new for these students. We don’t have the finances. We won’t have a building. But I have some pretty amazing students around me.”
Hildreth said she’s working to identify another property, even welcoming someone who would want to donate.

Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article251837913.html#storylink=cpy

(Featured In the Charlotte Observer March 19, 2020)

MC Hildreth wanted so badly to wrap her arms around her students and their families as they filed in and out of the quiet cafeteria of The Nest Academy off Eastway Drive.

But there was a pandemic brewing, which is why they were there on Wednesday afternoon — to pick up provisions Hildreth and her staff had rounded up for what could be a long isolation for members of the tiny school that serves 24 low-income students, mostly Latino immigrants and refugees.

The private school, founded in 2009, is free for students.

On one side of the cafeteria sat boxes loaded with veggies and flatbread and shredded cheese, all donated by Cici’s Pizza. Nearby, six cafeteria tables were loaded with cereal and canned goods, bread, fresh fruit, soap and hygiene products.

The relief effort was the result of a sinking feeling that hit Hildreth hard on Sunday while she stood in line buying groceries and supplies for herself and her own three children: If she was having trouble finding the essentials, she had to find a way to help her school’s families get through the crisis.

“Their needs are great every day on a normal basis,” Hildreth said.

On Monday, she sent an email blast to 600 school supporters, and within minutes, donations were rolling in.

Hildreth took the $1,000 that was donated and spent Monday and Tuesday filling carts with groceries and supplies and notifying families that help was coming.

“We wanted to ensure them that we had their kids, that we were going to continue to teach their kids every single day and that we would continue to feed them,” she said. For many, “this is triggering something that reminds them of the fight they’ve been in before, the fight for their lives, to flee their country.”

One mom named Luz, who has two kids at The Nest, smiled widely as she picked out her groceries. She has a compromised immune system because she suffers from Lupus, so being able to get food from a sparsely populated cafeteria instead of a grocery store was a big help.

“This is incredible,” she said.

Hildreth helped families carry boxes out on Wednesday afternoon, and bid students farewell.

But while they wouldn’t see each other in person for awhile, they’d be seeing each other daily via Chromebook. Last week, school staff sent students home with Chromebooks in case schools were closed.

“This is where the strength of the community really is able to be shown,” Hildreth said, “by linking arms with one another.”

By: CRISTINA BOLLING |  Photography & Video By: JEFF SINER

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