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2022 Return to Campus & School Safety

2021-2022 School Year

The 2021-2022 Mercy High School Reopening Plan can be found here.

And for the Request for Review of Plan to Open for In-Person Instruction, click here. Please also see these documents: The Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP) and the COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist.

The week of May 23, 2022 was the last week of required COVID testing for the 2021-2022 school year. 

COVID-19 Testing will remain available to the Mercy community on Saturdays only. Virus Geeks will be on campus:

  • Saturday: 8AM-1PM Drive-Thru
    In the Mercy Parking Lot

Masking Updates

Important Update: Mandatory Masking as of Monday, May 16th (As of May 14, 2022)

*We will reassess each week to ensure we can successfully remain in person through the end of this school year.

For the entirety of the 2021-2022 school year we have monitored on campus COVID cases weekly. Over the past two weeks we have seen an increase in COVID cases as well as non-COVID colds that are affecting our students, faculty, and staff.

Our greatest goal is to remain on campus for in-person learning through the remainder of the year and to ensure our seniors remain healthy to be able to physically attend their graduation. Keeping these two goals in mind while also looking at the recent increase in COVID cases that are requiring a number of faculty and staff to isolate at home, we will be returning to mandatory mask wearing on campus which will be reassessed each week through the end of the school year.

All community members will be responsible for appropriately wearing surgical masks, N95, or KN95 masks when on campus and indoors. Masks will remain optional outdoors.

How will this impact senior events? We are looking forward to moving forward with all of the senior events and celebrating the many accomplishments of our graduates. Any events after school hours and on weekends will remain mask optional. Any events during the school day will follow the masking policies the school is practicing. Should an event like the Senior Pinning happen during school hours when masks are required of community members, students will have the opportunity to take their masks off when their name is called.

Number of positive cases (on campus over the past two weeks):
This Week (May 16): 24 cases
Last Week (May 9): 22 cases


Current COVID Testing Requirements
The final day for COVID Testing for School Year 2021-2022 was May 24, 2022.

Update - Change in COVID Testing: Federal Funding Ending for Uninsured: (As of April 22, 2022)

Dear Mercy Families, 

We are reaching out to inform you that starting on Monday 4/25/2022, only those with valid health insurance will be able to register for COVID-19 testing with Virus Geeks due to HRSA's announcement on 3/22/2022 that they have "stopped accepting claims for testing and treatment due to lack of sufficient funds”.

Please see below for what this may mean for your family and how we will continue with our testing policy through the remainder of the year:

Insured Individuals

  • Virus Geeks Testing: Insured individuals will still be able to test using Virus Geeks testing services on campus. Insurance companies will continue to cover the cost of testing. If for any reason insurance does not cover the costs associated with COVID testing, insured individuals will NOT be responsible for making up the difference. Should an insured individual receive a letter stating that they owe money or receive a statement of Explanation of Benefits, they should not worry—Virus Geeks will handle all payments due. No action is required from insured patients who receive letters from insurance companies regarding testing costs. 

Uninsured Individuals

  • Virus Geeks Testing: Virus Geeks Testing will no longer be covered through federal funding. Moving forward if you are uninsured you should NOT test via Virus Greeks in the Great Hall or on weekends in the parking lot as there will be a cost associated with this testing. 
  • How to get tested for free through the remainder of the year: Moving forward all uninsured students should get tested Thursday, Friday, or Monday morning in the Main Office using the antigen tests previously provided to the school. There will be no cost to the student. Should students plan on testing Monday morning they should plan on arriving no later than 8AM to give them plenty of time to take the test, wait for results, and get to class on time. 

COVID-19 Testing (As of January 10, 2022)

Weekly Testing Policy

The goal of our testing program has always been to identify as many asymptomatic cases on campus as possible. We structured our program around testing days early in the week to give us the proper amount of time needed to review test results and contact trace. Virus Geeks has recently shared that test results can be significantly delayed up to one week. We recognize these delays are ineffective in catching asymptomatic cases in a timely manner and can negatively impact students' return to school. We also recognize that the testing policy has been an important piece of our program and should not be thrown out due to a moment in time. We do not know what the future holds for us, and we do not want to drop a program that up until this past week has worked. 

Taking this into account, we will keep our testing policy and make the following adjustments to ensure all students are able to return to campus each Monday regardless of whether or not they have received their results by Sunday evening:

  • Last week San Mateo County shared that they would adopt CDC guidance that individuals who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, only need to isolate for five days if they are asymptomatic (please see specifics below for more information on this policy). Given this, any student who is asymptomatic and whose results have not been received after five days from the date of their test will be able to return to school.
  • Any student who could not test at Mercy and is waiting on outside tests must show proof of the test date to have the five day exemption applied to her.
  • Any student whose test results are not in by Sunday night and who has been waiting less than five days for results may return to school if she is asymptomatic and has a negative antigen test.
  • Mercy is currently working with a state program to receive antigen tests. When they arrive we will notify families of this opportunity via our eNews. 
  • If any families have antigen tests at home they would like to donate to Mercy for students to use who otherwise do not have access to them, please drop them off in the Main Office. (Thank you!)
  • Mercy will hold testing dates that ensure all students who test are eligible to return the following Monday, regardless of whether or not their results have returned. Given Monday’s holiday our testing dates of Tuesday and Wednesday are of no concern this week. After this week, in order to use the five day result exemption to return to school on a Monday, a test must be taken by Tuesday. Mercy is working to shift our testing dates to Monday and Tuesday and/or add an additional testing company that can support a quicker turnaround.
  • Students who do not test in any capacity will not be allowed to return to campus and activities as a result of choosing not to follow school policies.

Please remember regardless of testing, any student who is symptomatic should remain home until they are symptom-free.


COVID Informational Meeting

​One of our Mercy dads is a Virologist and has offered to speak with our community regarding COVID, Omicron, and Youth Mental Health. Dr. Scott Balsitis started his career in virology as an Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellow at the CDC, where he studied pandemic preparedness. He earned his PhD in Virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. He has 22 years of experience in virology research, including on vaccines and therapeutics against HIV, Hepatitis B, RSV, Influenza, COVID-19, and other viruses. See video link below (bottom right).

Isolation vs. Quarantine and Updated CDC Guidelines

Individuals who test positive must isolate. Individuals who are identified as close contacts must quarantine if they are not fully up-to-date with their vaccinations. Mercy High School continues to follow the guidance of San Mateo County. Please see below for updates.

Updated Isolation Guidance

  • Stay home for at least five days. The count begins with either the onset of symptoms OR if asymptomatic, 5 days from the positive test result. Here is a simple guide, but be sure to review the specifics in the CDC’s guidance.
    • If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Follow the recommendations for ending isolation for people who had COVID-19 and had symptoms.
    • If you had COVID-19 and had symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, Day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed. Follow the recommendations for ending isolation for people who had COVID-19 and had symptoms.
    • If you test positive for COVID-19 and never develop symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. Day 0 is the day of your positive viral test (based on the date you were tested) and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for your positive test. 
    • Isolation can end after day five if symptoms are not present or are resolving and a diagnostic specimen (Antigen test preferred) collected on day five (or later) tests negative.
    • If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present or are resolving, isolation can end after day 10.  
    • If fever is present, isolation should be continued until fever resolves.  
    • If symptoms, other than fever, are not resolving, continue to isolate until symptoms are resolving or until after day 10. Wear a well-fitting mask around others for a total of 10 days, especially in indoor settings. 
    • All students who test positive require a doctor’s note clearing them to return to school.
    • As per CIF protocols, student-athletes will need a doctor's note specifically stating that they are cleared for sports participation. 

Quarantine Guidance

Quarantine Guidance remains unchanged. We continue to follow the guidelines that were last updated December 6, 2021 in San Mateo County’s Pandemic Framework. Please see below for various quarantine scenarios.


COVID Related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Why are synchronous learnings (Zoom) not being offered this year?
    Many companies, as well as schools, have adopted hybrid-remote working/learning practices, having refined these over the past 22 months. We learned so much through hybrid learning and we have adopted various practices as a result. The goal of the state is to have students return to the classroom. Unfortunately what was discovered last year is that many students chose to not attend in person classes for reasons unrelated to safety concerns or quarantine requirements. In this sense, the intent of the hybrid learning option was not respected and as a result, did not provide consistency for students and teachers throughout the world. While we know we had great success with our hybrid learning program, we also know that students deserve 100% of their teacher's attention. This cannot be achieved in a daily changing hybrid learning model when teachers never know who will be present and who will not be. For these reasons, many schools are not offering hybrid learning options to students as we start the school year. 

  2. Why is Mercy requiring more than the county?
    Given the nature of COVID-19 and its variants, our approach to every decision is made out of an abundance of caution with the intent of best keeping our students, faculty, and staff safe as well as their loved ones at home. Every extra safety measure we have in place comes at the recommendation of the county—regular testing and firm masking requirements.

  3. My daughter did not get tested this week, but she had a negative test the week before. Can she come to school on Monday?
    Students need to be tested weekly so if she did not receive a test last week she will not be able to come onto campus until she has a negative test.  I know this is not ideal, and I am sorry. We are doing everything we can to keep our community safe, and we appreciate the partnership with our parent community. 

  4. How many positive cases have there been on campus over the past two weeks?
    This Week (May 16): 24 cases
    Last Week (May 9): 22 cases

Safety Protocols for Students, Families, Faculty and Staff

Mercy High School is committed to providing a safe environment to return to school that aligns with San Mateo County’s Pandemic Recovery Framework built around the Four Pillars of Health and Hygiene, Face Coverings, Physical Distancing, and Limiting Gatherings. 

These are the comprehensive safety steps being taken to allow for safe connections and sisterhood throughout each day. All faculty, staff, and students will be educated on this safety plan in August in a thoughtful and detailed manner. This safety plan will continue to change as new information is brought to us. Regardless of what this year brings, we are prepared, and we will continue to adapt to ensure that our students receive a quality education grounded in our Mercy mission. Please click the icons below for more detailed information on specific protocols. The full Safety Plan can be viewed here.


COVID, Omicron, and Youth Mental Health: A Talk with Doctor Scott Balsitis



Health & Safety Video

Click HERE to watch video.



Click HERE to view the recording of the Parent Safety Meeting held on Aug. 15, 2021. Use Passcode: if=w!7zA



Student supply list for return to school