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Some Delaware private schools to resume in-person classes

Archmere, Sanford, Tower Hill, Ursuline and Wilmington Christian are back in buildings. Salesianum, Tatnall and Wilmington Friends undecided.

While Delaware’s public schools are wrestling with how they will resume classes in the fall, some of Northern Delaware’s largest private schools are bringing students back in person for the next school year.

Some of the private schools have not yet decided, and it’s possible multiple systems will be used. 

“Our plans could change due to changes in regulations, guidelines, and safety practices designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Mark Anderson, the head of school at Sanford, in a post to the Sanford community, and his thoughts are pertinent elsewhere.

Archmere, Sanford, Tower Hill, Ursuline and Wilmington Christian are back in buildings. Salesianum, Tatnall and Wilmington Friends have not yet decided.

Catholic Diocese of Wilmington schools have committed to in-person instruction.

All the schools are cleaning more and altering operations, with new guidelines and rules on social distancing, mask usage and other issues prioritized by the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their plans include sports, but athletic events with public schools await determinations by scholastic sports associations.

Archmere Academy

Archmere returns Aug. 31 to its Claymont campus.

“In-person instruction will be supplemented with asynchronous lessons provided by our faculty through our learning management system,” Principal Katie Eissler Thiel wrote in an email.

To increase social distancing, students will take just four classes on Monday/Thursday and four on Tuesday/Friday.

“Wednesdays will be dedicated to science labs, Health classes, College Seminars, Liturgical events, clubs, and wellness activities.”

The school is also offering a virtual option to every class to accommodate differing levels of comfort among students and families. 

Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

The Diocese is “committed” to opening schools in person, superintendent Louis P. De Angelo wrote July 6 in an open letter posted on St. Mark’s website.

The diocese runs three high schools in the Wilmington area: Padua, St. Elizabeth and St. Mark’s. 

“It is expected that schools will receive the final version of Diocesan Task Force guidelines by the end of July and communicate their local school plans in compliance with those guidelines to you in early August.”


“Our intention is to do as much as possible in person,” said John Helmick, the Wilmington school’s chief administrative officer.

No decision has yet been made on the mode to be used for the first day, Aug. 27. He said school leaders are preparing for in-building, hybrid and virtual operations.

“We’re likely to bounce between those three scenarios,” Helmick said.

To reduce contact in hallways and among different groups in different classes and to increase the ability to pivot among the scenarios, Salesianum is making all classes run for just a semester, rather than all year.

Three or four longer classes will fill the day. Such an arrangement will also better prepare students for college schedules, he said. The school is preparing outdoor spaces for classes.


Sanford’s first day of school is Sept. 9 on its Hockessin campus. “Since some community members may need to be away from campus for medical reasons or due to other factors associated with COVID-19, remote learning options will be available,” Anderson wrote.

The school will require everyone on campus to complete a daily questionnaire via a phone/computer app. It is adding custodial staff and considering adding a part-time nurse to its full-time nurse.

Dining, van transportation and extended care are being rethought for social distancing.


Tatnall is planning for in-person, virtual and hybrid scenarios when the Greenville opens for orientation on Sept. 8. Classes begin Sept. 9.

“Our hope is that local COVID conditions will allow us to open in-person,” wrote Page McConnel, director of marketing and communications,  in an email. “We can accommodate our students in classrooms or, when necessary, in alternative learning spaces, with social distancing protocols in place.”

The school also plans to host “a variety of opportunities for families to come together with their classmates safely and learn more.”

Tower Hill

Tower Hill opens on Sept. 8 on its Wilmington campus, with families asked to tell the school by Aug. 1 if they are electing distance learning for health reasons, Head of School Elizabeth C. Speers wrote in a post. Parents and visitors will not be allowed in school buildings. 

“Cleaning supplies will be provided in each classroom, with teachers and older students wiping down surfaces throughout the day and disinfecting materials daily,” according to a 1,000-word protocol that follows her post.

Students will be assigned entry doors by grade, with older students issued ID cards with swipe access. These cards also include a debit mechanism to buy masks and other items at the school store. Students will be assigned bathrooms based on their primary location. 

The school is “exploring ways to utilize outdoor spaces for large-scale events, livestream to individual classrooms or limit the amount of time spent in larger gatherings.”

Clubs, extracurricular offerings and arts activities are also being reconsidered. 


Ursuline Academy “will be ready for on-campus learning to begin as scheduled the week of Aug. 24,” the Wilmington school’s website says.

Everyone will be screened before entering the campus, and there will be changes in access for parents and other visitors, its re-entry plan says.

Wilmington Christian

Wilmington Christian plans to open on Aug. 31 at its Hockessin campus, Headmaster Roger Erdvig wrote.

“All students will be assigned to a cohort, which is a grouping of a few grades together to minimize contact with the broader school community,” the school says.

“Cohorts will be used for various purposes, such as moving around the building, participating in chapel, or gathering for lunch.”

Wilmington Friends

Wilmington Friends hopes to announce a plan by the end of the week, according to spokeswoman Susan Morovati Finizio.

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