The Engine Behind Landmark’s Pandemic Response and New Health-and-Safety Standards
by Amy Veling
Little did the High School faculty and students know when they left campus on March 6, 2020, for spring break that they would not set foot on Landmark grounds again until August 24.
Unexpected School Closure
On March 10, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency. Three days later, Landmark’s Elementary•Middle School closed, uncertain of what was to come next. In the days and weeks that followed, most people across the country hunkered down at home, as mandated by stay-at-home orders. For the first time in its history, with both campuses closed, Landmark shifted to a fully remote learning model. And while the school has always had an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to deal with general campus safety issues, this 28-person committee was now faced with the daunting task of running a school during a global pandemic.
Plans to Reopen School
Daily meetings were held with faculty and staff to discuss everything from technological needs, the social-and-emotional health of our community, and how to continue to deliver our unique program and approach remotely. Throughout the spring and summer the group gathered through Google Meet to discuss whether and when to reopen, what campus modifications would need to be made, how to source enough plexiglass, hand sanitizer, and alcohol wipes, and what the effect would be on the school’s financial future, among a myriad of other issues.
Meet Andrea Meade
Being a germaphobe and a clean freak, I called the one person I knew who could give me the unfiltered truth about the virus: Andrea Meade. Complete with her science background, extremely high standards for cleanliness, and impeccable organizational skills, Andrea—coordinator of the ERT—took on the Herculean task of preparing our campuses and community for a safe return to school at the end of the summer, much sooner than most other schools.
Working Behind the Scenes
In May and June, Andrea spearheaded the effort to pack up the dorm rooms of our residential students and safely bring these families to campus to pick up their belongings. For students who lived outside a reasonable driving distance, she worked with other members of the residential team to ship countless boxes. Throughout July and August, Andrea could be seen with her tape measure, colored duct tape, mask, and gloves, rearranging classroom furniture, marking out traffic patterns, hanging signs, and installing hand-sanitizing stations. She measured hundreds of feet of plexiglass, sent out hundreds of emails, and spent countless hours preparing for the start of school.
Andrea worked closely with Landmark’s own “Dr. Fauci” (Jessica Fauci, director of the Health Center) and Shari Gallant, Elementary•Middle School nurse, setting up MyMedBot—Landmark’s daily health screening app, interpreting the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recommendations, and reading, analyzing, and summarizing Department of Public Health weekly updates to report all of this information to the rest of the school community. As school was about to begin, Andrea and Jess hosted several training sessions to discuss COVID-19 health-and-safety protocols and answer the endless “what if” questions from faculty. Andrea fine-tuned the complex plans to keep our community safe before, during, and after the holidays.
While the virus continues to impact everyone’s daily living, Landmark can proudly boast that it has made it through nearly five months of school without a major outbreak due to the dedication and fastidiousness of Andrea Meade in collaboration with our nursing teams, as well as many other faculty and staff members on both campuses.
Wearer of Many Hats
In addition to her role as the Emergency Response Team Coordinator, Andrea wears many hats, including High School chemistry teacher; mom of a Beverly High School senior and Landmark School freshman; wife of Guido Meade, a member of Landmark’s residential team; assistant dean of students at Landmark High School, and doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Vanderbilt University. And now she has been dubbed The COVID-19 Queen. Other adjectives used to describe her are: dogged, trustworthy, caring, intelligent, and diplomatic. To summarize—simply the best. Thank you Andrea, for all you did and continue to do to keep all of us at Landmark safe!
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This story was first featured in the Fall/Winter 2020 Lantern Magazine.