Coronavirus Updates

The information below is current as of March 20, 2020

Norwood's leadership team and school nurse continue to monitor developments related to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our school community is our highest priority as we coordinate our planning and response. This page is dedicated to Norwood School communications and resources related to this fast-moving and ever-evolving situation.

Current Status

Spring break has been extended by one week and will run March 16-30, 2020. Distance learning will begin on Tuesday, March 31.

Norwood's campus is currently closed. If anyone needs access to campus after that time, please contact one of the following people:

Matthew Gould, Head of School
Michele Claeys, Associate Head of School and Head of Middle School
Mike Risen, Head of Lower School
Bill Teachum, Business Manager

On Thursday, March 19, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., students and parents may pick up materials needed for distance learning.

Please see below or check the School's calendar for the latest information on school events and programs.


List of 6 items.

  • March 19, 2020: Video Message from Matthew Gould

    Click here for a video message from Head of School Matthew Gould.
  • March 16, 2020: Campus Closure & Materials Pick-Up Day

    Monday, March 16, 2020
    Dear Norwood Families,
    When I think about what makes Norwood School so special, two things come to mind: community and human connection—the two things we must avoid during this public health crisis. All of us are being called upon to play a role in “flattening the curve,” and in doing so, we must find new ways to maintain a sense of community and keep our connections strong. I have no doubt that our Norwood community will succeed at both. It has been incredible to watch our teachers rally to get distance learning plans in place and to feel the support from families as we work together to ensure a safe school community.
    I am writing today to let you know that, as part of our social distancing responsibility, Norwood will close its campus on Thursday, March 19, at 5:00 p.m. and to lay out what that means for the foreseeable future. Once the campus is closed, no one will be allowed on campus without permission from me, Michele Claeys, Mike Risen, or Bill Teachum.
    Distance learning will begin on Tuesday, March 31
    You can expect to hear from your division head by Friday, March 27, and from teachers with specific information for each class by Monday, March 30. Currently, teachers are gathering resources and materials that will be needed for remote learning. Some will be sent home electronically; others must be picked up here at school. Information on our pick-up day follows.
    Materials pick-up day is on Thursday, March 19
    We have designated Thursday, March 19, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., as the day for families to pick up any materials and necessary belongings.
    Middle School Pick-Up: Most middle school students already took everything home they need, but if your child does not have their tablet computer at home, they need to pick it up on Thursday, along with anything they need from their locker. If their teachers have additional supplies for them to pick up on Thursday, you can expect an email from Michele Claeys on Wednesday evening. Her message will include the pick-up location for the additional supplies.
    Lower School Pick-Up: Every lower school family will have a distance learning bag to pick up for their child. Bags can be picked up from the Marriott All-Purpose Room on Thursday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
    If your family is unable to pick up items on Thursday, please reach out to Michele or Mike, and we will find a way to get them to you!
    Upcoming School Events
    For now, assume that all upcoming events and activities currently on the calendar during April are either cancelled or on hold. That means spring parent/teacher conferences, rising meetings, and class performances will not happen as they normally do. We are working on ways to hold video conferences and to deliver rising meetings via pre-recorded videos available in HawksNest. We will be in touch with additional information as soon as we have worked out the details.
    Please take good care of yourselves and each other. If anyone needs extra support during this time, do not hesitate to reach out to me or to Norwood Cares. We are all here for each other. Be safe, take all precautions recommended by public health officials, and have a restful spring break. I will be back in touch on or before Friday, March 27, with more information about the start of distance learning.
    Yours sincerely,
    Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.
    Head of School
  • March 13, 2020: COVID-19 Update

    Friday, March 13, 2020
    Dear Norwood Community,
    We learned today that a parent in our community has tested positive for COVID-19. I want to assure you that this individual has not been on our campus since February 24 (18 days ago). According to the individual, there has been zero contact with any member of the Norwood community since that time, except for their child. The child, who is not symptomatic, has not had contact with the affected parent since they fell ill. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy and confidentiality, we are not releasing a name, and we ask all community members to avoid speculation and rumor as to the individual’s identity.
    As the impact of COVID-19 continues to move through our area and more of our families are affected, I want to urge everyone to take the precautions recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We all play an important role in protecting ourselves and others during this challenging time, and I deeply appreciate this family’s transparency and proactive concern for other members of the Norwood community. I am also grateful that this person is not seriously ill and experienced very mild symptoms.
    Thank you for your continued partnership and support. Please reach out if you have any questions, and please take good care of yourself and your family.
    Yours sincerely,
    Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.
  • March 12, 2020: COVID-19 Update & Extended Spring Break

    Thursday, March 12, 2020
    Dear Norwood Families,
    I hope you all are doing well and managing to stay calm as we experience this time of uncertainty and challenge together.
    County health officials continue to share that they believe there is a low health risk for schools, and, at this time, there are no confirmed cases in our school community; however, as local, national and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, we are proactively taking additional steps that will help protect our community. We have determined that Norwood will close for spring break a week early, beginning at our noon dismissal on Friday. We will continue to offer complimentary Day Hawks for our families needing childcare that afternoon.
    Faculty will use Friday afternoon and next week to refine distance learning protocols. Attached to this email is a copy of the Norwood School Distance Learning Guide. Please familiarize yourself with the protocols and tools for both parents and students. Remote learning is not ideal, but we are confident that we will be able to continue to deliver our high-quality education and fulfill our mission if the exceptional circumstance of an extended school closure is warranted. The success of Norwood’s distance learning program requires a creative and committed faculty, engaged students, and supportive parents. Thank you, in advance, for your partnership.
    Also, please take a minute to read through the following information related to the coronavirus situation:
    Spring Break & Travel
    I want to remind everyone to continue to monitor country-specific Travel Health Notices issued by the CDC and to please contact our school nurse, Jessica Morataya, if your upcoming travel plans (including layovers) include a Level 2 or 3 country. We also ask that families avoid domestic travel plans to areas with significant coronavirus outbreaks. If you do travel to these areas, please let Jessica know, and understand that quarantine requirements are possible based on CDC recommendations. All contacts will be treated confidentially, and any student who is quarantined will receive appropriate instructional support from teachers.
    Health experts continue to emphasize the importance of proper handwashing as the best way to prevent the spread of illness from the coronavirus. Here at Norwood, we are hypervigilant about handwashing, or using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Recently, we produced a handwashing video for our lower school students. The video features tips from Jessica on the proper handwashing technique, along with demonstrations from some of our most enthusiastic handwashers. In addition, Mike Risen spoke to lower school students during chapel earlier this week about the science behind viruses and handwashing. Faculty members in both divisions are serving as “handwashing/hand sanitizer monitors” throughout the day.
    Coronavirus Updates
    All of us are being bombarded with an ongoing stream of news and information about the coronavirus. While we want to keep our school community informed, we also don’t want to add to the deluge of information in your inbox—unless the situation changes and we have something new to communicate. You can stay up to date on coronavirus-related announcements by checking the Coronavirus Updates page on our website.
    What's Next?
    Our plan is to resume instruction on Tuesday, March 31. While we hope this will be in person, it is certainly possible that it will be virtual. I will be back in touch with a coronavirus update on or before Friday, March 27. If we move to distance learning, you will receive specific division-level information from Michele Claeys and Mike Risen, followed by classroom-level information from grade-level and specialist teachers.
    As always, thank you again for your support, patience, and flexibility as we work to maintain a safe and healthy school community during this fast-moving and ever-evolving situation.
    Yours sincerely,
    Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.
    Head of School
  • March 6, 2020: Confirmed Cases in Montgomery County

    Friday, March 6, 2020
    Dear Norwood Families,
    Last night we learned that the first three cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been identified in Montgomery County. The patients are described as a married couple in their 70s and a woman in her 50s. All three contracted the virus while traveling abroad. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency to speed the delivery of funding and other resources. “While today’s news may seem overwhelming, this is not a reason to panic,” Hogan said. “Marylanders should go to school and work, just as they normally do.” So far, no cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Virginia or the District.
    What does this mean for our Norwood community?
    First, as we continue to prepare for the possibility of an extended school closure, we have made the decision to dismiss students at noon on Friday, March 13, and will use the afternoon for faculty and staff training. While our Distance Learning Program has been closely reviewed by the principals and technology teams, our teachers need time for training and planning. There will be no lunch service or afternoon bus transportation that day. We will offer complimentary Day Hawks in the afternoon for any families needing childcare. Please contact Quiana Piggee, director of after care, if you wish to reserve a spot in the Day Hawks program.
    We are grateful for your patience, flexibility, and understanding as we undertake important preparations for teaching students remotely.
    What does this mean for spring break travel?
    We ask that families exercise the following safeguards if they will be traveling before, during, or after spring break:
    • Monitor the country-specific Travel Health Notices posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before, during, and after your trip. The situation changes rapidly, both here in the U.S. and internationally, so it is important to frequently check the CDC travel advisories.
    • If your travel plans include one of the countries classified by the CDC as Level 2 (“practice enhanced precautions”) or Level 3 (“avoid all non-essential travel”) country, please contact our school nurse, Jessica Morataya. All contacts will be treated confidentially.
    • Any student who is quarantined will receive appropriate instructional support from teachers.
    What else is Norwood doing to maintain a healthy school environment?
    We continue to exercise precautions here on campus to avoid the spread of germs and avoid illness. These precautions include:
    • Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer and bleach wipes throughout the School;
    • Remaining hypervigilant about handwashing;
    • Working with our cleaning service to boost its protocol to include more frequent wipe-downs of “touchpoints” (door and faucet handles, handrails, desks and tables) with disinfectant;
    • Conducting a deep-clean of indoor spaces during spring break;
    • Stressing the importance of keeping children at home if they have a fever, sore throat, achiness, and/or cold symptoms. Our faculty and staff, too, have been told to stay home if they have any of these symptoms.
    We will continue to provide updates during this rapidly evolving and highly unpredictable situation. In the meantime, we encourage all Norwood families to remain vigilant through this situation, and please do not hesitate to contact me, division heads Michele Claeys and Mike Risen, or school nurse Jessica Morataya with your questions and concerns.
    Thank you for your continued partnership as we work together to ensure a safe and healthy community here at Norwood School.
    Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.
    Head of School
  • February 26, 2020: Health Update & COVID-19 Resources

    Wednesday, February 26, 2020
    Dear Norwood Parents,
    We know that many of you are closely watching media reports surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the evolving situation. To date, there are no reports of coronavirus in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, and health officials believe the risk to the general community is low at this time as confirmed cases in the U.S. have been isolated.
    As always, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority. We continue to be vigilant when it comes to health and hygiene protocols, while upholding our core values of kindness, respect, and sensitivity towards all members of our school community. Experts recommend maintaining everyday preventive actions: frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available); avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and staying home when you are sick.
    As stated on page 20 of the Norwood School Handbook, a child should not be in school until he/she:
    • has had no fever (100.4 and over) for at least 24 hours without anti-fever medication;
    • has been on any prescribed medication for at least 24 hours;
    • has not experienced any vomiting or diarrhea for at least 24 hours;
    • has not experienced a productive cough for at least 24 hours.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an excellent resource for general information on COVID-19, updatessymptoms and diagnosistransmission, and prevention and treatment.
    For now, we will continue to monitor the situation and, as we have done before during cold and flu season, we will take the extra precaution of suspending morning handshakes until after spring break. Additionally, we are looking closely at our Distance Learning Program to ensure that we are fully prepared should the situation escalate.
    Thank you for your support as we work hard to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Please feel free to contact me or school nurse Jessica Morataya directly should you have any questions or concerns.
    Yours sincerely,
    Matthew A. Gould, Ph.D.
    Head of School


Norwood will implement its distance learning plan on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The Distance Learning Guide was sent to all families by Head of School Matthew Gould on March 12, 2020. Please contact Michele Claeys, Head of Middle School, or Mike Risen, Head of Lower School, if you have any questions about Norwood's distance learning program.

List of 2 items.


    Tuesday, March 17, 2020

    Dear Middle School Families,
    Here are the details for supply pick-up at the Middle School on Thursday, March 19. Our goal is to get items to you as quickly as possible while maintaining physical distance.
    Do You Need to Come or Not?
    By late Wednesday afternoon, I will email the parents of any middle school students who have nothing to pick up. If you get that email, please do not come to Norwood unless your child has something they absolutely need from their locker. Pick up from lockers is strongly discouraged unless essential.
    Where and How to Pick Up
    Please drive into the middle school carpool loop and stop outside the entrance to the Cohen Common Room. We will be waiting inside. Let us know who you are picking up for, and we will fetch the items for those students, including tablet computers, if still at school. We will bring the items in a bag to the walkway outside and then return to the Cohen Common Room so you can load the bag into your car.
    If Collecting Something from a Locker
    Only students will be permitted to go to their lockers, and only one at a time (they will wait in their car in the carpool loop). Again, this is strongly discouraged unless essential.
    Additional Measures to Ensure Cleanliness
    • The School has been thoroughly cleaned and that process is ongoing.
    • Those handling items for pick-up will be wearing latex gloves as well as following good practices for frequent handwashing.
    Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Thank you for your continued support and partnership.
    Head of Middle School

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020

    Dear Lower School Parents,
    I want to follow up on Matthew's email from yesterday with details regarding Thursday's materials pick-up. Minimizing contact and maintaining good health practices are important, and the process is designed to support those ends. See below for the process we'll use to distribute.
    Thursday's Pick-Up Process
    Where to pick up
    We will use the Lower School carpool lane as a staging area for picking up materials. Tables will be setup that have materials from your child's teachers. There is some rain in the forecast, and we'll have tents over the tables to keep it dry.
    How to pick up
    It works like carpool. Along the lower school circle you will stop at the first station to give your name (or show your carpool sign) and then pull up to the top of the circle where your materials will be on a table for you to pick up. You will need to get out of your car to collect the materials.
    If you can't make it Thursday to pick up
    Email me and we can figure out a solution.
    Additional Measures to Ensure Cleanliness
    • The School has been thoroughly cleaned and that process is ongoing. While some middle school students may need to reach their lockers, we are resticting access to in the Lower School. If there are any necessary items you need to pick up, email Beanie ahead of your arrival.
    • Anyone handling materials will be wearing latex gloves, as well as following good practices for frequent handwashing.
    • Tables with materials on them (including those at the curb) will be wiped down and cleaned every 30 minutes. 
    Thank you, everyone, for your flexibility in this process. As questions come up, don't hesitate to let us know!
    Mike Risen
    Head of Lower School


EXTENDED SPRING BREAK: Spring break will run March 16-30, 2020.

Friday, March 13, 2020:
NOON DISMISSAL (Training for Faculty 1:00-4:00 p.m.)
Complimentary Day Hawks is available; email Quiana Piggee to reserve a spot.


As stated on page 20 of the Norwood School Handbook, a child should not be in school until he/she:
  • has had no fever (100.4 and over) for at least 24 hours without anti-fever medication;
  • has been on any prescribed medication for at least 24 hours;
  • has not experienced any vomiting or diarrhea for at least 24 hours;
  • has not experienced a productive cough for at least 24 hours.


Health Issues & Travel
Jessica Morataya, RN

Lower School Academics
Mike Risen

Middle School Academics
Michele Claeys

Juan Ramirez & Help Desk

Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.