June 19, 2020
Dear SCCS Families,
Our summer leadership team has been planning for the 2020-21 school year, and we are ready to provide you with a preliminary sketch of what to expect in the year ahead. We anticipate that you will have many questions beyond the scope of this update. Rest assured that we will offer more detail and clarity in the coming weeks as we send out bi-weekly summer updates, with the goal of sharing a finalized responsive plan by July 24th.
We are still conducting interviews with families to welcome your input, and we invite you to sign up for an interview if you have not already.
For now, I want to provide a breakdown of the areas of school life in which you can expect changes in the coming year.
As said in the last COVID-19 update, due to the unpredictable nature of schooling in a global pandemic and the many factors that are out of our control, such as renewed stay-at-home orders, we are preparing for three different scenarios next year, including a full return to school, which we hope to offer in August, a full return to SCCS at Home, and a hybrid home/school scenario, which will involve students spending some time on campus while doing some learning at home.
Changes to Expect on Campus
As you read through this list, please be aware that we may need to add or subtract some of the protocols listed here as we commit to an ongoing, responsive planning process. These are the broad areas of on-campus school life where you can expect to see changes, including, but not limited to the ones listed here. We anticipate that we will need to pivot and adapt as new information and guidance emerges over the course of the year.
Morning Drop-off and Afternoon Dismissal
- Parents will likely not accompany students into the building at morning drop-off, or come inside for pick-up
- We may implement staggered drop-off and pick-up times for different cohorts of familiesCarpool routines may be structured differently
- Staff will likely be required to self-report and log any COVID related symptoms on a daily basis
- Students will likely receive a daily temperature check before the start of school
- The building will have a dedicated space for students who present with any symptoms during the school day
- We will practice a higher level of adherence and accountability to our regular sick policy
- We are acquiring Magnus Health, a HIPPA-compliant digital platform for tracking student health data, which will lend a high level of support to all of the above efforts
- Classroom and/or grade level groups will likely be kept in separate cohorts to ensure that students interact with a limited number of adults and other children through the course of a school day
- Teachers will be encouraged to take learning outdoors more often and for longer periods of time, as weather permits, which is also in keeping with our Charlotte Mason educational philosophy
- Chapel services will be held remotely and attended in classrooms
- Bathroom breaks will be staggered to prevent crowding
- Teachers will stagger recess times and keep students in assigned areas of the playground or other campus green spaces to prevent class intermingling
- Students will be encouraged to observe a certain level of social distance while in class
- There will be fewer shared items (such as pillows) in classrooms
Cloth Face Coverings / PPE
- Cloth face coverings or other PPE (such as clear face shields) may be required for teachers and possibly students for either all or parts of the school day indoors
- At this time we do not anticipate that our youngest students will be required to wear cloth face coverings
- As we follow the unfolding guidelines of larger organizations like SLPS and the YMCA, we see the age requirement for face coverings starting at age nine or ten
- We will await the most up-to-date advice from health experts as schools re-open, while also interviewing a broad cross-section of SCCS parents to inform our decisions about any face covering requirements for students
- Cloth face coverings or masks are currently required for any guests or workers entering the building and will continue to be a requirement for the foreseeable future
Events, Guests, & Parent Involvement
- Large-group indoor events like Open House and Grandparents & Friends Day could potentially be canceled, structured differently, or moved online
- Outdoor events like the annual Walk, Run, and Ride will likely proceed as usual if outdoor gatherings are permitted
- Indoor parent involvement opportunities will be limited or structured differently
- Enrichment Trips (other than nature walks in Tower Grove Park) may be canceled, structured differently, or replaced with outside visiting speakers
- Extracurricular Activities
- Indoor extracurricular activities such as Choir, Shakespeare, and Chess Club may be either cancelled, structured differently, or conducted online
- Outdoor activities like soccer will be governed by the hosting league*
* Also please note: Due to increased demands on administrative staff to focus on the health and safety of our students this year, we are actively recruiting a Parent Athletic Task Force to take on the management our participation in the YMCA soccer league. We also have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular sports as a new member of the CYC athletic league, but without sufficient parent involvement, we will likely have to suspend participation in soccer and other outside leagues this year. If you would like to help lead soccer or other sports for the SCCS community this coming year email Michael Treadwell at [email protected]
- All Extended Day Programs, including Before, After, and Late Care, will be held in designated classrooms on the third floor
- Classroom and school-wide routines for hygiene, social distancing, and PPE will apply to Extended Day staff and children
- Outdoor play will be prioritized and all activities moved outdoors when feasible
- Outdoor play will be prioritized over play in the gymnasium during Late Care
- When feasible, children may be assigned to a small group with a single supervising staff member
- Procedures for signing in and out of Extended Day will align with the arrival and dismissal procedures of the school in order to limit the number of people entering the building and to minimize unnecessary student interaction
Facilities & Hygiene
- We are partnering with a professional cleaning service to ensure both regular and thorough cleaning of our facilities
- Classroom teachers and students will be practicing a higher level of regular sanitation habits within their school day routines
- Increased hand washing will be practiced by staff and students, and hand sanitizing dispensers will be stationed in more places throughout classrooms and the building
Expectations for SCCS at Home
In the event that we must move to at-home learning in the 2020-21 school year, whether full-time or part-time, we will be keeping some aspects of SCCS at Home consistent, while making some changes to ensure a more positive and values-aligned learning experience for our familie
- We will continue to use Google Classroom as our distance learning platform
- Chromebooks will once again be loaned out to any student in need of a device, and we may acquire additional Chromebooks as needed
- SCCS at Home will include more measures to promote good digital habits in our students
- Teachers will provide lessons and timeline out assignments and topics further in advance
- Lessons will be designed to promote greater independence from screens, deep engagement with subjects, and minimize digital multi-tasking and distractions
- Teachers and student support will help promote student safety and good citizenship online
Improved Resources, Support, and Scheduling
- A better system will be in place for distributing books and printed materials from school to home to support the use of hands-on learning, engagement with real objects, and project-based learning
- We will offer more robust individual student support and build more intentionality for regularly scheduled individual or small-group check-ins between teachers and students
- Teachers will expect a greater level of adherence to a shared time schedule (i.e., teachers may conduct regularly scheduled live classes or meetings where attendance is an expectation)
- Teachers will make at least some in-person socially distanced visits to student houses during the time at home
At this time, we are not making a specific plan for a hybrid scenario, but are committed to the possibility in a way that will prioritize a maximum amount of in-person student-teacher interactions. Most of the strategies we are seeing for a partial return to campus are tailored to schools with much larger class sizes and a more limited building capacity, neither of which are issues at SCCS.
We are hoping for a full return to school, and our small class sizes and ample facility space are an advantage. But we don’t know what public health realities we may confront through the fall, winter, and spring. If restrictions come into place that limit the number of people that can legally gather indoors, our plan will be to move learning to home, and, if possible, create a schedule that allows smaller cohorts of students to come in and meet with their teachers part-time. We know that face-to-face interactions between students and teachers are always preferable, and will work creatively to make this possible.
In the event of another lockdown, we are also committed to the possibility of providing what we are calling “SCCS at Home at School,” or on-campus childcare during the school day with a supervised study hall component. This may be limited to children of essential workers, but we will extend that circle further to include more families who need it, if at all possible.
Thank you for reading this far! We are living through a time of difficult decision-making and challenge for families and educators. While there are many conflicting perspectives within our current situation, one thing that most parents agree on is the enormous importance of school for our children’s health, development, and well-being. Many families are willing to take a risk in the area of a return to school above any other area of life because of the important role school plays in all of our lives
We know you are counting on us to do the planning work that will create a bridge we can cross together so that we arrive in May 2021 healthy, emotionally and spiritually strengthened, and together. This is how we are defining success as a school this year, and we are so grateful for our families who are in this together with us. Regarding our school calendar, although we see some institutions, particularly in higher-ed, making calendar changes to their academic year, we do not anticipate making any changes at this time to our regularly scheduled calendar year.
Before closing, I also want to quickly follow up on SCCS Summer Camp. After careful consideration, we decided to cancel all Summer Camp this year and will not be hosting any weeks of camp in July. Camp Ridge Haven Cono is still happening. Registration is still open and Laura Lee Bausell is communicating directly with any families who are registered.
Please be on the lookout for future summer communications. We will send Summer Updates (the summer version of the Friday Email) every two weeks, starting next week, June 26th. A more detailed email on a return plan for the 2020-21 school year will be sent out by July 24th and a message welcoming you back for a successful first day of school will go out on August 14th.
Lastly, please finalize your tuition commitment for next year. If you have any questions, would like to talk further about concerns about the coming school year, or have concerns about your tuition commitment, please get in touch with me at [email protected]
Head of School