Reopening Plan: "One Grace": Connected Remote Learning / On-Campus Learning

Introduction

January 7, 2021

Dear Grace Community, 

After many months of studying reopening in our local and national independent school community and consulting with our task forces and public health experts, Grace is planning to reopen on-campus instruction for all grade levels in 2021 with a phased return to classrooms beginning on January 19, 2021. We believe that we can accomplish this on-campus return safely by adhering to physical distancing protocols, classroom density guidelines, and other health and safety measures that are outlined in the reopening plan below.

This Phase 3 of operations will be called “One Grace”: Connected Remote Learning / On-Campus Learning. Grace families may choose either to have their children attend school on-campus, or to continue with remote learning. As a school that prioritizes equity and inclusion, we commit to supporting our students and their families no matter their instructional mode choice, and to maintaining the strong relationships between students and their peers and teachers that are the heart of our school. 

This school year may never look exactly like a “normal” one, but the Grace experience remains unchanged: ensuring that our students are known, nurtured, challenged, and loved. 

Sincerely, 

Jennifer Danish, Head of Grace Episcopal Day School

Guiding principles

  • The health and safety of the entire Grace community: students, faculty, and parents
  • Designing for flexibility and adaptability
  • Our commitment to equity and inclusion
  • Ensuring robust learning and academics, and keeping the teacher/student relationship at the center
  • Preserving a caring community, and maintaining connections

Important operational dates

Wed., Jan. 13, 2021: Town Hall to discuss reopening plan, 7:00 pm 

Fri., Jan. 15, 2021: Parental participation decision communicated to school by 3:00 pm / Proof of negative COVID-19 test required for students attending On-Campus Learning by 3:00 pm to nmchugh@geds.org

Tues., Jan. 19, 2021: Beginning of “One Grace”: Connected Remote Learning / On-Campus Learning

Fri., Feb. 5, 2021: Update on operational phase (options to continue offering current on-campus attendance schedule or to move to full on-campus instruction option)

Mon., Feb. 8, 2021: Next chance to join On-Campus Learning for families who opted out

Bimodal instructional and operational schedule

As we move into Phase 3 of operations (“One Grace”), families may choose to have their children attend school on-campus or to continue learning from home. This fully bimodal (simultaneously on-campus and remote) learning experience will follow the current daily schedule as much as possible in order to capitalize on the successful learning routines we have already established with our students. 

Below is the general bimodal schedule (days on campus) for Jan. 19 - Feb. 5, 2021. Each homeroom teacher will continue the practice of communicating the schedule for the week to come to their families over the weekend. This schedule will contain more details about times, assignments, and other classroom-specific information. 

One-on-one learning support will be paused temporarily as we adjust to this new operational schedule.

We will announce any schoolwide changes to the schedule below by Feb. 5, 2021.

“One Grace”: Schedule beginning January 19, 2021

Return to Campus Agreement

Community Commitments

COVID-19 has upended life as we know it in the world and certainly in our schools. At a moment like this, communities must consider their strengths and leverage them in adapting to this new normal. Until we have a vaccine, none of us will be truly safe from the virus if we choose to re-enter our work and school communities. With this in mind, we expect that each member of the Grace community agrees to norms and expectations as a greater commitment to each other and our wish to stay safe. It also requires us to recommit to what we value as a community.

What We Value 

  • We prioritize the health and safety of each individual in our community.
  • We value connection with one another and cultivating strong relationships between students and their peers and teachers. Our students grow developmentally when they are in proximity to their peers.
  • We value play as a mode for deep inquiry and we believe this is most possible to achieve in person.
  • We have a personal responsibility to keep each ourselves and one another safe from the virus as we bring groups back together.

School Commitments

  • Provide a dedicated classroom space that allows physical distancing for each student and teacher assigned to that space.
  • Screen faculty and staff each day upon arrival.
  • Conduct daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
  • Provide face masks for all employees.
  • Maintain a supply of face masks for students who forget to bring one to school.
  • Provide hand sanitizer throughout the campus.
  • Minimize and manage movement in and around campus buildings to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between community members.
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality.
  • Immediately separate and isolate a student or employee who develops symptoms during the school day.
  • Immediately inform the community if a student or employee who has been on-campus tests positive for COVID-19; report to the Montgomery County health department as required by law and follow their guidelines for immediate and thorough contact-tracing, for possible campus closure, and for cleaning and disinfecting.

Parent and Student Commitments

  • Attending On-Campus Learning beginning January 19, 2021 is OPTIONAL for students; students who remain at home will continue with Connected Remote Learning.
  • Parents will let the school know no later than January 15, 2021 by 3:00 pm whether their child(ren) will be attending on-campus or continuing remote learning from home.
  • Parents, grandparents, and caregivers will not be allowed inside the building or on the playground during school hours. This does not apply to Preschool and PreK at drop-off when parents will bring students to the playground and conduct a screening.
  • All students will be screened by a Grace faculty or staff member every morning.
  • Masks will be required for all participants at all times. The mask should fit comfortably and cover your child’s nose and mouth. Masks with valves are not permitted.
  • Children who have any symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend school. These symptoms include: a temperature of 99.5 or above, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, chills or shaking, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose.
  • Parents will keep symptomatic children at home. Do not give fever- or pain-reducing medication to your child before bringing them to school.
  • Families should identify their nearest testing location. This site helps locate testing closest to you.
  • If a Grace family member or a student tests positive, we would expect that the family would inform the school; information will be shared with the County Health Department as required by law. They will direct the school with next steps.
  • Inform your child’s teacher as soon as possible if your child is having a difficult time adjusting to new procedures or keeping up with schoolwork. 
  • Act safely and responsibly when you are outside of school: follow social distancing measures as defined by the CDC and wear a mask in public settings; do not attend large gatherings or participate in team sports or recreational activities that do not abide by appropriate safeguards for COVID-19 protection. 
  • Limit playdates to students in your child’s cohort. Stick to outdoor activities, whenever possible, with social distancing and mask wearing. 
  • Make all efforts to avoid travel to areas with large COVID-19 outbreaks. Please refer to the Maryland Department of Health’s recommendations to determine what these areas are. If a student has traveled to one of these areas, please follow testing and quarantine guidelines as outlined in the document linked to above.
  • If your child has been attending events without masks or social distancing, we ask that you keep them home for 10 days, learning remotely.

Community COVID-19 testing requirements

For the safety of our entire community, we are requiring that every staff member and student provide a negative PCR result before returning to the building.  

Please Note: Test results can be dated no earlier than January 11 and no later than January 15. Results must be provided to nmchugh@geds.org by January 15, 2021 at 3:00 pm. 

For your convenience, we have linked to local COVID-19 Testing Sites:

District of Columbia

Montgomery County

Prince George's County

If you are concerned about your child's comfort, we recommend that you contact your pediatrician. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Noelle McHugh, nmchugh@geds.org

Health, Safety, and Procedures

Masks

Staff and students will wear masks while onsite unless drinking or eating. Please Note: masks with valves are not permitted.

Handwashing and sanitizing

After screening and arrival (procedures designated below), all students will clean their hands with either sanitizer or soap and water (see grade-specific procedures on following pages)

Each classroom will have soap and water, as well as sanitizer, available. 

Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at: 

  • Bathrooms (north and south)
  • South exit door (soccer field) 
  • East exit door (playground) 
  • Main entrance 

Arrival screening

Each morning, staff and students will be screened for COVID symptoms which include: 

  • temperature of 99.5 or above 
  • cough
  • shortness of breath 
  • difficulty breathing 
  • new loss of taste or smell 
  • chills or shaking
  • muscle aches 
  • sore throat 
  • headache 
  • nausea or vomiting 
  • diarrhea 
  • fatigue 
  • congestion or runny nose 

Anyone arriving with one of these symptoms will be sent home with instructions to see their healthcare provider. Return to school is dependent on diagnosis. For information about return, see Maryland DOH / DOE Decision Aid chart included in this presentation or on our website.

Arrival procedures

Arrival procedures differ depending on grade: 

 Preschool and Prekindergarten Arrival: 

  • Drop-off for all students will be between 8:30-9:00 am. 
  • Parents wearing a mask will walk their child wearing a mask to the playground (around the north end of the building). 
  • Parents will use hand sanitizer at the outdoor station prior to greeting a staff member for screening. 
  • A staff member will observe the parent taking the child’s temperature with the family's thermometer. Please Note: MD Child Care Licensing requires that a parent provide the thermometer and take the child’s temperature. (Staff member will provide a thermometer if necessary). 
  • The staff member will ask additional screening questions and record information. 
  • If a student fails the screening questions or presents with a temperature of 99.5 or above, the parent will take the child home with a recommendation to see a healthcare provider. For information about return, see Maryland DOH / DOE Decision Aid Chart included in this presentation or on our website.
  • If cleared to attend, the student will enter the classroom and wash their hands with soap and water.

Kindergarten-Grade 5 Arrival: 

  • Drop-off for all students will be between 8:30-9:00 am. 
  • Students will arrive wearing a mask.
  • A staff member wearing a mask will greet the family in the carpool line, do a temperature check and ask screening questions while the student is in the car. 
  • If a student fails the screening questions or presents with a temperature of 99.5 or above, the parent will take the child home with a recommendation to see a healthcare provider. For information about return, see Maryland DOH / DOE Decision Aid chart included in this presentation or on our website.
  • All students will sanitize hands as they enter the building. If there is already a child at the sanitizing station, other children will wait outside until the space is clear. 

Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 3  get screened and dropped off at the front door

  • If cleared to attend, the student will enter the building through the front door.
  • Kindergarten students will sanitize hands, stow belongings, and head outside.
  • Grades 1 and 3 will sanitize hands  and proceed directly to the classrooms

Grades 2, 4, and 5 get screened at the circle and enter through the south door

  • If cleared to attend, the student will enter the building through the south door
  • Students will sanitize hand upon entry to the building and proceed directly to the classroom. 

For families with siblings in different classes / grades:

  • Please begin the arrival process in the circle and drop off your student in Grade 2, Grade 4, or Grade 5.
  • If you don’t have a student in Grade 2, 4, or 5, we will do our best to direct you around that drop-off lane 
  • Proceed in your car to the front door to drop off your student in Kindergarten, Grade 1, or Grade 3.
  • If you have dropped off all your students by that point, please carefully exit the driveway. 
  • If you also have a student in Preschool or Prek, please continue from the front door to a parking spot and walk to the Preschool/Prek arrival space with your younger student. 
  • Please be patient during the first week or two of operations as we work to study traffic flow and make arrival as safe as possible for everyone.

Lunch and Snacks

(Preschool-Grade 5) 

  • Students will bring snacks and filled water bottles from home. 
  • Preschool and Prek students will still be served milk provided by the school during snack. 
  • Masks will not be required during snack but ample physical distancing will be maintained. 
  • Students will eat lunch in their classrooms. These eating times will be silent while masks are removed.

Nap (Preschool / Prek)

All full-day Preschool and Prekindergarten students will take a nap while onsite. Per state regulations for safe napping, children will be unmasked and spaced more than six feet away from one another. 

Illness/Symptoms during the day

If a child becomes ill or symptomatic during the day, a staff member will text Ms. McHugh.  If the student presents with any COVID-19 symptom (listed above), the child will be isolated from the other students and staff. The family will be contacted and expected to pick up the student within the hour. 

Dismissal procedures

Pick-up for all students will be between 3:15-3:30 pm. Dismissal procedures differ depending on grade: 

Preschool and Prekindergarten Dismissal

  • Parents/guardians will park and walk around the north end of the building to the playground (while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask) to pick up their children from the north gate. 

K-Grade 5 Dismissal

  • Kindergarten will dismiss from the library.
  • Grade 1 will dismiss from the front hall
  • Grade 2 will dismiss via the MPR.
  • Grade 3 will dismiss via the MPR.
  • Grades 4-5 will dismiss, one by one, via the south door to the circle. The children will be called individually from their classes; or, if the weather is nice, they may be waiting outside in class-specific groups. 

Campus Space Use

Building and Campus Access

For everyone’s safety, only staff and enrolled students will be allowed on the playground and inside the building. Exceptions to the rule are Preschool and Prekindergarten parents during arrival or dismissal and essential visitors (contract repairs) who will be masked and screened upon arrival. Deliveries and mail will be left outside at the main door.

Oneness Family School

Oneness Family School High School students may be on campus in their classrooms on the north end. Oneness has similar screening, health, and safety procedures to Grace. 

Grace administrators keep very close daily contact with Oneness administrators and teachers.

Building ventilation and classroom measures

Grace’s HVAC system has newly installed filtration.

Each classroom is outfitted with a Medify air purifier that cleans air every 35 minutes.  

All classroom windows will be opened regularly for fresh air circulation and each class group will have an overflow space to use throughout the day (see below for more information). 

All Grace classrooms have been reconfigured by teachers so that each student has desk or table space that is at least 6 feet apart from any other student.  Rugs, pillows, and other soft surfaces have been removed to control surface transmission.

Daily Cleaning/Disinfecting: 

Housekeeping staff will be onsite every day that our students are. 

Cleaning staff will use an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer multiple times each day on high-touch areas, including classroom surfaces, bathrooms, playground equipment, and outdoor classroom areas.

All door handles have been outfitted with self-sanitizing covers. 

Disinfectant spray and microfiber cloths will be stored in all classrooms for spot cleaning.

Backup spaces for classrooms

Every class at Grace will have a designated backup space available for its exclusive use. This space will allow the main classroom to be cleaned at least once a day. It also allows our teachers to separate groups if necessary. The backup space will also be outfitted with a Medify air purifier that cleans air every 35 minutes

Designated spaces on playground

Each class will have a designated time for morning recess and lunchtime recess that reduces cohort mixing, even outdoors. Each class will also have a dedicated, separate outdoor space which can be accessed at any time. 

Designated times in bathrooms as far as possible

As much as possible, students in each class will have a designated bathroom time. Of course, bathrooms are also available to individual students on an as-needed basis. 

Operational Status and Closure

There exists a very real possibility that we may have to shift unexpectedly to fully remote learning due to a rising caseload amongst our students, staff, or community; to exposure in a single or multiple classrooms; to state or community mandates and limits on gathering numbers; or to a staff shortage. 

As a small school, Grace does not have the resources to contract with a private medical service for testing. However, all community members will get tested before we return on-campus.

To do all we can to keep on-campus instruction running, we will need full cooperation from our families and employees. Every family that chooses on-campus instruction should be willing to abide by our Community Commitments and Parent and Student Commitments. 

We will use email and our text messaging system to communicate all necessary closures to families.

Next steps for families were outlined in the email sent to all Grace families. If you need that email sent again, please contact karen@geds.org.