Dear NBS Community –
We have received guidance from the state and want to share an outline of our working plan for opening school this fall with you.
We are excited to tell you we will begin the 2020-2021 school year for students on August 31st as originally planned, and we look forward to having students in person at school as much as possible. Autum has been working to create protocols for check-in – temperature checks and wellness questions, as well as hand washing and sanitizing through the school day. We will limit movement between classes and change spacing within classrooms. We are designing a schedule that allows students to spend most of their day with one or two teachers.
We will use a 3-tiered model of our curriculum this fall:
At home and online
At home and not online (packet-driven)
We know that being at school might not work for everyone in our community. If someone in your family is immuno-compromised, you might choose the second or third option. If you, your child, or someone in your family falls ill, we will be vigilant about asking that your child stay at home. If that occurs, families will move to the second or third option on a day-by-day basis. Virtual and packet-driven complements to our in-person teaching will follow the classroom curriculum closely. Curriculum will vary from class to class, and may include students participating in classes via webcast or Zoom, meeting individually online, or by phone with the teacher.
We have received many inquiries about face masks. New information clearly shows that masks are an excellent front-line defense against spreading Covid-19. Earlier science was not clear about the effectiveness of masks, but new information emphasizes that masks are very effective, and when combined with frequent hand washing and social distancing, significantly reduce chance of transmission of Covid19, as well as the common cold and other pathogens. Teachers will be required to wear masks inside throughout the school day, except while at distance from children. Early Primary and up will be required to wear masks inside and encouraged to wear them outside. Nursery students are strongly encouraged to wear masks as much as they can tolerate. We suggest that all students try gaiter-style masks – these are easier to keep in place, and are worn around the neck while not in use (harder to lose them!). They are also easy to make from T-shirt material. Family members and parents are asked not to enter NBS unless there is a compelling reason to do so, and must wear a mask inside the school. Preschool parents may walk in with their children, but are encouraged to say their goodbyes at the door. We know there will be an adjustment period for this particular protocol, and that our new normal in general will take time and diligence to implement for all our age groups and families.
One of the limitations we face is that guidelines stipulate that students not mix age groups. As a school this is one of the things we always want to do, but this school year we simply can’t. This means that we will not be offering Wednesday Group or our Toddler Time on Wednesdays. Book Buddies has been redesigned – students will read and recommend books with a note or a picture they draw for their buddies, instead of reading together. Assembly will not be held on Fridays – at least through the fall or until we have guidelines that allow larger gatherings. We lament this, but guidelines are clear that mixing and sporadic contact between groups is not okay.
Many classes will be taught outdoors this school year. Classes might be at picnic tables, on our playing field, or in our beautiful forests. This requires that students come to school prepared for the weather that day. In late summer and early fall, students should wear light clothes to learn and play. Gloves and hats, rain jackets, sturdy shoes and warm socks will be necessary as the weather turns cold.
High traffic areas will be disinfected throughout the day. Disinfection will happen for the whole school on a daily basis. Teachers and staff will use an EPA-certified, non-toxic product to wipe down restrooms, door handles, light switches, table tops, and congregation areas. On weekends, NBS will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected by a professional cleaning crew.
As we weather this crisis, we will continue to be a loving community of thinkers, doers and learners. We believe in sharing experiences, perspectives, and ideas. We value cooperation and collaboration, and partnering with our families. In this new normal, we believe that the NBS experience, with our commitment to discovery, collaboration, working and playing outdoors, and connecting what we learn to our own lives, will continue to be our foundation. As we have this spring, we will adapt to new information and guidelines, and we will serve our community with all our hearts. We will communicate any new guidelines and our response as quickly as possible. We look forward to seeing students and families this fall. We have really missed seeing everyone in person.
Thank you for being part of our community through this very trying spring, and as we adapt and evolve. We love this community, and we want to serve as positive partners in any way we can. We are always open to thoughts, concerns and ideas, so please feel free to reach out to Autum Fish, Bonnie Holliday, or me, Smith Coleman, this summer. We believe that having to re-think everything creates the possibility to be even better. We are looking at this as an opportunity to grow as a school. We will continue to be in touch this summer.
Head of School