We hope this email finds you and your family well. We have been working with our planning team to redesign outdoor and indoor spaces, curriculum, and health protocols in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. We know that there are many concerns for all as we move forward. Be assured that we will work together with you, our families, to follow health guidelines every day. We have the best hopes for this school year and are excited to begin.
We are putting together classes for next year and would appreciate it if you could email us one friend request (it’s also fine if you don’t have a request). As we do every year, we consider a variety of factors when making the classes including boy/girl ratio, school district, birthday range, and neighborhood. For health reasons, the neighborhood will be a key criterion in grouping children this year.
In the next week you will receive your back-to-school forms from us via School Cues, a new communication platform. You’ll be able to upload those forms and health records, which we hope will be a big help for all. We’ll also use School Cues for a daily health check and Covid screening once school begins. You’ll have a chance to practice using this tool well in advance of school.
It was helpful for Lori to have been able to connect with each of you over the past few weeks. We have been thinking about you, hoping that all is well. Below we have responses to some of your FAQs. We appreciate these very thoughtful questions- please keep them coming.
Daily Schedule Questions: As you know we plan to spend much of the day outdoors, as this minimizes risk of transmission. We will use our fields, playgrounds, and covered decks. We will ask you to dress the children for the weather. We will of course use our indoor classrooms more as the weather gets colder. Every pod has an assigned outdoor and indoor classroom space. When the weather keeps us in, the day will flow as a normal school day. We’ll keep doors and windows open whenever possible to help with air flow.
What will my child do outdoors all day? Our planning team has developed a strong schedule for the children, with each session broken down into 3 periods: classroom time, playgrounds, and enrichments.
- Outdoor Classroom Time: Pods will meet in their own space to enjoy stories, math, literacy, and many of the same things they would do in their indoor classroom in a typical year (playdough, cutting, manipulatives, etc.). There will be sets of materials that are only for that child or pod of children with aggressive cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place.
- Playgrounds: Only one pod will play on a playground at a time. Pods will rotate playgrounds throughout the week, and we’ll follow cleaning protocols as they’re issued. They’ll play fun games that will encourage social relationships as well as skill development.
- Enrichments: Children will enjoy activities such as building, science, nature, music, sports, and drama. Enrichments will be planned and coordinated by a specialist and rotated throughout the year.
What are the arrival and dismissal times? We will share our specific arrival and dismissal plans closer to the start of school. These will involve staggered times and new drop off/pick up locations for different groups to facilitate distancing and make for a smooth drop off. The rough hours for the am session are 9-12 and for the pm session, 1-4.
Pods and Physical Distancing
How many children will be in each pod and how many teachers? We are planning for 6-7 children in a pod with one teacher. The head teacher will have designed plans for all.
How will pods distance from one another? We have designated different entrances and exits and specific traffic patterns so that groups can easily distance. Pods will be more than 6 ft away from other pods at all times.
Distancing within the pod: We are still awaiting guidelines from the state. At this point our hope is to not have children distance within their pod. We will encourage giving others personal space, though, and discourage hugging and handholding. We will develop other ways of showing interest and affection towards one another. As guidance is released, we will make adjustments.
Will you go virtual when there is bad weather? No.
Are you planning to follow the lead of neighboring school districts for when to close, like you do with snow days? No.
When would school close and go virtual? We anticipate short term closure if, say there is a positive case in a pod. There are still questions, which the state and public health officials need to answer, about how best to deal with infection. Does just a pod close? Does the school close? What we can tell you at this point is we are committed to being open whenever possible. We do not want to go virtual and we understand you do not either. Whenever there is a short-term virtual period, it will be because health officials have instructed us to close.
What will happen if there is a long-term closure (more than a month)? What will happen if there is a statewide mandate to close schools? We believe there will only be a long-term closure in a catastrophic situation. We all know so much more about containing the virus and we are hopeful that a long-term closure will not be required. There are many factors in determining what we would do with virtual learning in the event of a severe spike in cases. Factors include where we are in the school calendar, the age group, and the guidelines from health and state officials. In the event of a long-term closure we would, in partnership with our teachers and families, decide what is best for each age group of children and adjust tuition accordingly. We all wish we had a crystal ball. We want to assure you that we will be reasonable and not have a one size fits all approach to virtual learning. That being said, we all need to go into the year embracing virtual learning as a part of the children’s education.
What if public school districts say they are not ready to open in the fall, will Elmwood open? We proactively cut our enrollment so that we would be able to open. We fully anticipate opening in September.
What if neighboring school districts only schedule children to be in school a few days a week? Will Elmwood be a 5 day in school program? Yes.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
What is your sanitizing/cleaning/disinfecting protocol? We have additional staff to clean and sanitize throughout the day. Electric fog cleaners will be used daily to sanitize the rooms. We are partnering with Camp for hand sanitizing stations, recommended soap and cleaning solutions. We have all new dispensers to help ensure safety. Camp has installed six additional touchless sinks near the soccer field for hand washing. All staff will play an active role in helping us clean and sanitize Elmwood.
Handwashing: Handwashing and sanitizing will be a big part of our daily schedule. Children will wash and sanitize between periods, before eating, after using the bathroom, etc.
2s Parent and Me
When will we know the schedule/be able to enroll? End of July/early August
Does a parent have to attend, or can it be a caregiver? Either is fine.
It has been far too long since we have seen you, and we are happy that our children will be back at Elmwood, learning and playing with their friends and teachers.
Lori, Sara, and Jane