First, let me thank our families for their support and understanding as we, as a nation and community, responded to the unexpected invasion of COVID-19 in March. I am immensely proud of how our students, parents, and staff handled the demands we faced to protect everyone as we continued to educate our students during the most unusual of circumstances.
We have been working diligently on our Reopening Plan for the 2020–2021 School Year. The guidelines for reopening are slightly modified, depending on the age of the child.
As you know, there continues to be concerns and questions related to how plan to reopen in August 2020. We have gathered input from parents, staff, administrators, state leaders, the Virginia Department of Education, medical professionals, and a task force.
Going forward, based on your survey responses, on the social/emotional needs of children, and on all input gathered, our plan for August (pending guidance from the Governor)is to reopen school for face-to-face learning, five days a week, with enhanced safety protocol (in place since this spring, including new additions given provisions on Phases II and III).
Preschool Changes: Because Phase 3 mandates three-year-old children may only be in a classroom with a maximum of 12 people and children four and older may be in a classroom with up to 22 people, we will need to have the three-year-old children stay in one room and have the four and five-year-old children in the other rooms. In addition to having to separate the children, we can no longer accommodate the number of three-year-old children registered. When we registered students in January, we had no idea this virus existed. We are working with our pre-school families to determine which families will stay home for the time being.
Our plan also includes mask wearing for part of the day for children ages three and up. Please understand that is not our choice to social distance and wear masks. We must follow Governor Northam’s mandated reopening guidelines for face- to-face instruction this fall. Mask wearing is a part of this mandate and is a requirement for when children are within 6 feet of one another. All faculty and staff are required to wear masks this fall. Though this is understandably not optimal for education, we are charged with putting protocol in place to mitigate the spread of COVID 19.
Our plans for re-opening school for our students is as follows:
- Classrooms go through a rigorous sanitizing procedure, multiple times a day.
- After the children are gone for the day, every shelf, light switch, door handle, piece of work, bathroom, flat surface, etc. is sanitized with an isopropyl alcohol and water solution.
- Children will be given assigned areas in which to work. They will have the ability to work at a table or the floor.
- Each child will be given a floor-work mat which will be sent home on Fridays to be laundered and returned the following Monday. CMS is unable to launder 150 mats each weekend.
- Tables in the classroom, where two people normally sit, will have a plexiglass separation. This will allow for safety, while also allowing children to talk to each other and work together.
- Tables and work areas will be separated, facing each other, so children may still socialize and work together.
- Windows are open and/or fans for air movement.
- Outside recess times will be extended and without masks.
- Every classroom will have an “Air Doctor” to clean and recirculate air.
- All children must wear a mask at arrival (and dismissal) and continue to wear the mask into their classroom as they put their belongings away, wash their hands, greet friends, etc.
- Temperatures will be taken at the door and again throughout the day.
- Adults/Parents will not be allowed to enter the building.
- Once they are seated at their workspace, children may take the mask off.
- When moving around the classroom to get work or to get a lesson from the teacher, masks might need to be worn. We will try and limit wearing masks as much as possible.
- We recommend wearing a mask that can just be pulled down under the chin, that attaches around the head, not the ears. This way, the children can pull their masks down and up easily.
- Masks will go home daily with children to be washed. In the event your child comes to school without a mask, one will be provided.
- We will likely have children eat out of their lunch boxes and forgo providing plates and utensils this year.
- Children will be asked to wash their hands multiple times a day. We will likely use hand sanitizer at times as well.
- Children may not come to school if they or any family member has any signs or symptoms of Covid 19. Children must be fever free for 48 hours without medication, to return to school.
Please understand there is no way for us to satisfy all people. Our priority is to educate our students safely in our buildings and to ensure the health and well-being of all, while staying within the parameters of Governor Northam’s mandate.
Despite our best efforts, it might be necessary to close portions of the school or the entire school for a two-week period. In this event, we are prepared to instruct using an on-line format, much like we did this spring. We will resume face to face instruction as soon as possible. I hope that things will return to “normal” at some point soon, so we can get back to school as it used to be.
The future is unknown… as we continue the reopening planning process, we will keep our families updated. Thank you for your continued support and positivity as we strive to do what is best for ALL our students and staff during these challenging times.