Reopening Information

Thank you for visiting Collegiate’s website for reopening information.  Further information, including detailed safety information, a calendar and an FAQ will be posted in the coming days and weeks as it becomes available.  Please check back periodically for updated information.

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July 30, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
I hope this letter finds everyone in the Collegiate community well.  Since my last letter about our planning for the reopening and following meetings via Zoom with parents, faculty, and staff, there continue to be new developments with the virus across the country and emerging guidance from the State of New York, both of which are informing our planning for September.  The faculty has also just wrapped up two weeks of professional development and extensive planning for the start of classes, with a particular focus on online teaching and learning.  Hence I am writing today with an update on the current state of our reopening of school plans.
 
The State has issued guidelines for all schools in New York--public, private, and charter--and we have reviewed them carefully.  They require all nonpublic schools to submit to the Departments of Education and Health a detailed reopening plan that addresses a series of guidelines and requirements.  I am pleased to share that our initial planning dovetailed nicely with these requirements, and we were able to submit our report on time and in adherence with the State’s expectations.  
 
Of note, the State issued the following requirement: that schools “should prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction at this time. However, based on the dynamic nature of local community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, a phased-in approach or hybrid model combining in-person instruction and remote/distance learning may be necessary at various times through the 2020-2021 school year.”
 
Using this as a basis for our reopening plan and building upon the work of our task force over the past several weeks, below is our most current thinking.  As has been the case throughout this situation, nothing has been decided and conditions can change.  We must remain flexible, adjusting our planning based upon the state of the virus in the coming weeks and directives issued by state and local officials.  Our primary goal is to be fully prepared for each of the scenarios presented below and able to pivot to any one of them quickly and seamlessly.  
 
This is a long letter, filled with many important details about the school year ahead.  There are three main sections, and I hope you will take the opportunity to read each carefully. They are:
 
  • Health and Safety Protocols
  • Three Scenarios for Our Return to School
  • Expectations and Norms for Our Community

Health and Safety Protocols:

 
A return to the building in any form is based on our confidence in providing for the health, safety, and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff.  That is our primary consideration and comprises the bulk of our preparations.  Below is a list of steps we have taken, will be taking, or are considering, including policies, protocols, and procedures related to social distancing and building capacity, PPE and face coverings/masks, hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, testing and contact tracing, isolation of symptomatic persons, and communications:
 

IMPORTANT:  Health Requirements to Return to the Building and to Track Infections:

  • Students must report that they have had a negative COVID-19 test before returning to the building for their first day of in-building classes. The testing date must be no earlier than 10 days prior to the start of School, though details on the exact timing will follow in in future communications. Students with a positive COVID test result must wait 14 calendar days before returning to the building and must have the clearance of the school nurse.
  • Any student returning from a state that is on New York’s mandatory quarantine list must self-isolate for the number of days required by the State before returning to school, regardless of the results of the child’s COVID-19 test.
 

PPE and Distancing:

  • All students, faculty, and staff are required to wear masks at all times in the building.  The school will provide each student, teacher, and staff member a set of five reusable, washable masks, and disposable masks will be available at the school every day.  Students may also wear their own masks, as long as they meet minimum requirements.  
  • All desks will be six feet apart and facing front, with an additional chair for backpack and coat.
  • Each child will have an individual desktop plexiglass shield.  Students in grades K-6 will keep their shield on their individual desks; those in grades 7-12 will carry theirs from room to room, as needed.
 

Cleaning and Sanitizing:

  • All hard surfaces will be cleaned continually throughout the day. 
  • Desks to be cleaned after each usage
  • No fabric furniture
  • Sanitizing wipes in each classroom
  • Full disinfecting cleaning of the school each night
  • Doors kept open to reduce usage of doorknobs and to maintain air flow.
 

Hygiene:

  • Required hand washing throughout the school day.
  • Hand sanitizer in each classroom and outside the bathrooms, elevators, and entrances.
  • Restricted numbers to enter bathrooms at one time after using hand sanitizer, with gloves available in bathrooms. Cleaning staff to monitor usage and cleaning throughout the day.
 

In-Building Health Checks and Response:

  • Daily health check completed by parents online as the “ticket” for any child to enter the building. Temperature and other symptoms will be checked at the door if the health check app is not complete.
  • Students, faculty, or staff that are either visibly ill (coughing, runny nose, e.g.) will be sent home even with a clear health screen. Students, staff, or faculty with a temperature of 99.9-100.0 or above must go home.
  • Students, faculty, or staff with a temperature of 99.5- 99.8 are to return to nurse for another temperature check midday.
  • All required vaccinations must be current in order to return to school.
  • Three new COVID-19 isolation rooms.
  • Hiring a second RN to support all of the above.
  • All COVID symptomatic students, faculty, and staff to be isolated and sent home.  Return will only be allowed with the permission of a physician.
 

Building Protocols:

  • Staggered drop-off and dismissal for all divisions.
  • Students are to stand on markings outside of school that are 6 feet apart.  Parents and caregivers will remain outside and socially distanced, and are not permitted to enter the building for drop off or pick up.
  • Students can line up at a six-foot distance after entering and proceed to their respective classrooms, where they will use hand sanitizer upon entering the classroom.  Markings of social distancing placed on flooring and steps.
  • In elevators, faculty and select middle and upper school students will use hand sanitizer provided outside the elevator and are to remain 6 feet apart; likely two persons at a time, with marking on the floor of the elevator indicating safe standing areas.
  • Hallway movement is 6 feet apart, with markings on floor for social distancing and directions enforced with taping on the floor.
  • No hanging of coats or usage of open cubbies outside the classroom. Backpacks and coats must remain on person at all times or under or next to one’s desk.
  • No shared school supplies including staplers and tape dispensers.
  • No shared books.
  • No educational manipulatives, toys, blocks or dress up clothing shared.

Ventilation:

Our building’s HVAC is new, and we have been working with our original design engineers and made the following changes: from MERV 12 to a MERV 14 - 2” pleated HEPA filters in all units as a pre-filter, with a secondary 12” HEPA main filter.  In regards to outdoor air (OA), we have several Dedicated Outdoor Air units that will be reprogrammed to run at 100% OA. 
 

Food Services:

Lunch will be served each day in the classroom for students in grades K-8.  Students in grades 9-12 will get their lunch “grab and go” and will eat in designated areas while maintaining proper social distance.
 

Cohorts: 

Students in grades K-6 will remain in cohorts throughout the school day, with faculty coming into classrooms while maintaining social distance.  Students in grades 7-12 will have limited yet longer class periods and thus reduced movement and transitions throughout the building during the day.  
 

Contact Tracing:

We will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  We have developed plans to support local health departments in tracing all contacts to any individual who tests positive, in accordance with the protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.  We will maintain confidentiality as required by federal and state law and regulations and will cooperate with all state and local health department contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine efforts.
 

Three Scenarios for Our Return to School:

 
Here are the three scenarios that we are planning for:

  1. A phased-in full return to 301 Freedom Place South for in-person classes for all grade levels.
  2. A hybrid model in which students in grades K-6 are in-person full time and those in grades 7-12 are in-person on alternating days or are online.
  3. A fully online model.
 
Our goal, of course, is to inform you of which scenario as soon as possible.  However, I am unable to give you a firm date at this time given so many unknowns.  In all candor, a final announcement of our reopening plan could come as late as the Labor Day weekend.  Please know that my commitment is to share our plan with you when we are confident that is what will be able to happen.  Until that time, please prepare your son(s) for each scenario.


A Phased-In Return to the Building:

 
Return to 301 Freedom Place South will require a very carefully staged reentry plan.  Returning students will encounter a very different experience, with new protocols, requirements, and routines.  New students will need to acclimate to the same, but in a new environment.  Both will require explicit training and ample time for adjustment.  Furthermore, the faculty and staff must also adjust to the different circumstances in the building and have time to meet and greet students in a deliberate, intentional manner.  All of the above takes time.  Therefore, assuming we return to the building in September, we will implement a phased-in return to the building according to the schedule below.   
 
All classes will begin on September 8th, either online or in-building.  The students’ and teachers’ return to 301 FPS will be phased in either in small groups or by grade level, gradually completing the return of each division and then, by mid-October, the entire school.  Some days will be dedicated to new students; others will give a whole division time in the building before adding an additional grade. We will begin on September 8th with the Lower School, likely in small groups across grades; Middle School begins to join our Lower School approximately two weeks later; and then the Upper School grades will begin their return approximately two weeks after that. We will share more details of this schedule at least two weeks prior to the Labor Day weekend but please note, as stated at the beginning of the paragraph, that students not in the building will be taught online beginning September 8th.
 
In preparing for the possibility of a hybrid or fully online model, for the last two weeks our faculty gathered via Zoom to participate in an extensive professional development program focused on maximizing our use of online teaching and learning, including a deep dive into how to best sustain community and connection. Additionally, the task force has focused on the following adjustments to our schedules and policies to prepare for any of the scenarios.
 

Schedules:

In addition to the excellence of the academic program, our goal is programmatic seamlessness between in-building, hybrid (alternating days for grades 7-12), and online teaching and learning.  We continue to adjust the specifics of each schedule and iterate based on our teachers’ planning for the fall.  Schedules will be shared during the week of August 24th, if not sooner, and available to all students and parents so that everyone knows what to expect each day, each week, and in each scenario.
 
If or when we have multiple divisions in the building, staggered starts are essential to accommodate social distancing and health check protocols every morning.  Each school day will mean different drop off and dismissal times for each division (with accommodations for siblings in different divisions), with Lower School starting earliest, followed by Middle and Upper Schools.  Similarly, we need to have staggered dismissals so that social distancing is maintained as the kids exit to parents and caregivers outside the building.
 
In-building class days will be shorter to accommodate the staggered starts and finishes and to account for the increased fatigue of a school day with restricted movement for students, required mask wearing all day, and constant supervision by faculty. 
 
In a hybrid scenario (#2 above), when we will need to accommodate a lower density in the building, our current plan is to have students in grades K-6 in the building every school day.  One option is that students in grades 7-12 will come in every other day on an alternating A/B schedule; they will be in two days one week and three days the next.  The school will make every effort to accommodate siblings in this A/B schedule, but that may be impossible given individual class schedules in the upper grades.  The other option is that all students in grades 7-12 will be fully online in this scenario, if we determine that this is a better option educationally.  
 
We have dedicated extensive time this summer, as an administration and faculty, preparing for online teaching and learning.  If we are fully online (#3 above), our goal is a healthy balance between synchronous classes and asynchronous work.  Summer professional development was dedicated almost exclusively to elevating our academic program in an remote environment and ensuring that online teaching and learning will be of the highest caliber and will include:
  • Substantial (and age-appropriate) synchronous class time
  • Deeply engaging and accountable asynchronous time for schoolwork and projects (not just homework)
  • Copious community building by homeroom, advisory, classroom, and division
  • Enhanced and simplified use of technology
  • One centralized online location (learning management system) for students and families to locate all academic work. Lower School will employ Seesaw and both Middle and Upper School will use Connect. 
  • Timely and frequent feedback on all assignments and assessments
  • Regular opportunities for one-on-one time with teachers.  
 

Grading:

Faculty for students in grades 7-12 have discussed feedback and assessment in detail as part of our professional development this summer in remote, hybrid, or in-person scenarios. Faculty will give letter grades as a part of overall feedback on assignments and assessments and at marking periods throughout the year, whether teaching and learning is remote, hybrid, or in-person.  Students in grades 5-6 will receive the same feedback and report card comments as in the past.  For Lower School, parent/teacher conferences will take place in November and February and written progress reports will be completed in January and June.
 

Individual Student Accommodations

We understand that some students will have medical conditions that will prevent them from coming to the building.  We also anticipate students may be absent for an extended period of time if they or a family member contracts COVID-19.  Furthermore, some families may be uncomfortable sending their child to 301 FPS and may request that they learn online.  
 
Technology, specifically in-classroom cameras as specified above, will allow us to accommodate the above to the best of our ability.  Students will be able to videoconference into their classes and follow the in-school instruction.  They will also, of course, have full access to class materials and assignments via Connect or Seesaw.  Please know, however, that should the building be open, the primary focus of our faculty will be the in-classroom instruction. With a focus on students in the classroom, students at home may be in front of their computer screens for extended periods of time, more than is recommended for an online experience.  They may not be able to engage as directly with their classmates and teachers in this setting, and therefore they may feel more like an observer than a full participant.  Assessments may also be modified for the online student.
 
Again, we will accommodate those with a medical need to be online and consider requests for others who wish to do the same.  We want students to continue to be part of Collegiate no matter their health status or general level of comfort during this uncertain time.  If you require an accommodation for medical reasons or wish to request a fully online experience for other reasons, please contact your division head no later than August 10th so that we can plan accordingly.
 

Transportation:

 
We recognize transportation remains a concern for many members of our community. While we have no confirmation at this time, we do not expect yellow bus service (provided by the NYC DOE) to be available to our students in grades K-6.  If it is, social distancing will be required, limiting the number of passengers.  We continue to explore ways that we can assist members of the community to find alternative means of transportation to 301 FPS, however, we also encourage each family to consider whether walking, biking, public transportation, ridesharing services, or driving (with carpooling) may be reasonable options.


Expectations and Norms for Our Community:

 
It is important for us, as a community of common purpose and shared values, to emphasize norms and expectations for all members of Collegiate.  Reinforcing them should happen at every opportunity, yet it may be even more important to do so during a time of extraordinary uncertainty and disruption.  Perhaps the most consistent feedback that I have heard since my appointment has been twofold:  the need for clarity in communicating our purpose, values, and expectations; and the need for a clear, consistent response when people in our community are not living up to them.  A lack of follow-through, real or perceived, erodes trust in the school, as people question whether we are committed to doing what we say we will and whether we truly believe in the shared values and stated norms that define Collegiate School.  I have heard too many stories describing members of our community, from all constituencies both past and present, violating our core beliefs, community norms, and policies with what appears to be little to no consequence.  Perhaps one or two stories can be considered isolated incidents, but the sheer volume of accounts compels me to be clear about what Collegiate stands for and how I plan to lead this school.
 
It is important to emphasize that Collegiate is a school and a community of choice.  Membership is selective and optional.  We cannot deliver the core of our purpose--the rigorous and engaging education of our children and the development of their character--if we do not share a commitment to them, if we disagree on them, if we continue to debate them, and/or if we do not live by them, every one of us.  By enrolling in Collegiate every year and signing a contract to work here, each one of us commits ourselves to these stated beliefs, values, and expectations. 
 
So I share now, without equivocation, that I am going to ensure that (1) these norms and expectations are clear and (2) they are not only followed, but enthusiastically endorsed, by everyone in our community.  There can be no more uncertainty about what we believe, what is expected of each of us, and how we will respond when someone violates our shared commitments.  
 
Our Statement of Beliefs articulates our shared values.  It insists on respect, kindness, and integrity.  It speaks to our commitment to personal and academic excellence.  It calls on our community to be diverse and just and dedicated to spirited engagement, inquiry, and collaboration.  And finally, it exhorts us to act with conscience, courage, and compassion.  In essence, twelve core values:  respect, kindness, integrity, excellence, diversity, justice, engagement, inquiry, collaboration, conscience, courage, and compassion.  Students, parents, and employees alike are committing themselves to these values when they join our community.  
 
Our school policies for students, faculty, staff, and parents flow from these.  This is particularly true of our Community Standards, the section of our student handbooks that detail how we will build and sustain a culture of safety and belonging for all, the essential ingredient for academic excellence.  Every person, adult and child alike, who chooses to be part of this community must read the handbooks when they are available at the start of the school year.  Yet recognizing that some language is more important than others, I highlight here the essential parts of these standards:
 
  • We must be able to believe what another person assures us is the truth; if we cannot, our ability to live and work together is compromised.
  • Mutual trust is essential for the safety and integrity of every individual.
  • In a community that is built on mutual trust, respect, and a right to physical and emotional security, fighting is unacceptable, as is abusive language or imagery, bullying or hazing.
  • Any and all behaviors that compromise the physical and emotional safety and/or the well-being of any individual in our community, regardless of intent, may be grounds for action by the school.
  • Harassing behavior, incidents of bias, verbal, physical or other, based on identity characteristics such as race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, physical or mental ability, political affiliation, gender, affectional/sexual orientation, age, and marital, parental or economic status are strictly prohibited.
  • Any student or employee of Collegiate School who sexually harasses a student or an employee through conduct or communication of a sexual nature, within or outside of school, violates [school] policy.
  • Any behavior that endangers the safety (physical and/or emotional) of a member of the community, within or outside of school, will be treated seriously.
 
What follows these expectations in the handbooks are protocols for responding when they are violated.  We expect any of the above to be reported immediately; we ensure a timely and appropriate response; and we promise communication with the parties involved and, if it is appropriate under the circumstances and honors the privacy of those involved, a communication with the community.  The range of appropriate responses and consequences detailed in the handbook include on-campus restriction, warning, community restoration, probation, suspension, and dismissal.  (If a violation involves a student, the school will report the last three to colleges, which is not a matter of choice per college admission requirements.)  If we have fallen short of enforcing these protocols in the past, I share my promise that they will be moving forward.  
 
I also want us to be mindful of the sensitivity and the complexity that comes with disciplining a child, especially with the range of ages of our students and the unique circumstances of each incident and the individuals involved.  As I shared with a group of parents during a recent Zoom meeting, I do not adhere to a “zero tolerance” approach to discipline.  In some egregious cases, we may need to move immediately to a more severe response, such as suspension or expulsion.  Far more often, however, I must consider any number of mitigating factors, including the circumstances of an incident; the ages of those involved; past warnings or violations; the acceptance of one’s mistake; the willingness to grow and make amends; the support of parents; and more.  Of course older students and adults are held to higher expectations, while younger students need more education.  This is all to say that my default is that nearly every violation is a teachable moment, based on our commitment to affirm these shared values, support our norms and expectations, and partner with one another on how to best respond.
 
Given this clarity on these shared values and expectations, this is a moment for all of us to reaffirm our commitment to them and to Collegiate.  Please read this letter carefully.  Please read the handbooks.  Please read the website to reintroduce yourself to why you joined this amazing community of learning and growth.  And to our parents: please speak with your child(ren) about these expectations.  Discuss why they are essential to your son’s learning and health, and of those around him and our school community.  Remind him not only of why these expectations exist, but also of the consequences of violating them.  A clear, unequivocal, honest conversation now will avoid an unfortunate situation in the future.  
 
On a related note, please know that we have very clear rules and expectations when it comes to being in the building during the pandemic.  For the health and safety of everyone, they will be enforced. Similar to the above, it is essential that you discuss them with your son before he returns to school and on a regular basis.  And of course they  will all be “taught” to the students upon their return to the building and reinforced constantly.  Everyone is required to:
 
  • Wear a mask, and wear it properly.
  • Maintain 6’ of social distance in all areas of the school building.
  • Follow foot traffic directions inside and outside of the building.
  • Listen to the school nurse when it comes to health and safety protocols and determinations about and responses to possible virus-related symptoms.
  • Report honestly  health symptoms every day and promise not to come to school with any symptoms of the virus.
  • Adhere to state guidelines for quarantine if you or a family member have been traveling.
  • Be aware that behaviors outside of school and on weekends could impact the health of others when back in the school building.
 
I also share the expectation that the adults in our community will navigate this time of disruption and uncertainty in the spirit of partnership, collaboration, mutual respect, and support.  One of the most extraordinary aspects of this crisis is that every decision requires a tradeoff; literally no course of action will please everyone, and at times a decision pleases no one.  Understandably, this causes tension, frustration, and dissatisfaction, among other emotional strains.  Nevertheless, we must continue to work together and treat each other with civility and respectful candor, and this is particularly true between faculty and parents, who are all living and working in less than ideal circumstances.  I have heard that frustrations were exposed in the spring, sometimes in unhealthy and disrespectful ways.  As we move into this fall with more time to prepare, I insist that we do better and work in concert.  From the school, our parents can expect clear and copious communication about classes, schedules, assignments, grades, etc.  From parents, we ask that you raise questions and concerns directly with the teacher or administrator, and do so in the spirit of partnership and a shared desire to improve.  All of us are deeply dedicated to providing the best possible education for these boys under difficult circumstances, and doing so together will help us achieve that goal.
 
This is a long letter, dense with a lot of information, details, and still many unanswered questions.  If you do have questions, concerns and ideas to share, we encourage you to contact us at reopening@collegiateschool.org.  Again, we are all adapting on the fly to rapidly evolving circumstances and balancing a diversity of individual, family, employee, and institutional needs and wants.  I cautioned the faculty at the beginning of our two weeks of planning that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” in a situation such as this.  I admit that we will not get this reopening perfect for everyone, and therefore I ask for your understanding as we aim for the best we can under these unique circumstances.  Getting there will require a team effort, to be sure, as well as collective patience, grace, and understanding that we are all navigating through an unprecedented time.  Despite the challenges before and those to come, we are all fortunate to be part of the Collegiate community.  I look forward to partnering with all of you to make this fall and school year ahead one of learning and growth for all of our students.  
 
Wishing all of you good health,
 
David

 

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June 23, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
I write today to follow up on Dr. Levison’s email from a few weeks ago and Mr. Youngwood’s last week about plans for the opening of school and the fall semester. For several weeks Dr. Levison and I have been co-chairing a task force dedicated to this planning, and I would like to share an update with our community.
 
I do not start officially until July 1st, but circumstances have required me to be closely involved for several weeks now to ensure a smooth transition in a time when very little is smooth. This involvement has primarily been around the challenge of COVID-19 and its impact on the new school year, and I have much more to share about that below. I have also been communicating with many people at the school about the work that Collegiate needs to do in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion, and I am looking forward to continuing these conversations and getting to work on these important issues soon after my arrival.
 
This is, of course, not the kind of welcome letter that I had been imagining over the past several months. Yet I have been heartened by the hard work of so many at the school who have been deeply engaged in planning for an uncertain fall and are making decisions under difficult circumstances. This early engagement has allowed me to experience firsthand the dedication of the people at Collegiate who love the school, want what is best for the students, and exhibit a resilience and determination of an institution that is four centuries old. As one trustee reminded me, Collegiate has endured the American Revolution, the Civil War, two World Wars, the 1918 flu, the Great Depression, 9/11, and much more, and it has persevered and thrived. We will do the same in this case; this time of tremendous disruption and sadness will become a formative experience for our students, who will emerge stronger, closer, and even more prepared for any challenge they will face in the future.
 
Before sharing updates below, I must emphasize that much remains in flux as we imagine what the opening of school looks like. I know that all of us understand the uncertainty about what conditions in the city will be in September and what the city and state will require of school buildings when, or if, they do open. Because of the complexity of these decisions, all students should be ready to begin school on September 8th, the Tuesday after Labor Day. An in-building opening will likely be different than in the past, with younger students coming back earliest and adding older grade levels each day so that they can adapt to new building protocols. If a staggered return to 301 FPS must happen over a number of days, our older students' first days of classes may be online on the 8th. Faculty will be reporting back earlier than usual to prepare for the students’ return and for new health protocols. 
 
As we think about the return to School, we are exploring any and all scenarios for use of the building and digging deeply into the details and tradeoffs of each one. To ensure the high standards of our academic program, we are doing extensive research into several models of online and hybrid teaching and learning and determining which are most appropriate for Collegiate. All of this having been said, there remains so much that is unknown and there are not yet firm decisions on many items. In short, everything below is subject to change. This process of getting from today to the opening of school will require all of us to be adaptable to rapidly developing circumstances, and I thank you in advance for your patience, understanding and partnership during what will need to be a community-wide effort.
 
I begin with the most important update: health and safety protocols should we be able to return to the building. The task force and particularly School Nurse Sharon McGahan, Director of Facilities Mark Gordon, and Director of Psychological Services Joshua Mandel have been hard at work preparing protocols for a return to the 301 FPS. This is where our research and current thinking currently leads us, though we continue to monitor updated information and guidelines:
 
  • Classrooms and teaching spaces will allow for necessary social distancing so as to reduce the risk of virus transmission. All students will use individual desks.

  • Students will not share any classroom materials.

  • Every student will have a personal clear, polycarbonate desktop divider to help reduce the potential of virus spread.

  • Masks and/or face shields will be required of all, perhaps with the exception of the youngest students if other measures can be put in place. Five washable, reusable masks will be provided to all students, and they can also wear their own.

  • Only students, faculty, and staff will be permitted into the building. Drop off and pick up will happen outside.

  • Staggered start times will allow for daily health screenings of all students, faculty, and staff. Parents may be asked to complete a daily health check via mobile app to confirm that your child is not exhibiting any symptoms.

  • Isolation spaces will be available for anyone who exhibits symptoms during the school day. Additional staffing will be provided to care for students.

  • Detailed protocols are being developed for movement into, out of, and through the building, including regulated use of elevators and staircases.

  • The Psychological Services team and other faculty are preparing to offer enhanced mental health support.

  • Hand sanitizer will be available around the building and in classrooms.

  • Cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be increased, and all spaces, particularly common areas, will be cleaned several times throughout the day and each evening.

  • Common areas will be reimagined so that social distancing can be maintained at all times.

  • Lunch will be served in the classrooms for the Lower and Middle Schools. Upper Schoolers may be able to get lunch in the dining room utilizing safety measures and may be allowed to leave the building to get food. It is unlikely that breakfast will be available this year.
 
We have partnered with the architects for 301 Freedom Place South to determine the capacity of the building with physical distancing measures in place. Given the preliminary findings, we are including at the top of possible scenarios one in which we are all back in the building. We are, of course, very fortunate to be in a new building. 301 FPS is a sizable building, with large classrooms and common spaces that may be able to accommodate the students’ academic schedules while maintaining recommended distancing and implementing necessary health protocols. The air handlers are state-of-the-art, so ventilation and air quality will be maximized. 
 
The above health and safety protocols are continually being revisited and adjusted based on new developments and latest guidelines. Up to this moment, we have relied on CDC guidelines and those issued by California and Pennsylvania, as we await New York’s in the coming weeks. When the state and city do issue guidelines for schools, we will adhere to those and adjust the above accordingly. 
 
The second update is about academics and ensuring that our rigorous program is sustained regardless of our location. We have been discussing options for all potential scenarios, from a full opening of 301 FPS to online learning due to state-mandated school closure and everything in between. With the same caveat that what the circumstances will be in two months are unknown, here is our most current thinking and the steps we are taking:
 
  • In July, the faculty will be participating in two full weeks of planning and preparation for the possibility of online teaching. Teachers have spent a lot of time reflecting on the springtime experience and have defined strategies and practices that can improve the students’ online experience. They are dedicated to taking this time to hone the skills necessary for effective online education, to design courses that maximize rigor and engagement, and to train on appropriate technology to facilitate the above.

  • The results of parent and student surveys are invaluable as we prepare for this July planning. We thank all who responded and shared candid feedback with us, including key areas where we need to get better if we will be teaching again online.

  • We are planning an academic schedule in the event all students are back in 301 FPS. This would mean that some homerooms and course sections may be divided into two classrooms to ensure proper distancing. If that is the case, there will be appropriate staffing for supervision and instruction and technology to connect split classroom sections.

  • Whether in building, fully online, or in a hybrid scenario, there will be consistent daily and weekly schedules for the students. All schedule options are being developed and will be finalized during the July faculty planning and of course shared before school begins. This was an important piece of feedback, and we are committed to clear, consistent, substantive, and engaging schedules.

  • When in the building, students in grades K-6 will likely remain in one classroom throughout the day, and teachers will travel in and out by lesson and subject matter. As recommended by health officials, we want to reduce travel through the building and limit contact between students outside of their immediate classmates. 

  • If we find ourselves in a hybrid scenario, meaning there will only be a percentage of students in the building to reduce density, we are developing divisional schedules that accommodate instruction both in the building and online.

  • A potential element of hybrid situation we are considering is having the younger students in the building every day and older students on an alternating schedule, as the latter are more able to engage independently online. 

  • Either in the building or online, there may have to be changes to the students’ academic program. For example, if movement is limited in the building and time is impacted as a result, and if we are online or in a hybrid scenario, some program offerings may not be feasible for scheduling or health reasons. We are considering these options carefully.
 
Third, continuing to nurture the community of the school will require careful attention given the scenarios we are likely to encounter. Online, of course, will require a deliberate effort to maintain connections between students, between students and teachers, as grade levels and by division, and with parents and alumni. If we are in a hybrid environment in which we have to account for a reduced density, we will need to make a concerted effort to connect those who are in the building and those who are online, avoiding the creation of “two schools”. Even if we are in the building, assemblies and larger gatherings will likely not be allowed. How we replicate the essence and the importance of those moments is a priority in our planning for the fall. 
 
There are understandably a few areas that do not yet have answers, but we assure you they are being discussed. The unknowns for these areas are too significant at this point to settle on final decisions, but we point them out nevertheless so that you know we are aware. These include transportation to and from the school, after school programming, and interscholastic sports.
 
My final update is in regards to tuition for the 2020-2021 school year and potential requests to take a year off given the uncertainties of the virus. All of the above scenarios, without exception, carry increased costs for the school. No matter if we are in the building, fully online or somewhere in between, Collegiate will experience an operating loss next year. Therefore, we will charge the full tuition rate specified in the current enrollment contract. If a family requests a year off, we will charge the full tuition to hold the spot for the following year, as well as require demonstrated academic achievement in order to return and matriculate to the next grade level.
 
This is a time of unprecedented challenge for all schools as they plan for next year, trying to successfully navigate the uncertainty while still delivering an exceptional academic experience. This will require a community-wide effort, one in which we understand the tradeoffs of every decision, the imperfection of each option, and the necessity to work together when challenges arise. I dislike writing letters that do not provide enough answers, yet this is our reality, and I ask for your patience, understanding, and support in the weeks and months ahead. I promise to provide an open line of communication for questions and comments. If you have anything to ask, share or suggest, please email us at this dedicated email address: reopening2020@collegiateschool.org. This will be monitored regularly throughout the summer, and we will respond as soon as possible. We are creating a webpage dedicated to the school’s reopening, including an FAQ section.
 
Thank you again for your faith in us and your partnership. I wish I was beginning my tenure working with you and your sons under better circumstances, but please know that I remain as excited as I was just over a year ago when I was given this opportunity to join your wonderful institution. We will be back in touch with you soon.
 
All my best,
 
David