Back to School 2020-2021
The appearance of our campus for the start of the 2020-2021 school year is quite a transformation from past years. We now have one-way traffic systems, different areas for lunch box storage, carefully marked-out physical distancing positions, and hand sanitizing stations here, there and everywhere. Classrooms have also taken on a different look with new tables and chairs, allowing for extra spacing between students in class.
We were pleased to see so many students returning to campus. Our distance learning students, joining in via Zoom, are enjoying the ability to be part of the class and interact with their teachers and on-campus classmates. This year there were fewer comments about back-to-school outfits but plenty of admiration for the variety of masks worn by students and teachers.
Everyone adapted very quickly to the new environment and classes were soon underway. A completely renewed computer network system enabled seamless log-on to the internet from all areas of our campus, both inside and out, so contact was quickly made with those at home. Our many outdoor teaching spaces are ready and waiting for some cooler temperatures so we can have more lessons outside.
PE classes are as popular as ever as Mr. Jeff comes up with new and different games that build skills but keep all individuals at a safe distance. Frisbee throws are developing well, the obstacle course is popular and a variation of dodge ball is becoming a firm favorite.
The bulletin boards in our entrance hall bear witness to the great work going on in art classes with students from pre-k through 12th grade enjoying the opportunity to paint and create both inside the art studio and out on the deck. We look forward to more displays as the semester progresses.
School Year 2020-2021 Protocols
Fall Semester, 2020-2021 School Year
From the end of April, we investigated options for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Would we be in a position to offer a full program of in-person education, some kind of hybrid program or online program? In all our deliberations the priority continued to be the health and safety of our students, teachers and families. We listened to the opinions of various medical experts and took note of the CDC Guidelines for K-12 Schools and the Readiness and Planning Tool it provides. We are also very aware of the need to monitor current conditions in our state.
We arrived at the solution that provides the most flexibility, while maintaining our high quality educational program.
On campus lessons in well-spaced indoor and outdoor classrooms.
Remote learning for families unable to participate in class, where each teacher will broadcast the lesson from their Lee Academy classroom setting over Zoom while the class is in session. We will be making use of Edmodo for posting assignments for the remote-learning students, with parents occasionally stopping by the school to pick up books and other materials.
Should we need to close the school temporarily, we will use the remote learning scenario in option 2 and it will be remote learning for all.
Provisions for In-School Learning
As a small school in terms of population, we believe we have some distinct advantages:
- Small class sizes with some classes with as few as 3 students and the largest with 9 students
- A culture that already embraces being outside on a well-shaded campus, with numerous outdoor classroom spaces
- An established bring-your-own lunch program and outdoor dining area
- Students who are brought to school by a family member and are not dependent on bus transport
- A flexible approach to working with students who enjoy their educational experiences at Lee Academy and who are cooperative with and respectful of their teachers and their fellow students
- A supportive parent body invested in the education and well-being of their children
Mandatory Masks and Temperature Checks
Appropriate masks will be mandatory for everyone on our campus until determined unnecessary. The CDC website explains quite clearly that wearing a face covering helps to cover coughs and sneezes and also helps with reducing the number of times we may touch our nose, eyes, and mouth without even realizing it. The CDC offers advice on the kinds of face coverings that can be effective and also advice on how to put them on and take them off and even how to make them.
We will not be providing face masks for our students nor indicating which kind to choose. We feel it is important you choose something for your child with which you are comfortable. We will have a small supply available at school, should a child forget to bring one. Although we are sure you will have explained to your child why wearing a mask is essential, we will also go over this in school. Masks may be removed to eat or drink or during a PE lesson, as long as there is a safe physical distance between everyone.
We ask all families to check their child’s temperature every day before coming to school and for the teachers to do so for themselves. We will also check each child’s temperature prior to arrival at school each morning. If your child complains of feeling unwell we ask you to keep them at home. All families will be provided with teacher login details for the remote learning. It is essential that the contact number provided on the Student Information Form will be answered quickly, in case your child falls ill during the school day.
We have added 3 extra rooms and bathrooms for use by older students in our recently renovated neighboring property, affording us more opportunity to provide a physical distance between students in the classroom. We have purchased new, smaller tables so that students can be seated individually with an interval between them and all facing the same way.
Group size will determine which rooms will be used with each group. The teachers, rather than having their own room exclusively, will have a base for storing their materials, but will move from room to room, as necessary. We have also purchased tablet chairs for some rooms to ensure there is sufficient distance between students. We will reduce the amount of movement between lessons, as much as possible, to avoid congestion at entrances and in the hallway. Lining up for lessons will be supervised with the areas marked out for safe distancing between them.
We also have many outdoor spaces where lessons can be set up, weather permitting. The campus is well shaded and even on some of the hottest days it has been pleasant enough first thing to be outside. There is frequently a breeze off the lake as well.
Snack and Lunch Time
Each group will have a designated storage area for their lunch boxes to avoid congestion at the usual lunch box shelves. Each group will have a specific area of the campus, with clearly marked “seats” to eat their snack and lunch. When it is not possible to be outside in case of bad weather, each group will have a room or rooms allocated to them. Water fountains will not be in use. We have a FloWater machine and all students will need a refillable water bottle which they will keep with them for all classes. A teacher will be allocated to each group to ensure students are maintaining the necessary physical distance.
Locker use will be restricted. We will not be putting binders or bags in lockers for recess and lunchtimes – students will take those items with them to their designated area. Some students may need to store items in their lockers to avoid having to carry around heavy textbooks, etc., but will have access only with the supervision of an adult.
Opportunities for our students to expend some energy are essential, as is spending as much time as possible outdoors. We will not be playing games where students have close contact with each other. We do have a variety of equipment for students to play with that would enable them to be active but away from others, such as jump ropes, hula hoops and numbered basketballs for example, to permit each student to practice throwing baskets using a ball individually allocated for the time period. Equipment will be cleaned between uses.
Activities are planned that enable the students to be active but again to maintain spacing. Team games may not be possible so there will be an emphasis on developing individual skills so students are not sharing equipment.
Our students are used to being asked to wash their hands throughout the day and the handwashing will be increased. We have plentiful supplies of soap and paper towels, hand washing facilities in all bathrooms and two hand washing stations outside. Hand washing will be supervised, especially with younger students to make sure they spend the recommended amount of time washing their hands thoroughly.
Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance to the school and in each classroom and students will be encouraged to make good use of it, though actual washing of hands is still preferred. It will also be available in PE areas.
Cleaning of tables and of door handles, bathrooms, teaching spaces, etc.
This will be ongoing throughout the day as well as there being a thorough cleaning at the end of each school day or before students arrive at the beginning of the school day.
Arrival and Dismissal
When you are dropping off and picking up your child, please leave enough space between cars to allow for physical distancing. Morning arrivals do not typically lead to congestion. Students will be going to different areas to drop off their lunchboxes and then on to the different classrooms ready for their first lesson, rather than congregating. Teachers will be outside to help students on arrival. For dismissal purposes, students will go to their snack and lunch areas and as parents arrive, we will call them over to the pickup area. As a general rule we ask you not to enter the school buildings unless you have an appointment.
On the occasions when it is not possible to have dismissal outside, students will wait in their last class area until parents arrive.
Classrooms are open to receive students from 8:15am.
Before and After Care Provision
We provide this service for those families who need to use it. For morning care, which in the past has been used by only a small number of families, students will be directed to a room where they can do school work or read until it is time to be taken to their first lesson room. Before school care will not start until 7:30am. After care will start at 3pm and the very latest pickup will be 5:30pm. Charges will be outlined in the Parent Handbook which each family will receive at the start of the school year. It will be available as a pdf as well as a hard copy document.
After School Activities and Field Trips
After school activities and field trips will resume as soon as it is safe. We will plan virtual field trips in the interim.