Jason Asbury, Associate Head of School and COVID-19 Safety Coordinator
This plan describes the essential protocols and procedures in place in the event that Saint Ann’s is able to hold in-person school any time during the 2020-2021 school year. It also summarizes the procedures for transitioning back to distance learning in the event of school closure after re-opening.
Our top priority is the physical and emotional health of our students, faculty, and staff. If we return in person, we will be implementing universal masking and a reduced density, hybrid-learning model that will allow for social distancing of 6 feet between desks in our classrooms. This will effectively reduce our classroom density by 50% (except in those instances where classrooms are already of sufficient square footage to accommodate the usual number of students who occupy them). The maximum number of students for each classroom and bathroom (following the 6 foot regulations) will be clearly stated outside each room. There will be no gatherings larger than 25 people throughout the year.
To begin the academic year, the Lower, Middle and High Schools will be operating with instruction being provided primarily online through December 18, with 4th graders in school two days each week and students in grades 5-12 in school one day each week. When middle and high school students come to school, they will be taught by a combination of teachers who will be with the class in person and teachers who will be teaching the class remotely. If the class is being taught remotely, students will be under adult supervision.
Preschool (where online learning is least suitable) will begin the year with five full days of in-person instruction per week after one initial phase-in week. We will assess whether this is sustainable and safe, making heavy use of outdoor play space. Each classroom will be kept separate from others so that in the event of a suspected or confirmed case the impact will be contained in terms of testing and quarantining.
Kindergarten After a week of phase-in, Kindergarten will begin with in-person “Homeroom Blocks” for four half-days per week with remote times spread across the four days and one day of fully remote instruction. “Homeroom Blocks” will meet in three separate outdoor spaces.
Lower School will begin with all instruction provided online and optional in-school child care. Every class will run on a daily schedule very similar to what we would have used were school in person, Monday through Friday. Every Lower School student will receive five full days of synchronous class instruction.
Middle School (4-8th) will begin with five days a week of hybrid learning based on our existing schedule. For students who wish to there will be an opportunity to be in school– one day each week for 5th-8th graders and two days each week for fourth graders–with their classmates and with any of their teachers who are comfortable teaching in person. They will be supervised by division and other staff if their teachers are teaching their class remotely.
High School will begin with five days a week of hybrid learning based on our existing schedule. For students who wish to there will be an opportunity to be in school one day each week with their classmates and with any of their teachers who are comfortable teaching in person. They will be supervised by division and other staff if their teachers are teaching their class remotely.
All families will have the option in every division of choosing to participate entirely online rather than in person.
Across divisions, a typical school day will look different than it did when we left in March and there will be new challenges for everyone. We understand that social distancing does not come naturally to most people, especially children. Adjusting to screening protocols will take time and diligence. Remembering to keep face masks on and wearing them all day will require us all to be mindful. Students and faculty will have new routines designed to mitigate risk which are outlined in this plan document and will be reiterated in age-appropriate detail by division offices. We anticipate a necessary adjustment period, of course, and will support our students and each other through the transition to this new version of school life.
This plan and our protocols will be adjusted and updated as necessary.
The expectations and practices described below are intended, to the greatest extent possible, to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 amongst our students, faculty and staff within a reduced density model. These policies are informed by the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Health. We will introduce these protocols to all faculty, staff, administrators, and students at the beginning of the school year.
Throughout this document reference is made to “fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms.” A “fever” is a body temperature greater or equal to 100ºF; “other COVID-19 symptoms” include respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing), vomiting, diarrhea, rash, pink eye, runny nose, body aches, loss of taste and smell, or sore throat.
The following protocols and requirements will be in place until further notice. Adjustments may be made from time to time as conditions evolve and as determined necessary and appropriate.
At Saint Ann’s, the social and emotional well-being of our students, faculty and staff is essential and a priority. During any period of hybrid or remote learning, the school psychologists and student support staff at Saint Ann’s will be available as usual to meet with students, parents, faculty and staff either on the phone or via Zoom or Google Meet for consultation regarding mental health concerns of any member of our community. To ensure that all of the adults in the school are able to identify social-emotional concerns when they arise in children, the school psychologists and student support staff will provide guidance and support to faculty and staff through workshops and readings. They will visit Health classes to talk directly to children in grades 6 through 12 about their emotional well-being. For children in preschool through 5th grade, school psychologists and student support staff will meet regularly with teachers and administrators to make sure that all students are supported. As always, any adult in our community can reach out to a school psychologist at any time to discuss their own emotional well being. Support and referrals will be provided as needed.
Parents should monitor their child’s health regularly. If their child has a fever (forehead temperature greater or equal to 100ºF) and/or other COVID-19 symptoms they must not send the child to school. Parents should notify the appropriate division office to report the absence and symptoms so that school nurses can track symptoms of other individuals with whom the student may have come into contact. Parents will need to complete and submit an at-home health screening for each of their children each morning before arriving at school. The screening will check for fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and for exposure to or history of COVID-19 infection or travel in past 14 days.
Staff and faculty must not go to school if they have fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms. Employees who do have a fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms should contact their department chair, division head (PS, K and LS) or administrative supervisor, as well as the Human Resources Manager immediately. All employees must also complete and submit an at-home health screening each morning before arriving at school. The screening will check for fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and for exposure to or history of COVID-19 infection or travel in past 14 days.
Only students, faculty, staff and essential service providers will be allowed to enter buildings. Generally, parents, guardians, caregivers or other adults bringing children to school should plan to wait outside school buildings in line while social distancing from others.
Everyone–students, faculty and staff–will be required to wear a face mask throughout the day. The school will provide masks on an as-needed basis, but everyone is encouraged to bring their own mask.
In an effort to reduce exposure, Preschool, Kindergarten and Lower School students will convene for the entire day in a single classroom when attending school in person. Some of these groupings may be smaller than in a “normal” year depending on individual classroom capacities. With the exception of dance and rec arts, specialty teachers in these divisions will teach classes from separate locations on campus to be broadcast to students in their classrooms in an effort to minimize cross exposure between classrooms. Within their smaller pods, students will wear masks and follow hygiene protocols. While we will plan for reduced close physical contact, in classroom routines students and teachers will not always maintain social distance from one another and their teachers throughout the day. Students will primarily leave their classroom only to go to the bathroom, to the gym or to do outdoor activities.
On the days that students in grades 4 through 12 attend school in person, classes will be held in our buildings and in rented spaces in the neighborhood.
Every day, all students in every division should:
Preschool, Kindergarten, and Lower School
Lower Middle School, Upper Middle School And High School
Once the students arrive in their classroom, they must:
Recreational Arts Class, Dance Class and Athletics Routines
Recreational arts and dance teachers will use their discretion when determining if students should remove their protective masks depending on the level of aerobic or anaerobic activity when outdoors. All students should wear masks when engaging in indoor activities. In addition to the general rules above, the following guidelines will be implemented in all Rec Arts and Dance classes:
With regards to interscholastic sports, fall sports will not take place at this time.
Music Class Routines
Music ensembles have been scheduled in large spaces, like church sanctuaries, with adequate ventilation that allow for more than 12 feet of social distancing given the nature of the ensemble activities. All singing ensembles will only sing outdoors and all woodwind and brass instrumental classes will only play instruments outdoors. Students will be allowed to remove their protective masks when playing a woodwind or brass instrument outdoors. In addition to the general rules above, the guidelines below will be implemented in all middle school and high school music classes. (Preschool, Kindergarten, and Lower School music classes will be taught remotely.)
Our technology planning aims to minimize the use of shared devices. Disinfecting sprays and wipes will be located in proximity to any and all shared devices (such as department computers, copy machines, Chromebooks, etc.), and these will be wiped down according to posted housekeeping disinfectant protocols after every use.
The school will provide equipment and/or internet access consistent with our non-tuition financial aid procedures to facilitate distance learning for students who are not scheduled to attend in-person classes and for faculty to teach in our hybrid learning model. The school has conducted a device survey to ensure that families will have access to computers and internet access sufficient to support learning from home.
All classes in every division will begin the year with a virtual classroom enabled, via Seesaw for kindergarten and lower school students, and via Google Classroom for preschool and grades 4 through 12. In addition to the training provided to faculty during the spring, summer, and at the start of the school year, the technology team will work with each division to provide orientation and training to students in the tools being used for distance learning as the school year begins. This division-wide training will be supplemented by faculty-led instruction in any tools being used by individual teachers.
Sinks used for food preparation will not be used for any other purposes, and food service staff and teachers will wash their hands regularly, before preparing food and before and after helping children to eat.
Preschool and kindergarten students will continue to bring their own lunches and eat in classrooms; bringing lunch from home will also continue to be an option for lower school students if that is their preference. High school students (and 8th grade students after spring break) can leave campus for lunch.
In the lower, middle and high schools, individual school lunches will be served and eaten in classrooms, not in the lunchroom. Food service will track student food allergies so that the prepared lunches that are delivered to classrooms reflect specific needs of students. At the assigned daily lunch time, the classroom teacher will dispense hand sanitizer to each student before they leave their desk. Then, students must:
Our nursing offices will remain open at all times during the school day and will treat common ailments in accordance with normal school procedure. If a student, staff or faculty member has a routine medical issue other than fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms–such as a scrape, cut, sprained ankle, migraine, etc.–the school will modify our normal procedures so that the Nurse is informed in advance before any student arrives in order to advise on the safest course of action.
After each individual visits a nurse’s office, the Nurse will disinfect all surfaces touched by the individual, properly dispose of disinfectant wipes and protective gear using appropriate trash bins, wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, and, if appropriate, put on a new set of protective personal equipment, including mask, goggles, gloves and gown.
If there is a suspected case of COVID-19, the school’s nursing staff will work with local health officials in order to determine next steps. There is one isolation room available in each of the Bosworth, Farber, Kindergarten and Preschool buildings where any individual exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms can be assessed. In coordination with the school, New York City contact tracers will notify those who have been in contact with anyone who tests positive. All medical information related to COVID-19 exposure in community members will be kept confidential to the extent that it is possible as required by law.
The school nurses will complete a daily report of all office visits and submit the report to the Associate Head of School.
If a student exhibits fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms while at school:
All individuals in the same classroom or in close proximity to the sick individual must stay in place in that classroom until the Nurse is able to make a full risk assessment and determine that the student is not suspected to have COVID-19.
All individuals in the same classroom or in close proximity to the sick employee must stay in place until the Nurse is able to make a full risk assessment and determine that the employee is not suspected to have COVID-19.
The Nurse may only receive one individual at a time in a given isolation room; all employees must know the location of all isolation rooms. If more than one individual needs to be seen by the nurse for a fever and/or other COVID-19 symptoms, the individuals will be kept separate from each other and the rest of the individuals in the building.
If the Nurse does suspect that an individual may have COVID-19, they will:
If the individual is a student, the appropriate division office will notify the student’s parents (or designated emergency contact person) immediately.
Parents may be instructed to pick up their child from school and to consult with their physician on next steps.
Those in the classroom or otherwise in close contact throughout the day for more than 15 minutes with the suspected COVID-19 positive person will be quarantined pending the test results of the person with a suspected case.
If the nurse does not suspect that an individual has COVID-19 they will:
Students who are sent home and then test positive may not return to Saint Ann’s until the criteria below, as outlined by the CDC, have been met.
Criteria to Discontinue Home Isolation After Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
If confirmed cases are identified, the school might need to implement short-term closure procedures regardless of community spread if an infected person has been in a school building. In the event of a short-term closure, classes in the division will transition to distance learning. If this happens, CDC recommends the following procedures regardless of the level of community spread:
The school administration will notify local health officials and coordinate with them to determine a course of action for the school.
The CDC recommends that the school dismiss students and most staff for 2-5 days. This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local health officials to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school. This allows the local health officials to help the school determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended dismissal duration is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19. The school will make decisions about extending school dismissal or temporarily dismissing divisions to stop or slow the further spread of COVID-19 in the community based on the recommendations of local health officials.
If schools in New York City are closed by local or state officials for an extended period of time due to increased infection rates, all classes will transition to distance learning. The school has provided extensive professional development opportunities to prepare faculty to make this transition and students will use online platforms in each division while they are learning in-person in order to create a more seamless transition for students.
Technology Protocols for School Closure
At any point that a decision is made to shift to full distance learning, the school will inform all families of the date and reason for the change and each division will follow up with grade-specific expectations and any schedule modifications. Schedule modifications will be made to allow for a balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning to accommodate developmentally appropriate screen time recommendations.
If school shifts to an online-only format for an extended period, the existing virtual classrooms and device loans will support a smooth transition to distance learning. Teachers will use the virtual classrooms to share assignments, resources, and lessons and to communicate with students and families. The school will provide teachers with Zoom and Google Meet to conduct synchronous learning according to the schedule published by each division. These live sessions will be supplemented with asynchronous learning facilitated by the virtual classroom software.
Facilities Access During School Closure
During school dismissals, after cleaning and disinfection), the school may stay open for staff members (unless ill) while students stay home. Keeping facilities open:
Decisions on which, if any, staff should be allowed in the school will be made in collaboration with local health officials.
The school will coordinate with local health officials and communicate to parents, faculty, staff (and students as age-appropriate) possible COVID-19 exposure and any related dismissal decisions.
The Director of Communications will coordinate with the Head and Associate Head of School and the Head Nurse to notify the school community via email and/or text message consistent with the school’s existing crisis communications procedures and with protocols as required by the NYC DOH. When communicating about possible COVID-19 exposure the school will maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by law. All messaging will reiterate the school’s antidiscriminatory policies and include language to counter potential stigma and discrimination.