Re: Preschool 2/3 through Eighth Grade
July 1, 2020
This letter addresses two topics:
As long as New Jersey remains reopened, we will open school as follows:
This staggered start will enable us to establish routines with our youngest students and slowly ramp up to our complete student body. If you have vacation plans that conflict with your child’s school start, please let us know.
To help you prepare for school this year we ask the following:
|Our school website will have calendars, announcements, and news.|
|Seesaw will be used by our youngest students and for music and other applications in all grades.|
|FACTS will be our main source for student and family information and student grade and report cards.|
|Google Classroom will be the main learning management tool for grades 1-8. Schedules, assignments, messages to students, class discussions will be here.|
|Google Meet will be our main virtual meeting space. Google Meet will replace ZOOM as our video conferencing tool.|
We have adopted a number of online subscription services: Membean and Scholastic Word for vocabulary. IXL to complement our Math in Focus, Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 Math Programs. Scholastic Literacy Pro will expand the books available to us in our in school reading program and be available to students at home.
Thank you for your continued partnership.
June 18, 2020 - Physical Campus
June 18, 2020
Since my last letter schools can now begin in-person summer remediation and supplementary instruction adhering to the state’s guidelines for camps. Our Return to School Task Force has been developing our plan for how to use our physical campus for safe in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year. We are focusing on strategies that support student learning, emphasize good hygiene, limit access to our buildings, minimize movement within the buildings, minimize close cross-grade student contact, and take advantage of our campus to have students outside as often as possible.
Visitors will not be in our buildings.
Faculty and staff will fill out a daily health survey and take their temperature before coming to school in the morning.
Parents and guardians will fill out a daily health survey for their children. As students arrive, they will be screened in their cars for fever. We will offer our hybrid learning model to students who need to be at home.
Students will wash their hands or use hand sanitizer at the start of each day and frequently throughout the day.
Staff will regularly sanitize all of our indoor spaces. We will minimize the need for shared materials. All staff are trained on best hygiene and sanitizing practices.
Students who become ill at school will wait for their parents or guardians to take them home in a dedicated room with an attached bathroom.
Pairs of classes -- Preschool 2 & 3, Pre-k & Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades, 3rd and 4th grades, 5th and 6th grades, 7th and 8th grades -- will have their own, assigned doors into the building, classrooms, bathrooms, and spaces for outdoor activities.
Children will learn in their homerooms. Teachers will come to them or meet them outdoors.
Students will bring their own lunches to school and eat in their classrooms or outdoors.
Students in grades 2-8 will sit six feet apart from each other and may be able to remove their masks. When moving in the building or away from their seats, they will wear masks. During outside time with their classmates, masks may be optional.
Younger children in their large homerooms will not always wear masks (masks are not recommended for children two and younger) or remain six feet from their peers. Teachers will model and teach them safe social distancing in a nurturing environment.
Larger groups of students or cross-grade activities such as Meeting For Worship, Looking at Art, Monday Gathering, Middle School student government will be modified to accommodate social distancing, may move outdoors, or will happen through video-conferencing.
We will begin our days outside and go outside frequently for academic instruction and recreation.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me.
June 5, 2020 - Three Modes for Learning
June 5, 2020
Yesterday on NPR, I listened to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes for Health describe the speed at which scientists are working to develop a vaccine. The hope is to have a successful vaccine ready by early 2021. However, even with fast-tracking of production, the best case would be 100 million doses by the second quarter of 2021. These doses will have to be rationed and according to Dr. Collins, go to the people at greatest risk of the virus: health care providers, people living in long term care facilities, and others in high-risk categories. We must as educators plan for delivering the best possible, mission-based education and assume no vaccine for most of the members of our community until late in the school year.
Westfield’s Return to School Task Force is planning on three modes for learning: in-person learning, distance learning, and hybrid learning. We know everyone wants to get back to in-person learning. We know that we need to plan for distance learning. We know that individual children may have to quarantine at home for periods of time. We know that some families are comfortable sending their children to school in the near future. We intend to be ready for each of these situations. Westfield’s mission will shape these program decisions.
Westfield’s Return to School Task Force will take what we learned this spring to build a schedule that:
Allows students to move seamlessly from in-person to distance learning
Allows for greater differentiation in student learning
Provides opportunities for deep exploration of topics
Reduces student transitions within the day
Supports students who are learning from home
Advances academics and students’ social-emotional, physical, and spiritual growth
Schools, including Westfield, are allowed to open for in-school instruction as determined by state and local officials
In all likelihood, the drop-off and pick up times will remain the same 8:10-8:25 AM for regular drop off, 3:00 PM for pickup
Modifications, adaptations, and improvements to programs will balance the needs for social distancing, best practices in 21st-century education, and building our students’ relationships with each other
Westfield aspires to provide each student in grades 1-8 with a Chromebook. These tools will support student learning; they will never replace or supplant the in-person, student to student, and student to teacher relationships that are the core of the Westfield experience
After school care and other after school enrichment activities may be offered
In-person learning is not allowed at schools, including Westfield, as determined by state and local officials
Westfield’s distance learning model blends daily synchronous live instruction and asynchronous available anytime learning
Our program will continue students’ learning, provide for their social, emotional, and spiritual well being, and strengthen our community ties
Students should easily transition from in-person to distance learning with little change in schedule
Students will have the technology tools they need and training to use them well
In-person learning is allowed at schools, including Westfield, as determined by state and local officials
Families decide that their child should not attend school in person. Every situation is different and should be discussed with Margaret Haviland, Head of School
The school or medical experts decide when a student needs to stay home for a period of time because of their exposure to COVID-19 or the exposure of another person in their household
Westfield will provide these student(s) with real-time, virtual access to their classroom and most of the activities of their classmates. We are still looking at the best technologies to implement this plan. With input from our teachers, we will make final decisions on technology by mid-June
In my next letter, I will share with you our plans for social distancing within the school and increased uses of outdoor spaces as well as plans for monitoring student health and cleaning and sanitizing spaces.
Please do reach out to me with your ideas, suggestions, and concerns.
May 27, 2020 - Looking Ahead to 2020-2021
Looking Ahead to 2020-2021
May 27, 2020
This letter is the first in a series of letters discussing our plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Our Return to School Task Force is working diligently on preparing for the upcoming school year and the various learning scenarios we may be facing. No one could have anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic at this time last year. We now know we need to plan for varying degrees of impact by the COVID-19 virus.
In all of our work, we are guided by our mission, advancing our students’ education, and providing for the safety of our students and staff. The strategies we are developing are grounded in a return to the school that allows for flexibility and prioritizes the health and safety of our community. We have learned a great deal from our experiences this spring. We will be guided by recommendations from the CDC, local and state health authorities, and the National Associate of Independent Schools. Recently, the CDC released updated guidelines for schools and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also released research-based guidelines. Our task force members have been attending webinars on any number of topics related to school opening for in-person, distance, and hybrid learning. We are fortunate that our memberships in NJAIS, PAISBOA, FCE, and ADVIS provide us with comprehensive resources and high-level expertise in every imaginable aspect of operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When we open our school for 2020-2021, we will be living in our next COVID-19 normal which calls for planning, flexibility, and training. This letter focuses on proposed changes to our school calendar for next year. Subsequent letters will discuss:
plans for in-person, distance, and hybrid modes of learning
plans for social distancing within the school and increased uses of outdoor spaces
plans for monitoring student health and cleaning and sanitizing spaces
plans for new technology tools and enhancements to our program based on what we learned this past spring
plans for how we will go through all parts of our day from arrival, to our beloved community events, to recess, lunch, and all of our amazing art, music, and PE programs.
We believe a more expansive calendar is a necessity. While COVID-19 informs this decision, we are also informed by current thinking on how children learn and the best ways to sustain that over time. Our school year could start as soon as August 17, 2020, and continue through June 18, 2021. Like many universities and public and independent schools, we are strongly considering starting early and extending later into June 2021 to assure as many in-person school days as possible given the prediction of a second wave of the COVID-19 later in the year. I recognize that this news comes with little notice and I am not proposing this change in schedule lightly. For families that have travel plans, please know we will work with you and your children to accommodate their academic needs.
An earlier start date also allows us to maximize opportunities to open windows and conduct outdoor learning as research indicates that being outdoors and utilizing indoor spaces with high degrees of fresh air ventilation reduces the viral load. We would be remiss if we were not attempting to have as many school days as possible before it is too cold to take advantage of open windows and outdoor classrooms. As you review the calendar, you will also see a concerted effort to provide regular three and four day weekends between the long vacations. We believe this will give us time to clean and air our buildings. These will also help everyone have regular breaks for rest and rejuvenation which are important to keeping our immune systems strong. We are planning for more learning days for everyone.
With the possible early start date, we are considering staggering the start depending on grade. Right now, assuming early childhood programs and preschools are allowed to open, we may begin Preschool 2 & 3, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten August 17; First through Fourth grades August 24th; and Fifth through Eighth either on the 24th or August 31st. This staggered start will enable us to establish routines with our youngest students and slowly ramp up to our complete student body.
Attached is the proposed calendar for the upcoming year. This calendar will be finalized and implemented as soon as the state government gives schools the green light to open. I have also attached a document illustrating the Task Force process.
I am so proud of how the entire Westfield community has responded to this crisis and the countless additional hours invested by our teachers and staff. We can’t wait to return our students to our classrooms in the 2020-2021 school year.
Thank you for your continued partnership.
May 27, 2020 ATTACHMENTS