The 2020-21 school year will be one unlike any that we’ve ever encountered – and it will be one that we will need to face together as a community. We know returning to school next year brings up a lot of questions, challenges, anxieties, and fears. We feel them too. Nothing is more paramount than the safety of our students and staff, and we did our best to honor that in these draft plans.
This document provides our best current thinking for how we’ll re-open schools in 20-21. School and network leaders worked together to develop this plan based on feedback from staff, students, and families about what worked and didn’t work during remote learning, and what our students need the most. We are hosting Town Halls across all of our regions between July 21-27 for both staff and families to get more feedback. As we incorporate your input and as the situation surrounding the pandemic changes, these plans will be refined.
All of our states (CT, RI, NY) have asked us to prepare for 3 scenarios:
- Most students return in-person: All of our students (whose families want them to) are able to return to in-person school each day.
- Reduced capacity: Some of our students are able to attend school in-person, but not everyone can due to the need for 6 ft social distancing in the classroom and thus smaller class sizes. In this scenario, our students rotate (example: in-person on M-Tu, at home on W-Th).
- Fully remote: All of our students are remote.
As public schools, we follow the rules set by the governors in our states. Right now, the governors in both Connecticut and Rhode Island have said they want us to plan to start the year with Option #1 (nearly all students back in-person each day) and, in New York, we have been asked to plan for Option #2 (where we operate with reduced capacity in person, and our students rotate days). While this is the guidance we have received thus far, it can always change as the situation develops.
When designing our plan for these scenarios, we began by asking ourselves: what do we want our scholars to say about the 20-21 school year? Our goal – regardless of whether a student is learning in-person or remotely – is for all of our students to say:
“I am known, safe, loved, and learning.”
In order to create this environment for our scholars, our plan follows several guiding principles.
- We will implement all state health guidance and safety measures – and, in many cases, go beyond them – in order to ensure the health and safety of our scholars, staff, and families.
- Our families should be able to choose whether they want to have their scholar learn remotely or in-person based on what they think is best, and we will ensure that both options are high quality.
Prioritize our youngest scholars
- If we are not able to serve all of our students in-person, we will prioritize the in-person learning of our youngest scholars (K-2 especially) since they struggle the most during remote learning, and their families are often in the greatest need of childcare.
- We don’t know everything that will happen next year, but we do know that things will change. We must build a flexible plan that can adapt based on feedback from scholars, families and staff – and that can move seamlessly between fully in-person, hybrid, and remote.
Strong socioemotional support
- We must create an environment that builds love, connection, and relationships within our school community
Strong student learning
- Our job is to provide engaging live instruction in all core subjects as well as opportunities for tutoring and enrichment to ensure our scholars continue to learn, grow, and achieve.