Dear SRS Families,
Despite the unknowns before us, we are excited to return to school on September 8, 2020. As described in the previously emailed information about reopening school, this will be a very different year; however, the core of who we are in the Shaker Road School community remains the same. We are here for children and families. As a school community, we have never faced a challenge like the Covid-19 pandemic. To keep our community safe, we will all play important roles. The school cannot do this alone. This may not be an easy or normal year, but through adversity we will create new opportunities to become a stronger school.
In our planning and preparations to begin the school year, we have appreciated the thoughtful input many of our families have provided. The various perspectives provide us a more global understanding of how best to begin the school year. It is important to understand that our behaviors to safeguard our community will change depending on the spread of the virus and allow us to remain in school, in person. All of us must cooperate in a flexible and supportive way to remain physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.
Campus will look a bit different this year. Students will spend much of their autumn days outdoors in their school family groups. Thanks to generous donations, we are in the process of constructing a new pavilion near Heron’s Hideout and will also have two new tents near the 500 and 600 Buildings. In addition to the large pavilion, existing tents, and other uncovered spaces, students will have many opportunities for outdoor learning. This is one of the many steps we have taken to mitigate the spread of the virus. Now is the time to begin preparing to spend more time outdoors!
Face coverings (i.e. masks) will be an important part of our school days. Students will be required to wear face masks entering campus, when in hallways, and whenever within six feet of others. Several middle school families have expressed a desire for students to wear masks at all times indoors. We hear you and understand. Students in grades 4-8 will wear face coverings when inside. This is a slight change from information sent out in the reopening plan. Younger students, for reasons of language and reading development, and their struggle to properly wear masks, will wear masks indoors unless physically distanced by at least six feet. Of course, students may wear masks at their desks if they choose. All teachers will wear masks. We have heard different opinions on wearing masks. There will be other times this year, especially as the spread of the virus evolves, that we may have to make changes in the best interest of the community.
Other steps we can take to remain in school (in person) is to limit our risk of exposure outside of school. This includes large in-person gatherings, birthday parties, non-SRS extracurricular activities, and travel. The faculty continues to be incredible at limiting activities to those that are safe, and we are thankful to teachers and families who have already canceled vacations and temporarily pulled students from activities that mix students from many areas. This type of exposure, especially if the virus spreads in neighboring communities and states, jeopardizes the safety of all in the Shaker Road School community. This a year to try something new. We are planning many on-campus activities at school that will diversify students’ experiences. This is a year to prioritize family and your school community. When we do that, it just makes sense.
We will continue to prepare for a safe and healthy school year until the first day. Please remember we ask students to self-quarantine for 10-14 days prior to the September 8. Should families travel outside of New England, or to wherever might be a current hot spot (CDC Covid Tracker), and not be able to quarantine, we ask that you begin the school year remotely. More information will be forthcoming about procedures for students who travel during the school year.
Another noticeable change for students this year, particularly in middle school, will be their lack of movement among classrooms. Students will remain in their school “families” during the day, whether indoors or outside. We are thankful to continue to offer a full program that includes a full academic day and before school care and after school activities. To make this happen, we have come up with a creative solution. Classroom teachers will be with their school families four days per week from the start of the school day at 8:30am until school closes at 5:30pm. One day per week, the specials teachers (e.g. music, art, Spanish, technology, and health and wellness) will be with those classes. This schedule protects the integrity of the academic program, as students will have the same or more academic minutes in each subject area as in a normal year.
In place of Meet and Greet this year, we will offer a series of Zoom calls with teachers and Dr. Matt. This will be an opportunity to see everyone, classmates and faculty, and discuss the upcoming year. Be on the lookout for a separate email with more information for the following groupings.
- Grades K-2
- Grades 3 & 4
- Grades 5 & 6
- Grades 7 & 8
In the coming weeks and as the school year begins, we will be sharing more information about drop-off procedures including daily health checks, after school plans, a travel plan, a communication plan should someone become ill with Covid-19, and remote learning information.
Your back-to-school packets should arrive in the mail within the next few days.
Though we know that this will be a very different school year, we are incredibly grateful to be able to begin the year in school. The more that we prioritize community and keeping each other safe, the more likely we will remain in school. Again, thank you to the many people who have offered their support in the planning process. We look forward to seeing you all, even if masked, in September.