May 28, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I hope that this note finds you well. As always, please be in touch as needed if we can be of additional or increased support.
I write today with an update on our plans for the coming year. As I begin, it is important to remember that while we have identified our goals, the details of our plans are still being determined and that the 10+ weeks between the end of the ‘19-’20 school year and the beginning of the ‘20-’21 school year may bring added complications or offer unforeseen opportunities, likely both.
We are so proud of all that the students and teachers have accomplished during our weeks of LREI@home. The true learning that has happened in such an unfamiliar context is proof that when reinforced by our progressive mission the relationship between teachers and students and the relationship between the students and the material they are encountering can transcend the challenges of distance.
Throughout our time operating as LREI@home, we have been actively preparing for the fall. We have participated in conversations and presentations with colleagues in other schools in NYC and beyond. We have joined with our professional networks to investigate the requirements of a return to the buildings and we have gathered information from governmental agencies, health departments, and informed friends of the school.
We are planning on being in the school buildings, in person, on the first day of school in September 2020. In order to do this, we will have to make changes to our schedule, to space use, and to customs and procedures that are very much a part of who we are. A few preliminary specifics, though very much still a work in process:
- Lower school students will likely be in school for a full day. They will move about the building less than they have in the past, with teachers joining them in their classrooms instead.
- Middle school students will also travel less and may have staggered start and dismissal times to keep the density of students in the middle school lower than in the past.
- High school students will likely have a hybrid schedule – a mix of in-school instruction that will feel quite familiar and some days per week at home, participating online, again lowering the population in the building on any given day.
- Many meetings and presentations will be done online.
- Parents will have less access to the building and their children’s classroom(s).
- We will minimize visitors.
- Large gatherings will be reorganized.
We will also institute a number of health and hygiene procedures. These will conform to the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and other guidance we have received and will receive in the coming weeks. Our efforts in this area will be led by Ava Dawson, our lead nurse, and a frequent consultant to other schools on a variety of health topics, including reopening.
- We will require hand washing several times per day.
- We will take student/adult temperatures at the beginning of every day.
- We will reinforce the importance of staying home when sick, including extending the time of the required absence due to fever.
- We are instituting new cleaning routines in all buildings.
We will be following the requirements and recommendations of the CDC and the NYC Department of Health and we will communicate what they are before opening in the fall. This list of precautions and practices will continue to evolve in the coming weeks.
As you can see we are well on our way to a safe return in September. It is possible that our plans for an in-person return will be disrupted by NY State deciding to close schools again or by a prudent decision on our part if there is an emergent situation. We are also evaluating the experience of LREI@home over the past eight weeks in order to be prepared if we are required to move back to LREI@home at some point in the ‘20-’21 school year.
A number of families have inquired about the possibility of remote learning for the whole year due to a reluctance to return to NYC or a family health situation. If you are in this category and we have yet to speak, please be in touch with me.
I want to take a moment to thank the members of LREI’s Board of Trustees, all of whom have truly kept the school’s mission in trust during the past few months. Working with the Board’s Finance and Executive Committee, we are focused on protecting LREI’s financial health and, more importantly, the people in our community. There will be much asked of all members of the community as we move into and through the current economic disruption. Our goal is to minimize its impact on the people in the community and the parts of the educational program that are core to LREI’s mission. One thing is clear, our financial assistance budget line will have to expand significantly to accommodate a number of families whose finances have been compromised by the crisis.
As I reflect on other times that challenged our school, both those that were of the natural world and those that were man-made, in each moment it is the school’s mission, its belief in the greater good, the care that we take in each other, in justice and equity, and our dedication to hard work and perseverance that has seen us through our troubles. This will be true in our current situation, as well. I have been humbled by the resilience, talent, and humanity that I have witnessed each day since the beginning of March. I expect to be no less moved and no less impressed in what our community will bring to the months to come.
Finally, I invite you to a last live Community Conversation of the school year on Tuesday, June 9th, at 7:00 p.m. You will be able to find the Zoom link on the LREIConnect Resource Page.
Do not hesitate to be in touch.
Peace and health,