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COVID-19 Information

Lower School COVID-19 Plan

In the Lower School, each grade will be divided into two teams, each with its own classroom space. In order to provide you with the most detailed information that is relevant to your student, please look below to your daughter’s specific grade level.

List of 6 items.

  • Pre-kindergarten

    Students in pre-kindergarten will be grouped into two, mixed-age teams that will not interact with each other during the course of the day. Each team will have 14–16 students and two teachers. Each team will have its own separate classroom space with bathrooms. All components of the pre-kindergarten program, including lunch and specials, will occur in the classroom space except for outdoor play. During outdoor play, the two teams will play on separate parts of the playground. After-school care will occur in these same classroom spaces which enables us to keep the students on their teams, separate from other students. 

    Remote learners will have live access via Zoom to team meetings in the mornings and participate in a small group lesson with other remote learners each day. Additionally, teachers will post a weekly plan of suggested activities for parents to do at home with their students. 
  • Kindergarten

    Students in kindergarten will be grouped into two teams that will not interact with each other during the course of the day. Each team will have 13–15 students and two teachers. We will continue our practice of small group reading instruction by bringing in an additional teacher during reading class. Each team will have its own classroom space that includes a bathroom. The majority of the kindergarten program, including lunch, will take place in the classrooms. Within their classroom, students will sit two to a table or in a wide circle on the carpet. Over the course of the week, some specials will occur in the classroom, but students will also leave their classrooms to visit the specialists’ classrooms. Students will have outdoor recess twice a day.  During outdoor play, the two teams will remain separate, playing in different areas. After-school care will occur in these same classroom spaces which enables us to keep the students on their teams, separate from other students.  

    Remote learners will have live access via Zoom to the team meeting, literacy lesson, and math lesson each day. There will also be live access to a minimum of two specials per week. Using a combination of SeeSaw and Google Classroom, teachers will post a plan of at-home assignments for remote students to complete for the week. Additionally, there will be a brief, daily check-in with each student who is learning from home. 
  • Grade One

    Students in grade one will be grouped into two teams that will not interact with each other indoors during the course of the day. Each team will have 10–11 students and one teacher. We will continue our practice of small group reading instruction by bringing in an additional teacher for each team during reading class. Each team will have its own classroom space that includes a bathroom. Each student will have her own desk that is spaced apart from other students. Students will spend the majority of their day in their designated classrooms; however, teachers will move between the classrooms. Students will have lunch in their classrooms and some specials. Students will also visit specialists’ classrooms over the course of the week. For outdoor recess, all of the grade one students will be allowed to play together because the entire group does not exceed 25 people. After-school care will occur in these same classroom spaces which enables us to keep the students on their teams, separate from other students.

    Remote learners will have live access via Zoom to the team meeting, literacy lesson, and math lesson each day. There will also be live access to a minimum of two specials per week. Using a combination of SeeSaw and Google Classroom, teachers will post a plan of at-home assignments for remote students to complete for the week. Additionally, there will be a brief, daily check-in with each student who is learning from home. 
  • Grade Two


    Students in grade two will be grouped into two teams of 9–10 students, each with one teacher. We will continue our practice of small group reading instruction by bringing in one additional teacher during reading class. Each team will have its own classroom space where they will spend the majority of their day. The two separate teams will not interact indoors, but the teachers will move between the two classroom spaces. Each student will have her own desk that is spaced apart from other students. Students will have lunch in their classrooms and some specials. Students will also visit specialists’ classrooms over the course of the week. Grade two students will share one bathroom which is down the hall from their classroom. Only one student at a time will be allowed to visit the bathroom. For outdoor recess, all of the grade two students will be allowed to play together because the entire group does not exceed 25 people. After-school care will occur in these same classroom spaces which enables us to keep the students on their teams, separate from other students.  

    Remote learners will have live access via Zoom to the team meeting, literacy lesson, and math lesson each day. There will also be live access to a minimum of two specials per week. Using a combination of SeeSaw and Google Classroom, the teachers will post a plan of at-home assignments for remote students to complete for the week. Additionally, there will be a brief, daily check-in with each student who is learning from home. 
  • Grade Three

    Students in grade three will be grouped into two teams of 9–10 students, each with one teacher.  Each team has its own classroom space where they will spend the majority of their day. The two separate teams will not interact indoors during the course of the school day, but teachers will move between the two classroom spaces. Each student will have her own desk that is spaced apart from other students. Students will have lunch in their classrooms and some specials.  Students will also visit specialists’ classrooms over the course of the week. Grade three students will share a bathroom with the grade four students. The bathroom is down the hall from their classroom and only one student will be allowed to visit the bathroom at a time. For outdoor recess, all of the grade three students will be allowed to play together because the entire group does not exceed 25 people. During after-school hours, grade three students will be grouped together. 

    Remote learners will have live access via Zoom to the team meeting, literacy lesson, and math lesson each day. There will also be live access to a minimum of two specials per week. Using a combination of SeeSaw and Google Classroom, teachers will post a plan of at-home assignments for remote students to complete for the week. Additionally, there will be a brief, daily check-in with each student who is learning from home. 
  • Grade Four

    Students in grade four will be grouped into two teams that will not interact with each other during the course of the school day. Each team will have 12–13 students and one teacher. There are two separate classroom spaces for grade four students, Ms. Nolan’s classroom and Mr. Fagersten’s classroom. All grade four students will spend time in both classrooms during the course of the week, but only one team at a time will occupy a space each day. When working in Ms. Nolan’s classroom, students will sit in individual desks. In Mr. Fagersten’s class, students will sit two to a table. Some specials will occur in the classroom, but students will also leave their classrooms to visit the specialists’ classrooms. Grade four students will share a bathroom with the grade three students. The bathroom is across the hall from their classroom and only one student will be allowed to visit the bathroom at a time. During outdoor recess, the two teams will remain separate, playing in different areas. During after-school hours, grade four students will be grouped together.

    Remote learners will have live access via Zoom to the team meeting, and the literacy block or the math block, depending on which class the student’s team is attending that day. The fourth grade schedule is different from the rest of the Lower School, as students in kindergarten through grade 3 have both literacy and math lessons on a daily basis. Grade 4 students do not have both subjects each day as they have much longer learning blocks. There will also be live access to a minimum of two specials per week. The teachers will use a combination of Google Classroom and Seesaw to post a plan of at-home assignments for remote students to complete for the week. Additionally, there will be a brief, daily check-in with each student who is learning from home.
A Note About Specialist Classrooms: 

We have arranged the schedule to minimize multiple grade levels entering specialists’ classrooms on the same day. In those instances when more than one grade level will visit a specialist classroom on the same day, there will be several hours in between the visits and the room will be cleaned during that time. We will conduct physical education classes outdoors whenever weather permits.

Lower School FAQs

List of 27 items.

  • Are masks going to be required during recess and P.E.?

    Yes.
  • Are parents allowed to walk their students to campus and pick them up to walk home?

    You can bike or walk to school at any age, but only the pre-kindergarten parents will be allowed to enter the campus grounds. If you walk or bike, you will need to separate from your child before the main campus gate. Kindergarten children will be accessing the playground directly, and there will be a teacher at the gate greeting them. For grades 1-4, there will be a line of kids waiting to be seen by someone from Ellis faculty to check who has done the health screening app, and then they will proceed on campus. 

    At departure, you can also bike or walk to pick up your child. All the information is in the arrival/departure information in the summer packets and on MyEllis.
  • Are pre-kindergarten parents coming into the building during drop-off?

    No. They will be separated from their child at the door to their classroom. The red team will go to the front porch of Arbuthnot, and the blue team will walk to the back playground and separate at the door to the blue classroom. No parents will be allowed to enter the building. Parents will need to have a mask on when they are bringing their child to the classroom door.
  • Are there any plans for a staggered start or will all kids be coming back to campus at the same time?

    We are lucky at Ellis to have a relatively small student body and a relatively large campus. We are staggering in terms of which grades come back on which day, and we’ve expanded that this year. Monday, August 31 will have only the Upper School Students. Tuesday, September 1 will have Upper School, Middle School, and grades 1-4. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will start Wednesday, September 2. Pre-kindergarten students won’t have a full day until the next week. We will have students entering the school by division through three different entrances.

    Please review and follow the arrival and dismissal procedures carefully this year so students know exactly where to go. The most important component to keep our community safe is the screening and not sending your children to school if they are not well.
  • Are there any uniform requirements for masks?

    No. We want students to have masks they feel comfortable in and fit well so they have the stamina to keep them on. We expect that the designs on masks will not be distracting to other learners. If a mask is distracting to other learners, we will let you know.
  • Are there uniform requirements for remote learners?

    No.
  • Can siblings come to campus during pick up or drop off?

    Parents are not coming on to campus, so walking or driving up with a sibling is not an issue. Pre-kindergarten families bringing a sibling will need to make sure everyone is wearing a mask.
  • During after-school care, will students be grouped together or separated into smaller groups?

    Students in pre-kindergarten through grade 2 will stay with the same pod of students that they were with all day. Third and fourth graders will be grouped by grade.
  • How will teachers correct students whose masks are incorrect, what language will be used and what will that communication look like?

    In Lower School, our approach is to frame the language around “do this” instead of “don’t do that.” For example, “We wear a mask when we are outside.” We teach an approach called “think with your eyes” introduced by School Counselor Karen Boyer. Teachers will say what the expectation is to students. For example, “On the kindergarten team, we wear our masks. Look around. What are your friends wearing?” We use this team approach to frame communication around the behaviors we want to see.
  • If a student, faculty, or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, how and when will the school community be notified and what will those steps be?

     Please see our response flow chart.
  • If students are starting in-person, but then their family wants them to be remote, are they able to do that?

    Yes. We will continue to ask families to first let Macon Finley know, and then she will communicate that to the appropriate division heads and teachers.
  • If the Magnus app says to stay home because the child has a cold, can they still attend class by Zoom if they are well enough?

    Yes. When a teacher takes attendance in the morning, they will turn on the live stream for remote learners. Families will know from Seesaw and Google classroom when to log in based on the schedule for the day, and what supplies will be needed. It doesn’t matter why a student is at home for the day; she can show up on Zoom.
  • If your child has been at another group experience this summer (camp, class, etc.), do they need to be tested?

    No, they do not. We will ask you to use the screening app before school, like any other student. If your child has been exposed to a positive case, you need to let us know. The protocol outlines what those steps are and your child should not come to school.  
  • Is there an opportunity for remote learners to participate in limited activities on campus—for families who may be comfortable with some outdoor activities in person?

    That is a model that we do not have built into our system for any division at this point. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t something we wouldn’t consider in the future. 
  • Is there any guidance on what constitutes a cough—for example an isolated, non-persistent cough versus food going down the wrong way—enough to warrant staying home and a trip to the doctor?

    The point of the screening is to keep people who are infectious home. With that in mind, we want people to start with their baseline. A cough from food is not an infectious cough versus a new, persistent cough. We know that kids get sick quickly, usually overnight. If a student comes to school feeling fine and has passed the screening, but then begins to not feel well at school, that usually happens within a few hours. We will keep watch for those kinds of things, but we want parents to be aware.

    For example, if your child has asthma and is instructed to use an inhaler, please communicate with Lynette MacLeod, School Nurse, and with their doctor about the cough. If Lynette knows, she can communicate with teachers about a non-infectious cough. Please watch your child for symptoms and seek medical care when they don’t feel well. Parents will also be asked to provide documentation for when they are cleared to come back to school.
  • What about improvements to ventilation and air flow in the classrooms?

    Ellis has three different air exchangers for the three different divisions and they have been set to pull in the maximum amount of fresh air. We are running the systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which we don’t typically do, to ensure maximum airflow. We have replaced and cleaned all filters over the summer, and use filters that provide a Merv rating of 11. Those filters will be changed every month (they are usually changed every 6 months), and the vents in different spaces will be sanitized every day. All windows that can be opened will be open, with screens in place. Everyone will need to be ready for slightly warmer and slightly cooler temperatures in the classrooms because of having windows open. Some classrooms have more challenging spaces for ventilation and we have air purifiers in those rooms.
  • What about masks with integrated transparent shields in the front: are they worth trying?

    There is not much research on them, so we can’t speak to their effectiveness as there is no official position on them. We can’t endorse or discourage their use without clear information. However, Ellis does not allow bandanas, neck gaiters, or face shields (without masks), since evidence has shown they are not as effective compared to cloth or surgical masks. All masks need to attach to the back of the head or have ear loops. If a transparent mask meets all the other requirements, then a child can use it.  
  • What is the protocol for pickup from the Extended Day Program (EDP)?

    When you come to pick up your child, please let us know that you have arrived, and we will bring your child to you without you coming on campus (or not coming through the door you used to come through). Jenna Bowman will communicate with families who sign up about how that will happen.
  • What portion of the school day will be spent outside—both educational sessions and recess/playground time?

    All Lower School students will have a designated time to eat and play outdoors every day that the weather permits. Because the number of students physically at school has decreased as we have heard from families who are choosing the remote option, each grade will eat and play together outdoors as one grade-level instead of in two separate groups. We are also planning for most P.E. and music classes to take place outside as well.
  • What should the girls wear on P.E. days?

    Students can wear any athletic clothing (not uniforms) on P.E. days. They can wear Ellis athletic clothing, but they don’t have to. Shorts, athletic pants, sweatpants, or leggings and a t-shirt and/or sweatshirt. We don’t want the girls to wear jeans, skirts, or dresses on P.E. days. They should wear comfortable clothes suitable for exercise.
  • What will a mask break look like?

    All students will have a mask break during lunch while following distancing protocols. Lunch will be outside as often as possible. If students are having a drink of water or a snack, there will be a mask break as well. Protocols for when students need to have masks on come from our medical advisory group who have been keeping us up-to-date with evolving practices.  Otherwise, masks will be worn even when outside.

    Teachers have also identified areas in their classrooms that are at least six feet away from others where a student can take a ten minute (maximum) mask break. Clear plastic/plexiglass barriers or sneeze guards have been purchased to create a space where a student can safely remove a mask and take a break. We’ve always had calming corners, so a designated space where you can take a break is a normal part of the Ellis experience. When kids are eating in a classroom, they will be seated at their desks, socially distanced, and only have their masks off while they are eating.  
  • What will musicals and class plays look like this year?

    We are working on that. There is a schedule for all the performances in the school which we are rethinking. We want to provide opportunities and are thinking about outdoor rather than indoor performances. We don’t want to abandon the plays or the musical since they are an important part of the curriculum. We are thinking about how to preserve those programs, but don’t have a specific plan yet.
  • What will social distancing look like on campus, both indoors and outdoors?

    Classrooms across the school are being set up with social distancing. Our goal is to make it easy for our students to comply. For example, if there is a small group working together, they will be six feet apart. This year in kindergarten through grade 4, teams will not gather together on the carpet for team meetings. In pre-kindergarten, they will be able to do that because we have created four separate team meeting spaces with six girls, physically separated six feet apart. 

    Typically, our students have a lot of opportunity for movement in their classrooms, but this year, they will have to remain in their own spaces much more than in the past. Pre-kindergarten students usually have free choice to move about the space, but will now have more defined spaces and “magic numbers” for each space, so a student will know that in a particular space, only two students will be allowed at any given time. This is a technique often used in non-COVID times to teach children how to share and manage time as they experience new activities. It teaches them that if someone is in an occupied space, they will have to choose to do something different.  

    While outdoors, students will have their masks on, but if we see a group close together, we will ask them to space themselves out. Teachers are expecting to manage behaviors around keeping distance between children and that will be part of this year’s experience. When children talk about what will be different this year, this is a good example to share. Let them know they will be spending more time at their desks, and that while there will be time outside, they will need to be more separate from friends.
  • What will the weekly assemblies look like this year?

    Assemblies are another important part of the Lower School experience. We will have assemblies for the students, but they must be recorded since we won’t all be able to go into the auditorium. Grade-levels will each take on an assembly, record it, and then share it with the other grade levels. This year’s opening assembly will include Jacqueline Woodson’s The Day I Arrived and use literature as a launching piece for an assembly. Either Ann Martino or the students will make the recording, and it will be posted with opportunities for students to reflect. The assemblies won’t be every Friday, and may be at team meetings with a follow-up activity. While we won’t all be able to gather in the auditorium together, the spirit of learning about each other and from each other will continue.  
  • Will the plexiglas barriers on the tables in pre-kindergarten be up all day or just during lunch?

    Any time that they have an activity at the table, they will sit behind the barrier. But other activities—for example, on the carpet—do not have barriers.
  • Will there be plexiglass barriers during lunchtime?

    In pre-kindergarten, where they have round tables, there will be barriers. There will be three students to a table sitting behind the barrier. In kindergarten through grade 4, all round tables have been replaced with individual desks and those do not have plexiglass around them.
  • Will water fountains be operational on campus this year?

    No. The drinking water fountains have been turned off, but the contactless water bottle fillers will be available. We are requesting that all students bring a reusable water bottle from home.