Upper School faculty and staff are excited to join students back on campus in late August. We recognize the importance of community in our educational systems, and maintaining our strong Ellis community has been a guiding factor in the development of our plans for reopening.
We have thought carefully about how we can make adjustments to our spaces, routines, and programs in order to provide students and families with a safe and connected school experience. Throughout this process, we have consulted the
guidelines to ensure that we are complying with their recommendations on smaller groupings, face coverings, social distancing, and good hygiene practices.
As a result, both our physical spaces and the flow of our school day will feel different to students, but they will find familiarity and comfort in the support of their teachers and the challenge of their course work. In the early weeks of the school year, we will help our students to reestablish routines, adjust to new methods of learning, and nurture their social and emotional health. We feel fortunate to have the time, space, and resources to be able to adapt our program to meet the needs of these unusual circumstances and to be able to offer our students and families a safe, healthy, and robust Upper School experience.
We have changed our schedule to a two-week schedule with classes scheduled Monday through Friday, rather than on numbered days. Class times and time spent in classes will remain the same or increase. This will allow for a smooth transition to remote learning, if needed, and ensures that students will have access to their full schedule of classes whether they are in school or learning remotely. CoLab day programming, including Integrated Studies courses, has been incorporated into the new schedule.
We have reenvisioned our spaces in order to limit mixing between groups during the school day. At no time will students be in groups larger than 25 when indoors. For Glee Club, students will play and sing outside with twelve-foot social distancing and face coverings; Orchestra will meet in the auditorium with social distancing. Our music teachers will also integrate lessons that do not involve singing/playing and may include research and projects if weather conditions do not allow for social distancing.
Homerooms and Study Halls
Students will be divided into two sections for grades 9 through 12 homerooms. For morning homerooms (8:00–8:10 a.m.), students will be supervised by homeroom teachers beginning at 7:30 a.m. Students who arrive between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. are to retrieve materials from their lockers and report directly to their homeroom location. Students who arrive between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. should report to the auditorium to await clearance from the School Nurse and may then proceed to their homeroom locations.
All students in grades 9–12 will be scheduled into study halls this year in order to ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines.
Students will eat snack and lunch in grade-level homerooms, supervised by faculty and with social distancing. One grade will be assigned to eat lunch in the courtyard at least once during the week if they choose and if weather permits. Students will not be required to wear face coverings when eating.
Some hallways and stairways will convert to one direction, and stairwells will be either up or down. We will have a clear class dismissal protocol to reduce congestion during passing time and in hallways.
We have redesigned our classroom layouts to accommodate six-foot social distancing between students and faculty. In order to accomplish this, we have reduced the occupancy of our classrooms and created new room assignments and classroom seating configurations. Classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant, and all student spaces will be cleaned before and after each class period.
We recognize that student government, affinity groups, and clubs are a valuable part of our Upper School experience. We will still run these student activities with assigned meeting days and locations in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and safety protocols. Advisory group meetings will be similarly structured. The School will work with student leadership to reimagine community events and traditions that may need to shift to a virtual format.
We deeply value our partnership with families, and we have worked to develop a plan for Curriculum Night that provides families with important information and feedback. All Upper School faculty will share video recordings with an overview of their classes, and these videos will be posted on Unified Classroom pages. Families will also be invited to a Zoom meeting with their child’s advisor, where they will have an opportunity to ask questions and share feedback about the start of the school year.
Throughout the year, parents are encouraged to reach out to their child’s teachers and/or advisor if they have questions or concerns; while we aren’t able to invite parents to campus at this time, teachers are still happy to talk on the phone or meet via Zoom.
As the year progresses, we will regularly reevaluate which of our family events may need to be reimagined virtually and will keep families updated as changes or modifications are made.
Remote Learning Access
Students who are unable to be on campus due to COVID-19 related health concerns will have remote access to all of their courses. Students will follow the same schedule for both in-person and remote classes, and Zoom links, assignments, and materials will be provided via Unified Classroom in advance of all class meetings. Students accessing their courses remotely are responsible for joining class at the designated start time and are expected to be engaged and present throughout the class period, just as they would in the classroom.
This year will require patience, flexibility, and compassion on the part of all members of our Upper School community, and we are immensely grateful to have students, families, faculty, and staff who are willing to partner with us as we navigate the upcoming school year. While our spaces and schedules may look different, the warmth and strength of our community remain the same, as does our commitment to offering an engaging and supportive experience to all of our students and families.