next steps

School Opening Plan: 7/23/20

July 23, 2020

Dear WSGC Parents and Guardians,

Our Reopening Task Force Committees have been researching best practices and coordinating with New York State’s and CDC’s guidelines and regulations. The pandemic presents an ever-changing situation that requires great flexibility and adaptability. We believe we are in a strong position to meet all State requirements as well as maintain our commitment to delivering a robust Waldorf education for all of our families. The Waldorf School of Garden City currently plans to commence the 2020-21 school year on September 8th in a two-fold manner. Early Childhood – Grade 5 classes will begin in-person on campus. Grades 6-12 will begin with Teacher-Directed Distance Learning. After the first month of School has passed, this plan will be re-evaluated.

While our School building can accommodate all of our students (EC-12) in a socially distanced manner, we believe our decision to start the year at roughly 50% capacity rightly considers the health and safety of students and employees  This approach reduces the demand placed on areas like bathrooms and hallways and allows for less congestion at arrival and dismissal.

Guiding principles for reopening WSGC in the fall

  • Provide the safest possible environment for all students and employees.
  • Ensure our students receive the full experience of our excellent program where we emphasize learning academics, arts, social-emotional well-being, joy through human relationships.
  • Provide an alternate virtual experience (Hybrid-Flex Learning) for Grades 3-5 families who have health and safety concerns about returning to the physical building.
  • Remain flexible to change our operating model as necessary to meet New York State requirements and our safety standards in this evolving situation.

 

The WSGC has established three learning models for this school year. In-Person Learning refers to students being present in our physical building with social distancing and safety protocols in place. Hybrid-Flex Learning is an option for parents who do not feel comfortable sending their children back to the physical building. This learning model will involve a combination of live-streamed and recorded lessons for most subjects. Teacher-Directed Distance Learning is remote learning with all lessons on Zoom. Throughout the 2020-21 school year, we will use one or more of these models. The following is a detailed description of each.

IN-PERSON LEARNING WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS   

Areas of focus:

  • Reassigning and reconfiguring classrooms and student-use spaces to meet density requirements
  • Re-envisioning what have traditionally been large group activities and activities that must be altered to reduce transmission of the COVID-19.
  • Implementing rigorous health monitoring
  • Sanitizing campus and maintaining community-hygiene standards
  • Containment or shutdown in the event of positive identification of COVID-19 occurrence at School

Reassigning and reconfiguring classrooms and student-use spaces to meet density requirements.

Early Childhood

  • Classes will largely be held outdoors. Additional outdoor structures will be installed to provide protection from the weather.
  • Outdoor gear may include a sun hat with a clear plastic face shield.
  • When indoors, students will be seated at tables 6′ apart.
  • Face coverings will be worn as directed by the teacher and when social distancing cannot be maintained.

Grades 1-6

  • Desks will be placed 6′ apart.
  • Where a whole class cannot fit into a classroom, that class will either be reassigned to a larger room or split into two classrooms.
  • All in-School learning will take place with in-person teaching.
  • Teachers will take advantage of outdoor space as much as possible. When outdoors, a split class will rejoin as one.
  • Outdoor gear, when 6′ distance cannot be maintained, may include a sun hat with a clear plastic shield or a face covering.
  • Face coverings will be worn in hallways, bathrooms, and any time a 6’ distance cannot be maintained. Teachers will inform students when they can remove face coverings.

Grades 7-12

  • Desks will be placed 6′ apart. In classrooms where desks are stationary, and maintaining a 6′ distance is not possible, students will wear face coverings.
  • Face coverings will be worn in hallways, bathrooms, and any time a 6′ distance cannot be maintained. Teachers will inform students when they can remove face coverings.
  • Classes that are split into two rooms will have the in-person lesson from one room projected into the other room so learning of both halves of the class is simultaneous.
  • Specific classes such as Movement, Physical Education, and Singing will take place outdoors.

District Student Services

  • The Garden City Union Free School District will determine if student services are provided virtually or in-person.
  • Re-envisioning what have traditionally been large group activities and activities that must be altered to reduce transmission of the COVID-19.

Large gatherings and Assemblies

  • To the extent possible, assemblies and festivals will be held outdoors. When that is not possible, they will be held virtually.
  • The cafeteria will deliver pre-ordered food to designated grade-level classrooms. Snack and lunchtime will take place in classrooms or outdoors.
  • Class Meetings and Parent Conferences will be held virtually.

Visitors and Volunteers

  • We will limit non-essential visitors (including parents/guardians) and students from other schools. Essential visits must be requested and scheduled in advance. Everyone who comes to our campus and/or building is required to wear a face-covering and maintain a safe distance from others.

Sports and Athletics

  • The Department of Education has not yet determined if athletics will take place this fall.

Implementing rigorous health monitoring

Additional Health Stations

 

  • Health and isolation stations will be set up for the HS and grades 5-8 to supplement our main health office near the lobby. Students suspected of being ill will be taken to the nearest isolation and health station for assessment.

Equipment

  • Additional necessary equipment has been ordered including face coverings, digital forehead thermometers, covers for outdoor health-check stations, partitions, etc.
  • A self-screening health app will be sent out to all employees and families to aid in maintaining a safe and healthy school environment. More detailed information about this app will be communicated well in advance of the start of school.

Health Screening prior to arrival:

Anyone entering the building will have their temperature checked and completion of the health app confirmed.

Health Screening at arrival:

For Grades 1-12 Students arriving by car:

All cars will pull into the school’s U-shaped driveway (“U”). An employee will take the student’s temperature and verify the parent has completed the app information before the student exits the car. Students who have not completed the daily health app will remain in the car, exit the U, complete the app, and return to the U.

  • HS students will enter the far-right doors at the top of the U.
  • Grade 5-8 students will enter the far-left doors at the top of the U.
  • Grade 1-4 students will enter through the Main Lobby doors.

For Early Childhood Students arriving by cars:

All cars will park on the street. Parents will walk their children to the Cambridge Avenue double gate by the soccer field and remain with their child until an employee verifies the parent has completed the app information and takes the child’s temperature before the parent departs.

Exception: Students of Ms. Giumenta, Ms. Seo, and Ms. Kata will enter the smaller, wooden Cambridge Ave Gate. Parents will walk their children to the gate and remain with their child until an employee verifies the parent has completed the app information and takes the child’s temperature before the parent departs.

For all students arriving by bus:

An employee will verify the parent has completed the app information and will take each student’s temperature. Students with incomplete app information or with a fever or other signs of illness will be taken immediately to the quarantine area and parents will be phoned to pick up the student.

Health Screening during the school day:

Any student showing signs of a fever, cold, cough, or any other sign of illness will be screened at one of our health stations for assessment. Students determined to be ill will be quarantined until the parent can pick up the student.

Sanitizing campus and maintaining community hygiene standards

The School will follow CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and disinfecting facilities. The School’s custodial staff will be responsible for the cleaning of shared spaces throughout the school day, including bathrooms, playground equipment, shared specialty subject rooms, doorknobs, etc. Cleaning supplies will also be available in all rooms to allow teachers to regularly wipe down surfaces, supplies, and equipment. The School building will be cleaned at the end of each school day by a cleaning company hired by the School and tasked with following strict cleaning protocols.

Containment or shutdown in the event of transmission at School

Parents must contact the School immediately in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. If a suspected case is identified during the school day, the individual will be brought to a separate isolation space, and the family will be contacted and asked to pick up the child immediately. Areas used by the patient will be closed off and any exposed students will be sent home. The School will possibly choose to close the campus or parts of the campus for 2-5 days while working with the local health department to determine the next steps.

In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school, the physical building will close for an initial 2-5 days for cleaning, disinfecting, and contact tracing. If exposure can be limited to specific areas of the building and specific grades, partial closure of the building may occur. The School will work with local health authorities to determine quarantine steps, campus closures, and safe return to school, and will communicate these plans to our families in a timely way.

HYBRID-FLEX LEARNING MODEL – GRADE 3-12

While in-person learning takes place in the physical building, families who are not yet comfortable returning to School may opt to participate in the Hybrid-flex Learning Model.

  • Classrooms will be equipped with the necessary technology for students to Zoom into the classroom, participate in the class, and view the chalkboard.
  • When live streaming is not an option, classes will be recorded.
  • Classes held outdoors are not included in the Hybrid-Flex Learning option.
  • Additional IT staff will be hired to support this program.
  • Faculty and staff will receive extensive training on the use of classroom technology.

TEACHER-DIRECTED DISTANCE LEARNING MODEL

When the physical building is closed for all or part of our classes, the Teacher-Directed Distance Learning Model will be initiated. All faculty have been trained and will continue training on the technological needs to successfully teach online, including lesson preparations for online classes. Some of the enhancements include:

Early Childhood

  • Consistency among all Early Childhood classes
  • Weekly calls with children
  • Google classroom resources
  • Weekly in-person storytelling experiences – as Governmental phasing allows
  • Weekly EC wide thematic newsletters – delivered in a shared EC Google classroom
  • Increased faculty training on Google Classroom and Zoom practices.

​Grades 1-12

  • A more robust Zoom schedule with more specialty subject classes and main lesson time. A schedule for each grade will be provided in the next few days
  • Book-work time with the class teacher for Lower Grades.
  • Morning and Afternoon check-in for Lower Grades to provide greater support for students.
  • Social-Emotional Classes for Grades 1-8.
  • Increased faculty training on Google Classroom and Zoom practices.

Serving our students and families well during this time of world strife is our number one goal. Your partnership with us is key. Thank you for the input you have provided during our Community Q & A’s, our parent surveys, and your general feedback and inquiries. You have helped to shape our future. Together we are seeking opportunities in this challenging situation, and this will only lead to a stronger and renewed commitment to serving today’s students and to Waldorf education in today’s world.

In gratitude,

Helene Lafferty Smith

Administrator

(516) 742-3434 Ext. 303

smithh@waldorfgarden.org

Kelly O’Halogan

Faculty Chair

(516) 742-3434 Ext. 314

ohalogank@waldorfgarden.org