Greene Towne Planning for Summer and 2020-21
May 13, 2020
Dear Greene Towne families,
It has been nice to hear from many of you—I miss your children and all of you!
As we move into a new season and approach each day in its changed form, we are also working hard to plan for summer and the 2020-21 school year. While there is a great deal of uncertainty about the length of time and types of restrictions that may continue in our region over the next year, I’m writing to share the ways we are planning to be prepared for multiple scenarios.
While we are very much looking forward to being together in our buildings again, the federal, state and city governments are advising that we be prepared for potential additional waves or hot spot breakouts of the COVID-19 virus in the fall and over the next year. Depending on how this unfolds in our area, additional building closures may need to be implemented over the course of the 2020-21 school year. Our preparations are based on the latest guidelines for young children from the CDC as well as recommendations from the Office of Childhood Development and Early Learning through Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services. Our overall strategy is to apply the best of what we’ve learned over the past two months in order to deliver a program that is aligned with children’s needs and our mission as a community school. I’m writing to share with you some of our plans for the 2020-21 school year.
Preparing for Summer 2020
All Day Montessori Summer Programming
We are hopeful that we will be open for the return of our summer ADM students! While it’s not yet clear when we will be able to open, I assure you that we will open for any summer time that we are able. Our ADM families have a full-year schedule with Greene Towne, and with any potential re-opening, we are placing a priority on preparing for our ADM students to return. Greene Towne @ Home programming will continue in the summer for our ADM students during building closures. It is possible that even once we reopen, additional closures may be necessary depending on local COVID restrictions. Teachers are reviewing guidelines now and exploring ways to prepare for social distancing of children and have smaller group sizes. We will be implementing increased practices to minimize the risk of spreading infection, such as more frequent handwashing, monitoring children’s temperatures, as well as increased cleaning and disinfection protocols. We will be in communication with all ADM families with any available information about reopening as soon as it is available.
As with our ADM programs, if we are able to reopen summer camp, we will do so, even if it is for a shortened schedule. Our Camp Director, Cherise Sistrunk, is in contact with the special programs that are part of our summer camp to explore virtual offerings with them, in order to minimize the number of people entering our school. As with the ADM program, teachers are exploring ways to keep small groups together throughout the day. While we will not have pool days this summer, we are confident we will have lots of fun! It is possible that even once we reopen, additional closures may be necessary depending on local COVID restrictions. Given the uncertainty, Greene Towne camp sessions will be billed by the week. If we are not able to run summer camp at all, families’ deposits will be refunded. We will be in communication with all GTMS school year families with any available information about reopening as it is available.
Preparing for the 2020-21 School Year
Our planning for 2020-21 includes prioritizing the amount of time we are able to teach in person. I am asking all faculty, staff and families to treat the 2020-21 calendar as a flexible one. If we find that there is a need for a building closure, we will be exchanging planned vacation and professional development days to allow for as much in-person time as possible. If we are required to close our buildings we will adjust the school calendar and communicate any schedule changes with families as we go throughout the year. We will consider shortening spring break, removing various single day closures, and will also consider the possibility of extending the school year for two to three weeks in June 2021.
We have identified about four weeks of instructional time that could be provided through exchanging stay at home order times with scheduled school breaks. If there is a prolonged period of time that we will be required to be closed over and above the equivalent of these altered vacation days, we will implement Greene Towne @ Home, and the Board will explore providing partial credits, as it did this spring.
Greene Towne @ Home
Should extended closures be required beyond the four weeks we have identified, we will be implementing the Greene Towne @ Home program. Teacher teams have begun discussing Greene Towne @ Home 2.0, which will include adaptations that are informed by best practices regarding early childhood development, our experience this spring with Greene Towne @ Home, as well as input from families. Greene Towne @ Home 2.0 will provide support for learning at home; take home, swappable kits for hands-on learning; live circle times; and both small group and 1:1 check-in times with teachers.
Use and Care of Spaces
CDC guidelines for child care facilities that are open now include clear requirements for limiting large group gatherings, arranging classroom spaces to allow for social distancing, and frequent cleaning and disinfection protocols. We are exploring the best use of our classrooms and gathering spaces to allow for social distancing of children and teachers. We will increase practices to ensure as much as possible for the health and safety of our children, faculty and staff, including regular hand-washing, and taking temperatures.
Perhaps the most challenging part of this time has been the great uncertainty about how it will develop. In my care for Greene Towne, my approach has been to learn as much as I can from federal, state and local health departments, as well as Montessori and independent school networks, in order to be prepared on as many levels as possible. You can be assured that I will share more information with you as our plans develop further. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.