Planning & Protocols
The School’s plans for the 2020/21 academic year are guided by these key priorities:
- Protecting the health and well-being of our community
- Offering an enriching educational experience for the intellectual and emotional growth of our students
- Creating opportunities for students to form strong connections with our talented faculty and with one another
- Ensuring that our commitment to equity, justice, and inclusion shapes and informs our programs
- Fostering a strong sense of community grounded in Quaker values
As Sidwell Friends continues to develop a plan for the 2020/21 academic year, we will be guided by the School’s mission and the Quaker belief that there is “that of God in everyone.” The plans seek to meet the learning needs of our students and create opportunities for our student to discover their individual interests and passions while maintaining a safe environment.
The plan will take into account different possibilities depending on the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and local public health authorities.
Hybrid learning model
- Groups of students will come to campus for in-person learning on alternating days, with distance learning on the off-campus days. All students learn from home on Wednesdays in order to allow deep cleaning of campus. Younger Lower School students (grades to be determined) will engage in in-person learning four days a week. Physical distancing practices and daily health checks will be instituted to mitigate viral transmission.
100% distance learning model
If a spike in infection rates in the region forces us to close campus, students will engage in distance learning until we are cleared to reopen campus. Important lessons learned from this past spring have led to an improved distance learning model, including greater consistency and frequency of synchronous sessions, a streamlined learning management system, and additional opportunities for students for enrichment, community time, and co-curricular programming.
In order to make prudent decisions within the latest public health constraints, we will continue to monitor and seek guidance from local public health authorities, agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, and our own community of public health advisors.
Divisional Academic Task Forces
Under the leadership of principals and Min Kim, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, faculty task forces from each division have met to explore various scenarios and recommend flexible arrangements to enable students to learn. With feedback from the senior administrative team, revised plans will be approved by the Board of Trustees in late July and shared with our students and parents. This timing allows the School to take into consideration the latest updates and guidance from the CDC and local public health officials. Committees are considering alternatives in:
• Physical distance among students and teachers at all times
• Requirements for protective gear, face coverings, gloves, etc.
• Enhanced cleaning routines and rigorous disinfecting procedures
• Daily temperature checks and enhanced contact tracing
• Hybrid approach that includes in-person and distance learning
• Weekly schedules with rotating days on campus
• Smaller classes and cohorts
• Adjusted classrooms, desks, and community spaces
• Redirected hallway traffic with one-way lanes
• Modified athletics program focused on building skills and strength
• New learning management system to improve access to materials
• Laptops for all Upper School students to streamline platforms, simplify IT support, and ensure equity (Lower School and Middle School students already have School-provided devices.)
• Switch to Zoom for Education for uniformity
• iPads for teachers so they can annotate student work and offer handwritten notes
• Expanded Wi-Fi for more use of outdoor spaces
Each committee is responding to the particular needs of the age group they serve. Individual teachers are receiving training on digital course design and delivery in an online context, seeking to hone their skills for the new environment. Technologists are assessing additional needs to support student learning.
Health and Safety Task Force
The School’s health and safety protocols are informed by guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as local health authorities in the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland. Led by Director of Health Services Jasmin Whitfield and in consultation with our Medical Advisory Team, our Health Services team has conducted extensive research on the best safety measures to mitigate viral transmission. These may include:
- Proper physical distancing space between students at all times
- Small classes/cohorts to mitigate and reduce the size of gatherings
- Staggered arrival and dismissal times to reduce crowding
- Desks facing in the same direction
- Individually portioned and wrapped lunches served in classrooms
- Requirements for protective gear, face coverings, gloves, etc.
- Enhanced cleaning routines for faculty, staff, and students, as well as rigorous disinfecting procedures
- Facility modifications such as reconfigured community spaces
- Traffic flow protocols, such as one-way hallways and stairways
- Additional handwashing and hand sanitizer stations throughout buildings
- Daily health screenings, including temperature checks and health monitoring prior to arrival at school
More details will be outlined in upcoming plans.