Ensuring Educational Continuity in the Pandemic
Ensuring Educational Continuity in the Pandemic
Our PlanCommunication from Head of School to McLean School Parent Community
October 2, 2020
The pandemic has reminded so many what we have long understood: that educators are invaluable in children’s lives and that attending school in person offers children a wide array of health and educational benefits.1
I’m pleased to report that later this month we will welcome students back in our school-based hybrid mode. Families may choose between attending classes on campus or remaining in home-based learning.
We reached this decision after careful consideration of the benefits and risks of in-person instruction. COVID-19 is a very serious disease, and yet we know how important it is for our students and teachers to come together and get to know each other in person. We have been carefully monitoring guidance from CDC and from state and county authorities, as well as key health indicators such as test positivity and daily infection rates in Montgomery County, the District of Columbia, and ten other nearby counties from which we draw students, faculty, and staff.
Based on current guidance and trends, we begin school-based hybrid learning on Monday, October 26. We will proceed as long as public health conditions in our region remain stable or improve. However, we will delay or move back into exclusively home-based instruction if we determine that is necessary to ensure the safety of our community.
As noted in earlier letters, CDC’s six-foot physical distancing recommendation prevents us from bringing all students to campus at once, so we have developed the following approaches by grade to allow all students–some joining virtually from home–to participate in live classes led by their teachers, largely following our regular 8:15 am-3:15 pm daily schedule. To enable this hybrid approach, classrooms have been equipped with Poly Studio technology, which allows students at home to see and communicate with their teacher and classmates in the building over a Zoom link.
Kindergarten to Grade 5 Recognizing that our youngest students are most in need of direct instruction and classroom interactions, students in kindergarten through grade 5 will come to school four days per week–Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday–for classroom-based instruction, typically with six students or fewer and one teacher in a dedicated classroom. Lower School students will stay in their classrooms for academic instruction and “encore” subjects like music, art, and STEM. The reading and math specialists will be available to support all students. Weather permitting, lunch, PE, and recess will be held outdoors. Grade 5 students will change rooms, as they normally would so that we can meet their individual needs.
Grades 6 to 12 In grades 6-8 and 9-12, teachers will provide classroom-based instruction following a schedule similar to a regular year, but with half of the students in their classrooms, and half participating at the same time from home. To accomplish this, each grade will be split into two groups (Blue and White). Each group will be in school two days per week–either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. In order to ease family logistics, we will place siblings in the same groups. Please expect group placements by October 12.
Students unable to attend school due to health or other concerns will receive home-based instruction. These students will be connected to their teachers and classmates at school and at home through our Poly Studio technology. Please contact your child’s Division Head by Friday, October 9 if you think your child will continue in home-based learning.
The McLean School Educational Continuity Plan has been updated. It outlines protocols for safely reopening our building. From reducing class sizes for physical distancing to enhanced cleaning and disinfection, to signage throughout the building, we will follow the layered safety approach called for by CDC and the Maryland Departments of Health and Education. In addition, we have studied airflow in our classrooms and have installed air filtration systems to mitigate the possibility of coronavirus transmission through aerosols. Watch here as the McLean Mustang takes you through the building and shows what to expect.
McLean School is a deeply caring community. During the pandemic, our behavior–as parents, guardians, teachers, staff, and students–may profoundly affect the welfare of others in and out of our community, including those at greatest risk. In order to keep everyone safe, it will be particularly important for all of us to adhere to the community norms outlined on page 9 of the Plan, and in this Community Agreement, which must be signed electronically by parents, and guardians, and by students in grades 5 to 12. Students and families who do not comply with the community norms outlined in the agreement, or with other school policies, will be required to return to home-based instruction.
In order to serve our students as well as possible in this more complex environment, each division has allocated two or three days over the next month for faculty professional development. Parent Conferences have been rescheduled, and we will not have school on election day. Please note these changes to the school calendar at the bottom of this letter. Additional information on topics such as transportation, our lunch program, and the MyMedBot health screening app will be sent to you in the coming week.
I am grateful to you, our parents and guardians, and to your children, for your patience with physical distancing requirements through this period of home-based learning. I am also grateful to our teachers and administrators who have made such a success of the start of the school year through their tremendous hard work, dedication, creativity, and expertise. It is a privilege to work with such a dedicated and talented group.
Thank you for entrusting your child’s education to McLean.
With much gratitude,
Monday, October 12: No School for Grades 5-8 Students, Faculty Professional Development
Friday, October 16: No School for K-4 Students, Faculty Professional Development
Thursday, October 22: No School for K-4 Students, Faculty Professional Development
Friday, October 23: No School for K-12 Students, Faculty Professional Development
Tuesday, November 3: No School for K-12 Students, Election Day
The K-8 Parent Conferences scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, October 21 and 22 have been rescheduled to Monday and Tuesday, November 23 and 24.
1Excerpt from a joint statement of The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association.