The heading of an email sent June 15 detailing the original return-to-school plan. (Retrieved from a Country Day email)

High school hopes to hold all classes on campus, splitting students into two groups

Following parent responses, head of school Lee Thomsen and the High School Task Force, led by head of high school Brooke Wells, adjusted the return-to-school policy.

Wells said the high school has four schedule models for the fall, depending on state, county and school leadership recommendations.

In the green stage, the state has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions, the outbreak is no longer a threat and Country Day operates normally. 

Wells said the high school hopes to begin the fall semester at the yellow stage with a hybrid schedule.

“Yellow stage means the county and state recommend 6 feet of social distancing and cloth face coverings (as) primary ways to protect yourself,” Wells said.

To make the yellow model possible, in which all students are on campus, Wells said the school would use extra space like the weight room and library. Classes larger than 10 students would have an overflow room nearby for students to work synchronously.

The orange stage is similar to the original return-to-school plan. The two cohorts, A and B, would alternate days on campus. Cohort A would be in classrooms Monday and Wednesday while Cohort B would be on campus Tuesday and Thursday. The cohorts would alternate between remote and on-campus learning on Fridays.

Wells said that if mandates from the state or county change or safety precautions are insufficient, the orange stage could be enacted.

Both Wells and Thomsen said that how well students follow protocol in the fall will help determine whether or not a change to the orange stage will occur.

Thomsen wrote that members of the community will need to follow “the essential health practices like wearing face coverings, frequent hand washing and practicing physical distancing to combat this virus.”

If the state restores the stay-at-home order, the red phase will move into effect. All classes would be remote. The schedule would look similar to the one late in the spring semester, except that classes not meeting on a certain day would still assign work for the afternoons.

Wells added that the four models for fall schedules will be sent to parents in the near future. By July 10, Wells anticipates the models will be posted on CavNet for students and parents to view.

In an email sent to middle school parents on June 28, Thomsen wrote that the Middle School Task Force, led by head of middle school Rommel Loria, increased student time on campus following survey feedback.

This fall, seventh and eighth graders will be on campus three days a week and learning remotely the other two, and sixth graders will be on campus four days a week.

The middle school will also have a supervised study hall to help parents who need students on campus all five days.

In the email, Thomsen wrote that middle school students are unable to be on campus every day because the average classroom can only hold nine students while passing safety regulations. The typical middle school class has 19 students, according to Thomsen.

Alternatives — such as renting portable classrooms, tents and other off-site space, along with adding staff — were considered. But these would not be feasible without increasing tuition, Thomsen wrote.

The plan for lower school students did not change. The program will run normally, except that students will be divided into cohorts of approximately 16 or fewer (12 in pre-K). Specialists will rotate through classrooms instead of having the students travel to them.

Thomsen said the school will update all parents with more details in the following weeks.

— By Ethan Monasa

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