Frequently asked questions about reopening campus

July 31st, 2020

This document builds on the plan outlined July 1st at www.gordonschool.org/reopening
Please review that page for the full picture of Gordon's plans

In this document

Relying on partnerships
Who is Gordon relying on for advice?
What can parents and faculty do now to support the reopening of campus, and help the campus remain open this fall?

The academic program
How are you keeping students in small, stable cohorts and limiting the number of adults they work with in-person on campus?
How will the Early Childhood grades be structured?
How will the Lower School grades be structured?
How will Middle School classes be structured?
When will house lists be available? 
What about families whose health vulnerabilities would prevent them from sending their children back to campus?
What is the plan for students to meet with support providers?
What will the academic program look like if the state of Rhode Island orders campus to be closed?
How have Gordon faculty been preparing academically for this fall

After school programs and child care
How will Gordon continue to keep children engaged from 7:15am to 5:30pm every day?

Taking care of our community
What steps is Gordon taking to support the social and emotional wellbeing of its community?
How does this work show up in my child's school day?
How are faculty and staff preparing for the new challenges of supporting students’ social and emotional wellness during this time?
What resources is Gordon providing for caregivers to help them support their children’s social and emotional wellness?
What opportunities will be available for families to connect with each other?

Keeping COVID off campus
What is Gordon's first line of defense against COVID?
If my child's younger sibling has a cough and a runny nose, my child needs to stay home?
What if people don't use the symptom-reporting app?
What if people aren't honest?
What about other adults on campus? Substitutes? The lunch team?

Reducing the risk of spread on campus
What are we doing to reduce the risk of transmission and spread of the virus?
How can Gordon plan on reopening when so many schools across the US aren't?
When will people wear masks?
How are is Gordon going to manage children's masks?
When do people need to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer?
Is the school going to perform temperature checks for students and employees each day?
Dropoff and pickup might be times when it is hard to distance. What will these look like?
Will there be modifications to the health office?
What is the procedure to get a student to and from the nurse?

Reducing the risk of spread during the school day 
How do the outdoors fit into Gordon's strategy this fall?
What strategies is Gordon using to maintain indoor air quality?
What has Gordon done to increase the amount of cleaning and disinfecting?
How are classrooms going to be laid out?
Can students work and play together in classrooms?
How can students share materials?
How will materials be cleaned?
Where will people use the bathroom?
Won't students from different houses run into each other in the halls?
Will the whole grade be able to be together?
How can a class sit in a circle for discussions?
How can a teacher work with an individual student?
What will lunch and snacks and water breaks look like?
What will recess look like?
Where will faculty keep their personal belongings?

Some scenarios
What happens if someone becomes ill at school? What if there is a positive case?
What if a family finds out during the school day that they have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
How will the school support students who are home for extended absences?
What about a scenario you haven't mentioned?

What’s next?
What do I need to put on my calendar from now until the beginning of school?

Relying on partnerships

Who is Gordon relying on for advice?

Since this crisis began in March, Gordon's leadership has been drawing on guidance from countless research articles and webinars, from our consulting physician and our partners at AUXS, from public and independent schools as well as colleges and universities across the country, and from local and national institutions like the Rhode Island Department of Education, the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As this pandemic has evolved, and as science has learned more about how this virus is spread, guidelines and recommendations have changed quickly. Sometimes, different sources contradict each other. In these situations, Gordon will look first to the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Rhode Island Department of Health for guidance. Those agencies have been consistently delivering coordinated, science-based leadership that is grounded in a deep understanding of the particular conditions in Rhode Island.

In the FAQ below, you'll see a number of scenarios that have the school or a family reaching out to the Department of Health for guidance or support. Faculty, staff and families should all know that, as Gordon has partnered with the Department of Health and other state agencies these past six months, these agencies have been extremely accessible and responsive, and we have no reason to expect this will change.


What can parents and faculty do now to support the reopening of campus, and help the campus remain open this fall?

1) Download the State of Rhode Island's Crush COVID app, and learn how the app can be used to support contact tracing

2) Model cheerful compliance with state guidelines for travel, social distancing, large gatherings, and behavior in public places

3) Parents should help their child find a mask they like, and have them practice wearing it at home as well as in public

4) Parents should go to www.gordonschool.org/parentlogin and make sure that the school has a complete and current list of their contact information

The academic program

How are you keeping students in small, stable cohorts and limiting the number of adults they work with in-person on campus?

Gordon is using three schoolwide strategies in order to deliver a rich, full learning experience while keeping students and adults in small, stable groups.

1. Students are grouped in houses of no more than eighteen students that will remain stable all year long. These houses serve as the basis for many of the precautions explained in Reducing the risk of spread during the school day. This dramatically limits their exposure to other students in the school, and the house structure continues to serve as an organizing structure in before school care and after school programs.

2. Each house has an interdisciplinary teaching team of between three and six adults. This strategy dramatically limits the number of adults a child is exposed to during the school day. Staffing in before school care and in after school programs is also structured to tightly limit the number of adults working with each house.

3. To allow students to work in-person with a number of specialists over the course of the year, a trimester calendar will allow one member of each interdisciplinary teaching team to switch teams. These trimesters will be separated by two-week breaks, in December and in March, to allow each house to take adequate health and safety precautions as they prepare for the new member of the interdisciplinary teaching team. 
 

How will the Early Childhood grades be structured?

Nursery, Preschool and Kindergarten will be divided into two houses. Nursery will have no more ten in a house, Preschool no more than eleven, and Kindergarten no more than sixteen.

Each grade will have an interdisciplinary teaching team: consisting of two homeroom teachers, a specialist drawn from Gordon's science, Spanish, physical education, library, health and wellness, and visual and performing arts teams, and a teaching assistant.

These teams of four will be the only adults working in-person with these students over the course of the school day. They will cycle between the two houses to deliver instruction, care, and support for the students. 

Young Kindergarten will be one house, with no more than eleven students, with one homeroom teacher, one specialist from Gordon's faculty, and a teaching assistant. This team of three will be the only adults working in-person with these students over the course of the school day.

This team structure will remain the same when school is meeting on campus or if the Online Learning Community resumes. 

The homeroom teachers will stay with the grade all year. The specialist will change three times a year, allowing each grade to have in-person instruction from three different specialists when school is meeting on campus. Other specialists will work with the class exclusively over Zoom, ensuring that students will get instruction in science, Spanish, physical education, library, and visual and performing arts over the course of the year.

The students' daily experience will be, as always, lively, thoughtful, joyful and challenging in all of the age-appropriate ways, and outdoors spaces will be used every day. For a more detailed sense of how COVID-19 prevention strategies will impact the day-to-day experience, see the Reducing the risk of spread during the school day. section of this FAQ.

The majority of instruction will be able to happen in-person when the campus is open. The sample schedules linked below provide a sense of the proportion of in-person to Zoomed instruction.

Each grade's interdisciplinary team will only work in-person with the students in that one grade over the course of each trimester, allowing Gordon to keep each house’s cohort of adults small and restricted.

Each house will also have dedicated after school program staff members, so students who use Gators before or after school will also have those adults as part of their daily in-person routine.

Sample on-campus schedules for Early Childhood


How will the Lower School grades be structured?

In first to fourth grade, students will be divided into two houses consisting of no more than sixteen students each. Each grade will have an interdisciplinary teaching team, consisting of two homeroom teachers and a specialist drawn from Gordon's literacy, science, Spanish, physical education, library, health and wellness, and visual and performing arts teams.

These three-person teams will move between the grade's two houses to deliver instruction, care, and support for the students. In addition, first grade will have a teaching assistant, allowing the interdisciplinary team added opportunities for small group instruction, supervision, and support of our youngest lower school students.

These teams will be the only adults working in-person with these students over the course of the school day when the campus is open.

This structure will remain the same when school is meeting on campus or if the Online Learning Community resumes. 

The homeroom teachers will stay with the grade all year. The specialist will change three times a year, allowing each grade to have in-person instruction from three different specialists when school is meeting on campus. Other specialists will work with the class exclusively over Zoom, ensuring that students will get instruction in literacy, science, Spanish, physical education, library, and visual and performing arts over the course of the year.

The students' daily experience will be, as always, lively, thoughtful, joyful and challenging in all of the age-appropriate ways, and outdoors spaces will be utilized every day. For a more detailed sense of how COVID-19 prevention strategies will impact the day-to-day experience, see the Reducing the risk of spread during the school day. section of this FAQ.

The majority of instruction will be able to happen in-person when the campus is open. The sample schedules linked below provide a sense of the proportion of in-person to Zoomed instruction.

Each grade's interdisciplinary team will only work in-person with the students in that grade over the course of each trimester, allowing Gordon to keep each house’s cohort of adults small and restricted.

Each house will also have dedicated after school program staff members, so students who use Gators before or after school will also have those adults as part of their daily in-person routine.

Sample on-campus schedules for Lower School


How will Middle School classes be structured?

In fifth to eighth grade, students will be divided into two or three houses consisting of no more than eighteen students each. 

Each grade will have an interdisciplinary teaching team, consisting of teachers for humanities and math as well as two or three teachers drawn from Gordon's science, Spanish, physical education, library, health and wellness, academic support and visual and performing arts teams. 

The majority of instruction will be in-person when the campus is open, with some faculty Zooming into classrooms, allowing teachers to provide instruction to multiple grade levels. The sample schedules linked below provide a sense of the proportion of in-person to Zoomed instruction in each grade.

Each grade's interdisciplinary team will only work in-person with the students in that grade, allowing Gordon to keep each house’s cohort of adults small and restricted.

Each house will also have dedicated after school program staff members, so students who use Gators before or after school will also have those adults as part of their daily in-person routine. Students participating in athletics and theater may have additional adults on their in-person team.

This year's Middle School schedule uses block scheduling, a strategy that includes longer class periods that meet less frequently throughout the week. Research shows that block scheduling:

  • Reduces student stress by decreasing the number of transitions during the day, creating a less hectic and less fragmented school day 
  • Allows for deeper engagement with content: longer class periods provide greater opportunity for students to think and engage in active learning
  • Provides more opportunities for project- and problem-based learning 
  • Improves academic outcomes 

 From Deeper Learning, Reduced Stress, Independent School Magazine, Summer 2012

The Middle School schedule will allow students to complete most of their academic work during the longer periods of the school day with their teachers available to give guidance and support, and to answer their questions. The schedule also includes longer recess and lunch periods. 

The students' daily experience will be, as always, lively, thoughtful, joyful and challenging in all of the age-appropriate ways, and outdoors spaces will be utilized every day. For a more detailed sense of how COVID-19 prevention strategies will impact the day-to-day experience, see the Reducing the risk of spread during the school day. section of this FAQ.

The majority of instruction will be able to happen in-person when the campus is open. The sample schedules linked below provide a sense of the proportion of in-person to Zoomed instruction.

Sample on-campus schedules for fifth grade
Sample on-campus schedules for sixth grade
Sample on-campus schedules for seventh and eighth grade


When will house lists be available? 

Similar to class lists in previous years, house lists, with the full list of each grade's interdisciplinary team, will be published on August 15th and shared via email and postal mail. Parents should make sure their contact information is up to date by logging in at www.gordonschool.org/parentlogin 
 

What about families whose health vulnerabilities would prevent them from sending their children back to campus?

Gordon will be offering these students an online learning option that will facilitate dynamic learning and meaningful engagement, with a team of Gordon faculty focused exclusively on their needs. Gordon@Home will include a blend of live class time and independent work with the daily support of a teacher on the Gordon@Home Learning Team. The exact structure of the Gordon@Home day will vary by grade level.  

Participating in Gordon@Home will require a committed partnership between home and school. In order to provide the necessary time for planning and staffing, families will need to commit to Gordon@Home for at least a trimester. Parents will be asked to sign a contract agreeing to work closely with the Gordon@Home Learning Team to provide additional guidance and supervision of the student’s learning experience. Families will also agree to support their child in abiding by the schedule, completing assignments, attending Zoom meetings, and participating fully.  

If this is an option your family is considering, please contact Lynn Bowman, Assistant Head of School, at lbowman@gordonschool.org for more information. Decisions about enrollment for the first trimester of Gordon@Home must be confirmed by August 10th.
  

What is the plan for students to meet with support providers?

Many Gordon students meet with support providers, like speech therapists, occupational therapists, and reading tutors, as part of the school day. Whenever possible, space in the school day will continue to be provided for this work to take place virtually. Work that requires in-person meetings will happen off campus, outside of school hours. Similarly, the school psychologist, Judith Gnys, will continue to be available for virtual consultation with faculty, administrators, parents, and students. 
 

What will the academic program look like if the state of Rhode Island orders campus to be closed?

If schools are ordered by the state to close their campuses, Gordon is prepared to return seamlessly to the Online Learning Community. 

Feedback from students, parents, and faculty guided revisions to the Online Learning Community plan. Essential elements of the new Online Learning Community include:

  • Consistent, scheduled collaboration and planning time for faculty
  • Combinations of whole group, small group, and one-on-one Zoom meetings for instruction and connection
  • A strong blend of live instruction and independent work throughout the week
  • More robust integration of the arts: music, visual arts, and theater
  • Learning tasks that are meaningful, engaging, and joyful
  • A natural transition from the on-campus schedule

Faculty and administrators are actively working on plans to enrich and enliven the Online Learning Community, and they're finding exciting new opportunities opening up in this model. Fridays, for instance, will become DREAM days, with "DREAM" standing for "Dream, Reflect, Experience, Act, and Make". Throughout the school, DREAM days will combine simultaneous online instruction with independent project work, with the goal of inspiring problem solving at every grade level through hands-on creative work. DREAM days will also allow for cross-grade collaboration and connection throughout the day.

Gordon recognizes that a move to the Online Learning Community poses serious child-care challenges for parents of the school's youngest students. To help with the financial impact of that challenge, Gordon announced July 1st that, if the state mandates that Gordon close for more than ten consecutive school days, Gordon will provide an 80% per diem credit to Early Childhood families.

Sample Online Learning Community schedules for Early Childhood, Lower School, fifth and sixth grade and seventh and eighth grade


How have Gordon faculty been preparing academically for this fall?

Faculty have been engaged in professional development throughout the summer to strengthen their on-campus and online teaching and curriculum design, deepen their understanding of social, emotional, and identity development, and further their antiracist practices. Several faculty also honed their online teaching skills while facilitating sessions during the online Summer Series. 

The programs faculty have been engaged in this summer include:

Designing for Online Learning
Jumpstart: A Technology Course for Thoughtful Educators
Remote Learning and the Early Years
Teaching Young Children Virtually
Anti Oppression Teaching and Leading in Schools
Reimagining Education: Teaching, Learning, and Leading for a Racially Just Society 
Helping Students Manage Worry and Anxiety: Strategies for Self-Regulation and Success in the Classroom
Executive Function in Secondary School: The SMARTS Approach
Greg Tang Math Academy for K-8 teachers  
Designing and Implementing Problem-Based Learning
Recent Advances in Understanding Word-Level Reading Problems: Implications for Instruction and Intervention

..and a variety of other content specific workshops focused on teaching subjects like music, art, science, Spanish, and math online.

 

After school programs and child care

How will Gordon continue to keep children engaged from 7:15am to 5:30pm every day?

Gordon continues to be committed to providing families with safe, well-supervised, engaging options for all ages that begin at 7:15am and continue to 5:30pm.

Before school and after school care are available next year through the Gators and YAP (Young Adult Place) programs. 

Other programs that have historically happened after school like athletics, theater, Common Ground, music lessons, and more will continue. 

This fall, providing a safe and fun after school program within the house and neighborhood structure will put new demands on staffing, facilities, and planning. So, these programs will need to be simplified in a few key ways that are explained in full at www.gordonschool.org/afterschool.

For today, the most urgent news is that parents will need to register for Gators and YAP care for the fall season by August 18th. After that date, the roster for the fall—the first day of school through Thanksgiving—will be frozen, and additions and drop-ins will not be permitted. 

All families should head to www.gordonschool.org/afterschool immediately to learn about the creative approaches to after school programs and child care this fall.

Taking care of our community

What steps is Gordon taking to support the social and emotional wellbeing of its community?

In order for students to learn and feel successful, for faculty to teach and connect effectively, and for caregivers to best support their children, Gordon knows that a school must focus on the social and emotional needs of their community. Gordon’s plan includes leaning into and amplifying the structures and systems already in place to address those needs, as well as creating innovative new ones.
 

How does this work show up in my child's school day?

Social and emotional work happens at all grade levels on a daily basis, during morning meeting, closing circle, Open Circle, advisory, and small-group virtual gatherings. 

This work is thoughtful and intentional; every teacher will actively create spaces for students to process, share, question, and build their resilience and their self-advocacy skills. Gordon teachers have the additional resource of the school psychologist, who will continue to be available to offer support and consultation as needed. 
 

How are faculty and staff preparing for the new challenges of supporting students’ social and emotional wellness during this time?

All faculty and staff will complete an August training with Gordon's school psychologist on how to talk with and support children during and after the pandemic. Gordon's Director of Health and Wellness will also provide ongoing resources and support throughout the year to guide faculty in helping students build self-awareness, self-management, and decision-making skills that are vital to navigating these times.   
 

What resources is Gordon providing for caregivers to help them support their children’s social and emotional wellness?

Beginning this fall, the popular Ages and Stages program will meet monthly in every grade level. Ages and Stages brings parents in each grade together with Judith Gnys, our school psychologist, and the division directors to focus on the developmental needs of children. The agenda will also include the unique challenges students and families may be facing with these uncertain times, as it did this spring. Judith Gnys is also available via Zoom for individual consultation. Please reach out at jgnys@gordonschool.org to arrange a time to connect.
 

What opportunities will be available for families to connect with each other?

Families can look forward to a variety of activities starting this fall, including GCA events, parent affinity groups, coffees, and grade level Zoom calls. Some will be more structured, others more social; all will offer connection and support for families and caregivers. 

Claire Phipps is now part of the Leadership Team as the Chief Advancement and Experience Officer, and a major part of her work will be collaborating directly with families and keeping the community connected. She will be reaching out to families in the coming weeks, and she can be contacted now at cphipps@gordonschool.org.

Gordon’s series of parent dialogues continues this fall, more interactive and participatory than ever.

As Gordon continues to cultivate an antiracist community, we look forward to providing opportunities to evolve our understanding, as well as our language, to best represent our core values and mission. For this year, we will focus our parent dialogues around the topic of what it means to be antiracist.

Our work will kick off early this fall with an event about the foundations of racism in America, centered on the book Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi that faculty, staff, and seventh and eighth graders were assigned for summer reading. A highlight in this series will be a (virtual) visit from Dr. Howard Stevenson from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the foremost experts on developing racial literacy.

These opportunities, and more, will all be detailed in the August 15th mailing.
 

 

Keeping COVID off campus

What is Gordon's first line of defense against COVID?

The first line of defense is keeping sick people away from campus.

Families and employees are all expected to follow the state and federal guidelines in place to avoid infection including guidelines for social gatherings, face coverings, physical distancing, travel advisories and quarantine orders.

No students, faculty or staff will be allowed onto campus if anyone in their household, or anyone with whom they have been in close contact, exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. 

Parents, caregivers and employees will need to use an app to actively report on their households and their close contacts every day before arriving on campus, no later than 7:30am.


If my child's younger sibling has a cough and a runny nose, my child needs to stay home?

Yes. The school will be available to help you assess both of your child's symptoms and access testing if the Department of Health recommends it. 
 

What if people don't use the symptom-reporting app?

Failure to fill out the app will be treated the same as a report of a positive symptom: anyone in the relevant household will need to stay away from campus that day. It goes without saying: it’s essential for everyone to complete the screening in the morning by the deadline.


What if people aren't honest?

We will need to rely on people's honesty and integrity. We can be confident in their honesty and integrity for two reasons:

1) Gordon is a school that demands trust and transparency from every member of the community. Families learn that quickly when they discover Gordon; everything from our tuition system to our parent-teacher conferences supports and affirms this. 

2) Families have indicated to us that they really want Gordon's campus to stay open. We are ready to close campus immediately (or will be subject to closure) if families cannot follow our guidelines. Every communication from the school this year will re-emphasize that fact.


What about other adults on campus? Substitutes? The lunch team?

A great deal of care has been taken to reduce the number of adults that will be on campus.

The majority of Gordon’s faculty and staff will be on campus this fall. In order to provide a robust schedule for our students while keeping everyone on campus safe, some staff will need to perform their duties virtually. This means that some teaching or meeting may be done from home or from a “Zoom room” on campus. 

The prepared lunch program will not be offered this year, so employees from Revolution Foods will not be on campus.

Substitute teachers from outside Gordon will not be used. The interdisciplinary team model will allow Gordon to draw on the existing daily staff to cover classes and continue teaching if a faculty member is absent. Internal substitutes will be assigned only to the grade level with whom they are assigned. 

 

 

Reducing the risk of spread on campus

What are we doing to reduce the risk of transmission and spread of the virus?

The full plan at www.gordonschool.org/reopening has key details, but the basics include:

1) limiting the number of people with whom students and faculty interact 
2) limiting the use of shared bathrooms, hallways, and entrances to the classroom
3) traveling across campus using the outdoors, not hallways, whenever possible
4) using outdoor spaces as often as possible and keeping classrooms ventilated
5) using masks, physical distancing, handwashing, and surface sanitization 
6) eliminating as many high-touch surfaces as possible and disinfecting the remaining surfaces throughout the day


How can Gordon plan on reopening when so many schools across the US aren't?

1) Rhode Island, as a state, is doing exceptionally well in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Yes, we have seen an increase in cases, but detailed contact tracing has revealed that this increase was generated by large social gatherings with little mask wearing. Governor Raimondo has responded by tightening the limits on social gatherings and extending the Phase 3 restrictions.

2) Gordon has a huge facility with extra capacity and the ability to give each grade a unique entrance to the school, dedicated bathrooms, and outdoor space. With our neighborhood structure, we’re also able to significantly reduce the amount of shared spaces, including walking routes, in the building.

3) Gordon's campus is 75% outdoor green space, designed for outdoor learning.

4) Gordon's parent and teacher community has a basis for trust and transparency that is rooted in the school's mission and is re-affirmed throughout the school's curriculum, policies and traditions. 

We will continue to listen to our community and commit to being responsive, never dismissive, of questions and concerns that come our way.


When will people wear masks?

Masks are to be worn by all students, parents, and employees while on campus. Faculty and staff will also be provided face shields to wear, if they choose, in addition to their masks.

The language in the July 1st reopening document said adults and students "will wear masks as much as possible." This was to acknowledge that everyone will need to take mask breaks, as the American Association of Pediatrics recommends, and there may be moments when mask wearing may not be possible (e.g., when teachers need students to see their mouths for instruction). But mask wearing will be required for all employees, students, and visitors to the building. For mask breaks, other health and safety measures will be employed like face shields, plexiglass or acrylic barriers, and/or physical distancing.
 

How is Gordon going to manage children's masks?

The school has received a generous donation of sturdy, “Gordon-themed” masks. We will provide two masks to every student and employee and keep plenty of extras on hand at school as backups. Students and faculty are also welcome to use other masks if they wish.

Wearing masks at Gordon will be an adjustment for everyone, and will be part of the classroom management conversation at every grade. Families can help by introducing children to regular mask wearing and by modeling it around the house and in public.


When do people need to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer?
    
People will clean their hands often: when arriving at school, before and after recess, after using the restroom, before and after eating, and at many other transition points in the day.

There will be hands-free hand sanitizer stations at all entrances except in Early Childhood. In Early Childhood, each classroom will have a small bottle stored out of reach of the students.


Is the school going to perform temperature checks for students and employees each day?

No. Families and employees are expected to perform temperature checks every morning before leaving for school. 

Body temperature is not the sole metric to indicate presence of the virus. The medical research indicates that a combination of symptoms is what should raise a red flag. Given this, Gordon has decided that while taking temperatures of over four hundred students and employees each morning may bring peace of mind to some, this could, unfortunately, be a false peace. People with normal temperatures could be infectious. People with high temperatures may not have COVID-19. 

The at-home temperature checks will be part of a comprehensive health screening that families will perform each morning, and will document through our web-based app, and the school has protocols in place for isolating sick students and employees. This approach is in line with recommendations from RIDE, RIDOH, our consulting physician, and the American Association of Pediatrics.


Dropoff and pickup might be times when it is hard to distance. What will these look like?
    
Quick, safe, convenient dropoff and pickup plans are in place. 

The routines will be different, but it will be much easier to understand once students are back on campus. Faculty, staff, parents and students will be introduced to details of drop off and pickup through videos, maps and other media in the days before school.

Here are the basics of the morning dropoff process:

Students who have registered for Early Gators and YAP by August 18th can come to school through the Nelson Center entrance any time between 7:15 and 7:45.

From 7:45 to 8:00am, no students can be dropped off, in order to allow Early Gators and YAP students space to travel across campus to their classrooms.

Students who arrive at 8:00am will walk to their classrooms using one-way outdoor paths, and enter their classrooms directly from the outside. To reduce the path of travel for first grade, those students will use an interior hallway, but the students in first grade will be the only ones using that particular hallway.

Faculty, staff and administration will be placed around the school through the process to guide and supervise students.

One family member will be allowed to accompany the student to the classroom door if they are wearing a mask, have used hand sanitizer, and maintain six foot distance from others. Otherwise, families will not be allowed in the classroom.

Here are some basics of the 3:20pm pickup process:

Students in Gators and YAP will remain in their classrooms, where they will be joined by their house's dedicated after school staff.

To reduce density and maintain physical distance, students being picked up at 3:20pm will wait for their caregivers in one of three locations in front of the school.

The pickup line for all cars will start at the same location. Caregivers will follow a lane of travel depending on the number of children they are picking up and their student’s neighborhood.

For the safety of all students, caregivers will not be able to park and walk to the dismissal location.


Will there be modifications to the health office?
  
The health office has been relocated to the field house and is now in the spaces built as locker rooms.  This space provides an abundance of new resources including a larger area for students, direct access to the outside, and separate areas for regular health office visits and a "Home Zone" where people with COVID symptoms can be isolated. Plans also include adding staff to assist Nurse Horton.
 

What is the procedure to get a student to and from the nurse?

Teachers should call the nurse or the front desk for any issues that come up. Most day-to-day health issues can and will be addressed in the classroom. Other cases will be escorted to the health office. A healthy student who visits the health office will be walked back to their house. Travel to and from the health office, like any travel on the campus, will involve using the outdoor path around the school.


 

Reducing the risk of spread during the school day

How do the outdoors fit into Gordon's strategy this fall?

Gordon's campus was designed to help students experience all the well-documented benefits of learning, playing and connecting outdoors, and now that design is helping to keep our community safe during this pandemic.

Being outdoors dramatically reduces the risk of spreading airborne contagion, and this fall, students will be outside as much as possible.

Every house - all twenty-six of them - will have a dedicated outdoor learning space for its use, and wifi is being strengthened and expanded to include the outdoors.

In addition, two large all-weather tents will be installed on either end of the campus so that students can have classes outdoors with physical distancing even on rainy days.


What strategies is Gordon using to maintain indoor air quality?

Gordon was intentionally built with many doors and windows. Faculty and staff have always understood the health benefits of excellent ventilation.

Early on in this crisis, Gordon partnered with the Stone House Group to help identify the best use of our resources.

Carbon dioxide sensors are being installed in each classroom this summer. These sensors will allow Buildings and Grounds staff to monitor ventilation across the campus through a centralized dashboard.

All of Gordon's ventilation systems have been running throughout the spring and summer, so we don't have the issues faced by facilities re-starting a system after a period of disuse.

All filtration is being upgraded to MERV 13 filters and we are replacing them more often. 

The groups in all of Gordon's larger spaces - the field house, the theater, etc - will be significantly less than usual, and far below the designed capacity of those spaces' ventilation systems.
 

What has Gordon done to increase the amount of cleaning and disinfecting?

Gordon has been working with Imperial Building Maintenance, the school's contracted service, to prepare for the reopening of its campus. The scope of Imperial's work has been increased by 47%. Most of this increase is attributable to the nightly cleaning and sanitizing of all door hardware, push bars, and knobs; all flat, non-porous surfaces like desks, tables, chairs, and counters; and stair rails. In addition, Gordon's full-time Buildings and Grounds staff will follow a formal and documented schedule of cleaning and sanitizing throughout the school day.
 

How are classrooms going to be laid out?

Classroom layouts will be simplified to allow for easy cleaning and to allow teachers and students a variety of ways to connect safely over the course of the school day. With these goals in mind, major renovation work has been done in Lower School classrooms, and all furniture in Middle School classrooms has been replaced. To help teachers maintain distancing, every classroom will include a "teacher zone," a space reserved for adults.

Division directors, faculty, and Nurse Horton are currently collaborating on simple guidelines for how materials and furniture should be laid out in the classroom to maintain the bright, cozy atmosphere Gordon cultivates in every learning space.


Can students work and play together in classrooms?
    
Students within a house may be able to collaborate near one another if they use masks and plexiglass or acrylic partitions.


How can students share materials?
    
All students will have their own supplies just for their use. The goal is to have as few shared, high-touch surfaces as possible. If there are classroom materials that the class shares, they must be cleaned after each student uses them. Books must be isolated for a week before being re-shelved. Students can play LEGOs at the same time but each student should have their own LEGOs.  
 

How will materials be cleaned?

They will be put in mesh bags in the classroom, which will be picked up, disinfected, and returned on a regular basis.


Where will people use the bathroom?

Each house will have an assigned bathroom. Students will only use these bathrooms. This means if they travel away from their bathrooms, they'll use their bathrooms before or after they return. Adults may use the bathrooms designated for their house or the designated adult bathrooms on campus. Any multi-stall bathrooms will have a maximum occupancy of two people at a time. Bathrooms will be disinfected on a rotating schedule during the day and at night.


Won't students from different houses run into each other in the halls?

Students will go outdoors to travel across the campus. When their house needs to leave their classroom, they will go outside and travel on the one-way path, provisionally called "the Gator Path," to the room they need to enter.
 

Will the whole grade be able to be together?

Grade-level activities will happen; each house will need to remain fourteen feet apart. These activities can be organized in many spaces outdoors; the indoor spaces that can accommodate an entire grade are the field house, the dining hall and the theater.
 

How can a class sit in a circle for discussions?

Outside will be the best choice for this activity. The indoor spaces large enough to accommodate a class sitting in a circle are the field house, dining hall and theater.
 

How can a teacher work with an individual student?

Teachers and students can collaborate over Zoom, or in person if they use masks and plexiglass or acrylic partitions.
 

What will lunch and snacks and water breaks look like?

Everyone will bring a filled water bottle, snack, and lunch from home. The prepared lunch program will not be available this year.

Snacks and lunch will take place in houses, either outside or in the classroom. Hands will be washed and surfaces will be cleaned before and after eating. Masks will be off to eat, so children will sit in assigned areas and use other safety strategies, like distancing, plexiglass barriers, and avoiding face-to-face contact. Each house will have a small supply of allergy-free snacks in case someone forgets their lunch or snack. 

Water fountains will be turned off for sanitary reasons, so students will be asked to bring a filled, reusable water bottle every day along with their snack and lunch. Water bottles can be replenished in the classroom.


What will recess look like?

Hands will be washed before and after recess. Students in the same house will be able to be together at recess, fourteen feet away from other houses. 

Suggested activities include soccer drills (feet only), yoga, dance parties, shadow tag, running games etc. Football and basketball can not be played at this time.

Each playground structure will be used by one house at a time, and sanitized before another house is allowed to use it. Structures will rotate among houses on a schedule that minimizes the amount of downtime necessary for sanitizing. 

Outdoor recess will be an ideal time for mask breaks. During mask breaks, students, even those within a house, should maintain physical distance.


Where will faculty keep their personal belongings?

A number of spaces are set aside for faculty and staff use. Every grade will have a space set aside for planning and collaboration, and teachers will have their own work stations that are appropriately distanced.


 

Some scenarios

What happens if someone becomes ill at school? What if there is a positive case?

Anyone who feels or looks unwell at school will go home. Teachers must leave campus as soon as possible. Students will be sent to the Health Office’s Home Zone where they can be isolated from other students. 

Then, we will follow the Department of Health's current guidance on how to contain any spread of illness. This is a complex and emerging topic, and the DoH is continually refreshing its guidance on this. The current protocols are in the RI Playbook, beginning on page sixteen. Note: this link to the playbook has been updated since this FAQ was originally published July 31st.

Gordon's ability to respond is greatly simplified by the house and neighborhood structure that is in place. This structure limits contact between students and teachers as much as possible and facilitates efficient contact tracing. If necessary, individual houses or neighborhoods can be excluded from the campus without needing to close the entire school.


What if a family finds out during the school day that they have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
    
In order to keep school open, we are depending on everyone to be transparent and proactive. 

In this scenario, a family should call the Rhode Island Department of Health and follow their guidance. Gordon's Health Office will be ready to help execute whatever protocol RIDOH recommends, including isolating the children in the affected household in the Health Office’s Home Zone and following the RIDOH protocols for monitoring and communicating with Gordon students, faculty, and staff who may have had contact with the student or family in question.


How will the school support students who are home for extended absences?

This will need to be handled child by child, according to their circumstance.

If a student has to stay home because a sibling is sick and is awaiting a COVID test result, we would most likely follow-up in a manner similar to when we faced instances like this before COVID. The child's homeroom teacher will work with the child's parents to design a plan based on how long the student is expected to be out.

On the other end of the spectrum, if an entire house needs to be home for fourteen days or more, the house teachers can take up teaching the house remotely. We learned a lot about online community building - and flexibility - this spring.

Both examples, of course, assume anyone who needs to stay home is not sick. Students who are sick are not expected to do school work, and the school would work with the student's family to support a recovered child in getting back on track with their studies.


What about a scenario you haven't mentioned?

There are a breathtaking variety of scenarios, and the Department of Health is doing a very good job of thinking them all through. 

Once again, their RI Playbook is an extremely detailed resource that we are relying on, and you should explore it, too, if you want a sense of all of the contingencies that go into managing this pandemic. And, be assured, it's a complicated document, and you do not need to read and understand every scenario. 

The team at the Department of Health, and at Gordon, will be following the playbook closely, and will be able to help guide you through whatever scenarios your family faces this fall.


 

What’s next?

What do I need to put on my calendar from now until the beginning of school?

Here are some key dates and milestones. The Gordon News email will continue on Thursdays and will include Zoom links for meetings and events. Due to security issues, Zoom links cannot be embedded in Gordon's Google calendar, but the list of links at www.gordonschool.org/commons will be refreshed and maintained regularly.

August will be a busy month for Gordon families, faculty and staff!

August 10th
Gordon@Home deadline
Families considering Gordon@Home must commit to the fall trimester by today
Contact Lynn Bowman at lbowman@gordonschool.org for more information

Week of August 10th
Training on the parent portal
A live webinar will be provided and a recording will be available afterwards
Details will be in the Thursday Gordon News

Week of August 10th
Classrooms open for faculty
Campus is re-opened for faculty to begin working in their classroom spaces

August 15th
Back-to-school mailing via email and postal mail
This includes house lists, signups for sports and athletics, supply lists, calendars, teacher headshot poster, and everything else families need to get ready for September

Week of August 17th
House Zoom calls begin
Students, parents and teachers will start connecting via Zoom
These calls will be arranged by house representatives organized through the GCA

Week of August 17th
Teacher outreach begins
Each August, teachers in every grade reach out to families to connect individually
Families can look for a call or email from their teacher

August 18th
Gators and YAP deadline
Families must register for fall Gators and YAP by today at www.gordonschool.org/gators
No drop-ins will be allowed this fall

August 19th and 21st
CPR and first aid training for faculty and staff
Faculty and staff should reach out to Nurse Horton if they need recertification

Week of August 24th
Faculty and staff meetings
Faculty and staff should be available for training and planning meetings this week
 
Week of August 24th
Zoom Town Hall with Dr. Thomas López
Families are invited to gather online for a preview of the coming year, including key practical details and an opportunity for questions and answers
 
August 28th to September 1st 
Dropoff and pickup walkthrough and app practice
Families are all asked to come to campus for thirty minutes to practice some daily routines, including the daily health screening app and the dropoff and pickup process. 
Details and signups will be in The Gordon News
 
September 2nd
The new school year begins!

 

This document builds on information presented at www.gordonschool.org/reopening - be sure to review that page too!