Good news, and some community agreements
Monday, August 31st
Dear Gordon Families, Caregivers, Faculty and Staff,
At today's press conference, the Governor announced that the state now has access to enough fast, reliable testing to allow Rhode Island schools to safely reopen. As I explained August 12th, this was the last key metric that could prevent us from reopening on-campus, in-person this fall.
While there are two Rhode Island municipalities that do not meet all of the requirements for full, in-person reopening, the Governor explicitly stated that all independent school plans had been approved and that we were cleared to open our doors according to our schedule.
I am pleased, then, to announce that Gordon’s first day of school will be Thursday, September 10th in-person, on-campus for all students, Nursery to eighth grade.
The next major step towards reopening will be a Town Hall I am hosting for all faculty, staff and parents, Wednesday, September 2nd, 6:30 to 8pm. A full list of the dates and deadlines in preparation for the first day is at www.gordonschool.org/next. And you can expect a lot more detailed information to come your way throughout the week.
Beyond the first day
Today's announcement means that we can safely reopen the Gordon campus.
If we want our campus to remain open, we all need to follow the community agreements listed at www.gordonschool.org/agreements
A successful, healthy reopening of campus will require trust, collaboration and open communication, between everyone in the community.
Gordon families have always relied on each other to be careful, informed and considerate. This pandemic requires us to take these commitments to one another to a new level, but we are not asking anyone to do anything fundamentally new. In the end, families and faculty will need to take care of one another, just as we always have.
It is important that you take time to review these community agreements, on your own and as a family. We will talk about them more on Wednesday at the Town Hall.
What will feel different?
These community agreements make for a long list, but I hope they all seem familiar to us all. They are essentially variations on themes that were first introduced in Gordon's July 1st reopening plan, themes we have been reviewing together all summer long.
I do want to acknowledge, though, that the experience of being a parent at Gordon will change this fall.
What will feel different? As I review our community agreements, this is the first thing that comes to mind:
There will be few, if any, exceptions to the school’s health and safety protocols. Inevitably, every family will experience frustration with the school this fall because we cannot make what feels like a common sense exception to one of our health and safety protocols.
You completed the safety app three minutes after the screening deadline and now have to wait fifteen minutes or more for your child to be cleared to go to their room. You have to leave work to come and pick up your child who has a headache, and Nurse Horton knows your child was prone to headaches long before COVID-19 came to Rhode Island. You have an early meeting at work, and you know your child can't be dropped at Early Gators “just this one time” because you haven't registered in advance. There will be other frustrations for sure.
We can’t let the little things go this year. Every family sending their child to Gordon’s campus and every employee entering the building must be able to rely on the fact that Gordon is following through on the protocols and procedures the school has put into place to maintain a healthy and safe community. That needs to happen every hour of every day.
What will feel the same?
Gordon's child-by-child and family-centered approach will continue. When interviewed about the Online Learning Community experience, one parent shared, "Gordon can hold 'this is not easy, and you're still going to be okay. And actually, you're going to be really good, because you have the leadership and the gifts and talents and community to move through this well.'" She was talking about Gordon's students, but I think her words apply to us all.
Our strict adherence to our health and safety protocols may seem incongruous with a child-by-child approach. I want to assure you that Gordon can hold both. Our spacious campus, our building design, our child-centered pace, and our flexible and imaginative faculty and staff provide us with the space, time and people we will need to make this year a success. There will always be someone available to listen, to explain, to creatively problem solve, to empathize, and to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the school's mission is present and resonant in all that we do.
These last six months have been demanding, and this fall will bring new challenges for all of us. When you review the community agreements, though, I hope you will recognize that they are all promises we can keep. There's nothing there that we aren't capable of doing, especially when it is done with the love and sense of shared purpose that has been a hallmark of the Gordon community throughout this crisis.
This won't be easy. We're still going to be okay. And actually, we're going to be really good.
Thank you all for your continued optimism and partnership.
A full list of upcoming dates and deadlines as the first day of school approaches is at www.gordonschool.org/next