Last Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting with many of our families to provide a preview of the DMHS Preparation and Timeline for planning our return to school. Attached is the slide deck.
I apologize for the delay in getting this follow-up communication sent. Our conversation last Thursday was helpful in developing some questions I wanted to have answered for our community. One of the delays was around receiving the final word on transportation. It was confirmed yesterday that we will not be able to provide transportation to any of our DMHS students. During the Community preview it was asked whether students receiving Special Education services would qualify. Again, unfortunately, the answer is no. At this time there are no DMHS students who will qualify for transportation as a component of their IEP. Thank you for your patience as we waited for that information.
I want to share the important bullets that were highlighted during the community discussion. The attachment to this email is simply the starting point of the conversation. The below information is a lengthier dialogue accompanying the slide deck.
I also want to share that this preview is a high level overview. We are still planning, adjusting and revising. We welcome your input and will continue to inform our community as we plan forward. At this time it is still projected that we will return on 10/21. However, I encourage you to check the DPS website regularly and to watch for updates from the school. As we all know, change is constant and we have experienced quick pivots in the past. My hope, and the hope of our entire team is to plan forward with fluidity and with your children at the forefront. Please look for communication to speed up in the coming weeks as more details become available. And, as always, please reach out should you have any questions, comments or concerns.
Our Priorities (page 4)
As the leadership team began navigating these unchartered waters in July we grounded our work by establishing priorities. These priorities have guided our process and As we continue to plan forward, for both remote, virtual and in-person possibilities we remain focused on the following:
- Focus on Community and keeping our Community in tact
- Prioritizing health for staff, students, and families
- Focus on Social/Emotional Support and meeting the needs of our most vulnerable students
- Accepting change is the only current constant
- Practicing clarity, kindness and integrity, especially when communicating our truths and change dynamics
- Visioning the ideal, knowing that we must also balance that vision with sustainability in design
Communication and Training Plan (page 6)
9/16 Staff Preview
9/17 Community Preview
9/18 1st Submission to Executive Leadership
Week of 9/24 Review, approval, adjustment and re-submission w/leadership/staff/community input
9/28 Staff Review and Training Opportunity
9/29 Staff Review and Training Opportunity
Week of 9/28 Publication for Families via LMS, Messenger & SM
Week of 10/12 Community Informational Sessions and Training Student Informational Sessions and Training
10/20 Staff Preparation Day
10/21 Projected day for in-person return
Important Terms and Current Guidance (pages 7-8)
As we continue to develop the schedule of support for students one important ‘to-do’ is for families to finalize their selection for ‘In-person’ vs. Virtual Programming. To clarify:
- At this time we are confident that all students, whether in-person, remote or virtual learning will continue to receive instruction from a DMHS staff member.
- The terms for Remote, In-Person/Hybrid and Virtual Program are what we will use for planning and in our communication to our community.
- Right now we are all in Remote Learning – we are projected to be able to begin Hybrid/In-Person Learning on 10/21
- Students who have selected Virtual Programming will remain remote (online) through the first semester
- Students who have selected In-Person learning will be in a hybrid model where they will receive some instruction live and in-person and some remotely (online) It is critical to share, student daily schedule will not look the same as they did last March prior to the pandemic. We will be on a hybrid schedule where students experience some learning in person and some remote learning. There will be very limited movement in the building and a focus on using outdoor space as much as possible. While we do not have a final schedule to be shared, once it is close to completion we will inform our community of their cohort assignment, days that they will be attending in-person and how the remote synchronous/asynchronous will look each day.
- We have been provided guidance for designing cohorts, classes and instruction, social distancing, PPE and support services. We are attempting to exceed all guidance. Please note our cohort sizes are current estimates based on the projections of students planning to return in person and those selecting the virtual program.
DPS 5 Plan (page 9)
There are 5 core components that are informing our return planning
- Communication regarding screening
- Communication regarding screening procedures will be posted on the school website homepage, Facebook page, via the Principal’s Weekly Community Letter and through the School Messenger application beginning the week of 9/28.
- DMHS will post outdoor signage at the Entry/Exit points of the school.
- The screening tool will be made accessible to our families via a QR code that is posted in multiple locations (digitally and physically).
- Screening – At home and at school for all
- A DMHS staff member assigned to a cohort will meet students at the designated entry point.
- Late arriving students will enter only through the main door where the Covid Coordinator(s), Health Clerk or Attendance Secretary will complete the health screener process.
- Privacy and Compliance
- We will follow all FERPA guidelines to ensure student privacy in screening
- Students, families and staff will be expected to be 100% in compliance, matters of non-compliance will be addressed by the DMHS administrative team
PPE and Shared Accountability
- It is our intent to build in the language of the DPS 5 in all communications home to families
- We plan to utilize the DMHS Community Agreements and Staff Compact to leverage a shared culture of commitment
- What is the plan to address violations of students, staff, or outside visitors?
- Accountability through professionalism
- Follow the provided protocols
- Communication home and contracts as needed
- Teaching by health tech/nurse
- Outside visitors will be highly restricted
Maintain Physical Distance (this is an evolving area with some ‘to do’ items)
- Breakfast and Lunch
- The principal and Dean of Operations will consult with the FSAS once the school schedule is finalized and approved (after 9/28/2020)
- Students will eat in a separate setting than they are learning in – students will practice all social distancing protocols (1-3 students per table, dividers as necessary, no touching or sharing of food.
- Avoiding Congregation
- DMHS continues to plan for this purpose
- Students will be expected to follow all social distancing protocols throughout their day on campus
- Entry/Exit and Arrival and Departure Plans
- Each cohort will be designated an independent entry and exit point
- All students arriving late or for individualized instruction on Wednesday will enter through the main door
- Restroom use
- DMHS continues to plan for this purpose, possible plans include cohort specific bathrooms, staggered scheduling and constant monitoring and disinfecting, create/promote single use facilities
- No Visitors (except in extreme student related emergencies)
- Signage on walls and floors
- Sanitizing and Cleaning to include:
- Disinfection of restrooms throughout the day;
- Disinfection of classrooms between cohorts;
- Disinfection of common spaces and high touch areas (door handles, sanitizing equipment, water bottle refill stations, walls, etc.) .
- Nursing/Health Areas are specially designated
- DMHS will have a F/T Health Clerk
- An independent isolation room
- A new nursing room location
Training and Communication Plan
Provide a learning plan, detailing topics to be covered, to train school communities (staff, students, and families) to understand the health and safety guidelines during the pandemic. For more details please see timeline above.
Practice Good Hygiene
- Hand Sanitizing Machines have been strategically placed in high traffic/high touch areas where surfaces may need to be touched to access the space.
- Many classrooms have sinks, and where sinks are not present hand sanitizing stations have been placed.
- Additional spaces where sinks are available have been clearly signed and posted.
- Signage has been posted directing students, staff and visitors to the nearest hand sanitizing station.
- FM will ensure paper towels and soap are refilled each day without exception, in addition there will be additional bottle soap available in any area where there is a sink.
- Teachers will be encouraged to set an alarm reminder to have students wash their hands regularly (2 hrs)
- Teachers will build in a stopping point where students will wash or sanitize their hands prior to the delivery or pick up of food.
- Teachers will build into the return from lunch or post-breakfast plan a reminder to wash or sanitize hands.
Scheduling (pages 15-16)
Scheduling is NOT finalized. This is the current iteration of what we believe will be a hybrid model that brings 50% of our students who have selected ‘In-Person’ Learning to the building approximately 2 days a week. For visual clarity, the green blocks indicate ‘in-person’ and the red blocks are remote, or online learning. We know there is work to be done with the schedule and will continue to revise and edit through this week. Our schedule is due on September 30th and we welcome your questions, input and feedback. Whether a student is in the remote setting, virtual program or hybrid/in-person all students will continue to receive a minimum of 3.5 hours of synchronous (or live time) instruction if not more.
Resources/Q & A (page 17)
There are three important links on page 17. These include FAQs, return planning highlights and current Covid conditions, along with both Carol Delong, our Dean of Operations and my email address.
In closing, I want offer some next steps:
- Your input and feedback is appreciated. Please use whatever format is most valuable, email or phone your questions and comments in to us. There are many non-negotiables in our planning for the safe return, but there are also many opportunities to think outside of the box and brainstorm solutions to our challenges.
- Our staff will continue to provide input and feedback and our leadership team will synthesize that in the Return Plan. Again, we have upcoming deadlines, but we know there is time built in for adjustments. As we know more we will share it with you.
- We know families are talking about the return to school and we encourage you to begin having conversations with your children about the changes that we know will make ‘coming back’ look and feel different. This could include:
- Defining social distancing expectations and the strict nature with which we will all be expected to adhere to these expectations (no physical contact, restricted movement in the classroom and on the campus, mask wearing at all times except when eating/drinking).
- What they are excited about, nervous about or are concerned about and how they feel about the changes we anticipate.
- That the school day will look very different to what they have come to know as typical, and above all how much we all care about and look forward to having them safely back when the time comes.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this information. I will name that the unknowns are unsettling and that the many changes are challenging for our kids. Thank you for your partnership as we continue to move forward.