Community Briefing: July 24, 2020
A briefing will be sent to the entire community every Friday at this time.
In this Briefing, you will learn that…
- EPS will be fully remote between September 9 and January 4. That is a decision made today under today’s conditions. Anything that changes re: COVID-19 will cause us to re-evaluate this decision. We are prepared to resume on-campus instruction immediately—whenever the time is right.
- The daily schedule for remote learning will be the same schedule we used during April, May, and June—with one slight alteration.
- EPS plans to offer some remote activities during the month of August. Details will be available soon.
- EPS faculty and staff are training throughout the summer and into the fall to become facile with the new remote teaching/learning equipment now installed in our classrooms and labs.
- EPS will have a sports program following the direction of the WIAA.
Last March, we closed the campus and transitioned to remote instruction for what—then—seemed to be a few weeks to be followed by EBC week. With EBC to look forward to, we could do anything for 3 weeks. Now, thirty weeks later, we find ourselves 7 weeks away from the start of school with nothing much to guide us into what appears to be an uncertain future. Without a national or global strategy, we are all left to figure out how to chart our course. The reciprocal trust and good will that characterize the EPS community have never been more important than they are right now. As we do in all complex situations, we begin with the mission.
What we know is that the virus is airborne, and as such is extraordinarily contagious. The long-term effects of the infection are just now beginning to be observed.
We know that wearing a mask and distancing from one another helps to avoid infection. Given the state mandated and medically recommended steps to be taken, if students were to return to campus now, they would have to wear a mask all day, removed only for eating and drinking. They would have to be assigned to specific locations when not in class. They would have temperature checks upon arrival on campus. There are many more precautions that the school has put in place with the hope that the spread of the virus will diminish, testing will become more prevalent, and we will see the production of an effective vaccine and/or treatment. We are prepared, then, to pivot back to campus as quickly as we pivoted to remote instruction last spring. When the conditions are favorable, we’ll be back on campus—perhaps in smaller numbers, but back, nonetheless.
Nothing related to stopping the spread of the virus is as easily implemented as one might think; critical thinking exposes the unimaginable complexity of this entire situation.
As a leadership team we have to make decisions that will have impact on hundreds of lives. We have 115 employees, 506 students, and the families of both. We have to get this right. No matter what we do, there will be disappointment and confusion. No matter how thoroughly we consider options, it’s possible—perhaps even likely—that someone at EPS will get sick. We must take all precautions that we know will contribute to the healthiest environment possible. We’ve upgraded the HVAC filtration systems to increase fresh air supply in all our buildings. When we do return, everyone coming on to campus will have their temperature taken, and will not be allowed inside if the temperature is higher than 100.4. Everyone—students and adults—will need to stay home if they or anyone in their family is ill—with any symptoms at all. The foot traffic on campus is prescribed, there are up staircases and down staircases. Students and adults must wear masks at all times, and all transition between locations as well as seating in classrooms is set at a six-foot minimum distance. Students will wash and/or gel hands upon arrival, several times during the day, before and after lunch, and prior to departure. These are responsible actions.
Compassionate leadership meets diverse—sometimes contradictory—needs. In order to do that a lot of compromises and efforts to balance pluses and minuses have to occur. For example in the survey you just completed, of the 368 responses we learned 167 families are relatively comfortable with on-campus instruction this fall. 161 of you are not comfortable with that option. Compassionate leadership thrives in a compassionate community. Otherwise, the effort to find balance, to compromise, to respond to all the things the community wants or needs, would do nothing but create friction. To be compassionately led, people have to adopt a commitment to social reciprocity. We each owe something to the “other.” We each give up something in order to maintain the community, in exchange for which we maintain our membership in the community. Compassionate leadership finds a way for everyone to remain a welcome member of the community.
Wise innovation is much more likely to arise when people are eager to listen to ideas other than their own. The wisest of innovations are created when intelligent people try to solve problems for the right reasons. It’s going to take extremely wise innovation to create a school experience that meets our students’ academic as well as social and emotional needs. We’re going to have to try some things—that may not work. But each failure sets us up for a success. Because we are a small enough school to be nimble, but too large a school to have everyone on campus all at the same time, we need to innovate.
Based on 368 responses to the most recent parent survey, only 9 people in the community cannot arrange to work from home and need support for supervision of a student. We will find a way to accommodate those families. We have new and better equipment on campus for faculty to use whether we’re all remote (all students learning online) or hybrid (some students on campus and some online).
Given the present status of the virus, we can announce now, that we will begin school in remote mode. We think it’s likely that we will be remote until January 5, 2021. Again—we are prepared to make the switch to hybrid teaching/learning should conditions allow. If circumstances change substantially before January 5, we will, of course, be ready to welcome students back to campus. The schedule for fully remote instruction is:
|Faculty Meeting Time
(and 0-hr Period)
|7:30 AM – 8:20 AM|
|Block A/E||8:30 AM – 9:30 AM|
|Passing Period||9:30 AM – 10:00 AM|
|Block B/F||10:00 AM – 11:00 AM|
|Middle Band (MB)
|11:00 AM – 11:30 AM – MB
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Lunch
|Block C/G||12:30 PM – 1:30 PM|
|Passing Period||1:30 PM – 2:00 PM|
|Block D/H||2:00 PM – 3:00 PM|
Click here to view the Fall Term Weekly Schedule at a Glance.
We can also say with certainty that the period between Thanksgiving break and Winter Holiday break will be fully remote regardless of whether or not we have begun to occupy the campus before Thanksgiving. Classes between December 1 and 17 will be entirely remote. This time of year is likely to be a time of significant travel—if it’s possible. Typically, families travel to meet one another. College students return to their homes. Guests travel to meet friends. Special precautions will be needed during this period of time to prevent an increase of COVID-19 cases.
Based on survey results received before 5:00 PM on Monday, July 20, 167 families are willing to have students return to campus as long as the school is taking all the precautions it can (one person who falls into this group added a comment, “How are you going to get them to keep their masks on in the stairways?) Another 163 families are not yet prepared to allow their students to move on to campus. Remember what I said about competing needs? While this is not a ballot item, it was important for us to be aware of how families are thinking right now. We also know that things will change—as they have continuously since last spring. And we will change, accordingly.
To be absolutely clear, the school has done the following in preparation for our return to campus:
- Upgraded all HVAC Equipment to Hospital Grade MERV 13 Filters and increased fresh air intake
- Established one-way traffic patterns to avoid face to face contact during passing periods
- Created a plan to reduce the campus population by establish cohorts of grade levels
- Re-opened the Annex to reduce campus population and moved 5th and 6th grade classes to this building
- Installed an outdoor covering for the Annex rear parking lot.
- Reduced occupancy of all bathrooms, elevators, stairwells and corridors
- Socially distanced all classrooms
- Purchased single desks to insure proper social distancing in classrooms
- Purchased a temperature screening system to quickly assess the daily health of the community
- Added an additional Health Office that is isolated space for any potential COVID case
- Eliminated all non-essential visitors, vendors and other group activity
- Eliminated in-person conferences with faculty and families
- Established protocols and installed signage to assist the community in new procedures
- Added hand sanitizing stations in all classrooms and hallways
- Installed classroom technology to improve Remote Learning and provide options for a split classroom with students in multiple locations
- Eliminated dining in the LPC and purchased equipment and process for in-classroom lunch service
- Installed touchless faucets and toilets in all bathrooms
Sports at EPS
While this may seem incongruous—and it will to some people—the WIAA is allowing some low risk outdoor sports to take place beginning September 7 (Cross Country, Boys Tennis, Crew). The reason we’re able to do this is that teams can be divided into cohorts, allowing no more than 9 students to gather for any practice. In addition, we are following the guidelines provided by our state and local authorities, and we have put safety measures and protocols in place for all coaches, athletes and parents. Masks will be worn when not training, and social distancing will be implemented. We very much hope we can keep the sports programs alive because it’s so critical to social, emotional and leadership development. [Click HERE for more updates about our Athletics program.]
We will continue our regular communications throughout the summer and throughout the period of time during which we will be operating remotely.
Looking ahead…we will have a few virtual activities options available to EPS students beginning in the first week of August. We’ll send you information about registering as a participant as soon as we have the activities and teachers confirmed. In addition, we will provide our re-opening plan to you next week so you can begin to prepare for that eventuality.
Again—our thanks for your positive support and friendly encouragement!
Terry Macaluso, PhD
Head of School
Mr. Mein and his grad school colleagues would like to request your help with an experiment on rote memorization. It will take about 15 minutes of your time and is completely anonymous. You might learn some interesting trivia in the process! Everybody is welcome—you, parents, siblings, friends … just make sure that everybody opens a new browser window before they take the test.
Visit http://rote.azurewebsites.net to participate!
Student Photo Request
As our educators continue to prepare for remote teaching in the fall, it would be helpful for them to have up-to-date photos of each student to reference–especially for new faculty and advisors. We are asking for a photo (or two) of every student. We’ll post these photos on our internal student information site for faculty to view, and use the portrait images to create ID cards for all students.
Please complete the form located here by July 31st to submit the photo(s). Note: to keep the uploads secure, have your student sign in using their EPS username and password to log in and complete this form. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any issue logging in. Hint for new students/parents: you’ll use the same universal password (EPS-dash-Date of Birth, e.g. EPS-6/3/2006) that you used to log in to your new EPS laptop.
Thanks for helping our team of educators as they continue getting to know our students (Please note this is a duplicate request for those families new to EPS this year—the original request was sent directly to those families yesterday.)
Seen and Heard
This week, EPS students came to campus for ACT testing and experienced the new safety-conscious check-in protocol.
- An archive of the Weekly Briefings can be found HERE. [password: EPS1920]
- Resources for learning about racism: https://eastsideprep.org/PDF/2020-21/EPS-Anti-Racist-Resource-List.pdf