Community Briefing: June 19, 2020
A briefing will be sent to the entire community every Friday at this time.
To the Eastside Prep Community,
I hope the time since the concluding ceremonies of celebration have been restful and uplifting. It’s been a very interesting few months—and I want to say, again, thank you—to every EPS family who worked with us patiently and constructively as we brought 2019-2020 to a close. To our newest families—Welcome to EPS! This is the first time we’ve welcomed new families into the community without being able to do so personally.
We anticipate that when opening in the fall we may have to limit the number of students on campus in order to conform to the King County Health Department’s guidelines. We have adequate space to bring everyone back to campus—even if social distancing is still mandated but we realize that may not be the option that prioritizes safety of the students and faculty in our care. Prior to our eventual reunion however, we will make decisions that enable us to host the greatest number of people we can based on Washington State requirements and the health and safety of our entire community.
Assuming that there is no mandate that schools must remain closed, we plan to be open, with the number of people on campus that we are allowed to gather and that makes the most sense while safeguarding the community. Our intention is to have some number of students, faculty and staff on campus on September 9. That said, we are realizing as we make plans, that nothing that we have, heretofore, taken for granted in the typical school day can be assumed when things get rolling again in the fall. The experience of school will be different from much that we’ve experienced at EPS in the past. For that reason, we are going to provide opportunities for students, teachers and parents to visit campus and to practice the protocols that will be required when the 2020-2021 school year begins.
Just like everything else since early March—this year our summer communication plan will be different from what it has been in prior summers. We need a more timely and detailed communication plan to assure new and returning EPS families are fully aware of the precautions and training schedules necessary this summer to enable us to start school in September.
We are in the midst of making final decisions about how we will operate in the first months of the school year. Those decisions will be conveyed to you as they are made. It is important for everyone to understand that, regardless of the care taken to prepare for the opening of the campus in the fall, the world is changing at warp speed; decisions may have to be changed with very little advanced notice.
I’ve listed below some of the things we’ve begun to pursue as potential “ways forward:”
- First, we are adopting the procedures provided by the CDC and the King County Department of Health as we continue to plan. All of our decisions are contingent on the approval of the OSPI and the State Board of Education. This approval is related to the number of people allowed to gather in one area.
- For families who are uncomfortable at the prospect of returning to campus prior to the development of a vaccine or effective treatment, we are prepared to support students who want to “attend school” from home. We’ve installed equipment on campus that will enable us to teach on campus and via EPSRemote simultaneously. Students can choose to go remote at any time, and they can choose to come back to campus at any time.
- You will receive a briefing every Friday throughout the summer to keep you informed about what we’re doing to make it possible for school to open on September 9. All the information you will need prior to the start of school will be communicated via the Friday Briefing.
- You will receive a video showing the interiors and exteriors of all EPS facilities, i.e., Levinger-Poole Commons, Middle School, The Macaluso Academic Collaborative, TALI Hall (Think, Act, Lead, Innovate), and the Annex in late August prior to the start of school. The video will provide details of the protocols we will adopt for the first few months of the year, i.e. September 9, 2020 to January 5, 2021. It will provide detail on what we can all expect as we begin to return to life at school in the post-pandemic era.
- For the first 14 weeks of the school year (September 9, 2020 – January 5, 2021), 5th and 6th grade students will have the Campus Annex (see map below with view of main campus in proximity to the Annex), and will attend school full time from September 9 through the entire year (all based on the assumption that we are not mandated to take a different direction). Of course, if we can bring everyone back to the main campus, mindful of safety precautions, earlier than that, we will do so. The Annex is being equipped with everything 5th and 6th grade students need to engage in the full EPS program, including science labs, maker space, and very large classrooms, which enable us to maintain the 6-foot radius for each student.
- We will have students on the main campus in 2 grade level cohorts, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades compose Cohort Blue; grades 10, 11, and 12 are Cohort Gold alternating week by week, between being on campus and by working off site using EPSRemote. Students may elect to continue remote learning or return to campus at any time. Those personal decisions must be made consistent with the cohort to which a student is assigned. The school is fully equipped to support either choice since we will be able to teach students in a class on campus and off site simultaneously.
- Throughout the summer we will invite students, faculty, staff and parents to visit campus for brief periods of time to “practice” navigating the buildings and grounds, following foot traffic signs, learning the “new rules of lunch” and engaging in some interactive activities intended to prepare our community to wear masks and to maintain social distancing. The schedule for those campus practice sessions will be published when we receive permission from the county to pursue our plans.
- During the academic year, we will not allow visitors on campus. This will include parents, who will be able only to drive on to campus to drop off or pick up students. Our hope is that between a summer visit and the video we will be able to give families a personal look at all that will be involved in coming to school for the first few months of the 2020-2021 academic year.
The purpose of our summer practice sessions is to provide proof of concept.If, after working with students, faculty and staff using the plan articulated here, we are unsatisfied with the efficacy of the plan, we will make revisions.
Finally, comfort with ambiguity will be the quality most needed to move through the next several months. We don’t always know what will happen until it happens, but we must plan as thoroughly and creatively as we can. Our health as individuals and as a community depend on our efforts to support students through an experience that is not easily understood by anyone.
Until next week—be well…and stay calm.
We’ll be in touch—
Terry Macaluso, PhD
Head of School
The TALI Building is the only building open on campus this summer. Parents and/or students needing access to campus should sign in for screening at the TALI front desk, wear masks, and practice social distancing while on campus. The building is open from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday, except for the week of June 29 to July 3, when the entire campus will be closed.
New Laptop Pick-up
Families that have ordered a laptop through Eastside Prep can pick up their machines at the TALI Building using the following schedule to reduce the number of families on campus each day:
Hours are 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM or 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM for each of the following days:
- Tuesday, June 23rd: 5th grade students
- Wednesday, June 24th: 6th – 8th grade students new to Eastside Prep
- Thursday, June 25th: 9th – 12th grade students new to Eastside Prep
- Friday, June 26th: Alternate pickup
For more details and for information for returning students, please follow the link HERE.
We’re not sure exactly what the fall will bring in relation to our ability to offer athletics. We’ve created a phased plan for our return to sports which can be found HERE.
Academic Teams and Clubs
Extracurricular activities are an important part of an EPS education. For fall academic teams and clubs, details on offerings and registration will be available in August.
Middle School Play Production (Grades 5-8)
EPS is proud to announce the MS Production of The Hobbit this fall! Join us as we journey from the Shire through all the realms of Middle Earth in this age-old tale of good versus evil. Colorful characters abound on this adventure including our friend Bilbo, wizard Gandalf, and hysterical dwarfs named Fili and Kili. Get to know the story you thought you knew and you might not even have to give up second breakfast! The exact configuration of rehearsals and performances will be flexed based on what opportunities are available to us at the time. More information will be available in August.
Bus Route Information
EPS is working to determine how best to provide bus service given the government guidelines for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. An important part of our decision is based on the number of students that will be riding our buses. Please log into here: School Forms Online and submit the Bus Agreement by July 10 if you would like your child(ren) to ride EPS buses in the fall trimester. Examples of our bus routes for 2019-2020 can be found HERE. (password EPS1920) Details specific to each of our routes will be sent to families once the sign-up is complete. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the 2020-2021 school year, we are opening additional spots in Guided Study Hall for students who need extra support with remote instruction and transitions between classroom and online instruction. If you would be interested in learning more about Guided Study Hall and whether or not it would be appropriate for your student, or have any questions about the program, please reach out to Jamie Andrus, Learning Support Coordinator, for more information.