Churchill School Reopening Planning Update

July 29, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
Our planning for reopening Churchill in September continues, and I wanted to provide some updates. As I’ve said before, we know that the thought of returning to in-person learning comes with a lot of uncertainty, and possibly a great deal of angst as we navigate questions around the safety of our children, and school professionals.
 
As always, we continue to plan by following our Guiding Principles:

  • Protect the physical, mental, and social-emotional health of our students, families, faculty, and staff
  • Provide a rich Churchill academic experience, meeting students’ needs whether in-person or online
  • Be compliant and adhere to guidelines from New York State, CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Maintain a strong sense of our OneChurchill Community
  • Ensure access and equity for all of our students
  • Strengthen our home and school partnership
  • Be creative and innovative in the effective use of our facilities and spaces


Remote Instruction

After lengthy discussion and deliberation, we have decided that Churchill will offer a full remote learning option to families with students or household members in high-risk categories and for those who may be uncomfortable attending in-person instruction. More information about what this will look like for each division, along with scheduling details, will be shared soon. This represents a shift from our prior communications.  We believe that providing families with choice is truly the best option for our community. 
 
The health and well-being of our students and school professionals remain at the forefront of our planning. Our plans are being thoughtfully developed through collaboration with school professionals, parents, and students. We are adhering to guidance from the CDC, AAP, New York State Departments of Health and Education, The Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Education, and Public Health, as well as The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. And we continue to review new information as it becomes available throughout this dynamic period.
 
As I’ve noted before, research suggests, as do the New York State Departments of Education and Health, that it is important for all students, specifically students with learning disabilities to receive in-person instruction. We are prepared to offer that provided we can do so based on the Governor’s announcement.

 
 

Important Things to Know About Remote Instruction

  • We will provide enrolled families with a survey where you can indicate whether your child will be in-person or remote. 
  • If the remote option is selected, it will be a commitment through October 30th.  Renewal up to winter break will be possible, but we will have to be informed of the decision by October 15th. 
  • Remote instruction will not be a day-to-day or week-to-week option. This means we will have set dates during the year when you can opt-in or out for predetermined periods so that you may have some flexibility, and we are able to plan from a scheduling and safety perspective.
  • Students will not be penalized for selecting the remote option.
  • If Churchill can return to in-person extracurricular activities/athletics, students learning remotely will not be eligible to participate in those activities while learning remotely.

 
Moving Forward

This is a fluid situation. Things can change rapidly as new information becomes available.  The possibility still exists that we will return to distance learning for all to begin the school year or at another point during the year, and we are preparing for whatever may come.
 
Sincerely,
Tim Madigan, Head of School


Ready to Learn More?



Previous Messages

July 22, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
I hope you are doing well. 
 
We are working hard to plan for the reopening of Churchill in September. We know that the thought of returning to in-person learning comes with a lot of uncertainty, and possibly a great deal of angst as we navigate questions around the safety of our children, faculty, and staff.  
 
Currently, New York City is in Phase 4 of the State’s pandemic response, which allows for the opening of schools in a safe manner. We will be submitting our reopening plans to the New York State Departments of Education and Health by July 31st, and Governor Cuomo will make his announcement about whether or not schools will be allowed to hold in-person instruction the following week.

As we plan and execute our reopening, we will hold to our guiding principles:

  • Protect the physical, mental, and social-emotional health of our students, families, faculty, and staff
  • Provide a rich Churchill academic experience, meeting students’ needs whether in-person or online
  • Be compliant and adhere to guidelines from New York State, CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Maintain a strong sense of our OneChurchill Community
  • Ensure access and equity for all of our students
  • Strengthen our home and school partnership
  • Be creative and innovative in the effective use of our facilities and spaces


Steps We are Taking

The health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff are at the forefront of our planning. Our plans are being thoughtfully developed through collaboration with members of the faculty, staff,
 parents, and students.  We are adhering to guidance from the CDC, AAP, New York State Departments of Health and Education, The Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Education, and Public Health, as well as The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. And, we continue to review new information as it becomes available throughout this dynamic period.
 
In my previous message, I noted a number of the steps we’re going to take to ensure safety, including wearing face coverings, appropriate physical distancing, and creating single direction halls and stairwells. In addition to those plans, we will also:

  • Conduct daily health screenings as students, faculty, and staff arrive at school.  These will include temperature and symptom checking and recording. Faculty and staff exhibiting symptoms will not be permitted to enter the building. Students with symptoms will be isolated until a parent/guardian can pick them up.
  • Install new HEPA filters in our air system along with new ionization technology. We’ve traditionally monitored air quality and will do so more frequently now.
  • Open windows (weather permitting) to allow for further airflow and fresh air.

 
Accommodations and Distance Learning

Each of the above-listed organizations emphasizes the return of in-person learning for students wherever possible, especially young students and students with learning disabilities. The effectiveness of distance learning, no matter how robust, is limited for our population, and without in-person instruction by our teachers, the achievement gap will continue to widen, putting our students at a great disadvantage later on. At the same time, we know that members of our community are in high-risk categories and will need accommodations to in-person instruction. These accommodations will include, but are not limited to:

  • Teaching/learning remotely
  • Adapted workspaces isolated from large groups
  • Modified schedules to avoid large groups

Moving Forward

This is a fluid situation. Things can change rapidly as new information becomes available.  While our current plan/goal is to reopen for in-person instruction, we know that may not be the case.  The possibility exists that we will return to distance learning to begin the school year or at another point during the year.  We are preparing for whatever may come. We will hold a parent meeting for enrolled families in the coming weeks. At that time, we will share what we know specifically about daily schedules for each division, more about safety precautions, and all that we are doing to plan for reopening.
 
As we move through the coming year, we will continue to support one another just as we always have.
 
I hope you are staying well and enjoying the summer.
 
Sincerely,
Tim