School Reopening – Latest Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

By now you’ve surely heard the very good news. The Mayor and Chancellor listened to the messages of so many educators, parents, students, elected officials and concerned citizens, and have agreed to push the start date for students back in order to give schools necessary time to prepare for our most complicated reopening ever. The first day of school for all of our students – those learning fully remotely as well as in-person – will now be Monday September 21. This delayed opening allows our teachers and staff 6 full days for training in new health and safety protocols, professional learning in trauma-informed practices, priority learning standards and new remote learning technologies, and time to collaborate and coordinate with grade team colleagues to develop plans for remote and in-person teaching and learning. We will also have 3 days from September 16-18 for student and family orientation, and for students to test out equipment and software for remote learning. This extra time to prepare will enable us to get everything lined up so we can hit the ground running on September 21.

We know that having as much information as possible about our plans for safety and instruction is essential to our families, which is why we have been holding biweekly town halls all summer and have been sharing resources and updates as they have come out. We want to make sure that our families have easy access to all of this information in one place, so we are putting together an updated family handbook which will be ready for distribution before the first day of school. In the meantime, here are a few important updates since our last meeting:

We have received shipments of PPE, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, special cleaning supplies including an electrostatic sprayer, decals for the floor and signs for walls to promote social distancing and traffic flow, plexiglass barriers for our school safety desk and main office, and various other sundries to support health and safety in our building. Our school custodian is expecting to maintain a 30-day supply of these materials and resources on hand.
We have received contactless thermometers and have developed an arrival protocol that will involve every student and adult having their temperature taken before entering the building every day. This is above and beyond the DOE’s standard protocol, but we understand that this is an important measure for many of our families to feel safe.
We have applied to the city for access to multiple locations around the neighborhood for outdoor learning, including parks, community gardens as well as possible street closures. We are still waiting for official approval on the sites we applied for, but we are committed to maximizing time outdoors for our students, knowing that this is the lowest risk scenario for everyone.
We have been clearing space in our Tree of Knowing Garden to create more opportunities for students to use this area for eating lunch and outdoor learning. (Thank you James!)
The DOE has announced that every month there will be mandatory COVID testing in schools, comprised of a random sample of 10-20% of a school’s student and staff population. Testing will be done on-site and will of course be free of charge.
While many schools are concerned about issues related to ventilation, I’m pleased to share that our classrooms are well ventilated with large windows that will remain open every day, and we are purchasing large box fans to further help with the air flow.

At the last two PA meetings a number of questions have surfaced in the chat, some of which went unanswered, either because we didn’t have the information yet or we ran out of time to address. Our schools Reentry Planning Committee has kept track of those questions and put them together into this document, along with the latest guidance and policies. We will continue to update this Q&A document with new questions and answers as we receive them.

Much more information is coming shortly about your child’s teachers, their schedules, login information for Google Classroom, and details for the orientation days. Stay tuned.

Though we have experienced a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity this summer as we have planned for reopening schools, I feel as though we are now finallyon terra firma. We have a start date, we have the supplies and protocols to keep folks safe, and we have the time for our staff to get ready. Sure, it’s bound to be a weird and challenging year, but I have tremendous confidence in our amazing and talented staff and our incredible families to rise to the challenges of this moment and make it work, together. We got this!

Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. I will see you very soon.

As ever,
Bradley