This is a perfect time of year: warm, fragrant days that harken to the summer not far behind us, and a winter not yet on the horizon. On campus, the mums are starting to bloom, and we are harvesting our Green Acres–grown pumpkins and watermelons. It is almost easy to forget the trying times we face amid the joyful voices of Pre-K racing trikes outside, the Kindergarteners reuniting for the first time today for on-campus instruction, and our animated 6th graders playing at the Woods playground for their meet-up.
We are engaged in next steps of bringing more students on campus. Having reviewed several proposals and ideas for our next re-entry phases, I am prepared to announce those re-entry dates for the remaining Green Acres students’ return to campus with the Green Acres community on Thursday evening, October 8, after sharing them with staff and the board. At this point, the more notice folks have to prepare, the better. I will host monthly Town Halls for the Middle School and for the Lower School/Early Childhood Unit, respectively, to share updates, field questions, and hear your thoughts on how things are going to-date. We will start with a Pre-K to Grade 4 meeting on Thursday, October 8 from 8–8:45 PM and Grade 5–8 meeting on Friday, October 9 from 9–9:45 AM.
Your perspectives are valued and will be taken into consideration. Please continue to stay engaged as we work through the constant changes and shifts this pandemic presents. Your support as a community bolsters us through the hard work we continue to tackle.
I expressed to staff that, for me, this has been a time of reflecting on our recent past and on the year ahead. One thing I sense is the uncertainty that people feel on several fronts. With that in mind, I want to share the data and factors we are using to inform our re-entry process:
- Infection rates and transmission rates remain steady in Montgomery County (as of 10/5):
New Confirmed Cases:
99 (3-day avg); declining numbers for 7/14 days
Most other data is declining for 14/14 days
- Test positivity (as of 10/5):
3.4% (3-day avg); declining numbers for 13/14 days
- Performance results from current students on campus:
Having had Pre-K on campus for four weeks, we have streamlined our processes and followed health protocols.
- Ability to social distance and offer space for student activities
We have sectioned our many spacious playgrounds to allow equitable use of spaces as more grades come onto campus.
- Independent school networks and connections
We are observing and learning from independent schools in the area and nationally that have successfully brought many of their students on campus in a variety of ways.
- Analysis of decisions and reasonable accommodations
PPE is available to staff members, and the nurse is instructing them in its proper wear and use.
We meet as grade-level teams for those grades that are coming on campus to review all needs/issues and supports to address. We hire help (Pre-K assistants and Kindergarten shared assistant) and set up outdoor spaces (chairs, benches, tables) for use.
- To test or not to test, and how often
Whether we require a negative test result for staff and students on re-entry, or at regular intervals, is being weighed for the next phases from 1st grade up.
By now, most families have signed and returned their Green Acres Community Agreement. Signing is the first step, but the most important is that we all practice behaviors that keep us all safe. I have been talking to heads of schools who shared that they see students on social media without masks and being unsafe. The consequence for older students is that schools restrict them from in-person instruction. I personally do not want to be a social media detective, but I know that your friends and students’ classmates are watching to see that you uphold the agreement you signed. Your risk puts others at risk, so let us care for each other and wear masks, clean and sanitize, social distance, and stay in cohorts/family groups to ensure best outcomes all around. Someone’s life may depend on it.
Rebecca Geary (she/they)
Head of School