Planning for the 2020-2021 school year has been like no other, and as September 2nd approaches quickly, the uncertainty of the coronavirus and the depth of the public health crisis in the United States makes the opening of the school a very complex matter. We appreciate your patience, goodwill and flexibility as we develop health and safety policies and protocols, as well as, redesign our daily schedule to accommodate as many students on campus as possible. The start of school will look and feel different, and reopening our campuses safely, will require all of us to adopt and adhere to new habits and guidelines, both on campus and at home, to reduce and mitigate risk.
Regardless of the model - full brick and mortar, hybrid or fully remote - the health and safety of our students, teachers and school community will always remain our top priority. As we continue to ensure academic excellence and the socio-emotional development of our students, face coverings, physical distancing and other measures will help safeguard the health and wellness of our community. Severn faculty, staff, students and families hold a collective responsibility to safeguard the health of our community, and while there will never be a “zero risk” scenario, we will strive to achieve low risk through protocols, daily practices and school design to adapt to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
We acknowledge that constant handwashing, wearing face coverings and physical distancing are challenging. However, we implore you to remain vigilant, for both yourself and all members of the Severn community. While the School will mitigate exposure during the school day, it is important that our families understand their obligations in ensuring the same when the school day ends.
We are committed to providing you with as much clarity as possible about the year to come. The Return to School Plan below is our best thinking at this point using the most current research, medical knowledge and best practices available. Obviously, given the fluid nature of the pandemic, any plans designed today may have to change to address new public health concerns, if, and as they emerge. We will communicate frequently about any changes throughout the month of August and the school year. There is also a strong likelihood that at some point in the school year, we will need to move, with little notice, to remote learning.
It is important to note that at any time we are conducting on-campus learning, a student that is feeling ill, has been in contact with anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, is under quarantine, or a parent chooses to keep their child(ren) at home will be able to join all classes in real-time via technology we have purchased for each classroom. This technology will improve the learning experience beyond the pandemic; when students are absent for a day, week, or longer, they will be able to actively participate in classes, learn, ask questions, and receive feedback in real-time.
As of the publishing of this Return to School Plan on August 3rd, we hope to implement a hybrid model (described below) to begin the school year. Specific details about orientations and other division-specific information will be forwarded to you in the coming weeks from the division heads. Again, this will depend on the course of the pandemic in the coming weeks.
The Board of Trustees and School leadership will look to make a final decision about the specific learning mode in which we will start the school year, on, or around, August 24. The decision will be made after careful consideration of the most up to date medical advice and current data on COVID-19 from the Maryland Department of Health.
Lastly, each parent will be required to sign an acknowledgment of the Return to School Plan 2020, including a limited waiver of liability for the school as it relates to COVID-19. This will be sent in a future mailing. We thank you, in advance, for your assistance in helping our community remain on campus as long as possible.