On June 24, school administrators shared the following updates regarding reopening school plans during a parent webinar. We will plan to host another updates webinar for parents in a few weeks.
2020-21 Calendar Updates
We have made the decision to move our 20-21 start date up by one week this coming year. Parents of more than two-thirds of our students completed our survey, and 90% shared that they were in favor of starting school a week early. The first day of school for students will now be on Tuesday, September 1. Here is an updated 20-21 Short Calendar for your reference.
We thank you all for your input and flexibility. This week will give us some extra time to help everyone assimilate to potential new health and safety protocols and will give us some added flexibility throughout the year, should we need it. As of today, we have not made any decisions about extending any breaks or adjusting any other parts of our calendar.
Guidelines and best practices
We continue to follow all guidance being released by federal, state and local authorities. The PA Department of Health released some vague guidance earlier this summer, and we expect some more detailed guidance later this summer. At the state level, as long as we are in the yellow or green phase, we can open school if we have a Health and Safety Plan in place. If the state goes back into the red phase, in-person school cannot continue and we may need to shift back to distance learning.
This past week, the Chester County Department of Health released some detailed guidance to schools. Since Delaware County does not have a Health Department, our county partners with Chester County. These guidelines provide some specific guidance on travel, screenings, hygiene, distancing, and masking. Our operations task force has been closely reviewing and incorporating these guidelines in our planning.
Our academic leaders are working to devise plans for each scenario that we may face when we return and throughout the school year. These scenarios include a full in-person scenario, a full-online scenario, and a hybrid scenario where some students might be in-person and some students may be online.
For MS and US students, we have finalized planning for our full in-person and full-online scenario, thus far. For our online scenario, we have designed new schedules for each division which would allow for a possible later start in the morning and a longer day of synchronous learning. We would also build in virtual Chapel and activity block times.
For LS students, we also continue to think through how we would manage learning in different scenarios. The feedback parents shared with us throughout this spring has been extremely helpful as we work on our plans. We will share some more details with parents in the coming weeks. We have also been receiving many questions about our LS aftercare programs. We are hopeful that we will be able to continue to offer aftercare and will be able to confirm this within the coming weeks.
In addition to teaching our many summer courses, our teachers have been working to continue to enhance their online teaching expertise. All teachers who are teaching this summer wrapped up a special workshop in June. In July and August, more than 150 of our teachers will complete a multi-week, intensive online teaching certification course, hosted by EA's Center for Teaching and Learning.
Throughout the summer months, we plan to host regular webinars, like this one, for parents to receive updates The state has approved athletics to move forward and has begun sharing some guidelines. We are hopeful we will be able to move forward with our typical fall season, but we may need to make some adjustments. We are having regular meetings with all of the Inter-Ac schools to coordinate across the league. For now, we are keeping our pre-season dates the same for this year. We will continue to keep parents students updated as our plans for the fall are finalized.
This summer, we have been piloting some activities to test out how we can safely allow student-athletes to use some of our outdoor facilities. We recently allowed some students to sign up for individual, recreational field use times but have temporarily paused this pilot. Through the end of June, we will pilot some outdoor, socially-distanced strength and conditioning sessions and other organized activities for some of our athletes. We ask all students who will participate to review EA's Guidance for Summer Practices/Conditioning that is now posted online.
Health and safety planning
We are closely reviewing all health and safety guidelines so that we can plan accordingly to ensure a safe campus when we return. We anticipate that we may need to require daily screenings for all students and faculty. We may need families to conduct screenings before arriving at school and are working to explore some apps and other solutions that would make this process as easy as possible. We are also finalizing other health protocols that we will implement when we return and will be able to share more details as the summer progresses.
We remind all families that we are moving to a digital health records management platform for the coming year. We will be using Magnus Health and ask all families to work to update their child's health information and forms in the system before we return to school. We recognize you may not be able to secure appointments until later in the summer, but we ask families to try to complete as much information in the system as possible before August 1.
Some parents have been asking about what they can be doing to help their students prepare for next year. We encourage families to help remind children of the importance of washing their hands regularly and how to properly cough/sneeze into their elbow. We also encourage students to practice wearing a mask, in the event we require the use of masks in certain areas across campus.
Our operations reopening task force continues to meet regularly to plan out various aspects of our reopening. The task force is made up of key leaders from facilities, academic divisions, health services, dining services, athletics, communications, and human resources.
From a facilities standpoint, we have been assessing all of our spaces across campus to identify what adjustments we can make to allow for social distancing. We are looking at how to best optimize the space in all of our classrooms and other learning spaces. For large communal spaces, we are measuring out spacing and identifying other spaces that we could use, if needed, to allow for distancing. For example, we know that we will need to adjust the flow within our dining hall servery area and that we may need to use extra spaces across campus for seatings during lunch. We are also thinking about other spaces like our Chapel, theaters, libraries, etc. We also have many common spaces that we are developing plans for, including hallways, locker rooms, lounges, breakout spaces, etc.
We continue to work to acquire all of the hygiene supplies we will need for next year. We plan to have many hand sanitizer stations throughout campus. Our goal is to have one available every 20-30 feet in all buildings and especially at entryways of all buildings and communal spaces. We will be working to remove all traditional water fountains and converting them to bottle-filling stations, where possible. We are developing plans for cleaning and sanitization of all high-touch areas and high-traffic spaces. We are also working to develop signage that will be posted prevalently throughout campus to remind students of new protocols and to encourage healthy hygiene practices.
We remind all parents to check our Summer Resources page regularly for updates. In addition to required and optional summer academic work, this site includes details that will be helpful in preparing for the new school year. We will also post details on upcoming parent webinars and recaps from all of our sessions on this page. Parents can access this page by visiting the main EA website, hovering over "Academics," and clicking on "Summer Resources" in the drop-down sub-menu. We also have a shortcut to the page posted on the home screen of the Parent Portal (parents new to EA will gain access to this portal in early-July).