News

Return to School Plan: Fall 2020 07/27/2020

We are pleased to share our Opening of School Plan for the Year. The plan outlines the necessary precautions and adjustments we will make to be able to provide in-person schooling for our students beginning in September. Our fundamental goal is continuing to deliver our mission to provide dynamic educational experiences to our students while safeguarding the physical and socio-emotional wellbeing of our community in the safest environment possible.

This plan is certainly a work in progress, given the fluid and ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will certainly change and adapt over the weeks and months ahead. As we showed in our rapid shift to online learning this spring, our small size and creative educational team allow us to be highly adaptable and to continuously learn and improve. The unpredictable months ahead will undoubtedly require such flexibility in significant measure. What won’t shift is our ongoing commitment to educational excellence.

The Plan is the good work of the Opening of School Committee*, which will continue to convene weekly up to and through our planned opening on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

Some important elements of the Plan worth highlighting include:

It follows the requirements and recommendations of Governor Whitmer’s COVID-19 Task Force on Education Return to School Advisory Council’s “MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-2021 Return to School Road Map” as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

It outlines, in brief, our plan for Remote Learning in each division if schools are mandatorily closed (MI Safe Start Phases 1-3) by the State. In that scenario, we would continue and extend the approach we established this Spring with a significant emphasis on daily structure, regular synchronous instruction and real-time whole-class, small group, and individual connections, as well as creative and effective use of asynchronous learning tools to support continued student growth.

It outlines, in detail, our plan for a return to physical schooling for all students, daily, in MI Safe Start Phases 4-6. The plan, which focuses on currently prevailing Phase 4 conditions, requires significant adjustments to our program, behaviors, and protocols, which are outlined.

It signals our commitment to providing two pathways to our Phase 4 educational program. Our program will be centered around the live instruction and interactions that happen in the classroom, but we will offer a remote pathway for students who cannot or choose not to physically come to the school building. Remote pathway students will be able to access live instruction and activity via video conferencing technology and we will use asynchronous tools and individual check-ins to monitor and support their progress.

It does not specify adjustments we would make in Phase 5 or 6 conditions, (though we hope to encounter that challenge soon), as we prefer to focus on our Phase 4 program and learn from those experiences before such planning. We have tried to answer as many questions as we can in this document, but know that there are more.

It certainly is an understatement to suggest this is the most unprecedented school year any of us have encountered in our lifetime. To navigate it successfully will require a spirit of partnership, open and direct communication, flexibility and patience, and, ultimately, a mission-driven focus on what is best for our kids. We hope that you receive this Plan with the same optimism, consideration, and compassion with which it was created.

Opening of School Committee
Jane Berger (Director of Marketing and Communications)
Bart Bronk (Head of School)
Rob Butler (Assistant Head of School and Head of Middle School)
Peggy Dettlinger (Assistant Head of School and Head of Lower School)
Brock Dunn (Assistant Head of School and Head of Upper School)
Colleen Gatzke (Director of Operations)
Kelley Hamilton (Associate Head of School and Chief Operating Officer)
Adam Hellebuyck (Dean of Curriculum and Assessment)
Mary Lenhardt (Pre-Kindergarten Coordinator)
Mike Medvinsky (Dean of Pedagogy and Innovation)
Shernaz Minwalla (Assistant Head of Upper School and Dean of Student Life)
Anca Mitchell (Director of Finance)
Rachel Onderbeke (Director of Medical Services)
Alan Parish (Director of Athletics)
Paul Rossi (Assistant Head of Middle School and Dean of Students)
Stephanie Sikora (Director of Enrollment Management)/h5>