Evergreen COVID-19 Protocols and Opening Plan Updates
Dear Evergreen Community,
I am writing to update you on our plans to open our school year on August 31. On this past Monday, our summer programs began with 26 students and our COVID-19 Health Protocols in place, a new outdoor learning area, enhanced air filtration and ventilation and more. We are continuing to plan for in-person learning and remote contingencies this fall, as well as monitoring information from our county and state health officials.
As you may know, yesterday, Dr. Jack Smith, the Superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools announced that their school buildings will not open for in-person learning until at least January 29, 2021.
At Evergreen, we are able to put into place a wide range of safety protocols that are not available to public schools. As MCPS has stated, “the largest barriers to bringing students back in Montgomery County are building capacity and bus transportation.” In addition, the County cannot make school-by-school determinations, but rather needs to decide what is best for the entire K-12 district.
Our capacity is different from MCPS. We are able to strictly follow CDC and Maryland guidelines in terms of group/cohort size (limited to <13 children), no co-mingling of groups/cohorts, enhanced health and hygiene practices, health checks and physical distancing. We have access to 12 classrooms for approximately 85 students as well as outdoor spaces, gym, social hall and isolation room. Our student to teacher ratio is 6:1.
In addition, we know that children want to be with friends and that social-emotional development is an essential part of their education. We are aware that for some children, remote learning can be less effective than face-to-face learning.
For these reasons, Evergreen-- as well as other independent schools in our region-- is planning for in-person programs 5 days a week. However, our plans may change if Governor Hogan or other state health officials mandate that area schools or businesses close or if we need to make an independent closure decision for any reason. In the event that we have a confirmed case of COVID in our student body or in our faculty, our building will be closed between 3 and 14 days to be determined by the Montgomery County Health Department. (In case of a building closure, we will implement our Remote Learning Plan. An updated and enhanced version of the RLP will be shared on August 10).
Unfortunately we can't reduce the risk of COVID transmission to zero. We know that some families may choose to keep their children home from campus. Each family must make their own independent decision. At this point, we do not have the staffing resources to simultaneously lead in-person and remote programs. However, children at home will have access to all of Evergreen’s online remote learning materials.
Finally, we are planning a series of parent classroom Zoom meetings after August 10 when our master schedule and class placement is complete and our Remote Learning Plan has been shared. At the meetings, we will provide updates, review the COVID-19 Health Plan and have a Q & A.
Once again, I am sincerely grateful to everyone in our community for their patience and support during this challenging time. I understand the great deal of disruption and uncertainty that COVID-19 has caused. I look forward to continuing to be in touch as the situation continues to evolve over the next weeks and months.
I look forward to seeing you soon!