2020-2021 FAQs

While we might not address all of your questions here, these FAQs offer insight into what to expect as we navigate new territory together. Please reach out with further queries and check back for updates as we go. Have a different question? Email us and we’ll get back to you or put you in touch with the right person.

When is the start of school? How is the opening schedule playing out in terms of athletics and afternoon program?

Wednesday, September 2–Friday, September 4— Pre-season/Tryouts (varsity athletics/mainstage play). 7:45 a.m.–10:30 a.m. on September 2; 8:00–10:00 a.m. on September 3 and 4
Tuesday, September 8 — First Day of School
Monday, September 14 — First Day of Regular Schedule

Our priorities for the afternoon program this fall are for students to be engaged with one another and Nobles faculty in the pursuit of shared goals, the creation and promotion of a team experience and the discovery of new opportunities for fun. Given the state guidelines and safety considerations, we have adjusted and added to the original fall offerings. We will be asking students to re-select their fall options based on the modified choices. We have created a hybrid of virtual and in person programming we believe will engage our students in meaningful experiences this fall.

Our fall interscholastic season is still uncertain. As was shared in a joint letter from Independent School League (ISL) heads of school, we know we will not have a traditional fall season, though we are also still open to scheduling some games should it be safe to do so. As we near the start of the school year, we will evaluate our options for the possibility of interscholastic competition.

Calendar/schedule
Students will participate in their afternoon program in person on the days they are already on campus for the academic day (Classes VI-IV on Monday and Tuesday, Classes III-I on Thursday and Friday). There will also be one ‘virtual’ meeting each week.

Varsity teams and the Nobles Theatre Collective production will have a live obligation of roughly 90 minutes each of the two days on campus. There will be tryouts for varsity teams only. We are continuing to evaluate additional program meeting times for these programs during the week, possibly on Saturdays. All other programs will be roughly 60 minutes in duration each of the live days on campus.

Afternoon program signup
Given the hybrid nature of the beginning of the school year, as well as existing safety guidelines, we are offering a broader and more flexible set of afternoon program choices. All students will be asked to sign up for their fall afternoon program activity after reviewing the new offerings. These choices should be made by August 14 so that the activities can be appropriately staffed. The link to register for a fall afternoon program was sent via email to students. All students are required to participate (virtually or in person) in a fall afternoon program. Given the necessary changes to our offerings this fall, all students will be given “physical activity” credit for the fall season, irrespective of the activity completed, as part of our afternoon program requirement.

Family needs exemption
If the circumstances of the pandemic create a challenging personal or family situation for a student, an afternoon program exemption can be requested for the fall season. Examples of these challenges include a need to hold a part-time job or care for younger siblings or family members. Students seeking an exemption should email Ben Snyder (upper school) or Colette Finley (middle school), copying their parents/guardians, to explain the situation.

What if a student feels uncomfortable returning to the classroom in person?

Any student who has health or safety concerns when we return can choose to opt out of on-campus programming and participate entirely virtually. The student’s schedule will remain the same whether on campus or off, and the student will connect to live classes virtually. There are also virtual options for any student to connect to afternoon and co-curricular programs. Recognizing that much remains unknown about Covid-19, and that transmission could occur despite Nobles’s extensive efforts to create a safe environment, all families are advised that the decision to participate in programming offered on campus carries some risk, which families knowingly assume in deciding whether their students will opt for the remote-only learning options.

Students who are not able to be present on campus for a live class will be able to connect to the live class virtually. Every teaching space will be equipped with technology to allow for remote connection.

There are some classes with students enrolled across grade levels. If a student’s live class is being held on a day other than when they are to be on campus, they will access the class remotely.

What are the basics of the on-campus class schedule (when will different classes be on campus, etc.)?

Our hybrid model will use a modified version of the Nobles academic schedule. To de-densify the campus, three grade levels will be on campus at one time for academic and afternoon programs, each for two days per week. We selected the combination of grade levels that allows for the greatest number of classes to have most or all students present when in person.

  • Mondays and Tuesdays: Classes VI, V and IV on campus, Classes III, II and I virtual
  • Wednesdays: All programs virtual
  • Thursdays and Fridays: Classes III, II and I on campus, Classes VI, V and IV virtual

Schedule Highlights

  • Class Meeting Schedule: Every academic class will meet three times each week. Depending on a student’s schedule, they will have between 15 and 18 classes each week, in addition to a range of additional programming, e.g., advisor meetings, meetings with clubs and organizations, assemblies, and meetings with teachers, etc. (View sample schedule.)
  • Live Classes: Of the three classes that meet each week, either one or two will be live on campus (the number will vary depending on an individual student’s schedule).
  • Arts Classes: Select classes will meet twice weekly (visual arts, acting, dance and Class V and VI arts/technology rotation courses). These classes normally meet two or three times weekly.
  • M-Block Classes: Given the limitations of state and safety guidelines, M-Block classes will meet for a more extended period of time virtually on Wednesdays.
  • Teacher Meetings/Extra help: Time is built into the schedule for optional, drop-in extra help with teachers.
  • Wednesday Schedule: We will schedule those programs that are not feasible or safe to hold in person as virtual programs on Wednesdays to maximize how our time is spent both in person and virtually. Wednesdays will also include some virtual academic classes.

What are some of the major prevention and mitigation strategies?

The health and safety of everyone in our community continues to be our top priority as we bring students, faculty and staff members back to campus. Nobles is implementing health and safety protocols for all members of the community based on current local and state guidance and discussions with our medical advisors. We also understand that policies may change based on the course of the pandemic and in response to updated guidance from the state, public health entities including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Public Health (DPH) and medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Families play a vital role in the health and safety of the Nobles community. The most important health and safety measure is to keep a child home if they are sick or experiencing any symptoms, or have had a known exposure to Covid-19 that creates an appreciable risk of transmission (e.g., a member of the household has tested positive). If a child develops symptoms while at school and needs to be dismissed, an authorized responsible adult will be required to pick up within 45 minutes.

The effectiveness of our health and safety efforts depend heavily on our families and students to continue to take precautions when not at school. This includes wearing masks when in public and at social gatherings where physical distancing is not possible, avoiding large social gatherings, avoiding unnecessary travel, monitoring all household members for illness and quarantining or isolating when advised. We expect that all families will adhere to all state-issued Covid-19 guidelines, including travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

To reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission in our community, we are implementing the following health and safety protocols (Read more general details):

  • All persons (employees and students) will be required to complete a daily health screening via a mobile app prior to arrival at school (instructions will be provided).
  • All persons will be required to practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet between people everywhere on campus.
  • All persons will be required to wear masks (two-ply minimum) at all times, unless during designated mask breaks.
  • All persons will be required to observe handwashing and hygiene protocols.
  • Additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be in place.
  • Elimination of shared equipment in classrooms and where feasible; equipment will be cleaned between users.
  • Implementing one-way walk-through routes in school buildings where possible.
  • Limiting the number of people in a restroom at any given time.
  • Improving ventilation in all classroom and office spaces.
  • Tents will be used outdoors for teaching and other purposes

Learn more specific details about various spaces on campus.

What happens if a community member is diagnosed with Covid-19?

A student or employee must remain at home, monitor symptoms, notify the school and close personal contacts, assist in contact-tracing efforts and isolate as directed by the local Board of Health. The current isolation guidance (CDC) is 10 days from the date symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours fever-free off of fever-reducing medication and improvement of symptoms.

Nobles will work to identify the student’s or employee’s possible close contacts based on classroom seating and academic schedule. The lookback period will begin two days prior to the appearance of symptoms or the positive Covid-19 test, and will include up to the time the student or employee was isolated. A “close contact’ is defined as someone who is within 6 feet of the individual for at least 10-15 minutes.

Families should notify the Nobles health office as soon as possible for any of the following Covid-19 events in a household:

  • A student or household member has been diagnosed with Covid-19
  • A student or household member has been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19
  • A student has been tested for Covid-19 (with or without symptoms) and is awaiting results

The information provided will help Nobles to respond appropriately and begin contact tracing, notify others if they have been exposed, initiate facility cleaning, and monitor the health of the community. In the interest of privacy, Nobles will not publicly share information identifying any affected student, staff member or household. Nobles will collaborate with the local Board of Health in the contact tracing process and notification of other community members who may need to quarantine or follow up with their physician.

What’s happening with Castle meals? Boarding? Buses?

Dining
We have been working with FLIK and their parent company, Compass USA, to develop best practices around food service and dining. Key areas of focus include proper social distancing in all dining spaces; limiting the use of high-touch surfaces; and developing protocol for food preparation, service, materials, seating and flow through the space. Some other important components of the plan include individual portioning, disposable containers and utensils, masks except when eating, clear signage, a fixed maximum capacity, outdoor dining space alternatives, bag lunch options, hand-sanitizing stations, and increased cleaning and disinfection protocol.

Boarding
We are currently planning to offer our boarding program when we reopen, with the following priorities guiding our planning:

  • De-densifying spaces where possible.
  • Separating students by floors to create pods.
  • Following basic safety standards.
  • Providing open study spaces.
  • Limiting time on campus.

Buses
Given safety considerations, we will minimize bus transportation, focusing on providing busing for those students otherwise unable to get to campus. We will add buses as needed to ensure that every Nobles student can get to campus, and will strive to make the commute from home to school as safe as possible. We encourage anyone who can get to school without the bus to do so. We are working with Local Motion, our bus provider, to ensure that they follow best practices around cleaning and safety on their buses, and are following DESE guidelines, including requiring masks.

Learn more about protocols for these campus spaces and others here.

Will students get grades this year?

Grading Policies

  • All individual assignments will continue to be graded.
  • Classes I-V students will receive final grades at the end of the first quarter and the end of the first semester.
  • Class VI students will not receive final grades at the end of either the first quarter or first semester, but will continue to receive comments from teachers on academic progress.

How will students access library resources, either remotely or on campus?

Recognizing the role the library plays as both a key teaching and learning resource for our students and faculty on campus and virtually, as well as a popular place to gather, we have created a detailed plan for the use of this space that enables for the safe use of the space and resources.

Students have access to a wealth of physical and electronic resources and materials on campus and via the library website, and the librarians are always happy to help: library@nobles.edu.

What is Nobles doing to integrate new students and generally build community?

A central pillar of Nobles is our community. The relationships forged through shared experiences are a key element of what makes Nobles “Nobles.” We will continue to think outside-the-box on how to best cultivate community, create opportunities for fun, and foster as many organic connections as we can amidst this challenging landscape. When we return this fall, we have a wide range of deepened opportunities for students to engage with the community, both in person and virtually.

  • Assembly: We will hold all-school assemblies 2-3 times per week.
  • Advisory: Advisor groups in both the middle and upper school will meet every other week for 25 minutes. Over the last few months, we have developed a curriculum for advisors this fall that emphasizes community building and inclusion, health and wellness, and the need for fun! Advisors will check in at least once every two weeks with their advisees, either over the phone, Zoom or in person.
  • Clubs and Organizations: These will meet twice a week during designated community time. Given the size of the groups, as well as our need to enable students across grade levels to participate, these meetings will be virtual.
  • Affinity Groups: These will continue to meet during designated community time. Given the size of the groups, as well as our need to enable students across grade levels to participate, these meetings will be virtual.

If we need to go virtual, how will the class schedule change?

Should it become advisable, we are prepared to revert to a fully virtual model, and our hybrid plan to begin the year is set up to be agile and to allow us to move into a more virtual model as needed. The class schedule would remain the same.

Based upon extensive evaluation of the feedback from Virtual Nobles this spring, we have made adjustments and improvements to the Virtual Nobles plan, creating a system that would allow for a smooth transition from hybrid to fully virtual classrooms if necessary. Nobles faculty participated in extensive professional development this summer around virtual teaching and learning, and our academic departments have worked collaboratively over recent months on ways to best deepen the experience for students this fall.

How is Nobles addressing issues related to access?

Students who are not able to be present on campus for a live class will be able to connect into the live class virtually. Every teaching space will be equipped with technology to allow for remote connection.

The Nobles Information Systems and Support (ISS) team is available to help with technology concerns, and to provide loaner laptops and/or wi-fi hotspots. Students should reach out to their advisor or directly to ISS at help@nobles.edu.

How will Nobles continue to provide academic support and counseling?

For academic support, please email Director of Academic Support Heather O’Neill or call her at 617-877-3329 to discuss your child’s learning profile and how to ensure the schedule is working for them. Be assured that we will work closely with your family—you and your child are not alone!

Nobles department of psychology and counseling will also be available to meet with students this year in person, through Zoom, or by phone. Whether your child already has an established relationship with one of the psychologists/counselors or is looking for support/connection for the first time, we encourage students to reach out via email to set up appointments. If families are interested in obtaining additional support for their children, we are also available to make referrals to clinicians who are connecting with clients via telehealth.

Jen Hamilton  617-686-0644
Rick Wilson  617-513-8620
Mary Batty  617-669-5243
Mark Spence 617-877-0459
Latasha Sarpy 857-288-8756
Molly Parizeau 781-864-4351

The Nobles community also has access to this online mental health and wellness resource guide, which includes a rich variety of tools, as well as contact information for the entire student support team.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES