We have been hard at work over recent months planning for our return to school this fall at Nobles as we eagerly anticipate bringing our students back to campus. I want to update you on our plans for reopening school.Head of School
Read The Full Letter from Head of School Catherine J. Hall
August 7, 2020
I hope you are safe and well, and that you have found many moments of joy and laughter this summer with your family. We have been hard at work over recent months planning for our return to school this fall at Nobles as we eagerly anticipate bringing our students back to campus. I want to update you on our plans for reopening school.
Early last winter, many of us first heard about a potential global health crisis, a risk that seemed to be as hypothetical as it was distant. Our diligent planning in February felt a bit overly cautious. Just a few weeks later in March, that planning felt suddenly urgent. Five months ago ushered in a chapter none of us have faced in our lives before, which has challenged all aspects of living, learning, working and parenting.
In some ways, what we faced last spring was clearer than what we face now. The question then was not if but how we work remotely as we sought to help flatten the curve of the pandemic. Our situation now is more complex and nuanced, with many uncertainties in front of us. As we look ahead, with a strong commitment to returning to campus if safe and possible, we know we need an approach that is robust and flexible—that can adapt to the inevitable twists and turns that the coming months will bring.
Three central principles guided our reopening planning:
- Health and safety
- Equity of access to Nobles’ program
- A focus on meeting our community members where each person is, where they feel safe and supported
Once state and federal health and safety guidelines were issued around school reopening, it was clear we would not be able to have everyone back on campus at once. The guidelines restrict use of many of our indoor spaces, and call for us to de-densify all of our common spaces. Recognizing these limitations, we then explored the safest and most effective way to bring our community back in a hybrid model. We established several priorities to guide our work:
- The model must be flexible. We created a model that allows for the inevitable changes and challenges we will face this fall. Consistency and predictability for our community, as we ebb and flow between more or less on campus time, without sharp turns and sudden changes to our schedule, will make a marked difference in the experience this year.
- We prioritize having as much of an in-person class present on campus as possible. We created a schedule that, to the extent possible, has as many students as possible present when we are live in classrooms.
- We prioritize grade-level connectedness. Recognizing the social and community impact of our disconnect in recent months, as well as the importance for new students of creating social connections with classmates, we prioritize grades being on campus together.
- We recognize the complicated advantages and disadvantages currently with both in-person and virtual learning and strive for balance. We recognize clear academic teaching and learning challenges with being in person under the current guidelines, as well as areas where we can actually do more virtually right now than in person. We also recognize the obvious overall learning and social-emotional advantages in having some classroom time in person. We need to embrace the balance, knowing both are important for different reasons right now in fulfilling our overall mission and providing the most meaningful experience for our students.
Our current plan for returning this fall has each grade level coming to campus two days each week (Classes VI-IV on Mondays and Tuesdays; Classes III-I on Thursdays and Fridays), with virtual programming the days students are not on campus. We are starting this way with the hope that we can add additional on campus time as guidelines evolve and it becomes safe to do so.
Comprehensive details about our reopening plans can be found via the links below, and I invite you to explore our plans. I also invite you to attend a parent and guardian town hall next Wednesday, August 12, at 5 p.m. where I will provide any new updates and answer your questions.
As we plan to come back to campus in several weeks, I ask for your help and partnership. We will be sharing a series of instructional videos later this summer that we hope you will watch with your children, and we will be opening school with training sessions on campus for students. Our ability to provide meaningful, safe on-campus experiences depends upon each member of the community following key policies and expectations while on and off campus. These are detailed in our Health and Safety section, and should be reviewed by families with their children. We need each family to do their part to keep our community safe and healthy.
While we are, of course, deeply committed to providing for the health and safety of our community, we also cannot eliminate all of the risks associated with Covid-19. Any parent or guardian uncomfortable with the risks of having children participate in classes and programs offered on campus this fall are invited to opt for remote-only programming. When we return to school this fall, we will do all we can to meet each member of our community where they are, where they feel safe and where they feel supported.
As challenging as these last five months have been, they have also been enormously inspiring in how they have brought our community together, and made our mission resoundingly clear. Thank you for your ongoing support. I look forward to seeing our students on campus soon!
Catherine J. Hall, Ph.D.
Head of School