August 21, 2020

Dear Lower School Families, 

The summer is nearly over, and we are very excited to welcome your children back to Academy! For those families who are new, a special welcome is extended as you join our vibrant school community. Our faculty and staff have been working very diligently to prepare for the return of students. This letter contains important information for the opening of school. Please also refresh yourself with our reopening plan for further details (for this PDF file, we recommend viewing it on a Firefox browser because Google browsers such as Chrome do not always display it properly).

Class Lists
Please click here for your grade’s class lists (not included in this public version) and know that we use many factors when grouping students. With our “pod” environment and reduced class size, we have added 17 new homeroom classes from last year for a total of 45. The formation of class lists is not an exact science, and we have made every effort to create balanced classes for the year ahead. The faculty and administration have worked diligently to build successful class groupings at every level. The distribution of these lists can bring some anxiety, excitement and disappointment on the part of children and parents/guardians. Our experience shows that each child quickly develops a sense of “group identity” with his/her class, and late summer nervousness quickly fades as the year gets underway. I also encourage everyone to participate in the Lower School Virtual Ice Cream Social (see details below) as often the first meeting with a teacher will dispel lingering anxiety and gets the year off to a positive start for all concerned.

Online Learning Students
For those families who have selected online learning, you will be receiviing an email this Sunday, August 23, with additional details about our Online Learning Program and preparations that will be helpful for your child. Online learners will be placed in a homeroom section so they are part of the class community who take part in daily Morning Meetings, synchronous learning opportunities, and asynchronous learning times during the day. In addition, online learners will be working with an Online Coordinator who will help support them when questions arrive during the day.

Daily Health Screening
We will begin the school year with a manual (hard copy) Health Screening Form, which has four forms per single sheet of paper. Please print out and cut into fourths and, if needed, our Lower School Office can send hard copies home with your child. Just let us know. Regardless of which mode of travel your children use to get to school, they each will need to have a signed, dated and completed Health Screening Form to provide to the faculty or staff member that is working either the bus circle or lower school car line. More details, including a bus transportation survey, are explained in our Health Screening Overview.

Name Placards For Cars
Name placards for cars, as well as printed copies of the health screening form, will be distributed to each family as you come through the car line on your child’s scheduled first day. For those students who take the bus, the name placards will be given to your children to bring home. It is very important that you have your name placard clearly displayed on the passenger side of the windshield each day to help us easily identify your car.

Morning Arrival
The Lower School building does not open for students until 7:45 a.m. this year. Students cannot be dropped off prior to 7:45 as they are not able to enter the building nor is there supervision. If you arrive before 7:45, please wait in the car line until faculty arrive to assist. For hygienic reasons, we will not be opening and closing car doors this year. Faculty will come to your car and when they are next to your car, this is when your child should get out. All students need to have their masks on at their dropoff locations.

The First Two Weeks: Schedule

WEEK 1: AUGUST 24-28
  • August 24: No classes for lower school students, Online Ice Cream Social (see details below)
  • August 25: Grade 2 and Grade 4 plus Explorers (small-group)
  • August 26: Grade 5 and Kindergarten plus Explorers (small-group)
  • August 27: PreK and Grade 1 plus Explorers (small-group)
  • August 28: Grade 3 plus Explorers (small-group)
 
A detailed Explorer schedule was sent to all Explorer families for the first two weeks of school. Please refer to that letter (not included in this public version) for the specific times your children will be on campus.

WEEK 2: AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 4
  • Monday: Explorers (all), PreK, Grade 1, Grade 2
  • Tuesday: Explorers (all), Kindergarten, Grade 5
  • Wednesday: Explorers (all); PreK, Grade 3, Grade 4
  • Thursday: Explorers (all); Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 5
  • Friday: Explorers (all); PreK, Kindergarten, Grade 3, Grade 4

WEEK 3 and MOVING FORWARD
  • Our goal beginning the week after Labor Day (September 7) is to have all lower school grades on campus.
  • We will be closely monitoring the first two weeks and make any adjustments necessary.

Virtual Ice Cream Social
The Ice Cream Social will take place virtually on Monday, August 24. Teachers will meet with their students online via Zoom from the classroom. This will be an opportunity for children to say hello to their new classmates and teachers and get a peak at their classrooms through a virtual tour. Your children’s homeroom teachers will be sending their Zoom links for these gatherings as we get closer to the date. The schedule will be as follows:
  • 4:00-4:45 p.m. (Explorers, PreK, Kindergarten, Grade 1)
  • 5:00-5:45 p.m. (Grades 2, 3, 4, 5)

Student Supplies
As mentioned in my July letter, we made some revisions to our Lower School Supply List. In order to ensure proper safety, many items that we used communally for students are now going to be individual. We have clear plastic boxes (about the size of a shoe box) available for every lower school student, and supplies inside will be used only by that student. Please review this list for changes that were made and items your child is expected to bring. Returning students need to bring their iPads with them on the first day. If possible, your child should bring the supplies on Tuesday, August 25.

Dress Code
Students are expected to be in dress code starting Tuesday, August 25. All students need to be wearing a mask upon arrival.

Lower School Strings
This year, we will be dividing students up by grade level (Grades 3, 4 and 5) for after-school strings practices due to Columbus Academy’s commitment to keeping students separated by grade/homeroom. Moreover, because of social distancing rules and regulations, we will be unable to offer beginning strings this year. Beginning a student on a string instrument requires a great deal of help in adjusting how an instrument is held, posture, and a number of things that would not be possible with the six-foot distance regulations. This year, orchestra director David Wong and strings assistant Dr. Soojin Lee will be team-teaching many of the classes. Families who might be interested should complete this survey by August 28 to provide the information that will allow us to create this offering with necessary after-school care coverage.

Room Parents
Our Parents’ Association of Columbus Academy (PACA) Lower School Lead Parents, Amy Gonzalez (Alejandra ’28) and Gabriela May (Michael ’25 and Alex ’31), would like you to complete this survey if you are interested in volunteering as a Room Parent.

Back-To-School Night
Back-to-School Night was originally planned for the evening of September 3. It will be important to have had a few weeks of school completed with everyone together on campus before we have this event, so a new date will be sent to you when it is rescheduled.

We are all adjusting to the many new protocols and new routines. I ask for your patience, understanding and support as we navigate new ways of doing school together. We are excited to have children on campus again and bringing our lower school community together again!

Thank you!

Be well,

Head of Lower School