Dear Parents,

We hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. I applaud everyone’s efforts and accomplishments, specifically those of our students and faculty, as we come to the close of the 2019-2020 school year. It certainly has been quite a year like no other and, as a community, we have shown strength, perseverance, resilience, trust, and love at levels never witnessed before. I am overcome by emotion when I reflect on this year. Congratulations to our students and faculty!

Over the past several weeks, we have worked diligently to develop a comprehensive plan for the 2020-2021 school year with the goal of resuming on-campus instruction. As of now, we are set to open the campus on August 19. Our plan is based on guidance established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local public health authorities, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Florida Council of Independent Schools. Highlights of the plan are as follows:

  • Daily temperature checks – Everyone entering the school will have their temperature taken before being allowed on campus. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or above will not be allowed to enter.
  • Social distancing – We will make every effort to maintain at all times, social distancing of approximately six feet for everyone on campus. Class size will be limited to between 8-12 students.
  • Cafeteria and food service - We will eliminate the use of the cafeteria for communal eating. The cafeteria staff will still provide food service and serve lunch (and snacks) in each classroom.
  • Frequent handwashing – Students and faculty will be required to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon entering school and will be encouraged to do so several times throughout the day.
  • Clear policy around mask usage - We will require all faculty and staff to wear a mask when in close proximity to students. Everyone will be required to wear a mask when outside of their respective classroom. The school will provide masks for everyone.
  • Active monitoring – Anyone exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms or with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be sent home immediately and will quarantine until they no longer exhibit symptoms.
  • Positive Test Results of COVID-19 – If faculty, staff, or families who have been at school test positive, Remote Learning will be initiated for all who have come in contact with them.
  • Strictly enforced visitor policy - We will be significantly limiting the number of outside visitors. All visitors will be temperature checked before entering and required to wear a mask at all times when on campus.
  • Hand sanitizer – We will be installing hand sanitizer stations throughout campus.
  • Nightly cleaning and disinfecting of campus – We will hire a professional cleaning company to clean and disinfect the campus on a nightly basis.

The SSEDS Re-Opening Health and Wellness Procedures will become an Addendum to our Student Handbook. This Addendum will come with an Acknowledgement Form that parents and students must sign at the start of the school year along with their Student Handbook Form.  

The SSEDS Re-Opening Health and Wellness Procedures will take effect immediately and be continuously reevaluated and updated to ensure we incorporate the latest best practices as set forth by health and governmental officials. We are working hard to keep your children and the entire school community as safe and healthy as possible. It is our goal to create the safest possible learning environment while continuing to maintain the character, value, and mission of our school. Our efforts will only work if we have full compliance from the SSEDS community, and we request your commitment and patience as we embark on what we recognize will be a challenging time for all.

SSEDS Re-Opening Health and Wellness Procedures

Arrivals and Dismissals
  • There will be staggered arrivals and dismissals.
  • The school will organize drop off and pick up through the carpool lane of the school’s Main Highway and McFarlane parking lots. Parents and guardians are encouraged to use carpool and to remain in their cars. Any adult that chooses to walk their child(ren) to the entrance will be required to wear a facial covering. Parents or guardians will not be allowed on campus.
  • There will be five entries into the school: 1) Main Highway Gate, 2) Main Highway Alley/Great Hall Gate, 3) McFarlane Lot Arts and Innovation Gate, 4) McFarlane Lot Johnson Building Elevator Gate, and 5) McFarlane Lot Church Entrance.
  • At drop-off, school personnel will walk up to the car and take the child’s temperature using a touch-free infrared thermometer. If the child has no fever (a temperature below 100.4 degrees), they will be allowed to disembark. If the child has a fever, the child will return home with the caregiver.
  • For those walking the child(ren) to the entrance, school personnel will take the child to an area with privacy and take the child’s temperature. If the child has no fever, they will be allowed onto the campus. Otherwise, the child will return home with the caregiver.
  • Each student will be required to use hand sanitizer upon entering the campus.
  • During dismissal, we will ask parents to arrive at a specific time to pick up their child(ren). Children will be brought to the car in the carpool lane. Parents will be required to remain in the car.
  • Students will maintain social distancing during dismissal by keeping appropriate spacing and observing floor markings.

Group Size and Co-Horts
  • As per CDC guidelines, the school will keep class size to approximately 10 students.
  • Children will remain in their assigned classroom (or outdoor meeting space) with their same classmates for the whole day. 
  • Children will eat a school-provided lunch (and snack) in their classrooms.
  • Children will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.
  • SSEDS will have a schedule for outdoor learning and activities to avoid the commingling of classes outdoors. This includes recess and physical education. Classes will be kept separate from one another and will have different playground time. Playground equipment will be sanitized between classes.

Teaching and Learning Scenarios
It is important to note that these scenarios are fluid. At any given time, we may jump from one to the other, given national, state, county, or association guidelines and mandates:

1) All students and faculty on campus as usual pre-COVID19, with co-teaching model and DEACON schedule.

2) All students and faculty on campus with health, safety, and social distancing protocols in place as delineated in this letter.
  • Class schedule will be a five-day schedule, not a DEACON cycle, allowing homeroom teachers to teach core subjects with two specials a day.
  • Class groups will range from 8-12 students with one teacher.
  • Four groups per grade-level, departmentalized.
  • See above for physical education, recess, or any outdoor activity.               

3) SSEDS Remote Learning will follow Scenario 2, five-day schedule.
  • Performance attributes: Morning meetings, mini lessons (as is in the classroom setting), small group instruction, differentiation of instruction, synchronous and asynchronous learning.
  • Grading/assessment will be the same as in Scenario 1 & 2.
  • Platforms will be ZOOM, Google Classroom, Seesaw, Symbaloo.
  • Student/Parent expectations:
  1. Students must have a designated, quiet workplace at home, including a desk and chair.
  2. Students must have headphones with microphone (to use at home and in school).
  3. Students must be attentive, no other distractions.
  4. No food and no pets while engaged in Remote Learning.
  5. Students must have access to a printer at home.
  6. Virtual background on Zoom is not allowed.
  7. Students must be on screen (unless otherwise directed by the teacher).
  8. Students must be on time for all Zoom classes.
  9. All faculty will take attendance for each class.
  10. Students must engage in all classes and complete assignments independently.
  11. Students must wear a school uniform polo at all times during Remote Learning.
  12. Parents must be in attendance for the Zoom Remote Learning orientation in the fall.

Personal Protective Equipment
  • SSEDS will provide four facial coverings/masks per child that will need to be clearly labeled with the child’s name on the outside of the mask. These cloth masks should be washed regularly to ensure cleanliness.
  • All faculty and staff will be required to wear masks and gloves during arrival and dismissal.
  • All faculty and staff will be required to wear masks when in close contact with children.
  • Safety glasses are optional.
  • Everyone will wear masks when traveling through common areas of the campus.

General Health and Safety
  • St. Stephen’s will monitor the health of its students and staff daily.
  • For the students, this will primarily be the responsibility of the parents in the home environment, to observe the child’s health, take daily temperature readings and report any unusual symptoms that may be a cause of concern for the school community. Staff will have similar responsibilities.
  • Parents should communicate any special instructions or information to teachers via email.
  • All classrooms have close proximity to bathrooms stocked with sufficient soap and paper towels/hand dryers for thorough hand washing.
  • All classrooms have easy access to hand sanitizing stations and sanitizing wipes.
  • There will also be hand sanitizing stations in many of the public spaces, hallways, and entry points.
  • Only essential outside visitors will be permitted on campus.
  • All SSEDS admissions tours will take place virtually.

Symptoms and illness during School
  • Children who become ill at school or exhibit COVID-19-like symptoms will be isolated in a specifically-designated office at school. Caregivers will be contacted and expected to pick them up immediately.
  • Parents must ensure their contact information at the school is correct and updated immediately if there is a change.
  • The school will keep a record and immediately send home anyone in the school community exhibiting the following symptoms (as defined by the CDC):
  • A fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Congestions
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste
  • Loss of smell
  • Any member exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms like those described above must self-quarantine at home until all of the following are true:
  • No fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) for at least 72 hours.
  • Other symptoms have fully improved (no cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.)
  • A medical doctor’s note will be required upon return.
  • The school reserves the right to require COVID-19 testing from any student or staff member exhibiting symptoms.
  • The CDC recommends that individuals at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 consult with their doctor to assess their risk and determine if they should stay home or not.

When Someone Tests Positive for COVID-19
  • Anyone in the school community that tests positive for COVID-19 must remain home until SSEDS, in consultation with local health authorities, determines it is safe to return to school.
  • After someone tests positive, the campus may close temporarily to allow for electrostatic cleaning and disinfecting.

Campus Cleaning
  • All classrooms and playground areas will be cleaned and disinfected every weeknight by a professional, licensed cleaning company.
  • Every effort will be made to use CDC and EPA-approved cleaners.
  • The school will reduce the soft materials in the classrooms and select materials based on how easily they can be sterilized.
  • High touch areas such as entryway doors and handrails will be disinfected regularly throughout the day.

After Care
  • Children in after-care will be in groups of approximately 10 students to a room.
  • Social distancing guidelines will be maintained.
  • Note that after school children will be exposed to children not in their regular school day classroom and these children will vary day by day.

These policies are subject to change as the school receives more updated information from the CDC and local health officials.  

I look forward with great joy to the day when we are all back together again!

Have a safe, healthy, and enjoyable summer.