THE RIVERS SCHOOL

WELCOME BACK

TO RIVERS

Fall Reopening Plan for the 2020-21 School Year

 

INTRODUCTION

Committee on Reopening

The extensive work required to create this plan was guided by our members of COR committee. Following is a list of the members of that committee:

Ned Parsons, Head of School

Ava Archibald, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Tom Bourdeau, Assistant Director of Operations

John Bower, Head of the Middle School

Leslie Fraser, Upper School Dean of Faculty

Krissie Kelleher, Director of Advancement

Jim Long, Assistant Head of School / Head of the Upper School

Claudia Silva, School Nurse

Jon Wasserman, Director of Finance and Operations

The emergence of COVID-19 has forced The Rivers School, like schools around the world, to reevaluate nearly every aspect of its operations. Making this adjustment has required an enormous effort on the part of teachers, staff, and administrators. However, we feel confident that the changes we have made and the plans we have put into place will allow us to provide our students with a high-quality educational experience, while mitigating health and safety risks. Our plan at the moment is to bring students back to campus for in-person learning during the fall semester, but we are also prepared to adjust our teaching methods quickly if circumstances require it.

 

We have worked diligently to prepare ourselves to operate the school using three different modes of teaching: full on-campus learning, hybrid learning, and full remote learning. Our goal is to conduct the fall semester in the on-campus learning mode, but we know that in order for us to have a chance to do that successfully, we will need our entire community to adhere to the protocols outlined in this document. The health of all of us is dependent upon the commitment that each of us makes to keeping our community safe.  

 

We hope this document provides a clear explanation of how we plan to operate school this year and gives parents, students, and employees the resources they need to resolve any questions or concerns. We understand that transitioning back to school under these unique conditions may be difficult for students, but please know that we are committed to reorienting our students to the new school year in the safest and most supportive way possible.

IMPORTANT DATES

DATES OF ORIENTATION BY

GRADE LEVEL

6th Grade--Sept. 2 (10 a.m - Noon.)

7th Grade—Sept. 2 (1 p.m - 3 p.m.)

8th Grade—Sept. 3 (10 a.m - 3:45 p.m.)

9th Grade—Aug. 26 & 27 (10 a.m - 3 p.m.)

10th Grade—Aug, 31 (10 a.m - 3 p.m.)

11th Grade—Sept. 1 (10 a.m - 3 p.m.)

12th Grade—Aug. 28 (1 p.m - 7 p.m.)

Tues., Sept. 8—First day of classes

  • Cohort A is on-campus 

Mon., Sept. 14—Second week of school begins

  • Cohort B is on-campus

Mon., Sept. 21—Third week of school begins

  • All students are on campus for in-person learning

FIRST TWO WEEKS OF SCHOOL

 
 

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Our work to develop an approach to reopening school has been shaped by three main guiding principles:

 

1. Research and develop a return to school that is face-to-face and in-person.

 

2. Place health and safety for all of our community members at the forefront of our decision-making.

 

3. Ensure that the academic experience, no matter the mode of delivery, lives up to our current standards of excellence in both instruction and engagement.

An Emphasis on Flexibility

Although our current plan is to bring our students back to campus in the fall for in-person learning, we have prepared our teachers and staff for the very real possibility that at some point we may need to revert to a hybrid model of teaching or even a fully remote learning system. We have made the necessary investments in technology and training to ensure that we have the flexibility to shift from one mode of teaching to another at a moment’s notice.

 

The decision to switch teaching modes will be driven by a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • the level of compliance to our safety protocols within our community,

  • a significant increase in viral activity in the state and local community (i.e., increased incidence), 

  • an increase in COVID-19 cases in our direct campus community.

 

If we need to change from one mode of teaching to another, we will communicate that information  to our community quickly via our standard communication vehicles: email, texts, and phone calls.

The Decision Making Process

The decision to bring students back to campus in the fall was made carefully and deliberately, in consultation with a wide variety of experts. In addition to paying close attention to guidelines from the CDC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Weston Board of Health to ensure that we are adhering to best practices as delineated by those entities, we also partnered with Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc. (EH&E), an environmental consulting firm that has been working with more than 40 schools and colleges on the challenge of reopening in the fall. Among other things, EH&E assessed our HVAC systems, vetted our plans for how we move and interact on campus, and advised our six internal planning subcommittees, which were tasked with researching issues affecting different aspects of campus life.

 

Proposals by the subcommittees were reviewed by the Committee on Reopening (COR), a committee of senior administrators charged with knitting all the proposals into a final plan. That plan was then vetted by a Trustee COVID Committee and forwarded to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for final approval.

Proposals by the subcommittees were reviewed by the Committee on Reopening (COR), a committee of senior administrators charged with knitting all the proposals into a final plan. That plan was then vetted by a Trustee COVID Committee and forwarded to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for final approval.

Planning Process Organizational Chart

Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees COVID-19 Task Force

Committee on Reopening (COR)

Internal Planning

Sub-committees

Outside Consultant

Academic Life

Student Life

Campus Infrastructure

Health & Safety

Athletics

Music/Performing Arts

EH&E

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INVESTMENTS IN OUR CAMPUS

AND OUR PEOPLE

In order to provide a quality educational experience as well as a reasonably safe, in-person learning environment on The Rivers School campus, we have made significant financial investments in our campus and our people. We have reconfigured our campus spaces to support social distancing, upgraded our HVAC systems to improve air flow and air quality, and purchased new classroom technologies, new furniture, and large supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) for students and employees.

Following is a more detailed description of some of those investments:

 

  • Personal protection equipment (PPE) for students and employees that includes protective eyewear, extra masks, plexiglass shields to be used where appropriate, gloves, and protective clothing

 

  • High-tech, 360-degree Owl Pro cameras for every classroom that help provide a highly interactive learning experience for students who are participating in classes remotely

 

  • New furniture for classroom spaces, offices, common spaces, and outdoor spaces that enables us to maintain proper distancing protocols

 

  • More than 100 hand-sanitizer stations, located throughout every space on campus

 

  • New hand-washing stations deployed across campus

 

  • Additional Facilities Department staffing to enhance daily cleaning protocols and procedures

 

  • Upgrades in HVAC systems that enhance ventilation, filtration and air purification 

 

  • Moved the single-room Health Office to Haynes Hall where it now occupies a suite of rooms. The new office has three isolation rooms, a private bathroom, and a waiting area to accommodate up to five students.

 

  • A tent outside Haffenreffer to provide more outdoor space that can be used by students in inclement weather and for outdoor music rehearsals


The reconfiguring we have done to our classrooms and other learning spaces will allow us to adhere to our strict distancing protocols, which call for six-foot distancing for seating wherever possible and four-and-a-half-foot distancing in any spaces where six-foot distancing is not possible. This approach allows us to exceed the distancing guidelines set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which mandates a minimum of three-foot distancing in classrooms and learning spaces.

Finally, in addition to the 360-degree Owl Pro cameras that will now be a standard feature in every classroom, lab, and workshop, we also have invested in a new Learning Management System (LMS) that will better support remote-learning and hybrid-learning models of teaching. That investment in classroom technologies has been matched with an investment in faculty training. 

 

Following is a more detailed description of some of those investments:

  • Invested in Canvas as a new LMS allowing for a more interactive student experience in all courses

  • Developed a consistent course structure on Canvas that allows students to have a predictable experience across departments

  • Trained all faculty on how to best use Canvas and will train students during orientation

  • The Academic leadership took a three-week course to enable this group to create a schoolwide structure for hybrid and remote learning at Rivers 

  • The Academic leadership used what it learned in the course and created a plan for Rivers that allows  the school to deliver classes in one of three ways: fully on campus, some students on campus and some learning remotely, and fully remote

  • All faculty have taken a three-week training course in order to redesign their courses for the possibilities listed above

  • Faculty have collaborated in building their redesigned courses on Canvas in preparation for the fall and committed significant time to this work after completing the training course mentioned above

 

THE IMPORTANT ROLE

OF FAMILIES

 

Families play a vital role in maintaining safety on campus. The number-one safety measure we can take as a community is to keep children home if they are sick and prevent them from being exposed to high-risk situations when they are out of school. As a school, we will work with families to support their child’s adherence to safety measures both on and off campus. To support this effort, prior to the start of school, we will allocate a portion of orientation to training students on how to maintain a COVID-safe campus.

 

We understand there are families with higher-risk members in their households. As a community that prioritizes health and safety, we ask everyone to help us protect all members of our community—not only by adhering to state health recommendations and regulations, including travel orders, but by complying with broader safety measures that we feel are necessary. We greatly appreciate your cooperation.


To emphasize the importance that each of us plays in keeping our community safe, we will ask all families and employees to sign  a “community pledge”—a promise that we will all do our part to maintain the protocols that hopefully will allow us to hold in-person schooling all fall. The pledge will be a way for each of us to indicate our personal commitment to the effort to keep our community safe. Students who are known to us to have participated in social gatherings that have the ability to jeopardize the health and safety of the community will be required to stay at home for 10 days before returning to live classes (assuming they have not had close contact to someone with COVID).


We know you will have questions regarding our safety protocols, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions. We are eager to listen and to help each family navigate any concerns they may have. The best way to submit questions is to use this Opening of School Feedback Form. We have someone assigned to monitor questions submitted via that form and to forward those questions along to the person most able to provide a quick and accurate answer.

 

COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS

To help keep students, staff, and faculty safe, it is imperative that all members of our school community remain committed to the safety policies and procedures listed in this and future communications.* Employees and parents alike are expected to abide by the following requirements:

  • Follow Federal, State, and Local Orders: All families and Rivers employees are expected to adhere to the directives of applicable federal, state, and local government health departments, including the CDC, regarding social distancing in public and other measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In addition, we ask that everyone follow protocols Rivers has adopted and outlined in this document that may go beyond those recommended by these agencies.

  • COVID-19 Testing and Notification: If your child or someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, you must notify the school nurse as soon as possible.

  • Staying Home from School: Anyone who is sick or experiencing cold-like symptoms is expected to stay home from school and notify the school nurse. Students who stay home will still be able to participate in classes remotely. If anyone in your household has been notified by the state or local health department that they were in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19, you are asked to notify the school nurse. Depending on the circumstances, anyone in such a household may be asked to stay home from school for 14 days. If anyone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, all members of that household must stay home for 14 days and can only return to campus after receiving a negative COVID test. Only PCR test results (not rapid antigen) will be accepted. Students who are asked to stay home from school will still be able to continue classes via remote learning. To help parents decide what actions they should take under any given set of circumstances, we have created the following decision tree diagrams.

  • Stay Home if Exposed: If anyone in your household has been notified by the State Health Department that they were in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19, you are asked to notify the school nurse. Depending on the circumstances, anyone in such a household may be asked to stay home from school for 14 days. If anyone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, all members of that household must stay home for 14 days, even if they receive a negative COVID test. Students who are asked to stay home from school will still be able to continue classes via remote learning.

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  • Travel: Please avoid unnecessary travel. In keeping with the requirements of the most recent travel order issued by the governor, we ask parents, if a student has traveled outside the state of Massachusetts to one of the higher-risk areas identified in that order, to notify the school and keep their child home for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. Please note that only PCR test results (not rapid antigen) will be accepted per state guidelines.

  • Face Masks: All students should come to school with two face masks every day. Rivers will provide two, three-ply cloth masks to each student and employee at the start of the school year. Parents are expected to teach their children how to use and remove a face mask properly. Face masks should be double layer. No bandanas, gaiters, or other single-layer face coverings will be allowed, nor will masks with exhalation valves or vents. Face shields do NOT serve as replacements for masks, though they can be worn in conjunction with masks. All fabric masks should be cleaned regularly. More information about masks can be found on the Massachusetts DPH website.

  • Hygiene: Parents are asked to reinforce good hygiene practices at home—in particular, the importance of frequent handwashing.

  • Students’ Personal Items: Parents should limit the number of items their child brings onto campus each day and reinforce the importance of policies regarding the sharing of food, supplies, and other items with other students. Please note that students will not have access to lockers to store their belongings during the day and will need to carry with them whatever they bring to school. There will be a place to drop off and keep sports and music equipment during the day. 

  • Medical Forms & Emergency Contacts: Parents must complete and submit all required student medical forms prior to the first day of orientation. Parents must provide at least three emergency contacts who are able to pick up their child from school within 30 minutes of receiving a call from the school nurse. Such calls will be made when a child presents with a temperature or becomes ill during the school day.

*For a more detailed description of our extensive health and safety protocols, please refer to our COVID-19 Handbook Supplement.

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COLOR-CODED ALERT SYSTEM

This year, we are prepared to operate the school using three different modes of teaching: full on-campus learning, hybrid learning, and full remote learning.

 

The hybrid model refers to a mode of operation during which half our students will be on campus and half will participate in classes remotely from home via Zoom. We would employ this mode of operation if conditions on our campus or in the local area were to change in such a way that we would need to reduce the number of people we have on campus in order to operate safely. To prepare ourselves for this possibility, we have divided our student body into two cohorts, Winter and Nonesuch. When operating in hybrid mode, one cohort will work remotely from home, while the other cohort participates in classes on campus. The cohorts would rotate every other week, so that each has one week on campus and one week at home.

 

Although we plan to operate in a hybrid mode during the first two weeks of school, our goal is to spend the rest of the fall semester in a full on-campus learning mode. However, we are prepared to move fluidly between the three modes of teaching as needed.

 

In order to communicate quickly to our community what mode we will be operating in at any given moment, we will use a  “green light/yellow light/red light” alert system. Each color will represent a specific mode of operation. The color system will allow us to communicate our sense of how safe our school environment is at any given moment and what that means for school operations.

The table below illustrates the mode of operation associated with each alert color as well as the corresponding conditions associated with that mode of operation. If we need to change from one mode of teaching to another, we will communicate that information  to our community quickly via our standard communication vehicles: email, texts, and phone calls.

LOW

General Conditions

➜ Infections low in the community

➜ Infections low or non-existent at school

➜ Families, students, and staff are closely adhering to safety protocols

➜ High level of confidence in community control of virus

Learning Environment

➜ Campus is open

➜ All students are on campus

➜ School is open all days

MODERATE

General Conditions

➜ Mild increase in new infections in the local area and on campus

➜ Families, students, and staff not adhering to safety protocols

➜ Waning confidence in community control of virus

Learning Environment

➜ Campus is open

➜ Cohort system initiated (half the students are on campus while half are learning remotely from home)

 ➜All faculty are on campus and teaching from their classrooms

HIGH

General Conditions

➜ Multiple new infections in the school community

➜ Community control of the virus is poor

➜ Stay-at-home order issued by the governor and/or state DPH

Learning Envrionment

➜ Campus is closed except for essential workers

➜ Remote learning for all students and teachers

Please note that we may move from one status to another depending on the degree to which members of our community are complying with our safety protocols. To ensure everyone’s safety, we will not be able to accept a weakening of the protocols we are working to maintain. This means we will be asking families to support our efforts with students for full compliance during the school day and even beyond, so that each week we can return to campus with confidence.

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES

Following is a summary of some of the key measures and protocols we are putting in place to protect the health and safety of all our community members. It is critical that we all familiarize ourselves with these measures and protocols and do all we can to abide by the behavioral expectations they imply. For a more detailed description of our extensive health and safety protocols, please refer to our COVID-19 Handbook Supplement.

 

Face coverings


Students are required to wear a mask/face covering for the duration of the school day whenever they are inside a building or in an outside location where social distancing is not possible. Face masks should be double layer. No bandanas, gaiters, or other single-layer face coverings will be allowed, nor will masks with exhalation valves or vents. Face shields do NOT serve as replacements for masks, though they can be worn in conjunction with masks. Students will be able to take “mask breaks” in designated areas during the school day. More information about masks can be found on the Massachusetts DPH website.




Physical distancing


The CDC guidelines call for a minimum of three feet of distance between people. We are asking students to maintain a distance of at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people as much as possible during the school day. In the majority of our classrooms, desks will be placed six feet apart, though some rooms will have desks set at a distance of four-and-a-half feet. Students may not move any desk or rearrange any seating assignments.




Daily health screening by parents


While we will not be requiring parents/guardians to present a daily attestation of their child’s health status, our community pledge, which each student and guardian will sign prior to the start of orientation programming, represents a commitment to the daily health screening to be done at home before bringing or sending children to Rivers. Before the beginning of the year, we will require all families to attest to performing a symptom screening and a temperature check on their child before the start of each school day. We will send frequent reminders of the commitment each family makes to the health of the entire community by screening their child(ren) each day and agreeing to follow the protocols should their child present with symptoms. Our expectation is that any child who is presenting with any cold or flu-like symptoms will be kept home from school and will participate in class remotely. We also will not be utilizing preemptive testing for COVID-19 across our community, nor will we use temperature screening on campus each day. These determinations were developed through our work with EH&E, as well as through discussion with medical personnel advising our committees. The DESE guidelines discourage temperature checking as well, as the results are too inconclusive and inconsistent to be of real value. However, should the testing procedures become more effective and efficient, we will revisit this policy; for the time being, we will not be utilizing widespread testing on campus.




Updated sick policy and enforcement practices


The best way to protect the community from the potential spread of the virus is to prevent anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms from coming to campus, and we are urging families to help us in this regard as we seek to maintain a healthy community. COVID-19 presents like a lot of typical childhood ailments, so, in the event of illness, we prefer that people not diagnose on their own but simply keep themselves or their child home for the sake of the community’s well-being, seeking medical diagnoses when appropriate. Students who stay home will still have the ability to participate in class remotely. We also ask that everyone communicate openly with our school nurse so that we can have an accurate picture of the relative health of the community on a daily basis.




Travel policy


The governor recently implemented restrictions on those coming into Massachusetts from states determined to be high-risk areas. This includes restrictions on Massachusetts residents traveling to those regions and then returning to the Commonwealth. Under our protocols, those coming into the state from high risk states must quarantine for 14 days or produce a negativer PCR COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. We ask that our families abide by those restrictions. Please contact the school nurse and/or relevant class dean if you plan to travel to a designated risk area and then return home.




Hand hygiene


Teachers and staff will be enforcing hand-washing discipline throughout the school day. During the school day, students are expected to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to utilize the hand-sanitizer stations and additional hand washing sinks that are readily accessible in every space on campus. Every student will be asked to wash their hands as they enter and leave each classroom throughout the day, in addition to washing before and after they eat lunch.




Enhanced cleaning/disinfection schedule


Maintenance personnel will clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks. We have added more personnel and equipment to enable appropriate deep cleaning to occur throughout the day and each evening after students have departed the campus.




Dining hall/food services


We will be serving lunch on campus, but will be employing new protocols to manage the risk of spreading the virus. These steps include distancing students when they eat, providing pre-packaged meal options, and managing the distribution of lunches carefully. Students and faculty will be trained in new protocols for picking up food and seating at lunch. Students may bring nut-free food to school for lunch if they wish, but they will be asked to refrain from sharing any food they bring with others. As always, we will provide safe lunch options for students with food allergies.




Safe classroom practices


All students, faculty, and staff must wear masks inside at all times. Furniture has been positioned in each classroom to maximize social distancing, and the furniture cannot be moved. Students must stay in their assigned seats during class unless instructed otherwise. Teachers will limit the number of students out of their seats at one time in order to maintain six-foot distancing as much as possible. Students can enter class 10 minutes prior to the start of class. All seating will be assigned and set by the teacher in each class in order to help us, should the need arise, with contact tracing at a later time. At no time shall the number of people exceed the posted capacity of a room. Each room will be equipped with cleaning supplies, which students will use to wipe down the table and chair they used before leaving a classroom. In art and science classes, the sharing of equipment will be minimized, and students, under the supervision of teachers, will be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting all equipment that they used prior to leaving class.




Large group gatherings


We are altering our protocols for large group gatherings, such as all-school meetings and homerooms, in such a way that the programming can be delivered safely. Students and faculty will be spread out around campus, and these events will be live-streamed out to them, allowing the content to be enjoyed in the safety of a small group setting.




Excursions and field trips


For the foreseeable future, we will not be running any off-campus field trips or excursions. If this restriction can be lifted, we will communicate our plans with families as we determine them.




Visitors on campus


At this time, we are discouraging visitors to campus as we try to manage the number of people moving through our community throughout the class day. For this reason, we ask parents and guardians to be on campus only for drop-off in the morning and pick-up in the afternoon and to remain in their cars. Please contact the relevant administrator at school if you need to come to campus for any other reason. All visitors who do come to campus must check in and follow all safety protocols, which include the requirements to wear a mask, social distance, and confirm they are in good health with no cold-like symptoms.





ACADEMIC PLANNING AND SCHEDULES

Our daily schedule this fall will be different from years past in important ways that are connected to the unique challenges inherent in delivering our curriculum during a pandemic. Safely occupying a classroom requires more space for physical distancing, and this creates new constraints on our scheduling flexibility as it relates to class sizes. To ensure safe movement around campus and to provide time for the necessary cleaning protocols we have instituted, our schedule includes more time between classes and a revised Monday schedule. We have also revamped our curriculum to flex with us, should we need to move between being fully on-campus, fully remote, or in hybrid mode. To facilitate this flexibility, we have simplified our block schedule to create consistency, helping students focus their efforts on learning and building skills (and not on worrying about when class starts).

The Cohort System

Although our goal is to bring our entire student body to campus for in-person learning during the fall semester, we recognize there might be a need to move to a hybrid model of teaching at some point during the semester. Indeed, we are planning to operate during the first two weeks in hybrid mode.

 

Operating in hybrid mode means that, at any given time, we will have only half our students taking classes on campus while the other half participates in classes remotely from home. To prepare ourselves for hybrid teaching, we are dividing our student body into two Winter (cohort A) and Nonesuch (Cohort B). In hybrid mode, the cohorts would rotate every other week so that each has one week on campus and one week at home.

 

In building out these cohorts, we prioritized two important factors. First, we needed to be sure that class sizes are relatively balanced between the cohorts. Second, we prioritized keeping families together in the cohorts, regardless of division, so that transportation and at-home learning time could work more efficiently for families. Because we have had to prioritize these two important factors, we cannot accommodate other changes in the cohort structures, such as requests that close friends be placed in the same cohort.

The First Two Weeks of School

We plan to conduct the first two weeks of school in hybrid—or “Yellow Light”—mode. This means we will begin school on September 8 with just half of the students (Winter Cohort) on campus, while the other half (Nonesuch Cohort) will learn from home synchronously via Zoom.

 

In the second week of classes, we will flip the cohorts so that Nonesuch Cohort is in the classroom, while Winter Cohort Zooms in from home. For the third week of classes, we plan to move into “Green Light” mode and bring all students to campus to be in classes together, and we will operate in that mode as long as it is safe to do so.

 

Traditionally, the Middle School starts the year with four days of Leadership Lab programming designed to create opportunities for community building, establishing relationships with peers and teachers, and developing effective leadership skills. This year, the Middle School will follow the cohort model in week one, with Winter Cohort on campus participating in Leadership Lab while Nonesuch Cohort is at home participating in a remote learning orientation, designed by faculty members. In the second week, the cohorts will switch, and Nonesuch Cohort will be on campus while Winter Cohort is at home. There will be time during the first two weeks for students to connect with their classroom teachers and hear about the courses they will be taking. 

 

At this time, the plan is for the entire middle school student body to return to campus on Friday, September 18 in an effort to practice the day-to-day operation of the schedule with all middle schoolers in person. A modified schedule for that Friday will be sent to families closer to the date. Middle School academic classes will begin in earnest on September 21, when we anticipate all students will be back on campus. 

 

We have made the decision to open school in this way in order to be sure we have the best possible opening we can have in a very new environment. Starting school with fewer students on campus will make it easier for us to maintain social distancing as we practice and solidify the new habits we will all need to adopt as we move about our days. During this time, we also will train everyone on what the cohort system is and how it operates in the event that we have to revert to it later in the year, and we also will practice using the new remote-learning technology that we implemented over the summer.

We do recognize that, particularly for students new to the school, the notion of not being here for the first week of classes could be challenging. However, we will be using the grade-specific orientations prior to the start of school to give students the chance to meet their advisors, the other students in their advisories, and the students in their grade, with a goal of ensuring that everyone is familiar on an introductory level with their classmates. Once classes start, teachers will strive to incorporate the students at home into each class in equal measure with the students in the room. We’re confident that by the start of the third week, when we are all on campus together, students will feel familiar and comfortable with one another.

 
 
 
 
 

THE MIDDLE SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

This fall will look and feel very different for students on our campus, but we will nonetheless work with the care and attention we are known for as we nurture our students’ growth in a caring and challenging academic environment. We are committed to providing transformational experiences in a face-to-face environment insofar as we are able, and to developing powerful learning opportunities in the remote space if need be.

Upper School hours


The campus will be open from 7:15 a.m.–6 p.m. to provide flexible arrival and departure times for students. Students can come as early as 7:15 a.m. and stay as late as 6 p.m. During these off hours, students will be physically distanced and proctored by an adult.




Upper School daily schedule


The Upper School daily schedule calls for 60-minute class blocks separated by 30-minute passing times, during which we will ask students to clean the desks and chairs they have been in, wash their hands,and have an outdoor mask break with proper distancing. As we become more effective at the cleaning and hand-washing, we may increase the class blocks to 70 minutes where possible.




Drop off, morning check in, and pick up


Seniors and Juniors driving themselves to school should park in their designated parking lots, exit their car and go to their first class of the day for attendance.* Students with cars on campus should leave any sports bags or instruments in their cars until afternoon activities begin. At the end of their academic day and any afternoon activities, student drivers should proceed directly to their car with any siblings and leave campus. Students should not congregate in the parking lots and must maintain social distancing and mask-wearing. US students who are being driven to school and picked up at the end of the day, or arriving and departing by bus will be dropped off in the queue line between the flagpole and back of Haffenreffer. Upon exiting their cars/bus in the morning, US students should proceed to their first class of the day for attendance.* Any sports bags or instruments should be dropped off in the indoor turf before going to their first class. At the end of the school day, US students must wait for pick up at one of the indoor or outdoor locations designated as an Upper School space to await pick up or bus departure. These locations include the Revers Center, the Revers turf, the indoor turf, the library, and the Campus Center entrance. Students should remain in these areas until they have confirmed visually or by phone that their parents are on campus and ready for pick up. No students should congregate near the flagpole area. Students must maintain social distancing and wear face masks. Parents are asked to stay in their cars throughout the drop-off and pick-up processes. *Students who have a first-period free and have elected to come to school late should follow these same procedures and then go straight to their second-period class. Any parent or guardian of a student who is tardy to school or is going to be absent for the day should follow the normal procedures for notifying the school that can be found in the Student Handbook.




Free periods and study halls


Upper School students who have free time during the academic day will be encouraged to congregate outside on the Revers Center turf, as well as on adjacent grass areas and Hutton Terrace. Six-foot distancing and masks will be required, and faculty/staff will be assigned to oversee adherence to those safety precautions. Students will not be allowed to congregate in other outdoor locations. If two students are more than six feet apart and outside, they will be allowed to take a “mask break.” When the weather is inclement, or when Upper School students are seeking indoor work spaces, they will be allowed to use the pre-positioned seating in the Revers Center, the first and second floors of the library, or on the indoor turf. Study halls will be in assigned locations for ninth and tenth graders.




Extracurriculars and athletics


Upper School clubs, affinity groups, and other approved student groups will meet during their assigned times and in their assigned locations, but only in the presence of each group’s faculty advisor. Spaces will be assigned according to the estimated size of the groups. If the number of clubs and groups exceeds our on-campus capacity to host their meetings, those meetings can be conducted via Zoom. For those times when we are operating in a hybrid mode, those students who are in the remote cohort can also attend club and group meetings via Zoom. Athletics will be offered in the afternoon. Though we will not have a typical ISL interscholastic schedule for athletes this fall, we do plan to hold practices and develop meaningful opportunities for competition. Once the year gets up and running, we will have more details to offer on how athletics will work.





 

THE UPPER SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

Although members of the Upper School faculty have trained hard all summer to develop the skills needed to provide impactful hybrid and remote-learning experiences, should circumstances require it, we are all hopeful that we can return to the classroom so that we can offer an in-person learning experience. This year, that in-person experience will be a bit different from past years, and the key elements of those differences are outlined below. 

Upper School hours


The campus will be open from 7:15 a.m.–6 p.m. to provide flexible arrival and departure times for students. Students can come as early as 7:15 a.m. and stay as late as 6 p.m. During these off hours, students will be physically distanced and proctored by an adult.




Upper School daily schedule


The Upper School daily schedule calls for 60-minute class blocks separated by 30-minute passing times, during which we will ask students to clean the desks and chairs they have been in, wash their hands,and have an outdoor mask break with proper distancing. As we become more effective at the cleaning and hand-washing, we may increase the class blocks to 70 minutes where possible.




Drop off, morning check in, and pick up


Seniors and Juniors driving themselves to school should park in their designated parking lots, exit their car and go to their first class of the day for attendance.* Students with cars on campus should leave any sports bags or instruments in their cars until afternoon activities begin. At the end of their academic day and any afternoon activities, student drivers should proceed directly to their car with any siblings and leave campus. Students should not congregate in the parking lots and must maintain social distancing and mask-wearing. US students who are being driven to school and picked up at the end of the day, or arriving and departing by bus will be dropped off in the queue line between the flagpole and back of Haffenreffer. Upon exiting their cars/bus in the morning, US students should proceed to their first class of the day for attendance.* Any sports bags or instruments should be dropped off in the indoor turf before going to their first class. At the end of the school day, US students must wait for pick up at one of the indoor or outdoor locations designated as an Upper School space to await pick up or bus departure. These locations include the Revers Center, the Revers turf, the indoor turf, the library, and the Campus Center entrance. Students should remain in these areas until they have confirmed visually or by phone that their parents are on campus and ready for pick up. No students should congregate near the flagpole area. Students must maintain social distancing and wear face masks. Parents are asked to stay in their cars throughout the drop-off and pick-up processes. *Students who have a first-period free and have elected to come to school late should follow these same procedures and then go straight to their second-period class. Any parent or guardian of a student who is tardy to school or is going to be absent for the day should follow the normal procedures for notifying the school that can be found in the Student Handbook.




Free periods and study halls


Upper School students who have free time during the academic day will be encouraged to congregate outside on the Revers Center turf, as well as on adjacent grass areas and Hutton Terrace. Six-foot distancing and masks will be required, and faculty/staff will be assigned to oversee adherence to those safety precautions. Students will not be allowed to congregate in other outdoor locations. If two students are more than six feet apart and outside, they will be allowed to take a “mask break.” When the weather is inclement, or when Upper School students are seeking indoor work spaces, they will be allowed to use the pre-positioned seating in the Revers Center, the first and second floors of the library, or on the indoor turf. Study halls will be in assigned locations for ninth and tenth graders.




Extracurriculars and athletics


Upper School clubs, affinity groups, and other approved student groups will meet during their assigned times and in their assigned locations, but only in the presence of each group’s faculty advisor. Spaces will be assigned according to the estimated size of the groups. If the number of clubs and groups exceeds our on-campus capacity to host their meetings, those meetings can be conducted via Zoom. For those times when we are operating in a hybrid mode, those students who are in the remote cohort can also attend club and group meetings via Zoom. Athletics will be offered in the afternoon. Though we will not have a typical ISL interscholastic schedule for athletes this fall, we do plan to hold practices and develop meaningful opportunities for competition. Once the year gets up and running, we will have more details to offer on how athletics will work.





 

PERFORMING ARTS, CLUBS & ATHLETICS

Student Clubs and Groups

Student clubs, affinity groups, and other approved groups will be able to meet during their assigned times and in their assigned locations, but only in the presence of each group’s faculty advisor. In the Upper School these activities will take place during our Community Block, while in the Middle School clubs will take place during scheduled free blocks. Students will not be allowed to hold “impromptu” meetings without prior approval and adult supervision.

Performing Arts

Students taking performing arts classes will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals, but those rehearsals will take place under carefully controlled conditions in accordance with health and safety guidelines recommended by the DESE. Among other things, chorus, singing, musical theater, and instrumental ensemble rehearsals for brass or woodwind instruments will be held outdoors, with masks when possible, and with a minimum of 10 feet of distancing. Other types of rehearsals or classes can be held indoors as long as proper precautions, such as mask-wearing, distancing, and cleaning of music stands and chairs, are taken. To help accommodate outdoor rehearsals, a tent will be set up in front of Haffenreffer for that purpose.

Athletics

Although the heads of the ISL schools have reported that the ISL will not be conducting a regular slate of games or hosting championship tournaments, we do plan to hold athletic practices. Plans for athletic practices are still being developed as we work within the parameters of state-issued guidelines to create the most flexible and meaningful options possible. We also are working internally and with ISL peer schools to develop meaningful competitive experiences for our fall student athletes, which will happen in a very different context from the typical ISL interscholastic experience. We will be updating the community as we go forward, but we may not have a full plan developed for afternoon sports until after we get back onto campus and get settled in other ways. At this time, we do not expect that lockers and showers will be available for student use. As we get closer to the first week of classes, we will share more information with our student-athletes about weight-room and training room protocols.

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THE RIVERS SCHOOL CONSERVATORY

The RSC will follow the same health and safety protocols outlined elsewhere in this document— protocols that demand a strict adherence to social distancing, the wearing of masks, hand-washing, and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas.

 

Students will have the opportunity to participate in rehearsals, but those rehearsals will take place under carefully controlled conditions in accordance with health and safety guidelines recommended by the DESE. All Rivers Youth Orchestra groups will meet in smaller chamber orchestras or sectionals in large spaces. Players will wear a mask during the entirety of rehearsal. Rehearsals may take place in spaces outside of Bradley Hall, on The Rivers School campus, for maximal social distancing. RYO rehearsal rooms will be set up ahead of time with the floors marked for stand placement, spaced 6 feet apart. Stands will be brought from home and will not be shared. Students will not have stand partners.

 

Private lessons will be offered both virtually and in person. Your faculty member will contact you with their preference. Should you desire a different method of teaching, please let your teacher and the RSC office know. We are here to help and are dedicated to supporting students through this transition.Wind, brass, and voice private lessons may take place only in a virtual format.

 

Students will have the opportunity to perform in small in-person recitals with a limited audience size. Only one family guest per performer may attend. All other family members and friends may view remotely via livestream and recording. Seating during in-person recitals will follow social distancing guidelines with a distance of 6 feet between individuals. For those who prefer to perform remotely, RSC will continue to offer this option via Zoom.

TOP TEN RSC COMMUNITY MUST DOS

  • The number of students and faculty allowed in each room will be limited based on social distancing calculations. These social distancing capacity numbers will be displayed on a sign outside the door of each room.

  • Masks will be provided to all RSC faculty, and one mask will be provided to each student at the start of the school year. - All individuals are expected to bring a mask to campus daily, whether it is one provided by RSC or another that meets the requirements specified in this document. - Any individual who does not follow this rule may be asked to leave campus.

 

  • Parents/guardians should remain in their cars when dropping off and picking up students, unless asked specifically by the student’s teacher to sit in on a lesson. There will be no parent waiting room available.

 

  • Only one person will be allowed in the restroom at a time. Remember to wash your hands as often as possible and after restroom use.

 

  • Only one person may use the elevator at a time. 

 

  • Students are expected to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to utilize the portable hand-sanitizer stations available in all entrances/hallways and bathrooms.

 

  • Intensive cleaning will happen on a nightly basis, and a walk through cleaning person will wipe down high touch areas including door knobs, chairs, stands, and bathrooms daily.

    • Piano students are expected to wipe down the keys before and after their lessons with provided disinfectant wipes. 

    • Faculty will wipe down instruction areas, bows etc. in between lessons with disinfectant wipes provided by RSC.

 

  • There will be no gathering, grouping or congregating inside or outside any of the buildings being used for RSC purposes at any time.

 

  • The RSC staff will be the COVID-19 contact persons. There will be a staff person in the office on Saturdays from 9 am. to 1 pm.

 

  • All families and faculty must complete a community pledge prior to the start of the year, agreeing to a daily health screening process.

 
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ACCOMMODATIONS AND SUPPORT

While it is our hope that the vast majority of our students and faculty will be able to be on campus during the fall semester, we recognize that some students, teachers, or staff members may have personal health situations that put them at particular risk for COVID-19. We support the health and wellness of all of our community members and will do our best to accommodate the unique needs of individual students and employees.

 

Any parent/guardian who has a child who is immunocompromised or who has particular concerns about their child’s presence on our campus is encouraged to notify the school by sending an email to our school nurse, Claudia Silva, or by contacting their child’s grade dean as soon as possible.


We are also aware that feelings of anxiety can be heightened at a time like this. Our Director of Health and Wellness, Ben Liston, and his team stand ready to help, and we encourage parents and students to reach out to them with any concerns or questions.

Key Contact Information

Parents should always feel free to contact their child’s advisor or grade dean with any questions or concerns specific to their child. Specific health-related questions should be directed to our school nurse,  Claudia Silva, and general questions about the school’s new COVID-related operational processes are best communicated by using the Opening of School Feedback Form we have created for collecting and responding to such questions. Other key points of contact are:

 

Ned Parsons, Head of School

Jim Long, Assistant Head of School / Head of the Upper School

John Bower, Head of the Middle School

Ben Liston, Director of Counseling and Wellness

Ava Archibald, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Will Mills, Upper School Dean of Students

Sarah Freeman, Middle School Dean of Students

Cathy Favreau, Grade Dean for 6th Grade

Lily Gillett, Grade Dean for 7th Grade

Josh Shaller, Grade Dean for 8th Grade

Christine Fitzgerald, Grade Dean for 9th Grade

Meredith Caplan, Grade Dean for 10th Grade

Victoria Mizzi, Grade Dean for 11th Grade

Nick Jordan, Grade Dean for 12th Grade

Additional Resources

Please be sure to check our Opening of School website to find more detailed information on all of our protocols for the 2020-2021 school year as well as links to information related to COVID-19. We also will be using the website to post announcements and updated information and to maintain an archive of our communications.

 

TRANSPORTATION

Rivers will continue to provide daily bus transportation on its Back Bay, Forest Hills, Northeast, and Southeast routes. These buses will be operated by our bus vendor, Local Motion, and will be run in compliance with all relevant social distancing and cleaning protocols as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Students will be assigned a particular seat on the bus and are expected to sit in that seat each day. Although parents are expected to conduct an assessment of their child’s health each day before they board the bus, if a student appears symptomatic during boarding and a parent/guardian is present to take them home, the bus driver will not permit the student to enter the school bus. If a parent/guardian is not present to take them home, bus drivers will contact the school, which will refer students who may be symptomatic to the school nurse immediately upon arrival.

Protocols for Students

According to the CDC, the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed by adhering to social distancing and the use of face coverings over the nose and mouth. With this in mind, the following is required of all those riding:

 

  • All buses will have reduced capacity to maintain social distancing. Signage will be posted in each bus to display seating configuration and reminders. Please follow directions of the drivers and all signage on board.

 

  • Before coming to the bus stop, all students must self-screen or be screened by a parent/adult for fever or other symptoms of COVID-19. Any student who is feeling ill or is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 must not come to the bus stop.

 

  • Students will need to maintain social distancing at their pick up location. If this is not possible, masks or facial covering MUST be worn.

 

  • All students will be required to wear masks or facial covering while on board the bus at all times.

 

  • Although hand sanitizer will be available on every bus, it is strongly recommended that each student also bring hand sanitizer with them and use it if they have inadvertently touched their mask or face.

 

  • In order to maintain proper social distancing, students will load the buses from the back of the bus to the front and disembark from front to rear. Social distancing must be maintained while in the aisle.

 

  • While boarding, riding, or disembarking, we ask that all students avoid touching more surfaces than necessary for safe movement through the vehicle.

 

  • Students should not change their seats during a trip. All will have an assigned seat.

 

  • No eating or drinking will be allowed on the bus.

 

  • To improve fresh air circulation, some of the windows and/or hatches will be open (weather permitting) for the duration of each trip.

 

  • On vehicles equipped with air conditioning, new cabin filters have been installed that are capable of filtering particles from the air down to 3.0 microns.

 

  • Any student that develops symptoms while at school will not be allowed to return home on the bus and will need to be picked up by a parent/guardian or other pre-approved adult driver.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We understand parents and students may have many questions about the school’s operational plans and the logistics of daily life at Rivers, and we want to assure everyone that we are ready to answer everything we can now and to share more information as the year gets up and running. We will continue to ask for your patience and flexibility as we develop our practices in this strange COVID-19 environment, and we promise to be nimble in adapting to the realities of the world both inside and outside campus.


Following is a collection of a few FAQs that we think may be top of mind for many people. Additional FAQs can be found on our Opening of School website. If you have additional questions, we invite you to submit them via the Opening of School Feedback Form we have created to help us manage, track, and respond to such questions.

Face coverings


Students are required to wear a mask/face covering for the duration of the school day whenever they are inside a building or in an outside location where social distancing is not possible. Face masks should be double layer. No bandanas, gaiters, or other single-layer face coverings will be allowed, nor will masks with exhalation valves or vents. Face shields do NOT serve as replacements for masks, though they can be worn in conjunction with masks. Students will be able to take “mask breaks” in designated areas during the school day. More information about masks can be found on the Massachusetts DPH website.




Physical distancing


The CDC guidelines call for a minimum of three feet of distance between people. We are asking students to maintain a distance of at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people as much as possible during the school day. In the majority of our classrooms, desks will be placed six feet apart, though some rooms will have desks set at a distance of four-and-a-half feet. Students may not move any desk or rearrange any seating assignments.




Daily health screening by parents


While we will not be requiring parents/guardians to present a daily attestation of their child’s health status, our community pledge, which each student and guardian will sign prior to the start of orientation programming, represents a commitment to the daily health screening to be done at home before bringing or sending children to Rivers. Before the beginning of the year, we will require all families to attest to performing a symptom screening and a temperature check on their child before the start of each school day. We will send frequent reminders of the commitment each family makes to the health of the entire community by screening their child(ren) each day and agreeing to follow the protocols should their child present with symptoms. Our expectation is that any child who is presenting with any cold or flu-like symptoms will be kept home from school and will participate in class remotely. We also will not be utilizing preemptive testing for COVID-19 across our community, nor will we use temperature screening on campus each day. These determinations were developed through our work with EH&E, as well as through discussion with medical personnel advising our committees. The DESE guidelines discourage temperature checking as well, as the results are too inconclusive and inconsistent to be of real value. However, should the testing procedures become more effective and efficient, we will revisit this policy; for the time being, we will not be utilizing widespread testing on campus.




Updated sick policy and enforcement practices


The best way to protect the community from the potential spread of the virus is to prevent anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms from coming to campus, and we are urging families to help us in this regard as we seek to maintain a healthy community. COVID-19 presents like a lot of typical childhood ailments, so, in the event of illness, we prefer that people not diagnose on their own but simply keep themselves or their child home for the sake of the community’s well-being, seeking medical diagnoses when appropriate. Students who stay home will still have the ability to participate in class remotely. We also ask that everyone communicate openly with our school nurse so that we can have an accurate picture of the relative health of the community on a daily basis.




Travel policy


The governor recently implemented restrictions on those coming into Massachusetts from states determined to be high-risk areas. This includes restrictions on Massachusetts residents traveling to those regions and then returning to the Commonwealth. Under our protocols, those coming into the state from high risk states must quarantine for 14 days or produce a negativer PCR COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. We ask that our families abide by those restrictions. Please contact the school nurse and/or relevant class dean if you plan to travel to a designated risk area and then return home.




Hand hygiene


Teachers and staff will be enforcing hand-washing discipline throughout the school day. During the school day, students are expected to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to utilize the hand-sanitizer stations and additional hand washing sinks that are readily accessible in every space on campus. Every student will be asked to wash their hands as they enter and leave each classroom throughout the day, in addition to washing before and after they eat lunch.




Enhanced cleaning/disinfection schedule


Maintenance personnel will clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks. We have added more personnel and equipment to enable appropriate deep cleaning to occur throughout the day and each evening after students have departed the campus.




Dining hall/food services


We will be serving lunch on campus, but will be employing new protocols to manage the risk of spreading the virus. These steps include distancing students when they eat, providing pre-packaged meal options, and managing the distribution of lunches carefully. Students and faculty will be trained in new protocols for picking up food and seating at lunch. Students may bring nut-free food to school for lunch if they wish, but they will be asked to refrain from sharing any food they bring with others. As always, we will provide safe lunch options for students with food allergies.




Safe classroom practices


All students, faculty, and staff must wear masks inside at all times. Furniture has been positioned in each classroom to maximize social distancing, and the furniture cannot be moved. Students must stay in their assigned seats during class unless instructed otherwise. Teachers will limit the number of students out of their seats at one time in order to maintain six-foot distancing as much as possible. Students can enter class 10 minutes prior to the start of class. All seating will be assigned and set by the teacher in each class in order to help us, should the need arise, with contact tracing at a later time. At no time shall the number of people exceed the posted capacity of a room. Each room will be equipped with cleaning supplies, which students will use to wipe down the table and chair they used before leaving a classroom. In art and science classes, the sharing of equipment will be minimized, and students, under the supervision of teachers, will be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting all equipment that they used prior to leaving class.




Large group gatherings


We are altering our protocols for large group gatherings, such as all-school meetings and homerooms, in such a way that the programming can be delivered safely. Students and faculty will be spread out around campus, and these events will be live-streamed out to them, allowing the content to be enjoyed in the safety of a small group setting.




Excursions and field trips


For the foreseeable future, we will not be running any off-campus field trips or excursions. If this restriction can be lifted, we will communicate our plans with families as we determine them.




Visitors on campus


At this time, we are discouraging visitors to campus as we try to manage the number of people moving through our community throughout the class day. For this reason, we ask parents and guardians to be on campus only for drop-off in the morning and pick-up in the afternoon and to remain in their cars. Please contact the relevant administrator at school if you need to come to campus for any other reason. All visitors who do come to campus must check in and follow all safety protocols, which include the requirements to wear a mask, social distance, and confirm they are in good health with no cold-like symptoms.