- Masks & Compliance
- Pre-Screening, Contact Tracing & Quarantining
- Academics & Learning
- Physical Distancing & Facility Accommodations
- Operations & Sanitation
- Student Experience & Engagement
- Will masks be required?
- Will masks be required on buses?
- What type of masks are permitted and how should they be worn?
Masks are mandatory for all students, employees, and any volunteers or vendors coming to campus, during the 2020-2021 school year, and are incorporated into the dress code. Anyone not wearing a mask while on campus will be sent to the Nurse’s office and may be sent home. Under no circumstances should anyone ever share a mask! All persons will have access to an extra mask if needed. Students who are not comfortable wearing a mask for the entire time they are on campus, should opt for full-time distance learning. See more on Cloth Face Coverings from the CDC.
- What will daily screening and monitoring entail?
- When should a student, faculty or staff complete their daily pre-screening?
- What is the policy regarding staying home or working/learning virtually if a student/employee/volunteer is feeling unwell?
- What are the COVID symptoms that I should be on the lookout for?
- What should a student/employee/volunteer do that feels sick?
- What will occur if a student/employee/volunteer starts to feel sick while at school?
- What is protocol if a student/employee/volunteer receives a positive COVID test or presumptive COVID diagnosis?
- What if a family member or someone residing with a student/employee/volunteer receives a positive COVID test or presumptive COVID diagnosis?
- What should a student/employee/volunteer do if they are traveling out of state?
- Will contact tracing be in place?
All persons will be required to complete a daily screening questionnaire before arriving on campus. ANYONE displaying symptoms is asked to stay home. This questionnaire will take place through a program called SchoolPass, an electronic health record system that provides a secure and simple way for schools to screen, monitor, and track COVID-19 symptoms. You will receive instructions on how to sign up for a SchoolPass account in the coming weeks.
COVID Symptoms include (According to the CDC)
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If a student/employee/volunteer feels sick and has COVID-related symptoms, they must STAY HOME and remain at home until their symptoms resolve and they are fever free for 72 hours without medication. If a COVID-19 test was taken, students/employees/volunteers may only return if the test was negative and they have been cleared by a physician. Please reach out to your family physician or the Health Department with any questions or concerns.
Students/employees/volunteers displaying symptoms of COVID while on campus will be brought to the separate COVID entrance of the nurse’s suite before being sent home. We are asking families/employees to make a pick up plan in case there is any illness or need for a child/employee to go home during the school day. This plan should be as timely as possible to help get the child/employee home as quickly as possible. Risk mitigation protocols for their safe return will be provided to minimize community exposure.
If a student/employee/volunteer receives a positive COVID test or presumptive COVID diagnosis, they should contact the nurse, Fairuz Manion, RN and follow CDC guidelines to help prevent spreading COVID to others. Their return to work/school will be in accordance with QACHD guidelines and instructions.
For the safety of our community we strongly recommend that students/employees/volunteers monitor the Harvard Global Health Metric before traveling and follow quarantine guidelines for that area before your return to the Gunston School community.
- How will the Phased-Reopening Model Work?
- What metrics will be used to determine if the reopening plan can progress?
- When might each of the Four Gunston’s be used?
- How will Gunston enable concurrent learning this year?
- How does Gunston plan to enhance its Distance Learning Plan and instruction from the spring?
- What will happen in the event that Gunston is forced to close and/or if a state-wide school closure occurs?
- Can students/families opt for full distance learning?
- What is the difference between synchronous, asynchronous, and concurrent instruction?
- How is the dress code being updated for the year, including for online learning?
- How will engineering and more hands-on classes be addressed?
- What are the expectations for a teacher's response to emails?
- Can Gunston allow for one-on-one time with teachers (what additional teacher support will be in place)?
We will begin by inviting our new 9th graders to campus, including a modified Orientation and Embarkation. Tenth through 12th grade students will begin the academic year via distance learning, with the goal of having further class groups re-enter the campus in phases starting in mid-to-late September. In partnership with the Queen Anne’s County Department of Health, Gunston will review key internal and external benchmarks to guide further integration of students.
Maryland has not yet published their metrics for reopening schools, but Gunston is working closely with the Queen Anne’s Department of Health to review relevant metrics for phased reopening. There are a number of factors that may impact the expansion/contraction of campus activity during the year:
- Significant, applicable action by Governor or public health official
- Capacity of public health/hospital systems to respond to and/or treat COVID-19: hospital admissions, testing capacity, contract tracing, etc.
- Meaningful upward trajectory of transmission rates/documented cases
- Availability of an effective vaccine
- Adherence of the community to COVID-19 prevention protocols
- Levels of COVID-19 infection and exposure on campus
- Capacity to contract trace, isolate, remediate, and decontaminate
- Ability to integrate “partial” or “full” pauses to campus activities
- Employee absenteeism/adult coverage
- Student absenteeism and effective face-to face/concurrent teaching capacities
- Capacity to maintain PPE
- Ability to support student transportation
- Adverse weather conditions that limit campus utilization
Early in our pandemic response, we described four different models for instruction for the coming year, with the intention of moving fluidly between them as circumstances demand. We will begin the year in the Hybrid Phased-Reopening model with the intent to progress carefully toward the Modified Business As Usual model. At any time, we can shift all or part of the school into our Distance Learning or Hybrid models. Families would receive timely, advanced communications of any change in mode.
Concurrent learning (virtual attendance of live, on-campus classes) is possible for any student who is not able to be on campus. All classrooms and teachers are being equipped with video conferencing hardware and software to allow remote students to be a part of class. Concurrent learning is accessible to families that elect to continue with distance learning or students who are at home on a temporary basis.
Our experiences with distance learning last spring have given us an opportunity to reflect and prepare best practices. Our goal for distance learning is to mirror the in-person school day as closely as possible while recognizing the inevitable differences inherent in distance learning. The distance learning schedule is structured to ensure that 100% of the curriculum will be covered regardless of method of instruction. Our distance learning plan offers comprehensive policies governing extended periods of distance learning.
Gunston faculty have participated in a 30+ summer course designed to build their skills within the following areas:
- Social-Emotional Support for Students
- Technology Proficiency
- Multiple forms of Assessment
- Differentiated instruction
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We have also incorporated a variety of student enrichment and involvement activities in order to enhance the learning experience:
- Mentoring for all students
- Extracurricular programming: clubs and activities
In the event that we must close our campus, students will engage in full distance learning, as outlined in the Distance Learning Plan. We use the the term distance learning in lieu of technology-specific terms such as “e-learning” or “online classes” because we believe that meaningful distance learning:
- Promotes student engagement through daily learning opportunities for authentic learning experiences across all disciplines
- Maintains connections between students, teachers, and the Gunston community
- Consists of differentiated instruction for all types of learners
- Incorporates multiple forms of assessment to monitor student progress
Synchronous learning refers to “live” lessons that take place in real-time, either in a classroom setting or through a video conferencing tool with the teacher directly guiding those assignments/discussions. An example is a Google Meet class discussion.
Asynchronous learning refers to teacher-prepared lessons that take place within a more flexible time frame on the student’s own time. An example is students watching a pre-recorded video and answering questions or completing a project that reflects specific learning objectives.
Concurrent learning refers to a class session during which some students are physically on campus in the classroom, and others are engaged in the same session simultaneously by technological means. Concurrent learners at home are able to see, hear, and participate in the activity occurring in the classroom.
The Google platform (Google Meets, Google Docs, etc.) allows for real-time, live video or chat lessons as well as means for students to access lessons and submit assignments.
Our typical dress code standards have been modified to accommodate the increased use of outdoor learning spaces on campus this fall, and to eliminate the use of locker rooms for changing. One significant adjustment is that students will have the option of wearing athletic attire to classes throughout the day. Students working concurrently from home should abide by the same standards for all their synchronous class interactions. Click here to see the COVID dress code.
Teachers of these classes have been working to adapt labs and projects to enhance the usage of PPE, minimize shared materials, and transition from group work towards individual projects. At times, parts of these classes will be held outdoors to offer an additional layer of protection for times when students must work in close proximity.
- How will physical distancing guidelines be set forth and followed?
- How will hallway traffic be changed and/or monitored to enable physical distancing?
- How will bathrooms be monitored or configured to enable safe social distancing?
- How will students eat lunch during on campus instruction days?
- Will students still have access to water stations throughout campus?
- Will students have access to vending machines?
- Will students have access to lockers?
- What other updates and upgrades have been made to campus for student and employee safety?
Physical distancing of six (6) feet will be strictly enforced on campus. We are currently performing facility reviews to properly mark every classroom and shared space, and proper physical distancing between students and staff will occur throughout campus. Signage communicating these requirements will be installed.
- Touchless controls for lights, faucets, toilets, and modified door handles.
- 2-way radios for all employees.
- New ramp and sidewalks to allow for one-way traffic outside of campus buildings.
- Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers strategically placed around campus spaces.
- Establishing outdoor teaching spaces (weather permitting)
- Full-time Nurse
- Day Porter to clean bathrooms every two hours.
- Who, ultimately, makes the final decision regarding Gunston’s reopening?
- What hygiene and cleaning protocols will be implemented?
- How will hand hygiene be addressed?
- How will Gunston ensure students and employees aren't intentionally exposing others?
- How many students will be permitted in each classroom?
- How will lunches be addressed?
- Will outdoor lunches be an option?
- How will student arrival and dismissal occur?
- What transportation options will be available (if any)?
Proper sanitization of classrooms will occur between classes. This includes the cleaning of all high touch areas. Classroom furniture made of fabric material has been removed and replaced with wipeable surfaces. Sanitization of bathrooms and other shared spaces will also occur approximately every two hours.
Gunston is currently revising all cleaning procedures to ensure daily cleaning of high touch areas and evening cleaning to adhere to CDC cleaning standards. The COVID cleaning protocols and products will meet CDC and OSHA standards.
Hand hygiene will be encouraged and properly enforced throughout the day. Hand hygiene stations will be in every classroom and other high touch areas, and educational materials will be posted in each restroom. All students and employees will complete hand hygiene training prior to returning to campus.
Lunches will be served in individual packaging and eaten outside or in classrooms. A carefully planned routine will allow students to travel from class, through the Atrium, and on to their next classroom to eat. Vending will not be available. Students are reminded to practice good hand hygiene, to remain seated, and to place their mask back on as soon as they are finished eating. Proper cleaning will occur after lunch.
Arrival and departure details will be forthcoming with designated locations and protocols. No student or employee will be allowed to enter the building without going through the temperature screening which will begin at 8:00 am. All students and employees must leave campus by 4:30 pm to enable proper and thorough cleaning of the building.
We plan to offer bus transportation for students who need it. Bus fees are suspended for non-riders, and we will offer a month-to-month plan this year. Buses will be sanitized and student spacing will follow health guidelines—required masks, one student per seat, back-to-front loading, and regular sanitizing. For older students who will be driving 9th grade siblings, we plan to offer a supervised space on campus during the day for on-site distance learning.
- What are Gunston’s plans to maintain its strong sense of community and belonging?
- Will clubs and other extracurriculars take place this year?
- When will a decision be made for Fall sports?
- What support will be in place to help students, especially those new to Gunston (incoming 9th graders and transfers) acclimate?
- What considerations are being made for student events - Homecoming, Spirit Week, etc?
- How will chorus, drama and other arts adapt to distance learning?
- Will there be any type of tuition reimbursement for this year?
Gunston’s unique community and sense of belonging are essential to the Gunston experience. Gunston’s leadership team has prioritized planning around those elements to maintain Gunston’s strong sense of community. This summer, Gunston formed a leadership work team on Community Experience whose primary focus is on collaborating with students on each main calendar event to retain the social activities of the year in a way that is safe and in keeping with CDC guidelines. The Community Experience work team has already planned a number of events beginning with the sixth annual Student Leadership Institute is being held on August 17th. The aim of the Institute is to bring all new students into the community and begin to build connections between returning student leaders and new students.
In addition to the work of the Gunston Community Experience team, Gunston has built a schedule with an intentional focus on maintaining community. The structure of the schedule (4x4 + 1) allows us to have a community focused day where we have an opportunity to engage with students in advisory and in clubs. In each of our clubs such as Environmental Club, Diversity Leaders, Mental Health Awareness, etc. students will continue to plan events around our mission threads of Educating for Sustainability (EFS), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Also included in the daily calendar is Gunston’s athletic program which will offer opportunities for students to maintain physical and mental wellness and interact with one another.
For Gunston’s international students, The Director of DEI, Assistant Head, and Dean of Students will hold weekly meetings with all international students to check-in on their concurrent learning and distance learning programs. Gunston students are encouraged to join Gunston’s Global Ambassador program in which they can serve as an ambassador for a new international student by welcoming them to campus and meeting with them on a weekly basis.
Gunston will continue to support student involvement and leadership development through its clubs and other organizations. Student Government and Class Officers will play a major role in designing strategies for student engagement in reimagined community events. Faculty and student leaders of clubs will determine how best to utilize the opportunities afforded by the scheduled ACT Day each week. As in years past, based on student interest and feasibility, some clubs may be discontinued while others make a fresh start. National Honor Society will also continue its initiatives around peer tutoring and other areas of service.
In addition to their contact with mentor families over the summer, new students will attend a virtual orientation program led by student leaders, followed by an on-campus orientation day for 9th graders the next week. A Distance Learning Orientation Day for all new and returning students will be held prior to the first day of classes, and each grade level will have special programming to learn about campus procedures when they are able to return to on-campus learning. Along with student leaders, classroom teachers and advisors play a key role in helping everyone acclimate to a new school year and a new situation. The ACT Day (advisory, clubs, and tutorial) schedule on Wednesday creates intentional space in each week for mulit-grade engagement in clubs. The informal nature of these meetings promotes acclimation and acculturation to the school. The full community is embracing the “Gunston Together” spirit, and every effort will be made to identify and support individual needs and concerns as they become evident.
Visual and performing arts are an essential component of the Gunston program, and play a central role for many Gunston students. Faculty in these departments are working diligently to prepare and accommodate for both distance and on campus learning to best meet the needs of our community.
Group music ensemble courses, as well as art courses in pottery and wood sculpture will not be scheduled for the fall semester and have been moved to spring to allow for further consideration, planning around shared materials, and the development of research-informed guidelines from health officials around the safety of activities such as group singing. Physical distancing protocols, as directed by local and state health departments, will be followed for student musicians, actors, and artists, and good instrument/tool hygiene will be practiced and enforced.
Gunston’s Board has determined that we will not reduce tuition rates during the current academic year. In a year where school expenses may have a wildly different and variable texture than in any previous year, we feel that prudence demands an approach where we have a consistent revenue stream to cover a counterintuitively high expense load throughout the academic year. This spring, for instance, we saw reduced expenses in the areas of food service, athletics, and transportation, but significant expense growth in the areas of technology hardware and software, facilities, financial aid, and even graduation (where dozens of hours of personalized video was lovingly produced for graduates and award winners).
In the upcoming year, we expect to see significant expense growth for facilities upgrades, financial aid, health staffing, tutoring support, and PPE. We will continue to maintain a conservatively managed budget, and at the end of the year if resources and circumstances permit, we can consider a ‘rebate rate’ if program expenses are lower than expected. As in all things, our board will seek to operate in good faith and in a transparent manner during this process.
Corresponding to CDC and Maryland guidelines, this plan has been approved by our Board of Trustees and the Queen Anne’s Department of Health. It reflects thousands of hours of research and planning by a dedicated group of administrators, teachers, and staff — all of whom have worked tirelessly to provide an on-campus experience for Gunston students this year.
We call this plan “Gunston Together” because it is only by working together as a community that we’ve been able to reach the point of re-opening, and it is only by working together that we will navigate the school year with healthy success. Thus, it is incumbent upon every member of the Gunston Family — students, families, and employees — to carefully review and understand this plan.
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