E.L. Haynes will continue virtual instruction through January 29, 2021 (the end of Quarter 2). Beginning in mid-October, we will offer limited in-person experiences for some students.
What we know and our rationale:
- Current health data and the facts we used to make our original decision have not changed. Recently, we have even seen an increase in the number of COVID cases in the DC area. As a result, our collective concerns — voices from our students, families, and staff — remain as they were in the summer when we made the decision to focus on our virtual instructional program.
- The safety of our entire community remains our number one priority. Our guiding principles from the beginning of the school year remain the same. We also reflected that, in order to maintain the health and safety of our staff and families, holiday travel during Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break, will pose additional possible risks and could require staff and families to quarantine, limiting the number of in-person experiences throughout the quarter.
- We believe that in-person opportunities are critical to our students’ success. We know that virtual learning has been challenging for you, as you balance your own work and obligations, while supporting your student’s learning. This is especially true for our youngest learners and their families. We will focus on possible in-person opportunities that respond to what our students, families, and staff say they need most, including time for students to connect with each other in person. As health data and guidelines allow, we will offer limited in-person experiences for some students (more below).
- We need to make our decision based on what is right for our community. DCPS announced that they will try to begin in-person activities on November 9. Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Public Schools are remaining virtual through the end of January. Other charters currently offer in-person learning, learning hubs, and tutoring, and others have announced that they will remain fully virtual through January. Because of the varying nature of these decisions, we fully ground our decision in what we think is best for our students, families, and staff.
What we mean by “in-person” experiences:
Beginning next week, we will host limited in-person experiences for small groups of students — first by facilitating the SAT for 20 students on October 14 and then phasing in additional opportunities as situations allow. These may include:
- Organized playdates for elementary school families on the field
- One-on-one special education evaluations
- Select special education and English learner small group experiences
- Later in Quarter 2, following winter break we will explore student learning centers.
We also want to restate that these experiences, and eventually when we welcome more students back into the building, will not look like school did before we closed our school buildings in March 2020.
What we have already accomplished:
Since our buildings closed, we updated our facilities in order to welcome — when possible — students and teachers back into the buildings safely. Here is just a snapshot of the improvements and planning we completed. We will share much more information with everyone soon.
- We overhauled our HVAC and ventilation systems, upgrading filtration, using both HEPA and UV systems, as well as improvements to promote air circulation. We also installed plexiglass barriers in select areas.
- We regularly clean and disinfect surfaces throughout the building, including removing extra furniture from classrooms, adding disinfectant foggers for air and surfaces during evening cleaning, and using UV lights for added sanitation when the buildings are empty.
- We have clear and effective screening procedures. Everyone is screened as they enter the buildings. We check each person’s temperature and ask them to complete a health questionnaire. We contracted a private nurse to perform secondary screenings and set up isolation rooms in the event that anyone needs to quarantine on site.
- We will provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for anyone who needs it. Masks are required in the buildings, and masks in all sizes are available as soon as you enter the buildings. Further, gloves, face shields, and other PPE are available upon request.
Again, these are a few highlights and we look forward to sharing more detailed updates about our improvements to our buildings and our procedures.
Over the next two weeks we will meet with staff and families to hear your feedback and provide additional information regarding our decision and what Quarter 2 will look like for students and staff. Your voices matter.
Here are the opportunities for you to hear more and share your perspective over the next two weeks:
- Family Forums.
- Elementary School Family Forum (via Zoom): Thursday, October 15, from 8am – 9am.
- Cross-Campus Family Forum (via Zoom): Wednesday, October 21, from 5pm – 6pm
- Spanish Language ONLY Family Forum (via Conference Call): Thursday, October 22, from 5pm – 6pm.
- NOTE: All family forums that take place via Zoom will be facilitated in English with simultaneous Spanish translation. We will send out information prior to the forums.
- Family Survey. As a follow up to our family survey at the beginning of the year, we will launch a family survey by the end of the month to continue to gather feedback as well as give you the chance to share your thoughts on in-person student opportunities and your willingness to have your student participate in them
As always, please also reach out to your principal with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued support for your students through virtual learning, and for your feedback throughout this school year.