As we begin to provide the community with weekly updates on our planning and preparations for a safe return to school, we are primarily following the research from three organizations: The Massachusetts EEC, the CDC, and the World Health Organization. The State of Massachusetts Early Education Commission oversees the operation of child care facilities in the state. They are actively working with the governor's task force on guidelines to help child-care facilities safely re-open their doors. The Center for Disease Control is our nation's leading public health organization. They have developed a robust set of guidelines for safe school re-openings. The World Health Organization works to protect the health and safety of people across the globe, and have vital data surrounding safe school practices on re-openings worldwide. These leading organizations guidelines are helping to shape Bay Farm's policy and procedure updates, assuring the best standards of practice as we open our doors this fall. In addition, we are leveraging our close relationships with other schools to share innovative ideas and practices. As a team, we read and listen daily to information and updates from these organizations and incorporate their research findings into the policies for Bay Farm.
Current research highlights one essential aspect in helping to mitigate transmission of COVID, social distancing. We have all heard this term. All of us are currently practicing it to varying degrees. Even during these times of isolation, I would argue that our students have not been socially distancing themselves. We are physically distant; socially, we are very much together. How we socialize is changing, the need to socialize is not.
You see, schools are social systems; good teaching is forged on healthy relationships. Distancing means we will have to be more intentional to bring our children and our school community close together socially while remaining separated physically by 6 feet or more. Starting with our summer program, we will do everything in our power to help our students stay physically distant. We will work just as hard to ensure that we bring them closer together socially.
How we will maintain Physical Distancing at school:
When parents have the opportunity to visit the school during our welcome back event, you will see our classrooms looking perceptibly different. There will be more space and fewer materials. There will be designated avenues for students to move to get to selected works, the bathroom, the hand-washing station, the material sanitization table, and the exit. You will see areas where students can bring their chosen material and work physically distanced from other classmates. You will also see teachers excited to advance the strong social ties that help our classrooms and our school live our mission in new and exciting ways.
Physical Distancing at Bay Farm will mean:
- reduced number of children in each class to ensure 6 feet of space between people
- each classroom on campus has a different drop-off and pick-up point
- no large-group gatherings
- Fewer transitions, where groups of students will move to other locations. Specialists will visit the classrooms
- a fewer number of children on the playground at a time with rotating designated areas for play
- six feet of space between students when they are in line
Visually, the implementation of Physical Distancing at Bay Farm will be strikingly different from what we are all accustomed to. But, our kids will feel as connected socially and emotionally to their friends, their teachers, and the school. They will be physically spread out but socially connected.