Dear River Grove Families,
As I am sure everyone is aware, these are unprecedented times. I am certain that many families are curious about what the coming year might look like at River Grove. We want you to know that we have been proactively planning for the 2020-21 school year and would like to give you an update on our status thus far. This email does not detail our final plan; please look for future communications soon.
First, we take the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously, honoring individual and family risk levels, necessary choices, and comfort levels while following Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) requirements and considering their relevant recommendations.
The teaching team, front office and health operations, and members of our Board of Directors have been carefully reviewing MDE, MDH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) documents and meeting regularly to discuss COVID-19 considerations and their impacts on River Grove. We are also obtaining guidance from other schools of all types: locally, nationally, and internationally. We will continue to do so throughout the summer.
We are planning for three possible scenarios under the direction of the Governor and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE):
- Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students with enhanced health and safety measures.
- Scenario 2: Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits.
- Scenario 3: Distance learning only.
Governor Walz will make an announcement on or before July 27 regarding which scenario schools will follow. Each scenario may be implemented at a particular point, depending on the circumstances and requirements from the MDE and MDH.
River Grove’s unique campus provides distinct, inherent advantages in naturally socially distancing our students and staff:
- Our campus is on 73 acres in the middle of a large natural area.
- We have seven separate buildings, allowing for built-in social distancing and separation of students into cohort groupings.
- We have multiple outdoor classroom spaces, providing additional opportunities for physical and emotional health.
- Furthermore, outdoor learning is a focus at River Grove. Our teaching staff is already planning for expanded programming in this area.
- Our outdoor hallways and multiple pathways mean that we will be able to limit large exchanges of students, adding to our ability to keep kids safe.
- We will rotate outdoor play areas, keeping students within cohorts: the naturescape, play forest and fire ring area, soccer area, playground, Homestead field, basketball field, Gaga pit, and trail system.
- Most of our indoor classrooms have multiple spaces, providing additional spacing potential.
Again, we believe we are uniquely positioned to provide for the on-campus health and wellness of our students. We are dedicated to utilizing our outdoor spaces as much as possible next year and anticipate a large portion of the day taking place outside (weather permitting).
Additionally, the Board of Directors revised the 2020-21 budget to allow for more funds to be allocated to responding to the COVID-19 crisis. We will be implementing many measures including increased campus cleaning, the purchase of sanitation supplies and PPE for staff members, additional nursing staff hours, and increased availability of a licensed social worker to assist with mental health and wellness needs.
- We will identify students and staff who are high risk and be responsive to their needs. Please look for a survey soon.
- The MDH and MDE “strongly recommend” that students and staff wear masks or face coverings.
- The ultimate decision and responsibility to wear a mask will be at the discretion of each family.
- Families whose student(s) choose to wear a mask must provide it from home.
- The school has a supply of masks for students who forget or need a replacement.
- Teachers and staff will screen students daily upon arrival for COVID symptoms. This may include temperature checks using infrared thermometers.
- We are considering a short reduction of the school day to help accommodate those who are in a high-risk category and needing distance learning and allow for time for teachers and staff to address additional COVID-related requirements. This would most likely not have a significant impact on instructional time. A final decision will be made at the July Board of Directors Meeting.
- We will not have communal classroom supplies (such as glue sticks and markers). Each student should plan to keep his/her own items in a personal bin. School supply lists will include recommendations for personal hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.
- Teachers and staff will build in increased breaks for hand-washing and sanitation throughout the day.
- We will limit visitor and volunteer activities on campus to essential duties.
- We will be encouraging parent-provided transportation to reduce the number of children on the buses.
- Arrival and dismissal procedures will be revised to streamline drop-off and pick-up.
- An online COVID-19 policy orientation will be required for all parents in August. Parents will be asked to sign a waiver stating they have read and understand the full revised policies and procedures.
Once again, this email does not detail our final plans. Governor Walz will make an announcement on or before July 27 regarding which scenario schools will follow (to start). Each scenario may be implemented at a particular point depending on the circumstances and requirements from the MDE and MDH. After the announcement, we will send more complete information about what school will look like in the fall.
If you have questions or concerns, PLEASE CONTACT US! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for hanging in there with us! We truly believe we have a unique and special campus and school community that will afford us the opportunity to approach this situation in the best way possible and meet the needs of our students and families.
Drew Goodson and the River Grove Team