Jamie's Update: Middle School to Re-open

October 02, 2020
Dear SGS Community,
Happy October 1!  The first month of school has been successful and obviously different.  However, it has been gratifying to have three quarters of our Lower School students return to campus, while still offering a Distance Learning (DL) option for students at home.  The teachers have done a great job navigating this new environment and learning from one another and outside resources as we go.  Parents have also been super supportive and attentive to all the details related to drop-off, pick-up and safety precautions.  Thank you!
We were also able to introduce an afterschool conditioning program for small groups of high school students.  This has also been a carefully planned and executed addition for our older students, as we maintain the health precautions to mitigate COVID transmission.  This program is open to all Upper School Students and addresses the physical, social, and emotional needs of our students.
This week, there have been several reports of COVID cases at schools in Spokane County and a continued spike across the county resulting from Labor Day activities.  These cases have been brought to the respective campuses, but according to the SRHD tracing protocols there has not been a case of student to student transmission at this time.  However, the presence of COVID and precautionary measures of quarantining students has led to large numbers of students relegated to Distance Learning at those schools that were offering a hybrid (In-person and Distance Learning) model for students.  Part of our strategy for the older students has been the implementation of our block days to limit the movement during the day. Our Middle School and Upper School teachers have done a great job of implementing the lessons learned from last year while in Distance Learning.
No Classes on October 9 and October 12
The first month has been a mentally and emotionally taxing one for students and teachers adjusting to the new “abnormal.”  Next Friday, we have the Professional Development Day that has been on the published calendar.  In addition, we will not have school on Monday, October 12, in an attempt to provide everyone a break away from screens and as a mental health day.  
Middle School Phased Re-opening Is Up Next!
Our next phase of re-opening will be with our Middle Schoolers.  This will be done in a staggered approach starting with our 6th graders on Monday, October 5.   Sixth-grade students may attend in-person classes all days of the week (8 period and block days). 
The 7th and 8th graders may return for in-person classes on Tuesday, October 6 and Wednesday, October 7, then have a DL day on Thursday, October 8.    The logistics are different with our Middle School, because these classes do not operate solely in a cohort, so additional considerations are involved as students change classes during the day and the 7th and 8th grade students will have some classes (choir, art, etc.) together at times.  While we are able to maintain the social distancing and facial covers throughout the day, we must be mindful of the additional interactions that take place. 7th and 8th grade students will continue to have DL on 8 period days, which are typically on Mondays, as well as on “Special Schedule” days.
Joelle Neiwert will be sending out a letter to the Middle School Parents with more details, and Ryan Peplinski, COVID Coordinator, will also send them additional information related to this next phase of re-opening.
Upper School Re-opening Planning
We have been talking with Dr. Lutz and his team at SRHD about the Upper School return as well.  We have “penciled” in plans for a possible return as soon as the week of October 19.  Our plans outline an alternating model to start.  Mondays will be DL for all US students, Tuesday and Wednesday will be one group of students on campus and the others in DL, then on Thursday and Friday the students that were in DL will be on campus and the other group will be DL.  We feel this methodical process will give us the best opportunity to bring our students back to campus in the safest manner.
Upcoming Dates:
October 9 Professional Development Day (No School for students)
October 12 No School K-12
Thank you for your flexibility as we continue to move forward.  Go Dragons!
Jamie Tender
Head of School