Full reopening plans for Sept. include a physically-distanced in-person learning model. Click here to learn more. 

School Year Planning Overview, Public

2020-21 School Year Plan Summary

as of August 11, 2020

Current Town families and employees: need the link to our page with additional details for internal community members? Contact us

Philosophy, program, practice, policy, and protocols with teaching, learning, and community at the center.

The extraordinary commitment and sustained efforts of Town’s faculty and staff have made possible this plan that meets or exceeds all reopening guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Education Guidance for Religious and Non-Public Schools. 

This plan is a living document of our most current planning, policies, and protocols, and is based on everything we know now. We will continue to carefully follow the virus's trajectory and refine our planning in response to the most current research findings and the latest New York State, New York City, and CDC regulations as well as expert advice and internal expertise. We will update our community about any substantive changes to the plan as we move forward.

Important Dates August - Early September

  • Tuesday, August 4, 3:00 - 4:00pm: All-Employee meeting, to discuss and answer questions about this plan update and any other topics. 
  • Thursday, August 13, 8:00am: Parent Coffee with Doug Brophy, to discuss and answer questions about our most current planning. (Link to join the Zoom meeting will be emailed in advance.)
  • Week of August 17th: we will confirm our plans to go forward with in-person learning or pivot to opening in a distance learning model. Barring a subsequent spike in COVID-19 infection rates or an order by New York State or NYC health agencies, this will be our final decision to allow families and faculty to prepare for the start of school.
  • Week of August 17th back-to-school information sent to all families and employees.
  • Late August - Early September: Individual family check-ins with all homeroom teachers and/or advisors, designed to connect with students and to understand as much as possible about each family’s current situation and potential support needs.
  • Late August - Early September: distribution of tech devices and learning kits to all students, if we are opening in a distance-learning model. 
    • If we are opening in an in-person learning model, as planned, students will receive all supplies during the first days of school.
  • Early September: parent education opportunities with the Town team around social-emotional learning and wellness, and distance learning practices and philosophy. 
  • Wednesday, September 9: pre-opening day meetings for families and new Upper School students
  • Thursday, September 10: Opening Day! First day of classes for all 1st - 8th graders and beginning of Phase-In visits for Nursery-Kindergarten students. (Phase-in schedules will be published along with back-to-school information in mid-August.)

Current Recommendations on School Opening from NYS, NYC, and CDC

Town’s planning meets or exceeds all guidance for school reopening issued by New York State and the CDC’s recommendations around:

  • Physically-distanced classroom setups, including dividing homerooms into smaller student groups in classroom spaces where necessary, and consistent student cohorts to reduce contacts. 
  • Reduce students’ movement throughout the building, and reduce shared use of spaces and materials. 
  • Reduce what and who comes into our building each day: students and employees will bring only the minimum necessary materials and all essential visitors and deliveries will be carefully screened. 
  • Specific measures for daily screening and monitoring of our community’s health; preventing illness through hygiene, wearing face coverings, expanded cleaning regimens, and physical distancing; and tracking and containing illness through isolation of ill students or staff in school and protocols for self-isolation of student cohorts if indicated. 
  • Updates to HVAC system to improve indoor air quality. 
  • Revisions to food service protocols and procedures. 
  • Revisions to transportation options to support physical distancing. 
  • Social-emotional support structures and response planning specifically focused on both students’ and adults’ COVID-19 experiences and returning to school in a physically-distanced setting. 
  • Planning for distance learning options should this model become necessary for the whole school or for individual students. 

The Governor of New York State has indicated that a region in New York can reopen schools in the fall if it is in phase four of reopening and if the daily infection rate remains at or below 5% over a 14-day average. Schools will be directed to close if the regional infection rate climbs above 9% over a 7-day average after August 1.  On July 27th, New York State released specific guidance for reopening of independent schools, directing that “...independent schools consider multiple models for reopening their campuses and select the one that makes the most sense for their unique circumstances of program, students served, location, and facilities.”

Following that guidance, The Town School currently plans to open the school year in a physically-distanced, in-person model. We will move to full distance learning if directed by the state or local health agencies; in the event of an overall COVID-19 infection/illness rate of 3% in our in-building school community of students, teachers, and staff; if the rate of infection of faculty and staff has compromised the school’s ability to deliver in-school instruction consistent with its mission; or if, in the judgement of Town’s leadership we should shift to distance learning to best fulfill our mission and support our community’s health and well-being. If our school building is closed for any of the reasons described above (government/health dept. directive, 3% in-building community COVID-19 infection/illness rate, or any other metric that indicates building closure is needed), we would re-open for in-person, in-building teaching and learning once: a) a state or local directive is lifted and we are allowed to return to an in-person model or b) our community has completed a required period of self-isolation/quarantine. In all scenarios, Town's leadership will make building closure and re-opening decisions in alignment with Department of Health guidance and after considering all factors specific to our school community. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference on July 31st that New York City's threshold for reopening and closing the entire school system is more strict than New York State’s; if the seven-day rolling average of positive tests in New York City exceeds 3%, schools will close. In the event that state and city final thresholds for opening or closing are not aligned, Town will follow the most local, relevant guidance.  

In addition to following New York State and CDC recommendations, we continue to be guided by expert advice from multiple reliable sources, including internal expertise on our leadership team and an advisory panel of Town community members who are frontline physicians and health care leaders. We are canvassing peer schools to share knowledge and resources, and we are benchmarking our planning against all recommendations by New York State and the CDC as well the Harvard School of Public Health’s Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools. 

Guiding Principles in our Planning

Town’s planning for the coming school year prioritizes:

  • The health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and families. 
  • The best educational experience possible for our students, in multiple scenarios.
  • Social-emotional learning and wellness of our students; social-emotional support for employees and families. 
  • Strict adherence to the most current New York State, New York City, and CDC guidelines for reopening schools. 
  • Open communication with our community. 
  • A commitment to flexibility, empathy, equity, and creative problem-solving in rising to new challenges. 

We have outlined many strategies, practices, and elements of infrastructure below, but it is important to think of our approach as cumulative, as no one measure is the critical piece that will keep our community healthy and support our community’s overall well-being and success. Our combined investment in multiple layers of equipment, protocols, building modifications, and our collective personal commitments to best practices at home, during travel, and at work are what will help support our individual health and well-being, and that of our fellow school community members. We are, more than ever before, all in this together, and our community’s commitment to S.O.S. in all aspects of our lives will be essential as we continue to navigate teaching and learning during COVID-19 together. 

Social-Emotional Wellness and Learning Support

Equally important to our planning for details of all learning scenarios is supporting and attending to students' social-emotional well-being and learning, and supporting our faculty and staff's physical and social-emotional wellness as they rise to another new challenge in this ongoing pandemic.

To meet this essential need, Jan Mooney, Issac Silberstein, and Gene Gardino, our school mental health professionals, worked this summer with psychologists and school counselors from independent schools all over the city and tri-state area. The shared goal was to strategize and collaborate on best social-emotional learning (SEL) practices to support children and adults in our entire school community during this time of extraordinary circumstances. As we begin this school year, SEL activities will be prioritized alongside and embedded in our full academic learning. 

Our aim has been to create a plan to address the social and emotional needs of our students, families, teachers, and staff based on the many experiences each of us has faced these past few months. Identity and racial equity will be one of the pillars of our social and emotional work. Through ongoing professional development for our faculty and a network of support for our families, we hope to empower the adults in our community to provide the learning and social-emotional support our students need. Our plan includes an understanding of and honoring the various experiences each of us brings to school this fall. The plan also includes strategies to recognize and address the stresses, worries, anxiety, even trauma which many – children and adults alike – may carry into this school year after months of social isolation surrounded by pandemic and social and racial pain. Our work this summer includes developing the necessary appropriate steps for each of our divisions as guides for teachers and administrators to assimilate SEL practices into our daily classroom work – with a lens for fairness and racial equity for all of our students and families. While children in Nursery-Kindergarten and Lower School will need additional outlets through play and creative exploration to complement their full academic program, Upper School students, besides having regular Arts classes, will also explore their experiences from these past months through writing in English and History and through relevant lenses in their other subjects. We believe that the important interplay of academic and SEL work with our students will create a 2020-21 school community of stronger, more competent students and individuals, within a school environment focused on the health – physical, social, emotional – of all community members. 

Our back-to-school professional development meetings for faculty and staff will include thorough briefings on recognizing and addressing students’ needs, including understanding that each family has their own unique experiences and challenges through this continuing pandemic. One important strategy will be individual check-ins with each family and student as part of our back-to-school process. More information about the details of our SEL initiatives will be shared as they unfold in the opening days of school.

Three scenarios, and why we are working towards an in-person reopening, while simultaneously planning for an excellent distance learning plan

As a reminder, our primary three planning scenarios are:

  • School building open with all students present for in-person learning (how we hope and plan to begin school in September). The most significant part of our planning work is focused on this model for a physically-distanced, safe learning environment with smaller and consistent student groups/cohorts, repurposing larger spaces as additional classroom space, redesigning movement throughout the building, multiple building entrances and staggered arrival and dismissal, and all appropriate health and safety protocols including wearing of face coverings (masks) and rigorous cleaning routines. For students and families with significant health concerns, we are investing in a telepresence system (enabling a broadcast of live teaching). 
  • Building closed with distance learning for all students. This model may be part of our experience at some point during this school year, in response to government and health department recommendations or our decision-making based on our school community's current situation. We are spending significant time this summer reflecting on and refining our distance learning program. Our refinements based on research, faculty reflection, professional development, and parent feedback will result in increased live experiences, small groups, and consistent structures that allow for school day continuity.
  • A hybrid approach wherein some students rotate between in-person learning at our school building and at-home learning. Though our current planning, based on extensive evaluation of our building spaces and the latest recommendations from New York State and the CDC, indicates that we will be able to have all students present for physically-distanced learning, we are also designing a plan for a hybrid option should recommendations change. In this model, our youngest students would have priority for in-person learning, as our expertise and research clearly show the increased importance of in-person learning for younger children. Our current planning provides for Nursery-Kindergarten and Lower School students to consistently have in-person classes at school, with Upper School students rotating on a weekly basis between at-school and at-home learning. Our student cohort groups in this scenario would take into account siblings across grades to reduce the travel and schedule burdens on families as much as possible.

Our overriding goal will always be to support the health, safety, and well-being of all Town constituents, and therefore we will adhere to the most comprehensive, current, and respected research regarding testing, wellness, management of classroom and other spaces, and all other aspects of school life. Within this goal is our knowledge as educators, affirmed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other studies, that children's social-emotional wellness – key to their best possible learning – is significantly better supported by being together with each other and with their teachers, even in a modified in-person learning experience. We therefore hope and plan to open school in a safe, physically-distanced model in our school building. Supporting our outstanding teachers in all aspects of their own health and well-being, as well as the unique professional demands of these times, is critical to achieving this goal. 

Technology and Learning Supplies to Support a Healthy Environment and Multiple Learning Models

Both our in-person and distance-learning models will make consistent use of 1:1 technology tools and personalized learning kits for every student. The technology platforms are designed to support students’ learning process and engagement as well as build student confidence and competence to help provide a smoother transition between in-person and distance learning. Personalized learning kits will likewise support multiple goals: helping prevent illness by reducing shared tools while learning in-person in our school building, and ensuring that all students have access to needed resources for excellent distance learning at home. Platforms and tools will include the below, and appropriate training/orientation resources will be provided for all students, faculty, and families.

  • Personal iPads for every Town student. 
  • Personal learning kits for every Town student, including all necessary basic learning materials, art supplies, and books. Younger students will also have a musical instrument bag.
  • TownToday website (parent and student portal) for general resources for all parents and 4th - 8th grade students. 
  • Student Town Google accounts will continue to be used, but most communication will shift to the appropriate learning platforms outlined below. 
  • Zoom for all class meetings and events: We did not use Zoom in the spring due to security concerns, but with the important upgrades Zoom has made over the last few months, we now feel confident using this tool for student meetings and classes moving forward. These upgrades include waiting rooms now standard (requiring the meeting host to let everyone in), end-to-end encryption for more secure connections, and password-protected meetings. 
  • Seesaw for Nursery 3 - 3rd grades: a platform for submitting student work that also makes it easier for teachers to offer instruction and to give timely and personal feedback. 
  • Schoology for 4th - 8th grades: a learning management system that gives students and parents access to in-class resources and homework assignments.

Telepresence Option for engaging with in-person teaching remotely: Opt-In Available Until August 8th

Town has invested in a telepresence system to bring the in-person learning experience to any student who must learn from home due to ongoing health concerns or during an absence due to illness. These platforms are being used by peer schools and institutions like MIT, UPenn, and USC to bring the classroom experience to their students. This system will allow students to join a live class via Zoom, with both a broad view of the classroom and a clear view of the teacher’s instruction or shared screen. The telepresence option will be provided for all academic core subjects, and we will provide asynchronous lessons for classes held outdoors, such as physical education and dance. Details about opting in for telepresence learning are available on our internal version of this plan update; contact us if you need the link!

Face Coverings (Masks) and Other PPE

  • Face coverings/masks will be required indoors for all students and adults, with the exception of during properly-distanced snack and lunch periods. In outdoor settings, provided students and employees from within a cohort can physically distance themselves from one another while also maintaining a six-foot physical distance from those outside our school cohort (such as other people in the park) masks may be able to be removed. Additional PPE will be provided/required for special circumstances as noted below. 
    • Any time students or employees are closer to one another than six feet, everyone must be wearing a face covering/mask.  
  • We will provide initial and ongoing mask training for all students and employees. We will provide continual policy reminders, including signage throughout the building, about when and how to wear facial coverings/masks. 
    • We will assist any student, faculty, or staff member who may have difficulty in adapting to wearing a face covering.
  • Mask breaks: 
    • When students and employees are outside and safely distanced in a structured class, masks may be taken off. In practicality, we will likely have children keep the masks on in a “chin guard” style during outdoor activities to help prevent masks from being dropped or lost. 
      • In outdoor settings (such as free play), if safe physical distancing may not be consistently maintained, students will wear their masks. 
    • Students and teachers will take masks off for eating mid-morning snack and at lunch. Safe distancing in the classroom will be ensured during this time. 
    • We may also be able to provide mask breaks in the classrooms during quiet reading or rest periods, when students are safely distanced and no one is speaking.
    • Adults may take mask breaks when in a room/work area alone, as well as in all the scenarios listed above.
  • We strongly encourage parents to provide facial coverings for their children to support some autonomy of choice for students and to allow families to choose the most comfortable fit for their children.
    • Children and adults should have enough masks to wear a clean mask each day, and to have at least one back-up mask at school. 
  • Masks must:
    • Cover the mouth and nose comfortably.
    • Fit securely enough to stay put on the face without constant adjustments, and comfortable enough to wear consistently.
    • Have the student’s name inside.
    • Be clean (if reusable) or new (if disposable) at the start of each day. 
    • Be brought home at the end of each day for washing (or disposed of, if single-use paper surgical masks).
  • Clear-panel mask options for teachers in N-K, 1st and 2nd grades: We know that our youngest children may sometimes benefit from teachers wearing masks with a clear panel, so they can view mouth movements to support language development and social-emotional learning. We have ordered face masks with a clear panel as an option for all teachers in Nursery 3 - 2nd grade. 
  • Town will provide faculty and staff with a face covering as is required for all employers per the New York State Health Department. Faculty and staff may also elect to provide their own face coverings.
  • Town will also maintain an “emergency” supply of masks (including options sized for young children) for anyone who has forgotten their mask at home. 
  • The Town School will provide N95 masks for the school nurse and any appropriate support team members, to be fit-test certified. 
    • We do not recommend employees or students use an N-95 or other medical-grade mask outside of very specific roles and situations at Town. Training and a personalized fit are necessary to make these masks effective, and they are not necessary or advisable for non-medical personnel outside of a highly-infectious environment. 
  • We will work closely with any families who may need assistance procuring appropriate face coverings in the needed quantities. 
  • Any contractor or other visitor entering the building will be required to wear a face covering. We will provide a face covering if needed.
  • We will provide gloves and paper gowns in various sizes for anyone requiring them as part of their daily job responsibilities.
  • We will provide fabric smocks for anyone interacting with young children, or as needed.
  • Note: The newest guidance states that children do not need to wear masks inside if they are six feet apart; however, Town will take the much stronger position of consistent mask-wearing, out of an abundance of caution. We will continue to monitor the most current guidance and research, and adapt our policies as appropriate.

Online After-school Classes, Regardless of Learning Model

After-school classes (Postscript, Jr. Postscript, Sr. Postscript) will be offered online regardless of our current learning model (in-person or distance) due to space challenges in our school building and the need to preserve student cohorts wherever possible. We will adjust the start times of classes to accommodate families’ travel times home during in-person learning, and students staying for after-school care in Clubhouse will be able to access their classes from the Town building. 

Enrollment in classes will be by trimester, and fees will be $25 per class, with reduced fees available for families receiving financial aid from Town. Jr. Postscript classes are for Nursery 4 and Kindergarten students; Postscript classes are for 1st - 4th grade students; and Sr. Postscript classes are for 5th - 8th grade students. 

  • Art-N-Orbit (Jr. Postscript & Postscript)
  • BOLD Arts (Jr. Postscript, Postscript, Sr. Postscript)
  • Broadway Bound (Jr. Postscript TBD & Postscript)
  • Building Outside of the Box (Postscript)
  • Chess (Jr. Postscript, Postscript & Sr. Postscript)
  • Coding: 
    • Jr. Scratch for Jr. Postscript
    • Minecraft for Postscript
    • Scratch & Python for Sr. Postscript
  • LEGO Robotics (Postscript)
  • Mandarin (Jr. Postscript, Postscript, Sr. Postscript TBD)
  • Math (Sr. Postscript) - an extension of our popular SummerSault class!
  • Cooking, Crafty Creations, and Woodworking  are currently in discussion, due to logistical challenges for teachers and families of running these classes remotely. 

Physically-distanced, in-person learning plan.

Student Cohorts, Classroom Setups, Cubbies/Lockers, and Reimagined Use of Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

At Town we have three levels of cohorts: the class, with whom students will spend the majority of their time; the grade, with whom students will spend some time;  and our whole school, which functions as a large cohort in this shared commitment to common practices around health, safety, and community well-being. Per New York State protocols, our student cohorts are designed to reduce contacts as much as is practical, to minimize student interactions beyond their cohorts, and to reduce student cohorts' movement throughout the school building.

  • Nursery-Kindergarten and Lower School students will be divided into smaller groups within homerooms as needed to allow sufficient physical distancing in classrooms. 
    • Each student cohort will have a primary learning space/classroom and specialists will come to the classroom to teach, rather than students moving between rooms.
    • Students may come together as a full grade in outdoor settings, such as for dance or PE classes on the roof or in John Jay Park. 
    • Students will be limited to only the minimum necessary movement through the building to attend classes, and will follow specific traffic patterns to reduce interaction between groups, including consistent routes and designated one-way hallways. 
  • In Upper School, full homeroom groups will stay together in their primary learning spaces for most classes and lunch, which will be within our larger areas such as the library, gym, cafeteria, and theater, where sufficient space exists for physical distancing. 
    • The Upper School student cohorts will at times extend to include the entire grade as instruction in foreign language, arts, PE, and math will require different groupings. 
    • Students will be limited to only the minimum necessary movement through the building to attend classes, and will follow specific traffic patterns to reduce interaction between groups, including consistent routes and designated one-way hallways. 

We have reconfigured every area of Town’s physical plant, and will make regular use of all available outdoor spaces to accommodate physically-distanced, in-person learning. All of our planning around this work is guided by New York State and CDC recommendations for the number of people who may occupy the square footage available in each of our rooms.

  • Each child will be assigned an individual, consistent desk in their primary learning space.
  • Though our class schedule minimizes shared spaces, all spaces, including small breakout spaces, will be disinfected before any new group enters the space. 
  • All classrooms will be sanitized with electrostatic sprayers at the end of every day.
  • We are drastically reducing shared materials through 1:1 tech devices and learning kits for each student; any shared items will be disinfected between uses. 
  • Physical distancing will be maintained as much as possible when children are outdoors, through games and activities that support safe distancing. 

Cubbies/lockers, student and employee belongings:
We continue to evaluate all aspects of our reconfigured space, including options for safely storing student employee belongings during the school day. Recognizing that cubby/locker space will be limited due to physical-distancing requirements, students and employees should bring only the essentials into the school each day

Arrival and Dismissal Processes

Current families and employees: specifics on arrival times and entrances are included in our internal version of this plan; contact us if you need the link!

To reduce the number of people in the building together, and to reduce contacts where we can, parents and caregivers will not be allowed inside the building. This represents one of several ways we must temporarily adapt our Town community culture to help support our collective health and safety. 

Arrivals and dismissals will be staggered, making use of three building entry points and designated traffic flow patterns for each grade level, from a consistent entry door to the path taken up to their primary learning space. 

  • Every student and adult entering the building will need to have either completed their home health-screening questions (via a secure web link), or will need to be screened at the entrance by a Town employee. 
  • Teachers will be on hand outside the building entrances to greet and welcome N-K and Lower School students at their designated arrival times, and additional Town employees will be on hand to help guide students up to their classrooms.
  • We recommend that students use (school-provided) hand sanitizer before entering the building. 
  • Students will proceed directly to their primary classrooms via a specific route, either with an escort for younger grades or on their own for Upper School. 
  • Parents and caregivers will wait outside the building and will drop off students to the care of teachers or staff and pick up students from teachers or staff at the designated doors. We will provide inclement weather covers and shade options as well as designated staff and parent volunteers to help answer questions and offer assistance as needed. 

Early Risers Drop-Off: For families who need this option, students will be escorted to their primary classrooms where they will be supervised until the school day begins.

Clubhouse (after-school, in-person care): Clubhouse will be available to families in our community who need it most. Whenever possible, students should be picked up at regular dismissal time. Clubhouse fees will remain the same as last year at $17 per hour, with a reduced rate available for families receiving financial aid from Town.

Transportation

We now know that we will be able to maintain Town's East and West Side morning shuttle bus service (with larger buses to allow distancing), and the NYC Office of Pupil Transportation has informed us that they will likely be able to offer city-run school bus service, pending final decisions by City Hall. We will communicate directly with families who requested the NYC school bus service as soon as we have details about bus stops and timing. 

We also acknowledge that, as New Yorkers, public transportation will be a part of how our community travels to and from school, and we appreciate the care and consideration every family and employee will take to travel as safely as possible. 

Current families and employees: additional transportation details are included on the internal version of this plan update; contact us if you need the link!

Lunch, Mid-Morning Snacks, and Water Bottles

In order to support physical distancing during meals and snacks, all food will be individually packaged and delivered to students and teachers in their primary learning spaces. Staff lunches will be delivered to their primary work spaces.

  • Water: To support health and hygiene, water fountains will be “closed,” meaning no drinking directly from the fountain. 
    • Students may use individual water bottles brought from home and stored near their desks, or fill a cup to drink from.
  • Individually packaged mid-morning snacks will be provided for all students, with food delivered to students in their primary learning spaces. 
  • Students’ desks will be wiped off prior to eating snack or lunch using a disinfecting wipe.
  • Students will wash hands before eating, and sit appropriately distanced to allow removal of masks for eating. 
  • Nursery-Kindergarten students will continue to bring their (nut-free) lunch as in the past. (Nursery 3 students dismiss at 12:00pm and only need to bring lunch if staying for the extended day program.)
    • Important update for this school year: N-K student lunch boxes must be a hard-sided plastic container that can be easily sanitized with a disinfectant wipe.
  •  1st - 8th graders and all employees will have lunch provided by our Town chefs, with some innovative solutions from our food service company, Cater to You.
    • Meals will be individually packaged and delivered to each classroom (or office). In order to maintain our commitment to sustainability we are doing everything possible to source biodegradable food containers.
    • There will be hot food options and choices. (It won’t be a perpetual “sandwich day.”)
    • Students will eat lunch in their primary classroom space. 
    • An online ordering system (preview will be available in August) will allow families to choose from a variety of options for the individually-packaged meals.
    • Town's chefs will prepare all lunches and will continue to provide options for allergy concerns.
    • Food waste will not be kept in the classrooms. After lunch, children will dispose of the remaining contents of their lunch boxes and will drop off their lunch boxes to a central location near or outside the classroom door for retrieval by Town's facilities team.

Daily Schedules

The majority of classes will be taught to student cohorts in their primary learning space, while select specialist classes will take place outdoors, prioritizing those that require physical activity. Our physically-distanced model preserves all aspects of our core program and specials classes, and follows our typical daily timetable including breaks and recess/free time.

Current families and employees: the internal version of this plan update includes preview drafts of grade-level schedules; contact us if you need the link!

Dress Code

Town’s student dress code for in-person learning will be consistent with past years, with additional flexibility where needed and a few exceptions to support physical distancing:

  • 4th - 8th graders will not change for Physical Education classes. All students should wear comfortable, versatile uniform options to accommodate physical activity.
  • We are exploring options to offer uniform resale virtually or outside to help support families in stocking up on basics as needed. 

Athletics and Robotics Teams for Upper School

Our Director of Athletics continues to research and collaborate with fellow Athletic Directors about possibilities for team sports this fall in accordance with current guidance for schools. Currently, the fall sports season has been pushed to September 21st and we expect to have more clarity in the coming month. If the fall sports season is canceled, Town may be able to provide soccer practices/physically-distanced soccer activities (preserving grade-level student cohorts) so that our student athletes can connect with the sport, their coaches, and teammates.  The fall season would then be pushed to March/April when the teams would hopefully be able to play other schools in regular competition. We continue to be optimistic that winter sports, which will be pushed to a January start instead of November, will be able to go forward in some fashion. 

Our Upper School Technology Integrator is developing a plan to accommodate physically-distanced LEGO robotics teams that adhere to student cohort groupings. 

Performing Arts: Classes and Extracurricular Groups

Town's rich educational program is grounded in the philosophy that classes such as art, library education, performing arts, and physical education are essential aspects of a complete education. As such our physically-distanced, in-person learning model preserves these classes as fully as possible, with classroom-based activities taught in the primary learning spaces and physically-active classes taking place outside with appropriate physical distancing. 

Upper School Ensemble classes will be designed to maintain grade-level student cohorts and will meet in spaces large enough to accommodate physical distancing. 

The performing arts team is currently exploring possibilities for Lower and Upper School choruses and Town Grooves dance groups to meet safely and maintain student cohorts. 

Large Gatherings, Events, Performances via Zoom Meetings

All current recommendations indicate that large gatherings are not possible to hold safely indoors, and bringing large groups of students or parents together would negate our multi-tiered efforts to reduce physical contacts in our community. However, we experienced during distance learning that the Town community is not something that exists only within our building walls, and we will build on our successful online models for all types of community moments (class and grade meetings, assemblies, plays, and performances) as part of our in-person learning model. 

  • Student meetings beyond their primary classroom group (such as weekly Divisional assemblies or assemblies with guest performers) will still take place during the school day, with students present in the building, but joining together as a full group via Zoom meeting. 
  • Faculty and staff meetings of more than a few people will be conducted as Zoom meetings, with a few exceptions when appropriately-large spaces that allow for physical distancing are available. 
  • Student plays and musical performances (choruses, band, ensembles) will be redesigned to support our safe physical-distancing protocols, making use of technology tools and in-person opportunities to create special performances together. 
  • All parent group meetings will be conducted as Zoom meetings.
  • All-community events, such as All School Assemblies and the Book Fair, will be designed as digital events, with our community gathering online. 
    • Other events, such as TownFest, that do not as easily lend themselves to an online experience will be postponed. 

Distance Learning Program

Overview

We know that, due to the continued uncertainty about the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus, distance learning may be part of our experience at some point this school year. Through our summer planning and professional development, we have built on our successes from this spring. Our refinements based on research, faculty reflection, professional development, and parent feedback will result in increased live experiences, small groups, and consistent structures that allow for school day continuity.

We will maintain transparency to avoid sudden shifts whenever possible. As usual, our communication modes will include email, a recorded phone message if needed, and messages posted on our internal and external websites and social media. Our shift to distance learning, whether for a single cohort or the entire school, will include a short transition period to provide faculty and families time for efficient and successful preparation to begin at-home teaching and learning. 

We will also build in developmentally-appropriate conversations with students to help support their understanding and preparedness for distance learning, should it become necessary. 

Tools to support successful distance learning for all students will also be in regular use during in-person learning and will include 1:1 technology devices, expanded use of tech platforms that were successful this spring (outlined in the technology section above), and personal kits of physical classroom supplies. 

Distance Learning Schedules

Based on our experience this spring and significant summer work, each Division is now scheduled according to its own consistent daily timetable, designed around the developmental needs of the students in each grade. Parents and students can expect:

  • 1:1 outreach before school begins to each family and to each individual student. 
  • Teachers and specialists will continue to check in with families throughout the fall, and to work closely with students through small group work and individualized feedback through learning platforms. 
  • Students will use the same learning platforms and tools in all learning models. This continuity will support student independence and autonomy in using tools at home. 
  • That distance learning schedules will maintain core academics and specials content, and will maintain classes at similar frequency to in-person class schedules. 
  • The start and end times of each class day will remain consistent, as will approximate length of class/work times. This consistency will help ensure routine, predictability, and cohesion to best support student learning. 
  • Most classes for N-K and Lower School students will be taught live.
    • All activities are designed to build learning community relationships and optimize opportunities for independent work
  • Our learning platforms (Zoom, Seesaw, Schoology) allow for great flexibility and ease of classroom management and small-group work, as well as more alignment with the in-person learning experience. 
  • Breaks are included throughout the day (ranging in length depending on children’s ages), including lunch/recess/rest at a consistent time every day. 
  • Town will continue to prioritize the social-emotional learning and progression of every student throughout distance learning and in-person learning models.

Sample Schedules for Kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd, grade, 6th grade, and 8th grade.

Below are sample, draft schedules for select grades to give you a sense of the school day for different ages. Current families and employees: samples of every grade are on the internal version of this plan update; contact us for the link if you need it!

Kindergarten Sample Distance Learning Schedule

Kindergarten

This is a draft sample of one day; start and end times and class periods will remain consistent, but lessons will shift somewhat each day of the week as "specials" classes rotate through the days. Unless noted as “async” classes will be taught live.

8:30-9:00     Morning Meeting
9:00-9:15     Fundations
9:15-9:45     Async Class/Play Time
9:45-10:15       Small Group- Math
10:15-10:45     Async Class/Play Time
10:45-11:15     Small Group- Reading
11:15-11:45     Async Class/Play Time
11:45-12:15     Specialist Class (Dance, Art, Music, Library, or PE)
12:15-1:00       Lunch/Rest
1:00-1:30     Exploration/ Choice Time with teacher
1:30-2:00     Story/Closing Meeting

1st Grade Sample Distance Learning Schedule

1st Grade

This is a draft sample of one day of the week; start and end times and class periods will remain consistent, but lessons will shift somewhat each day of the week as "specials" classes like Arts, PE, Library, Spanish, and Science rotate through the days. Note that the 40-minute class periods will be adapted according to students’ stamina, which develops over the course of the school year; the 40-minute class periods will typically also include breakouts into small-group work. Unless noted as “async” classes will be taught live.

8:30-9:00 Morning Meeting    
9:00-9:40 Social Studies
9:40-10:00 Snack/Mvmt. Break
10:00 - 10:40 Fundations (async)
10:40 - 11:20 Reading 
11:20 - 12:00 10-minute break, Spanish
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch/Recess 
1:00 - 1:40 Dance, 10-minute break
1:40 - 2:20 Math
2:20 - 2:30 Closing Meeting 

3rd Grade Distance Learning Sample Schedule

3rd Grade

This is a draft sample of one day of the week; start and end times and class periods will remain consistent, but lessons will shift somewhat each day of the week as "specials" classes like Arts, PE, Library, Spanish, and Science rotate through the days. Note that the 40-minute class periods will be adapted according to students’ stamina, which develops over the course of the school year; the 40-minute class periods will typically also include breakouts into small-group work. Unless noted as “async” classes will be taught live.

8:30-9:00 Morning Meeting    
9:00-9:40 Social Studies
9:40-10:00 Snack/Mvmt. Break
10:00 - 10:40 Writing
10:40 - 11:20 PE, 10-minute break
11:20 - 12:00 Math
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch/Recess
1:00 - 1:40 Reading
1:40 - 2:20 10-minute break, Music 
2:20 - 2:50 Independent Worktime / Office Hours
2:50 - 3:00 Closing Meeting

Upper School Distance Learning Sample Schedule

Please note that these are draft sample schedules; the final distance learning schedules will likely have a different final arrangement of classes. Upper School classes will continue as a blend of live (synchronous) and independent (asynchronous) class models, and teachers will always be available to support student work during class periods. 

6th Grade Distance Learning A Week DRAFT Sample

8th Grade Distance Learning A Week DRAFT Sample

When and How We Would Switch to the Distance Learning Model

Town will move to our distance learning model based on state- or city-wide directives, or metrics within our own school community that indicate we should move some or all students and teachers to this model. We would move some or all students and teachers to distance learning in the event of:

  • A New York State or New York City Department of Health directive to all schools. (All students and teachers would move to the distance learning model.) 
  • A confirmed case of COVID-19 within a student cohort. (The cohort and associated teachers would self-isolate at home and move to distance learning.) 
  • An overall COVID-19 infection/illness rate of 3% in our in-building school community of students, teachers, and staff; or if the rate of infection of faculty and staff  has compromised the school’s ability to deliver in-school instruction consistent with its mission. (All students and teachers would move to the distance learning model.) 
  • Any other metrics that, in the judgement of Town’s leadership and/or department of health representatives, indicate that we should shift to distance learning to best fulfill our mission and support our community’s health and well-being. 

Students and faculty will be much better prepared for a possible shift to distance learning than during the spring’s emergency situation. The technology tools and individual learning kits provided to all students will be in regular use during in-person learning at the school building, and will go home with students to support distance learning if and when we shift to that model. Though teachers are simultaneously preparing for both in-person and distance learning models, we will need to allow time for both teachers and families to rearrange home lives to accommodate distance learning, and there will be a preparation period of one to two days before distance learning schedules begin in full. 

If our school building is closed for any of the reasons described above (government/health dept. directive, 3% in-building community COVID-19 infection/illness rate, or any other metric that indicates building closure is needed), we would re-open for in-person, in-building teaching and learning once: a) a state or local directive is lifted and we are allowed to return to an in-person model or b) our community has completed a required period of self-isolation/quarantine. In all scenarios, Town's leadership will make building closure and re-opening decisions in alignment with Department of Health guidance and after considering all factors specific to our school community. 


Hygiene and Cleaning Procedures, HVAC Modifications

Handwashing

All students and staff must wash hands (or use hand sanitizer if washing is not feasible) at the following times:

  • Immediately upon entering the school.
  • When shifting between spaces or activities (moving to or from the roof, park, breakout spaces).
  • After using the restroom.
  • Before eating snack or lunch.
  • After using any shared items.
  • Before departing school for the day.

Town will provide and maintain hand hygiene stations around the school as follows:

  • For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels
  • For hand sanitizing: a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer for areas where hand washing stations may not be available
    • Student use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers should always be supervised by adults, as is required to minimize accidental ingestion and promote safe usage.
    • The school will provide accommodation for students who cannot use hand sanitizer.
    • Hand sanitizer will be available throughout all common areas of the school and placed in convenient areas.  Touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers are installed where possible.
  • Receptacles will be placed around the school for disposal of soiled items, including paper towels and PPE.

Training will be provided for all students and adults about proper handwashing procedures and signage reminding students (and adults) of proper handwashing techniques will be posted in all bathrooms and at all sinks/handwashing stations. 

Bathroom Protocols

The majority of Town’s bathrooms are single-occupancy by design, and we will require single-occupancy for group bathrooms available on the first floor as well. Nursery-Kindergarten teachers will assist children with toileting as needed (while wearing appropriate PPE), and all teachers will consistently remind children of the requirement of proper handwashing after using the bathroom. Age-appropriate signage will be posted in every bathroom reminding children (and adults) of proper procedures. 

Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection are the primary responsibility of our maintenance team. Faculty and staff will also be given cleaning and disinfecting supplies for shared and frequently-touched surfaces.

  • The maintenance staff will perform regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-risk areas used and/or touched by many individuals. 
  • Materials and tools used by employees will be regularly cleaned and disinfected using registered disinfectants as stated in the DEC list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19.
  • Cleaning and disinfection will occur after each cohort’s use of a space, and any shared classroom items will be disinfected after each use.
  • The school will provide touch-free amenities such as water bottle refilling stations, trash receptacles and paper towel dispensers where possible, or provide hand sanitizer near high-touch surfaces.
  • Water fountains are closed and students, faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their own water bottles or use disposable cups to use at faucets and water-bottle refilling stations.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of restrooms will occur multiple times throughout the school day. 
  • Electrostatic sprayers will be used throughout the building to ensure that every surface is thoroughly disinfected daily. (Electrostatic sprayers use a specialized solution that is combined with air and atomized by an electrode inside the sprayer. The spray contains positively-charged particles that are able to aggressively adhere to all surfaces and objects.)

HVAC Modifications to Support Indoor Air Quality

Town's HVAC system is regularly updated and maintained for optimal function. Our facilities staff is now exploring all feasible options for further optimizing our building's HVAC system, in partnership with our mechanical engineers, to ensure the best possible air quality. Based on the systems we have in the building, our engineers recommend we pursue a three-pronged approach including Air Purifiers with HEPA filters in select spaces, HVAC filters upgrade and increased filter rotation schedule, and Upper-Room / Upper-Air Germicidal UV-C light fixtures mounted where applicable, to help mitigate the spread of any contaminants that may become airborne.  


Health Office Protocols

All protocols below are in accordance with current guidance from New York State, the CDC, and Town’s existing Health Office Policies. Should New York State or CDC guidance change, our policies will be updated accordingly. In brief, our goal is a “zero-symptom policy,” and we require that all students and employees:

  • Stay home if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or other infectious disease.
  • Contact your physician for medical advice if you have COVID-19 symptoms or direct exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Alert the Health Office of symptoms, direct exposure, or diagnosis of COVID-19 or other infectious disease.
  • Self-isolate or self-quarantine as indicated by your specific situation and your doctor’s advice.
  • Provide a written physician’s note in order to return to school after an illness or self-isolation/quarantine period.
  • Self-isolate for 14 days if you have traveled to a state with significant community spread and are required by NYS to quarantine for 14 days from the date of travel. All students and employees should comply with this state order.
  • If our school building is closed for any of the reasons described in the Distance Learning section (government/health dept. directive, 3% in-building community COVID-19 infection/illness rate, or any other metric that indicates building closure is needed), we would re-open for in-person, in-building teaching and learning once: a) a state or local directive is lifted and we are allowed to return to an in-person model or b) our community has completed a required period of self-isolation/quarantine. In all scenarios, Town's leadership will make building closure and re-opening decisions in alignment with Department of Health guidance and after considering all factors specific to our school community. ​​​​​​​

We will engage in contact tracing within student cohorts and, according to physician and department of health directives, advise associated teachers, staff, and families about who may need to self-isolate after contact with a fellow student or employee who has symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19. 

Current families and employees: expanded details on our protocols for specific scenarios are included in our internal version of this plan update; contact us if you need the link! 

Preserving Faculty and Staff Health and Well-being

Our faculty are the heart of our school. Their innovation and dedication in the spring months bringing distance learning to life for our students showed yet another side of their expertise and commitment to their students and to lifelong learning. We are now asking them to step into a new challenge of delivering an engaging, challenging, joyful program within the constraints of physically-distanced learning spaces, and we know they will once again ensure that our students have the best possible learning experiences. We are committed to supporting all of our employees' health and well-being as we work together to deliver our mission and support our students. All of our work in designing a physically-distanced in-person learning and working model is designed with the goal of protecting our faculty and staff as they focus on the essential work of delivering our program:

  • A physically-distanced model that allows for six feet of separation in learning spaces, limiting movement throughout the building, avoiding large group gatherings, limiting additional contacts, and staggering arrivals and departures.
  • Implementing cleaning and sanitizing routines throughout the day and supplying faculty and staff with appropriate facial coverings. 
  • Identifying which staff members can continue to work remotely, discussing possible rotations of in-person and remote work schedules, and determining which shared work areas can benefit from partitions to create a safer environment.  
  • Working closely with any faculty or staff member whose personal or family health may require a different working model.
  • Consistently applying all protocols around symptoms and diagnosis of COVID-19. 
     

Return to Work Policy for Town Employees

Guidance as of July 31st:

In an effort for Town to create a consistent return to work protocol for employees who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, we are following current CDC guidelines for when it is safe for employees to return to school:

Ten days after the onset of symptoms, an employee is required to present healthcare provider documentation releasing the employee back to work prior to returning to the building or, an employee can return to work 10 days after the date of the positive COVID-19, 24 hours after no fever without fever-reducing medicine and symptoms improved, and with the supporting documentation that a test was administered prior to returning to the building. 

Daily Screening Before Entering the School Building

  • All faculty, staff, and students will be screened daily for fever (100 degrees or higher) and symptoms of COVID-19 illness, and recent confirmed exposure to or personal diagnosis of COVID-19. 
  • We will strongly encourage use of a secure online questionnaire that will allow faculty, staff, and parents - on behalf of their children - to complete health screening questions at home prior to coming to school. 
    • We will ask all families and employees to complete the screening questionnaire each morning by 7:30am (you will get a reminder by text or email with a custom secure link), and no one will be allowed into the school without a completed symptom check questionnaire. 
    • Anyone reporting symptoms through the daily health screening questions will be directed to stay home and follow up with the Health Office.
    • If an employee or parent is not able to complete the questionnaire online, we will be prepared with supplies and trained staff with appropriate PPE to be ready to conduct temperature checks and ask screening questions at all three building entrances. 
    • We will send employees and families full details on how to access and use the secure online questionnaire, as well as Town's specific daily expectations and the complete list of questions that will be in the daily screening.
  • Essential visitors (repair workers, inspectors, etc) will be screened at the front entrance prior to being granted access to the building.
  • Beyond screening for COVID-19 symptoms, Town will follow our standing guidelines that no student or employee may come to school with a fever or significant illness symptoms.  

General Infectious Disease Protocols

  • Students and employees exhibiting symptoms of an infectious illness (fever over 100 degrees, vomiting/diarrhea, excessively running nose or bad cough, bad sore throat, etc) should stay home and not return until symptoms have subsided, without medication, for 24 hours. 
  • All diagnosed illnesses should be reported to the Health Office.
  • Any illness with the potential for infection will require a written physician's note to return to work/school. 
  • When returning to school, the student or employee should first check-in with the Health Office before being cleared to return to teaching duties/class.

Questions? 

If you have questions about any of the planning updates above, or anything else about Town, reach out any time: info@townschool.org

Contact

540 East 76th Street
New York 10021
p 212-288-4383
f 212-988-5846
info@townschool.org