The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released planning guidance yesterday, and our task force is currently going through the information and updating our plans to take these latest guidelines into account. As they share on their website, "the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."
At the same time, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee extended his executive order to limit gatherings to less than 50 people "unless social distancing can be in place."
Thankfully, with guidance from the doctors on our task force and the recommendations of the CDC, most of our procedures are already in line with AAP's guidance. Recommendations like spacing desks apart 6', limiting movement across campus, having lunch in classrooms and using PPE have been a part of our planning. But the AAP's guidance helps us understand the best way to respond to several areas of concern. We'll be updating the page and our plans with this new information as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to share their questions, comments and concerns about fall 2020 classes. We've received over 200 responses, and the feedback has been a great help as we've tried to share information. Some of the questions we’ve received are below.
With the recommendation of the AAP being that students are physically present in school, it is our belief that we will have in-person and on-campus classes beginning August 17. Only an order from the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, or the Shelby County Health Department could order us closed. While we think that order is highly unlikely, we must prepare for that scenario, too.
As parents, students, teachers and faculty are all aware: recreating the Lausanne experience online is extremely difficult. While the difficulties of conducting Lower School classes virtually are obvious, project-based learning for students in middle school and upper school suffer from the medium. When campus closed in the spring, we were originally told that it would be for two weeks, and our teachers did their best to prepare quickly for the temporary change. As the closure was extended in two-week increments, our community adapted as well as we could. But as we prepare for fall, we do so determined to make the experience better mirror the one on-campus. We have the goal of publishing preliminary plans for each division next Wednesday, July 8. This will be followed by a period of feedback that we’ll utilize to adjust and construct more in-depth plans to share on July 14.
Planning for the unknown situation our community would be facing this fall made us hesitant to share out much more than the most basic of plans. Knowing the situation could change quickly and wanting to share only concrete plans, it was frustrating to all of us that we didn’t have definitive answers. We've also used the last few weeks to talk with our network of peer schools, many of whom are international and already entering into their school reopenings. Their feedback and experiences have been helpful, as they're further ahead in the process. We’ve since come to realize that hesitation to share fluid plans added to uncertainty, and are trying to share our plans for each scenario with you as fast as possible.
You can see all of the plans on our website, which is continually updated as more information comes in. Most recently, groups of teachers from each division are working on plan specifics to share with you tomorrow. Previously we had developed policies and procedures to host students on campus this fall, starting with large frameworks (time of school, temperature checks, social distancing and PPE) and are now drilling down into specifics (how will bathroom breaks work? What about time on the playground?). These divisional teams are utilizing recommendations from the CDC and AAP. These plans are then presented to our task force to ensure their viability. Finally, we share them with parents, with the understanding that they are constantly being updated as new information and recommendations become available.
Lausanne is making plans to facilitate an even greater level of student support for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond with the creation of numerous SEL (social and emotional learning) opportunities. While this can help students regulate their feelings, we also have appointments available with our school guidance counselors to help them work through any issue.
When we first began, small group conversations and emails were the main way we received feedback on preliminary planning. As plans became more developed, we asked for your questions and concerns via the website. Those questions and concerns helped with planning, and now, as we finalize plans in order of their likelihood, we’re asking people to also complete surveys to help us quickly gauge community sentiment. Also, beginning July 14, we’re hosting town hall style meetings with parents from each division to discuss the plans and answer questions.
We encourage you to continue to share your concerns as we move forward using our online form. As I said above: it helps us understand what issues we need to address as we plan for the future.
Thanks again for your support of Lausanne!