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FALL 2020 AT TLS: Campus Reopening Plan


Faculty and Admin have met throughout June to reimagine learning in the fall. The Reimagining Team includes: Alice Hauschka Amanda Haecker Becky Dolan Braden Wild Charlotte MacCay Colleen Wes Jackie Hubenet Jenny Chiang Jessie Ryan Jules Hetland Julie Kalmus Kary Kublin Katie Warden Mandy Dillon Mem Merrin Michael Asbridge Mike Murphy Nancy Gellerman Ray Castillo Jr. Regan Wensnahan Taira McKinney

A MESSAGE FROM JULIE Dear TLS Families, Educator Christopher Emdin has suggested, “If we are going to learn with each other, we should also learn about each other so we can bring each other up.” As we think about the community care required for our reopening in the fall, the wisdom of Emdin’s advice has been reflected time and again in the ways that our community has shared experiences and ideas and listened to one another. Since April, over 120 families participated in Zoom Town Halls or focus groups. Seventy percent of you completed the Reimagining Fall survey. Thank you for your participation and care. It helps us each lift and “bring up” The Little School and its students. The pages that follow reflect a synthesis of our community’s input, feedback, questions, suggestions and collective preferences. Our decisions are also anchored in research, reflection, design, collaboration and care. We are excited to share them. Of the 70% of TLS families who responded to the survey, more than 75% preferred a blended daily outdoor/ indoor campus learning model. Nine percent responded that alternating time on- and off-campus would be best. Currently, 12% would like to return to Connected Learning. We are proceeding with a plan to offer a full-time, blended indoor/outdoor program on campus with a Connected Learning alternative for the fall. We want to welcome as many students as possible back to campus. By using our outdoor spaces more actively and optimizing the spaces afforded in our new building (opening October 2020), we are confident that we can promote hygiene, physical distancing, safety, friendship and learning to students on campus each day. We also recognize that we have families who cannot return to on-campus learning until a vaccine is available. To support these families, we will offer a redesigned distance learning program. All families are asked to the choose the program in which they wish to begin school in the fall: on-campus or at-home. Decisions need to be communicated to the school no later than July 16, 2020 in order to provide optimized dual programs. A clear understanding of student enrollment and program preference is necessary for us to finalize details. If you have not yet completed the Reimagining Fall survey, please use it to communicate your decision. Thank you for taking the time to read this carefully. We will continue to share updates and further details throughout the summer. Expect our next opening update on Friday, July 24, 2020. In the meantime, we hope you are safe, well and enjoying the start of summer. On behalf of the faculty and staff, Julie

We are proceeding with a plan to offer a full-time, blended daily indoor/outdoor program on campus with a Connected Learning alternative for the fall.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR CAMPUS REOPENING GUIDING PRINCIPLES: • Prioritize student safety and wellness. • Prioritize in-person learning. • Support families who cannot participate on campus. • Maximize campus use. • Tend to the academic and social-emotional well-being of every student. • Live our mission. REFERENCE SOURCES: The Little School’s fall 2020 plan is guided by the Washington Federation of Independent Schools Private Schools Reopening Principles 20-21, the State’s Reopening Washington Schools 2020: Planning Guide and the Department of Health’s K-12 Schools – Fall 2020-2021 Guidance. It is also informed by DCYF, NAEYC, NWAIS and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Responding to Washington State’s Phases for Reopening: The Little School’s planning is, first and foremost, guided by Washington’s recovery phases: PHASE 4 Low Risk

PHASE 3 Moderate Risk

PHASE 2 Medium Risk

PHASE 1 High Risk

Cases are declining. Contact tracing and testing can be used to control the virus, and therapeutic treatments exist.

Cases are declining. Safety measures are required to ensure minimizing spread.

Cases are rising and spreading. Strict measures for physical distancing and hygiene are mandated.

Cases are widespread and growing. Schools are closed and stay-at-home may be required.

Students are on campus in class groups that practice physical distancing that reflect recommendations at that time. Classes alternate indoors and outdoors to maximize physical distance and minimize contact between cohorts. Adults and older children wear cloth face coverings. School follows recommended practices for hygiene, health screening, and cleaning. All students participate on campus once a vaccine is available to the public.

Connected Learning is available.

All students participate in Connected Learning. If allowed by DCYF and reasonable given staffing constraints, a modified on-campus model will be offered to early childhood.

TWO PATHS FOR FALL LEARNING We plan to start the school year September 2 with students on campus. The primary assumptions that undergird the 2020-2021 health and safety planning are: • Children are most successful learning and playing at school with peers. • COVID-19 will impact all schools until a vaccine or therapeutic drug becomes widely available. • Some families will not be able to return to school until COVID-19’s impact diminishes. Families have two options for a September 2 start: PATH ONE On-Campus Learning • Students on campus daily 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m.* • Early childhood outdoors for the majority of each morning. • Elementary pods rotate outdoors & indoors. • First few weeks of school focused on building community and health and wellness routines. • Specialists become specialists-in-residence to minimize exposure, joining pods for 4-6 week integrated studies. • Extended Day offered by contract only; no drop-ins. * If required, times may be staggered to reduce student volume entering and leaving campus. These details will be shared in August.

PATH TWO Connected Learning • Student learning cohorts daily 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m. • Two learning cohorts: 4-6 year old students and 7-11 year old students. • Live streaming with class (7-11 year old students) or Connected Learning cohort meeting (4-6 year old students). • Social and academic connection with peers. • Individualized check-ins with teachers. • Video projects or live projects with specialists. • Independent projects, lessons and assignments to be completed offline. Start times may be staggered to align with either grade-level morning meetings or cohort meetings. Student days will include time online and offline as well as time for eating, resting and playing. These details will be shared in August. 

Please see the following pages for greater detail about each path. IN THE EVENT OF CLOSURE In the event that the State orders school closure or TLS finds it necessary to close campus, the school will return to Connected Learning for 1st -5th grade. Early childhood and kindergarten levels will have priority for continuing to have learning cohorts on-campus, even in the case of more generalized closure, as allowed by DCYF and DOH, and TLS staffing ratios.


Maximizing the Flexibility of Our Campus To provide a continuous, on campus experience for students this fall, days will be spent both indoors and outdoors. This model allows proper physical distancing indoors and takes advantage of the abundant learning opportunities in our forest. OUTDOOR LEARNING Topics currently being discussed for outdoor learning time include: • Indigenous Peoples’ Culture, Language and Connection/ Rights to Land • Interpretive Trail Design and Forest Stewardship • Outdoor Activists and Scientists • Patterns and Math in the • Natural World • Nature Writing and Poetry • Citizen Science Projects • Geologic Time vs. Human Time • Our Place in the Watershed • Civic Voice, Debate and Decision Making • Garden Work, Soil Ecology • and Food Justice • Place-based Connections • and Play • Nature Constructors – Nest, Dens and Hives • Flora and Fauna at TLS

Early Childhood The Early Childhood Program is adopting a forest preschool approach to its program. All classes will spend the morning outdoors. Students will meet in the play yards for Morning Warm Up and play. Once all students arrive, a balance of nature exploration and instruction, numeracy and literacy investigations, imaginative play and block building, snack time and specialist projects will fill the morning. At noon, half-day students will go home, and a smaller group of full-day students will eat lunch, rest and play indoors and outdoors. Elementary Program In the Elementary Program, classes will alternate beginning the day with outdoor learning and beginning the day with indoor learning. On outdoor mornings, students will gather in their designated meeting space. A morning prompt will engage students until all classmates have arrived. There will be a class meeting followed by a morning of environmentally focused, project-based investigations that interweave literacy, math, science and community action skills and learning. Snack and play time will be built into this schedule. Students in 2nd-5th grade who are participating in Connected Learning may be invited to video conference into outdoor learning with their pod as appropriate.

A WORD ABOUT INCLEMENT WEATHER It is rare that inclement weather keeps TLS kids from enjoying Outdoor Time. In the event that weather makes it unsafe to be outdoors, the school will use spaces in the new building and extra spaces in the Meadows Building to learn and play safely. Appropriate rain gear, footwear and warm layers will be critical for students to engage learning outdoors. Start shopping those summer gear sales now!

INDOOR LEARNING Early Childhood Afternoons will reflect a more typical Early Childhood schedule. Students will eat lunch in the classroom and participate in Quiet Time. Classroom investigations, read aloud, art or building projects and play time will fill the remainder of the day. If teachers or Early Childhood specialists-in-residence determine that certain learning experiences are more optimal indoors, students will use an indoor space that is large enough to allow physical distance between students, or they will work/play in smaller groups. Elementary Program When indoors, elementary classes will use the two classrooms in their pod to physically distance. Small group skill application and instruction (particularly for math and literacy) will be the focus. Opportunities for research and hands-on learning will also be offered. Choice time indoors will also promote social connections and learning. Students in 2nd-5th grade who are participating in Connected Learning will be invited to video with their pod as appropriate. Each pod’s specialist-in-residence will determine if their projects are better engaged indoors or outdoors and will instruct in that class accordingly. Specialists will seek to integrate their projects with each pod’s area of study.


When Learning From Home Is What’s Needed Connected Learning will prioritize the methods of delivering academic instruction, designing student experiences and fostering connection and community that are consistent with our school’s mission of nurturing the curiosity and engagement of every learner. Because the social-emotional and academic needs of children vary by age and development, we intend to create learning cohorts in the following configurations. General learning structures and considerations are outlined below. 4-6 YEAR OLD COHORT Teaching model A balance of live and offline/offscreen work for families that are choosing to learn from home

Designated Early Childhood faculty member meets with cohort daily. Specialists and SST members offer live and recorded learning experiences. At other times, students will be off screen, working on projects or activities with an adult at home.

Weekly one-on-one meetings with 2-3x/week faculty (1x/week for half-day students) Peer groups

Peers also in Connected Learning

Small group learning sessions

2-3x/week (1x/week for half-day students)

Whole group meeting

Daily for 15-20 minutes

Opt-in play time online

Daily for 15-20 minutes

Opt-in, outdoor, on-campus visit

Wednesdays Time TBD (full-day students only)

Parent support required

• • • •

Technology platform & needs*

• Learning Platform: TBD • Computer or iPad with video and audio conference capacity • Printer

Support is HIGH Establish daily routine Support video conference log in Support with group and independent work, online and offline

* If your family needs support gathering these items, please reach out to Kary Kublin.

7-11 YEAR OLD COHORT Students will video into class during strategic times of the day to stay connected academically and socially with the group. At other times of the day, students will be off screen working on assignments and projects.


Peers in Connected Learning and peers on campus In class Daily in class During class Choice Time Fridays Time TBD • • • • •

Support is MODERATE Establish daily routine Support tech use, as needed Monitor online safety, website visits, chats and other media as appropriate Support independent work offline, as needed

• • • •

Learning Platform: TBD Computer or iPad with video and audio conference capacity Computer camera access Printer

Proposed schedules will be shared later this summer.

In the event that King County returns to Phase One and orders school closures, all elementary students would transition to Connected Learning. An adjusted schedule would be provided for all classes.

HEALTH & WELLNESS PLANS Minimizing risk by following the most recent guidelines set up by the CDC and DOH is our priority. We want everyone to be safe, learn and have fun. Here are some highlights from our current safety plans. A full Safety FAQ with greater detail will be available on our website later this summer.

TLS recognizes that guidance regarding health & safety in the age of COVID-19 is ever-evolving. These plans align with current recommendations and may change both before school begins and while in session.


Family and School Action Items FOR FAMILIES




If not yet completed, please complete the Reimagining Fall survey.

Continue to closely monitor recommendations and COVID-19 status.

Assure you have paid your deposit for 20202021. Reach out to Nancy Gellerman with any questions.

Select shared learning platform.

Continue construction.

Connect with Regan Wensnahan for a Financial Aid application if stressors from COVID-19 have impacted your ability to afford tuition.


Attend Town Hall on shared norms and values for reopening, Tuesday, July 7 at 8 p.m.

Offer virtual or socially distanced playdates for your child.

Let Regan Wensnahan know if you would like to reach out to a new family to welcome them. Prepare

Help your child practice mask wearing and social distancing.

Confirm that Tammy Crook has updated immunization information for your child.

Order clothing and footwear that will help your child be comfortable outdoors.

Read communication from the school.

Laugh, play and have fun with your family.


Pilot Summer Camp Program.

Create safety and wellness videos for campus reopening.

Update Family Handbook policies and include COVID-19 addendum.

Host forums for continued conversation with families.


Continue to refine Campus Reopening Plan with Reimagining Team.

Design detailed fall schedule for classes, specialists and Connected Learning.

Complete Extended Day program plan.

Design drop-off and pick-up protocols.

Keep the TLS mission in focus in all we do.

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Fall 2020 at TLS: Campus Reopening Plan  

Fall 2020 at TLS: Campus Reopening Plan