Fall 2020 Reopening

We are pleased to share our 2020-2021 reopening plan, which we developed balancing our commitment to the safety and well-being of our community, and our dedication to our mission and core pedagogical values. The principles and practices of the Waldorf pedagogy will continue to be embedded in our daily routines in a safe, academically-rich, developmentally-sound, and age-appropriate way – albeit the form of delivery will have to adapt to the current circumstances.

Click the link below to access the 2020-2021 Reopening Plan (“Reopening Plan”), that Rudolf Steiner School submitted to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

AT THE CORE OF OUR PLANNING

SAFETY
AND
WELL‑BEING

Offering a healthy and safe environment to our students, faculty and staff is at the core of our mission. We prepared our Reopening Plan following careful adherence to recommended health and safety guidelines from the New York State Department of Health (DOH), the New York State Education Department (NYSED), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By enrolling your student at Rudolf Steiner School, you agree to remain committed to the health and safety policies and procedures listed in the Reopening Plan, and to share with your student (as developmentally appropriate) what is expected of them upon return to our campus in the fall.

RICH
WALDORF
CURRICULUM

Our on-campus, distance-learning, and hybrid programs are designed to enable students to achieve grade level learning expectations through our rich Waldorf curriculum. We will provide as much in-person education as possible (as guidelines safely allow) as we understand that learning happens through meaningful human encounters. Regular interactions with teachers and classmates play a pivotal role in students’ experience of their lessons. On-screen learning will be as minimal as possible for our youngest students. Remote instruction will be available to support families who are not able to join us in-person in the fall.

FLEXIBILITY,
ADAPTABILITY,
& AGILITY

Waldorf education encourages our faculty, staff, students and entire community to foster a sense of exploration, enthusiasm and imagination. We will continue to meet new scenarios with flexibility, adaptability, and agility in order to pivot from in-person to distance learning as required by state and local authorities.

Health and Safety

We have developed policies, protocols, and procedures for resuming in-person learning based on guidelines from the CDC and the DOH, which may be amended as new guidance is issued by the regulating agencies. We ask community members to carefully read through our policies and procedures detailed in PART III of our Reopening Plan, and commit to abide by them in order to attend our in-person instruction program. The care our families, faculty and staff take with this measure is critical to the safety of our community.

Beginning September 9, students and employees will (a) perform daily health checks at home to determine whether they can come to school, and (b) complete a health screening questionnaire that will be accessible on our website homepage. Anyone with an elevated temperature (greater than 100.0°F or 37.8°C ), symptoms of illness (e.g. cough, sore throat, nausea), known or suspected exposure to COVID-19, or who recently travelled from regions requiring quarantine in New York State, must remain at home, participate in our online learning program if they are well enough to do so, and consult a healthcare provider.

Students and employees who arrive at school without having submitted their daily health screening questionnaire will be screened before they are allowed to enter the building.

If a student develops symptoms during the school day, they will be isolated and immediately sent home. Students who are ill and awaiting pick-up will be monitored in an isolation space by the school nurse or a designated staff member. Families must have backup plans for prompt pick-up of their student should primary caregivers be unavailable. An ill staff member will be sent home immediately, and referred to their health care provider for evaluation.

We will limit all visitors to the school buildings. Visitors (including parents) must consent to temperature check, complete the health screening questionnaire and provide full contact information before entry to the school buildings. They will be required to wear face coverings and observe six (6) feet of physical distancing from others while on the premises.

Following a positive test result for COVID-19, students and employees must complete a mandated isolation period and have written clearance from their doctor before returning to school. In all cases, any return to school must be coordinated with the school nurse.

The School is mandated to notify the state and local health authorities immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and must cooperate with health authorities in contact tracing, isolation and quarantine efforts. The school nurse will be responsible for notifying state and local health authorities. In addition, the School will notify faculty, staff, and families who have come into close or proximate contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Confidentiality will be maintained as required by federal and state law and regulations.

During the 2020-2021 school year, there may be times when we may have to switch back to a temporary online learning model. If an outbreak (as determined by the CDC and the DOH) of COVID-19 occurs within the Steiner community, we will work at the direction of DOH officials to determine if a voluntary closure is required. Upon closure of our facilities, all students will pivot to our beyond-the-classroom distance learning program.

Everyone is required to wear an acceptable face covering (a cloth face covering or surgical mask) that covers both the mouth and nose when entering and exiting the school buildings as well as when in “public areas” such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, restrooms, and other spaces where multiple individuals or groups may pass through, or in situations where physical distance may be compromised (e.g., inside an elevator, while entering or exiting classrooms with others, or when passing through narrow halls and corridors). Mask breaks will be handled in accordance with our Reopening Plan.
- Our dress code applies to face coverings so these should not contain references in graphic or written form to violence, corporate advertisements, media or branding, or images that might be frightening such as skeletons or monsters.
- Denim masks are permitted; however, there shall be no distressed denim, acid-wash denim or stretchy denim.
- Face coverings should fit well, yet not be form-fitting. If the shape of the mouth is visible through the material of the mask, the mask is too tight and not appropriate for use at school.
- Neck gaiters and face coverings with vents will not be allowed on school premises.

Families are encouraged to provide five (5) cloth face coverings (one for each day of the week) per student and send the student with a clean cloth face covering every day they attend on-campus classes. Cloth face coverings must have two (2) or more layers of fabric. Each student must have at least two (2) clean, face coverings in reserve at the school as well as a receptacle for soiled face coverings. We recommend either a container with a tight-fitting lid or a reusable, re-sealable zipper storage bag. Cloth face coverings and containers should be labeled with the student’s name or initials.

The School will have adult and child-sized disposable masks available (at no charge) for individuals who forget their face coverings.

Face coverings should be washed, disinfected or replaced daily after each day’s use and must not be shared. Families, faculty and staff should take responsibility for maintaining their individual cloth face coverings. The CDC provides guidance on cloth face coverings and other types of PPE, as well as instructions on use and cleaning. Please check the CDC section below for further information.

We will provide additional personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields, N95 masks, gloves, and gowns, as needed. Prior to the start of the school year we will train employees in proper use, removal, and cleaning of face coverings and PPE, as well as protocols for monitoring and assisting students with face coverings.

The School prohibits discrimination, harassment or bullying, including but not limited to discrimination, harassment, or bullying related in any way to an individual’s national origin, to any perceived or actual medical condition (including COVID-19), or to PPE use.

We will maintain at least six (6) feet of physical distance whenever possible. Signage throughout the campus will remind our community members of physical distance requirements.

To prevent crowding at building entrances and facilitate physical distancing, we will stagger student arrival and dismissal times by grade level in increments of approximately fifteen (15) minutes. Arrival will take place between 8:00 and 9:00 AM and dismissal will happen between 3:00 and 4:00 PM.

We will arrange faculty and staff schedules so that only employees who are needed on any given day are required to be on campus. Faculty and staff who can perform their work at home and who are not scheduled to be in the buildings on a given day will work remotely. We will designate new working areas for faculty where they are able to maintain recommended physical distancing. For smaller office spaces, use will be limited to one (1) person. Tutors and instrumental music teachers will provide in-person lessons either offsite or online.

In classrooms, desks will be placed six (6) feet apart and facing the same direction so that students sit side-by-side rather than facing each other. We have created cohorts and reduced the number of desks per classroom to enable physical distancing requirements to be met.

Bathrooms will be assigned to particular cohorts and maximum occupancy in bathrooms will be limited to one (1) person at any given time.

Elevator use will be limited to one (1) person and reserved to those who cannot otherwise use the stairs.

All faculty, committee, and board meetings will take place online, except when physical distancing can be maintained appropriately for smaller groups. One-on-one meetings in small offices will be kept to fifteen (15) minutes or less and face coverings must be worn.

The School will follow hygiene requirements as advised by the CDC and the DOH.

Community members will be trained in illness prevention measures, including daily health self-screenings; proper handwashing and respiratory hygiene; how to wear, clean, store, and dispose of face coverings (and other PPE); and how to maintain physical distance in classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms.

We ask parents and legal guardians to reinforce the practice of personal hygiene etiquette at home.

We will provide and maintain hand washing stations with soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol will be available in areas where handwashing is not feasible. Parents and legal guardians who do not want their student to use hand sanitizer should send a written notice to the school, and provision will be made for the student to use a handwashing station instead.

We understand that students who are medically vulnerable or who have family members in high-risk groups may need to attend school through our remote-instruction program. We encourage parents and legal guardians to review the CDC’s guidance on factors that increase an individual’s risk of severe illness if exposed to COVID-19, and to work with their child’s healthcare provider to make an informed decision.

We are working with employees who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to provide reasonable accommodations.


Program and Pedagogy

Our on-campus program will provide a 5-day week for every child and student. The Lower School (Nursery-Grade 6) program will be available for seven (7) hours every day (between 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM and 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM), depending on staggered arrivals and dismissals. In the Upper School (Grades 7-12), students will spend approximately four (4) hours on campus each day, complementing their in-school studies with online distance learning. We are re-designing the use of our two buildings to carefully limit physical contact as much as possible. Young students will remain in self-contained cohorts in designated spaces. In the few instances when older students are in mixed groups, ample distance between students will be provided.

Early Childhood

Early Childhood classrooms will function as self-contained “pods,” with a consistent group of children and teachers remaining together throughout.

Our Early Childhood program is play-based, and pre-academic, working through a rich, story and song-filled environment that offers ample opportunities for small and large motor development, as well as social skill building through free play and gently guided activities.

During the 2020-2021 school year, we will focus on the following: - Increased outdoor time
- Indoor spaces that continue to reflect our beautiful aesthetics and values with personal toys and play surfaces that are easier to clean and disinfect
- Revised pickup and drop-off times, and additional procedures to allow for safe physical distancing in the Lower School building
- Age-appropriate, creative, and gentle education about face covering-wearing, handwashing, physical distancing, and other health precautions
- Dedicated private areas within the classroom for young children needing “face covering breaks,” where they can maintain physical distance while under the supervision of an Early Childhood teacher
- Familiar rhythm, structure, and warmth to offer a reassuring environment to the young children

Elementary School (Grades 1-3)

Classes in the earliest grades will be led by the consistent presence of the Class Teacher (with an Assistant Teacher in Grades 1 and 2). We will teach special subjects such as world languages, crafts, and movement in intensive blocks lasting for several weeks. In this way, each of these youngest grades will be held at any given time by a small cohort of teachers to minimize possible contacts across the Lower School building and to maximize flexibility for using outdoor spaces as much as possible.

Elementary School (Grades 4-6)

In these grades, subject lessons expand, and specialists begin to work with the class in courses such as woodwork, instrumental music, English, and math to complement the steady presence of the Class Teacher in Main Lesson. As older children maintaining physical distancing aligns more easily with typical behavior, the number of teachers visiting the class can slowly increase. However, teaching subjects in blocks will still take place to reduce the variety of possible contacts. Children will remain in self-contained cohorts in their classroom and outdoors.

Middle School and High School (Grades 7-12)

While on campus, students will largely remain in self-contained cohorts in classrooms designed for physical distancing. In most grades, in-school time will be primarily devoted to extended Main Lesson work and to work in the fine arts, practical arts, and laboratory. Other courses, including math, science, English, history, world languages, and others will take place either entirely online, or with a blend of in-school and online learning. This will allow us to preserve the richness of the curriculum, including the elective choices in the upper grades, while limiting traffic through shared spaces.

Our distance-learning program is designed to (a) provide a year-long option for families and teachers for whom participation in on-campus learning is not possible; (b) substitute for our on-campus program if school closure is necessary; and (c) maintain the rich variety of course offerings and elective choices in Grades 8-12.

Early Childhood

We will offer an off-site experience that will hold the curriculum, create classroom community and provide parental support. Materials and guidance will be provided to each family to enable parents to carry out the curriculum in a home setting.

An online Parent-Child support group will be offered for parents of children aged 6 to 36 months. Groups will meet during the evening for two (2) days a week, with practical discussions and tools for child observation, to support families in establishing a healthy family life and to inspire parents to find their own path for development.

Elementary School (Grades 1-3)

Distance learning is most challenging for these youngest grade-school children. Screen time will be limited, and focused on individualized instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Written materials will be provided to parents and legal guardians in advance, with suggestions for narrowing or expanding the scope of work as appropriate. Individual check-ins with the Class Teacher, Assistant Teacher, or another Specialist Teacher will help each child progress at his or her own rate through the typical academic work of each grade. Materials and guidance will also be provided for crafts, music, art, and other special subjects as appropriate.

Elementary School (Grades 4-6)

Reading, writing, and arithmetic remain the central academic work in these grades, with individualized instruction and support provided for each student. Students will also work alongside their classmates in class projects, book reports, and other elements of grade-specific content. Private instrumental music lessons should continue, and projects in woodwork, crafts, and art will be offered.

Middle School and High School (Grades 7-12)

Distance learning is most effective with these oldest students as they become increasingly self-directed in their learning goals and able to work with greater independence with a wide variety of materials and resources. Online sessions will be an integral component of each student’s educational program in these grades.

Making music together is an integral part of our educational program. This school year, we will replace our typical large instrumental music groups with intimate, primarily classroom-based, ensembles. We will carefully observe the increased physical distancing requirement of twelve (12) feet for certain musical activities, and singing will take place outdoors whenever possible. We will remind faculty and students that instruments are not to be shared. Private music lessons and practice at home will continue to be essential parts of our program, and we will continue to fund music lesson scholarships for those students in need of financial aid. In a remote learning model, music teachers will connect with students and support learning and group projects while at home.

Drama productions and large gatherings in communal spaces will not be possible in the coming months. Instead, we will use the opportunities available for classroom-based plays, and for innovative online drama such as radio plays. We will continue to monitor updates of applicable guidelines and will re-evaluate our program in early December for possible Spring offerings.

Healthy movement is essential for our students’ health and well-being. We will use classroom and outdoor spaces creatively for eurythmy, movement, games, and sports. We will carefully observe the increased physical distancing requirement of twelve (12) feet where required. As of the date of our Reopening Plan, following DOH guidance, interscholastic sports are not permitted, but teams such as cross-country will continue to practice with their coaches. We will continue to monitor updates of applicable requirements. In a remote learning model, our movement teachers will create connections remotely with students and provide opportunities for the continual cultivation of healthy movement and physical skills in their daily lives.

Projects in the fine and practical arts are being re-designed so that these subjects can be taught in the classroom space of each cohort. Whenever possible, projects will be duplicated, so that, for example, students can knit one sock at school and the other at home. Projects will also be designed with an eye for portability, so that work can easily be carried home if, and when, the program pivots to distance-learning mode.

Classrooms sinks and other shared materials and surfaces (such as drying racks and easels) will be cleaned regularly after each use following appropriate CDC and state applicable guidelines.

During in-person learning periods, festivals will take place in the classroom, whenever possible, maintaining physical distancing and in an age-appropriate way for each cohort of students. In a remote learning model, some festivals may be postponed, and others may be conducted virtually.
The school buildings will close at 4:00 PM daily to undergo a thorough cleaning procedure. Therefore, after school activities (such as AfterCare, Extended Day, and Clubs) will not be offered on-site at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Several activities will move to an online format, including Math Lab and Homework Lab, which will make these academic support sessions convenient and widely accessible. School buildings will not be able to accommodate private tutoring or music lessons, either during the school day or after school hours. These measures will be re-evaluated in early December, and on-site after-school activities could commence as early as January if public health conditions improve sufficiently.
The School will focus on embedded, formative assessments in both on-campus and distance-learning modalities to inform instruction and referral to Educational Support. Testing accommodation needs will be followed when administering all assessments.
Our Director of Educational Support will continue to coordinate the various aspects of student support for both in-person and remote learning. This includes working with families to arrange for educational evaluations, facilitating the creation of IEPs, and working with our in-house faculty, private tutors, and with the DOE to provide recommended student services.

The social and emotional well-being of our students, faculty and staff is a priority. We recognize the many challenges that this time of physical isolation, lack of social interaction, and remote learning has presented to families, students, faculty, and staff. We will begin the school year slowly, with ample time to re-orient students, faculty, and staff, and to focus on rebuilding the social fabric of each class and the school community.

The School has a strong social and emotional support system fostered by our small class sizes and vibrant community. From Lead Teachers in the Early Childhood, Class Teachers in the Elementary and Middle School, to Class Advisors and Personal Advisors in the High School, our students and families have strong and supportive relationships with their teachers. Sustained support is provided through personal contact with each child, student, and family through email interactions, parent meetings and opportunities for socialization among families

In addition to the Lead Teacher, Class Teacher, Class and Personal Advisors the School works with (a) a Care Group comprised of faculty and staff and (b) a part-time school psychologist who is available to students, families, faculty and staff for individual and family appointments, as well as consultation with teachers about student needs in the classroom. The school psychologist communicates with the Lower School Coordinator, the Upper School Coordinator and members of the Care Group in order to track progress in getting to ensure students and families the help they need.

We will continue to offer support to our community whether we are physically on campus or working remotely through our distance learning program.


Our Campus

Only faculty, staff, and students will have access to enter school buildings.

To de-densify our campus, non-student family members, outside tutors, vendors, contractors, and any other individuals (Visitors) will not be able to enter the school buildings on a regular basis. Visitors will be limited and will only be granted access to the school buildings with prior approval from a member of the Leadership Council (School Administrator, Lower School Coordinator, and Upper School Coordinator). We will keep a sign-up sheet at the Lower School and Upper School front desks. Visitors will be subject to the same level of screening as students, faculty, and staff.

Back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, and other school events will be conducted virtually. As guidelines ease, we will aim to conduct events in person with safety protocols in place.

Deliveries will be limited to the vestibules of the Lower School and Upper School buildings, except for food, kitchen or maintenance deliveries, which will be received in the basement of the Lower School or Upper School buildings via separate service entrances. Contact between delivery people and school staff will be limited to the extent possible.

We will follow enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures throughout our buildings following recommendations and guidelines from the CDC and the DOH. Our maintenance team will clean and disinfect our facilities on a regular schedule, paying special attention to areas used by many individuals and frequently touched surfaces. We will clean restrooms every hour.

We will stock classrooms and common areas with child-safe, CDC-approved cleaning and disinfection supplies that faculty and staff may use in order to contribute to cleaning efforts at periodic intervals during the day.

Drinking fountains will be closed and new water-bottle refilling stations installed. We will replace existing soap dispensers with touchless ones.

We have replaced all air and water filters throughout the buildings. In addition, all classrooms and office spaces have been equipped with newly acquired air purifiers that improve air quality. Our new systems reduce allergens, smoke, and static electricity and control odors and other particles in the air without creating ozone or any harmful byproducts.

We will conduct all required safety drills taking into account physical distancing requirements in order to minimize the risk of spreading infection. We will review and update our Crisis Management Plan to reflect these requirements. Drills will take place on a staggered schedule with smaller numbers of students present. We will instruct students, faculty and staff that in an actual emergency they must prioritize getting to safety over maintaining social distancing.

Our food program will continue to offer high-quality, organic-centered, nutritious food to our students, faculty and staff. There will be no communal gathering in our school cafeteria, salad bar and/or family-style serving. Sharing of food (including communal snacks) and/or beverages will be discouraged unless students are members of the same household.

Lunch

Lunch will be prepared daily onsite, following applicable guidelines, and delivered to the classrooms in individual containers. Students will have lunch either at their desks, maintaining the recommended 6-feet physical distancing, or outdoors, and practicing handwashing before and after eating. Desks will be thoroughly cleaned before and after lunch.

The School is a nut-free environment. Students with food allergies and sensitivities will be accommodated in the following ways:
- No allergy or sensitivity-causing food will be delivered to a classroom with an allergic/sensitive student
- Families with students who have allergies, or any other dietary restrictions, may request to bring their own lunch

Upper School students who need to remain in school to attend on-site elective courses offered in the afternoon will be required to stay on campus for lunch during the first portion of the 2020-2021 school year and until further notice.

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to bring their own labeled water bottles for refilling at the touchless bottle refilling stations.

Snacks

Each student in Grades 1-12 should bring a nut-free snack. Early Childhood teachers will distribute snacks to children, who will be seated according to physical distancing guidelines.

Non-essential gatherings and activities on-campus will be restricted. School events such as assemblies, concerts, drama productions, and celebrations that would traditionally take place on-campus or at off-site venues will either be postponed or hosted virtually. Please click here to access our 2020-2021 school calendar.

The School generally does not provide busing service to and from school and therefore realizes that for some students, families, faculty, and staff, taking public transportation is necessary. We expect members of our community who must take public transportation (trains, buses, ride sharing or carpools) to practice physical distancing and wear face coverings while in transit and follow hand sanitizing protocols upon arrival to school premises. Students, faculty, and staff may choose to walk, scooter, or bike to school — if safe and feasible — in order to reduce prolonged, close contact with other people.

The School does not plan to use busing services for any school activities during the fall. Should circumstances change and transportation be considered for any school-related activities, the School will then adhere to mandated guidance applicable at that time.

Please avoid unnecessary travel. All community members traveling back from overseas or domestic hotspot states must return to New York in time to meet the 14-day quarantine requirement prior to the start of school, per CDC and New York State guidelines. Our first day of school is currently scheduled for Wednesday, September 9, 2020, for the grades and Thursday, September 10, 2020, for the Early Childhood program. When quarantine is necessary, your child will pivot to remote learning. Please notify the School in advance when possible to arrange for remote learning during this time.

During the 2020-2021 school year, we will continue to use Zoom due to the functionality offered by that platform, particularly its “breakout group” function. Platforms for the distribution of materials and the receipt of student work may include Google Classroom and Office OneNote Classroom.

Students who lose access to technology during a period of distance learning, or whose families prefer less screen time will be accommodated with alternate methods of proving their mastery of material. These include written or artistic work, phone conversations with the teacher, and/or parent-proctored written tests.

Ensuring equitable access to technology has been, and will remain to be, a priority. We will continue to assist families in securing the technological resources that they need to fully participate in all aspects of our program.

Teachers will be properly equipped to deliver our distance learning program. Our tech support team has time built into their job duties and schedules to work with teachers who are experiencing tech difficulties.

During the 2020-2021 school year, there may be times when the Governor orders that all schools in New York are to close. New York State has established metrics that they will use to order a regional or state-wide lockdown. However, there may be situations within our own borough, neighborhood, or school community when community spread of COVID-19 needs to be addressed. Please see PART III, Section D of our Reopening Plan for specifics on class quarantine and school-wide closure.

Communications


References and Resources