September 2020

What to Expect (Reopening FAQ)

 
June 8, 2020

Dear Falmouth Academy Families,
 
In Friday's morning messages, I told the community, “I really wish that today, I was standing on that curb or sitting on one of those benches and just seeing you onto your buses or into your cars and wishing you a great summer and thanking you for a terrific year, but this is the best I can do to convey that sentiment, so those of you who are watching, if you are so inclined, please leave a five-second video post with a wave, a thumbs-up, a thank you or a good-bye.” I dedicated some of my weekend to watching all of the 47 posts, as well as listening to the 8th Grade Declamation Day ebook, having another look at our virtual art show, and watching our virtual spring concert.  
 
I mentioned in my last letter that throughout the summer we would be updating you at regular intervals and in greater degrees of specificity on our planning process for the coming September, a process that has been occupying no small part of my team’s time and attention. Below, we share with you a link to our newly drafted “Re-Opening 2020: FAQ’s for Families, where you can find some, though certainly not all, of the questions we have been asked or are asking ourselves regarding reopening plans for September, as well as our best and most current answers given the information currently available to us. Please note: very few of our “answers” are definitive but instead present a range of possibilities, some best guesses as to what you might expect come September. (They do not, for example, yet reflect this morning's communication from the State Department of Education.) We present them to you not as the final word, but as evidence that we continue to move thoughtfully and deliberately forward in hopes of continuing to earn your trust and confidence. In crafting these messages, I continually tell myself, “Be direct, be transparent, acknowledge the inherent uncertainty of the situation, don’t over-promise anything, and try not to surprise anyone.” I hope this message meets those standards.
 
Have a wonderful summer.
 
Matt
 

Reopening Fall 2020 FAQ

List of 16 frequently asked questions.

  • What criteria will you use to determine whether the school will reopen?

    We are constantly monitoring the latest information, advisories, and restrictions coming from the federal, state, and local government agencies. Ultimately, Falmouth Academy will reopen when it is announced by our state representatives that all Massachusetts schools are permitted to do so and when the school administration, in consultation with local public health officials and our school physician, determines that we are able to comply fully with whatever social distancing restrictions or advisories may have accompanied that announcement.
  • Once open, what criteria will you use to determine whether you will close? 

    Should state representatives close all Massachusetts schools, Falmouth Academy will, as it did this spring, comply with that directive. There may be some circumstances in which Falmouth Academy will be closed even when other schools in the state are permitted to be open (or vice versa.) Such circumstances may include but are not limited to: a sustained period with an excessive number of student absences or a credible report that a student or staff member has tested positive.
  • Does the school have any plans to screen or test students, staff, and visitors? 

    We have not made a definitive decision on this question yet, though it is possible that at a future time we will be directed in this area. As a precautionary measure, we have already ordered a number of no-touch forehead thermometers in case we decide that upon arrival each morning, all students, staff, and visitors will have their temperatures taken. In this scenario, it is possible that people with temperatures in excess of 99.5 will be sent home and not be permitted to return until their temperature has returned to normal and they are not exhibiting any other of the flu-like symptoms enumerated in the Student and Parent Handbook. We recognize, of course, that body temperature is, by itself, not definitive evidence of being either Covid-19 negative or positive so we will ask that parents NOT send their students to school if they are exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms.
  • What, if any, personal protective equipment will be recommended or required of students and/or staff, and will the school provide it? 

    We are awaiting guidance from our state and local public health and school officials, guidance which will likely dictate school policy in this area. The school will provide CDC-compliant face coverings to all staff since there is a strong possibility that all FA staff will be required to wear face coverings when they are in the building and circumstances preclude them from complying with social distancing requirements. The same regulations may apply to students, in which case the school will also provide CDC compliant face coverings to those students who need them. In the interest of a safe opening, we would strongly recommend that in the 14 days leading up to school your student remains in strict compliance with whatever social distance and travel advisories are in place. If you are able to remain in town, so much the better.
  • What hygiene policies and practices will be in effect? 

    The school has already begun the process of ordering an ample supply of CDC-compliant cleaning supplies. It has also increased person-hours devoted to the regular and thorough cleansing of doorknobs, railings, and other high-touch surfaces. Additionally, water fountains have been disabled and replaced with water bottle filling stations and hand sanitizer dispensers are being installed around the building. Signs reminding people to practice common sense hygiene habits will have been placed at strategic locations throughout the building. It would not be surprising if public food preparation facilities (kitchenette, microwave, etc.) were also closed or if keyboards for school computers were stored away or in some way not made publicly available.
  • You mentioned food; what about lunch? 

    We are exploring with some optimism the extent to which we will still be able to provide the option of ordering lunch from Windfall Market, though it is certainly possible that the weekly pizza sales sponsored by the student council were postponed, which would, alas, apply to other situations where the school p
  • What will be the school’s response should it come to its attention that a student or staff member has tested positive?

    We are currently discussing a formal process by which staff and students (or parents of students) can notify the school of such cases. Our current thinking is that should it come to the school’s attention that a student or staff member has tested positive for Covid-19, we would notify the community as soon as possible. Unless otherwise directed by state officials, we would, out of respect for the privacy of the affected individual and accordance with HIPAA regulations, not share any names and urge all to refrain from speculation or gossip. We would also notify our local public health official and consulting physician and with their input determine what if any additional measures (i.e. school closure, contact tracing) may be necessary.
  • What will be the school’s response if a student or staff member reports having or is observed exhibiting flu-like symptoms? 

    Staff will be asked to go home immediately and remain home until such time as they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours. The school has allocated and is in the process of outfitting a room adjacent to the Hermann Theater for students who report or are observed by an adult to be symptomatic. Parents will be notified immediately and instructed to arrange for their student to be picked up as soon as possible. Students will be instructed to remain home until such time as they are symptom-free for 24 hours. If symptoms do not abate, parents are encouraged to consult their child's doctor before returning them to school.
  • Will there be any modifications to the practices and policies that govern school-sponsored transportation? 

    School-provided transportation (e.g. buses) will be arranged in such a way as to comply with state-mandated social distancing recommendations. (Doing so may entail bringing additional vehicles online.) As for the ferry, we are in regular communication with the Steamship Authority, and at this time, all riders are required to wear face coverings and maintain six feet of social distance. The school has no current plans to staff and supervise the ferry
  • Will there be any changes to how students, staff, and guests access and travel through the building? 

    Most campus corridors and stairwells will be designated as one-way and most doors (including outer restroom doors where privacy can be maintained) will be propped open so as to minimize contact frequency. The main school entrance will likely be propped open (and supervised) during the opening and closing of school but locked per usual thereafter. To minimize contact during high traffic times, entrances/exits may be designated by grade level.
  • Will there be any modifications to the schedule, calendar, curriculum, or campus classrooms and common spaces in order to comply with social distancing requirements or advisories?

    It is still too early to announce the specifics of an academic schedule and calendar, though we hope to do so by the middle of July. We are doing a lot of research and a lot of ideation with the goal of building a schedule that can at once and with minimal disruption house an unrestricted fully onsite program, a restricted fully onsite program, an alternating day/alternating week onsite/online program, and a fully online program. The campus configuration will very much depend on the schedule, but at this point, we have conducted an audit of our classrooms and common spaces to determine exactly how many people each space can house. Should we open with social distancing requirements in place, there is a strong possibility that our larger spaces (the theater, Morse Hall, the gym, and the library) will be repurposed to serve as classroom spaces since such a scenario would likely preclude us from being able to conduct large group gatherings and activities. In such a scenario, the locker area would very likely be closed and students would either carry needed materials or leave them in the classrooms. Additionally, we would make every effort to reduce the number of and traffic of transitions between classes and lunch would very likely be designated to smaller spaces.
  • Should I expect any changes to the first day I am expected to be available? First day of meetings? First day of school? What do I need to know about the calendar? 

    New student orientation is scheduled for Thursday, September 3 with the first official day of school scheduled for Tuesday, September 8th, but there may be certain circumstances in which at least some of our students would start a few days early or later than the currently scheduled September 8 opening. We are considering the merits of a soft opening or staggered start, one that brings smaller cohorts of students to campus gradually so that we can acclimate students to whatever changes may be in effect and identify and address any tension points. Additionally, we are strongly considering a format whereby pandemic- related school cancelations are “made up” during spring break or in June.
  • Will there still be after-school activities such as drama and athletics? 

    Again it is too soon to offer too many specifics here, though the drama department and the athletic department are both busy brainstorming “Plan B’s” that deliver some if not all of the many good things those programs delivered (“12 Angry Socially Distanced Men”?) As for sports, we will likely take our cues from the organizations to which we belong, the MIAA and Cape and the Islands League. If competitive athletics were not permitted, sports would likely look a little more like physical education or fitness training.
  • Are there any changes to new student and family orientation? 

    An onsite, in-person new student orientation is still planned for Thursday, September 3. If we do indeed adopt a soft opening or staggered start, as suggested above, the date (as well as the format) is subject to change. We will continue to update you on this question (and many of the others) throughout the summer.
  • Has the school adopted any new technology infrastructure to support a remote or hybrid model? 

    As indicated above, the school recognizes the likelihood of elevated numbers and durations of student absences, as well as the possibility of additional school closures during the year that will require us to shift to a remote learning model. To that end, it has invested in several classroom improvements intended to support a range of scenarios. On a related note, throughout the summer, faculty will be engaging in a series of professional development exercises, many of which will target the technical and pedagogical capacity needed to operate in both remote and socially distanced settings.
  • To what extent will the school continue to educate my child should health conditions preclude him/her from attending school? 

    Again, the school has invested in professional development for faculty in order to prepare them to support, to the extent possible, students who cannot be or choose not to be in the physical classroom when the campus is open. We are in the earliest stages of exploring all options here but one such scenario would be that at the beginning of each class, teachers would open a Zoom meeting to which absent students would be invited to join, thus enabling them to see “the board,” see and hear the teacher, and hear and in some cases contribute to class discussion. Additionally, since all course materials and assignments will be housed in the MyFA learning management system, another might be a largely asynchronous program with office hour-like check-ins after our onsite school day has ended. Be advised that staying current with an onsite curriculum from offsite is no small challenge for a student (or a teacher!); it requires significant student self-discipline and follow-through and an awareness upfront that the educational experience is likely to feel quite different.

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  • Key Contacts

    Main number: 508-457-9696

    Head of School: Matthew Green
    Assistant Head of School: Michael Earley

    Executive Assistant: Leslie Walters, ext. 222
    Admissions: Julie Bradley, ext. 236
    Alumni/Parents: Barbara Campbell, ext. 227
    Athletics: Henry Stevens, ext. 232
    Business: Carmen DiSanto, ext. 225
    Communications: Amy Galvam, ext. 244
    Development: Pamela Hinkle, ext. 240
    Facilities: Richard Sperduto, ext. 238

    Faculty and staff emails follow this rule:
    first initial followed by the last name
    followed by @falmouthacademyorg.
    For example, John Smith is jsmith@falmouthacademy.org.

Parent and Student Info on MyFA

Parents and enrolled students, if you are looking for course books, elective list, summer reading, supply lists, immunization requirements or transcript requests, please log in to MyFA and refer to the parent or student resource board under 2020-21 Information.

Questions about MyFA or your login should be directed to Olivia Riddiford at oriddiford@falmouthacademy.org.
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