Sheridan Half-Day Hybrid Plan Overview
We are thrilled to announce that we will be expanding our in-person instruction time on campus to half-days, four days per week, beginning the week of October 12th. This decision is based on favorable local health metrics, guidance from the D.C. Department of Health, consultation with our medical advisory team, and our community’s demonstrated ability to follow important risk mitigation protocols.
For the weeks of September 29th and October 5th, our 90-minute on-campus classes for each grade will continue on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, as they have for the past two weeks. Please continue to follow our established procedures for health screenings and drop-off and pick-up.
We will shift to the half-day, four-day-per-week hybrid learning plan beginning Tuesday, October 13th, for Lower School students, and Thursday, October 15th, for Middle School students. Per the new schedule, everyone in K-8 will learn from home on Wednesday, October 14th. Monday, October 12th will now be a day off from school to allow teachers time on campus to prepare their classrooms.
A comprehensive overview of the hybrid plan is available below. Additional information will be provided by email as we finalize additional logistical details.
Our hybrid plan relies on continued good local health numbers and other metrics, and the adherence of our community to our Community Covenant. We will continuously evaluate our plan based on the metrics we previously shared and will be prepared to return to full-time distance learning, if necessary. At the same time, we will continue to work toward further expanding our time on campus.
We are grateful to everyone — our resilient students, our fabulous families, and most especially, our terrific faculty and staff — for your support, flexibility and commitment during our return to school, and now, during our expansion of on-campus learning.
FALL 2020 HYBRID PLAN OVERVIEW
October 1 — Town Hall
October 5-6 — COVID Testing (MANDATORY)
October 12 — NO SCHOOL
October 13 — K-4: AM on campus/PM distance learning ; 5-8: distance learning all day
October 14 — Distance learning all day K-8
October 15 — Full hybrid plan begins K-8 (see details in Lower School and Middle School schedule sections)
Mandatory COVID-19 Testing, October 5th & 6th
To participate in on-campus learning beginning October 13th, ALL students must have a negative COVID-19 test, administered on or after October 5th, on file with the school.
To gather baseline information about our community, we are requiring all Sheridan students, faculty and staff to be tested for COVID-19 prior to moving into our hybrid learning plan. To facilitate this, we have contracted with Five Medicine to conduct drive-through PCR testing onsite at Sheridan on Monday, October 5th, and Tuesday, October 6th for every Sheridan student and employee.
This testing is mandatory for any student, teacher or staff member who will be on-campus during hybrid learning. Families who are out of town also have the option to seek their own PCR testing, with the proviso that the testing must take place on or after October 5th and proof of testing and negative results must be submitted to Annie Wilcoxen and Suzanne Badoux by noon on Monday, October 12th. Students will not be permitted to participate in on-campus learning on or after October 13th unless we have confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test administered no earlier than October 5th. Student visits to campus will proceed as usual October 7-9 while the test results are pending.
To register for the drive-through testing at Sheridan and select your time slot, please go here to choose a testing time. Five Medicine will separately confirm your appointment and send you a link to the patient intake forms you will be required to complete for each child at Sheridan.
Sheridan is covering the cost of testing, and Five Medicine will bill your insurance company directly for lab processing fees. If you do not have insurance, Five Medicine will cover the lab fees under a grant they have received for that purpose. We do not anticipate this to be likely, but if you are billed by your insurance for any difference between Five Medicine’s charge and the allowed amount, please contact Director of Finance and Facilities Suzanne Badoux, who will work with you and Five Medicine to cover the costs through either the CARES Act or the school.
Lower School Schedule (Grades K-4)
Beginning Tuesday, October 13th, our Lower School students (Grades K-4) will participate in in-person learning on campus four mornings per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday).
On those days, there will be a mid-day break for pickup, travel and lunch, followed by synchronous and asynchronous distance learning instruction in the afternoons.
On Wednesdays, Sheridan’s campus will be closed for facility-wide cleaning, and students will engage in distance learning from home.
We are updating the class schedules now to reflect these changes and will share them with you as soon as they are ready. The start and end times for instruction outlined below will not change so you should feel free to mark your calendars and plan your own schedules based on them.
- NO SCHOOL (Classroom Prep) — Monday, October 12th
- Hybrid schedule begins Tuesday, October 13th
- Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
- 8:30am-11:30am — on-campus instruction
- 11:30am-1:00pm — break for travel home and lunch (lunch is not provided at Sheridan on half-days)
- 1:00pm-3:00pm —synchronous and asynchronous instruction resumes
- Wednesdays — distance learning takes place from 8:30am-2:30pm
Middle School Schedule (Grades 5-8)
Under the hybrid model, students in Grades 5-8 will participate in learning on campus four afternoons per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday). On those days, there will be synchronous and asynchronous distance learning instruction in the mornings, followed by a break for lunch and travel to Sheridan. Students will arrive at Sheridan between 12:00-12:15 for on-campus instruction from 12:15pm-3:15pm.
On Wednesdays, Sheridan’s campus will be closed for facility-wide cleaning, and all students will engage in distance learning from home.
We are updating the class schedules now to reflect these changes and will share them with you as soon as they are ready. The start and end times for instruction outlined below will not change so you should feel free to mark your calendars and begin developing your own schedules based on them.
Week of October 12th
- Monday, October 12th — NO SCHOOL (Classroom Prep)
- Tuesday, October 13th — Distance learning
- Wednesday, October 14th — Distance learning (note, this will not be an on-campus day for Middle School students)
- Thursday, October 15th-Friday, October 16th — Hybrid instruction (distance a.m./on-campus p.m.)
Beginning October 19th
- Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
- 8:30am-11:15am — synchronous and asynchronous instruction
- 11:15am-12:15pm — break for lunch and travel to Sheridan (lunch is not provided at Sheridan on half-days)
- 12:15pm-3:15pm —on-campus classes
- Wednesdays — distance learning takes place from 8:30am-2:30pm
We recognize that some students may have siblings in the Lower School who will need to be picked up at 11:30 a.m. For those families only, we will be providing space for the Middle School sibling to be dropped off during the Lower School pickup and wait on campus for the Middle School program to begin.
Faculty and Staff Care
The best way we can protect the health of our faculty and staff is by
adhering to our Community Covenant.
There may still be uncertainty around the trajectory of COVID-19, but one thing is crystal clear. We are only able to return to our classrooms in this way because of the commitment of our faculty and staff. We are grateful to each and every teacher and staff member for their focus on our students and what is best for them amidst the pandemic.
Any faculty or staff member who is unable to participate in in-person learning on-campus has the ability to take temporary leave. If this circumstance arises, we will work closely with the individual to determine the limits of what they are able to do and, if needed, add additional staff to take responsibility for the class or duties they are unable to cover. Our twin goals are to honor the needs of our faculty while ensuring we have the staff we need to provide an exceptional learning experience to our students.
All faculty and staff have been provided a stipend to use to purchase masks to be worn while on campus. In addition, the school is providing goggles to any faculty/staff member who requests them as part of their personal protective equipment.
Classrooms and Cohorts
When we return to campus for half days, learning will take place both inside the school and outdoors. We have reconfigured our interior spaces to provide separate, dedicated classrooms for each half-group fixed cohort. Our Lower School students will be located in classrooms at the front of the school on the first and second floors, while our Middle School students will occupy rooms in the back half of the school on both floors, including the gym and World Room, which have been carpeted and converted into temporary classroom spaces.
The number of teachers rotating in and out of each classroom will be very limited, and students will remain with their fixed cohorts throughout their time on campus. Managing in-person learning in this way will help us quickly determine who may have had direct contact with a student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19. (Individuals are considered to have had direct contact if, masked or unmasked, they were within 6 feet of each other for 15 minutes or more.)
The effectiveness of our cohort system depends on abiding by it inside and outside of school. We know that some students may interact with each other outside of school through extracurricular activities or established pods. Other families may be using outside care providers. If this is the case for your child, we ask that you aggressively follow anti-infection protocols indoors and outdoors, including masking, physical distancing and handwashing, and to decline to participate in any of these activities if your child shows any sign of illness. If you have questions about whether your pod or extracurricular activities threaten the effectiveness of our cohort model, please contact School Nurse Annie Wilcoxen.
We recognize that for some students and families, the increase in on-campus learning may be challenging for a variety of reasons. In these circumstances, we will provide simulcasting from the classroom so students at home can follow along. If you believe your child will not be able to attend classes in-person, please contact Kelly Nelson (Grades K-4) or Jay Briar (Grades 5-8) ASAP to talk about the best solution for your child.
Simulcasting also will be available to:
- Students who have shown symptoms of COVID-19 and are at home awaiting test results
- Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quarantined
- Students who are at home with non-COVID-related symptoms or illnesses
Facilities and Cleaning
In preparation for our return to school, Sheridan commissioned a full assessment of our mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Particular emphasis was placed on evaluating HVAC systems and adopting recommendations for improving indoor air quality through system additions, reconfiguration and re-purposing of building spaces, and implementing new practices and maintenance schedules.
Recent updates include:
- Addition of higher MERV air filters and HEPA-filtration air purifiers
- Increasing air flow through open windows and doors
- Regular air flushing of the entire building on a daily basis
- Reprogramming HVAC systems to regularize fan cycles
- Constructing new, temporary classrooms to allow for smaller class cohorts and ample physical distancing
- Large-scale tenting on the playground to create protected outdoor instructional space
- Adding access point automation to additional exterior doors to increase secure ingress and egress options for student arrivals and dismissals
- Replacement of urinals with toilet stalls in student bathrooms to allow bathrooms to be assigned to fixed classroom cohorts rather than specific genders
- Addition of touchless bottle-filling stations to eliminate use of bubbler heads at water fountains
Going forward, when students are in the building, we will be applying the following health and safety protocols:
- Circulating and flushing the air in classrooms each day
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of bathrooms and touch surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, handrails, etc…throughout the school day
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms and common spaces each evening
- Facility-wide cleaning each Wednesday
- Providing dedicated rooms for fixed, half-group cohorts, assigned bathrooms, and class-specific paths of entry and exit to minimize group overlap in common areas
Hand sanitizing stations have been added at all entrances to our buildings. Each classroom is equipped with hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and towels, and child-safe hydrogen peroxide-based disinfection supplies for use throughout the day. Mobile hand-washing stations also have been installed in various locations on campus to supplement sinks available in bathrooms and in some classrooms.
Unless students have been granted permission by the Lower School or Middle School heads to learn from home via simulcasting, or are currently ill, waiting for a test result, or quarantining, they are expected to be present for both on-campus and distance learning. Attendance will be taken during Morning Meeting. Students are expected to arrive on time for on-campus instruction and to depart campus within their assigned window.
Bathrooms will be assigned to specific cohorts and regularly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. We will limit the number of students using a bathroom at any one time. Our bathrooms are equipped with touchless faucets and other features that limit surface contact.
We cannot say this with any greater emphasis: OBTAIN A FLU VACCINE FOR YOUR CHILD. Doing so will add a layer of protection from winter illnesses for your child and it will help us rule out the flu as a possible source of COVID-like symptoms should they appear. Now is the perfect time to be vaccinated against the flu and we strongly, strongly recommend you make an appointment with your pediatrician, a local health clinic, or a pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens ASAP.
Thank you to everyone for your diligence and cooperation with the required health screenings. The same system will be in place when we move to half-days. Links will be sent to you by text and email at 6am and must be completed by 8am. Please be certain to check your child’s temperature each morning prior to completing the form.
Upon arrival, student temperatures will be retaken. Any student with a fever of 100.0 or above will not be permitted to enter the school and parents/guardians will be called to pick them up and advised to seek guidance from a medical provider.
If there are any signs of illness in your child, please be candid in your reporting and keep your child at home until they have been cleared by Nurse Annie Wilcoxen to be on-campus. Under our Community Covenant, we each commit to coming to campus only if we are well.
Illness While On-Campus
If a child displays symptoms of illness at school, they will be assessed by our school nurse. If the symptoms are associated with a potential COVID-19 infection, the child will immediately be brought to a location where they can be isolated while they wait to be picked up by a parent or other authorized caregiver. It is our expectation that at least one parent/caregiver will be reachable while students are at school to ensure a quick pickup, if needed. Our nurse or anyone tasked with caring for someone suspected of COVID-19 will be provided with appropriate personal protection equipment, including a mask, goggles, gloves, and gown.
Staff members who fall ill while at school will also be assessed and immediately leave the premises if they are displaying COVID-like symptoms. A Sheridan staff member will assume responsibility for the class in their absence.
Immediately following the identification of potential COVID symptoms in a student or staff member, all areas and materials with which the student or staff member had contact will be cleaned and sanitized.
Any student or staff member who leaves school due to illness must seek care from a medical provider and follow our return-to-school protocol as outlined in the Post-Illness Return to School section below.
Positive COVID-19 Tests
If a student or faculty member takes a COVID-19 test, they must remain home until test results are received. Upon notice of positive results, Sheridan families and faculty/staff members are required to notify Head of School Jessica Donovan and School Nurse Annie Wilcoxen as soon as the results are received.
Upon notice of a positive result for a student or a faculty/staff member, the steps that will be taken are as follows:
- Sheridan will report the positive case to the DC Department of Health (DC Health).
- Depending on the circumstances of the positive case, Sheridan will close the classroom of the affected individual for COVID-19 disinfection and ask the fixed cohort and anyone else with potential direct contact with the individual to quarantine while awaiting the results of DC Health’s investigation. (Individuals are considered to have had direct contact if, masked or unmasked, they were within 6 feet of each other for 15 minutes or more.)
- DC Health will investigate and then instruct Sheridan on quarantines, closures, or other safety precautions such as moving some or all students to distance learning. Please note that it is DC Health, not Sheridan, that makes these determinations.
- Using the results of the DC Health investigation, Sheridan will notify any staff and families of students who had direct contact with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and instruct them to follow DC Health’s instructions, including a 14-day quarantine.
- Sheridan will then notify the community as a whole that a case of COVID-19 has been reported and provide an overview of the measures that have been taken in response. Sheridan will not disclose the name or other identifying information of anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
It is important to understand that an individual case of COVID-19 within our community will not necessarily require quarantine for the entire school, a grade or even the cohort in which the affected person takes part.
Examples of scenarios with different potential outcomes include (but are not limited to):
Scenario #1: A student tests positive. The investigation shows direct contact has been limited to members in their cohort. DC Health says only the cohort needs to quarantine and recommends cohort members undergo testing. The cohort moves to distance learning until 14 days has passed, with students returning when they meet the return to school criteria.
Scenario #2: A student tests positive. The student has been in direct contact with not only their cohort, but individuals in another cohort through extracurricular activites or a pod. All affected groups now must move to distance learning, undergo testing and quarantine for 14 days, with students returning when they meet the return to school criteria.
Scenario #3: A student tests positive after being exposed at a family gathering. The student did not return to school after the family gathering so DC Health determines no direct contact occured at Sheridan and no quarantining is necessary.
Scenario #4: A teacher tests positive. The teacher quarantines from home and follows return-to-school protocols. Students also quarantine if advised by DC Health. If the cohort is in quarantine, the class shifts to distance learning. If the cohort is not in quarantine, the teacher’s duties will be covered either through a substitute or the teacher teaching from home (if asymptomatic).
Kindness and empathy
At Sheridan, kindness is a core value and we expect our community to respond to cases of COVID-19 that arise with empathy and compassion. The following are two helpful resources devoted to preventing stigma around COVID-19 diagnoses:
Post-Illness Return to School
Community members who test positive for COVID-19, or who experience COVID-related symptoms, but are directed by a medical provider to care for their illness at home without testing, can return to Sheridan when the following conditions have been met:
- At least 72 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) AND
- Respiratory symptoms have improved AND
- At least 10 days* after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later.
- 10 days from positive test
- Strict quarantine during those 10 days
If your child has an illness that is determined to be infectious, but not associated with COVID-19, such as strep throat, conjunctivitis or gastroenteritis, your child must be cleared by School Nurse Annie Wilcoxen before returning to school.
Families currently residing outside of the DMV area are asked to return as quickly as possible to be able to participate in COVID-19 testing and, if returning from a state on the District of Columbia’s current hot spot list, to begin the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Students returning from states on the hot spot list will not be able to participate in on-campus learning until 14 days after their arrival back in the area. As of September 21st, those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Please note that the District will update this list on Monday, October 5th, and new states may be added while others could be removed.
Families returning from international travel must contact School Nurse Annie Wilcoxen to determine whether self-quarantine is necessary based on current guidelines.
Going forward, we ask families to refrain from non-essential travel to areas on the District’s hot spot list and to use good judgment when traveling to or receiving visitors from non-hot spot locations. Avoid travel to areas where individuals are unmasked, gathering in large numbers or in close proximity to one another, or otherwise not following recommended health and safety protocols. When considering Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, please plan to adhere to these requirements and guidelines.
While we love visitors, we also are working hard to keep everyone healthy and will be continuing to restrict campus to students and faculty/staff only.
Returning to Distance Learning
It is our intention to continue with (and when ready, to expand) in-person learning as long as possible. We will continue to monitor the metrics we established for in-person learning, directives from DC Health, and the adherence of our community to the Community Covenant. Because the trajectory of the pandemic is uncertain, we have intentionally set up our daily schedules to allow us to minimize disruption if we need to transition back to full distance learning.
Expanding to Full Day
Barring unforeseen circumstances, we plan to remain in this hybrid half-day mode until at least January. At that time, we will evaluate the state of the virus in our area and seek guidance from health experts and officials to determine if moving to full days on campus is feasible.
COVID's Impact on Tuition and Finances
We have received a small number of questions from families wondering whether there are cost-savings to be realized due to distance learning and the temporary pause on spending for things like lunches, for example. While it is true that our expenses have fallen in a few small areas, they also have risen considerably in others as we take steps to keep our community healthy and our children engaged in their learning (technology, staffing, and building reconfiguration are three such examples). Because of this our financial needs are just as great, if not greater, this year.
Each year, we hold a State of the School meeting to share information about our operations and finances. This year, this presentation will take place on the evening of December 3rd. If you would like to learn more about our budget in general or about the impact of COVID-19 specifically, please mark your calendars and plan to join us.