2021 School Opening Resource Guide

Policies and procedures to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment for the Whitby community.

Message from the Head of School

Dear Whitby Parents,

I am pleased to share our School Opening Guide for 2021-2022.  As it was a year ago, our highest priority remains the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff.  

Because of your incredible support, we completed 166 consecutive days of classroom teaching and learning last year.  This year our goal remains the same, to provide high-quality in-person instruction while attending to the needs of individual students and their families. 

I am confident that by following the guidelines from federal, state, and local governments that Whitby is ready to welcome students back to campus on August 31, 2021.

All of us have learned that the pandemic creates its own schedule and pathway.  Therefore, the operating assumptions we believe are valid today can be different in the coming months. We will change and adjust as needed, keeping safety as our guiding principle.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me (jcreeden@whitbyschool.org).

Please be assured that Whitby’s dedication to continuity of learning and meeting the social-emotional needs of our students, families, faculty, and staff remain strong and vibrant. 

All the best,

Jack Creeden, Whitby Head of School

Best Practices We Are Keeping

  • COVID PCR testing is required for all students and faculty/staff before school starts.
  • International travel restrictions and testing are in effect. If your children are returning to the United States from any travel outside the country, please refer to the Testing Guidelines.
  • The school year begins in-person learning on Tuesday, August 31 for Lower School and Middle School, and Children’s House starts on Wednesday, September 1. 
  • Only students, faculty, and staff will be permitted to enter the building.
  • Drop-off and pick-up locations will be the same as last year.
  • Hand-sanitizing and other health protocols will remain in place.
  • COVID exposure protocols for students and faculty/staff will remain in place, as per current CDC, the Connecticut Department of Health, and local health agency guidelines.

Changes for This Year

  • Modified Online Learning (MOL) was a viable option at the peak of the pandemic and when vaccinations were unavailable. Whitby knows optimal learning happens in school, and we will apply all our resources to in-person teaching. Therefore, MOL is no longer an offering.
  • Masks are required inside for students age 2 and older, faculty, and staff regardless of person's vaccination status.
  • Masks are no longer required when students are outside. We are keeping one large tent through the fall to facilitate outdoor learning.
  • Cohorts are expanding to better facilitate collaboration and socialization.
  • Single-subject classes for Children's House and Lower School (art, music, technology, and languages) resume “live” in all classrooms.
  • Live Middle School theatrical performances will resume this year with some limitations.
  • WECCP/Cocurricular Programs: More cohort-based programs will be available for Primary 2 & 3, Lower School, and Middle School students.
  • Athletics in Middle School: Teams will be formed using the new cohort configurations.
  • Catered Lunches are Back! Families will have the opportunity to order meals online. 

Return to School COVID-19 Testing

The health and safety of the Whitby community are dependent upon our collective behavior on and off campus. It is essential that we start the school year knowing we have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are operating in a safe and healthy environment. To that end, we require that all students, faculty, and staff (vaccinated and unvaccinated) submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test before the start of school according to the steps outlined below.

  • All students (vaccinated and unvaccinated) must submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test on or before Saturday, August 28. 
  • Schedule the test from Saturday, August 21 - Wednesday, August 25. This will allow enough time for you to test and submit the results to us.
  • Submit the negative test results to covidtest@whitbyschool.org. Please include this information:
    • Name of child(ren) 
    • Grade level of each child
    • Copy or screenshot of the negative PCR test result for each child
  • Your child will not be able to start school until a negative test result is received.
  • After testing, please avoid public crowds (i.e., amusement parks) or social gatherings where vaccination status is unknown. Use masks when appropriate, wash hands, and continue other safety precautions.
  • If your child tests positive, please contact School Nurse Carol-Ann Ball immediately (caball@whitbyschool.org).

International Travel

International Travel

  • Based on current CDC guidelines, Whitby requires that UNVACCINATED students returning from international travel must quarantine for seven (7) days and have a COVID-19 PCR test on day 3-5 of the quarantine period.
  • Students returning to the U.S. from international travel who ARE VACCINATED must have a COVID-19 PCR test on days 3-5 after returning to the U.S. Quarantine is not required but the student must be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms. If the student develops symptoms, do not send he/she to school, contact your healthcare provider, and inform the school nurse.
  • To be ready for the first day of school, families must be back in the U.S. on or before Monday, August 23 to allow time for quarantine and testing. If you do not expect to be back in the U.S. by August 23, then please let us know by completing this form.

Please contact School Nurse Carol-Ann Ball (caball@whitbyschool.org) if you have questions about testing and travel restrictions.

Education Program Scenarios

In-Person Learning

During the 2021-2022 school year, we expect to teach in person for the entire year. However, should there be a resurgence of the virus, we will follow the State of Connecticut guidelines and transition to remote learning if required.

Modified Online Learning (MOL) was a viable option at the peak of the pandemic and when vaccinations were unavailable. Whitby knows optimal learning happens in school, and we will apply all our resources to in-person teaching. Therefore, MOL is no longer offered as an alternative to in-person learning. However, teacher support and learning materials will be provided to students under these very limited circumstances.

  • A student is required to quarantine as a result of contact with a COVID-19 positive person. The level of support is dependent upon the grade level and what is appropriate for the student.
  • A student is diagnosed by a healthcare provider with a condition that prevents the child from attending school for an extended period of time. In these cases, a teacher will make materials and assignments available to the student. 

School Operations

Cohorts & Classroom Configuration

Cohorts & Classroom Configurations

Safety continues to be a top priority for the 2021-2022 school year, along with balancing all students’ academic and social-emotional well-being.

  • Social distancing will be maintained at three (3) feet in smaller groups to minimize transitions and contact.
  • Outdoor space - Teachers are encouraged to use outdoor space that does not require mask-wearing for teaching, including the large tent in the playground area and instructional space by the pond.
  • Cohorts are expanding to promote greater social interaction and collaboration.
    • Stepping Stones Cohorts: SSA & SSD, SSB & SSC
    • Primary Cohorts: PRA & PRB, PRC & PRD (all classes to be a mix of PR1, PR2, and PR3 students)
    • Lower School Cohorts: Grades 1 & 2, Grade 3 & 4
    • Middle School Cohorts: Grades 5 & 6, Grades 7 & 8

Arrivals & Departures

Morning Drop-Off

We will continue with multiple drop-offs and pick-up areas. If there are multiple grades in a car, we ask that you drop each child off at their respective entrances to minimize health risks and cross-cohort contamination. Students are required to exit the car wearing a mask and use a hand sanitizer before entering school. 

  • Stepping Stones: Entrance by the Library and the nurse's office
  • Primary: Brent Oval Entrance
  • Lower School Grades 1-4: Renaissance Hall/Main Entrance
  • Middle School: Door nearest the gymnasium

Late Arrivals (after 8:00 AM)

All students, including Primary, must go to the Main Entrance, and the Receptionist will let the students in. If needed, the student will be escorted to their classroom. 

Afternoon Pick-up

As parent cars begin to arrive, students will be called out individually from the classrooms. This process will minimize contact between students and other cohorts when leaving school. Siblings, just like in the morning, will need to be picked up from their respective areas.  

Carpooling

We advise against carpooling unless students are in the same cohort to reduce cross-contamination between cohorts (please keep masks on while in the cars). 

School Visitors & Gatherings

School Visitors & Gatherings

Only students, faculty, and staff/administration will be permitted to enter the building. We ask that parents exit the campus after dropping off their children and do not gather as a group on campus. Stepping Stones parents (wearing a mask) are permitted to enter the building for drop-off and pick-up only and exit through the designated door.

Non-faculty WECCP and Cocurricular instructors (e.g., MacInspires) who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to enter the school and only interact with specific cohorts in designated areas. 

Lunch, Snacks, and Birthday Celebrations

  • Outside Catering - Whitby has contracted with No Fuss Lunch Catering to provide lunches for students. Catered lunches are an option, and students can continue to bring in their own lunches. Click here for more information

  • Snacks - Children will continue to bring their own snacks for class and for after-school activities.

  • Birthday Celebrations - Students can bring birthday treats to school to share with their cohort. However, treats (e.g., cupcakes) must be wrapped individually. Both homemade and store-bought items are permitted but must comply with our nut-free policy.

WECCP & Cocurricular Programs

Program offerings will be expanded for this school year. Students will participate based on grade-level cohorts.

WECCP

  • Primary A & B (PR2 & PR3), Primary C & D (PR2 & PR3). Please be careful when selecting activities for WECCP.
  • Grades 1 & 2
  • Grades 3 & 4
Middle School Electives
  • Grades 5 & 6
  • Grades 7 & 8

Instructors include both Whitby teachers and long-standing, experienced external program providers. The latter will have to show proof of vaccination as a condition of their contract and provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test before the first class they conduct. This is in addition to mandatory background checks.

WECCP Schedule

    • WECCP: Primary 2 – Grade 4, Monday through Thursday from 2:55-3:50 and Friday from 12:30-2:00 and 2:10-3:40. There is a limited PR2 student Friday program from 12:30-2:00 only. 
    • Athletics/Team Sports: 5/6 and 7/8 grades will play games and/or practice twice per week. The teams will participate in the Middle School Fairchester Athletic Association (MSFAA) conference. However, please note that participation could change based on future health and safety guidelines made by the MSFAA and/or Whitby. Most games are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, although a few occur on other days, including cross country meets that are typically on Thursday. Athletic shirts for sports events are the same as those for PE, with each student assigned a number that Soccer and Rugby have on record. When you order shirts (grey) and navy shorts, they will know what number to place on the shirt. 

Middle School Electives: Grade 5-8 students meet Monday through Friday. 

The Fall programs begin on Monday, September 13, and conclude on Friday, November 19.

A preview of program offerings and registration instructions for both WECCP and Electives will be sent to all parents in the next week or so in readiness for the start of the school year. Please be on the lookout for links to browse the program catalog. 

Health, Safety & Containment

The health and safety of the Whitby Community are dependent upon our collective behavior on and off campus. Our sincere hope is that our students, families, faculty, and staff will take personal responsibility for abiding by Whitby's health and safety policies and procedures.  Remember, #whitbytogether.

Daily Health Check

We require that parents assess the health of their children and other family members each morning before the children enter school. Please be honest in answering these questions. 

Faculty and Staff/Administration are required to answer these same questions each day and follow the same procedures.

If your child does not meet the criteria listed below, please keep him/her at home. and follow the policies in the Whitby Protocols for COVID-19 Scenarios.

COVID-related Questions to Ask Each Day

  • In the last 48 hours, has the student had any of the following symptoms: 
    • fever > 100.4 without taking any fever-reducing medications
    • cough
    • shortness of breath
    • chills, sweating
    • muscle aches
    • sore throat
    • loss of smell or taste or change in taste
    • headache
    • diarrhea
    • unexplained fatigue 
  • Has the student or a direct family member been in self-quarantine or in isolation as a result of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    • If YES, your child will not be permitted to come to school.
  • Has the student or a direct family member been within six (6) feet of a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 for cumulative 15 minutes over a 24-hour period? This is considered "direct contact" and the student must quarantine and test negative before returning to school. Contact the School Nurse immediately. 
  • Has your child recently returned from travel outside the United States?
    • If YES, the child must quarantine for seven (7) days after arriving in the U.S. and take a COVID-19 PCR test during days 3-5 of the quarantine period. The child cannot return to school until a negative test has been sent to the school nurse.
If answering YES to any of the above questions, the student and faculty/staff must remain home and seek medical evaluation.  

Health & Hygiene

Hygiene

  • Proper hand hygiene must be followed by all students, faculty, and staff/administration. Hand sanitizing is required upon entering or reentering school, and hand-washing sanitizing will be required in the classroom.

  • Hand-sanitizing stations are located throughout the school property.

Hand-Washing

The protocol is to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have soap and water, use hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol-based per CDC recommendations).

Always wash hands or use hand sanitizer:   

  • Before eating

  • After using the bathroom

  • After you cough or sneeze

  • After playing outside or doing activities with shared equipment

  • Whenever you enter the classroom

  • When you return home from anywhere

  • Whenever the teacher designates

 Cough/Sneeze Protocol

  • Cough or sneeze into an elbow, or use a tissue that should then be thrown in the trash can. Follow up with proper handwashing or use of a hand sanitizer.

Masks

  • Students, faculty, and staff/administration should come to school wearing masks from home. Students will not be permitted into school without a mask. Disposable masks will be available at door entrances in the morning, and each classroom will have a supply.

  • Masks will be worn indoors by all faculty, staff, and students ages two (2) and older with scheduled and socially distanced mask breaks at certain times during the day. Masks are not required to be worn outside.

  • Whitby does not require a specific type of mask. However, masks with valves, bandanas, or neck gaters are not permitted.

  • Face shields and eye protection are not required to be worn. Parents may send their children to school with these additional safety devices. We would expect the parents to talk to their children about properly wearing the devices and keeping them sanitized during the school day.

Water Bottles & Access to Water

The use of personal water bottles is required so that they are taken home each day for washing.

  • Bottles will be refilled at bottle refilling stations or classroom sinks.

  • Students will be unable to drink from the fountains.

 Bathrooms

  • All toilets have been outfitted with lid covers. Signs are posted to remind students and adults to lower the lid before flushing.

  • Hand-washing signs are in all bathrooms.

Campus Cleaning & Sanitizing

Classroom Cleaning Schedule
  • Teachers will clean and sanitize table surfaces throughout the day, along with frequent hand-washing. There will be a final cleaning of all surfaces and shared devices after students leave the classroom for the day.

  • The evening cleaning team will thoroughly clean all areas of the school (classrooms, public areas, gymnasium, etc.) that include daily mopping or vacuuming of all floor surfaces and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all bathrooms.

    • For more detailed information about cleaning and sanitizing protocols, please contact Tom Coleman, Director of Facilities (tcoleman@whitbyschool.org).

HVAC System           

  • Filters have been upgraded to high-quality MERV 13.

  • Filters are being replaced more frequently.

  • The system has been modified to bring in more fresh air more frequently.

 Copiers

  • Disposable gloves are available at each copier station.

In-Class Health & Safety

  • COVID supplies will be available in each classroom, including extra masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and bottles of liquid sanitizer for faculty to use to wipe down surfaces during the day. Students must bring their personal supply of materials (pens, rulers, etc.) to school. Materials will be stored in containers and/or in classroom cubbies.

  • Teachers will clean and sanitize the classroom during the day.

  • Shared devices will be properly cleaned and sanitized after each student's use.

COVID-19 Symptoms & Containment

These guidelines show different instances and the actions that will be taken based on testing results: when it is safe to return to school, the impact on the cohort and in-class teaching, and how we will communicate. It is important to understand that we cannot predict every scenario, especially when in the Middle School when some students will be vaccinated. Be assured that Carol-Ann Ball, our School Nurse, will assess each instance and work closely with the Greenwich Department of Health to determine the best course of action to ensure Whitby Community's health and safety.

COVID-19 Scenarios 2021

 

Non-COVID Illnesses

  • All symptoms of illnesses at Whitby will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If a child is coughing or there is an abundance of mucous production, the child's parent will be contacted and asked to pick up their child and bring him/her home. 
  • Fever above 100.4 will require immediate dismissal. If there are seasonal allergies, then we would require a note to that effect by the physician. 
  • If a child is congested, mask-wearing may prove to be difficult. Please keep this in mind when sending your child to school. 
Health Office Protocol Changes
  • At this time, we would expect all minor health issues in the classroom to be assessed by the teacher first, before the child comes to the Nurse's office. For example, a minor paper cut would require washing and a bandage, which can be done in the classroom, preventing any unnecessary hallway traffic and travel outside the cohort. 
  • All teachers are trained in CPR and first aid and will have bandages available. The teacher will inform the nurse if the student is on his/her way to the Nurse's office.

Campus Shutdown

If during the school year, the state requires schools to close due to a resurgence of COVID-19 statewide, regionally, or locally,  we will be prepared to move to remote learning within 48 hours, 

Will we ever close Whitby while other schools are open? The answer is yes. We will continually monitor the health of our school population by examining the number of students attending school in-person, the number of faculty-staff out, the number of positive tests in our school, the time of the year, and the level of positive tests in Greenwich. There are multiple factors we will review with the Department of Health to make these decisions. Should we decide to close the campus, parents will be notified immediately, and we will transition to Remote Learning.

Communications

Whitby is committed to complete transparency and will communicate quickly to parents regarding students, faculty, or staff members who have left campus because of symptoms or exposure to COVID-19.

We ask for the same level of transparency from parents by alerting us to COVID-19 exposure within your family and by answering the Daily Health Questions before coming to school.

Communication Process

  • The parent of the student with symptoms will be called immediately.
  • A notification email will be sent to cohort classroom parents, and a separate email sent to all parents and faculty/staff.
  • For staff and faculty, alerts will go out to the entire Whitby community.
  • Additional communications will follow as needed.
  • The names of students, faculty, and staff members will be kept confidential.

Contacts

Whitby Contacts

  • GENERAL QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Dr. Jack Creeden, jcreeden@whitbyschool.org
  • HEALTH: Carol-Ann Ball, School Nurse, caball@whitbyschool.org
  • SANITIZING & CLEANING: Thomas Coleman, Director of Facilities, tcoleman@whitbyschool.org
  • COMMUNICATIONS: Meg Reilly, Director of Marketing and Communications, mreilly@whitbyschool.org

 

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