Fall Planning 2020
The Roxbury Latin School’s Reopening Task Force—organized by subcommittees—has worked for months to research, assess, and determine what shape school life will take this fall. These subcommittees have addressed everything from health and safety to academic program and schedule, from facilities and operations to athletics and extracurriculars, from finance and development, to admission and communication, to ensure that these collective efforts, in support of Roxbury Latin’s mission, continue uninterrupted in the coming year.
We have been guided all along in this planning process by the following two principles:
1) Doing all we can to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.
2) Providing as excellent and uninterrupted a learning experience as possible for our students.
This is uncharted territory, requiring flexibility from all of us—faculty, students, and parents. Even as we share these plans, we will remain flexible and adapt appropriately should circumstances require us to move to a fully-remote teaching and learning environment—if, for instance, infection rates begin to rise in Massachusetts; if state guidelines and regulations change; or if there are outbreaks in our own school community. We will also maintain the ability to reassess our plans should the broader situation improve dramatically and allow us to consider a less stringent approach.
In developing our plans for the year ahead, we have reviewed the most current information and advice from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other related health and governing agencies, as we strive to keep everyone in our community as healthy and safe as possible. We have also been in contact with leading educational organizations and institutions, mindful always of our own unique circumstances.
Academic Learning / Calendar & Schedule / Opening Day
We will begin this school year by dividing the student body into two cohorts—half of each grade in Cohort A, and half of each grade in Cohort B—which will alternate weeks spent on campus in classrooms learning, and weeks spent learning remotely from home. This will allow us to provide a dynamic learning environment while limiting the number of students physically interacting with one another each day. Students will be assigned to class/cohort “neighborhoods” on campus to limit interactions between classes and to assist in contact tracing should the need arise. Students received their cohort assignments via email on August 14.
We will plan for all boys to experience the opening day of school on Monday, August 31 remotely. This will allow for everyone to begin the school year on the same footing; allow faculty an additional day of enlisting the technology in their classrooms to effectively reach boys at home; and allow boys new to RL the ability to see the faces of their new classmates and teachers as we begin this year together. Boys in Cohort A will begin their learning and activities on campus that following day as planned, on Tuesday, September 1. We will adhere to this weekly schedule of classes for the fall term, and you can learn more about the details of RL’s Hybrid (or Concurrent) Learning Plan here. This schedule and teaching plan will allow for an effective and responsible flow to the school day for students participating both on campus and from home. The schedule will require that academic courses have three synchronous meeting times each week, and teachers will strategically plan individual or asynchronous assignments to supplement those sessions.
Every classroom on campus has been outfitted this summer with additional technology—cameras and monitors—that will allow for high-quality streaming of classroom instruction and promote students’ ability to interact with their teachers and classmates whether they are on campus or logged in remotely. All members of the faculty spent several weeks this summer learning through One Schoolhouse—a known leader in online and hybrid learning—about teaching effectively in their specific disciplines within this hybrid/concurrent teaching environment. This summer coursework will help our faculty merge the best of a traditional Roxbury Latin education with the latest in educational technology and pedagogy, to support students’ learning in the coming year.
We also realize that certain members of our community will be learning remotely even during weeks when their cohort is assigned to be on campus, for a variety of reasons, including that we have enacted strict policies requiring that students must not come to school when they are exhibiting any symptoms of illness. Also, some families may choose not to send their sons to campus this fall for health-related or personal reasons.
Health and Safety Protocols
The Health and Safety committee of the Re-opening Task Force—in consultation with several health organizations, education organizations, and medical professionals within our own community—has developed this set of Health and Safety Protocols and Procedures that will guide us as we open school and respond consistently and appropriately to maintaining, to the extent possible, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. These protocols are considered to be an addendum to the Student/Parent Handbook 2020-2021. They address how we will respond in the event that a member of our community exhibits symptoms of or becomes diagnosed with COVID-19.
Should circumstances change within the school, or in the broader community, we will assess the situation, seek advice from public health authorities, and determine whether we will need to shift to a fully remote teaching approach, as we did this spring. We are aware that we must be responsive to all instances that require thoughtful, confident, and timely action—all pursued with the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff foremost in our minds.
Facilities Changes / HVAC Upgrades
We have worked extensively this summer to reconfigure and enhance our facilities for maximum safety and comfort. Measures we have taken include the following:
- Every classroom and gathering space on campus has been redesigned to accommodate members of our community comfortably and with appropriate physical spacing in place.
- Bathrooms have been upgraded for touchless use, from doors to sinks to toilets.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout campus.
- Hallways and entrances that will be used in specific ways—or through which traffic will move in specific directions—will be clearly marked, and all community members will be informed about how we will safely move into and within campus buildings.
- Outdoor spaces have been enhanced—with the purchase of two large tents and outdoor furniture—to allow for regular school day activities to take place outside, to the extent possible.
- We have secured an outside firm to provide enhanced cleaning services, which will take place every evening and over the weekends.
- We have expanded our nurse’s office space to include areas in which we may isolate any students who develop symptoms of illness during the school day.
- Students will be provided pre-packed lunches, which will be delivered to them mid-day. All food will be prepared by the SAGE Dining Services team, which will also be operating with enhanced health and safety protocols on campus.
As part of the extensive changes we have made to our campus spaces, we have assessed the efficacy of our ventilation systems and made significant upgrades to maintain, as best as possible, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Those changes include replacing our HVAC filters with higher grade, MERV 11 filters; purchasing and installing clinically-proven, medical-grade air purifiers with HEPA filters in each classroom and in several of our larger, community spaces; and ensuring that screens are installed in each classroom so that faculty can keep windows open throughout the day.
Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
Enriching activities outside of the classroom are critical components of the Roxbury Latin experience. That includes the school’s athletics program, which ensures that all students gain the experience of being part of a team, while learning new skills and getting exercise. The fall varsity interscholastic athletic season has been canceled by the Independent School League. Given this cancelation, we have thought thoroughly and creatively to ensure that all students will have access to physical fitness, skill building, and team camaraderie this fall.
Boys in Class III through Class I will have the opportunity to take part in athletic skill building and fitness training after school during the weeks their cohort is assigned to be on campus; these, and all after school activity offerings, will be optional for students. On Mondays and Wednesday, members of varsity teams will have the opportunity to convene with coaches and teammates within their cohort, abiding by safety measures and state guidelines, for fitness conditioning and skill building. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, older boys will have the option to participate in intramural offerings. No after school activities will take place on Fridays.
Students in Class VI through Class IV will have opportunities for physical education and activity during free periods throughout the school day; these athletic and fitness sessions for younger boys will be a mandatory part of the school day, unless parents choose to opt out for any reason. If you have questions regarding RL’s athletic programs and offerings this fall, please contact Director of Athletics Tony Teixeira.
Members of our Task Force have been working closely with the leaders of all campus programs, including music, dramatics, clubs, publications, debate, Model UN, and Halls. We know that these opportunities provide rewarding learning and community building experiences among our students and adults, and we will strive to continue these programs in an amended and safe format this fall, both in synchronous and asynchronous formats.
Technology Recommendations and Support
We are committed to ensuring that every student and faculty member has the technology necessary to effectively learn and teach this fall. While hard at work this summer outfitting classrooms and campus spaces appropriately, our technology team has also developed this document as a resource to families who may have questions or concerns related to their son’s technology solutions for school this fall.
Magnus Health Screening App
Any student, faculty, or staff member coming to campus must first complete, by 8 a.m. each morning, a health screening assessment via the Magnus Health mobile app. This screening process will help us create the safest possible environment at school, and parents/students should reserve one to two minutes to complete it each morning. At the completion of the brief survey each morning, users will receive attendance instructions for that day. Students will not be admitted to campus if they have not completed the screening that morning and received instructions to come to school.
Here you can find instructions to review and set up the app on your phone; use of the app will be available to families beginning August 24, and we ask that families have tested that they have access to the app and can complete the screening prior to the first day of school.
If families have questions related to school health policy or attendance, please contact Keri Maguire. If you have technical issues related to the Magnus Health mobile app—log-in problems or issues completing the screening—you can contact Magnus Health customer support at 877-461-6831. You can also consult Magnus Health Privacy and Security at any time.
A Community Commitment
Our success this fall and in the year ahead depends on each member of our community abiding—and encouraging others to abide—by the responsible safety and hygiene habits and provisions of Roxbury Latin’s new policies, so that we can help one another stay healthy and maintain teaching, learning, and other school activities uninterrupted. More than ever, we will be reliant on one another’s conscientious care, goodwill, and flexibility. While we are striving to ensure that on-campus attendance at school will be safe and productive, it is critically important that our students, faculty, and staff also exercise reasonable precautions within their families and in the community-at-large.
What we are attempting to do is complex and fragile. No efforts we have made in order to provide a viable, safe school are effective if even one boy and his family fail to honor the basic, essential guidelines, in school and out. There are places to exercise independence, but out of care and concern for all of our community’s members, we must insist that everyone honor the full range of guidelines and prohibitions in regard to safe behavior. Should a family choose to act otherwise, we offer the perfectly viable option of remote learning. We implore families and individuals to abide by the highest standards of safety and care, and to honestly choose the remote option should your son have been exposed, or potentially exposed, in some way to the virus. To clarify our stance and expectations regarding travel, we are requiring families to have their sons participate in remote learning for 14 days if they travel to any areas considered higher-risk according to the Massachusetts Travel Order, OR if they travel to any states deemed lower-risk to participate in any sizeable, organized group activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know that parents and boys have questions related to school this fall—ranging from the timing of the academic day to lunch options, from health protocols to transportation. We provide answers to some frequently asked questions related to school opening here.
We recognize that some individuals in our community may have personal health situations that put them at increased risk for contracting, or suffering from, COVID-19. We, as always, will do our best to accommodate the unique needs of individual students and families. If your child is immunocompromised—or lives with someone who is—or if you have particular concerns about his presence on campus, please contact our school nurse, Keri Maguire.
There is no question that this format of holding school will feel different from what we are used to. We believe that de-densifying our school community during the school day will be an important step toward keeping our community safe and healthy while this virus remains a threat. If you have questions or concerns related to academic or extracurricular programs for this upcoming school year, please contact Andy Chappell, Assistant Headmaster for Program.
We want to ensure that every student has access to the technology that he needs to be successful this year, in this hybrid format of attending school. If you have questions or concerns about your son’s access to appropriate technology, please contact Nick Poles, Director of Information Services.
Financial Aid Questions?
Roxbury Latin remains committed to ensuring that students, regardless of financial need, can remain a part of the school community and experience a comprehensive Roxbury Latin education. As always, we urge families whose financial situations have changed, especially as a result of COVID-19, to contact Karen Dinon, Director of Financial Aid.