Letter from Head of School Marifred Cilella (8/12/20)
Five months ago, we said our (in-person) goodbyes and began what would become our new normal from March through May-distance learning. So much has happened since that day (Friday the 13th, no less), and we have learned so much about each other. We are incredibly resilient. Our teachers love to teach and our students love to learn. We genuinely appreciate and support one another, and our community is more unified than ever before.
On Monday of last week, we welcomed our new teachers and staff to the school, and our returning faculty came back the following day. Being together, yet safely apart, was, in a word, joyful. And we cannot wait to be with our students again on Monday. The school is ready. We have trained our faculty and staff on daily protocols, we have cleaned and disinfected and set every classroom with individual desks spaced apart from one another. We have added safeguards, such as plexiglass dividers, to science classrooms, and we have enough hand sanitizer for a small army. All reopening information may be found on the Parents page of the school's website.
Communication and partnership between The Howard School and our families has never been more important. While caring for each other is something we've always done, we must remain vigilant to remain healthy and to be able to continue to offer on-campus learning for our students. To that end, we ask that you keep your child home if he or she is showing any signs of illness, and that children and families practice social distancing while away from the school. I realize that what I ask is not easy. None of this is easy. We are social beings, and children want to be with their friends. But, if we are to remain on campus together, we must ALL follow the guidelines, together, here, and at home. The 3 W's: Wear a mask (preferably multi-layered made of cotton or cotton blend, or a surgical mask), Wash Your Hands, and Watch Your Distance will continue to be the baseline from which we operate each day.
In these days of uncertainty, one thing is certain: we are stronger together. We can do this.
As always, I appreciate your support, and I thank you for entrusting The Howard School with your child's education and care.
Letter from Head of School Marifred Cilella (7/29/20)
Dear Howard School Families,
I hope that you and your family are doing well and enjoying these last weeks of summer break. As we wrap up a successful, enriching, and fun month of Summer Safari, I am looking forward to the new school year, and full of gratitude for your continued support and partnership.
I am writing to provide some updates to the Reopening FAQ that includes an easy to follow decision tree, which addresses different scenarios we may experience during the school year. While this chart is easy to follow, our decisions do not come easily or lightly. We are being careful and thoughtful in all we do, and the health, safety, and well-being of every member of our school community remains central to our planning. Our school team meets daily (often more than daily) to review guidelines and discuss safety protocols, and our Board Medical Advisory Committee meets weekly to review the latest pandemic data, and determine whether there are any implications from that data to our plan.
The basic principles of our plan continue to include screening daily for signs of infection or exposure, limiting physical interactions, keeping distance between people, increasing hygiene, improving air quality and flow, and requiring face coverings. The additional scenarios (attached) describe how we intend to handle instances of exposure or a positive case of COVID-19 at the school. All back-to-school information, including reopening information, may be found on the Parents page of our website.
We understand that even with the strictest safety procedures in place, you may still hesitate to send your child to campus. Please don't hesitate to reach out to your child's Principal and/or Dr. Tara Terry to discuss your concerns. Also, each school division will hold information sessions via Zoom on the following dates:
Sunday, August 2
Lower Lower School: 1:00 p.m.
Upper Lower School: 3:00 p.m.
Middle School: 4:30 p.m.
8th Grade: 6:30 p.m.
Monday, August 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 4 at 6:30 p.m.
You will receive invitations for these sessions from your child's Principal by the end of the week.
We are committed to making this year a successful year for ALL Howard School students, whether they are on campus, or in their homes. We look forward to seeing everyone on August 17.
As always, I appreciate your support.
Head of School
Letter from Head of School Marifred Cilella (7/15/20)
Dear Howard School Families,
I hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
I know you have been anxious to learn how The Howard School plans to reopen our campus, and I am pleased to share our plan with you today. The faculty and staff are looking forward to welcoming our students back to campus on Monday, August 17th, and our plan (attached in FAQ Format) describes how we will do that safely. (Our faculty and staff will return to campus for pre-planning on Monday, August 3.)
With the health and well-being of our community at the center of planning, our team has been working tirelessly this summer to ensure that the school is equipped with the infrastructure necessary to carry out this plan, as well as immediately adapt to any changes. The basic principles of our plan include screening for signs of infection or exposure, limiting physical interactions, keeping distance between people, increasing hygiene, improving air quality and flow, and requiring face coverings. The FAQ includes more details about the arrangements and procedures that we have put in place. Given the pandemic's potential impact on carpools, additional carpool information will come to you in a separate email.
Now in the second week of Summer Safari, my confidence has been bolstered by the success and support of the plan we have put in place, and it has been wonderful to have students back on campus again!
We will continue to monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, as well as guidelines and recommendations from health officials, and will keep you updated on any changes. We plan to hold virtual information sessions for each division at the end of July to give us an opportunity to share our safety and learning model for the coming year in greater detail, including how we are preparing for distance learning should it become necessary to move off campus during the school year. Please watch for further meeting details that you will receive from your child's Principal. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
I am very grateful for The Howard School's wonderful parent community, and I thank you for your continuing support. I look forward to seeing everyone in August.
My best to you and your family...
Letter from Head of School Marifred Cilella (7/1/20)
As many metro Atlanta school systems begin to release their fall campus reopening plans, you are likely wondering when you will find out how we plan to return to The Howard School in August. Rest assured that we are hard at work preparing to bring our students back to their classrooms safely!
Last week, every family received Howard's 4-Point Plan for health and safety. This plan is updated weekly in consultation with our Board Medical Advisory Committee, and we will share any updates with you as they are available. We are fortunate to have the expertise of this Committee as we work to ensure a safe and healthy return to campus. The Committee will continue to meet each Wednesday to review current trends, health recommendations, and safety practices, and to refine our policies and procedures to meet new guidelines, all the while considering our Howard community.
As a start to reopening campus, summer staff returned to work on June 22, and Summer Safari will begin July 6. Staff are following CDC-recommended protocols including, but not limited to: temperature checks at home before leaving for school, a second temperature check upon entering the building, and required face coverings when social distancing cannot be met. Participants in Summer Safari Session One will receive additional communication with protocols for the summer programs on Wednesday. (Click HERE for The Howard School's 4-Point Plan for Reopening Summer Safari Session One.) Participants in Summer Safari Session Two will also receive an updated plan before their children begin camp on July 20.
Our first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year is Monday, August 17. We are fortunate that this later start date gives us ample time to continue working with our Board Medical Advisory Committee to ensure that our campus is ready to welcome students back into our classrooms. We have a large 17+ acre campus with big classrooms, plenty of outdoor open spaces, and flexible teachers. We know that our student population learns best when they are with their teachers, and our teachers are eager to be back with their students in the classroom. Please watch for more communication mid-July with specific information about how we will reopen for instruction in August.
Take care and stay well.
Looking forward to welcoming you back soon,