October 8, 2020

Dear Harbor Families,

By now, you have seen several emails from me with the subject line “Health Communication”, informing the community that a cohort has been asked to quarantine by the health department, due to a member of that group displaying certain symptom(s), while we wait for test results or an alternative diagnosis. Symptoms that, in the past, would have been considered minor now necessitate disruptions to schedules as teachers and families to quickly pivot to distance learning. As inconvenient as this may seem at times, it allows us to continue to safely have students learn in person the majority of the time. 

Our website and Health and Safety Plan describe the flexible nature of our distance learning model at Harbor. In addition to at-home learning for cohorts of students when necessary, we have also have had teachers Zoom into classrooms to teach while they experience mild symptoms, individual students with mild symptoms learn at home while their classmates learn in person, and a handful of students who learn at home every day.

Our intention is that with the increased vigilance in daily hygiene and preventative practices, our community will be less likely to exhibit symptoms, minimizing the need for distance learning. However, with the cold and flu season approaching, we expect the need to quarantine may potentially increase. (Have you gotten your flu shot yet? Please find some time for this over the four day weekend if not!)

Here’s what to expect if/when the need to transition to distance learning arises for your child's cohort:

  • Should an individual in the cohort develop symptoms that fit the criteria for a health department call during the school day, parents in that cohort will be asked to come and pick up their children as soon as possible. We are currently using email as the primary mode of communication with a reminder on the Seesaw app; please check email regularly and watch for Seesaw announcements (download the parent Seesaw app and turn on notifications for this). 

  • Depending on the situation, teachers may need the first day of distance learning to prepare for the full experience; therefore we don’t guarantee distance learning on the first day of the transition to at-home learning. When possible, we provide some aspects of distance learning on the first day, such as a Zoom class meeting or a set of resources and suggested activities.

  • If the cohort is required to stay at home for a second day or beyond, the full FLEX or MAX program (depending on which experience you selected for your child) will be in effect. For a reminder of the FLEX and MAX program features, check out this website page. School administration will continue to communicate on the health situation (usually whether results have come back or not) by late afternoon each day so teachers and families can plan for the following day.

  • As soon as we receive the green light from the health department to return to school, we will communicate this and return to in-person learning.

Remember that individual students staying home with mild symptoms can also participate in the FLEX distance learning model while their classmates are in person. As when a cohort transitions to at-home learning, this will begin the second day the child is at home (unless we receive word early enough to have the student participate in the morning and closing meeting on the first day).

I find it fascinating that this process, like masks and distancing, has become somewhat normalized now that we have gone through it a few times. Needing to quarantine because of a cough is not something any of us could have imagined, but we are thrilled we are able to have our students learn in person for most of the time. As an educator who knows first hand how meaningful an in-person education is at this developmental level - and as a parent who struggled with distance learning in our family - I am so grateful for every day that we are in school together, and for our strict protocols that allow us to do so safely. 

Warm regards,

Leah Musico
Head of School

Harbor School