Campus Reopens for the Fall

A+classroom+is+set+up+with+desks+placed+six+feet+apart.+Photo+Illustration+by+Edan+Zinn+%2723.

Edan Zinn

A classroom is set up with desks placed six feet apart. Photo Illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Edan Zinn

Since the 2019-2020 school year came to a close after several months of remote learning, schools across the country began planning for students’ return to in-person classes and how that can be done safely.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the School to remain closed through the end of last school year. In May, the School formed an Executive Reopening Committee and several subcommittees comprised of faculty and staff members to facilitate each aspect of reopening campus. Additionally, the School hired consultants from the safety firm Auxillary Services Organization AUXS to work with their Health, Safety and Wellness subcommittee.

With the release of their Campus Reopening Plan in July, the School also hosted several Town Hall meetings for students and parents to ask questions about the return to school, as well as providing further information on the option to learn concurrently full-time or part-time.

The School decided to begin the year with a hybrid learning approach for the Upper School division, allowing for two grades to learn on campus at a time while the others run remotely through Zoom. Administrators have made it clear that they are equipped to move to an entirely remote approach should an outbreak require a division, grade, or cohort to learn off-campus.

With the help of the Health, Safety, & Wellness subcommittee, Director of Health Services and School Nurse Beth Escobar has been compiling resources since the end of the school year to make the transition back to physical school easier.

“A lot of my energies are focused on researching and purchasing protective gear for the entire Brimmer community, including masks, gloves, thermometer ‘guns’, hand sanitizer, touchless wastebaskets, cleaning supplies, and more,” Escobar said in June.

Furthermore, she explained the guidelines that the School is taking into consideration when school is in session. “We will need to enforce the 6-foot distancing rule everywhere we go—in hallways, classrooms, Dining Commons, Theatre, bathrooms, and the gym, among other areas.”

The Health, Safety, & Wellness committee is also at the forefront of the School’s operations to engage faculty and staff in weekly PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2.

Other ongoing committee operations include Business Continuity with enrollment and finances, International Students with accommodating concurrent and in-person students, Academic Life with classroom design for social distancing, Facilities & Operations with HVAC system upgrades and the purchase of outdoor tents and sanitary equipment, Student Experience & Co-Curricular Programs with planning auxiliary programming, and Communications with family outreach and updated signage.

Upper School Head Joshua Neudel shared his thoughts on how the first week of the school year went.

“Overall, I am proud of the way that students have come back to campus this first week. Students have been cognizant of the safety measures we put in place and have been following them overall. It has been wonderful seeing smiling faces on campus again,” Neudel said. “I want to encourage people to continue working on their spacing when walking through the halls and not to get too comfortable being comfortable at school—not allowing themselves to relax on the safety standards.”

The committee members and the administration continue to strive to make the best decisions for the School and its students and its faculty.