With the school year quickly approaching and parents at various stages of being fed up with their children being at home all day, New York’s elite private schools have started to release plans on how they plan on tackling the upcoming school year.
While the city’s public schools struggle to figure out how to safely teach the city’s 1.1 million students safely, some of the most expensive schools in the city have already put plans in place on how to re-open this fall.
It’s incredible what paying $50,000 per year, per student, can get you.
Bloomberg took a look at how 8 private schools in New York were implementing their re-openings – using everything from virtual Zoom classes to antibacterial desks, from isolation rooms to outdoor learning in tents. Here’s a look at how they are doing it:
At Brearley, students are going to be brought back at the same time, on September 10. The school has an outdoor play area that could be converted into classrooms to make more space and students who can’t wear a mask for health reasons will be placed in distance learning. The school has trained its in “trauma-responsive school routines and restorative practices”.
At Browning, K-5 students will return full time while Grades 6-12 will alternate weeks between in-person and remote learning. Families who have chosen to start with online are being offered the option of switching to in-person after Thanksgiving. Its classrooms are being outfitted with 360 degree Meeting Owl cameras and the school has also rented space nearby to accommodate its 4th and 5th graders, where they will have their own private entrance.
At Collegiate, the first day of school is September 8, though the school is starting the year “mostly remote”. In-person learning is reserved for its youngest students, Bloomberg says, while middle and upper grades will be phased in over the next month.
“In all candor, a final announcement of our reopening plan could come as late as the Labor Day weekend,” Head of School David Lourie told the students’ parents last month.
The school has made 3 isolation rooms, hired a second nurse and upgraded its ventilation systems. Students will have plexiglass shields at their desks and negative Covid tests are required to return to school.
At Dalton, school starts September 9 with a combination of on-site and distance learning. Teachers will conduct classes virtually and lessons will be streamed on the classroom’s whiteboards or students’ computers. First priority for in-school learning is being given to K-4 families and “students who do not have a supervised space at home where they can attend their digital classes.”
The schools says it may extend the school year to later in June.
At Horace Mann, school starts on September 8 and the school is placing antibacterial film on desks, handrails and doorknobs. Its classes, performance and sports will all be streamed live for other students to watch. The school is also requesting that students and teachers test prior to returning back to school.
At Nightengale-Bamford, children in K-6 will go to school full time while older students will learn remotely on “some days”, when they will have access to an off-campus study hall where they can reserve a spot in advance. People who show symptoms of Covid will find themselves in the school’s new isolation room that sports a photocatalytic oxidation air purifier.
Families have signed a “community pledge” with the school to follow certain safety protocols that extend outside of the school and into the family’s travel schedule. If anyone in the family travels to a Covid hot spot, the family is required to quarantine for 14 days.
At Riverdale Country, school starts early on August 24 with all-remote classes. Students will be able to spend 2 hours per week on campus, which has been fitted with 51 outdoor classroom tents (the Tesla Fremont education model). The school wants kids to “get used to the new protocols and understand the new ways in which school life will work,” at first.
After Labor Day, the school could change to a hybrid schedule or go all-remote, depending on how the virus progresses in the community. A hybrid plan could include half of the students going to campus at a time, with others using distance learning. The school could switch to remote learning when flu season starts.
At Spence, school starts September 8 and will be remote learning but for “select in-person visits”. Grades K-4 can opt into in-school starting in October and older students could wind up back in-person during the winter. Libraries have been turned into classrooms to create more distance and students will no longer be issued lockers.
Families have “set up an emergency fund to help faculty, staff and families” and the school is offering tuition assistance for some of its students in need.
Spence disclaims that “it can’t guarantee that no one will be exposed or infected while at school, and cannot be held liable for exposure or infection of employees, parents, guardians, students, vendors, service providers and other visitors.”
Bodie Brizendine, who leads Spence private school, concluded: “The reality is, there is no universal approach to reopening schools at this moment, just the best model for each school community.”