Notre Dame Preparatory has crafted a fluid return-to-school plan with the hopes of opening the campus in August for the 2020-21 school year.
NDP officials released their “Saints Back Safely” plan that included a new block schedule, health and safety guidelines and logistics on how the school plans to operate in the fall.
NDP Principal and President Jill Platt said the school formed several committees to take into account the community’s response and craft the plan.
“We continue to work hard every single day in these taskforces to ensure that we are, as always, being student-centered in our decisions, keeping your child at the center of all we do, knowing the importance of being ready for their return in the fall,” she said in a video released to the community.
Andrea Fossum, NDP assistant principal of academics, said she anticipates the school to start the school year in a hybrid model of some on campus and some remote learning. She also said the situation is fluid and subject to state mandates and diocese decisions.
“Our best hope, our prayers are for us to return to an in-person environment,” she said in the video. “However, this schedule is able to be implemented seamlessly whether we are on campus, fully online or in a hybrid situation.”
The new block schedule with consist of eight classes spread evenly over a two-day span. Students will have periods 1-4 on Mondays and Thursdays as well as periods 5-8 on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Each school days will start with an optional Mass at 7:10 a.m. before the first class at 7:40 a.m. Students will also get three 20-minute breaks throughout the school day for meals and snacks. Each day will also include 15 minutes dedicated to house meeting.
NDP operates on a house system, which sorts students into 10 different houses. The goals of this system is to give students a sense of belonging as well as provide an area for students to experience community, mentorship, discipleship and opportunities for growth and leadership.
Ms. Fossum said the purpose of meeting in houses each day is to check in on the social-emotional wellbeing of each students throughout the week.
On Wednesdays, students will meet in each of their eight classes and will wrap up the school day by 12:30 p.m. Ms. Fossum presented two Wednesday models: one with 75-minute house/mass time, a 20-minute break and 20-minute classes; and one with 30-minute classes and a 20-minute break.
If the school can go to a full in-person setting, students will be required to wear masks and all will attend their classes per the schedule. If the school has to go to a hybrid model, like Ms. Fossum is anticipating, half the school will be on campus on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will be on campus on Thursday and Friday.
Students will split with five houses attending Monday and Tuesday while the other five will attend Thursday and Friday. Ms. Fossum said under a full in-person setting, classes would house 18 students but in a hybrid setting, that would drop the in-person class to nine with the rest at home.
She said technology will allow teachers and students to interact regardless if they are at home or on campus. The school has purchased 30 televisions that act as computers with a fish-eye lens to allow students to see those who are attending on campus.
“The beauty of that hybrid situation is that class sizes are small,” Ms. Fossum said. “It’s one of the things that differentiates NDP from other schools in the area.”
As far as health and safety, Assistant Principal for Student Affairs Brie Dragonetti said the school has purchased temperature kiosks that all students and faculty will use upon entering the NDP campus.
Other efforts Ms. Dragonetti outlined was a new traffic flow for pick-up and drop-off; staggered start and release times; and physical distancing measures for classrooms and outside areas.
Ms. Dragonetti also referred the community to the parent/student handbook since it will continue all the policies.
“As our policies evolve, our committee will continue working on ensuring the safety of our community,” she said during the video.
Campus Chaplain Father Kurt Perera said student will continue to have a focus on their Catholic identity by keeping the traditions of Mass, adoration, Bible studies and other prayer opportunities.
“The ways in which we gather may look differently but the spiritual formation of our students remains at the forefront of our minds of what we do here at Notre Dame Prep,” he said during the video.
NDP plans to return Friday, Aug. 14 with a virtual early-release day where students will follow the Wednesday schedules. On Monday, Aug. 17, the school will begin its block schedule.