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School Opening Update -- Preparing for Opening Day (8.14.20)

Friends,

As we close in on the two-weeks-til-school mark, here is the long belated, maybe anticipated fifth and final part in the summer series, focusing on some ways that you can help the school and your kids prepare for this coming school year.

  1. First, be extra careful with your family’s health these next two weeks: For some people, the summer offered some sense of respite from the very anxious uncertainty we experienced those first couple months of lockdown. With that relief, some of us may have been a bit more lax about precautionary behaviors than others. To maximize our chances at a healthy and sustained return to school, we encourage all of our families to tighten up your precautions these next two weeks to minimize as much as possible any chance of exposure or contagion by the coronavirus. In particular, you could:

    1. Download the COVIDWISE virus exposure app from your preferred app store. This app, reviewed carefully and endorsed by our very scrupulous resident IT expert, uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to quickly notify users who have likely been exposed so you can reduce the risk of transmission for your friends and family and help Virginia stop the spread of COVID-19. A two-minute informational video can be found here.

    2. Limit your exposure to potential infection in the two weeks before school by limiting travel, shopping online or during low-traffic hours, consistently wearing masks indoors, limiting the number of different human contacts, and avoiding high-infection settings like restaurants and bars, etc.

  2. Join us for volunteer work days, August 23 or 30. All the work will be outside, we'll ensure that everyone is spaced out and scheduled in shifts. Keep your eyes peeled for a Sign-up Genius invitation to choose a window of time to come help.

  3. When indoors, practice and model wearing masks with your kids: For those kids not yet accustomed to wearing a facemask indoors or in public, some acclimation and practice now will help ease their transition back to school. Help your child practice putting their mask on and taking it off, and answer any questions they have about mask wearing and when they will need to wear them at school (when they drive up each morning for drop off and screening, when walking to their classroom and when indoors). For some, this is made easier simply by having masks with fun themes and framing it as an opportunity to dress up, much like Halloween. Others have found success by having kids wear the masks when they’re engaged in indoor activities that they enjoy, both so that they are distracted by the task and so that they end up associating the thing they enjoy with having the mask on.

  4. Practice and model good handwashing: Picking a long, favorite song with which to serenade the process is a helpful start. But it will also help if you can teach/encourage them to wash their thumbs and backs-of-hands, and to use a towel to turn off the faucet and open the doorknob.

  5. Re-read our COVID Task Force's Policy & Protocols Handbook, thinking carefully about how your child(ren) will proceed through their day at school, and jot down any final questions you have. We will set up one final Question-and-Answer session before school begins for everyone to have final questions addressed.

  6. Please, please, please attend to and return forms and electronic information as soon as you can after we send them to you. There have been delays on our end this summer due to all of the adjustments we've had to make, but we still will need paperwork and information in time for the start of school. Later, we'll send you a checklist of those forms so that you can more easily track your own progress as you go.

We're really excited to see everyone in a couple weeks. Until then, we wish you all safety, good health, and a spirited end to the summer.

Eric