Pine School Reopening
Dear Pine School Families,
Our work to ensure the most effective reopening of The Pine School continues with our Middle and Upper School Schedule. At first glance, you will likely notice that we have maintained the five-period schedule which we adopted at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. We feel it is best to allow students to return to the normalcy of the schedule to which they became accustomed prior to Remote Learning. You may also notice that we have kept intact as many aspects of the schedule as feasible. These foundational components which will remain in place (although at times, modified to adhere to safety guidelines) include:
- Regular, meaningful connections between faculty and students through our Advisory program
- A sense of togetherness through Community Meetings (live-streamed by division)
- Extended class periods, allowing for deep learning opportunities
- The camaraderie of club activities
While this is not a new schedule, we have made a few adjustments to accommodate our need to put first the health and safety of our students and faculty. These changes include:
- An extended block of time in the schedule to accommodate staggered lunch periods
- The elimination of break times, as breaks will be thoughtfully staggered during morning and afternoon classes to respect social distancing guidelines
- The incorporation of the five-minute homeroom/advisory attendance check in time into the first class in the morning (Students are still expected to be in their first period class by 8:25.)
As we get closer to welcoming back students on campus in August, it is important to note that students who commit to learning from home will adhere to the same schedule as students who learn on campus. Furthermore, for planning purposes, we ask that except for illness, students do not toggle daily between on-campus and remote learning. If your family has a unique situation or if you would like, at this time, to opt for Remote Learning and do not plan to send your child to campus, please contact your child’s division leader. It will be very important for us to know whom to expect on campus versus in class remotely. As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns.
Take care and stay well.
Dear Pine School Families,
Happy summer! I’ve missed the regular video messages I shared with you through Remote Learning so wanted to offer a virtual check in today. With many of us closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation in Florida, I recognize apprehension is likely growing in our community. I want to affirm for you that my colleagues and I at School are moving forward with plans to safely reopen. We won’t be gathered for an all-School opening assembly in the gym, but we can hopefully be on campus together nonetheless. With the American Academy of Pediatrics recently encouraging “having students physically present in school,” I believe they are affirming what those in education have known all along; there is a societal and social benefit, even in the midst of our current public health challenges, to children learning together. We at The Pine School will be ready to use our space differently and plan our days creatively so your children can safely do just that.
I recognize that the decision to return to in-person learning will not be the right choice for every family and student. Please know we are also making arrangements and acquiring video technology so students can enjoy the classroom experience from home if needed. As soon as we demonstrate the technology to our faculty, we will preview it to families next.
In an effort to help consolidate the information shared this summer in preparation for reopening campus, The Pine School has dedicated this page to blog communication. Please review a presentation from FLIK Dining about reopening lunch service. Schedule information for Grades 5 through 12 will come out tomorrow and will also be posted to this page.
I hope each and every one of you enjoys a happy and festive 4th of July. Be well and please be in touch with any questions.
Dear Pine School Families,
My colleagues on the School’s Reopening Task Force and I continue to meet and prepare to welcome all our students back to campus on August 11th. I’m including a link to a slideshow with specifics on what we will adjust to help keep our school community healthy and safe. The last slide lists program information still to come. We are planning to have students in class, scheduled all day and every day as we typically would. I’ve spoken with many of you and know how eager our students are to return to school and connect with friends and teachers. The faculty and I feel the same!
The worldwide, national, state-level and local situation with COVID-19 develops and changes rapidly. We are remaining flexible and will be ready to adapt as needed to make sure our efforts in support of public health comply with requirements from local and state agencies. Also, please remember that even though these slides address re-opening, we are working in parallel to provide access off-campus to classes should parents want or need students to learn from home.
Please continue to check this Pine School Re-opening webpage for all the latest news and information from the school. This webpage is where we will collect and post information related to re-opening. As always, please reach out if you have any questions.
All the best,
Dear Pine School Parents,
Today we are two weeks into summer break and also two months away from our opening day of School on August 11th. With a little distance between me and the most unusual and difficult schoolwide situation I’ve experienced in my 20 years in education, the emotional ups and downs have waned. I now look back and am simply in awe of the flexibility and positivity our entire community maintained throughout Remote Learning. My gratitude runs deep. I hope you and your children have eased into a more relaxed routine and are able to take a breath. Each and every one of you deserves it. I wish the world around us was finding its calm as well; however, the challenges continue. We’ve seen record flooding that has damaged our local Hobe Sound community. Rallies and protests across our nation call out for needed reform and equality. The COVID-19 pandemic is gaining global momentum and is still very much affecting our daily lives.
In the midst of continued uncertainty, the questions on your mind are ever present in mine. What will School look like when we open on August 11th? What will change about our time on campus as we comply with public health guidelines and directives? While I know it is frustrating not to have a clear answer right now, I suspect our situation and response to COVID-19 will change in the weeks ahead. Currently, there are guidelines offered by the CDC that allow for well-informed hypothesizing. My administrative colleagues and I have been meeting regularly to consider different scenarios that will allow us to successfully welcome students back to campus. I am confident in our ability to plan and adapt to guidelines; The Pine School is extremely fortunate to have many advantages we can leverage:
- a large campus with ample, flexible spaces, both indoors and outside;
- small class sizes and low student-to-teacher ratios;
- technological resources and infrastructure to bridge remote and on-campus learning;
- depth of expertise among our staff, along with friends of the School, in the area of health, safety, and wellness; and
- an exceptional faculty, boosted by significant professional development and a spirit of flexibility and positivity.
Our ability to respond in this situation and see it through is due, in no small part, to the community support and cohesiveness for which The Pine School is known.
To organize and steer our efforts this summer, I have convened a Reopening Task Force that is charged with answering, among others, the following questions:
- How can we reimagine and repurpose our learning spaces and common spaces to deliver excellence in our program while simultaneously meeting health and safety guidelines given to us by the CDC and local health offices?
- What daily schedule will best meet our students' learning and social-emotional needs and also compliment our efforts to make the best use of our available space?
- How can we organize groups of students to limit potential exposure and leverage technology so students can learn both on campus or from home?
- What are the implications for athletics, performing arts, and other aspects of our program?
- How can we reconfigure meals and community time to preserve the connection that is so vital to all of us?
- What is the best way to integrate regimens of campus cleaning into our daily routines?
- What role, if any, will health screening, masks, other PPE, and other measures play in campus life?
The Task Force’s work is informed by local and public health officials, developing practices from international schools and higher education, and our own best judgment about what is right for The Pine School. Some have asked if we will continue to follow decisions made by Martin and Palm Beach Counties. I can confidently say that with the planning time we have and the unique nature of our School, we will be able to operate independently. And while the limitations we will face are not ideal, I remain confident that we will continue to offer the exceptional education you have come to expect from our School.
In many ways, it is clarifying to face a novel situation like this one. With so many parameters and factors at play, I have had to root myself in what is core about The Pine School and our community in order to guide our decision-making. What I know is that our teachers are the cornerstone of our School. They are the primary connection to the students we serve. I am unwavering in my commitment to keep our faculty and staff intact. I also know that our campus is seminal to making us the learning community we are. The space, our buildings and grounds, and the natural beauty of The Pine School need to be maintained. Even though we were not able to enjoy our campus last spring, our collective belief in maintaining it provides a familiar place of learning to which we can return.
A few parents have asked if we will offer a different tuition level for families who choose to stay connected to The Pine School through Remote Learning only. In order to maintain our faculty and staff, care for our physical School, and stay true to our core values and mission, we are not able to do this. While I sincerely hope each and every one of you will choose to keep your child or children enrolled at The Pine School, I recognize that each family must do what is best for them. This pandemic will be behind us one day; I am committed to leading The Pine School for today and tomorrow and years into the future. The upside to our experience with Remote Learning is that we will be able to provide more support to students who are away from campus. I know our faculty now thinks differently about teaching, learning, and assessment. We are most assuredly better for it.
The Board of Trustees and I realize that The Pine School tuition is no small investment for families, even in the best of economic times. Kelly Carlson, our Finance Director, has been working through the spring to help families impacted economically by the pandemic. We are very committed to helping every family remain at The Pine School, even through this downturn. If you need extra assistance or even just a little flexibility, please reach out to Mrs. Carlson so that we can understand your situation and work with you.
In summary, my colleagues and I expect to welcome our students back to campus in August. Doing so will require some creative thinking related to what the campus experience will be. Please expect information in the coming weeks about such topics as a modified schedule, a new approach to lunch service, different procedures for class changes, and new routines for hygiene, among others. Also, know that we will be prepared to offer remote access for any student who is unable to be with us on campus or whose family determines that learning from home is right for them at this time. We are making the necessary technological investments now so that students can join an in-person class from any location where they have internet access. Additionally, while the primary work of the Reopening Task Force is to design our on-campus plan for August, we will also consider improvements we can make to Remote Learning in the event we are forced to close campus intermittently next year.
I realize this letter, as long as it is, does not (and cannot) address all that is at play in this ever-evolving situation. My goal in not simply rolling out a final plan as quickly as possible is to allow for the flexibility to make the best possible decisions for our School, informed by the most current medical guidance and governmental expectations. I will communicate as early as possible regarding our evolving plans, and as always, welcome your questions and conversation. I remain, even through these summer months, only a phone call away.
Thank you so much for the trust you have placed in The Pine School. It is my sincere pleasure to lead and be a part of this community. As I’ve said all along, I couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues, trustees, parents, and students to be with on this unexpected and unprecedented journey.
Enjoy the break and be well.