School Year Updates

April 6, 2021

Dear Moses Brown Community,

With spring break now behind us, I’m writing to share some important news that brings our community a step closer to normalcy this spring and toward the resumption of full in-person learning in the fall.

We plan to invite all seniors who wish to do so to return to campus for daily, in-person learning beginning on Monday, April 12.  We will monitor the transition closely, as well as public health conditions, and hope to welcome all other Upper School students to return to daily in-person attendance beginning on April 26.

As we have all year, we will provide flexibility in serving the needs of our families by continuing to offer remote learning for those who need or want it through the end of this school year.

We will continue with full in-person learning in Lower and Middle School within the pod structure, while also providing increased flexibility for social and academic engagement across groups (our current pod size is 50% smaller than state guidelines suggest).  We also are implementing ways to offer Upper School students greater levels of social interaction and connection, e.g., during lunch and free periods.

The decision to invite Upper School students to return has been shaped by three key considerations:
• A desire to support students’ mental health and academic engagement, which have suffered as a result of social isolation
• A commitment to protecting the health of MB faculty and staff, the vast majority of whom have now been vaccinated
• A reliance on medical experts and data, including the low rate of transmission in schools and the low incidence in children (less than 10% of cases nationally have been among children age 5–17, and their cases are more commonly asymptomatic or mild)

As we increase the student population on campus, we will be vigilant in maintaining our extensive safety protocols, especially mask wearing (and encouraging double masking).  We are also:
• Increasing surveillance testing in the Upper School
• Opening classroom windows and making use of outdoor spaces
• Encouraging everyone age 16 or older to get vaccinated as soon as possible (eligibility starts April 19 in RI, and is already available in MA)
• Asking families to continue to adhere to safety protocols outside of school

In terms of classrooms, some of the largest sections of seniors will be moved to new locations.  When more students return, we will maximize desk spacing but can’t guarantee three feet everywhere, so contact tracing in most cases would result in the quarantining of a whole class section or lunch group.

While the return to campus will be welcome news for most students, we know it may increase anxiety for some.  Our psychologist, Jess Stewart, is ready to support those who may feel anxious and to partner with students and parents in developing strategies for care when returning to larger classes.  Advisors, as well as our Learning Specialist, Alison Anderson, can also provide support and guidance.

We will continue to monitor the state of the pandemic and will adjust these plans as necessary moving ahead.  You will be hearing more from me and other school leaders in the coming days, with additional details about our return to full in-person learning and end-of-year events.  In the meantime, please reach out to me if you have questions or concerns.

It is truly gratifying to be taking steps to bring our school community together for the final weeks of the school year, an important milestone as we look forward to school as normal in the fall.

In friendship,

Matt Glendinning
Head of School

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