PLANNING WITH INTENTION
As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, Saint Mark’s School’s task force, which is made up of board members and administrators, has been following a thorough and thoughtful process, grounded in our school’s mission and current research, as well as guided by experts in public health, child development, and space planning. We recognize we must remain nimble in this evolving environment, so we are prepared to provide a strong distance learning program or in-person, on-campus instruction, as public health officials allow. Our unique teaching and learning model will provide many exciting benefits for our students this coming school year, and we stand ready to welcome them safely to campus when we are able. From feeling a deep sense of connection through small class sizes, to receiving individual attention from caring teachers, to engaging in a multitude of rich academic and enrichment learning opportunities, our students will flourish, whether on campus or at home.
PREPARING FOR A SAFE RETURN TO CAMPUS
We are prepared for a variety of scenarios from in-person instruction to distance learning, if prescribed by public health officials. No matter the circumstance, our highest priorities are health and safety and delivering a strong academic program, while attending to our students’ social emotional health and growth. While your child is on campus, we are prepared to follow all of the current public health guidelines.
We are planning to be on campus when it is safe, and we have designed our program and spaces for the different phases and guidelines that may be issued by local health officials. Due to our staffing model with Teacher Interns, associates, and enrichment and lead teachers, as well as access to additional room on our spacious campus, we are uniquely positioned to accommodate full-day, in-person instruction for every student, every day. Here’s what to expect.
Full Academic Day for All Students
• Full academic day for all students in preschool-6
• Re-imagined learning spaces to accommodate stable groups and small group instruction
Added Personalized Learning
• Smaller groups leading to greater differentiation and personalization of learning
• Deep dive in enrichment classes allowing for more continuity and depth of learning
• Expanded outdoor opportunities for learning and play
• Additional interdisciplinary learning experiences
• Co-teaching model in collaboration with TIs and enrichment teachers
Connection and Social Emotional Wellness
• Opportunities for 1-1 and small group interactions with peers and teachers
• Additional outdoor play
• Mindfulness program
• Responsive Classroom practices to promote building relationships and community
• Virtual chapel program for the whole family
|Full Academic Day for All Students|
|• Full academic day for students in Preschool-Grade 6|
We have intentionally designed a distance learning program that supports continuity and engaging academics between home and school. In addition, as part of our commitment to the whole child, we remain focused on social emotional learning and creating opportunities for students to connect with friends and teachers in person and online.
Engaging Learning Experiences
• Creative materials and lessons to promote student engagement within a relational setting
• Clearly articulated learning outcomes for each grade level
• Academic choice and creative expression
• Opportunities for interdisciplinary learning
• Personalized learning bags with materials and resources to support hands-on learning at home
Community and Connection
• Robust online social emotional learning curriculum
• Frequent small group and individual check-ins
• Virtual chapel program for the whole family
• Virtual social events for students and parents
• A mix of synchronous (online learning in real time) and asynchronous (online without real-time interaction) instruction, along with independent and group learning
Intentional Use of Technology
• Dedicated 1-1 devices for each student provided by the school for use between home and school
• Developmentally appropriate platforms to support learning
• Ongoing training for teachers in distance learning best practices
SAINT MARK’S IN THE NEWS
During distance learning in the spring of 2020, Saint Mark’s kindergarten teacher Ms. Heather Hoshino was featured on CBS’s local news during their “People Making a Difference” segment about teaching during the safer-at-home orders.
Will there be extended care next year?
When we return for on-campus instruction, we are prepared to offer limited in-person extended care for preschool, but not for grades K-6. We hope to expand our offerings as it is safe to do so. We will only charge for extended care as it is used. Once we are able to offer a broader extended care program, we will make sure that we include monthly plans that are appropriate for the hours offered.
Can I select distance learning as an option for the year?
Currently, we are not planning to offer distance learning as an option for families. However, we are prepared to accommodate students who must remain at home due to sickness or a compromised immune system. If you have concerns, we want to hear from you! We are here to help.
What improvements is the school planning to make to the distance learning program?
We are building on what we learned this past spring and making improvements to our distance learning program to make it the best it possibly can be. For example, we are providing additional training for faculty and pre-planning for learning bags and supplies, which will make for greater ease and strength in our program if we need to transition. Also, we are providing every student with the technology they need for instruction at home.
Is the school intending to go on field trips this year?
In terms of field trips, EFS trips, and other program activities, we are hopeful that we will be able to resume trips and assemblies later in the year. We also have more time for contingency planning this year, so that we can consider potential modifications or alternatives to the usual trips.