Seabury School was not included in those stories. With Sept. 2, our first day of school, still about a month away and with guidance on safe reopening still emerging and developing, we have not yet decided to make the “call” to either open our campuses for in-person learning or to start with distance learning. What we have done is worked exhaustively to be ready to open safely. That is what our students and staff deserve and what many families want.
We keep constantly up to date on all guidance from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, the Washington Department of Health, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the Center for Disease Control, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS) and the Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS). We expect further guidance in the coming days or weeks that will provide us with more specific criteria we can use to determine when it is safe for us to re-open for in person learning.
Seabury’s small classes and unique classroom spaces allow us potentially different choices than are available to larger, public schools. Each of our spacious classrooms has a separate entrance to the outside (no hallways!) and each has its own bathroom, making it easy for us to keep kids and adults in small, cohort groups and minimize exposure during the day. Our maximum class size is 15. Six-foot distancing is not a problem. All staff will wear masks, so will students, from pre-k through eighth grade. Everyone will have daily health checks.
We are also setting up our teachers to be able to easily take class outside. We will have two new outdoor classroom spaces at the lower school. And we have the whole city just outside at the middle school, particularly Broadway Plaza which is just across the street. Each teacher and student will be provided with a portable seat and an outdoor learning kit. The learning kits for our second graders, for example, include a Coleman portable chair, weatherproof pencil box, dry erase pen, mini whiteboard, and clipboard among other items that can be carried in the pocket of their chair.
If we are at home, our teachers are ready to provide a dynamic and engaging distance-learning program. Weare taking lessons we learned in the spring and are planning parent and student trainings that will allow students to operate more independently and adults at home to feel more comfortable supporting students. We're adding morning meetings and daily math and literacy lessons. A combination of virtual classes and digital tools will ensure students get the support they need, including the instruction tailored to gifted learners our teachers are experts at providing. So no matter how we start this fall, students will experience the joy of Seabury learning at school and at home.
As we plan for the fall, the biggest difference between Seabury and most other schools is that our small size will allow us to pivot quickly between being at school and being at home. If we open, and suddenly need to close, we are equipped to make the switch seamlessly – and vice versa. By being prepared for both in-person and distance learning, we still have time to wait for the best science available before we make a decision about the start of school. And our ability to pivot quickly now and throughout the school year, will allow us to maximize every possible minute for learning this year.
Seabury is a small independent school without expansive grounds or a large endowment. We serve students whose families often find us because their needs aren’t being met elsewhere, and they often sacrifice to pay tuition. Our general population doesn’t have deep pockets. But we have invested every dollar we can to make our facility even safer, to ensure distance learning fully meets the needs of Seabury kids and families, and to provide additional financial aid to families that need support during these difficult times.
Our plans for fall are to be ready for learning in the safest way possible and to ensure that Seabury‘s kids engage in the joy of discovery and that they are challenged every day whether we are at home or at school. We will be ready to provide a safe, creative and joyful place to go to school, whether in person or digitally.
School will start on Sept. 2. And it will start in the safest format for staff and kids based on the best science we can get our hands on. Whatever this year looks like, we'll make it a great one!
– Seabury's Admin Team