|Dear Stevenson Families:
As you’ll recall, in July the School’s task force produced a comprehensive plan for providing campus instruction this semester. Sadly, state guidance and county data prevented us from moving forward in September. We hope that state guidance and county data will permit a safe and socially responsible return to campus instruction (for those families who wish it for their children) by our currently scheduled dates for doing so: January 4 (LMD) and January 19 (UD).
Guided by that spirit of optimism, our task force—composed of approximately thirty people—has been hard at work since early September revising our earlier plans, such that we are ready to act swiftly and safely if given the opportunity to do so, contingent on relevant guidance and data. Our team is addressing all aspects of reopening, and is consulting regularly with local and national experts in public health, infectious disease epidemiology, and a range of related disciplines.
At the end of November, the task force will distribute a revised plan informed by the latest understanding about the virus and how best to mitigate risk in schools. In advance of that plan, we strongly encourage you to consult our July 9 handbook, as many of the practices and approaches it describes remain pertinent.
In early December, we hope to know enough about relevant guidance and data to confidently make an accurate announcement about our intentions for January. As we’ve stated, even if a safe and socially responsible return to campus instruction is possible, such that families that wish for their children to return can do so, we will continue to provide superb remote instruction for families that prefer for their children to remain at home during the pandemic. To be clear, our remote option will remain available to families even after we welcome some students back to campus.
Please review this letter from July 27 for a reminder of the School’s position on the waiver currently available to elementary and middle schools located in counties that remain in the state’s purple tier (as Monterey County does), which provides for campus instruction to PK-5 students.
Insofar as a return to campus instruction during the spring semester is concerned, it is likely that our options will fall into one of three general categories:
In all of these circumstances and their varying permutations, we will account for the needs of students and teachers—some but not all of whom may be in high-risk groups—who will participate remotely until they have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and/or owing to international travel restrictions. [I should note that at the present time, state guidance still precludes boarding schools from opening their dormitories; though some California boarding schools have apparently not adhered to that guidance, Stevenson will continue to do so.]
A return to campus instruction on or around our planned start dates.
Varying delays to our planned start dates, during which time we would continue to employ remote instruction for all students.
A return on or about our planned start dates subsequently punctuated by COVID-19-related interruptions of indefinite duration during which time we would employ remote instruction.
The risk of contracting the virus will persist until there is a widely available vaccine. We recognize that families’ tolerance for risk is variable: some parents would send their children to school right now; others are more cautious. As our task force gives its full consideration to a range of options, and monitors the virus and other schools’ reopening experiences, it is also important to know more about your expectations and tolerance for risk--as well as other factors related to a safe and socially responsible return.
With that fact in mind, we encourage you to respond to this survey as soon as possible. We will take the data we collect seriously, and it will inform specific aspects of our decision-making. In this light, we are truly eager to hear from you.
Rest assured that our forthcoming revised handbook will have updated plans in place for the wearing of cloth masks, conducting daily symptom checks, practicing physical distancing, providing outdoor learning spaces, and organizing students into small cohorts, as well as a full range of other measures that we know may be employed to help protect our community's health and safety, as needed. These include, but are not limited to:
In advance of its distribution, please consult Planning for Our Return (July 9) for more information regarding the procedures that the School has developed thus far to support a safe and socially responsible return to campus instruction, as that document’s core principles remain generally applicable to our present circumstance.
testing and tracing of students and employees,
temporarily suspending campus instruction for all students,
isolating/quarantining groups of students and employees,
sharing relevant information with employees, students, and their families while protecting privacy,
providing coverage for employees constrained by illness, and
closing the dormitories, if circumstances require it.
Dr. Kevin M. Hicks ’85 P ’29