After much preparation and teamwork, over 60 students returned to the League School campus on July 13 for in-person learning. Through the collaboration of staff, parents, the Mass Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps), the state, and Board of Directors, the first month has run relatively smoothly, and our students are adjusting to their revamped programs.
“Two-thirds of our students are back on campus, and we anticipate that more will return in September,” said Executive Director, Larry Sauer. “Although in-person learning is a better mode of instruction for our student population, safety is the top concern of our school and families.”
Before school reopened, we reconfigured classrooms to allow for social distancing and a minimum of six feet between desks. We have converted some of the common spaces to classrooms for extra space. Each classroom is set-up to provide virtual learning for the students who are not yet comfortable returning to an in-person environment.
Thanks to maaps and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the school received a $145,000 grant that will help cover some of the many COVID-19-related expenses incurred to date. All staff members wear masks throughout the day, and they are vigilant about cleaning high touch surfaces and ensuring that social distancing and hand washing is taking place. Students are encouraged to wear masks, although for some it isn’t possible.
“We have built a robust supply of personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, face shields, gowns, and disinfectants,” said Larry. “As we use this equipment, we’re restocking to be sure we don’t run out if there’s another supply shortage.”
Daily temperature tests of staff and students help flag any health concerns. To date, all day staff and students have had negative COVID-19 tests even though some staff experienced COVID-like symptoms. One residential staff member with no close student contact tested positive, and staff who had come into contact with that person quarantined.
Parent Communication and Planning for an Evolving Situation
It’s an anxious time for parents, and we’ve fostered open communication to provide updates, answer questions, and hear concerns. Our virtual Parent Advisory Committee meeting has helped encourage collaboration as we all navigate through these challenging times.
We have prepared a framework for three scenarios in the event the coronavirus trajectory changes. Submitted to DESE, this includes:
- Our current in-person learning
- A hybrid plan – students in school for some days and remote for others
- Fully remote
“If we needed to adopt a fully remote model, it would take place for a full day and emphasize continued progress on Individualized Education Plans,” said Larry Sauer. We are distributing these plans to parents and school districts; they will also be on our website.
Planning for our annual Summer Fun Day is underway. Our students on campus will participate in a number of entertaining events. Home-based students and families can participate virtually. Stay tuned for more information on this fun-filled day.
Stonehill College Teacher Resident Program Launched
Looking ahead to future staffing needs while fostering student training opportunities, the League School is launching a Teacher Resident Program with Stonehill College. Four student residents pursuing their Master’s Degree in Special Education will be working full-time throughout the school year to gain teaching experience. Not only will this provide more staff support, it will also promote new hire talent. One of the Stonehill students has already joined our team as an Assistant Teacher.
“It’s important to foster staff talent while promoting a collaborative environment,” said Larry. “We could not have realized the results we’ve had with our campus reopening without the dedication and caring of our staff.”