6 Steps to Ensure a Healthy Start Back to School in the time of COVID-19 – click here for more information
All of us at Wood Acres hope you are enjoying a healthy and relaxing summer. While we are missing the joyful cacophony of summer camp on our beautifully green and outdoor campus, we remain focused on opening our campus for the 2020-2021 school year. We are implementing safety and educational precautions using CoVid guidelines from the CDC and we will continue to place the needs of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff at the forefront of any decision. This practice has been at the core of Wood Acres for 50 years, and it will continue to guide us during this challenging time.
There is so much information to share with you, and certainly more to come as we welcome our Grammar and Upper School students on August 10 and our Early School Students on August 17. Your trust in all of us at Wood Acres remains essential, so on this sunny day, here are some of the steps we have already taken to ensure our community remains healthy and learning on campus as much as possible for this new school year.
Wood Acres is the perfect place for both indoor and outdoor learning experiences. We are mapping out areas for all teachers to hold classes outdoors and for multiple recess opportunities. More than ever, we are grateful for our spacious campus. When we do come inside, advanced ultraviolet ionizing purifiers and filters will be installed on each HVAC system across campus beginning next week to ensure our air inside is as clean as possible. We have disposable and cloth masks for every student, faculty, and staff member, face shields for students, individual gel hand sanitizer packs, soap and hand sanitizer at every corner, and pool noodles as a fun way to remind us all of safe distancing. We plan to use infrared thermometers to take temperatures of students and faculty and staff upon arriving on campus each day to make sure everyone is healthy. We are also in discussion with local health officials on CoVid testing at the beginning of August for faculty and staff.
These additional precautions enhance our normal practices which include the daily cleaning of classrooms, nightly sanitizing of these spaces, and of course proper hand washing and hygiene practices throughout the day. Our smaller class sizes, classroom setup with sinks in all classrooms and bathrooms in all cottage classrooms, outdoor campus, and lunch in classrooms already follow recommended guidelines for keeping us all healthy.
Our academic calendar will remain the same as when you received your enrollment packet. We recognize that having students in school each day results in optimal learning and that is our current plan. If we need to change course based on recommendations given to us by local officials and the CDC, we will use input received from families and teachers during our virtual learning efforts from the end of the last school year. All of us anticipate that there will be gaps in learning as we begin this new school year. Our faculty collaborates closely with each other with a solid understanding of curriculum for their grade and the one before and after. This knowledge base rooted with a deep passion for teaching and learning will ensure success for your child. Smaller classes and strong home school partnerships will also allow our students to get back into the routine quickly and easily. Children are resilient and flexible.
We are looking forward to updating you in the weeks to come. Thank you for choosing Wood Acres as your child’s academic home and for your support as we navigate through this uncharted time together. I am grateful for each of you.
Warmest regards, Laurie Mazor
Knowing how to respond quickly and efficiently in a crisis is critical to ensuring the safety of our schools and students. The midst of a crisis is not the time to start figuring out who ought to do what. At that moment, everyone involved- from top to bottom- should know the drill and know each other.
Former Secretary of the US Department of Education
A crisis is “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending, especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome”. Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary 1987
In essence, a crisis is a situation where schools could be faced with inadequate information, not enough time, and insufficient resources, but in which leaders must make one or many crucial decisions.
Student safety has always been a number one priority at The Wood Acres School. While we fervently hope to never utilize our preparedness plans, we are proud to have been one of the first private schools in the area to have a complete plan modeled after the recommended plans in Washington, DC and submitted to the local police precinct. The plan is amended and reviewed each year with faculty and staff. While the details of the plan are confidential, the following should underscore the details to which we “invisibly” protect your and our most treasured people.
The Wood Acres School Emergency Preparedness Plan attempts to address:
- Natural disasters (earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, etc)
- Severe weather
- Chemical or hazardous material spill
- Field trip bus accident
- Bomb threat
- Unwanted persons on campus
- School lock down
- Medical emergency
- Act of terror or war
- Outbreak of disease or infection
The Wood Acres School Crisis Planning & Emergency Preparedness Plan 2020-2021
National preparedness efforts, including planning, are now informed by Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, which was signed by the President in March 2011 and describes the nation’s approach to preparedness. This directive represents an evolution in our collective understanding of national preparedness, based on the lessons learned from terrorist attacks, hurricanes, school incidents, and other experiences.
PPD-8 defines preparedness around five mission areas:
Protection means the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard. for the purposes of this guide, means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident.
Prevention is the action schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.
Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. In this document, “mitigation” also means reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen.
Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.
Recovery means the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment. Emergency management officials and emergency responders engaging with schools are familiar with this terminology.
These mission areas generally align with the three time frames associated with an incident: before, during, and after. The majority of Prevention, Protection, and Mitigation activities generally occur before an incident, although these three mission areas do have ongoing activities that can occur throughout an incident.
The Wood Acres School annually updates its schoolwide plan and discusses it with all staff before school begins each year. Although there is never a blueprint for emergencies, plans such as ours provide a framework of reference that is common to all responsible adults on campus and help instill a sense of order, calm, and confidence that Wood Acres will always do its very best to protect, deter, and proactively manage all situations deemed urgent.