Introduction

We recognize the uncertainty and unique challenges for schools during this unprecedented pandemic. With that in mind, a team of administrators and faculty, aided by health professionals in our community and guidance from public health organizations (the CDC and Maryland’s Department of Health), has developed our opening plan. Keeping the health and safety of our students and faculty in the forefront, our number one goal has been to return to in-person instruction for as many of our students as possible. We believe this is in the best interest of the boys. The gradual approach we are taking has a number of advantages, allowing us to carefully monitor student protocols and make adjustments as needed. In addition, it allows us to introduce and enhance, as needed, a new distance learning and mentoring model.

For those families who elect not to have their son attend school in person, a distance learning and mentoring model will be offered starting September 10. If you have not yet done so, please notify the respective head of school by September 1 if you intend to have your son participate in the distance learning and mentoring model. After September 1, a change to distance learning or from distance learning to in-person instruction must be discussed and approved beforehand by the appropriate school head. 

We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and be prepared to respond and adjust our approach to circumstances as they present themselves. Possible responses, prompted by either external directives or internal review, may include reversion to either a hybrid or distance-learning model for an extended time. Your flexibility and support, as well as the cooperation of students, are critical to our success. 

Start of the 2020-21 School Year

Lower SchoolLower school students who are not Stay-at-Home Students (SaHS) will attend school beginning September 9.

Middle School: Hybrid, split by clans alternating through September 25, with the aim to have all in-person students participating on campus each weekday beginning September 28.* 

  • Red Rose and White Lily students in-person on September 9
  • Gold Cross and Red Cross students in-person on September 10
  • September 11 – 25: clans alternate in-person; Flower clans on 9/11, Cross clans on 9/14 and so forth.

Upper School: Hybrid, split by clans alternating through September 18, with the aim to have all in-person students on campus each weekday beginning September 21.*

  • Red Rose and White Lily students in-person on September 9 
  • Gold Cross and  Red Cross students in-person on September 10
  • September 11: all in-person upper school students. Half day of classes, ending at 12:05 p.m.
  • Gold Cross and Red Cross students in-person on 9/14, 9/16, 9/18
  • Red Rose and White Lily students in-person on 9/15, 9/17
  • All upper school students who are not Stay-at-Home Students (SaHS) will attend school beginning September 21.

*Clan assignments for new students will be communicated before the start of school. Students will have classes live streamed or schoolwork assigned on the alternating days they are home.

  • Middle and upper school students in the Red Cross and Gold Cross clans will start their academic year on Thursday, September 10.
  • Middle and upper school Stay-at-Home Students (SaHS) will start their academic year on Thursday, September 10. There will be no streaming of classes on Wednesday, September 9.

PLEASE NOTE: Friday, September 11, will be a half-day for all grades with dismissal at 12:05 p.m.

Parental Assistance

Parents play an essential role in implementing our plan to open safely, helping us keep the virus out and reducing the risk of transmission by checking for symptoms daily, keeping sick kids home, notifying the school of symptoms or of confirmed or suspected cases, and being prepared to pick up their son if necessary during the school day. In addition, we rely on parents to monitor their son’s activities and social life outside of school to maintain a healthy and safe balance, while keeping education as an important priority. 

Three Modes of Instruction are in place this year:

  1. In-Person instruction: All students are attending classes on campus with distance-learning capabilities available for Stay-at-Home Students (SaHS).
  2. Hybrid instruction model: Students are attending classes on campus every other day (alternating between the clans of the flowers and crosses), receiving instruction at home the other days, with distance-learning capabilities available for SaHS.
  3. Full distance-learning model: All students are receiving instruction at home with SaHS absorbed into the rest of the student body.

Virtual Learning Platform

We will use Schoology, a learning management system (LMS), for all students this year, as means of communicating assignments, links, graded work, etc. The virtual instruction style will vary among the three schools. Schoology will be utilized from day one to promote familiarity and allow for seamless transitions as needed. The online platform allows for a combination of asynchronous and synchronous instruction in addition to individualized support through designated faculty distance-learning specialists. One of our guiding priorities is the ability to pivot from one model of education to another seamlessly. Schoology will facilitate communication of assignments and their grading regardless of the model in which we may be operating at any given point in the academic year. We chose this platform after extensive study of various possible platforms believing Schoology best fits our needs. Because the use of Schoology will be very different between the three schools, additional information about the program will be communicated to parents through the school heads and distance-learning specialists.

Mentoring

Mentoring is a key component of the education and support that students receive here at The Heights. But this year, more than ever, parents are encouraged to reach out to their son’s mentor often with any issue that arises. Parents should see their son’s mentor as an advocate here at the school. Parents should also encourage their son to talk to his mentor for advice and guidance.

Health and Safety Protocols

School Nurse

  • Isaac White RN, iwhite@heights.edu, 301.365.0227 x199
  • A registered nurse has been hired to assist students at the school who become sick or develop symptoms. 
  • The nurse will manage the quarantine space where a student can be isolated from the rest of the school while awaiting pickup. 

Physical distancing requirements in classrooms, hallways, and common spaces

  • Every class will have assigned seating and seating charts in order to facilitate contact tracing.
  • Desks will be spaced to provide maximum distancing.
  • Outdoor classroom spaces will be used whenever possible.
  • Hallways and stairwells will be marked as one way or two directional to aid traffic flow.
  • Students will enter and exit classrooms through outside doors whenever possible. 
  • Designated entryways have been assigned by grade: 6th and 8th grades will walk up the hill to the right of the main building and through the courtyard; 7th grade will walk around the left side of the main building to the fish pond; all upper school students will enter through the front doors of the main building.
  • In most areas, classroom doors will be left open for entry to mitigate stationary gathering.
  • Faculty will instruct students to avoid stationary gathering in hallways and encourage gatherings to occur outdoors.

Facial coverings

  • Facial coverings are required for all students in all grades both when they are indoors and whenever six feet of distance is impossible outdoors.
  • Facial coverings will be required during drop-off and pick-up, even when outside.
  • Faculty will wear face coverings in all indoor locations and whenever six feet of distance is impossible outdoors. 

Hand washing and sanitizing

  • Students will be required to wash or sanitize hands upon arrival, before Mass, and after lunch each day. Faculty will remind students accordingly. 
  • Numerous hand sanitizer stations will be placed strategically throughout the campus. 

Enhanced cleaning of facilities

  • Cleaning staff, faculty, and students will do routine cleaning of desk and tables during and after school. 
  • Cleaning staff will clean touch points both during the day and in the evenings, with a special focus on bathrooms and doorknobs. 

Building Ventilation will be monitored daily to ensure healthy air flow indoors:

  • Classes will be held outdoors as much as possible and when not interfering with academic goals.
  • The maintenance team will monitor ventilation in buildings and recommend fan use and the opening or closing of windows to maximize healthy airflow.

Parents, alumni, and all other visitors who wish to come to campus will be restricted except by appointment.

Drinking Water

  • Students are asked to bring a water bottle to school.
  • Water fountains will be turned off.
  • Water coolers will be used for refilling water bottles.

Lunches

  1. Whenever possible, meals will be eaten at outdoor locations, pre-arranged by grade. 
  2. Hot lunch will be distributed in individual containers for those participating in the lunch plan. 
  3. There will be no food sold at the mid-morning break.
  4. Seniors will not be permitted to leave campus for morning break or lunch. Seniors may either bring a lunch or purchase the hot lunch plan at heights.edu/lunch.

Holy Mass

Mass will be offered twice each day at 9:50 a.m. for Grades 8-12 and 10:40 a.m. for Grades 3-7 to maintain social distancing. Unfortunately we must ask parents not to attend Mass at the school so that we can maintain required distancing in the chapel.

Athletics

  1. Physical Education classes will emphasize individual training and non-contact sports.
  2. The WCAC has postponed all interscholastic athletic competitions until January 2021. Fall sports teams will play independent schedules where possible. 
  3. An intramural program for middle school athletes will replace extramural sports.
  4. Athletic Director Dan Lively will communicate detailed athletic plans and information about our outdoor weight room to upper and middle school families.

Music

Bands and choirs will rehearse according to a schedule that allows for proper distancing. Rehearsals will be held outdoors or indoors with significantly reduced numbers.

Bus Transportation

  1. Each of our Virginia buses will be limited to 25 non-sibling students to reduce the seating density. Brothers are permitted to sit next to one another. Assigned seating will be required. 
  2. The bus company has established daily cleaning routines between trips.
  3. Facial coverings are to be worn on the buses at all times.
  4. The East Gate and Grosvenor Shuttles will operate as usual with facial coverings in use.

Essential Contacts