Doane Academy Back to school 2020

July, 2020

Dear Doane families,

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 forced us at Doane Academy, like all schools around the world, to reevaluate nearly every aspect of our educational practices. Our students, faculty, and families demonstrated tremendous resilience during this challenging time as we adapted our program to the health situation that confronted us. As health conditions improve in New Jersey as of this writing, and as schools and businesses reopen, we look forward to welcoming our students, faculty, and staff back to our campus in September. We recognize that this transition back to campus may give rise to concerns and complexities and we are committed to reorienting your children to school in the safest and most supportive manner possible.

While our safe return to campus will present us with many challenges, we are very fortunate at Doane Academy to have a culture and resources that will help ease our transition back to in-person learning. As a relatively small school, we are exposed to fewer health risks than our larger peers. Our classes are intentionally small and this means that we will be able to use most of our classrooms and still maintain social distancing. Moreover, our acquisition last year of the Boudinot School property gives us more flexibility to create learning spaces that enforce social distancing.

Despite the advantages we have at Doane, many aspects of our daily routine will feel different when we return to school, given our need to support the physical and emotional health of our community. But the core of the Doane experience -- our vision, values, and mission -- will remain at the center of all that we do. The following document provides you with both an outline and details of the Plan we have put into place to return to school. Our faculty and staff have been working throughout the summer to plan for a safe and fulfilling school year and we very much look forward to welcoming you back in September.

Background and Process

Over the past three months, a dedicated group of faculty members, administrators, and trustees of Doane Academy have spent countless hours planning for our return to campus this coming fall. Assembled in eight teams, the Planning Committee has drawn on the input and expertise of the following organizations, including the following:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The New Jersey Department of Education
  • The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
  • The New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS)
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The Burlington County Department of Health

While our plan is unique to Doane Academy, many of the steps we are taking are the result of guidance we have received from these organizations, as well as the experience of international schools that reopened this spring. We are deeply grateful to have received this input from so many experts in the field of medicine, science, and education, as well as the feedback from our students, teachers, and families who experienced Doane Remote this spring.

The result of these efforts are what follows in this document. Our work has been guided by the following priorities:

  1. Maintaining the physical and emotional health of our community;
  2. Providing in-person teaching and learning to the greatest extent possible; and
  3. Honoring our school’s mission, which emphasizes that Doane Academy is a school where all students are known, loved, and strongly encouraged to discover their unique potential.

Our Plan is also designed to allow Doane to adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic and still provide for the continuous education of our students. At all times, we will calibrate our school operations and teaching to public health conditions. No school is able to eliminate the possibility of students and faculty members becoming ill and it is difficult to predict the ways in which our current health context might change in the future. But one thing is constant – our steadfast commitment to the ongoing growth and learning of our students.

Doane Academy Reopening Plan Committee:

George Sanderson, Head of School, Chance Van Sciver, Chief Financial Officer, Kate Hewitt, Head of Lower School, Allison Barrata, Head of Middle School, Ran Holeman, Head of Upper School, Michael Russell, Director of Studies & Academic Innovation, Dan Williamson, Director of Athletics & Dean of Student Life, Allison Trosko, Assistant to Director of Athletics & Director of Transportation, Kirk Lombardi, Physical Education Teacher, Bonnie Zaczek, Assistant to Head of School, Bonnie Smith, Lower School Librarian & member of Buildings & Grounds Committee, Enid Flagg, School Psychologist & Director of Wellness, Roxane Blow, School Nurse, John Baunach, Director of Technology, Jim Paradis, Dean of Upper School, Jonelle Muscella, Director of Human Resources & Accounting, Kristin Rusinko, Lower School Teacher & Chair of School Safety Committee, Kevin Clark, Director of Facilities, Lacy Hall, Director of College Counseling, Julian Cook, Spanish Teacher & co-chair of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Task Force, Jack Newman, Director of Communications, Kathleen Keays, Director of Development, John Stevens, Director of Admission, Chelsea Colatriano, Associate Director of Admission, Joe Garemore, Trustee, Alita Wingfield, Trustee, Adam Paglione, Trustee, Christina Cecchi, Trustee, Heather Buzick, Trustee

The Importance of Families

Families play a vital role in supporting the safety of our community. To this end, the most important step that families can take is to keep children home if they are sick and to stay in regular communication with the school if they are potentially exposed to the virus. We want to work with you to adhere to safety measures on our campus and when you are home, and we look forward to partnering with you to maintain a healthy and safe environment for the members of our community.

Here are some specific expectations that we ask each Doane family to follow:

  • Follow Federal, State, and Local Directives. All families are expected to adhere to the directives of applicable federal, state, and local government health departments, regarding social distancing in public and other measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Testing and Notification. If your child or someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, you must notify Roxane Blow, our school nurse, as soon as possible.
  • Stay Home if Sick. If your child is sick, you are expected to keep them home from school. If your child has a fever, CDC guidelines state that they must stay home for at least 72 hours after being fever-free.
  • Stay Home if Exposed. If anyone in your household has been notified by the State Health Department that they were in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19, or have been exposed themselves, you are asked to notify Nurse Blow. Based on the circumstance, you may be asked to keep your child home from school for 14 days. During this time, your child will be able to continue classes via distance learning.
  • Travel. Please avoid unnecessary travel this summer and during the school year. If your child has traveled outside the state of New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you are required to notify the School and, depending on where you have traveled, you may be required to keep your child home for 14 days. If anyone in your child’s household has traveled outside the state of New Jersey or Pennsylvania and has tested positive for COVID-19, you must also keep your child at home for 14 days. Your child will continue classes via distance learning.
  • Temperature Checking. We will regularly check temperatures of students upon arrival at school. If your child presents with a temperature that is higher than 100.4 F, your child will be sent home.
  • Face Masks. Send your child to school with a face covering every day they are attending on-campus classes. Prior to our reopening, teach your child how to properly use and remove a face mask and spend some time practicing the wearing of a mask for the entire day. If using fabric masks, ensure that your child’s mask is cleaned regularly. Please refer to the following CDC guidelines regarding face coverings for further information.
  • Hygiene. Practice and reinforce good hygiene practices at home, in particular, the importance of frequent handwashing.
  • Students’ Personal Items. Limit the items your child brings onto campus each day and reinforce policies around the sharing of food, supplies and other items with other students.
  • Medical Forms; Emergency Contacts. Parents must complete and submit all required student medical forms prior to the first day of school. Parents must provide at least 3 emergency contacts who are able to pick up your child from the School within one (1) hour of receiving a call from the School if your child presents with a temperature or becomes ill during the school day.
  • Home wifi access. Parents should plan ahead for the possibility of remote learning and make sure that family members have reliable high speed wifi access at home. Should you need help or advice on how to upgrade your system, please contact our director of technology, John Baunach, via email and he will provide guidance and support.

Investments in our Community

In response to the pandemic and the economic downturn, Doane Academy has made significant investments. Thanks to the generosity of our donors during our #DoaneCares initiative this past April, we have been able to provide $75,000 in temporary financial assistance to allow families to remain enrolled at Doane despite the negative economic impact of the pandemic. In addition, to this COVID-19 Financial Assistance Fund, we have increased our financial aid budget by $100,000 to support our families. Our goal is to ensure that every family will be able to continue to be part of our Doane community, regardless of the financial circumstances they are enduring.

In addition, we have made a substantial investment in the health and safety of our community and in our academic program to allow for remote learning should the need arise during the school year. Among these measures are the following:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for faculty, staff and students
  • Hand sanitizer stations and hand sanitizer supplies
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures and staffing
  • Plexiglass desk shields for classrooms that require such enhancements to supplement physical distancing
  • Touchless water fountains/bottle refilling stations
  • Additional classroom furniture
  • Heating and air conditioning units for the Boudinot building to allow for its use by certain school programs
  • Upgraded faucets in bathrooms
  • Construction of a bathroom in Odenheimer Hall for our Primary students
  • Classroom camera systems to allow students to take part in remote learning when they can not be physically present at school
  • Technology upgrades for faculty to support remote learning
  • Additional technology devices for student use

The total cost of these investments is approximately $500,000, or over $2,000 per student. While significant, these outlays are necessary and we are fortunate to be able to make such investments without compromising the strength of our community. Going forward, we will need to consider the overall financial health of the school and, if necessary, make sacrifices in the form of cuts to non-essential operations and/or the deferral of discretionary projects in order to accomplish our goals this year. In the meantime, however, we are fortunate that Doane Academy is in a strong, financially sustainable condition as a result of the generosity of our supporters and a record number of applications for admission this year.

COVID-19 Monitoring

Throughout the school year, the Pandemic Response Team will meet regularly to assess the health indicators in the state of New Jersey and in our community. The Pandemic Response Team consists of the following individuals:

  • George Sanderson, Head of School
  • Ran Holeman, Head of Upper School
  • Allison Baratta, Head of Middle School
  • Kate Hewitt, Head of Lower School
  • Dan Williamson, Director of Athletics and Dean of Student Life
  • Roxane Blow, School Nurse

These meetings will track the number of COVID-19 cases in the state; the number of students and employees on campus who report illnesses; the number of people with recorded fevers through our morning health screening stations; attendance, and a variety of other data points that will factor into our community’s daily health status and inform any actions our School will take. We will monitor and analyze these indicators for predictive trends and anomalies. Any changes to our health protocols as a result of this review will be shared with our community.

To support the need for families to have as much information as possible, we will also send out a weekly email with important updates and information that families and faculty need. At all times, we will strive to provide families and faculty with as much preparation time as possible for any potential changes to our risk status. Depending on health conditions at the time, Doane may open the school year at an elevated level of alert or we may change our protocols during the year to reflect changes in our circumstances at the time. While it is our goal to have in-person learning on campus at all times, it is possible that an elevation of the risk status in our state or community will require us to move to a remote learning environment for a period of time.

Health and Safety Measures

The physical and emotional health and safety of our community is our highest priority. The following is a list of safety measures that we are planning to put in place, regardless of our alert level.

  • Face coverings. Students and employees will wear face coverings throughout the school day. Students and faculty will provide their own face coverings but additional face coverings will be available during the school day should one become lost or soiled.
  • Physical distancing. Movement on campus will be controlled and directed to reduce the mixing of students. In classrooms, students will be seated with spacing to minimize transmission risk but allowed to interact more closely for limited periods with additional safety measures and greater supervision in place.
  • Decreased mixing of students. The Lower School will be entirely contained within Odenheimer Hall in order to reduce the risk of viral transmission and allow for discrete cohorts of students to quarantine in the event of infection without requiring that the entire campus close and shift to distance learning.
  • Hand hygiene. Students and faculty will follow a regular schedule of hand washing or use of hand sanitizer throughout the day. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available throughout all of our buildings and outside every building entrance to ensure regular access.
  • Enhanced cleaning/disinfection schedule. Daily cleaning practices will be compliant with CDC recommendations, including the types of cleaning products used and the frequency of cleaning. Special attention will be paid to the cleaning of high touch surfaces throughout the day.
  • Health screening. Families are asked to monitor their household members for symptoms, including fever, and avoid bringing sick children to school. Daily temperature and symptoms screening will be conducted for all students, employees, and visitors to campus. Students with symptoms will be separated from other students and parents/guardians will be contacted to arrange pick-up within the hour.
  • Updated sick policy and enforcement practices. Rules regarding sick policies for students and employees will be enhanced and strictly enforced to minimize the number of sick people on campus, as well as to allow continuity of learning from home for mildly ill or asymptomatic students. More details about this sick policy, including what symptoms to check for and whom to notify if sick, will be shared in the Student Handbook.
  • Quarantine and contact tracing. If a student or employee has a COVID-19 infection, school officials will support the Burlington County Department of Health’s efforts for contact tracing and enforcing quarantining of those infected and their contacts. Provisions will be made to support continuity of learning from home during quarantine periods.
  • Food service. Lunch options will be provided to students in their classrooms. As always, students will be able to bring home lunches to school as well. Further details about the NexDine lunch program are included in the “FAQ” section, below.
  • Self care and well-being. Pedagogy and classroom practices will provide greater attention to student emotional health and well-being to build resilience and cope with the stress or anxiety students may experience in this pandemic.
  • Excursions and Field Trips. All off-campus excursions and camps will be suspended until further notice.
  • Other safe classroom practices. Teaching methods will be adjusted to minimize shared equipment or learning materials between students; classroom practices will reduce transfer of objects between home and school and touching of other students’ personal belongings.
  • Visitors on campus. Visitors will be restricted to those that are essential -- such as individuals who are working on campus maintenance projects -- and will be asked to wear a mask, complete a health screening attestation form indicating that they are illness/symptom-free, and have their temperatures taken upon arrival. In elevated states of alert, visitors may be required to make an appointment prior to arrival. (These provisions will not apply to parents simply picking up children outside of our buildings.)
  • Travel policy. Families should avoid all unnecessary travel. If a student travels outside of New Jersey or Pennsylvania for any reason, the family must notify the School and the student may be required to self-quarantine upon their return for 14 days. Provisions will be made to support continuity of learning from home during quarantine periods.
  • Chapel, all school meetings and large group, indoor gatherings. Based on guidance from state health officials banning gatherings of more than 50 persons, all large group gatherings will be held virtually until further notice.

The Morning Arrival

Our morning protocol will take into account the importance of screening our community members for illness and contact with those who may be ill. We will implement the following routine until further notice.

All faculty, staff, and students will be screened before entering our buildings:

  • Prior to arriving at school, all students, faculty, and staff will complete a self-screening process by answering a series of health questions that we will provide.
  • Additional screening will take place in three locations — at Fisk Portico, for lower school students, and along Ellis Street and the front of Rowan Hall, for all other students.
  • Each of these locations will be staffed by medical professionals and/or trained Doane staff members.
  • All faculty, staff, and students will have their temperature taken at one of the screening locations and be given hand sanitizer.
  • Any member of the faculty or staff or any student who records a temperature in excess of 100.4 degrees will not be permitted to attend school that day. Parents are asked to wait until it is confirmed that their child is not running a fever before leaving campus.
  • Any member of the faculty or staff or any student who has been in contact with any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted to attend school for a period of time, in accordance with medical guidance.

During the School Day

After screening, students may enter the school building. Lower School students will enter Odenheimer Hall through Fisk Portico; others may enter at either the front entrance or rear entrance to Rowan Hall.

Lower School students will have all of their classes in Odenheimer, which will be off-limits to all other members of the community. To achieve this, we have relocated the Primary and Lower School science classrooms to the ground floor of Odenheimer, and relocated the offices in that area to other parts of the campus. The purpose of these changes is to allow for better contact tracing, should that become necessary, and to allow the Lower School to continue to operate in a situation where we experience illness in other areas of the campus.

Other important changes are as follows:

  • To support physical distancing, students will not use lockers for their belongings. Instead, they will carry books and supplies in their backpack and store other materials in the classroom or office of their advisor.
  • In accordance with the guidance of the medical community, all faculty, staff, and students are required to wear face coverings at all times. We therefore ask that students arrive on campus each day with a face covering. Should a student forget to bring a face covering, we will provide one. Faculty and staff may remove face coverings if they are alone in their office. For our youngest students, wearing a face covering might not be realistic nor advisable at all times. We will rely on the guidance and judgement of our teachers in the Lower School, which will be isolated in Odenheimer Hall, for when it may be appropriate for these students not to wear a face covering.
  • Social distancing will be enforced at all times, both in classrooms and in common areas. It will be important for students to play their part in honoring this practice, and we will spend considerable time during the first days of the school year explaining the importance and practical application of this protocol.
  • We will minimize the sharing of learning materials. On a practical level, this will mean that students will be asked to arrive at school with many of their own materials and be directed not to share them with others. In limited cases, such as when we are using specialized technology equipment in a class, materials will be cleaned before and after each student uses such equipment. Students will also use hand sanitizer before and after using the equipment.

The Lower School Experience

The Lower School faculty looks forward to welcoming students back for a year of powerful teaching and learning. While some routines and procedures will have changed, the heart of a Doane Lower School education remains the same: a community of intelligent and capable individuals coming together to grow, learn, and discover their unique potential. Our small class size has always been key to our ability to bring our mission to life, allowing us to know, love, and encourage children at every point along their educational journey. In the current circumstances, our class size has become even more important, as it allows us to create small, stable cohorts that minimize the risk of viral transmission. Children will learn, play, and eat with the same group of students throughout the day. We will limit the sharing of supplies as much as is reasonable, and therefore will be reaching out to families in the coming days with a more extensive supply list than usual. Students’ supplies will be kept in separate, individually labeled boxes that they will carry with them when they go to special classes like Art, Science, and Spanish. Thoughtfully scheduled passing times will give students the opportunity to travel to different classrooms for these special subjects without encountering other cohorts along the way. Odenheimer’s designation as a space exclusive to Lower School means that we have plenty of bathrooms and sinks available to us, and hand-washing will be incorporated into our daily routines on a regular basis. Students will have many opportunities to spend time outdoors, not only for daily recess periods with their cohort but also to engage in more structured experiential learning.

It is an essential part of our mission to maintain a sense of overall community and cohesiveness, both with each other as a Lower School, and with the Doane family as a whole. While our cohorts will keep us physically distant, we will continue to make social connections in new and innovative ways. Traditional community gatherings, such as Chapel, School Family, and All School Meeting, will be reimagined as virtual opportunities to come together. Upper School students have already begun to brainstorm fun and creative ways to stay connected with Lower Schoolers and look forward to activities like exchanging letters and videos with their younger friends. The Lower School will join forces across cohorts not only for special events, such as community service projects and a virtual STEAM Fair, but for everyday activities--for example, fourth and fifth grade students will record read-alouds and create other video content for their younger peers to enjoy.

The Lower School teachers are participating in an incredible amount of professional development this summer, as we learn about the best practices in curriculum, instruction, and assessment that will enhance our program and allow us to meet the needs of all children, whether they are learning in the classroom or at home. We will continue to pursue an individualized approach to teaching with a workshop model. Teachers begin each lesson with direct instruction about a skill, strategy, or concept; this short block of essential content will be recorded live, streamed, or provided via pre-recorded video for students at home. The most important part of learning is, of course, children practicing the skills they have just been taught, with individualized coaching. Teachers will confer with students, both individually and in small groups, to support and guide their practice. In these conferences, which will occur both in person and via Zoom or Google Meet, we will complement and build upon children’s successes; follow up on prior instruction and build depth of understanding; ask questions and do research to better understand any misconceptions that are causing difficulty; and continue to model and explain strategies by providing individualized purpose and context. A wide variety of assessments will give students multiple ways to show their mastery of learning goals; these assessments will include not just traditional tests and quizzes, but hands-on projects, essays, presentations, and videos. We are feeling inspired as we continue learning more about new educational technologies that allow for ever-more creative and exciting assessment formats.

Our goal has always been to use the one-to-one Chromebooks we provide in Grades 1-5 in intentional and meaningful ways, and that will continue this year. Children will by no means use their devices in every lesson, but we will be using them more often. We are excited by the possibilities for collaboration that Chromebook usage opens up: between children working at home and at school; between students in different cohorts and divisions at Doane; even between students at Doane and students around the world. Daily work will continue to be posted on a consistent platform (either SeeSaw or Google Classroom), which can be accessed both at school and at home. We will streamline the process of handing in work from various subjects in one consistent online platform, as well; we are still researching the most age-appropriate options, so more information on that front is forthcoming. Students will carry their Chromebooks back and forth from school each day.

We will consistently communicate with families about our learning objectives and about student progress toward mastering them, much as we did during Doane Remote last spring. We will also schedule more regular parent-teacher conferences, beginning with a “Getting to Know You” virtual conference in late August/early September, in which we look forward to learning more about how students are handling these extraordinary times and the goals and hopes families have for their children’s progress this year.

The skills and habits of mind that children build in Lower School are the foundation for the rest of their academic journey. Whether our students are on campus or learning remotely, we will continue to equip and empower them with tools and strategies that foster the key 21st century competencies of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.

The Middle and Upper School Experience

Every member of the Doane community, and certainly its faculty and staff, were extremely proud of the resilience, commitment, and care we demonstrated during the rapid transition to remote learning last spring. Doane faculty and staff members have continued to work tirelessly this summer to ensure that we enter this fall ready to deliver an even more engaging, interactive, and flexible learning experience for students.

As we have completed this work and considered the impact of external forces upon it, we have recognized the need to:

  • Prepare to teach students in-person on campus
  • Deliver instruction that is accessible to students who have to learn remotely for a period of time while their peers are learning on campus
  • Build a program that allows us to transition to remote learning fluidly should issues of health and safety require it

To facilitate both synchronous and asynchronous learning, we will continue to use Google Classroom as a learning hub where students can access course materials and assignments, and we will be providing a Chromebook to every Middle and Upper School student. We will also continue to use FACTS to communicate assignment completion statuses and grades.

Supporting our Community and Wellness

Community Time Reimagined

We recognize how important community interaction is to the Doane culture and we are considering a variety of innovative ways to maintain these connections this year. As you know, we devoted a considerable amount of energy, time, and resources to this priority last spring and we are proud of the events that we were able to create -- both virtually and, on June 6th for our seniors, in person. We are confident that we will be able to continue to connect with each other in new and imaginative ways should we not be able to do so in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Here are some of the ways we have redesigned our community meeting periods:

  • The new Upper and Middle school schedule includes daily community meetings at the end of the day. Each day will be dedicated to a different type of community activity.
  • Middle and Upper School will have an enhanced Advisory program with increased meeting times and a designated home base.
  • Each Lower School cohort will engage in daily community-building activities as part of their regular curriculum. Classroom teachers and specialists will intentionally create connections across cohorts with multidisciplinary projects.
  • Chapel and All School Meetings will continue; they will be livestreamed or pre-recorded and viewed in small, supervised student groups.
  • Small club meetings will be held in person, following health and safety guidelines. Larger club meetings will be held remotely.
  • School Family members will work on new ways to communicate with one another, especially with Lower School students.
  • Weekly meetings centered around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will take place with Middle and Upper School students and faculty.
  • When possible, Middle School class meetings will be held in person. Upper School Class Meetings will take place remotely.
  • Asynchronous and synchronous community events that took place during the spring, such as the Minecraft Challenge, Meditative Coloring, and virtual dance parties, will continue during community time, to be supplemented with new activities and challenges.

Social and Emotional Wellness: Our Mission in Action

Doane’s mission reflects our commitment to know, love, and support all members of our community. In addition to the many social and emotional support systems already in place, our response to the impact of the pandemic on emotional health will include increased efforts in the following areas:

Student and Faculty Support:

  • Our school psychologist, Dr. Enid Flagg will have multiple locations to safely meet in-person with students across all three divisions. There will also be designated locations for students to video conference with Dr. Flagg during the school day. Students will also be able to meet with her remotely.
  • With Dr. Flagg’s support, Middle and Upper School faculty/advisors and Lower School classroom teachers will conduct frequent student social and emotional health “temperature checks.”
  • Extra time is built into the Middle and Upper School morning schedule to allow for check-ins with teachers and advisors. In Lower School, we will continue our practice of beginning each day with a Morning Meeting that offers students the opportunity to connect with their classmates as they share their personal beliefs and family traditions and practice flexible thinking and resiliency skills.
  • Regular mindfulness sessions will be held with students and faculty to help manage stress and anxiety.
  • Members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force will lead student affinity group and faculty/student anti-racism group discussions.
  • We will continue to survey and monitor student and faculty resilience, as we did during the spring.

Family Support:

  • Dr. Flagg will offer drop-in office hours to address parent questions and concerns.
  • The Wellness Wednesday initiative will continue via weekly emails.
  • Dr. Flagg will collaborate with the Parents Association to assist families with social and emotional concerns.
  • A collection of mental health resources have been created (Lower School resources, Middle and Upper School resources) and will continue to be updated for students and parents.
  • Division Heads will continue to share regularly scheduled messages via email, video, and drop-in office hours.
  • Middle and Upper School Advisors and Lower School classroom teachers will partner with families to create ongoing dialogue about student social-emotional health, academic progress, sleep hygiene, stress and time management, and overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of the school? The academic day begins at 8:10, as it has in the past for in-person learning, but students should arrive between 7:45 and 8:00 for daily health screening before entering our buildings. The academic day will end at 3:20, as it has in the past. That said, we will stagger the times when students exit our buildings in order to promote social distancing so students will be dismissed slightly before, and after, 3:20.

Will Doane have a Before Care Program? Because of the need to establish a strict protocol in the morning in order to screen each of our students and faculty members, together with our desire to limit the contact between students of different ages, we will not have a Before Care Program until further notice. Students should arrive at school no earlier than 7:45 am.

Where should students go when they arrive at school in the morning? We have established three tented areas for health screening when students arrive in the morning. Lower School students should go to the health screening area at Fisk Portico and Middle and Upper School students may use the health screening areas on Ellis Street or the front entrance to Rowan Hall. As noted elsewhere in this document, parents who drive their children to school are asked to remain on campus until it is confirmed that their child is not running a fever.

Will Doane have an athletics program? Our interscholastic athletics program is advised by NJSIAA, the state athletics organization that most public and private schools in New Jersey are members of. As of this writing, NJSIAA has deemed that fall interscholastic athletics will begin on September 14th. Until that date, we will not have after school sports, per this directive. If NJSIAA modifies its plans for fall interscholastic sports, we will make changes to our program accordingly and offer a variety of after-school athletic and wellness options to our students.

Will my child be behind when school starts in the fall? We recognize the concern that parents may feel for where their children are academically, following remote learning in the spring. Some students thrived during remote learning while for others it was a struggle. All Doane Academy teachers are highly trained and experienced in differentiating to meet the needs of all learners. Teachers will spend time at the start of the school year assessing each student to understand academic placements, learning styles, and any gaps in content or skills so each student’s needs can be addressed.

Will my child wear a face mask? Until further notice, all individuals in the school buildings or outside are required to wear face masks. Division Heads will address any specific needs for students who have physician’s orders preventing their donning of masks on an individualized basis as part of their customized learning plans. As noted above, we will rely on the judgement of our Lower School teachers to determine when it might not be realistic or advisable for our youngest students to wear facemasks, bearing in mind that the Lower School will be isolated in Odenheimer Hall to maximize the ability of children to remain in cohorts throughout the day.

Will Doane allow visitors? Visitors will be restricted to those that are essential -- such as individuals who are working on campus maintenance projects -- and will be asked to wear a mask, complete a health screening attestation form indicating that they are illness/symptom-free, and have their temperatures taken upon arrival.

Will students have physical education and outdoor time? In a word, yes. All Lower and Middle School students will continue to have physical education and, in the case of Lower School, organized recess time every day. Weather-permitting, these will all be conducted outdoors. When playing outside, students will remain in cohorts. Playgrounds will be used according to health recommendations at that time. In addition, students will be encouraged to eat lunch outside so long as the weather permits it.

How will recess and lunch be handled with social distancing guidelines? Students will participate in recess with their class with social distancing guidelines in place. While outside, students must keep their facemask on and maintain six feet of distance from classmates. Teachers will engage students in engaging activities at the beginning of the year to help students understand how far six feet is from their classmates.

  • Lower School lunch will take place with their class, either in their classroom or outdoors.
  • Middle School students will have lunch with their Advisory or other small group, either in a classroom or outdoors.
  • Upper School students will have lunch either in a classroom or outdoors. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Upper School students will have lunch with their Advisory.

What will happen with Food Service? Will the students eat in the dining room? In preparation for the upcoming academic year, NexDine, Doane’s food service partner, is working closely with the school to meet the needs of our community.

Food Safety: NexDine’s plan will include “contactless” food service, taking aggressive action to enhance their already robust operating standards around sanitation and food safety.

  • Mandatory health reporting and temperature checks will take place for all NexDine associates and vendors.
  • Meals will be prepared in our kitchen and packaged as box lunches. A representative of each advisory group, or the classroom teacher in the case of Lower School, will deliver lunches to those in the group who have ordered them.
  • Ordering on lunch will occur on a weekly basis, using a Google Forms system that all students and families will have access to.
  • NexDine has conducted detailed training to ensure compliance with all health and workplace policies that have changed with respect to COVID-19.
  • NexDine staff will wear face masks at all times, will further increase use and change of gloves, and will implement additional sanitation protocols.

Meal Selection & Options: Pre-selecting meals is an essential component of successful “contactless” food service. With this in mind, NexDine will provide an online ordering application for the pre-selection of meals, using Google Forms. NexDine is developing a menu taking into consideration any limitations presented by eating outside of a typical dining room setting. All hot meals will be packaged individually and delivered in insulated containers to ensure meals remain at proper temperatures. NexDine’s menu will be streamlined but will continue to offer robust options for all dietary preferences. There will be three meal options available daily, at a fixed price.

Eating Locations: To limit the number of individuals in the dining room and therefore to accommodate social distancing guidelines, a small number of individuals will collect meals and then deliver them to students, who can either eat in their classroom with their advisor or teacher, or take their lunches outside in a supervised setting.

Allergy Accommodations: NexDine will continue to prioritize allergy accommodations, despite any impacts on food service due to conditions imposed by the pandemic. NexDine will work closely with Doane administration to determine the best course of action for individuals with more severe allergy profiles.

Will Doane have an Extended Day Program and, for Middle School students, Homework Club? The Extended Day program will continue at Doane and will be conducted entirely outdoors until further notice. In inclement weather, the program will be moved indoors. In both cases, students will be kept in their lower school cohorts to the greatest extent that is practical and will follow the same health and safety routine that is practiced during the school day. We are also planning to continue to offer Homework Club for middle school students who do not take part in after school athletic activities. We will share more details about this program before school starts in September.

What about all-school events and traditions that involve large gatherings of students and families? Will they be held? As of this writing, we are continuing to review the feasibility of holding large group gatherings, keeping in mind guidance from health professionals and directives from the state. Unfortunately, we will not be able to host the Back to School Picnic this year but we are intending to continue the tradition of seniors paddling canoes to school on our first day of classes, albeit with a smaller audience on Riverbank to greet them when they arrive. Other events, such as Homecoming and Doane’s Dungeon will be considered in conjunction with developments in our health situation over the coming weeks and months.

What about transportation to and from school? Will there still be bussing? We were informed last week that Burlington Township will not provide bussing to our students this year and instead will pay “aid in lieu of transportation” of $1,000 per family, which is the state-mandated amount. It is our understanding that the other townships that have provided bussing for our students in past years will continue to do so, but this is subject to change based on the decision of each township. There will be two busses operated by Doane this year that will provide transportation for students who live in areas not supported by township busses, and we are currently working on creating routes, given the recent decision by Burlington. Busses will enforce physical distancing at all times and this should be feasible because the number of students on these busses is significantly below their capacity.

We hope that this Reopening Plan, as well as the webinar that we hosted on July 28th, has helped to inform you of the extensive measures we are taking to ensure the health and safety of our community while maintaining our mission at Doane Academy. In August and early September, we will provide you with further details about our reopening, in the form of written and video communication from members of our Planning Committee. On behalf of all of the teachers and staff at Doane Academy, I want to thank you for your continued support of your child’s education. We appreciate greatly the work that you will do this summer to prepare your children for their return to our campus by encouraging your children to:

  • Practice good hygiene, especially hand washing;
  • Become accustomed to the important practice of social distancing and wearing a face covering; and
  • Remain healthy, both physically and emotionally.

Together, we can ensure that our students return to Doane with the habits and resilience to experience a fulfilling, joyful learning experience. We look forward to working with you and to welcoming our students, teachers and staff -- stronger and closer than ever -- back to campus this fall.

George B. Sanderson, Head of School