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:
- Maintaining the physical and emotional health of our community;
- Providing in-person teaching and learning to the greatest extent possible; and
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.