A Framework for Healthy Teaching & Learning at Beaver
(updated September 25, 2020)
To prioritize the safety of our community while maintaining the Beaver experience integral to our community, Beaver will be opening in a hybrid model this fall 2020.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments closely through the CDC, state, and local authorities, as well as consulting with our internal panel of experts. It is important for our full community to keep in mind that this is a rapidly developing and shifting situation. Partnership will be integral in our ability to balance what we all want—everyone back on campus together—and what we can safely and effectively provide for our students, faculty, and staff.
On this page, we’ll explain what a hybrid model means for students, families, and teachers; the policies and protocols we have in place to reduce risk; and what we’re doing to ensure a true Beaver learning experience.
What Fall 2020 will look like
To expand a section below, click on the orange arrow.
We know how important routine and structure is to students, and how helpful it is for families and faculty to plan. We also know that students and teachers participated in a course selection process last spring that left them looking forward to their academic life this year. We are currently fine-tuning a unique academic schedule that will allow students to take the slate of courses they registered for last spring.
This will also allow us to be flexible with minimal disruption to students’ learning experiences because it stays the same regardless of learning modality (hybrid, on-campus, online). If/when we need to shift to a different modality, this approach allows us to maintain the teaching and learning experience core to what makes Beaver who we are.
Because the COVID-19 situation in Massachusetts is changing day to day at this point, we will release class schedules that will reflect details about on-campus and online time closer to the first day of school. Throughout the year, we anticipate changes in both the number of students who can join on-campus learning and the number of days per week we can be on campus together. Our approach will allow for in-depth learning and support of students regardless of whether they are in online, hybrid, or on campus mode: one schedule for any scenario.
Hybrid vs. Online vs. On-Campus
What does hybrid mean?
A student’s schedule will include a combination of on-campus and online classes and programming. We are intentionally designing the hybrid experience with built-in flexibility that maintains the Beaver experience.
Students will rotate through the week in designated groups; while some are on-campus, others are working online. Classes will have synchronous and asynchronous components so that regardless if a student is on campus or online, their classroom experience will be consistent and they will have an active role in their learning.
Middle School and Upper School students will be separated in order to minimize exposure (defined as 15 minutes or more) across/between divisions. Students in the two divisions—and further, in different groupings—will use separate entrances to the building.
Middle School: The hope is for the entire Middle School to be on campus at the same time. Middle School groupings will be by grade. Soon, we will provide more information about which days of the week will be on-campus days for Middle School students.
Upper School: In the Upper School, we will begin with Mondays being a remote day for all Upper School students in order to “set the table for the week”. It is a day we can easily transition back to an on-campus day—without disruption—as we grow more confident in the success of our plan and the health of our community. In addition, there will be two groups that will each have days of the week when they can come to campus. Students who are not on campus will follow all classes simultaneously online. More info about groupings and courses for the fall will come soon.
Organizing by groups will keep classroom capacity at 10 students or less while on campus. Using the benchmark of 6 feet or more, we are within the space guidelines recommended by experts for physical distancing. This, in combination with a variety of other safety protocols, will maximize our potential for our community to stay healthy as we begin the school year together.
What does online mean?
In the event that the health situation for the Beaver community or for the state of Massachusetts requires it, we will go fully online as we did last spring. During times when we are online, we will keep the same schedule so as to maintain familiarity and consistency for students, families, and faculty.
What does on campus mean?
When the health situation for the Beaver Community and the state of Massachusetts is very good, we hope to be fully on campus; we will still have multiple safety measures in place. During these times, we will use the same daily schedule as we did when we were online or hybrid.
What this looks like for the start of the year
To set everyone up for a successful kick-off to the school year, we have modified what the first few weeks look like. The hybrid learning environment is new for everyone so an expanded orientation and onboarding program is critically important and will be our first priority as we get the year underway.
- August 25 at 4:30 p.m. and August 26 at 9 a.m. Parents/Guardians Zoom Meetings
- August 27 at 11 a.m. Student Zoom Meeting
- August 24—September 8: Orientation of Faculty and Staff, Designing Expanded Orientation for Student Groups
- September 8—Late September: Student Orientation and Academic Preparation
- Late September: Begin the daily schedule in hybrid mode
Online and In-Person Orientation
All members of our community (new students and faculty/staff and returning students and faculty/staff) will have dedicated on-campus time to go through an orientation process designed specifically for their Beaver experience. Each session will cover information to empower our community with the habits, tools, and resources needed for a safe, healthy, and fun fall at Beaver. While on campus, our students will spend important time with their advisors, with their fall teachers, and with one another.
Overall, this expanded and hybrid version of orientation for all Beaver students (rather than just those who are new) is being designed to include:
- How to navigate the environment and healthy practices while on campus: What does my school look like? What are the expectations? What are the health and safety protocols to which I need to adhere?
- How to navigate the schedule: What are my classes? Who are my teachers? What is prioritized for synchronous learning experiences vs asynchronous learning experiences? How will I integrate my online and on campus learning experiences?
- How to be involved in activities: What activities are important to me? How can I find and participate in opportunities for activities on campus and online?
- How to start/continue to explore my identity: What are my identifiers? What affinity groups appeal to me, based on my ability to speak from the “I” perspective? How can I find and participate in affinity group opportunities on campus and online?
- How to make connections and find support: How do I get to know people and my new environment? How will I connect or reconnect with my peers, advisor, and teachers? What support (academic, social, and emotional) will there be and how do I know when I need it?
We also plan to incorporate the following important topics in our expanded orientation program:
- Resources and conversations about equity within our community
- Healthy lifestyle resources and programming
- Additional information on Safety Protocols & Procedures and how to carry them over into my life off campus
- Finding peace of mind and managing anxiety in what feels like chaos in the world around us
- Making a good and strong connection to fall teachers and beginning academic work in my classes
- Information and resources to set up an academic learning environment that works for you
- Family Meetings
- Assess wi-fi access and strength
- Assess potential need for more or less in-person time
- Distribution of supplies needed for students when they are not on campus
More information will be sent soon about which days your child’s group has an on-campus session.
In addition to on-campus designated orientation time, Beaver will be providing online programming throughout September to complement orientation and to set our students up for success for the year.
With the insight and expertise from our on-campus staff, faculty, members of our Board and Panel of Experts, and administrators, we have conducted a campus study to assess needs and adjustments to the physical space that will support the BVR hybrid learning experience.
- Investing in health-related infrastructure improvements, including HVAC maintenance and upgrades and air purification systems, touchless bathroom fixtures, and equipment to support physical distancing.
- Installing signage to remind students about physical distancing and hand washing. The signage will also direct students how to move safely throughout the buildings and across the campus.
- More about facility protocols.
Academics and Classroom Configurations
- Groups of no more than 10 per classroom in order to maintain a learning environment reflective of the Beaver model of teaching and learning, while ensuring our students and teachers have enough space between them.
- Use of outdoors while on campus
- Invest in health-related infrastructure, de-densify school buildings and utilize outdoor spaces with enhanced wifi connectivity
- More about academic and classroom configurations and dining protocols.
- Whether we are conducting school on campus or remotely, we plan to offer students the opportunity to participate in performing arts in a manner that will be in keeping with all our health and safety protocols. We have assessed best practices in each area of performing arts. There are specific state reopening guidelines for the performing arts we are ensuring we meet or exceed. Where possible, programming will take advantage of outdoor spaces and the spacing of some of our larger indoor facilities. Details about the logistics for holding these activities will be shared closer to the start of school.
- More about performing arts safety protocols.
- We recognize the importance of physical activity and movement as an important part of student life and we will provide opportunities balanced with safety.
- In the Middle School, BVRfit classes and recess are part of the weekly middle school schedule. During BVR Fit, students will engage in small group fitness classes focused on overall physical wellbeing. Recess programming will be a rotation of skill-based training for specific sports as well as other physical activities.
- In the Upper School, although the EIL will not be conducting games or hosting tournaments this season, we do plan to offer general strength and conditioning and sport-specific practices. Plans are evolving based on state-issued guidelines and will determine when teams will be on campus for workouts, intra-team drills, and scrimmages.
- More about athletics safety protocols.
- We expect to have our usual bus routes up and running. The bus companies we use have been working hard to set safety guidelines (required masks, open windows, regular disinfecting, deep cleaning, etc.). Disinfecting will take place in between runs, and deep cleaning will take place at the end of each day. Seating plans have been adjusted to accommodate the recommended physical distancing.
- More about our transportation safety protocols.
- Dining services will continue to serve healthy and nutritious food for our community, however, we have made some changes that will impact the dining experience. Lunch will be a “grab & go” format, (with served, hot-item options available), and students, faculty, and staff will be expected to eat in approved locations outside the dining hall.
- More about dining safety protocols.
We will prioritize keeping the essence of the Beaver Expanded Learning Experience and leveraging the space and time we have together. As we are discussing schedules, we are being strategic with how we are using our resources (human and physical) on campus. We are not simply going to hold classes in classrooms, we will continue to creatively and effectively use our space to ensure our students receive the learning experience unique to Beaver.
We will not have desks in rows, each 6 feet apart, facing a lecture podium at the front of the room. By reducing the density of people in a space, we can maintain the learning environment central to a Beaver education. Responding to feedback from the spring, we will provide more opportunities for connection when we are together in person, in advisory, clubs, during grade-level programming, etc.
How we are going to support our community of families, faculty, and staff to connect and stay healthy—physically and mentally
- At a time when so many aspects of life are in flux, what parents and students crave most is consistency, familiarity, connection—and some fun! To that end, Beaver will continue to offer healthy activities and community engagement events for students embedded in the school day.
- Parents and guardians are important members of our community. BVR appreciates the close partnership, and we want to serve as a resource for you. We will offer regular parent engagement events virtually until they can resume in a safe, responsible way in person.
How the plan will work
Healthy Policies, Practices, and Protocols
To support the plan to return to campus in the fall, Beaver will establish and reinforce a culture of health, safety, and shared responsibility to practice preventive behaviors to support safe reopening. Expand this section to read more, but if you only read one thing, make it this: Stay at home when you don't feel well.
Additional ways to establish and reinforce a culture of health, safety, and shared responsibility include:
- Prioritize staying home when sick; our flexible schedule should help families and teachers encourage remote rather than in-person participation;
- Stay apprised of—and responsibly respond to—COVID-19 transmission rates at school and in our local area;
- Educate caregivers and parents on how to monitor for and respond to COVID-19 symptoms;
- Establish a COVID-19 response team and a plan for when someone tests positive;
- Communicate, educate, and maintain a healthy learning environment through consistently reinforcing the use of mitigation strategies (i.e., mask-wearing, hand hygiene, physical distancing practices);
- Provide support and resources to faculty as they manage the demands of school and home;
- Provide flexibility so that students and faculty with circumstances that lead to high risk can work remotely.
Partnerships from the BVR Community
Head of School
Tiffany (Marsh) Smith
Director of Middle School
Director of Upper School
Director of Counseling and Health Services