(updated November 9, 2020)
Questions will be added and updated regularly. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, email Director of Middle School Tiffany Smith.
For the latest Middle School information, visit the Middle School Expanded Learning Experience page.
Below are some of the questions parents asked during our Stage 3 Q&A MS Zoom on Monday, October 19.
LOGISTICS & SCHEDULE
Yes! Here is what the class blocks will look like in Stage 3. Note the changes on Thursday and Fridays.
Will Middle School Meeting shift to Fridays in Stage 3 since students will now be on campus on Thursdays?
Yes! Our Middle School Community time will now be on Fridays from 8 to 9 a.m. instead of Thursdays. We are moving one Friday class to Thursday to make this switch happen.
What is the plan for music, advisory, lunch, and other activities that have been taking place outdoors as winter sets in?
We will continue to eat outside as much as possible, so bundle up! Advisory will take place in rooms inside when it’s too cold to hangout outside. Other activities, like the afternoon activity cooking, has been meeting outside. We will move activities like that inside.
Chorus, woodwind, and brass ensembles can not sing/play inside. Their classes will move inside when it’s too cold to be outside and they will sing/play their instruments at home. Classes will focus on musicianship and theory when students are no longer able to play their instruments at school.
Yes, in the classrooms that have windows, we have instructed the teachers to keep the windows open.
SYMPTOMS & TESTING
Yes. Please complete the form by 7:30 a.m. for Middle School and 8:30 a.m. for Upper School. Completing the form at those designated times saves us a tremendous amount of time following up with you or your students each morning. The Daily Attestation helps you screen your student for symptoms each day.
If the student reports allergy-like symptoms or a headache, what are students supposed to do if they say 'yes' to any of the symptoms on the attestation? In other words, if they stay home due to COVID-19 symptoms, but are well enough to still attend school, how should they do this? How do they access their classes?
The daily attestation is really intended to screen for COVID symptoms and not symptoms that can be attributed to something else, like allergies. This is indicated on several of the questions. The questions are looking to screen for the presence of those symptoms that morning. If anyone is concerned about a symptom, they can always contact the health office to discuss further. If a student is home, yet feeling well enough to attend classes, they are welcome to sign-on remotely to participate in class.
Students are always instructed to go to their class Canvas page at the start of each class to join the class Meet/Zoom and see the agenda for the day.
In the event that a student stays home due to experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, a negative test or a different diagnosis from a physician is needed to return to school.
TRAVEL & BREAKS
Has there been discussions around extending breaks or having school start remote after break as many families might be traveling or visiting with family?
We are discussing all of the potential scenarios. Our plan right now is to keep with our current schedule for breaks and ask that families consider that schedule as they make their plans.
Starting October 5, we will run this rotation for three weeks. Three weeks will be the general interval between stages, allowing for time beyond the current quarantine guideline to assess data on the healthiness and readiness of our community.
Every student in each division will have two days on campus and three days online. During Stage 2, we will be carefully monitoring how an additional 60 students on campus is impacting traffic flow in the hallways, common space use, and interactions.
If after three weeks our health metrics are good, Stage 3 is next!
The On Campus Experience
We will require all students and faculty to adhere to our “big three” safety protocols:
- Face masking
- Social distancing
- Hand hygiene
This will depend on where we are on the pendulum swing. For the month of September:
- Friday, September 11: Music matching for new students who did not attend our music matching event over the summer.
- Monday, September 14: 6th Grade
- Tuesday, September 15: 7th Grade
- Wednesday, September 16: 8th Grade
- Monday, September 21: All Middle School students
- Tuesday, September 22: All Middle School students
- Wednesday, September 23: All Middle School students
- Tuesday, September 29: All Middle School students
- Wednesday, September 30: All Middle School students
You can see the full (and most up-to-date) schedule on the MS Expanded Learning Experience page.
Complete the daily attestation form in Magnus by either 7:30 a.m. or prior to your child’s departure for school. The form cannot be completed the night before school. It must be completed in the morning. The form includes a symptom checklist and taking your child’s temperature at home. Based on the responses to the symptom check-list, you will receive a message signaling whether or not you should be sending your child to school.
Parents can download the Magnus app (Magnus Mobile v2) or log into the Magnus Health system. You already have a Magnus user name and password. Contact Magnus directly if you need any help logging back in. See sample symptom questions.
Students should arrive starting at 7:50 and go directly to their first class.
Before 7:50 a.m.: 6th and 7th grade student should go to the Cohn Terrace and 8th grade students go to Bloomberg Plaza.
Students should be picked up at 3:30 p.m.
Students will not be able to leave stuff on campus so they will need to bring all their supplies back and forth. This includes folders, notebooks, pencil cases with pens and pencils, books, etc.
Your child needs to bring two (2) masks. Click here to read about the acceptable types of masks.
Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available throughout the building and in classrooms.
Additional things to consider:
- Laptop chargers
- Refillable water bottle labeled with your child’s name
- Sunscreen and bug spray for when students are outside
We’ll be using our outdoor space throughout the day. In addition, physical activity—including BVRfit—is built into the schedule.
This means students should wear something that will keep them comfortable being outside, while they’re moving around, and during sitting in class—all in one.
Students will need to carry their personal belongings with them; they will not be able to leave them in spaces around campus.
Our current classrooms will be set up to ensure at least 6-foot physical distancing between students. We also are using our outdoor spaces for some classes.
Beaver will continue to work with the bus companies we have used in the past providing transportation from multiple routes including from the Chestnut Hill Green Line T Stop. All bus companies have employed health and safety protocols that comply with best practices.
- For more information about transportation click here.
- If you would like to purchase a monthly T-pass, complete this form. T-passes can be picked up at the front desk.
All questions about transportation can be directed to Kellie Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All students riding public transportation and carpooling with other families should practice social distancing, wear masks, and comply with hand hygiene practices as recommended by state guidance and as required by Beaver’s policies.
Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks
Yes, there will be breakfast, but it will look a little different and no eating will be allowed in the dining room. All breakfast will be grab-n-go and include things like individual yogurt cups, oatmeal packets, individual cereal bowls, individual milk cartons, and fruit cups. Everything will be disposable.
Snack will be available at the end of the second block of each day on campus. Everything will be pre-packaged and grab-n-go, and snack time will be supported by advisors.
As in previous years, our Director of Dining Service will speak directly with families about students’ dietary needs and you are encouraged to reach out directly email@example.com.
The Online Experience
- Tuesday, September 8-Thursday, September 10: All MS Students
- Friday, September 11: All MS students, except those new students participating in the music matching process.
- Monday, September 14: 7th & 8th Grade students
- Tuesday, September 15: 6th & 8th Grade students
- Wednesday, September 16: 6th & 7th Grade students
- Thursday, September 17 & Friday, September 18: All MS students
- Thursday, September 24: All MS students
- Friday, September 25: All MS students
You can see the full (and most up-to-date) schedule on the MS Expanded Learning Experience page.
Can a student participate in classes online if they need to stay home the day(s) they’re supposed to be on campus?
Yes, all information and materials will be available on Canvas pages on how to access the information.
Can families opt for hybrid orientation and then shift to fully remote for classes based on individual family situations?
Students are grouped by grade, and then socially distanced in their classes.
We’ve intentionally designed our Afternoon Activities to have both online and on campus components.
Due to the nature of the virus and its potential lasting health effects on the cardiopulmonary system, any student with a prior confirmed diagnosis (positive test) for COVID-19 is required to undergo an assessment with their physician prior to returning to participation in sports or fitness activities. Any ongoing symptoms related to COVID-19 should be further examined, including the presence of chest pain or shortness of breath with exertion, heart palpitations, excessive fatigue, or decreased exercise tolerance.
Written medical clearance is required prior to participation in sports. This clearance is separate from the physical exam submitted to the health office annually and is required only of students who have had a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and want to continue to participate in fitness activities and sports at school.
To date, we have not had any reported positive cases in our student community. In consideration of keeping our information current, please complete this Athletics and Fitness Attestation form.
At a minimum, in order to be cleared to play after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, please submit the following to the Athletic Trainer:
- Written clearance by a physician and documentation that a screening has occurred with a detailed history and normal exam, including a normal ECG screening.
- Any other pertinent information and documentation that applies.
Precautions and Protocols
Each student should bring two masks to school each day. Mask wearing will be required. We will build in mask breaks but everyone will know they HAVE to wear a mask when at school. If they forget their mask, we will have surgical masks available as a back-up. Students will also receive a Beaver branded mask at orientation they can choose to wear.
Click here to read about the acceptable types of masks.
Beaver will be cleaning and disinfecting classrooms and communal spaces multiple times daily.
In classrooms that are shared throughout the day, cleaning and disinfecting of desks and chairs will occur between classes and before and after eating, if food is eaten in the classroom.
High touch surfaces, including toilets and sinks, will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day and after periods of heavy use. We will provide sufficient supplies—soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and tissues—and replace them as necessary.
- All classrooms/offices will have a portable HEPA air purifier (sized to the room) in addition to the filter in the HVAC system.
- Masks are the most important.
- Experts say windows should be open, even a crack.
- Doors should remain open.
- We have de-densified each space (less furniture and half the bodies in each room). This helps greatly with air quality.
More information is available in our Healthy Policies, Practices, and Protocols document.
On August 20, the Governor announced a mobile response team effort that will be deployed to any school (public or private) if the following minimal conditions apply:
- Two or more students/staff within the classroom group develop COVID-19 within 14 days, and transmission/exposure occurred in the classroom;
- More than 3 percent of the cohort/grade (at least 3 individuals) develop COVID-19 within 14 days, and transmission/exposure occurred in the school;
- More than 3 percent of the school develops COVID-19 within 14 days, and there is evidence of transmission within the school;
- Three or more staff within the same school develop COVID-19 within 14 days, and there is evidence of transmission among the staff; or
- Two or more students on the same bus develop COVID-19 within 14 days.
With regards to testing ahead of the school year kicking off, we did consider an initial test very seriously, below are a few of the reasons we are holding off testing the entire community at the start of the year.
We have produced a plan in which we have confidence because it involves a slow and staggered start along with an expanded orientation program to:
- Reinforce excellent hygiene habits
- Address less healthy patterns of behavior and reorient to better ones
- Prioritize adjustments to hybrid learning and early in-person contact with teachers
- Go SLOWLY at the beginning, measuring along the way
Comprehensive testing might reinforce a feeling of safety and false sense of security among students. This could then run counter to our efforts toward community commitment to relatedness and health as well as the importance of ongoing healthy habits using the protocols that have been shown to keep people healthy.
Our communication around symptom development, positive test results, and then subsequent contact tracing and testing will give us a good window into our volume of asymptomatic cases. That will tell us whether we should deploy a more comprehensive testing plan before moving the pendulum further toward on campus time.
When a student is sent home from school for possible COVID-19 symptoms, a letter notifying any close contacts will be sent. Once testing is complete, we will send out another communication regarding the results and advising close contacts on next steps. When we learn that a student tests positive: All close contacts should be tested but must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of test result. After further consultation with the medical community, we are updating this guidance as the virus can cause illness from 2-14 days after exposure and even asymptomatic individuals can transmit the virus. Going forward, even if an individual identified as a close contact receives a negative test result, they must continue to self-quarantine for the full 14 days as the virus may take up to 14 days to cause illness.
At this time, unless we can confirm a symptom is directly related to other causes—allergies, migraines, etc.—we can not rule out COVID-19 on symptoms alone.
If a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms, they must stay home.
A student may not return to campus if experiencing symptoms. Any student that presents with symptoms associated with the COVID-19 virus will be directed to consult with their PCP and it will be requested that they get tested.
If a student is asked to stay home because of mild symptoms, but feels better in a day or two, can they return to school?
As of August 31, if a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms, they may return to school after they have tested negative for COVID-19, have an improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return to school based on the recommendations for that alternative diagnosis (e.g., influenza or strep pharyngitis).
If a student or staff member presents COVID-19-like symptoms and chooses not to be tested, they may return to school 10 days from start of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours prior to their return to school without the use of fever-reducing medication.
We’re trusting our community to consider the impact of their activities and how it may affect everyone in the community.
We are expecting members of the community to follow all local and state travel guidelines. Here is the current Massachusetts Travel Order.
Beaver is not requiring any restriction of student or family activity outside of our program. We are asking that every member of our community considers the impact that their activity may have on the health and safety of members of the Beaver community. With that, we expect that all families will follow the recommended prevention practices.
The flu vaccine is required for all Massachusetts School Students enrolled in K-12. Students must get their flu shot by 12.31.20. Read the full guideline here.
Under what circumstances or criteria would BVR choose to open fully in person or close completely to all students and faculty?
The Core Leadership Team 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, and shift the pendulum accordingly.
We’ll share this information as soon as we can.
Throughout this next month, 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.
Ongoing Institutional Priorities
We are keeping well-being at the center of all that we do to support our students. We will continue to work with the understanding that there needs to be tiers to our prevention and intervention work. We will continue to offer various types of health and wellness information and programming to our students, we will intervene as early as possible when any member of our community needs additional support and we will conduct outreach and provide many engagement opportunities to those members of our community with known emotional risk factors.
Paced and varied resources will be shared with students (as well as faculty and parents) throughout the year. The counseling staff will be accessible to students both on campus as well as virtually for individual sessions and group sessions as is appropriate and we will be very clear with students about the multiple ways they can access any of the counselors. Additionally, we will continue to provide referrals for providers in the greater community as needed.
As always, we invite you to be in communication with your student’s advisor or the counseling staff directly at any time throughout the year.
At Beaver, the ABCs of inclusion (Affirm Identity, Build Community and Cultivate Leadership Skills) are an important part of our approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). This simple mnemonic device from Beverly Tatum, Ph.D., provides an outline for critical dimensions of effective learning environments.
This effort begins with Tiffany Smith, the Director of Middle School, and is grounded in “The BVR Student”. During her tenure as director and with assistance from Ann Bevan Hollos, the Associate Director of the MS, Tiffany has instituted norms in the MS community and effective strategies for engaging students and families. This includes establishing the ritual of asking a student to share what a particular “BVR Student” skill or habit means to them in our weekly MS community gatherings. For the middle school faculty and staff, she has facilitated conversations that ask them to contemplate their relationships with students, examine their instructional practices, and engage in self-reflection. This summer, the MS faculty, and staff explored an exercise that asked them to analyze how their childhood experiences affect their values, norms, and beliefs. Tiffany’s open-door policy for families and her participation in the affinity gatherings for guardians and parents have cultivated strong partnerships with our students’ caregivers.
Others assume essential roles with everyone expected to fully engage in the work. Terri Flannery, the Associate Director of Support Services, helps faculty develop equitable learning communities in their classroom with the focus on a student-centered approach. This encourages teachers to get to know each student and create a sense of community where each individual feels valued. Once trust is established, students become open to receiving critical feedback from teachers and classmates and take academic risks.
Joe Christy, MS Director of Engagement and Inclusion, works with students, faculty, and families to implement research-based practices that foster a sense of belonging. Examples include a Get To Know You Activity in September, a new Lesson Planning tool (developed with assistance from department heads, Tiffany Smith and Terri Flannery), and a new Autonomy tool (shared with MS faculty in a BVR 101 session). He also organizes and participates in affinity gatherings for students, faculty, and parents and guardians and has stressed the importance of utilizing data as we endeavor to improve in our areas of growth.
In some advisory periods, class meetings, and affinity spaces, students explore different aspects of their identity and ways to demonstrate kindness to others. Tammy Graham, the MS Counselor, oversees the Advisory Circle program. Advisory Circle is a dilemma/scenario-based conversation in advisory groups. These dilemmas ask students and advisors to explore real situations and grapple with possible solutions. In one activity, we explored excluding others. In another, we discussed spreading rumors.
Faculty and staff facilitate our affinity spaces: Students of Color Community Meeting, and Sexual and Gender Alliance (SAGA). Upper School students have joined us for some of these sessions in the past. This year, we hope to occasionally include alumni as well.
Liz Latour, the Director of the Hiatt Center, encourages faculty and students to practice perspective getting as they learn about and explore issues that affect communities. This approach emphasizes asking questions and empathetic listening rather than studying from afar and making assumptions. Each January, she and Michelle Wildes, the Associate Director of the Hiatt Center, work with faculty, staff, and administrators to organize an in-depth, full-day social justice retreat for MS students. During this event, students learn about becoming an advocate for justice by developing powerful skills and tools to address microaggressions and discrimination. Workshops have been led by US students, adults in the greater Boston area, and faculty and staff.
Amber Kuntz, the Director of MS Student Life and Athletic Programs, works with coaches and staff to create an environment where students develop skills, learn to collaborate, and have fun. There is a focus on the importance of students understanding what it means to work as a cohesive unit to achieve a common goal. All essential components in building strong relationships among students with different backgrounds are identified and fostered throughout programming. We utilize the same philosophy in our afternoon activities program.
Our faculty design lessons that encourage empathy and often challenge students to go beyond their comfort zone. Some activities allow students to engage in thought-provoking conversations about identity and social justice. A few examples include Jon Greenberg’s “Melissa the Movie Project” in sixth grade Humanities, Melissa Bell’s “Ramp Investigation” in seven grade Math, Sara O’Toole’s “Every Day Unit” in eighth grade Theater Arts, Amy Winston’s “Here’s the Thing” in seventh grade Visual Arts, and Kathleen Kosberg’s “In the Heights Keepsake” Box Activity in eighth grade English.
We established the MS BVR 101 Series to assist us in this important work. During the year, we will have four or six virtual workshops with noted experts in social psychology, developmental psychology, and neuroscience. We have worked with these professionals for the past few years and hope to maintain an ongoing relationship.
In order to gauge where we are in this journey, we will continue to collect data from students, faculty, and families. Panorama Education has assisted us with this in the past. This year, we will continue to use their surveys but administer them in-house. This will allow students to play an active role in distributing the surveys, analyzing the results, and offering possible ways for us to grow. At least three middle school teachers, Vanessa Savas, Geeta Jain, and Elaine Hamilton, will use the classroom survey to receive feedback from students in three areas. We have not used this instrument for a while, hence we want to explore effective ways of implementing this tool before utilizing it in all classes. We will continue to administer the All-School Climate survey, which all students will take in the winter.
Please feel free to contact us with any thoughts and/or questions.
Joe Christy, Middle School Director of Engagement and Inclusion
Tiffany Smith, Director of Middle School