June 30, 2020 - Letter to Parents
Dear Brewster Families,
I’m writing today to update you on the plans we have been and are continuing to develop around the opening of school.
A review of our goals
Early in our planning process, the Opening of School Strategy Team acknowledged the critical importance of opening school in Fall 2020 given the widespread concern over the social-emotional and educational toll a prolonged closure would have on our students—and the optimal value of student centeredness and collaboration through in-person instruction. To accomplish this goal, we have relied on science and public policy, and detailed and flexible planning continues so that we will be able to open school effectively and manage attendant risks with extreme care. On Friday, The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in which our goal and associated emergent practices were clearly validated.
Parent feedback has shaped our planning
During last Monday’s well-attended parent webinar on the opening of school, we reviewed our current thinking, planning goals, and process. We have responded individually to questions we couldn't get to during the webinar and are updating the Frequently Asked Questions on the Reopening Campus webpage as soon as details are confirmed. Many of you completed the parent survey, and we are using those survey results to shape our planning efforts.
Notably, the parent survey responses we’ve received thus far gave us a clear indication of a preferred date to start repopulating campus (mid-August) and validated our interest in a longer break with optional online enrichment courses from Thanksgiving through mid-January. Moreover, parents expressed concerns about the stress such a long fall stretch would place on students and families. As a result, we have planned several key days off for students during the term and reviewed parent visiting policies as well.
Reflections on faculty/staff surveys
In addition to surveying parents, we surveyed faculty and staff members. We were not surprised to learn that our faculty are digging into serious work this summer and are fully prepared to act with deep care and flexibility as we navigate school during COVID-19. Many are right now teaching in Brewster’s free online Summer Enrichment Program courses; others are adapting courses to serve students better; still others are developing novel afternoon and co-curricular programming. Such work now bodes well for a school year in which students and faculty will live and learn together effectively despite the challenges we all face and will continue to face into the foreseeable future.
The emergent schedule
We are so pleased to offer our revised schedule for SY 20-21. While this schedule will diminish somewhat families’ time together during August, we are confident that an early start will allow us to complete appropriate testing and self-quarantining necessary to mitigate risk of COVID-19 on our campus—and will allow us to have meaningful time together on campus.
Ongoing program planning
Recognizing that some students may be unable to return to campus, we are developing an improved Brewster Online program that will allow students to both be virtually present in Brewster classes and to engage in asynchronous learning where appropriate. Our revised dormitory and dining practices are also coming into focus nicely. We anticipate that our plan for cohorts of students in the dorms will allow them to feel more relaxed and allow students to make their dormitories comfortable homes while on campus. Further, we have been collaborating closely with other Lakes Region schools to develop shared approaches to living on our campuses during COVID-19, and we are hopeful that we will be able to have limited interscholastic athletics in some or all sports. Details on all of these matters will be shared as we become yet clearer on policies and practices.
Rogers project is a go
We are so excited to be pushing forward with Phase I of the Rogers Project and anticipate a Fall 2021 opening for this transformational space on campus. We will therefore have active construction happening on campus starting as early as September, but we will take the typical precautions to support this project and take extra measures to ensure that construction protocols reflect our need for increased vigilance given COVID-19. Additionally, because the majority of the Phase 1 construction will take place inside the existing Rogers building, we do not anticipate construction noise will be a nuisance. More information on this project can be found on our Reimagine Rogers webpage.
We are moving forward with confidence and cognizance of uncertainty
Our planning processes have yielded strong results to date, and we are extremely enthusiastic about all we’ve learned and decided through these past months. We will continue to communicate with openness and an interest in listening closely to all concerns, for this dialogue surely makes us stronger. We have long talked about the virtues of partnership with Brewster families. Now such partnership needs to be stronger than ever before, and we ask for your ongoing engagement with us and support as we seek to serve the needs of our students.
As we continue to study and learn and plan, we recognize that this virus and how society and public policy respond to it are all evolving, and we must be ever vigilant to respond in turn in service to our students and the broader Brewster community.
I look forward to both the post-COVID-19 Brewster and world and hope that we can all do our part to ensure that we work together so that Brewster and the broader world are stronger, wiser, more humane, and more resilient as a result of weathering this global pandemic with determination and shared purpose. I believe in my heart that our students could benefit mightily for the rest of their lives if we help them move through this time effectively. There is no greater legacy to strive for than that, and I’m hopeful that this notion will motivate all of us to carry forth with bravery and belief in a brighter future.
Reopening Campus Parent Q&A
June 22, 2020
View webinar recording here.
Head of School
Associate Head of School
Director of Summer Programs
Chief Operations Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Carrie MacDonald BSN, RN
Director of Student Health Services
Director of Admission