The new classroom layout
Acrylic dividers have been installed on the study tables in the Library.
Head of School Scott Nelson, at left, at this year’s drive-by graduation
RYE COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL
In a letter to Rye Country Day parents this week outlining the reopening plan, Head of School Scott Nelson assured them it was natural for them to have questions, “especially during a back-to-school season that will look quite different than years past!”
Between late March and late August, Nelson and the faculty have rethought everything — “from arrival to dismissal.” The Black Box Theater has been transformed into an Art Room. There are 75 desks in the Gym. Acrylic dividers will separate students in the Library. Portable sinks will help de-densify the bathrooms. Tents will be set up for lunch, which will be delivered. When students have free time, they can also take advantage of the covered spaces.
“We’ve had to be creative to sustain what we have,” said Nelson.
By the end of July, the school was required to submit three reopening plans to the State. “The first was full-time return, the second all remote, and the third a hybrid, which is the one we developed.”
Lower School students (preK-grade 5) will return to campus full time. Additional teachers were hired because the school had to create ten additional classrooms to meet safety distance requirements. The most significant change, according to the headmaster, is the installation of MashMe software to facilitate video collaboration. “We have put 80-inch monitors at the back of classrooms so that students who are not in the room with the lead teacher can follow her or his instruction.”
Students in grades 6-12 will be on campus one week, remote the next week. “State guidelines require that all desks face in one direction and be six feet apart in every direction,” Nelson explained. “Classrooms that once fit 18 students can now only hold ten to 12.”
Families have the option of sending their children to school during the weeks they are scheduled to learn remotely to be part of a supervised on-campus pod. Families were also given an all-remote option, which they can change out of at any time.
While the fall sports season has been canceled, to keep team spirit alive and athletes in fighting trim, drills will be offered. With no chorus or drama this semester, students and faculty will need to find virtual outlets.
Juniors and seniors will be taking virtual tours of college campuses for the time being, and no college representatives will be visiting Rye Country Day. But Nelson said his colleagues have been in touch with the schools and three college counselors are assigned to the senior class of 100 students.
Over an exceptionally busy summer, Rye Country Day released a progress report on its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan, and welcomed feedback from the school community. “From anti-racism and anti-bias training for students, employees, board members, and parents/guardians to alumni mentorship programs and advocacy-forward evaluation and restructuring of student support services, the financial aid program, athletics, and college counseling, we are taking a holistic and active approach to making sure our procedures and the people implementing them are inclusive,” wrote Nelson.
Nelson concluded his letter to parents with further assurance: “Together this fall, we will navigate our new landscape and experience the familiar and necessary joy and comfort of learning.”