With the beginning of the 2020 fall semester, Cornerstone re-opened its building for students, parents and school professionals. To support social distancing and contact reduction, we are using a hybrid student schedule that combines remote and in-school learning. The plan separates students into two groups. Each attend school two days a week while alternating attendance every other Wednesday. This schedule limits the number of students in the building and in each room, supporting social distancing and minimizing contact exposure. Parents, of course, have the option for their child to remain fully on remote learning.
The Full School Experience
Key to making the hybrid schedule successful is that all students follow the full daily school schedule whether they are participating in-person or from home. Students use the Zoom Platform, Google Classroom and Google Docs for academic instruction, electives, therapy, and related services with school provided Chromebooks when they are at home. To enhance the remote learning experience, we have installed sophisticated video cameras and monitors in each classroom so that students have an authentic learning experience while participating from home. Teachers livestream their lessons, allowing students at home to follow along with each lesson, actively engage in class discussions, and both see and be seen by their peers “in real-time.”
During closure, we created many unique opportunities for students to virtually enjoy the full Cornerstone Experience. These efforts were so successful that we have continued with these initiatives during this school year. Virtual Cornerstone Experience initiatives include:
- Virtual field trips such as visiting museums, parks and historical sites.
- Virtual mindfulness walks where students and clinicians go outside with their laptops and walk their own neighborhood together or visit a mindfulness website together.
- Daily Academic Virtual Office Hours facilitated by our teachers supporting those students needing additional academic support to adjust to distance learning.
- Virtual Workshops facilitated by community experts and by school staff showcasing their hobbies and talents. Workshops include something for everyone: yoga, social deduction and games, dance, make-up application, Hip Hop and poetry, acting, math SAT prep, social justice (How do Power and Privilege Operate in Our Society?), art through the artists lens, virtual choir, fitness, and virtual escape rooms.
Safety as a Priority
Returning to the school building has not been taken lightly and we have taken many steps to help ensure the safety of everyone in our building at all times. These include:
- The purchase of Medify air purification systems for rooms throughout the school. These machines operate throughout the full school day. Each unit uses true Hepa13 filters which remove bacteria and virus carriers from the air.
- MERV13 air filters installed in our heating and air conditioning units throughout the building. These greatly improve the quality of the building’s indoor air.
- Prior to the beginning of the fall semester on September 8th, all staff were tested for COVID-19 before returning to the building to ensure that all began the school year negative for the virus.
- Students, staff and visitors are required to wear masks at all times in the building.
- In addition to our normal evening cleaning procedures, we added a daytime custodian to the school staff to implement continual daytime cleaning and disinfecting of all touchable surfaces (in particular, bathrooms, door knobs, and handrails) throughout the school day. This cleaning and disinfecting routine is repeated each evening as well.
- Everyone entering the school each day undergoes a temperature check.
- Staff and students have been trained in social distancing practices, and to follow strict health and wellness guidelines, such as hand-washing. Hand sanitizer machines have been installed at the entrance of every room.
- Weather permitting, we use Cornerstone’s outdoor spaces each day so that students have time to remove their masks and relax while, of course, maintaining social distance.
- All visitors are screened when entering the school and are required to wear masks and follow health and wellness directives that we provide for them upon entry, and throughout their visit.
We hope, of course, that as soon as possible, we can convert from a hybrid model of building attendance to a traditional full school daily attendance schedule.