Our 2020-2021 Journey
Our goal is to execute a school plan that safeguards our mission and strategic pillars of progressive teaching and learning, diversity/equity/inclusion, community, and continuous improvement while mitigating risk and maximizing our commitment to our community members’ health and well-being. We will therefore adhere to the most comprehensive, current, and respected research regarding health, wellness, mitigation, management of classrooms and other school spaces, and all other aspects of school life. Within this goal is our knowledge as educators, affirmed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other studies, that children's social-emotional wellness is significantly better supported by being together with each other and with their teachers, and crucial to their best possible learning.
Throughout the school year, these pages will be updated to reflect the most current procedures and policies, and any changes to recommendations and best practices. We will be prepared to shift and adapt as needed, knowing that the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus cannot be predicted with certainty.
2020-2021 School Year
COVID TESTING AT STEVENS
Beginning in January 2021, Stevens students and staff will be required to participate in Stevens' Testing Program, each week that they attend school in-person. This program will entail a pooled saliva testing approach and will be overseen by Mirimus.
This population surveillance screening process allows us to identify potential COVID cases in the school even if a student or teacher is asymptomatic. We are aware that this process has proved its efficacy in other school institutions and has helped prevent extended exposure to students and staff.
Local Testing Sites
Partnership with Riverside Medical Group for COVID-Testing
In partnership with the city of Hoboken, we have made an agreement with Riverside Medical Group where any of our families, students, and faculty/staff can be tested with quick/direct access to an appointment if need be. This is the email address you will need to email with your insurance card, photo ID and the time and date you are requesting an appointment (COVIDtesting@riversidemedgroup.com). Their schedulers will reach out to verify your information and what testing you are requesting. If you would like to call the Command Center with your information as well, the phone number is 551-257-4578.
For information about local and state-wide testing sites, please click here.
Travel During the School year
PLEASE NOTE: All students and staff members must self-quarantine for 14 days prior to attending school when returning from travel to any of the states on New Jersey’s Travel Advisory List: CLICK HERE for the most up-to-date list. If a parent/guardian or household member travels to one of these locations, the student does not need to self-quarantine.
Prepared to Pivot
We are prepared to shift and adapt our learning plans as needed, knowing that the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus cannot be predicted with certainty.
Click to expand each heading below to read more.
- Foundational principles for safe re-opening
- Stevens Pandemic Task Force
- Resources and articles that informed our plan
- 2021 learning schedule
- School year dates and events
- Orientation and transition back to school
- Parent/guardian helpers
- Faculty and staff support
- Our goal is to execute a school plan that safeguards our mission and strategic pillars of progressive teaching and learning, diversity/equity/inclusion, community, and continuous improvement while mitigating risk and maximizing our commitment to our community members’ health and wellness.
- In order to deliver a plan that is developmentally appropriate and reflects a warm, caring school environment, our health and wellness procedures will include a combination of daily temperature taking, symptom tracking, contact tracing, stable homeroom class cohorting, physical distancing efforts and furniture rearranging, mask covering/face shields (to be provided by the school to all students and teachers), physical barriers, improved filtering of air indoors, increased isolation space, quarantine procedures, and enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices.
- There is no single measure that provides perfect protection against COVID-19, but we can mitigate the risk of infection by using multiple layers of protection.
- Despite the precautions we are taking and our collective best efforts, COVID-19 may appear in our school community this school year. We must ALL follow public health guidance and mitigation strategies to limit its spread.
- It is important to note that while we are committed to resuming in-person student education, we also understand that public health conditions and the course of the pandemic may change at any time. Should conditions preclude in-building operations, we will be prepared to continue the teaching and learning of our students remotely.
- We have made significant investments to implement this plan, including additional nurse and community teacher staffing, PPE, facilities enhancements, professional development, training and technology resources.
- This plan will be reviewed every 6-8 weeks and revised as needed as circumstances evolve. If CDC guidelines change at any time prior to the 6-8 week timeline, the policy will be reviewed against CDC updates. A formal review before Winter Break will also help determine any modifications to the plan beginning in January or beyond, based on:
- NJ state and CDC guidelines
- Local and national health trends
- Formal and anecdotal feedback from all Stevens’ constituencies
A team of faculty, staff, administrators and subject matter specialist advisors are working together to design the program, protocols, and practices necessary for what promises to be a unique school year. The following sub-committees are contributing to our complete plan:
- Sergio Alati, Ed.D - Head of School
- Nicholas Cacciola - Chief Financial Officer
- Shehla Ghouse - Principal, Newport Campus
- Francesca Lanning - Director of Advancement
- Josh Marks, Ed.D - Principal, Hoboken Campus
- Rhiannon McElwee - Director of Student Services and Equity
- Cara Natale - Outgoing Early Childhood Director
- Arielle Newcombe - Marketing and Communications Director
- Nancy Rossi - Director of Admissions and High School Guidance
- Dan Weber - School Pandemic Coordinator and Auxiliary Programs Director
- Maggie Celestin - Human Resources Manager
- Russell Chavez - Director of Information Technology
- Leah Docktor - Marketing and Communications Associate
- Andrea Fletcher - Special Events and Advancement Communications Manager
- Jennifer Freund - Newport School Counselor
- Kimberly Johnson - Incoming Early Childhood Director
- Victor Martinez - Facilities Manager
- Melynda Murphy - Hoboken School Counselor
- Anney Sousa - Executive Assistant to Head of School
- Allison Tabor - Associate Director of Admissions
- Evette Barrett - 1st Grade Head Teacher, Newport Academic Assistant
- Lindsey Cerracchio - 3rd/4th Grade Head Teacher, Hoboken 3rd-5th Grade Curriculum Coordinator
- Becky Coveney - 5th Grade Head Teacher, Newport 6th-8th Grade Curriculum Coordinator
- Tom Harrington - 8th Grade Head Teacher, Hoboken 6th-8th Grade Curriculum Coordinator
- Arielle Pocock - 2nd Grade Head Teacher, Newport Kindergarten-2nd Grade Curriculum Coordinator
- Nikki Sepesy - Summer Camp Director, PreK/K Head Teacher, Hoboken PreK-2nd Grade Curriculum Coordinator
- Rebecca Tuchman - 7th Grade Head Teacher, Newport 3rd-5th Grade Curriculum Coordinator
Stevens Medical Consultant Team
- Sabia Ali - Medical Doctor, Current Parent
- Sumon Das - Medical Doctor, Current Parent
- Deepak Vadada - Medical Doctor, Current Parent
- Francine Delgado - School Nurse
Stevens Board of Trustees
New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS)
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
We are constantly reviewing our safety protocols and procedures informed by New Jersey Health Department, Department of Education, and CDC guidelines, engaging in numerous internal conversations and reviewing feedback, inter-school discussions, and review of the most current data. Our current schedule is as follows:
- We intend to continue utilizing a full in-person model for our 2s-1st grade classes. Click here for more information.
- We intend to continue utilizing a week A/B hybrid model for 2nd-8th grade. Click here for more information.
Our longer term goal is to resume in-person teaching and learning with all students in our four buildings when it is deemed safe by the CDC and NJ state and after a formal review by the reopening task force, board of trustees, and Stevens medical doctor parent team.
For both models - in-person learning and A/B hybrid, we are offering remote instruction to any students in the event that the student and/or their family has concerns indicating that the student should learn from home. We have created a flexible model that allows a family to communicate a change in their plans at any time as long as proper communication protocols are followed between the school and family, including an email to their academic administrator on site, the school pandemic coordinator and their head teacher. For those pivoting from remote instruction to in-person learning, students must comply with our pool testing guidelines and submit their sample prior to return. For more information about our pool testing, click here.
- In-person Week A / Week B Schedules will resume on Tuesday, January 19 (Week A/B schedules can be found on the Stevens Community calendar)
- WEEK A: Tuesday, January 19 - Friday, January 22
- WEEK B: Monday, January 25 - Friday, January 29
- For the 2020-2021 school year calendar with dates that the school is closed, click here
- For the 2020-21 Stevens community calendar of events and instructions for syncing your calendars, refer to the Parent/Guardian pages of the website or email email@example.com
School Events - To limit building occupancy and virus exposure, all school events this school year, will be held virtually, including:
- Back to School Nights
- Membership Meetings
- Committee Meetings
- Admissions Info Sessions
- Board of Trustees meetings
- Faculty/Staff meetings
- Parent meetings
- Teacher/Parent/Guardian Conferences
- Book Fair
- Special Friends/Grandparents Day
- Large Student events
- Annual Auction will beheld virtually in the Spring
- All fall overnight trips have been postponed to spring 2021. A final decision regarding all spring overnight trips will be communicated to families by or before January 2021.
- No day trips will take place at this time, except for neighborhood walks.
- Neighborhood walks have been permitted by the NJDOE and Department of Health as a way to enhance exposure to fresh air, as long as proper precautions are followed.
- Virtual field trip opportunities will also be explored and incorporated where applicable to the curriculum.
- To view videos, by building, showing what our journey back to the classroom will look like, click here.
- No parents/guardians or outside visitors are allowed to enter the buildings at this time.
- We have asked faculty, staff, students and families to commit to a social contract, in order to set the tone for expectations of how we all will care for each other’s health by following CDC and NJ state guidelines outside of school.
- Details regarding our Stevens Pool Testing rollout in anticipation of our January 19 return will be communicated in the coming weeks.
- All parent/guardian helpers in our younger grades will be re-envisioned to be virtual with a live-streaming component where the parent/guardian can do an activity, read a story, and/or share a tradition or part of their family heritage/background.
- Classroom birthday celebrations may still take place however, parent participation will still be virtual. Individually packaged healthy treats may be provided the morning of, to be sanitized in advance of distribution in the class by a homeroom teacher only.
- The most up-to-date information will be available on this dedicated page of the website.
- For weekly updates and resources, please check our Events and Reminders emails, sent to families each Sunday.
In the spirit of transparency, the school will communicate any Stevens community COVID positive cases and exposures, with additional information about quarantining as needed.
- Please know that Stevens remains committed to protecting the health and well-being of our entire community, including our faculty, staff and administration.
- Our plans are being designed to protect our employees as well as our students.
- We have developed policies and procedures that encourage and/or require certain precautions and avoid spread of infections in our buildings.
- We will work to support our own employees whose own childcare arrangements may be disrupted by the pandemic or whose health circumstances indicate that they should work from home.
Health and Safety Plan
Medical and Health Related Communication
For all medical and health related communication, including symptom checks, test results, immunization and health record updates, please contact your campus nurse:
Hoboken Campus: HeidiLyn Hoover (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Newport Campus: Kelly Honore (email@example.com).
- Building operations
- Face shields, masks and plexiglass
- Nursing services
- School Day Arrival Screening
- Contact tracing
- Social-emotional well-being
- Safety drills
- First aid
- Response to symptoms and positive COVID cases
- Protocol and procedures for closing school
- Maintaining Hybrid/In-Person Learning
- All federal and state guidance recommends increased ventilation and upgrades to current HVAC systems. Each building has upgraded its current infrastructure to meet these guidelines.
- Garden Street - Each classroom has added air purifiers circulating filtered air through a high efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. Windows will remain open as often as possible to enhance circulation and strategic placement of fans will be used to supplement circulation.
- Bloomfield Street, River Street, and Newport Campus - Current HVAC systems have gone through a thorough review, with regular maintenance updates and upgrades throughout the systems. Each vent throughout the buildings will have a HEPA filter installed. In addition, a UV light filter will be installed at each circulation hub within the HVAC system (7 at Newport, 5 at River Street, and 3 at Bloomfield Street), to further mitigate any spread in our ventilation system. As an additional protective measure, we have added air purifiers in the classrooms.
- We have installed plexiglass shields in high contact areas.
- We have completed the installation of automated keyless Salto Locks in our Bloomfield Street, River Street, and Newport buildings and at the front door entrance of Garden Street.
- We have stockpiled personal protective equipment (PPE) for all faculty and staff. This includes various types of masks (3-ply, KN95, cloth), face shields, and gloves.
- All students and staff have been given a Stevens-logo hypoallergenic mask and middle school (5th-8th grade) students have received face shields. We invite students to also bring their own face coverings if they prefer. Families will be required to provide their child with a replacement face mask if they lose their own. We also have additional masks if needed in the midst of the school day. Face masks with the school logo will also be sold on our online school merchandise store.
- We have installed hand sanitizing machines in every classroom and in common spaces.
- We have purchased enhanced disinfectant products, including Electrostatic Sprayers (ionization machines).
- Until receipt of notice and guidelines from the state, no external visitors, except for necessary health officials and first responders, are allowed in school buildings during school hours. In the case that a visitor needs to be given access, will only be granted access with a supervising Stevens staff member while maintaining physical distance, and will be required to wear a face covering and go through the school’s health screening process.
- Signs have been posted throughout the buildings for:
- how to stop the spread of COVID-19
- hand washing station delineation and procedures
- expectations for hallway movement
- We have augmented our facilities team by adding per diem facilities staff in order to have continuous daily cleaning of commonly used surfaces (door handles, sinks, faucets, etc., and high traffic areas).
- Buildings are professionally cleaned nightly according to recommended guidelines.
- Face shields - The entire faculty/staff of all grades and disciplines as well as all middle school students will be given a Z-shield face wrap, provided by Stevens on the first day of in-person school, to serve as an additional and comfortable protective barrier. Face shields will be required to remain at school to be disinfected at the end of each day.
- Masks - Every faculty/staff member and student will receive a hypoallergenic mask with the Stevens logo on it, provided by Stevens on the first day of school. We ask that families provide at least two additional back up masks to be kept at school in the event of a lost, damaged, or contaminated mask. Any and all masks used by students will be allowed to travel home each day to be washed by families.
- In accordance with CDC Mask Recommendations, CDC mask guidance, the following face coverings are NOT allowed:
- Ventilated Masks
- In accordance with CDC Mask Recommendations, CDC mask guidance, the following face coverings are NOT allowed:
- Plexiglass - In all classrooms, plexiglass has been installed in a variety of areas, to provide an additional protective barrier. In addition, plexiglass has also been installed in high traffic areas such as office manager and receptionist areas as well as in some areas of our middle school classrooms. Plexiglass surfaces will be included in the regular cleaning schedule of all classroom furniture.
In the section titled 'In-Person School Day Protocols' you will see a tab for 'The use of PPE.' There you will find a decision tree table outlining the specific student expectations for when face shields and masks should be worn.
- Nurse Staffing - We have supplemented our nursing team by hiring three full-time nurses to cover our buildings and increased needs for student care, monitoring, and follow up.
- Expanding Nurse Spaces - We will limit specialist classroom usage by students, to provide more spaces to expand the areas in which the nurse works as well as providing additional workstations and comfortable and child friendly spaces where students can remain if they need to be picked up by their parent/guardian.
- Nursing Visits - Should staff or students exhibit any consistent signs or symptoms, they will be required to visit the nurse where temperatures will be taken again, and symptoms will be logged for contact tracing purposes. In accordance with standard procedure, in the event of a fever, staff would be sent home and parents would be notified to pick up their child.
Each morning at arrival, all students and faculty/staff will have their temperatures taken, using a touchless thermometer, before entering our buildings. Families of students and faculty/staff will be required to report any symptoms daily. In the event that a student, staff member or supervised visitor presents with a temperature of 100.4 or higher, they will be redirected to a designated waiting area where their temperature will be taken again after five minutes, to guard against any false positive temperature readings. If a second temperature reading of 100.4 or higher presents, the student, staff member or visitor will be denied access to our buildings.
Questionnaire - Anyone entering our buildings will be asked the following 4 questions:
- Have you had fever reducing medication in the last 24 hours?
- Have you had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Have you traveled outside of NJ within the last 14 days?
- Have you had any of the following symptoms
- Headache, Fever, Muscle Pain, Chills, Repeated Shaking with Chills, New loss of taste/smell, Cough, Shortness of breath, Sore Throat, Congestion or Runny Nose, Nausea/Vomiting, Diarrhea
Temperature Reading -
- In the event that a student, staff member or supervised visitor presents with a temperature of 100.4 or higher, their temperature will be taken again using a separate device.
- If the second reading remains 100.4 or higher, they will be redirected to a designated waiting area where their temperature will be taken again after 5 minutes, to guard against any false positive temperature readings..
- If a third temperature reading of 100.4 or higher presents, the student, staff member or visitor will be denied access to our buildings.
In the case of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and in coordination with local health officials, our nurses and administrators will take the lead on identifying those who may have been exposed to the virus and work to contain the spread of the virus by collecting information from school officials and the family of a student.
The services provided by our school counselors will be important to the emotional and mental health of our students. We are developing both proactive and responsive approaches including: a holistic approach surrounding remote learning, returning to in person, transitioning to a new grade; the social and emotional effects of current events; our care for students’ well-being as well as resources and support for families.
We are following the most current guidelines outlined by the CDC, New Jersey State and/or local authorities, in carrying out all safety drills including Evacuation, Shelter In Place, Lockdown drills, or otherwise, while implementing all appropriate COVID-related mitigation techniques, including distancing and mask wearing.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
Parents should not send students to school when sick.
Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children may be similar to those of common viral respiratory infections or other childhood illnesses. The overlap between COVID-19 symptoms and other common illnesses means that many people with symptoms of COVID-19 may actually be ill with something else. This is even more likely in young children, who typically have multiple viral illnesses each year. Individuals with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild to severe illness. There is not a single symptom that is uniquely predictive of a COVID-19 diagnosis. A COVID-19 viral test is needed to confirm if someone has a current infection. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include the following:
One (1) of the following:
Two (2) of the following:
- fever (measured or subjective)
RESPONSE TO INFECTED INDIVIDUALS
Student or staff tests positive for COVID
- Students or faculty/staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to stay out of school for at least 14 days or until they are cleared by their doctor to return to school. All members of a respective cohort with a confirmed case will also quarantine for 14 days. In the case of a sibling of a confirmed case, the sibling’s cohort would not be required to quarantine. However, the sibling would be required to quarantine for an additional 14 days past the positive household member's 10-day recovery period following the individual being symptom-free for 24 hours. All cases will be reported to local health officials.
- All instances of a positive COVID case or confirmed exposure require a negative COVID test result in order for the individual to return to in-person learning.
- A Positive COVID Case - Following a 10-day quarantine period, the individual must be tested and submit a negative COVID test and/or clearance note from a doctor in order to return to in-person learning.
- In the event that an individual that is confirmed to have COVID-19 has exposed areas of the school to the virus, such areas that were used by the affected individual will be closed (e.g., classroom, restroom, hallway).
- After a period of 24 hours, the exposed areas will be cleaned and disinfected, as well as all heavy-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces with adherence to, and promotion of, hygiene, cleaning and disinfection guidance set forth by the DOH and CDC, including strategies for cleaning and infection of exposed areas and appropriate notification to occupants of such areas.
RESPONSE TO SYMPTOMATIC INDIVIDUALS
Student or staff fails arrival screening
- Individuals who fail the pre-screening questionnaire based on their responses or their temperature screening upon arrival will not be permitted to enter the school building
Student or staff member reports experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19 while at school
- If individuals become symptomatic while at school, they will be escorted from their classroom and sent to the nurse’s quarantine room until their parent/guardian arrives. The school retains the right to summon an ambulance if the student appears to be severely ill.
- Students or staff members will be sent home/picked up immediately from school for the following symptoms:
- At least two of the following symptoms: 100.4F temperature or higher , chills, shivers, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion or runny nose; OR
- At least one of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new unexplained loss of taste or smell OR
- Per clinical judgment after nursing assessment
- The school will immediately close off areas used by the person who is sick with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. offices, bathrooms, classrooms, & common areas), open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area and wait for re-entry until additional cleaning & disinfection takes place.
- Individual should contact their healthcare provider.
- Requirements for child or staff member to return to school:
- a negative COVID-19 test; or
- no longer symptomatic; and a doctor has provided a note indicating that their symptoms were caused by something other than COVID-19.
Student or staff tests negative for COVID but is symptomatic
- Individuals who experience symptoms but test negative should not return to school until:
- They have had no fever for at least 24 hours (one full day without the use of medicine that reduces fever) AND
- Symptoms have improved
Household members is experiencing symptoms
- If someone in the household, other than the student or staff members, is being tested for COVID due to relevant symptoms, we ask that the student or staff member stay home from school until the results of the test are determined.
RESPONSE TO EXPOSED INDIVIDUALS / REGIONS
Student or staff reports that they have been exposed to someone who is positive
- Individuals who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed or suspected case should:
- Immediately isolate the individual and don appropriate PPE
- Call parent/guardian to pick up the student
- Send the staff member home
- A COVID test may be taken at least 5 days after the exposure took place. The individual will require a negative COVID test in order to return to school. If the individual remains asymptomatic for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine period, no further action is required and the individual may return to in-person learning.
- Report to school & LHD if individual develops symptoms or has positive test result
Student or staff members reports that a household member has tested positive for COVID
- In the event a household member tests positive, asymptomatic household members who test negative must quarantine for AT LEAST 24 days. "The (COVID positive) person who lives with you has a self-isolation of 10 days from the time symptoms began AND 24 hours (or 1 full day) being fever-free without fever reducing medicine. You are recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days AFTER their self-isolation ends. This is because it may take 2-14 days for symptoms to develop." ~Department of Health
- For a student or staff member to return to school in this situation, the family must:
- submit a negative COVID test result for the student at least five days passed 10-day isolation period AND
- have a clearance note from the student's or staff member's physician that the individual may return to school. This will require the family to disclose to the doctor who in the household is still testing positive, if applicable, so that the physician can study this particular case to assess risk and retesting needs before the individual returns to in-person school.
Student or staff reports that someone at home was exposed to someone who tested positive or has symptoms
If a student in a class that must quarantine is found to have had direct exposure (defined as being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes cumulatively over a 24-hour period) to the student who tested positive, that family will be notified by the Local Health Department and only that child must remain remote during the quarantine period. Please note, this does not apply to all siblings and staff members of classmates, only those who have been notified that their student had direct exposure.
If a child or staff member has traveled to an area with high levels of COVID-19 transmission in the past 14 days
- Throughout the school year, if a student or staff member travels to any of the states on New Jersey’s Travel Advisory List, they must quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to school. If a parent/guardian or household member travels to one of these locations, the student or staff member does not need to quarantine.
- Travelers visiting risky areas should self quarantine & monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last date of travel regardless of test result.
- If sick, parent or staff member should contact their healthcare provider and take the following precautions:
- Stay home and away from others until:
- At least 14 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared or positive test result if no symptoms AND
- They have had no fever for at least 24 hours (one full day without the use of medicine that reduces fever) AND
- Symptoms improved (e.g. cough, shortness of breath)
Notifying our Families
If a child must be picked up from school, the parent/guardian will receive a phone call from the nurse. In the case of a cohort needing to quarantine or remain home, we will be using the school’s emergency notification system, One Call Now. The system is organized by class and will be used to notify families in the case of a cohort/class requiring dismissal or not being allowed into our school buildings due to confirmed illness.
In the case of a positive case of COVID-19 amongst our students or faculty/staff, we will follow the guidelines outlined by the CDC and/or New Jersey State, in addition to a 14-day quarantine of any cohort with confirmed cases.
Stevens will use the metrics for closing and reopening set forth by the local health departments in assessing whether positive COVID-19 cases may be increasing in the Hudson County area beyond an acceptable level. We will rely on our internal Task Force and apply our own understanding of the Stevens community when considering closing the school. The administration and Board reserve the right to close our buildings/campuses/school and move all programming to virtual learning if in our sole opinion a clear and immediate danger to the health and wellness of our community presents.
In the event that a positive COVID-19 case(s) is/are reported in our school, we will use the recommendation of the local health department as our minimum standard for quarantine, isolation or school closure.
Below is an outline for school building closures and guidance provided by the local health department, which Stevens plans to follow:
1 confirmed case in the school
School remains open*, students and staff in close contact with positive case are excluded from school for 14 days.
2 or more cases in the same classroom (outbreak limited to one cohort)
School remains open*; students and staff in close contact with positive cases are excluded from school for 14 days. Recommendations for whether the entire classroom would be considered exposed will be based on public health investigation
2 or more cases within 14 days, but are linked to a clear alternative exposure that is unrelated to the school setting and unlikely to be a source of exposure for the larger school community (eg: in same household, exposed at the same event outside of school)
School remains open*; students and staff in close contact with positive cases are excluded from school for 14 days
2 or more cases within 14 days, linked together by some activity in school, but who are in different classrooms (outbreak involving multiple cohorts)
Recommendations for whether school closure is indicated will be based on investigation by local health department
A significant community outbreak is occurring or has recently occurred (eg: large event or large local employer) and is impacting multiple staff, students, and families served by the school community
Consider closing school for 14 days, based on investigation by local health department
2 or more cases are identified within 14 days, that occur across multiple classrooms and a clear connection between cases or to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 cannot be easily identified (outbreak involving multiple cohorts)
Close for 14 days
Very high risk of community transmission, to be identified and communicated by local health department
Close school until COVID-19 transmission decreases
*A temporary closure may also be considered for a period of 2-5 days if a student or staff member attended school while potentially infectious, before being confirmed as having COVID-19. This short-term dismissal allows time for local health officials to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school and perform contact tracing.
Period of closure: After switching to remote learning due to high levels of viral transmission in the school or local geographic community, districts or schools should wait a minimum of 14 days before reopening in-person.
THRESHOLDS FOR CLOSURE
NJDOH defines Very High Risk by any two of these three metrics:
- more than 25 cases per one hundred thousand over a 7 day average
- more than 13.08% COVID-like illnesses among hospitalizations over a 7 day average
- higher than 20% positivity rate of all PCR COVID tests conducted over a 7 day average
The school will evaluate the circumstances and may elect to close earlier than the above thresholds, taking into account the best interests of our students and the safety of the school community.
METRICS AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR MAINTAINING HYBRID/IN-PERSON LEARNING
The decision and ability to provide in-person learning from January onward is dependent on a number of internal and external considerations and requirements:
- Adherence to CDC, NJ state and local health department mandates
- If Hudson County case numbers reach above 25 per 100,000 (considered in the “Critical” phase), but state guidelines deem that we can technically remain open, case numbers should be flat or be decreasing over a 7-day period. If case numbers are not flat or decreasing, an in-depth evaluation by our medical team will ensue, to assess severity of cases in Hudson County and whether school can safely be open in-person.
- Any time that case numbers are in the “Critical” phase (at least 25 per 100,000 - note that we are currently over 42 on a 7-day average), we will require that in-person students NOT participate in any community events such as sports, clubs, or gatherings outside of the immediate household members.
- If a building has three or more infected individuals, that building is required by the Department of Health to be closed for a two-week period. Cross-building siblings may impact closures.
- Middle school students taking mass transit to commute should wear a KN95 or N95 mask. For those families who cannot afford or secure such a mask, please email your academic administrator, who can help to provide ones we have in stock.
- Other considerations will be finalized and added to our 2020-2021 Journey Guide in the coming weeks.
In-Person School Day Protocols
- Homeroom class cohorting
- The use of PPE
- Classroom setup
- Hallways and bathrooms
- Snack and lunch
- Movement, exercise and transition between classes
- Outdoor time
- Afterschool programs
There will be a staggered arrival each day (see below) that will take place over a window of time in each building, depending on the number of classes in total per building. Families should adhere to the schedule, so as to avoid congestion during these times. Parents/guardians should drop off their child at the front door entrance and only the student will enter the buildings. Parents/guardians will only be granted access with a supervising Stevens staff member while maintaining physical distance, and will be required to wear a face covering and go through the school’s health screening process.
Teachers and staff are expected to arrive between 7:45-8:00am. While every student will have a dedicated arrival window, we recognize that in the case of siblings and travel needs, some families may need to drop off prior to their assigned arrival time. Any requests to drop off prior to your child’s arrival window, and no earlier than 8:00am, should be communicated to both your head teacher and the building academic administrator.
For families with siblings, the siblings are welcome to enter the building together at arrival as long as they reside together at home and are not coming from separate households where exposure levels to the virus may be different. Siblings may enter the building together at the earliest window available to each family, and then go directly to their homeroom classroom, where there will be a faculty member present.
Each homeroom class of students will remain together as a class cohort. Research has shown that a strict maintenance of a stable classroom cohort minimizes the total number of contacts, and is a primary mechanism of risk reduction. With the goal of cohorting in mind, furniture will be set up to maximize distancing where possible.
All homeroom teachers in 1st Grade and above to create ‘workgroup pods’ within their class cohort, that remain static for their in person week. These static pods will reflect the seating arrangement by table or desk, and remain static when traveling to other classrooms for specials like Science, Art or World Languages, in addition to aftercare. The only alternative to this, would be to ensure physical distancing within a spillover space so as to not extend a students exposure outside of their ‘workgroup pod,’ ie. if the class is gathered in half groups, the students must either remain with their pod or never be within 6 feet of another student. The record of these groups must be kept by the homeroom teacher and easy to reference during our internal contact tracing process. In Kindergarten and below, the table pods should be reflected when using carpet squares on the floor or ensure physical distancing of 6 feet or more. These groupings should remain consistent for at least one month at a time.
As we understand the importance of student interaction and programs such as mentoring, there will be virtual opportunities for students to connect with one another across classrooms and for those students learning from a remote location.
PPE Decision Tree
4th grade and below
5th grade and above
Faculty and Staff
|Event||PPE Requirement||PPE Requirement||PPE Requirement|
|When only in the homeroom class cohort (students, head/associate teachers) are together in homeroom classroom||
|When moving about the classroom||
|During rest periods (Early Childhood only)||
|When any teacher outside of the cohort is in the classroom, including specialists or community teachers||
|When moving about the school in hallways, using bathrooms and other common spaces||
|During physical activities where mask- or face shield-wearing would inhibit student's health and safety||
*Students will not wear masks during rest time per the CDC and New Jersey State guidelines for safety reasons. Rest mats will be situated in a proper physically distanced way.
In addition to distancing measures, PPE wearing, and additional infrastructure, the CDC recommends regular and frequent hand washing as an effective prevention strategy. In addition to the bathrooms and kitchenettes in every early childhood classroom, regular access to student bathrooms, and sink access in multipurpose rooms, art rooms, and science labs, we will be adding portable hand washing stations in strategic locations to supplement the needs of routine hand washing efforts.
All rooms will be set up with several guiding principles to be applied by each teacher, in a grade appropriate manner that also fits the individual geography of their room. Rooms will have:
- An open concept floor plan
- Physically distanced furniture
- Clearance in high traffic areas like entryways, cubbies, and bathrooms, kitchenettes and stairwells in early childhood rooms.
Classes will have lunch in a staggered fashion and students will eat while practicing physically distancing. There will be no sharing of foods and where possible, teachers will seek to spread students out to assure social distancing. This will be accompanied by consistent hygiene and cleaning protocols. We have been in contact with our catered lunch service vendor, Simply Gourmet, to ensure their food preparation practices are CDC compliant and will be implementing internal risk mitigation protocols including contactless drop off, greater organization of cohort lunch order and limited handling of grouped orders. Further details to come for interested families.
We believe that minimizing time outside of the classroom serves as an important protective measure. At the same time, we understand that movement is important for students and will work to create a number of exercises, meditation practices, and fun transition activities that help maximize engagement and mental wellness.
We understand the importance of fresh air. Homeroom teachers will work to find creative uses of immediate and surrounding outdoor spaces including taking students for neighborhood walks when appropriate. Public playground equipment usage will not be allowed; general park usage by classes from all buildings (open outdoor field areas) will be determined based on population and following local municipality guidelines.
Classes will be dismissed in a staggered fashion. Parents/guardians should wait directly outside the building and students will be brought out to them. In the event of families with siblings dismissing at different times, families will be asked to clear the immediate vicinity upon the first pick up and may wait across the street until the proceeding dismissal.
- On Fridays, the day will end at 11:30am for the 3-year-olds and at 12:00pm for the PreK and Kindergarten students. The students will dismiss at those times, as we will not be offering aftercare to the 3-year-olds – Kindergarten on Fridays.
- The extra time will allow for deep cleaning of these classrooms every Friday. Given the full return of the 3-year-olds - Kindergarten classes, the cohorting model will require students to stay together and will minimize the time that these faculty have to prepare lessons.
- Families will be provided with supplemental resources and activities to fill their child’s academic schedule for the day.
- Middle school students will all be able to self-dismiss as usual, as long as stated in the student’s Release Form, which will be available in your Parent/Guardian Portal at the end of August. Due to our stiuct guidelines for health and safety, as well as the school’s enhanced screening protocols, students may not re-enter the building after they leave for the day.
- Standard Aftercare
- While maintaining cohorts will be our primary focus, as the first step to risk mitigation, it is no longer something we can guarantee based on staffing, and student attendance.
- Anytime cohorts are mixed, it will be based on the lowest number of attendees in the given cohorts. If four classrooms have students attending Standard Aftercare, with 8, 7 3, and 2 students each, the two smaller cohorts of 2 and 3 may be grouped within a space for logistical purposes.
- In the event, a cohort is mixed, every attempt will be made to stick to their grade level partners or classroom neighbors for developmental and contact tracing purposes ie. PreK J and S at River or 3rd C and 4th E at Newport.
- In the event, cohorts are mixed, they will be assigned a neutral space for this mixed cohort, with a priority on using the largest space available, where the individual cohorts would be spaced as much as possible. The space would be sanitized prior to use, with our electrostatic sprayer, and again at the end of the afternoon.
- All other protocols, including regular hand washing, maximum social distancing, and no shared materials would be in effect.
- In the event one of the students who attended aftercare in a mixed cohort tests positive, only the students who were in the mixed cohort will be required to pivot to remote learning, as would be the practice of a students' classmate testing positive. Please note that according to the Department of Health, because the students will never be within six feet for longer than 10 minutes, they would not be considered exposed, and will not be contacted for contact tracing or under a full quarantine at home. Our practice of classmates being required to pivot to remote learning is a Stevens policy we have put in place out of an abundance of caution and after discussion with our Pandemic Response Team and internal health experts.
- Afterschool Enrichment - Classes will continue in a remote format until further notice. This will allow us to offer a robust menu of offerings across grade levels, including maintaining established relationships with our valued vendors, who will not be permitted to enter any of our buildings. Students who attend Standard Aftercare will have access to devices to still participate in an enrichment class, at a dedicated work space, within their respective cohort classroom. Enrichment classes will be scheduled strategically each afternoon to ensure students not attending Standard Aftercare have time to commute home and fully participate.
Learning and Instruction
Our faculty and staff have worked together with our academic team to learn from last year’s spring experience with remote learning to make enhancements and improvements. We will continue to utilize a combination of in-person and remote learning methods when necessary for students. Our six curriculum coordinators (three faculty members per campus), Newport academic assistant and academic team are working to generate a deep pool of resources and planning times for faculty collaboration and ongoing curriculum development. Students in 3rd-8th grades will continue to use the Google Suite to warehouse information and curriculum activities. 2nd grade and below will be using the Seesaw learning platform.
Instruction Format for any In Person Weeks (TENTATIVE)
Art (PreK - Kindergarten)
Teaching in person - in homeroom
Art (1st - 8th)
Teaching in person - in homeroom or /art room
Choir, Band, Instrumental, and Orchestra (5th - 8th)
Taught only during remote weeks
Music (3s - 1st)
Whether students are in school or remote, music will be taught by teachers from a remote location
Music (2nd - 8th)
Whether students are in school or remote, music will be taught by teachers from a remote location
Mathematics (6th - 8th)
Teaching in person - in homeroom
Physical Education (1st - 8th)
Teaching in person - in gym, outdoors or off-site
Science (3rd - 8th)
Teaching in person - in homeroom with select use of lab
Spanish (PreK - 1st)
Teaching in person - in homeroom AND remote (half yearly rotation between buildings)
Spanish (2nd - 4th)
Teaching in person - in homeroom AND remote (half yearly rotation between buildings)
Technology (1st - 8th)
Teaching in person - In homeroom/breakout room
World Languages (Spanish/Mandarin 5th - 8th & Latin 6th - 8th)
Teaching in person - in homeroom/breakout room AND remote (trimester rotation between buildings)
Specials classes being taught in-person will be by specialists who come into the homeroom class, or take the students outside for a neighborhood walk, when applicable in the case of PE. Research and guidance indicates the benefit of the use of outdoor spaces that do not involve congregating with groups outside of the cohort. Neighborhood walks are specifically allowed under current guidelines. A small number of specialist classes may be taught in respective classrooms such as the gym/outside for PE and art in the art classroom with hygiene and cleaning protocols in place. Due to the research on singing and playing of wind instruments as a higher risk activity, music classes will be taught virtually and more specific information will be provided on the format for various grade levels. Specialists will be required to physically distance from students as best as possible and will be required to wear masks whenever with any students and in any spaces throughout the building.
Students will be given their own box of supplies for coloring, project completion, and their core academic subjects. Classroom manipulatives will be divided up on a weekly basis so students have various individual options for choice and academic times. The decision for students not to share classroom supplies will be continuously evaluated as CDC and NJ state guidelines and circumstances evolve.
In 2nd grade and below, blocks are used as an important part of our social studies curriculum. We have adapted our blocks philosophy into a distinct curriculum to include individual student supplies that students will use to engage in a weekly build, adding details and sharing their structures with classmates as they typically would.
Competitive sports opportunities for track, cross country and basketball will be determined by the leagues, evaluated by Stevens staff, and communicated to families. Intramural sports decisions are being evaluated and will be in sync with determinations for safe sports play that are made by Athletic League affiliates and in particular the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Task Force on COVID-19. Mandatory COVID-19 protocol training and education will be provided to all coaches and students.
Student Expectations for Remote Learning
- Remote learning for families that choose to stay remote and for all students during their alternating remote weeks, will have a set daily schedule that includes:
- synchronous instruction from their head teacher, along with in-person students
- asynchronous lessons and activities provided in advance
- Remote students are required to complete all assignments, as are the in-person students. The timing for work completion may be differentiated depending on whether the child is learning in school or remotely. We will work in partnership with students and families to understand any unique circumstances that may arise given the pandemic circumstances.
When students are in our physical buildings, homeroom teachers will take attendance. Parents/guardians should follow handbook procedures for letting the office manager know when a child will be absent and for what specific reason. For remote students, the student will be marked present unless the teacher hears from the parent/guardian. In the case that a remote student is absent, the parent/guardian should alert the homeroom teacher of the reason for the absence. If absence is related to a child experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the parent/guardian will be directed to speak with the building nurse for monitoring, follow up, and tracking purposes.
We know that access to technology will be vital throughout the coming year, regardless of format and in preparation for a fluid learning experience. In that vein, a technology survey will be sent to families, similar to the one sent this past spring. This will serve as a way for us to meet the needs of our families to ensure a high quality of remote learning. Included in the survey will be grade level device expectations and recommendations from the Academic Team and Technology Department for age appropriate use.