Chicago Grammar School

Reopening Fall 2020 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Parents/Guardians Regarding the Reopening of Chicago Grammar School

Chicago Grammar School will begin in-person classes beginning September 2, 2020. Illinois schools have been struggling with figuring out how to accommodate the IDPH safety guidelines once they are able to reopen.  At CGS we face the same challenges but our small size enables us in many respects to be better equipped to manage the new normal.  CGS was able to welcome students to the Summer Program 2020 following the new guidelines.  We have experienced first-hand the ability to provide classes in a safe environment.  The children easily adapted to the new requirements of masks and social distancing. We are very proud of them.

Social distancing will be with us for some time. This will be easier for Chicago Grammar School to manage than other schools as we are able to limit class size to 10-12 students, thereby allowing the 6 feet social distancing necessary to accommodate all our students on a full-time basis rather than resorting to “blended learning” or classroom arrangements where students are situated with less than 6 feet proximity as some schools are planning.   

Movement, be it during bathroom breaks or hallway passing, can be managed carefully and safely due to our size.  Parents will be able to return to work secure in the knowledge that their children will continue to learn and socialize in a safe environment.

Illinois State Board of Education has also asked schools to review/improve their current remote learning.  The expectation is that schools may have to close again if there is another wave of COVID-19 this winter.  Once again, CGS is in a good place with a robust remote learning protocol to continue student learning and socializing.

One of the biggest lessons we are learning now is “Resilience”. Resilience is the most important thing our kids can learn in a moment when the greater, overarching message to us all is one that most adults work on for our entire lives: we can’t control what cards we’re dealt. We can only control how we play them.  Please review the details of our reopening.

FAQ

We know that parents have many questions about the start of the school year. We have outlined many of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) from parents about our reopening plan. These questions are divided up into four sections, each addressing a separate aspect of the reopening process. The categories are:

  1. Health and Safety: General health and safety questions, such as social distancing, masks, and facility cleaning.
  2. Infection Protocols: How we will handle instances where students or employees become ill.
  3. Academics and Programming: Questions related to how classes will be taught.
  4. Tuition: Questions about tuition payments during the upcoming school year.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Q: What does “reopening our school” really mean?

A: Gathering as a school community is an integral part of education. Our plan is to reopen our school to students this fall. This means that all students are welcome to return to classes for face-to-face instruction. We have developed an in-depth plan that addresses numerous aspects of the reopening process, and how CGS will function once reopened.

Q: Will students be safe when school is reopened?

A: Safety is always our top priority. In constructing our reopening plan, we have closely implemented the guidance from federal and state authorities, as well as the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).  We have confidence that our students can return safely in the fall.

Q: Will all students be allowed to return to school?

A: Yes. Our plan provides for the return of all CGS students for full-day instruction.

Q: Will students need to wear masks at school?

A: Yes. As per directives of the state, all individuals above the age of two will need to wear masks while at school. Masks may be removed for brief periods of time under certain circumstances (such as outdoor play or lunch). However, when masks are removed, students must remain physically distant from one another (at least six feet).

Q: Do I need to purchase masks for my child?

A: Yes. We are asking all parents to purchase masks for their child. Parents may opt to buy disposable or reusable masks. For disposable masks, each mask must be thrown away at the end of every school day and parents should send plenty of extra masks to school with their child. For reusable masks, masks should be cleaned after every use and students should keep at least one extra reusable mask at school.

Q: Can face shields be used instead of masks?

A: No. Face shields cannot be used instead of masks, as per directives of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Q: Will teachers teach children how to use masks?

A: Yes. We know that students (especially young children) will need training to learn how to properly wear masks. We will spend time at the beginning of and throughout the year helping children learn how to safely keep masks in place.

Q: Will students be required to physically distance at school?

A: Yes.  Our plan calls for each student to be part of a larger group of students called a “cohort.” Each cohort will roughly align with a homeroom class. When students are with their cohort, they should remain as far apart as possible. Homeroom teachers are also part of cohorts, and can walk around their classroom to monitor student classwork. When students are around other cohorts, they should remain at least six feet apart. We believe the cohort model provides for better containment should there be a positive case of COVID-19 (see the Infection Protocols section).

Q: Should I take my child’s temperature every day before school?

A: Yes. A high fever is a key symptom of COVID-19. Parents should take their child’s temperature every day before their child is taken to school. If your child has a fever of over 100.4°F, your child should be kept home from school. You should contact your child’s doctor and the main office. Similarly, you should ask your child if he/she has any of the other symptoms of COVID-19, such as a sore throat, coughing, or nausea. If your child complains of these symptoms, you should keep him/her home and contact your doctor and the school office. For more information about how to handle the potential illness of your child please see the Infection Protocols section.

Q: How will drop off and pick-up be handled?

A: The arrival times will be staggered based on the student cohort.  The children (and  employees) cannot enter the building without a temperature check. When he/she arrives in the morning, they will take their place on one of the yellow lines painted on the sidewalk. A school employee will take and record the temperature before the student is allowed into the school. If a student’s temperature is above 100.4F, they will need to return home. Upon entering their classroom, they will be asked to wash their hands with soap or use hand sanitizer.

Parents will be asked not to congregate near school doors nor enter the building.

Q: Does the plan address safety and cleanliness requirements for the school?

A: Yes.  Our plan includes very specific requirements for the ongoing cleaning and sanitizing of our school.

Q: How will lunch take place when school reopens?

A: The students will eat lunch in their classrooms.  There will be no sharing of food or implements/microwave.

Q: What about physical education?

A: CGS must fulfill defined safety requirements. PE will take place outdoors and students will stay at least six feet apart. This requirement and weather will limit the type of activities.

Q: Can I still volunteer at school?

A: We are controlling the number of people entering the school this year in an effort to mitigate risk. Thus, you will not be able to volunteer.

Q: Will after school be available this year?

A: A schedule will be sent in August listing available options.

Q: My child and/or another member of my household is in an at-risk group for COVID-19. Should I send my child to school?

A: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has defined conditions in which certain people may be more at risk for severe illness through COVID-19. If your child or another member of your household is in an at-risk group, we encourage you to speak to your doctor. Ultimately you should decide whether it is safe for your child to attend school. If you do not feel safe sending your child back to school, please contact the office.

Q: Is it okay for my family to travel out of town during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: We recommend that you not travel out of town during the current pandemic. However, if travel is necessary, we encourage you to become familiar with the IDPH’s Travel Guidelines. If you or a member of your household travels to another country or to a state identified by the IDPH as having a surge in COVID-19 cases, you will wait 14 days until returning your child to school.

Q: What happens if there is a COVID-19 surge in greater Chicago and the state imposes more restrictions on schools?

A: If a COVID-19 surge occurs, we will work closely with state officials to determine whether we can continue face-to-face instruction (even on an alternate schedule). If necessary, we will return to the  remote learning schedule similar to that of Spring 2020.

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INFECTION PROTOCOLS

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified several symptoms of COVID-19, including high fever (above 100.4°F), sore throat, coughing, nausea, headache, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, runny nose, fatigue, diarrhea and difficulty breathing.

Q: What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?

A: If your child shows symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your doctor. Your doctor may ask that your child participate in a COVID-19 test. You should alert our office and not send your child to school. If the symptoms occur during the school day, your child will be immediately sent to the office and you will be contacted to pick your child up from school.

Q: My child had COVID-19-like symptoms, but tested negative for COVID-19. When can he/she return to school?

A: If your child does not have COVID-19, but has another illness, you should keep your child home until the illness’ symptoms disappear. You will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test and/or a doctor’s note before your child can return to school.

Q: What should I do if my child tests positive for COVID-19?

A: You should immediately contact your doctor for additional instructions. You should also contact our office. You may not send your child to school.

Q: When can a student return to school after receiving a positive COVID-19 test?

A: If a student tests positive for COVID-19 or does not seek medical attention, students must isolate and not return to school until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation. At present, this includes:

  1. Three or more days without a high fever;
  2. A reduction of other COVID symptoms by at least 75 percent; AND
  3. At least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

CGS also requires a doctor’s note before your child can return to school.

Q: What should I do if a member of my household other than my child tests positive for COVID-19?

A: You should immediately contact our office. We ask that you keep your child home for at least 14 days. If your family member recovers from COVID-19 (through meeting the criteria in the previous question) AND your child shows no COVID-19 symptoms for the 14-day period, your child may return.

Q: What happens if another student or a teacher in my child’s class tests positive for COVID-19?

A: All parents will be made aware that a student or teacher has tested positive for COVID-19. The public health authority will help to determine if some or part of the school will need to be isolated, and whether these measures will be for deep cleaning purposes only, or as a way to prevent spreading of the virus. Public Health officials will also assist in determining if or for whom a 14-day quarantine period is required. Students will be allowed to complete work virtually if they are away from school.

Q: Could CGS close down due to COVID-19 this year?

A: We will do our best to ensure a safe and healthy environment in the coming year. However, if numerous cases appear in school, resulting in the isolation of multiple classes/cohorts, we may need to close the school and transition all students to remote learning for a time. Parents will be updated regularly should that need arise.

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ACADEMICS AND PROGRAMMING

Q: Will my child’s curriculum be changed this year?

A: We will still deliver high-quality instruction in core subjects (language arts, math, science, English, and history). Adjustments will be in place for special area subjects (see below). The implementation of safety and health requirements (outlined earlier in this FAQ) will create new complexities in instruction, but our commitment remains to provide your child the best possible education.

Q: Will my child’s classroom look different?

A: Desks and tables in classrooms will be placed about 6 feet apart facing the front of the room. We are removing non-essential furniture and other items. These steps are taken to minimize risk of any infection in the classroom.

Q: Will students share school supplies?

A: No. The students will each bring their own, and they will not share school supplies (books, pencils, technology, markers, etc.)

Q: I have a child in preschool or kindergarten. Is high-quality learning possible?

A: Yes. Based on our summer program experience, we have been able to help the children grow both academically and emotionally with health and safety requirements in place.

Q: Will students still change classrooms?

A: No. In order to protect classes in cohorts, students will not move to different classrooms. Instead, the teachers will go to the students’ classrooms and teach them there.

Q: Will CGS  still offer classes in special subject areas (e.g., art, music, PE)?

A: Yes. Art and music will be integrated into the history curriculum and PE will be provided outside, weather permitting. Grades 5-8 will not change into gym clothes.

Q: Will standardized tests still be given this year?

A: Yes. It is important that we continue to gauge student academic growth. The MAP-NWEA will be administered to all students grades 3-7 during Spring 2021.

Q: Will students participate in field trips?

A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not participate in in-person field trips during the 2020-21 academic year.

Q: I need to meet with a teacher or the Head of School. Can these meetings occur?

A: Yes. These meetings can take place virtually via phone or Zoom.

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TUITION AND FEES

Q: Will CGS still collect tuition this year?

A: Yes. While this academic year may look different, our school will continue to provide a rigorous academic experience while supporting the academic, social, and emotional development of each student. We depend upon tuition revenue to pay our employees who do this work and support other school-related expenses.

Q: I am having difficulty paying tuition, as my own workplace has been impacted by COVID-19. What do I do?

A: We know that some families may have difficulties paying tuition due to the loss of pay during workplace closures and are ready to support those in need of assistance. If this is happening to you, please contact the Head of School. We understand your situation and will do our very best to work with you.

If you have any other questions about the coming school year, we invite you to contact the Head of School. We are confident that we can make the new “normal” safe and nurturing.

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Be well and stay safe.