- Update: August 6, 2020 (Opening of School Webinars)
- Update: August 31, 2020 (Supplemental Reopening Plan)
- Update: July 15, 2020 (Detailed Guidelines for School Re-Entry)
- Update: June 25, 2020 (Abbreviated Guidelines for Re-Entry Fall 2020)
- Update: May 19, 2020 (3:00 p.m.)
- Update: May 4, 2020 (12:00 p.m.)
- Update: April 2, 2020 (4:45 p.m.)
- Update: March 16, 2020 (5:00 p.m.)
- Update: March 19, 2020 (4:45 p.m.)
- Update: March 11, 2020 (2:30 p.m.)
I wanted to provide you with an update following yesterday's press conference by Mayor Hogsett and Virginia Caine, M.D., Director of the Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD). During the press conference, they issued guidance regarding in what capacity schools will be able to reopen in the coming weeks. They are using the COVID-19 positivity rate in Marion County as a key metric for determining whether schools can return to in-person learning, and will continue to monitor this data throughout the coming months to guide decisions on the safety of students attending school.
To summarize the latest public health order issued by MCPHD, preschool through elementary-aged students can attend school in person. Schools (like Park Tudor) with fewer than 400 students enrolled in their Middle School or Upper School can also proceed with on-campus learning, providing that we can maintain six feet of social distancing in classrooms. We have reconfigured classrooms, and in some cases moved classes to larger spaces, in order to ensure that we can meet this requirement. Our current plan remains for all students to return to campus in-person on with safety measures in place as outlined in our plan posted on our website.
In order to stagger the arrival of students to campus, our start dates are changing slightly for MS and US students:
First day for freshmen and new MS/US students: Wednesday, August 12
First day for HC/LS students: Thursday, August 13
First day for all MS and US students: Monday, August 17
As we have seen throughout this pandemic, the situation can change rapidly. We will continue to monitor Marion County's COVID-19 positivity rate, and will follow the direction provided by the Mayor, MCPHD, Indiana State Department of Health, and CDC to inform our decisions. We have developed supplemental plans to augment our initial Re-Entry Guidelines, which include detailed information about our eLearning plans should that become necessary due to COVID-19 positivity rates.
As a reminder, we have two upcoming Zoom meetings next week for parents to answer questions. Please click on the appropriate link below to submit questions in advance:
Hilbert Center/Lower School Parents: Monday, August 3, 7:00 p.m.
Middle School/Upper School Parents: Tuesday, August 4, 7:00 p.m.
You will receive instructions for participating in the meetings on Monday.
More information will be forthcoming from your Division Directors as we move closer to the start of school. In the meantime, please continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and wash your hands frequently. If we all work together with the larger Indianapolis community, I am hopeful that we can keep local COVID-19 positivity rates low enough for students to attend school in person.
Dear Park Tudor Families,
We are very much looking forward to welcoming all of our students to campus as planned on August 13 (August 12 for freshmen). Our Task Force has been hard at work developing detailed plans to begin school with all students on campus full-time; our detailed plans are available on our COVID-19 webpage, along with a one-page summary of key elements of the plan and a short video.
In addition to the Task Force, we also assembled a Health Advisory Group consisting of public health experts and physicians within our school community. They have reviewed our plans and agree that we can reopen safely with these plans in place. Our Board of Directors has also reviewed and approved the plan. Of course, as we've seen throughout this pandemic, plans can change and flexibility will be key.
We've all seen the news that several large public school systems in our area are either starting the school year with eLearning only, or with a hybrid model of in-person and eLearning. Please note that these decisions were driven by the practical difficulties of schools with a very large number of students implementing CDC recommendations for social distancing. Not only are there space issues within buildings in many cases, but public schools are also experiencing a shortage of manpower to teach additional classes with fewer students. Social distancing with bus transportation is also a significant challenge. While Marion County Public Health Department Director, Virginia Caine, has indicated that school can safely resume in the fall, many local districts are simply not able to adapt to implement the changes necessary to proceed with starting in person in a matter of weeks.
We believe we have several advantages over many schools that will allow us to safely reopen for full in-person learning. Our small class sizes have made it easier for us to implement physical distancing within our classrooms, and we have a great deal of indoor and outdoor space on campus that we can utilize. In addition, not having to rely on buses to transport students to and from school in large groups is a significant advantage.
That said, opening - and staying open - will require all of us to work together to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Given the rise in cases in the larger Indianapolis community, it is imperative that we all continue to be vigilant about social distancing and mask wearing outside of school. For parents of teenagers, we understand that it is difficult to prevent your children from gathering together in large groups, but we ask that you do all you can to encourage your teens to refrain from attending parties where social distancing is not possible.
In addition, we also ask that you complete your family vacation travel by August 1. Many popular vacation destinations have become hotspots for COVID-19; completing your nonessential travels with your children prior to August 1 will allow you to monitor for symptoms in your students for two weeks before they return to school.
If your child is immunocompromised or if your family has unique circumstances that you feel will prevent a safe return to school, please contact your Division Director. We will do our very best to meet your needs.
Save the Date: Zoom Webinars to Cover Opening of School Safety Procedures and Answer Questions
- Hilbert Center/Lower School Parents: Monday, August 3, 7:00 p.m.
- Middle/Upper School Parents: Tuesday, August 4, 7:00 p.m.
As you know, we have had a task force hard at work for the past few months developing plans for safely reopening in the fall, with as few disruptions as possible to our schedule and program. As we announced last week, our current plan is to return to full-time, in-person learning on campus for all students in August. Our detailed plans will be available later in the summer and disseminated with the Opening of School Information. In the meantime, we wanted to share this short video and one-page guide to the key elements of our plan that are most important for you to know now as you begin to prepare for the start of school. This information is available on our website. Our plans are in line with current State and County Health Department guidelines. The Marion County Health Department is currently refining their guidelines, and we will adjust and adapt when and if necessary.
As you will see in the guide, we will be requiring masks for everyone in our buildings. You will be able to purchase PT-branded masks later in the summer. We encourage parents of young children to practice wearing masks this summer in order to prepare them for school.
In order to reduce time spent on campus, we will be limiting after-school care to families who have a two-parent working household, have a single-parent working household, or have extenuating circumstances.
I would like to thank all of the members of the Task Force for all of their hard work so far. They have measured classrooms, carefully reviewed national and local guidelines for reopening, developed a variety of scenarios, and consulted with local health experts. We have also shared our plan and received the support of our Board of Directors.
As you share and discuss these guidelines with your children, please remember that your encouragement and optimism, especially when you explain this to your children, will help to set the tone for the upcoming school year. Our primary goal is to keep all of our students, faculty, staff and families safe. We need your collaboration and partnership to accomplish that while also achieving our objective of full-time, in-person learning. As we say in the video, we need everyone's cooperation to remain "Panther Strong.”
Head of School
As we approach the end of the school year, I wanted to update you as we plan for next year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to change virtually every aspect of our lives. What hasn’t changed is our desire to be back on campus with one another, which is a testament to the close-knit community we have built.
This shared desire has been a driving force for the work of our COVID-19 task force, which has been working diligently for the past month as we plan for the 2020-2021 school year. While we will continue to be guided by recommendations from local, state and national health organizations, we are optimistic and have every intention of beginning the next school year in the fall, in person and on campus. We recognize that it may be necessary to implement health and safety precautions to protect the health of our students, faculty, staff and the broader community, but the unique character of Park Tudor provides us a great deal of flexibility in our approach (i.e., already existing small class sizes, large campus footprint, etc.). We have and will continue to coordinate these efforts with the Board of Directors as they take shape.
Our administrative team and the task force, together with the Board of Directors, will be refining our plans throughout the coming weeks. Our ultimate goal is to preserve the hallmarks of a Park Tudor education while keeping our students, faculty and staff, and families safe. We will continue to keep you updated as we monitor the evolving situation and as our plans develop throughout the summer.
As we come to the end of the year, I especially want to recognize our exceptional Senior Class of 2020. They have faced a difficult end to their high school careers with maturity and grace. We also acknowledge our other “milestone” classes – the fifth grade and eighth grade, who will transition into a new division next year.
I wish you a healthy and enjoyable summer!
A Task Force was formed in mid-April and began its work at the end of April. This group is busy examining the school calendar and potential daily schedules, along with physical changes and procedures that might need to be implemented to allow us to ultimately return to full in-person learning as safely as possible.
You may have seen that Governor Holcomb's plan to reopen Indiana has the goal of a return to full operation by July 4. While he will issue additional guidance for schools regarding next school year around May 15, I am hopeful that this means we will be able to start in-person summer camps and classes beginning Monday, July 6 in a manner that is safe for our faculty and students.
While it is difficult to predict at this point what August will hold, we remain optimistic, and our hope is that some form of in-person learning will be possible. The Task Force is, however, planning for a wide range of scenarios including:
- A return to full in-person learning in August. This is of course everyone's preferred scenario, but we must be able to do it safely. We are working on developing the policies and procedures that must be in place in order to safely return together. The Task Force is considering daily temperature checks, the availability of widespread testing, requiring masks and/or other PPE, our ability to physically distance within classes, our approach to lunch and foodservice, cleaning protocols, mandatory hand washing, hand sanitizer stations throughout campus, and more. We are also looking at attendance policies and how we might accommodate faculty/staff and students/families who are more vulnerable due to age or underlying conditions should we be back to full time in-person learning.
- A hybrid of eLearning and in-person learning beginning in August. In this scenario, a portion of students and faculty would be on campus part of the time and learning at home part of the time.
- A return to full in-person learning in August, accounting for a potential resurgence of COVID-19 when flu season begins. We would be prepared to resume eLearning in case of an outbreak that would prevent us from assembling together in person.
- Beginning the school year with eLearning in August, with a return to in-person learning on campus later in the year when it is safer to come together.
Our Task Force is meeting in earnest to plan for all potential scenarios. We wanted to make you aware of our work thus far. We know we will have to continue revising and refining our plans throughout the summer as the situation evolves, and as we have additional guidance from state and local officials. We will keep you updated as preparations continue for next year.
You have likely heard the news announced at Governor Holcomb’s press conference today that all Indiana schools will be closed through the remainder of the school year. While many of us suspected this was coming, it is still very disappointing for our entire community. I realize that this will impact all of our year-end celebrations, particularly Commencement for the class of 2020. We will look for ways to honor and recognize our students as the end of the year approaches.
We are looking forward to implementing our enhanced eLearning strategies following spring break on Monday, April 13. Given today’s announcement, we will be reviewing our approach to grading, assessments and AP exams. We are also considering how this will affect summer school given that schools will be closed until at least June 10; we will communicate regarding summer programs as soon as we can.
We will miss seeing all of you and your children on campus, but look forward to staying connected virtually over the coming weeks.
As we begin implementing e-learning today, I wanted to thank you in advance for your flexibility and patience. We will inevitably encounter some hiccups, but we will do all we can to assist you and our students and help to ensure a smooth transition.
I have already been very impressed with the creativity and diligence displayed by our faculty as they post video messages, develop assignments, and provide resources and advice for you and our students.
Throughout this period, communication will be key. We will be communicating with all of you frequently, and ask that you also maintain an open line of communication with us. If you or your student are experiencing any issues with technology, please use teachers as the first point of contact for assistance. Faculty will work closely with our technology integrators and IT staff to troubleshoot as necessary.
If you are struggling with internet access or connectivity, many companies - including Comcast - are offering free internet access to families to facilitate e-learning. We also have a number of hotspots available that we can deliver; if you require one, please contact our Associate Head of School, Shants Hart.
We also know that some in our community may be struggling with their own supply of food. We are currently working with our partners at Quest and others to help provide assistance. In the meantime, here is a list of community resources that are currently available. Should you require specific assistance, please reach out to Shants.
I have had several people ask about support for our hourly workers, such as the Quest foodservice staff. Our maintenance and security crews are still working on campus, and we have offered Quest staff who are able and would like to continue working the opportunity to join the maintenance team. We have also provided them with food from the supply that we had on campus following our closure on Wednesday.
These are certainly unprecedented times for all of us. Maintaining our sense of community and connectivity will be essential, even as we remain physically separated. While we ask that you all abide by the request to practice social distancing and avoid getting together in person (and make sure that students are not congregating or meeting in person), please do look for ways to connect with each other virtually. Fortunately we have tools like FaceTime and Skype to help make that possible.
Please feel free to reach out to myself, your students' teachers, or anyone on our administrative team for support. We will all get through this together.
You have likely heard that Governor Holcomb has now ordered all schools in Indiana to remain closed until May 1. This is of course very sad news for all of us, as we will very much miss seeing you and your children on campus until May. We are also sorry to miss the performances, sports matches, and events in April that now must be cancelled. I feel particularly sad for our seniors, whose final year at Park Tudor is turning out to be quite different than any of us could have imagined.
We will continue e-learning as it is currently structured up until the start of spring break, March 27. Given the extended closure until May 1, we are assessing various e-learning scenarios to implement after spring break and will be continuing to adjust and develop our program. While it is impossible to replicate the classroom experience and the one-on-one interactions between teachers and students that are a hallmark of a Park Tudor education, we are exploring ways (including selected live streaming) to make our e-learning more robust. We are also providing our faculty with PD opportunities to help them enhance their e-learning skills. We will be in touch in the coming days with more specifics on our plans for enhanced e-learning beginning after spring break on April 13.
Thank you for your continuing patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented situation.
While we have no cases of COVID-19 that we are aware of within the Park Tudor community, nor are we aware of any members of our community who are under medical investigation for COVID-19, the probability that it will spread within our region is high. Today we were notified that one member of our parent community has recently been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and we were also made aware today of two additional members of our community who may have been in close contact with another individual who has tested positive. None of these individuals or their family members are currently symptomatic or being evaluated for COVID-19.
However, out of an abundance of caution and in consultation with healthcare experts, we have decided to close school following dismissal today (3/11), and remain closed until after spring break with the goal of reopening on Monday, April 13.
Our goal is to be able to return to school after spring break on Monday, April 13, and we have not made any decisions yet regarding events between spring break and the end of the school year. However, this situation is fluid; we will continue to monitor it and will keep you updated. We ask that if you or a member of your family are asked to self-quarantine, or if you or any member of your family tests positive for COVID-19, please contact the School Nurse.
Beginning on Monday, March 16, we will implement e-learning. You will be hearing from your Division Director tomorrow, but please plan on checking email and Canvas regularly beginning Monday. Middle and Upper School students will be expected to check email and Canvas daily beginning on Monday.
We understand that this is quite disruptive for all of you, as well as for our students. Please know that we have not made this decision lightly, and it is based on our desire to protect the health and safety of our entire community from COVID-19 - particularly the more vulnerable members of our community.
We thank you in advance for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this uncharted territory together.
Head of School
Helpful Coronavirus Information:
- General Information from the CDC about the Novel Coronavirus
- Local Novel Coronavirus Resource – Marion County Health Department
- Current Coronavirus Travel Alerts
- Children and Coronavirus
- Information on Handwashing
- Talking to Children About Coronavirus: A Parent Resource
- Know Your Risk: Guidance from the CDC
Community Resources in Indianapolis: