Norwood Opens On Campus & Remotely on Tuesday, September 8

Norwood launched the 2020-2021 school year with a phased reopening, bringing its youngest learners (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten) back to campus first and gradually adding other grades when feasible.
Read about Norwood's reopening plans as stated in a letter to the community from Head of School Matthew Gould:

The new school year will begin as scheduled on Tuesday, September 8. We will start small and gradually expand on-campus attendance in a considered and cautious way. Students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will attend school on campus for half days (with the option to learn from home), while students in grades 1-8 will attend school remotely in September. I am tremendously disappointed that we are unable to bring all grades to campus on the first day of school, but I truly believe that a cautious and carefully phased reopening is the approach for Norwood to take to the ever-evolving public health environment. Our goal is to bring students at all grade levels back to campus in a safe and expeditious manner, and I am hopeful that we can begin the process of bringing back additional grades, both in the Lower School and Middle School, in early October.
 
As a child-centered school that prioritizes what is best for students in all decision-making, we have worked hard to strike a balance between protecting the health and safety of our community members (and that of the broader community) and getting our children back to school. While a phased reopening is not what we had hoped for, we are confident that, combined with a robust and creative distance learning program, it is the right and best decision for the Norwood community.
 
The decision to begin with our youngest learners is based on a few considerations. First, our pre-K and kindergarten classes are completely isolated and “podded,” meaning that, except for restroom visits, there is no movement in or out of the classrooms by other teachers or students. In addition, these classrooms have dedicated entrances and exits, further mitigating the risk of transmission, and much of their curriculum incorporates outdoor “discovery and exploration.” Second, even in a normal year, specials classes are not part of the pre-K and K schedules during the first few weeks of school, thereby eliminating the challenges associated with bringing specials teachers into the classroom or running all specials remotely. And finally, as we experienced last spring, distance learning poses significant challenges for our youngest students for whom play-based learning and social interaction are critical to growth and development.
 
We strongly believe it is important for students in all grades at Norwood to begin the school year with some face-to-face time. To that end, we are currently working on a plan and schedule that will bring homeroom and advisory groups to campus for carefully monitored, outdoor, socially distanced orientations to meet their teachers and begin the community-building process that is core to the Norwood School experience. Information about these small, on-campus gatherings and supplies/technology pick-up will be included with your back-to-school materials coming next week. For students at all grade levels who will be attending school remotely, we will also be exploring the possibility of additional periodic in-person outdoor activities, organized by homeroom and advisory groups.
 
The news of a phased reopening will undoubtedly be met with a mix of emotions. Please know, however, that Norwood’s faculty and staff remain 110% committed to delivering a high-quality distance learning program in all grades and all subjects. In fact, this summer’s professional development program has focused entirely on creative and innovative strategies to enrich the remote teaching and learning experience. In addition, we are incorporating best practices and lessons learned from the highly successful academic Kickstarter program run by Summer at Norwood. Structure and flexibility will remain the overarching characteristics as our teachers incorporate significantly more synchronous learning, real-time feedback, streamlined technology, a greater variety of teaching methods to further differentiate instruction, as well as ample opportunities for community-building and connecting with peers, older and younger buddies, and teachers.
 
During the weeks ahead, we will continue to closely monitor local, state, and federal guidelines; recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, positivity rates in our region, test availability and return rates; and the initial success with implementing our phased reopening plan, which includes:
 
  • Adherence to The Norwood Commitment by all members of our community, committing all of us to observe and abide by important specified health practices
  • Required Daily Health Assessment
  • Required face masks for all students and employees
  • Small cohorts of 8-12 students with 1 teacher
  • Modified classroom layouts with seating/desks at least 6 feet apart
  • Modified schedule to minimize movement
  • New and upgraded technology
  • Individual school supplies for each student (no sharing of supplies)
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols
  • Physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, where needed
  • PPE supply, including medical-grade PPE for Health Office
  • Relocated Health Office with Isolation Room
  • Extensive use of outdoor spaces for learning, lunch, and recreation
  • Contactless games and activities for recess and P.E.
  • Response and communication plan for positive cases or close contact
The complete plan will be posted to the Back-to-School Resource Board available in HawksNest next week. We ask that you read it carefully, along with “The Norwood Commitment” document, so your family is informed and prepared when your child returns to campus. A successful return to on-campus learning will require that everyone adhere to new policies and procedures designed to keep our community as safe as possible.
 
In addition, it is critical that families abide by appropriate safeguards for COVID-19 protection when they are away from campus: follow social distancing measures as defined by the CDC and wear a mask in public settings; do not attend large gatherings or participate in team sports or recreational activities that do not abide by appropriate safeguards for COVID-19 protection; do not travel by any mode of transportation to areas with large COVID-19 outbreaks; and make all efforts to avoid air travel. If air travel is necessary, wear a face mask and follow all appropriate quarantine and social distancing recommendations from the relevant local, state, and federal government agencies. I am confident that if we all work together and follow these measures, and the positivity rates in our area continue their downward trend, we can begin the process of bringing all students back to campus in October.
 
We don’t know for certain what this year will bring, but I can assure you that we are ready to respond and adapt to create a learning environment that captures the special qualities of Norwood School, where each and every child is known, loved, and celebrated. We are excited about the new school year and can’t wait to get started!

Click here to see Norwood's Reopening Plan for Fall 2020.
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Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.