Returning to campus during a pandemic
When students returned to The Summit campus last fall, things looked a little different at school. Classrooms are now spaced to accommodate six feet of physical distancing between students with large tables for collaborative learning replaced with individual desks. Teachers, staff, and students wear face masks and receive temperature checks before entering the building. Increased sanitization protocols and designated traffic flow limit the use of our facilities and restrict student travel throughout the building. Improvements to our technology infrastructure, implementation of Swivl webcams in classrooms, and increased responsibilities among personnel have facilitated the addition of hybrid learning options for students unable or uncomfortable returning to seated instruction. And that was not all. The Summit has made dozens of other health, safety, and security improvements to best prepare for our return to seated classes, including:
Physical Campus Improvements
- Installation of touchless features in bathrooms
- Retrofitting water fountains as water bottle filling stations
- Upgrading HVAC for improved air filtration and purification
- Removing excess furniture and surfaces to temporary external storage to accommodate appropriate spacing
- Purchase of acrylic dividers for reception desk and classroom spaces and an additional copier to limit communal usage
- Updated signage throughout the building to encourage increased handwashing, physical distancing, the use of face masks, and student illness policies
Health, Wellness, & Safety
- Increased safety and sanitation equipment and protocols, including the purchase of an atomizing fogger, staggered classroom and learning spaces cleaning schedules throughout the day, and additional nightly disinfection from a professional cleaning service
- Established hallway and stairwell traffic patterns and installed new treads
- Increased health screenings before entering the building and refitting former classroom space as quarantine space with appropriate furnishings and supplies
- Individualized packaging for all school lunches and discontinued use of lunch common space
- Added personnel responsibilities to conduct contact tracing, communication with families and the health department, and monitoring latest guidance and recommendations for continual pandemic response policy updates
- Faculty and staff have participated in hundreds of combined hours of professional development encompassing areas of self-care and mental health, tools for challenging behaviors and trauma, technology and curriculum resources for both distance learning and seated instruction, diversity, equity, and inclusion, health and safety in schools, disaster preparedness, and cyber security.
- Hiring of additional substitute teachers and support staff
- COVID-related paid time off provided to employees in addition to the amount required by the FFCRA
Many of these changes our students have never encountered at school before. And while The Summit was busy redefining policies, reprioritizing budget funds, and refitting our facilities with necessary precautions in light of the pandemic, we did so with one goal in mind: ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and community. While there may be some unfamiliar changes on campus, students also returned to school excited by some of our other changes, too--like our expanded WiFi capabilities to extend learning beyond the classroom walls and into our big backyard or the newly added outdoor classroom. The track was refinished and restriped, ready for relays. Our student-designed native plant and pollinator gardens flourished over the summer and awaited our students to dive in with hands-on, project-based learning. We provided our faculty with increased professional development and families with educational opportunities to encourage their own self-care as well as to acquire tools for students who are experiencing anxiety or trauma during the pandemic. For students, we added additional outdoor exploration and recess for added fresh air and movement and increased our yoga offering across all grade levels.
A need for your support
Self-reliance lies at the heart of The Summit. Operating as a not-for-profit organization, our school relies exclusively on tuition and donor support. Your donation will help underwrite our essential costs to provide our students with a premiere, independent education including technology advancements, campus maintenance and improvements, pandemic response requirements, overall health and wellness needs and teacher pay to attract and retain the finest educators in the Ozarks.
At The Summit, things are looking different. But the feelings of community, belonging, acceptance, and security remain the same. We welcomed our students back to learning in their classrooms, exploring the backyard, and once again engaging (safely) with members of the school community. The Summit has remained committed to offering students safely seated instruction five days a week with increased health screenings and cleaning protocols, expanded learning spaces, and the same dedicated faculty ready to serve and support the needs of students with our whole-child approach. With our purposefully small class sizes, The Summit may not be the biggest school in the Ozarks, but we are a strong and resilient community. With your support, we can continue to rise higher and meet the challenges of the future while providing a premiere, independent education to our students today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.