In classrooms, we will have students masked and separated by 6 feet when possible. In many countries, the recommended physical separation with masks is 3 feet in all directions, but we will be using a more generous spacing model. Additionally, plexiglass dividers will be used in select areas to enhance distancing protocols or to allow for some collaborative work such as in a science lab. By setting up classrooms with students spread out like this, we will have to use alternative methods for in-class group work, which has required us to change out a good deal of the furniture. Some classrooms will look much different, in some cases a bit sparse, and the locations of the students will be much more fixed, with less getting up and moving around. We recognize this is less than ideal for Hawken’s collaborative instructional model. However, our experience with remote learning last year and enhanced technology this year will support our efforts to all students to work together.

UPDATE (as of April 5, 2021): While the CDC has approved distancing of 3 feet between students, we will not be implementing any significant changes to accommodate that shift, as we don’t want to impose further disruptions to current staffing and space usage. However, per the updated CDC guidelines, faculty and staff will be informed that allowing students to be 3 feet apart in the classroom spaces will be permitted if needed to support classroom instruction as long as students remain masked.

In addition to the creative repurposing of common spaces, we will have strict protocols as to how and when people move from one space to another. This is necessary to avoid large group congregation and to ensure distancing. The use of learning cohort groups in the Middle School, as well as smaller, contained cohorts in the Lower School, is another way that we are able to decrease transitions and create less density during transitions. The Upper School and Mastery School have also modified their class sectioning and schedule to allow for less density between and within classes. 

With limits on movement in the buildings, the occurrence of students waiting in lines will be minimized. In our Lower School, students will likely wait in physically-distanced lines as they enter the building. Multiple entrances with consideration of classroom locations will be used to further decrease lines. Students will be dismissed using the PikMyKid app, which allows for the parent/guardian to notify the school upon arrival, so students can remain in classrooms until their rides have arrived. 

In the Middle, Upper, and Mastery Schools, guidance will be given by teachers when students enter and exit classrooms to provide the necessary space and time to sanitize properly. Similarly, students will stagger their lunch times and return to assigned classrooms, seating, or outdoor spaces to eat, so lines will be both limited and physically-distanced.

Recess and Free Times
In the Lower School, students will sanitize or wash hands prior to heading to recess and will sanitize or wash hands after recess before resuming classroom activities. Additionally, recess spaces will be sectioned off and assigned to different classrooms for designated days in order to limit the mixing of classroom groups. Recess behavior will be structured by the teacher so that games and activities are lower risk; mask breaks may be permitted in supervised ways for students at this time. Lastly, our outdoor spaces and woods will be designated as play space and shared in a coordinated way.

In the Middle School, students will sanitize or wash hands prior to heading to recess and will sanitize or wash hands after recess before resuming classroom activities. Outdoor spaces will be designated for each grade level. Teachers will determine whether masks may be removed based on whether students are engaging in activities that are lower risk.

In the Upper and Mastery Schools, to create more sections and to take advantage of the safety benefits of large-scale spaces, most of the common spaces in our buildings will be used for instruction. This will limit students’ ability to use common spaces for gatherings, and guidelines suggest that we eliminate such gatherings. That means that when students have “free” time, they will either be in an assigned classroom with a small cohort or outside in areas that are designed for maintaining physical distancing requirements.
We have created additional common spaces and instructional spaces outdoors to assist with physical distancing and to take advantage of the safety benefits of being outdoors. Three tents have been added at the Lyndhurst campus, one tent at the Gates Mills campus, one tent behind the Gries Center, and two tents at the Mastery School. Because students will likely be spending more time outdoors, we will be asking families to send their children prepared with the clothing necessary to be outdoors to a greater degree than we have in the past.

Larger groups (more than 15) will gather only in large spaces that have been approved for physical distancing (theatre, chapel, outdoors) or that will be actively supervised by an employee at all times (gyms). Assemblies, grade level or co-curricular meetings, and faculty meetings will be modified and will use technology to allow the whole community or larger group to be present and connected, albeit in a different way. 

Class Sizes
Class sizes have been reduced. The degree to which they are reduced is proportional to the size of the instructional space. This has required us to increase the number of sections of student groupings, change the teaching assignments for many faculty, and hire some additional faculty and staff for coverage. Some faculty 
will therefore take on additional roles; for example, a special area 
teacher in the Lower School may need to function more like a homeroom teacher.      

Because of the need to change the number and size of sections and to create less movement and mixing of students, we have altered the teaching assignments and schedules for all divisions. In all cases, we have maintained the core academic time and curriculum, but some elective choices may not be possible.

Limits on Visitors
We will be discouraging all visitors unless necessary, and thus visits will be very limited. In order for visitors to be allowed in the building, they must receive permission in advance from a school administrator and must be escorted by an employee while in the building.

Parents and Relatives: Having parents engaged in their child’s experience and active in the life of the school has been central to our philosophy, and, as such, we have welcomed parents on campus and in our buildings. We will continue to find creative ways to maintain that partnership, but we will have to strictly limit when and how parents (and relatives) are in the buildings. We will provide ways to have parents periodically in the buildings in limited ways, but always with expressed, prior permission from a school administrator (i.e., division directors) and in compliance with our screening procedures. We will also provide safe ways for parents to drop off things for their children that will not require them to enter the building.

Admission Visitors: Our admissions tours of the buildings will be conducted after school hours (evenings and weekends) and will be led by the professional admission staff. Tours have been structured to reduce interactions with the physical environment, and the building will be cleaned after the admission visits. Admission visitors will also be required to follow all our protocols such as wearing masks and screening for symptoms.

This restart guide represents our best thinking, as well as that of experts at some of the top medical and educational institutions in the nation. Thank you to all of our medical advisors and peer schools for your guidance in helping to identify the specific protocols and resources referenced in this comprehensive plan.