Reopening the Red Doors 2020–21
As we look toward the start of the 2020/21 school year at Lincoln, we are excited to see everyone’s faces back on Butler Avenue again!
Our plan, in accordance with Governor Raimondo’s guidance, is to reopen campus for in-person instruction for all divisions, every day of the week. While it feels like much has changed since our red doors closed in March, the core of Lincoln remains the same: best-in-class education in a one-of-a-kind community.
With the safety of our students, families, faculty, and staff at heart, Lincoln leadership has been hard at work this summer making the necessary changes and adjustments to how our school operates. Throughout the coming year, we are committed to remaining adaptable, creative, and continuously dedicated to providing the best possible experience in the midst of challenging circumstances, made possible by our small size and tight-knit community. We anticipate that parts of this plan will continue to evolve as we respond to local and national guidance.
Our Mission: Lincoln School’s dynamic academic program, rooted in Quaker principles, educates girls to fearlessly embrace the opportunities and responsibilities of full citizenship in a complex world.
Safety and Community
One of Lincoln’s greatest strengths has always been our community. Our commitment to our students and families means we are taking great care to provide the very best learning, prioritize physical well being and mental health, and create the safest environment possible, all with people at top of mind.
We know that the best-in-class learning Lincoln is known for is all about connections—between students and teachers, within the greater community, and between students and the world. No matter which platforms we’re using or which rooms we’re in, at Lincoln, learning is personal and powerful.
We deeply value all-girls education—its ability to break through stereotypes to defy expectations, to dismantle perfection in order to make way for passion, and to push the boundaries of what is perceived as possible. The result, whether in person or remote: caring, joyful, confident students who rise to the challenge.
Equity and Action
As we come together again on campus, we reinforce our commitment to the hard work it will take to ensure that everyone in our community is able to access all that Lincoln has to offer. We honor our Quaker roots as we join together in action to address racism, injustice, and inequity on our campus and in the world.
Flexibility and Responsibility
Lincoln’s response to the pandemic has paralleled the lessons we teach our students: to be nimble, to think bigger and bolder, and to lead the way through the uncharted. With creativity and resilience, we reaffirm our dedication to educating our students and supporting their families. We are all in this together.
Reopening Lincoln is a true team effort, one being led by Head of School Sophie Glenn Lau ’88 with the support of the Emergency Response Team (ERT), a group that has been working together to keep Lincoln safe long before COVID-19. Broken into task forces, Lincoln leaders from across divisions and departments have worked closely and collaboratively to chart the course for new ways of learning. Our work is guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island Department of Health, Independent School Association of Rhode Island, and consultation with leading infectious disease doctors.
And although summer is usually a moment to rest and recharge for faculty, this year, teachers of all grade levels are using their time to learn and grow—Lower School teachers engaged in varied professional development courses over the summer, and Middle and Upper School faculty have taken hybrid teaching and learning courses with our partner, One Schoolhouse, to help reinforce and strengthen best practices and pedagogy for the year ahead.
As we progress with the school year, we are abiding by the following health and safety measures to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. The pandemic is an ever-evolving situation, and this list will change along with local and global guidance and recommendations. Your participation is vital to ensuring Lincoln is a safe and healthy community for all.
When on campus, all members of the community—from Ginkgo Room students through Grade 12 and all adults—are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when on campus. When possible, we will give supervised mask breaks following all health and safety guidelines. Face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19.
Daily Health Check In
Parents of students in the Oak Room (Nursery)–Grade 12 must screen students for a fever and other COVID-19 symptoms at home using the self-attestation app, provided through Lincoln’s new digital health tool, Magnus. Little School families will continue to use Daily Connect. These are completed daily in an effort to provide all students, faculty, and staff with a safe and healthy learning environment.
Drop Off and Pick Up
We have a staff member on duty at all drop-off points to ensure that individuals are wearing face coverings as they exit cars, and maintaining distance as they enter the buildings.
Stable Pods: Lower School
In Lower School, our small class size is one of our many strengths, and is being used to maintain stable pods within each grade level. Each class is its own pod, with desks separated by at least three feet, with dedicated access to their classroom. Students, teachers, and staff wear face coverings, and classes eat lunch, play at recess, and learn together throughout the day. We spend as much time outside as is possible and practical. Find out more about Lower School learning.
Maintain the Bubble: Middle and Upper Schools
In Middle and Upper Schools, small class sizes mean that learning has always been collaborative and interactive. Students and teachers in these grade levels wear face coverings at all times, and maintain a 6-foot bubble around each student, with individual seats separated by at least three feet in every classroom. By reimagining classroom layouts, mapping out hallway traffic patterns, and repurposing common spaces, these grade levels are able to learn safely in person. Find out more about learning in Middle and Upper Schools.
The Great Outdoors
Lincoln’s campus is surrounded by green space, and use of outdoor space is a central part of our curriculum. We maximize the use of lawns, courtyards, common areas, and outdoor classrooms for learning, lunch, play, and athletics, as weather allows. In order to ensure outside space is available even in poor weather, we've put up two tents in the parking lot alongside Lower School, one outside the Oak Tree, one in the courtyard behind Faxon Hall.
Community Gathering and Common Space
At the heart of daily school life and beloved Lincoln traditions, we have had to re-envision how we come together as a community. We use outdoor spaces as much as possible, and have put social distance and safety measures in place indoors, as well. When not able to be outdoors, Lower Schoolers eat lunch in their classrooms, Middle Schoolers eat grab-and-go lunches in small-group advisories, and Upper School lunch is held in the Dining Room, Wheeler Gym, and repurposed Upper School lounges. Silent meetings and other large-group programming are outdoors or virtual. We have also invested in new infrastructure to increase airflow throughout the building, with particular attention given to common areas.
Personal Hygiene Practices
To prevent infection with COVID-19, the CDC recommends frequent handwashing with soap and warm water; coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue; to avoid touching mouth, nose, and eyes; and the use of hand sanitizer. All bathrooms have person limits, protocols, and signage to minimize risk. We have installed additional sinks with soap dispensers and additional hand sanitizing stations in all divisions. Across divisions, we have built time into the day to ensure all community members are able to maintain the highest level of hygiene, and students receive frequent reminders from posted signs and faculty and staff.
Sanitizing and Cleaning Protocols
All classrooms have been equipped with cleaning supplies, and a thorough disinfection and sanitizing of classrooms and other spaces is conducted daily. Shared spaces and classrooms used by multiple stable groups are disinfected thoroughly between uses, including classrooms, hallways, and other areas. A specially trained individual has been contracted to clean bathrooms and high-touch surfaces on a continuous basis throughout the day.
To minimize risk, only essential visitors are permitted into school buildings. If there is a critical reason to come into a school building (for example, to pick up a sick child), we ask that only one parent or guardian visit a building when possible. Though we are not be able to see each other inside in person, parent/teacher connections are critical to learning—we rely on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms as much as possible to maintain communication.
Symptoms or Exposure: Staying Home
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Rhode Island Department of Health recommendations and guidelines, if any community member is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or believes they have been exposed to COVID-19, the best way to limit transmission is to stay home. In these cases, students will be able to participate in learning remotely. Any student, parent, faculty or staff member who has symptoms or suspects exposure should stay home, follow up with their health care provider, and notify the school nurse through Magnus or directly.
If a student or staff member presents as a probable positive case at school:
- The nurse will direct the student or staff member to the appropriate isolation room
- The nurse will screen the student or staff member (nurse will wear PPE)
- The student/staff member will wait in isolation room until picked up by parent (parent must pick up within 1 hour)
- The staff member will leave campus
- The nurse will enter information into the probable case reporting portal
- The student or staff member will be directed to get a test (per RIDOH)
- If positive, the school will use seating charts and student schedule to identify close contacts and communicate with RIDOH as needed
- The school will communicate with families of close contacts and inform them of quarantine
- The school will notify the community that there has been a positive case
- The student or staff member will be allowed to return to school once meeting conditions outlined in RIDOH playbook
- If negative, the student or staff member will be instructed to meet conditions for a return to school as defined by RIDOH and will complete After-Illness Attestation form before return to school
We have added an additional school nurse to our staff for the 2020–21 school year to ensure we can be as responsive as possible to community health concerns.
Students who are unable to be on campus because of a medical reason will be able to continue their studies from a distance via Zoom if they are well enough to do so.
This work has been guided by the RIDOH Outbreak Response Protocols K–Grade 12.
Travel and Transportation
If anyone in our community travels to a state on Rhode Island’s restricted travel list or internationally, they must quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. This policy has been in place all year, and it was reinforced with the latest iteration of the Outbreak Response Protocols: Pre K-12 from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The purpose of this policy is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The list of restricted states changes week to week and is updated by the Department of Health every Monday.
Regarding transportation to school, if you must carpool, please be sure those in the car are wearing masks and that you keep your windows down.
We recognize that being on campus is a very joyful time for our community, but that learning during a pandemic can also bring with it much stress and uncertainty. Lincoln’s School Psychologist Dr. Masha Schiller, is available for any student who wishes to speak with her, and can coordinate with outside providers. And because every child is known at Lincoln, teachers, division directors, the dean of students, advisors, and other school leaders are checking in with students and families regularly to ensure they are receiving the support they need.
For more details about student support and resources, please contact Dean of Students Kara Gilligan or your division director.
As recommendations change, and the local and national response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, we expect that you will have questions about the school year.
Should your family’s circumstances change at any point going forward, or should you have a question that you don't yet have the answer to, please reach out to your respective division director.
Peter Brooks, Director of Upper School
Maureen Devlin (RIDOH liaison), Director of Lower School
Dr. Barret Fabris, Director of the Center for Justice, Peace, and Global Citizenship
Kara Newman-Gilligan, Dean of Students
Debbie Hanney, Director of Middle School
Kim Lough, Director of Little School and Early Childhood
Diane Murphy (RIDOH liaison), School Nurse
We are planning first and foremost for a return to our campus for the 2020/21 school year. However, in accordance with the Rhode Island Department of Education recommendations on reopening, and in recognition of the pandemic’s shifting nature, we are preparing for three distinct approaches: in person, a hybrid approach, and distance learning.
Underpinning the coursework is the important reminder that the fundamentals of good teaching are the same, whether teaching from a distance or in person: relationships are what make deep and meaningful learning experiences possible.
If a family elects for a child to stay at home rather than engage in in-person learning, students will have the option to participate in the learning experiences via Zoom. Families who are considering this should reach out to the respective Division Directors.
Oak and Ginkgo rooms (Nursery and PreK) will follow existing Lower School health and safety guidelines with age appropriate modifications. Classroom teachers will establish routines that incorporate distancing and reduce the number of shared play items and educational materials. Beginning in the Ginkgo classroom, students will be required to wear face coverings, unless socially distanced when outdoors. Mask breaks will be given to students during quiet time, meal times, and when 6 feet of distance can measurably be offered and maintained.
Our reopening process has been guided by the following recommendations and organizations:
CDC Guidance for Schools
The Rhode Island Department of Health
Back to School RI: Health and Safety Guidance to Reopen Rhode Island’s Elementary and Secondary Schools
RIDOH Outbreak Response Protocols K-12