Thank you for completing the surveys that we sent last week. The division directors and I are reading through them carefully and considering ways that we can adapt to serve our students and families in the best way possible. I’m writing to you now to answer a few of the more immediate questions about health and safety.
Based on our initial read of the surveys and the current health environment in Rhode Island, we have made the decision that the Upper School will stay in hybrid mode until Winter Break.
I know that some families have questions and concerns about ventilation and air quality as we head into the colder months. I can assure you that even as we planned for the warm fall months (and we have been so grateful for the amazing fall weather!), this has been on our minds, too.
The tents will have to come down by early November because they are not meant to be snow-bearing. Teachers and students will still spend as much time outside as possible. This means that students—and teachers—will need to dress warmly and in layers for school each day. Division directors will communicate about appropriate adjustments to the uniform. We have ordered 3-sided clear dividers (and expect them to arrive early next week) for use during lunch as an additional safety measure as we spend more time indoors.
There are different ways that we will achieve safe air quality, depending on the building. If you have been following the news out of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and listening to the Governor speak on this topic, you have likely heard that air quality is measured in ACH units, or “air changes per hour.” Lenny Estrella, our director of facilities, has monitored the air quality around school closely. As you know, for now we have windows open throughout all of our buildings, and we run either window fans or exhaust fans in most rooms. We will keep windows open for as long as possible.
Once it gets too cold to keep windows open, we are confident that we can achieve an ACH of a minimum of 5 using the calculations provided by RIDOH and other sources. We do this in a variety of ways, depending on the location and mechanical unit. When filtration is appropriate, we use MERV-13 filters.
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are the methods that we employ:
Carriage House: Makeup Air Unit
Little School Building: Makeup Air Unit
Lower School: Exhaust Fans and portable HEPA air purifiers
Middle School: Heat Recovery Ventilator
Faxon Hall (Upper School):
Boss Gym: Air scrubbers
- Garden level, First- and Second-floor classrooms: portable HEPA air purifiers
- Third Floor: Heat Recovery Ventilator
- STEAM Hub, Art Gallery, Science Wing, Dining Room: Energy Recovery Ventilator and Makeup Air Unit
- Music Center, Wheeler Gym: Air Scrubbers
As we head into the winter months, I encourage you to stay current with Governor Raimondo’s and RIDOH’s recommendations about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As we do in school, I hope you will please wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash hands frequently. I encourage everyone to get a flu shot if you haven’t already. And if you must carpool, please be sure those in the car are wearing masks and that you keep windows down.
The Governor has also issued many recommendations about how to safely celebrate the upcoming holidays, from Halloween to Thanksgiving. We are finding creative ways to recognize these celebratory moments at school; while things will be different this year, we will find ways to make them meaningful. We have a group of faculty and administrators working to reimagine Lumina so that we can observe this special Lincoln School tradition in a festive and safe way.
Finally, I want to be sure you know that we periodically update our reopening plan on our website to reflect any changing recommendations. It details how we will respond to a positive case at school and includes a link to the most recent version of RIDOH’s Outbreak Response Playbook.
As always, thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in this most unusual year.
Sophie Glenn Lau ’88