On August 20, The Potomac School announced that it will begin the 2020-21 academic year with full distance learning (red operational level). We hope that this will be temporary and are looking to begin repopulating our campus during the week of September 28, conditions permitting. Please read the information below for a fuller understanding of Potomac’s operational decisions at this time.
Four Potential Operational Levels
In planning for the 2020-21 academic year amid the current pandemic, Potomac has defined four possible operational levels, ranging from green to red. Green would mean that the danger of COVID-19 infection is past and everyone could return to campus for a fully in-person educational experience. At the other end of the spectrum, red would indicate that the risk of infection is judged to be too high for the Potomac community to safely return to campus, so virtual teaching and learning would be in effect for all students. Between red and green are orange and yellow.
At the end of July, Potomac shared its yellow plan with families and other community members. This plan assumes a level of risk that the school believes it can safely manage with a variety of mitigation strategies, and it provides a hybrid approach to learning that prioritizes in-person instruction while also providing synchronous and asynchronous virtual instruction for students who cannot come to campus for medical or other reasons. This plan remains The Potomac School’s ultimate goal for fall 2020, the “North Star” toward which we continue to work. The detailed information farther down on this web page relates to our yellow-level operational plan.
The school’s orange-level plan is a slightly more conservative variant of the yellow plan, which would involve a more gradual repopulation of the campus, should circumstances warrant. The orange plan may serve as a bridge between red and yellow.
How Potomac’s Operational Level Is Determined
To determine its operational level at any point during the 2020-21 school year, Potomac will take three main factors into consideration. The first of these is public health metrics. The school is closely monitoring case incidence and test positivity rates in the greater DC region, with particular attention to those counties and cities where the majority of our students and employees reside. In general, these rates must be below the CDC and WHO recommendations for safely reopening schools AND must reflect a stable or downward trend for a 14-day period in order for Potomac to judge that it is safe either to reopen its campus or to keep it open. Once the campus is repopulated, health trends within the school community will also be an important determinant.
A second factor influencing the school’s decisions is operational readiness – our ability to implement our multi-layered risk-mitigation strategy at any time. This includes readiness in such areas as facilities and bus cleaning, cohorting. social distancing, daily health screenings, case response and contact tracing, and other health and safety protocols.
The third determining factor is community responsibility. The school has adopted the Potomac Pledge, a statement of shared responsibility for protecting the community’s health and safety. The willingness and ability of all members of the Potomac community – students, faculty and staff, and families – to consistently adhere to this pledge will be a factor in any decision to reopen the campus or keep it open at a given time.
Potomac's Yellow Plan: Our "North Star" for the Fall
John Kowalik, Head of School
Potomac’s plans for the 2020-21 academic year are guided by these key priorities:
♦ Protect the health and safety of our community
♦ Offer an enriching educational experience that fuels each student's intellectual and social-emotional growth
♦ Sustain the positive relationships and sense of community for which Potomac is known
♦ Ensure that a commitment to equity and inclusion informs our work
Potomac’s 90-acre campus offers a wide array of indoor and outdoor learning spaces. Now, as we cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our spacious campus is a greater asset than ever.
At Potomac. health and safety are our number-one priority. Following government guidance, information from public health experts, and the advice of our own panel of medical consultants, Potomac has devised a multi-faceted approach to mitigating the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Potomac’s blended learning model will ensure that all students – those who are on campus and those who are learning remotely – are full participants in the classroom experience.
Juna Kim McDaid, Director of K-12 Academics
Health & Safety
Tim Jaeger, Assistant Head of School