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.
With a multi-layered risk mitigation strategy in place to protect the health and safety of the campus community, The Potomac School is now operating under its yellow plan. This plan prioritizes an in-person educational experience while providing virtual instruction for those students who cannot come to campus for medical or other reasons.
Please read the information below to learn more about Potomac's operational levels, commitment to health and safety, and hybrid learning model that serves the needs of all students.
Four Potential Operational Levels
In planning for the 2020-21 academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Potomac defined four possible operational levels, ranging from red to green. Red would indicate that the risk of infection was 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. At the other end of the spectrum, green would mean that the danger of COVID-19 infection was past or so significantly reduced that it was judged safe for everyone to return to campus for a fully in-person educational experience. Between red and green are orange and yellow.
At the end of July 2020, 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 multi-layered mitigation strategy, and it provides a hybrid approach to learning that prioritizes in-person instruction while providing synchronous and asynchronous virtual instruction for students who cannot come to campus for medical or other reasons. Operating under the yellow plan was Potomac's goal for fall 2020.
While regional health conditions made it necessary to begin the school year in red, we were able to transition to orange in late September and then to yellow on October 15, and Potomac has continued to operate under the yellow plan since that time. However, we have remained agile and responsive to changing conditions, recognizing that Potomac's operational level at any point would be determined by regional public health metrics, health trends within our school community, and other relevant factors. The section below provides more information about how such decisions have been, and will continue to be, made.
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 the cities and counties 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. In addition, when the campus is open, health trends within the Potomac School community will be monitored closely and be an important factor in any decision.
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 our community – students, faculty and staff, and families – to consistently adhere to this pledge will be a factor in any decision to reopen Potomac's campus or keep it open at a given time.
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
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.