Q: I’ve looked through this list of questions and can’t find an answer to mine. Who can I contact?
Email RiskResponse@gds.org and we’ll do our best to get back to you within about 3 business days.
Q: Is GDS planning on opening in-person?
As of right now (8/5), we will be starting off the 2020-21 school year with students and teachers engaging in GDS’s Virtual Campus (i.e., academic distance learning). We plan to revisit this decision at the end of the first quarter (November 1), with the understanding that this timeline could be accelerated or extended depending on public health considerations and the evolution of the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our region. Though we will open by participating in GDS’s Virtual Campus, we continue to be prepared for the possibility of in-person learning with streaming capabilities for those at home (sometimes called "HyFlex") as well as GDS’s Virtual Campus (distance learning).
Q: Under which circumstances does GDS choose between distance and in-person instruction?
GDS may decide between distance to in-person learning based on an internal decision-making matrix, as well as one or more of the following:
- The prevalence of COVID-19 within our community, as defined regionally by whether cases are increasing or decreasing, test positivity, and new cases per 100,000 people.
- Most recent research related to viral spread among children and in schools.
- Cases within the immediate GDS community.
- Availability and turnaround time of testing in the community.
- The success and availability of a vaccine.
- DC Department of Health directives.
- Feedback from our Parent Public Health Committee, our Leadership Team, and/or our Board of Trustees.
Depending on where we are on the decision-making matrix, we might experience learning in any of the following frameworks, with families being able to opt-in or out of on-campus activities in scenarios 2-4.
Q: How is GDS thinking about risk in considering reopening?
We have worked and continue to work with our Parent Public Health Panel, our Board of Trustees, our legal and insurance teams, as well as the approximately 110 members of our reopening committees to think through: the risks of opening, public health metrics that we should be watching that help direct our on- and off-campus strategies, and mitigation strategies that we can put in place to help reduce risk of transmission on campus. We also recognize that we cannot eliminate all risks.
Q. How will families and faculty be involved in decision making?
One of the metrics in our decision making matrix is "How safe does the community feel?" We will survey faculty and families on their comfort in returning to campus prior to making the decision to do so. Survey results will be used to inform decision making, along with the seven other metrics we are tracking.
Q: How could we prepare for in-person schooling?
Practice wearing a mask for long periods of time and practice taking it on and off. Avoid travel in the two weeks prior to returning to school (note that, per DC guidelines, GDS is requiring that anyone who has traveled to a high risk area quarantine for at least 14 days prior to attending school). Get in the habit of taking your temperature or your child’s temperature before bedtime and in the morning. Let us know if you need help obtaining masks and thermometers by emailing RiskResponse@gds.org.
Q: Will GDS allow visitors on campus?
We will not be accepting non-essential visitors to campus. All guests who must be on campus will be asked to go through an on-site screening process. Parent meetings will be conducted through Zoom.
Q: Will the Parent-Student Handbook be updated?
Yes, GDS will be distributing an addendum to our Parent-Student Handbook to families electronically before the start of the school year. This will not require new signatures; by attending school (whether in-person or distance), families agree to the updated policies indicated in the new addendum.
Q: Are teachers involved in the reopening process?
Yes. We invited all faculty and staff to join our reopening committees, which made recommendations to the school’s Leadership Team around all aspects of a return to school. In total, 110 employees engaged in the reopening process by serving on 14 different committees.
Q: What will dining look like when we are in-person? Where will students eat and will meals be prepackaged?
During in-person schooling, students will eat all lunch and snacks in classrooms. Our dining partner, Merriweather-Godsey, will provide pre-packaged lunches (as well as milk and milk alternatives individual containers) for all LMS students as part of tuition, as well as interested HS students for a fee, and families may opt to bring food from home. LMS families will place orders one week in advance and HS students will opt into the meal program at the start of each semester. High school students who do not opt into the meal program should bring lunch from home as delivery services will not be permitted. Menus will be shared at least two weeks in advance. Students should bring a water bottle from home every day.
Q: Will gatherings still take place on campus? What about new student and new parent events?
Yes, events will still take place, albeit virtually. Our online calendar will reflect all updates to events, acknowledging that we will likely be holding many or most events virtually until we reach phase 4.
Q: Will students be using lockers?
Students will not have access to lockers or locker rooms until we enter phase 4. This is in an effort to reduce crowding and ensure distancing in shared spaces.
Q: How quickly will GDS be able to pivot between distance learning and in-person/HyFlex?
When the whole school is in Virtual Campus mode, we will be making decisions quarterly about when and whether to return to in-person HyFlex learning. If individual cohorts are required to move to GDS Virtual Campus for quarantine, distance learning will begin on the next school day and students will be able to return to HyFlex programming on the first day they are permitted to return. If the whole school moves to our Virtual Campus mode from a HyFlex mode, we will allow at most two school days to complete the transition.
Q: How will you make sure substitutes are trained in the various protocols and that they are healthy when they come in?
During in-person schooling, all members of the GDS community will be asked to complete daily health screenings prior to arrival at school and each evening before bed, including potential substitutes. In addition, GDS will be making all of its pre-service trainings a requirement for all staff, including substitutes.
In-Person Schooling Questions
Q: Will siblings be grouped together?
As we consider in-person schooling and the development of cohorts, one goal of cohort creation is to ensure siblings will be on campus on the same days as much as possible. For twins, our goal is to cohort them together, though at the High School level, where they may have different classes, this may not always be possible.
Q: Can I request that my child be cohorted with friends?
Principals are looking at a number of things when determining cohorts, including public health considerations, diversity, and recommendations from our mental health and SEL committee, which does include friends.
Q: Why is GDS focused on providing the in-person model for younger students?
There are several reasons we are focused on more time on campus for our younger students. We know that online learning is the most difficult for younger learners who may still be learning the ins and outs of technology; younger students also require more support from in-person adults. Additionally, the PK-4 model at GDS is focused on the homeroom model, in which students stay with mostly one adult all day; upper-level middle school and all high school students participate in a schedule in which they would normally interact with up to a dozen adults in one day. This makes adapting the schedule for students in grades 7-12 to a cohort-only model in-person impractical, with distance learning allowing more curricular and programmatic flexibility.
Distance Learning Schooling Questions
Q: What are you doing to plan for GDS’s Virtual Campus (i.e., distance learning)?
Our amazing teachers delivered a successful emergency distance learning experience in the spring. As we plan for an online GDS experience this year, we are using the lessons learned from that experience and many more to inform our work. Schedules will continue to include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Synchronous experiences will focus on those activities that we do best socially—relationship-building, discussion, debate, providing real-time feedback to redirect misunderstandings, etc. Asynchronous learning will allow for content acquisition, creative exploration, and independent practice and application of concepts and skills. We will continue to schedule regular individual touchpoints between teachers and students across the school, as these sessions proved invaluable to supporting students in their learning and continued connection to the school.
Our Teaching and Learning committee has been focusing on how to build on and advance our distance learning programming as well as our HyFlex model. Our HS and MS faculty have also been participating in study of online and project-based learning at The Global Online Academy and PBL World, respectively. In order to further develop skills to engage and assess our youngest learners online, Lower School teachers attended Fountas & Pinnell workshops for literacy and reading and workshops with Shelly DuBose for mathematics, with a specific focus on teaching young children in these areas through a virtual platform.
Q: How are you ensuring that in-person and distance-learning activities are complementary and building on each other?
Now that they know to expect the reality of pivoting between different approaches to instruction, GDS teachers are planning for the possibility throughout their planning this year and will ensure a smooth continuity of learning. In their planning this year, teachers are being mindful of what's essential to student learning versus “worth being familiar with” in order to make sure that the essential through lines in student learning are maintained no matter where students are.
Q: Will classes take place outside? Will GDS create outdoor classroom spaces?
Currently (8/5), GDS is reviewing what outdoor spaces might be able to be used as learning spaces, including for the voluntary small group, in-person relationship building meetings. In scenario 2, where we are inviting small groups on campus for relationship-first activities, we are planning to use our fields, playground, LMS terrace, and our LMS garage for all outdoor programming. The most useful outdoor spaces in this environment can be used regardless of the weather and can accommodate distancing within our cohorts. As an urban school, we’re not blessed with land, so when we’re in a HyFlex model, we’re also looking at options like keeping windows open in the HS, whether we can retrofit screens to doors in the new LMS, and ensuring that we have efficient ventilation and HVAC systems in place.
HyFlex Instruction Questions
Q: What safety considerations are being given around performing arts for in-person learning during COVID-19?
Our performing and visual arts committees are looking at a number of studies around singing, drama, and instruments and the aerosols they produce. Our Leadership Team is weighing these considerations and studies with the public health and OSSE (Office of State Superintendent of Education) guidance around performing arts classes. There are currently no final decisions for in-person performing arts. Our schedule, access to outdoor space, and the need to cohort students will determine the degree to which the instrumental courses can happen live versus virtually.
Q: Which guidance is GDS following?
GDS is primarily following the guidance and recommendations of the DC Department of Health and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). These guidelines are heavily tied to those from the CDC, tend to be more conservative and detailed, and are mandated only for public and public charter schools. In addition, should Mayor Bowser issue any decisions about schools, we will follow her guidance as it applies. Our regional associations, AIMS and AISGW, as well as national associations, NAIS and NBOA, have all issued guidance on a number of fronts as well. Lastly, our Parent Public Health Panel provides inputs that support our decision-making process.
Q: Does the DC Government need to approve or accept the GDS reopening plan?
No, as a private school, the DC government does not have to approve the reopening plan. We do, however, have to follow any District mandates that explicitly apply to all schools.
Q: Do you have public health professionals looking at your reopening plan?
Yes, we are grateful to the 16 public health experts (who also happen to be GDS parents) on our Parent Public Health Committee, who have been making recommendations for the health and safety of our entire community. They come from a variety of backgrounds and include pediatricians, epidemiologists, and members of the public health community.
Q: What will health screening look like at GDS this year?
For any community members heading to campus this year, we will be asking them to administer GDS’s COVID-19 Daily Self-Screening Questions (which includes recording an evening and a morning temperature and symptom checker) before coming to campus or getting on a GDS bus, using a user-friendly app. We will administer on-site screening for contractors and anyone who doesn’t screen at home. If you do not have a working thermometer at home and are unable to get one, please contact RiskResponse@gds.org.
Q: Does an entire family have to stay home if our GDS student gets a headache, has a loose stool, or shows any of the other symptoms of COVID-19? What’s the policy? Added 9/14/2020
Yes, for the safety of our community, you should all stay home until we can gather more information. One of the concerns with COVID-19 is that the symptoms mirror those of other illnesses, and we don't want to take any chances. If you have a positive screening on the MyMedBot app, a member of GDS's health care team will call you to follow up. We will also ask you to contact your healthcare provider. Depending on the symptom(s) and other factors, it may be appropriate to be tested or you may be advised to see your healthcare provider to rule out alternative causes.
Q: If someone is sent home sick or because they failed the screening, where will they wait? What will this process look like?
Should we be in-person, GDS has set aside an isolation room on each campus for community members who may develop symptoms during the school day. For regular school attendees, screening will be done at home, and should a community member fail the screening, they may not come to school and should follow up with both their doctor and the divisional nurse for next steps. Any essential visitors who fail the screening will be asked to leave the premises immediately, and any individuals in contact with those visitors will be subject to further screening.
Q: How will people who report symptoms of COVID-19 be directed to report and manage?
Per OSSE and DOH guidance, should a student or staff member fail a screening or begin to show signs of COVID-19, they will be expected to contact their personal physician for guidance and evaluation upon returning home (or before coming to school). Our health staff will follow-up within 24 hours to get an update. In order to return to school, the student must be cleared by their appropriate medical provider and meet all return to school requirements (specified by DOH and shared forward from the nurses).
Should an individual receive a positive test result, the physician or DOH will notify the individual of the instructions around self-isolation, return to school parameters, etc. GDS’s COVID-19 "point of contact" will follow up with the student to answer questions about self-isolation and return to school guidance. At that point, the DC Department of Health will also provide guidance around contact tracing and further community quarantines.
Illness & Testing
What happens if a student has symptoms on campus? Added 9/15/2020
A student who shows signs or complains of symptoms while at school will be evaluated by an on-site health care professional. If it is determined that the student needs to go home, the student will wait in a safe place and a parent must pick up their child within one hour of being called. The parent will be given instructions for next steps, which may include seeing the child's health care provider.
What happens if a GDS student has COVID-19? Added 9/15/2020
If a GDS student tests positive, they will not be allowed on campus until cleared. We will work with the DC Department of Health to determine which other students/staff need to be quarantined based on their level of contact with the student.
What happens if a student's family member has COVID-19? Added 9/15/2020
If a student's family member tests positive or is presumptive positive, the student must remain home. If the student can be completely separated from the family member, they will be quarantined for 14 days. If they can't remain completely separated, they will be quarantined for 14 days from when the family member is cleared.
Q: If someone refuses to get a COVID-19 test, what are the protocols and how long does someone need to stay home?
Per OSSE guidance, any community member showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 “must not return to school until
- they completed the appropriate isolation period: 72 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) and respiratory symptoms have improved; AND at least ten days after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later; OR
- they have a negative COVID-19 test, and meet standard criteria to return to school after an illness; OR
- they have been cleared to return per their healthcare provider or DC Health instructions.”
Individuals refusing to get tested or get cleared by a physician will be expected to wait out the isolation period before returning to school.
Q: What are the symptoms that would mean a student or teacher has to stay home? How long will students have to remain home following a positive COVID-19 test?
Our communicable disease policy will be updated to reflect new guidance from the DOH, which includes the following.
COVID 19 symptoms include: fever (subjective or 100.4ºF) or chills, cough, congestion, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, headache, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, or otherwise feeling unwell and may manifest as flushed cheeks, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or, especially for younger students, extreme fussiness.
Please note that GDS will require students with temperatures of 100.0ºF or higher to remain at home.
Students and staff showing any of these symptoms, must stay home until:
- 72 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) and respiratory symptoms have improved; AND at least ten days after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later; OR
- they have a negative COVID-19 test, and meet standard criteria to return to school after an illness; OR
- they have been cleared to return per their healthcare provider or DC Health instructions.
More specifics will be included in a Parent-Student Handbook addendum that will be shared prior to the start of school.
Q: How will the community be notified if someone goes home with COVID-like symptoms but without a positive test result?
Because many of the symptoms of COVID are also associated with the common cold, allergies, influenza, food poisoning, and other illnesses, GDS will follow its normal communications protocols and alert families when there is a confirmed communicable illness on campus. In the meantime, all individuals should constantly monitor for signs of illness and stay home if unwell.
What is your notification policy of COVID-19 on campus? Added 9/15/2020
We have a communicable disease notification policy that we will follow, in conjunction with any guidance from DC DOH, around notifying families in the case of a positive COVID-19 test and will work closely with the DC DOH for contact tracing.
Q: What will contact tracing look like on campus?
Contact tracing will largely be dictated by the DC Department of Health. (Read more.) As much as possible, an individual’s identity will remain confidential according to general health practice. GDS and the Department of Health will collaborate to contact anyone who might have been exposed during the 48 hours preceding symptom onset. This means that teachers, cohorts, and possibly pods will be asked to remain home as recommended by DC DOH and likely up to 14 days. During this time, students will continue to engage in classes either through HyFlex instruction or GDS’s Virtual Campus.
Q: Will you be requiring testing when we are participating in in-person schooling?
At the moment, we plan to follow the DC DOH and OSSE Guidance regarding testing. We'll request that anyone showing symptoms get tested and will require, as part of our screening process, that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who is awaiting COVID-19 test results or who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home. Until there is an ability to get more rapid test results on a large scale, and unless we're guided to do so by DC DOH, we're unlikely to require that all of our community get tested. This is subject to change as guidance and testing technology changes and we are working on a testing protocol with our Parent Public Health Panel.
Social Contract & Personal Responsibility
Q: When we are in-person, how seriously will the school take mask wearing, distancing, cleanliness, hygiene measures, and staying home when sick?
As part of our social contract which we will share prior to the start of school, some of these elements are non-negotiable, and some, we realize, may take time to get used to. Because these distancing and hygiene procedures are essential to the health and well-being of our community, when we are in-person, we intend to teach, enforce, and reinforce mask wearing, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, hand washing and sanitizing regularly, as well as refraining from sharing toys and program supplies. We know that enforcement and reinforcement will look different at different age levels, and we will adjust responses accordingly. We require individuals to stay home when sick. Our cleaning company, MCS, also takes cleanliness very seriously and we have hired additional staff to ensure that high-touch surfaces are cleaned frequently throughout the day.
Q: Will there be anyone at the school (guests, etc.) exempted from the rules?
Individuals exempted from DC mask guidelines include children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, and anyone unable to easily put masks on and off on their own. Students with breathing issues should make sure nurses are aware of their medical contraindication, if one exists. GDS will not allow adults on campus without masks, even those with an exemption.
Q: Are we going to have to sign waivers?
No. The new Parent-Student Handbook addendum will not require new signatures, but by attending school (whether in-person or distance), families agree to the updated policies indicated in the new addendum. Additionally, we will also be asking all community members to adhere to our social contract.
Q: Is it okay for my child to sign up for club sports, travel soccer, gymnastics, dance, etc? Added 9/8/2020
A: We discourage participation in any activity where distancing and masking cannot be easily maintained. We are asking families to join us in reducing the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 so that we can return to on-campus programming and stay open. If appropriate precautions cannot be taken in an outside-of-school activity, we recommend that families not participate.
Q: If we are planning on opting out of in-person programming and want to spend several months out of state, does that violate the travel policy? Added 9/8/2020
A: The travel policy is intended to reduce unnecessary travel by families who might be participating in in-person programming. This policy is in place because we are trying to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 in our community so that we can more easily return to in-person programming and stay open. If your child is not participating in on-campus programming, traveling does not contradict our policy, provided that there is an understanding that we will ask you to quarantine for 14 days upon return and before participating in on-campus programming.
Masks & Safety Equipment
Q: Will masks be required all day?
All students and staff will be required to wear cloth face coverings throughout the school day (unless there is a medical reason for not doing so). Masks may be removed when eating or drinking, and when taking sedentary, physically distanced mask breaks outside. Adults may remove masks if they are alone in an office space and should put them on again when entering common spaces. Adults who are unable to wear face coverings will not be permitted on campus. Community members are asked to bring their own face coverings (at least two per day), which should be cleaned between uses. If you are unable to provide your own cloth face coverings, please contact RiskResponse@gds.org.
Q: How will you make sure my child is properly wearing his/her mask?
We know that masks are one of our most effective tools against the spread of the virus, along with distancing and hand washing and hygiene practices. Our school nurses are already planning videos and presentations around what proper mask wearing entails for staff and for students. In addition, they're planning trainings on how to make sure masks fit properly and how to properly take them on and off during meal times.
Q: Will the youngest children be required to wear masks? How will we get young children to follow distancing protocols and mask wearing?
Yes. Teachers will be working with students in age-appropriate ways to ensure safety. We are aware of the SEL implications on this, and we will be addressing this further this summer.
Q: For in-person schooling, will students get mask breaks and what will they look like?
Yes. We are working on incorporating mask breaks into in-person programming. Current guidance is that mask breaks should be taken outside and socially distanced whenever possible. Students will also not be required to keep masks on when eating or drinking.
Q: How many masks are needed per day or week?
For in-person schooling, we recommend that students have two clean masks per day plus one extra in their backpack or cubby should one get dirty or wet. We will encourage students to switch masks after lunch.
Q: What does GDS consider a high-touch surface and how often will they be cleaned when we are at in-person schooling?
Our cleaning company MCS is committed to increased daily maintenance of both buildings, which will include routine and multiple-time-daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces (door knobs, faucets, countertops, desks, chairs, etc.) and high-traffic areas (bathrooms, hallways, etc.). Classrooms will be equipped with cleaning supplies and gloves for teachers to wipe-down surfaces as required and teachers will be trained in appropriate cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection protocols for classroom supplies.
Q: What cleaning protocols will be in place generally when we are in-person?
Our goal is hourly disinfecting of high-touch surfaces in common areas during the day. The evening shift would again disinfect all high-touch surfaces in common areas as well as thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire facility including desks, chairs, and classroom spaces. For everyone’s health and to avoid having students and staff interacting with cleaning chemicals, MCS will not enter classrooms during the daytime. Evening cleaning will include the use of electrostatic sprayers.
Each classroom will be assigned a comprehensive cleaning matrix. Cleaning and disinfecting protocols are different for each different type of furniture, depending on what type of finish each has, as disinfectant can cause damage on certain types of furniture and in some cases cannot be used at all without harming the finish with repeated disinfecting.
Teaching and non-teaching staff will be provided with microfiber wipes that they can use in their spaces throughout the day to clean their own desks, keyboards, mouse, and telephones. Each classroom will also have disinfecting wipes available, as well as sponges/microfiber, a small pail, and either Dawn or Joy soap as the CDC is encouraging the use of soap and water in cases where disinfectant is not available. Disinfectant is not safe for students or teachers to use unless they have been trained or have proper PPE.
Q: Will desks be faced in the same direction when we are in-person?
Yes, whenever possible, desks will be turned to face the front of the classroom. In some cases, students may sit at tables with partitions between themselves and anyone else at the table, with a minimum of 6 feet between students.
Q: How much space is allocated to each student and teacher when we are in-person?
When planning for spaces in classrooms, we’ve planned for a minimum of 7 feet of distance between each student’s desk and the next. In many cases, because we are also limiting the number of people in each room, more than 7 feet will be possible. (We reference 6 feet throughout our planning to allow for literal wiggle room.)
Q: What distancing protocols will be in place generally when we are in-person?
In addition to spacing desks and chairs at least 6 feet apart, we will be encouraging students to keep distance in hallways by using “windmill arms” and other age-appropriate reminders. We are also putting signs in hallways around both distancing and direction and have converted some hallways to be one way.
Q: Will all classrooms have sinks or sanitizer? Are extra sinks being added to the school?
All classrooms will have either sinks or hand sanitizer. We are adding extra hand-washing stations where necessary in both buildings and in outdoor spaces to facilitate regular handwashing.
Q: When we are on-campus, how often will students and staff wash their hands? What are the protocols around when students will wash or use sanitizer?
Students will wash hands: upon entering school, before and after eating, bathroom use, and playground use, and at minimum every 90 minutes. Teachers will regularly reinforce best practices for handwashing (including 20 seconds of washing). In addition, hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the building and outside; students and staff will be asked to use sanitizer before entering classrooms or other spaces.
Q: What is the school doing about ventilation? What sort of air filtration systems are in place?
Our new LMS building comes equipped with a MERV-13 filter and our HS building will be updated from MERV-10 to MERV-13. We are also adding HEPA filters to our health rooms and designated isolation rooms, and as of 8/5, are looking at ordering additional HEPA filters for classrooms for HyFlex programming. In the event that additional filtration needs to be added to any particular spaces, our maintenance team will address those needs. We are looking at how our new HVAC systems will work when classrooms windows at the HS are opened and are also planning various opportunities to have students outside.
Q: How will you manage distancing and crowding in large spaces, including hallways?
In order to safely implement density-controlled programming, we will be enforcing strict physical distancing (minimum 6 feet) in all locations, including classrooms, hallways, and waiting in lines, and will install appropriate signage to support these approaches. In some spaces where physical distancing might be difficult, GDS will install clear plastic partitions to protect community members. Students will not have access to individual lockers or locker rooms.
Additionally, larger gathering places (including the Black Boxes and libraries in both buildings, the Forum and Internet cafe at the High School, and the Dining Hall at the LMS) will be closed to personal student use or repurposed as needed, following both physical distancing and maximum capacity guidelines.
Arrival, Dismissal & Transport
Q: What should I know about arrival and pick-up when we are on-campus?
As of 8/5, we are holding off on posting these protocols until we know the context in which we will return for HyFlex instruction as well as student cohort assignments. What we can tell you is that we are actively working on protocols that will keep students separated as much as possible. Current thinking has students in all divisions moving directly to their classrooms at drop-off and being dismissed directly from their classrooms at pick-up unless the student is staying for extended day or conditioning and fitness, in which case they will be expected to report directly to their after-school activity location.
Q: Can I drop my child off alone?
Our traffic management responsibilities don’t cease due to the pandemic. However, recognizing the need for families to decide their own comfort with various modes of public transportation and carpooling with others, GDS will relax the carpooling requirement until we return to a full, on-campus school experience. We still recommend and request that families use environmentally sustainable modes of transit, following health and safety measures, whenever possible.
Q: How might bus options be affected for getting to and from school?
Should we be able to offer in-person schooling, GDS will run our bus system for those days. In some cases, routes may be adjusted. Bus ridership will be capped at 12 students sitting in alternating rows and students must complete screening prior to boarding. Students will also be required to sanitize hands prior to loading and to wear cloth face coverings on the bus.. We currently anticipate that the Tenleytown metro shuttle will not be running. Families requiring bus transportation in order to attend GDS receive registration prioritization and should contact ImproveMyCommute@gds.org.
Q: Will you allow staff or students to take transit? What safety precautions do you recommend for people taking transit?
We recognize that some in our community will continue to rely on transit to get to and from school. GDS will continue to facilitate student and staff transit cards while also providing additional guidance about how to ride transit most safely. With questions, please email ImproveMyCommute@gds.org.
Q: What extended day and after-care options will be offered for families when we are on-campus? How will you maintain cohorts in an extended day format?
GDS 360 programming will take several forms during the 2020-21 school year. All enrichment classes (chess, financial literacy, debate, dance, etc.) will take place in a virtual format throughout the year. In addition, families requiring childcare for their students after-school on HyFlex days will be able to register for clubhouse or homework center programming. To meet public health guidelines and recommendations, registration will only be provided to students needing programming on all days they are on campus. We will be unable to accommodate drop-ins or students who only wish to attend a few days a week. Students will be grouped by grade and seated at least 6 feet apart from other students in their daytime cohorts, and may be grouped with other cohorts, with at least 10 feet of distance between students of different cohorts. GDS 360 cohorts will be limited to 12 students per grade.
Q: Will you host the Early Grasshopper program?
As of 8/5, we have not made any final determinations on if we will host the Early Grasshopper Program. Decisions will be made prior to the return to school in a HyFlex model. We anticipate that guidance may change between now and November.
Q: Will we get a tuition discount if we move into a distance learning program?
Our biggest expense is salaries and our teachers will need to work just as hard if not harder teaching on our Virtual Campus.
We recognize that some costs (dining/transportation) may decrease for the months they are not used this year. We also anticipate that other costs (PPE/technology/air purification/cleaning products/health-screening app/added classroom supplies/added personnel/emergency financial aid) will increase. Our hope remains that we will have a transition to in-person learning as soon as it is deemed safe.
At this time we are not planning for a discount or rebate. Recognizing that this crisis may cause financial hardship for some families, our Board and school leadership are making additional funds available to support families to the extent that we can.
Q: Are we looking at cost savings (e.g., no sports, travel) or cost increases (e.g., more cleaning, more teachers, more administration) from COVID-19 that is now expected to result in higher tuition in 2021–22?
GDS will experience some modest cost savings by deferring some activities like the food part of dining services, and transportation with reduced travel. GDS will also incur unexpected cost increases related to operating in HyFlex or distance-learning modes. The largest increase is related to outfitting the classrooms with remote audio/visual equipment, increasing staffing appropriately, providing personalized supplies to each student (rather than shared classroom supplies) and purchasing requisite PPE.
Q: How will GDS’s ability to provide financial aid be impacted by COVID-19?
GDS is committed to holding our community together. Because GDS has received generous contributions to the One GDS Community Crisis Fund and will be fully enrolled in the fall, we are able to honor our financial aid commitments while also responding to families who are in need as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.