Important Schedule Updates – PRT Changes and Freshman Class
The message below was sent to all families from Principal Greg VanSlambrook on Thursday, October 29, 2020.
Brebeuf Jesuit Families,
I hope everyone was able to enjoy a restful fall break. We have continued working toward our goal which I shared in my last email to you, of bringing back some students on a more regular basis between fall break and Thanksgiving. As I also said in that message, we recognize the greatest need among our freshman students. So, our Campus Reopening Task Force, in consultation with our Medical Task Force, has prepared a plan that will invite all of our freshman students to attend class in-person every day beginning Thursday, November 12.
In addition, in a change that affects all students, we have decided to make a schedule change to stagger our daily PRTs, also effective November 12, to better allow for social distancing in the common areas during PRTs. More details are found below.
HERE ARE THE DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- All freshman students are invited to attend in-person every school day, beginning Thursday, November 12, which is a Day 1 in our academic cycle.
- Freshman students will still have the option to be part of the Silver cohort, attending classes online every day. Remaining hybrid will NOT be an option for freshmen. If a freshman student does not wish to attend school daily, their parent should request a switch to the Silver cohort by emailing Amy Pitcher at email@example.com by Friday, November 6.
- In adding these students every day, we are still maintaining 6 feet of distance between students, and 6 feet between teachers and students, in every classroom arrangement, so that there continues to be no “close contact” necessary in the school building. To make this possible, a number of freshman classes will be moved to new locations. This has been a major planning effort and adjustment for our teachers, and will affect all freshmen in most of their classes. The students will learn from their teachers about their new locations.
- We are also still committed to social distancing around the building, including during lunches and PRTs. Lunch schedules will not change for the most part, though we may redirect some freshman classes to the Cafeteria rather than eating in the classroom.
- We are changing the school schedule for PRTs for all students, in order to maintain the ability for social distancing during PRTs during the cold weather months. Every student will still have 2 PRTs per day, and their PRTs will be linked to classes, like their lunch period. Here is the new schedule with PRT breakdowns. Each class will be assigned “A” or “B” PRT which they will learn from their teachers.
SOME ANTICIPATED FAQS
Why are we doing this?
The freshmen as a whole are our highest-need and therefore highest-priority group for returning to every day in-person school. We have seen plenty of evidence from them this year, that their academic and social transition to high school has been negatively impacted by the hybrid setup. This most often can be seen in their grades, as well as reports of difficulties with making new friends and connecting with peers and teachers.
Will this compromise the safe environment we are striving for?
Safety of students and faculty/staff continues to be of highest consideration throughout all planning. We have been thorough in consultation with our Medical Task Force and with the Marion County Health Department, and asking their professional opinion to ensure that we are still going to be able to maintain a safe environment for all. Two things in particular give us confidence in the safety of our plan: One, we are still able to maintain 6 feet of distance even with the addition of these students. Two, our own data tracking illustrates that our efforts to this point have been very successful in preventing spread of the virus. Specifically, we went a month with no new positive cases, and we have not had a single instance of transmission that happened during the school day, in classrooms or around the building.
Why is the change to PRTs necessary?
We have already felt a greater challenge for social distancing with our current PRT setup in recent weeks, as weather has kept students from going outside. We would be making this change even without the addition of all freshmen daily. While we recognize that there are downsides to not everyone being free at the same time, we believe that the necessity at this time to allow for social distancing needs to be a priority. While club meetings will have to adjust, and there may be less times for students to connect with a specific teacher, the new schedule will still give those students the two PRT times per day, and we believe they will be able to adapt.
Is this the right timing to bring more students into the building?
We’ve all seen the recent rise in positivity rate and daily cases in Marion County and statewide, but according to our Medical Task Force, they are still comfortable with moving forward given our own school data as described above. We will all need to continue to be vigilant that no one comes to school sick. November 12 was chosen because it gives us a two-week window following fall break, and gives these freshmen the ability to end their semester with three full academic cycles, over the last six weeks until Christmas Break. Then, we can reassess and regroup for a January 2021 plan, tweaking as necessary. Waiting much later than mid-November effectively would mean waiting until mid-January or later, and again we feel that the needs of the freshmen should drive us to make the attempt earlier than that.
Is there a chance you may change course?
In keeping with Marion County Health Department guidance, we will continue to monitor cases in our community. If we experience a spike in cases or if the need arises due to other health and safety concerns, we may make the choice to change course on this plan. If that decision is made, families will be notified immediately.
How long will this setup continue?
Our planning has been with the remainder of the first semester in mind. Our hope will be to keep things as consistent as possible from November 12 to the last day of the semester on December 18. So, students in grades 10-12 can expect that we will continue with the maroon/gold hybrid schedule through the end of the first semester. We will post the maroon/gold days for the remainder of the semester soon. No decisions have been made yet for January and beyond.
Zoom Q&A on Monday, November 2 – 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Finally, to answer any questions that our freshman families have about this transition, I will offer a live Zoom Q&A session for freshman families on Monday, November 2 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. A link to join will be emailed to all freshman families on Monday morning.
If you would like to pre-submit a question for the Q&A session, you may do so here.
You are also welcome to email me any questions directly, of course, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for all of your understanding and flexibility with the adjustments that we are continually making for our students. I also want to thank our parent community for your graciousness toward our teachers, who are working incredibly hard in difficult and changing circumstances. Our teachers remarked after the parent-teacher conference days that they were struck by how often parents began the conferences with thanks and gratitude to them—that is really meaningful, so thank you again.