A word from The Island School about COVID-19, students and families

September 18, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY JEAN THOMPSON- A new school year has begun! On August 31, 2020, The Island School had a great start to our school year with excited students and teachers eager to be back in the classroom. Students returned ready to learn with an appreciation for being back at school. Parents have been supportive and willing to adapt to the many changes they see at school.
New protocols are in place for the safety of students, teachers, and families. Students, teachers, staff, and parents wear masks when inside the building, and handwashing and social distancing guidelines are followed. Each grade level is completely separate from each other. Fifth grade has moved to the specials classroom, and fourth and fifth grades are no longer combined. Specials teachers are pushing into the classrooms so that student movement within the school is limited. Students enter and exit the classrooms through the exterior classroom doors. Student supplies are kept separate at each student’s desk. Students have adapted quickly to our new protocols, and they understand that they are for the safety of all of us.
Our new safety measures were tested early on in the school year. On Monday, September 7th, 2020, I was informed that a child had tested positive for COVID-19. Based on exposures, two classrooms were placed on remote learning for two weeks. With the grant received from the Boca Grande Woman’s Club in the spring, The Island School was able to purchase Chromebook devices for each student to use in the classroom and/or at home for remote learning. Fortunately, these Chromebooks were delivered during the first week of school. Students in those two classrooms were able to quickly transition to remote learning using their Chromebooks with Zoom and Google Classroom. Those students have been successfully continuing their education through remote learning.
During remote learning for those two classrooms, students in the other classrooms have continued brick-and-mortar learning at the school. Students in the other classrooms that were attending brick-and-mortar instruction before September 7th all chose to return to school afterward. I can tell that parents felt confident that, despite a positive case in another grade, their children would be safe back at school. So far, I have not been informed of another positive case related to the original one. It seems our protocols to limit exposure and promote safety are working.
I know that this is a year that will bring many challenges. I am so grateful to have a supportive community, Board, and Foundation, dedicated teachers and staff, and amazing students and parents that are quick to adjust and accept a new way of doing things. The entire Island School staff is looking forward to a successful 2020-21 school year.
Jean Thompson is the head of school at The Island School.