Island School bells to toll as planned on August 10… but what a different tune they will play

July 17, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY MARCY SHORTUSE- The long-awaited announcement that begins to outline how the 2020-21 Island School academic year will play out was made on Wednesday, July 15 by Head-of-School Jean Thompson, and it appears there will be more options than most parents thought.
The long-awaited announcement that begins to outline how the 2020-21 Island School academic year will play out was made on Wednesday, July 15 by Head-of-School Jean Thompson, and it appears there will be more options than most parents thought.
“Right now it looks like we will be offering both a remote/distance learning option and a brick-and-mortar option,” she wrote in an email to parents. “All the details of both options are still being worked through. The Lee County School Board has set July 20 as a date to re-evaluate the brick-and-mortar school year, starting on August 10. They also have another meeting on July 28, when we should get more information.” 
The Lee County School District has been clear that they will continue to monitor that start date, Thompson said, and the plan for students to return to school is subject to change.
Thompson said four areas of critical focus will include face coverings, hand hygiene, social distancing and a reduction of high-touch surfaces. That sounds nearly impossible for children in elementary school, but she said they are continuously reviewing all facets of these four vital strategies in helping to contain a spread of COVID-19 in the school.
“The goal is to have students physically present in school,” Thompson said. “The Island School’s reopening plan is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition to looking at the physical environment and changes that must be made, we are preparing for a fluid, flexible learning environment that includes both brick and mortar (in-school learning) and remote/distance learning.”
Other changes for the beginning of this peculiar school year include: 
• School supplies: Instead of supplies being purchased by parents and used communally, parents will give a check to the school, which will buy the supplies. Each child’s school supplies will stay in their possession.
• Backpacks and lunches will be kept with the child in the classroom. The cooler will no longer be used, nor will the lockers in the main corridor.
• The Island School’s open house will be held as a Zoom meeting. More information will be provided at a later date.
• There will be no option for before-school care as the school year begins. There will a limited amount of spaces in after-school activities, but the school is asking that only parents who work and require child care after school apply.
• Upon arriving at school, students will enter their classrooms directly.
As the school year starts, there will be no “before-school” care. Students will enter school directly into their classrooms from each classroom’s exterior door, and doors will be open at 8:15 a.m. for student arrival. 
• Allowing parents and visitors in the building is still being discussed. So are classroom seating arrangements.
• A stricter policy for students and staff members with fevers, cough, or upper respiratory symptoms will be in place.
“Please know that our plan will continually evolve as data are analyzed and new guidelines come out from the State of Florida, the Lee County School District, local healthcare professionals and the CDC,” Thompson said. “This may change the way our school days look.”