Earlier this summer, PDS introduced six planning teams and established a goal of having a solid plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Along with using “What’s Best for Boys?” as an ever-present guiding question, our planning incorporates research and data gathered from the CDC, Shelby County Health Department, The American Academy of Pediatrics, TN Department of Education, and various other trusted resources.
As we look to the new school year, you can expect PDS to stay true to our mission while balancing many non-negotiables such as academic excellence and our Building Boys Making Men program with important safety measures to ensure the well-being of our PDS families, faculty, and staff.
We look forward to starting school as scheduled with all students on campus each day. Since the situation remains fluid, we will continue to refine our plans taking into consideration new guidelines and protocols provided by health and governmental agencies. We understand, even with policies and procedures in place intended to mitigate risks, that it will be impossible for us to completely eliminate the chance of contracting COVID-19. With that in mind, however, we believe that the risks for our boys are far greater if they are not on campus, a place that engages each boy’s mind, heart, and soul.
Thus, unless we are specifically prohibited from being on campus by a government directive, we have developed a tiered system of mitigation strategies to support our return. If a government directive is imposed, we will implement a full curriculum through distance learning. These plans will be shared at a later date.
Because the health and safety of our PDS community is our number one goal, we will begin with Tier 1 on opening day. Tier 1 contains the most enhanced mitigation strategies. Please understand that as the conditions of our community improve, our plans will change with them. Tier 2 will be enacted when data shows that we can relax some of our strictest protocols. At the time COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our PDS community, we will move to Tier 3. The focus at this time is to communicate our Tier 1 strategies.
PDS will follow CDC standards and implement the use of electrostatic disinfecting wands. Crews will be trained and staggered so that all classrooms are ready to receive students in the morning, and high-touch areas will be disinfected throughout the day.
Faculty, staff, and students will be taught proper handwashing skills and hygiene procedures, and students will wash hands at set times throughout the day. Classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Hand sanitizer will be used each time faculty and students enter a classroom.
A student’s personal belongings will be individually stored, and the sharing of school supplies will be limited.
Parents will be asked to complete a short online form indicating their children are fever and symptom free each day before coming to school.
Teachers will be equipped with touchless thermometers and will take the temperatures of the children each day before lunch. Anyone with a temperature of 100 or over will have their temperature taken again by the school nurse with an oral thermometer.
If the student has fever and/or is showing symptoms, emergency contacts will be called to pick up the child. A quarantine room will be set up next to the nurse’s office to isolate any student exhibiting symptoms until an emergency contact is able to pick him up. When dealing with potential COVID-19 cases, we will work closely with medical professionals and take into account guidelines provided by the Shelby County Health Department.
Evidence continues to mount in support of using face coverings to interrupt the spread of COVID-19. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics affirmed not only the reopening of schools but also the use of masks within schools to stop the spread of COVID-19.
While we understand that there are challenges to wearing masks, we will require students to wear one to school each day. Use of masks throughout the school day will vary by grade level and circumstances while in the classrooms. Masks are an important mitigation strategy for use in the halls and other times where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Student masks may be solid, patterned, or your favorite team logo. Masks may not be printed with slogans.
To accommodate for physical distancing of students within each classroom, we will have four homerooms per grade level for the 2020-2021 school year. Desks will be spaced appropriately, and class sizes will not exceed the Tennessee Department of Education square footage guidelines for physical distancing.
Students will remain with their homeroom throughout the day and staggered transition times will be in place to limit hallway population. Some of our special area teachers and classroom teachers will travel between classrooms. Students will leave their classrooms to go to PE, recess, and lunch (elementary only), but homeroom cohorts will be maintained while in Tier 1.
We are fortunate to have a 29 acre campus providing many large outdoor and indoor spaces which will be utilized as much as possible. In addition, classroom windows may remain open as weather and allergen levels permit.
All elementary chapel services will be held in the sanctuary to allow for physical distancing between students and classes. Early Childhood chapels will continue in a combination of live chapel with single homerooms and streaming to classrooms.
Elementary students can bring their own lunch or opt to participate in the PDS Lunch Plan. Additional spaces in the basement will be utilized to help maintain physical distancing and allow us to offer our regular lunch plan. Students will be given their choice of a hot or cold lunch, and it will be served in individual containers. There will not be any self-service during Tier 1.
Early Childhood students should plan to bring their own lunch and eat in the classroom as usual. They will break for a mid-morning snack brought from home. Guidelines for snacks will be provided in August.
All students should bring a water bottle to school each day. Water fountains will be used only as water filling stations; all spouts will be covered.
In the instance that a student has to be quarantined or cannot return to school per doctor’s orders, distance learning will be implemented. If your child has an underlying medical condition and cannot return to school per doctor orders, please contact Debbie Todd, Head of Early Childhood, or Laura Glenn, Head of Elementary, as soon as possible and no later than July 20.
Due to uncertainties surrounding close-contact sports, fall sports sign-up information will be delayed until July 22. We are currently awaiting guidance from a variety of sports organizations and will base our offerings on recommendations at that time for Tier 1.
If at all possible, we encourage our families to drop students off for school between 7:40 and 7:55am. However, we understand that some families will need to arrive earlier. In these instances, students may arrive as early as 7:20 am. While in Tier 1, students should report directly to their homeroom when they arrive on campus.
Aftercare will continue to be offered to families. Temperatures will be taken before entering aftercare, and students will be grouped by individual grade levels. We will not be allowing students to “drop-in” to aftercare at this time.
Morning carpool will continue to operate in a similar manner as in previous years. Students should wear masks when exiting the car, and drivers should remain in the car. Students will be directed to a variety of entrances based on grade-level.
Afternoon carpool will continue to be staggered and physical distancing will be in place. Procedures for afternoon carpool will be reviewed at Back-to-School meetings held prior to the first day of school.
We ask that our parents strongly consider limiting travel and high-risk activities for two weeks prior to the start of school as well as throughout the school year. In addition, health forms, vaccination forms, and 3 emergency contacts must be turned in to the school nurse, Alice Ball, before students can begin school.
While student safety will always be our top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, the social and emotional wellbeing of our PDS community must also be at the forefront of our return to campus. PDS’ Student Life Team will be working together to address student needs through class meetings, seminar classes, mentor groups, and chapel services. Additionally, PDS counselor, Tom Edwards, will be providing support to individual students and families. Please feel free to reach out to him.
Due to physical distancing guidelines, we will not be able to have parents walk their children to their classroom on the first day of school. Because we realize how important it is for parents and students to see their classrooms together, we are designating Monday, August 17, and Tuesday, August 18, to schedule an optional time for you and your son to see the classroom and meet with the homeroom teacher. Homeroom teachers will reach out to schedule these in early August.
As is our custom, Junior Kindergarten through 3rd grade will have a half-day of school on August 19 as originally planned. However, grades 4-6 will have a full-day of school. This will allow us to navigate our first day of lunch and afternoon carpool procedures with fewer students on campus.
Presbyterian Day School (PDS) is a private, Christian preschool and elementary school serving 500 boys from 2-years-old through 6th grade.
With our mission of striving to glorify God by developing boys in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, we take a holistic approach to education, nurturing the heart, soul, mind, and body of each boy.