August 13, 2020
We hope you’ve been able to read and digest all of the information coming your way about the student experience this fall—we are working closely to ensure not only our exceptional academic program remains strong, but that we maintain the utmost attention to our students’ health and wellbeing, both at school and at home. We offer here a few more details for your planning and preparation for the start of school in just a little more than a week.
Arrival and Dismissal
As previously shared, one of MPA’s layered health and safety protocols is our plan for staggered arrivals. Families must select their staggered arrival time slot no later than 8 AM on Wednesday, August 19. Your family will receive confirmation of your staggered arrival time with additional instructions by Thursday, August 20. In order to maintain all safety protocols it is important for your family to arrive during their 15-minute window. We know this may be a sacrifice for some of you with changes to morning routines and potentially an earlier arrival time than you’re used to and we appreciate your assistance. Click here for your staggered arrival sign up and contact Jennifer Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Similar to our attention to safe and staggered arrival measures, we have also planned for how to dismiss students seamlessly and safely at the end of each day. We have partnered with Control Point technology to coordinate dismissal. This will allow us to hold students in place until you arrive and coordinate their exit from the building from their respective division and appropriate door. This is how we can keep students from unsafely congregating in hallways, reduce traffic flow, and move our after school traffic efficiently. The most important thing for you to know now is that students will be dismissed when you arrive and will need to be picked up at the same doors where they are dropped off in the morning. Just a reminder that multiple students in a family need to be dropped off at the correct door by division, as opposed to all at the same door (Lower School: Doors #1 and #2, Middle School: Doors #4 and #5, Upper School: #7 North and #7 South)
After-School Activities & Athletics
MPA typically offers a number of afterschool activities across all divisions. At this point, we are taking a conservative approach and very much hope to be able to add activities as the school year progresses. We plan to stretch our capacity for innovation on this topic in order to do this safely. You can expect more information from each division on a regular basis.
Because most of our enrichment classes are taught by experts in the field who are not employed by MPA, we will need to cancel these opportunities for the fall. At this time, our building needs to be closed to visitors in order to maintain the safest possible environment for our students, faculty, and staff. We hope to bring back our enrichment classes as soon as possible.
Middle School hosts Quiz Bowl, some Student Council activities, and a Sailing Team after school and throughout the year. At this time, we are holding on beginning these clubs until we are settled into the new hybrid flow of the year. More information will become available as organizations and advisors work out details to support students after school. Middle School athletics organizations have, unfortunately, cancelled the fall volleyball season and football season. We continue to await guidance on Middle School soccer for the fall. We will be in touch as soon as that information is available, and we know what options are available for our Middle School students.
At this time, the Upper School will support the athletic department as students participate in our robust athletic program. The Minnesota State High School League has approved Girls Tennis, Girls and Boys Soccer, Girls Swim and Diving, and Girls and Boys Cross Country. The official start date for each of these sports is next Monday, August 17 and their seasons will run through the last week of October. The State High School League has stipulated the number of teams and contests allowed and our Athletic Department is working hard to create fall sport schedules that will allow the MPA teams to play as much as possible. We are also working hard to support our athletes who participate in the two postponed fall sports—volleyball and football. The State High School League has approved dates for fall training to take place and MPA is working with coaches to determine when training sessions will be scheduled. Please be on the lookout for communication from the MPA Athletic department once schedules are confirmed. We are also working to determine which additional Upper School after school activities such as Debate, Robotics, Sailing, etc. will be able to take place in a way that mitigates risk and will be in touch with the Upper School community as soon as this is determined.
Following the best in health and safety guidance, eating outside will be prioritized as much as possible with other adjustments made in each division regarding serving of hot lunch and keeping small lunch cohorts and groupings. While this is not ideal, we know that limiting the group size when students are eating (and unmasked briefly) is currently best practice. SAGE Dining Services will continue to provide excellent lunch options and students will be served by SAGE staff rather than self-serving at the buffet-style lines.
We will stagger lunch and recess times, again, to maintain lower numbers in our lunch cohorts and ensure proper physical distancing whether in the classroom or outdoors. Students are welcome to bring a small blanket/towel to school with them, to keep in their locker, that they may use to place on the grass to sit on while having lunch.
Recess and time outdoors will remain an important part of our day–perhaps more important now than ever. Please ensure that your student, when coming to campus, is dressed appropriately for the weather as we will strive to be outdoors for learning, moving, eating, and play as much as possible.
Students PreK-4 will remain in their classroom to each lunch. Students who have purchased the hot lunch option will be asked to make a lunch selection ahead of time in preparation for delivery of their lunch to the classroom and the menu will be available soon. Recess and lunch will be split into two shifts, opposite one another, to offer the opportunity for outdoor play with physical distancing. Kindergarten through second grade will eat lunch first from 11:50 AM-12:15 PM and have recess from 12:15-12:40 PM. PreK and grades three and four will go to recess first from 11:50 AM-12:15 PM and have lunch from 12:15-12:40 PM.
Middle School students will eat in their advisory classrooms during our regularly scheduled lunch time (11:45 AM-12:10 PM). Just before lunch, Middle School has recess from 11:20-11:45 AM. Students with the hot lunch option from SAGE will move through the buffet line in the Family Commons to make their lunch selections and return to their advisory classroom for eating. Those students who elect to bring their lunch from home, will return from recess immediately to the advisory classroom for lunch. We recognize that a student often has friends outside of their advisory and we will make every effort to have at least one day of their on-campus experience in hybrid learning offer an opportunity for them to share lunch with their friends across the grade level when we may enjoy our lunch outdoors!
Upper School students will have lunch in one of many locations during their regularly scheduled lunch time (11:15–11:45 AM). Using all of our large spaces, including the Upper School Commons, Nicholson Center, Lansing Sports Center, students’ 2nd block classrooms, students’ advisory locations, or outside, students will be able to enjoy lunch while physically distancing and lessening density in our spaces. We are still determining how each of these locations will either be assigned or selected by the students and will share this information as soon as it is determined. Rest assured, however, that providing opportunities for friends to gather and socialize is an important aspect of the Upper School and will be allowed to occur during lunch and/or recess multiple times a week. Upper School student-run clubs also often meet during lunch and recess. We are working to determine what student-run club and organization meetings will look like during this time. These are critical pieces of the Upper School community and the administration and faculty are working in conjunction with the Student Council to create a schedule for them to meet both during the school day and in the evening.
Virtual School and Synchronous Hybrid Learning
Technology enhancements and upgrades will allow students to connect, in real time, with their classes if they are being held on-campus and if a student must learn from home. It is our wish that all students who can come to campus do so with their classmates; however, we also know that there is a great need for flexibility and accommodations for students for whom this is not possible or for those families that elect to begin the year in virtual school to limit time on campus. Either way, MPA students will have a rigorous, joyful, and enriching learning experience in the fall no matter the platform or mode of delivery.
If your family has made the decision to have your students begin learning from home in Virtual School (100% of the time), please contact your respective division director at your earliest convenience. We are asking that all families for whom this is your preference and decision, to indicate this on or before Monday, August 17 at the end of the day. This deadline also applies to the request for on-campus supervision for Virtual School days. As teachers return on August 19 for workshops and formal preparation for the school year, it will be important that they know which of their students will be learning virtually so that we can begin to develop virtual learning plans, in collaboration with families, to best meet the needs of your student.
NOTE: Families who plan to have their students begin in 100% Virtual School in all three divisions, should save the date of Tuesday, August 25 from 3-6 PM for technology and materials pick-up at school. Each division will also be handing their first few days of school differently and you will want to discuss orientations, start plans and dates, and how to best work in partnership toward your student’s success.