COVID-19 Update


A Word From Dr. Wyayn Rasmussen, Executive Director

Since early March of this year, our Administration has worked in partnership with students, parents, faculty, staff and trustees in accordance with our mission to develop a safe, supportive educational environment for our returning students. After overcoming the challenge of Distance Learning last spring, we now look to August. In line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, AOWL has formed a multi-level plan for students to return to campus for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. As the CDC suggests, this multi-level re-entry plan is “feasible, practical, acceptable” and tailored to the needs of our students and families. These "Climate for Learning" levels allow the school to transition between recommended precautions without disrupting academics or daily operations at the school while continuing to give attention to excellence. We intend to open for in-person learning on Monday, August 31 as scheduled.

As noted in the June Bridge, a few months ago we created a special task force, the COVID Safety and Preparedness Team (CSP Team). The CSP Team, led by Louis Bakalars, CSP Coordinator, was tasked with researching, goal setting, and implementing mitigation strategies and processes to keep our campus as safe as possible. The team sought guidance from strategic local, national, and international resources about opening school safely and with optimal learning practices. Our priority has been to offer in-person instruction with strong mitigation strategies in place. From the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation.”

We understand that each student is unique and what is best for one student may be different for another. Each family has the right to choose what is best for your student. We support all AOWL students and are committed to providing excellent educational services whether that be in-person or through distance learning.

Beginning the week of Oct. 19, we will move to a 4-day in-person learning and 1-day virtual learning week. This Climate for Learning Level 2 is our hybrid level. We are doing this for several reasons.

    1. To be prepared for a possible switch to full virtual learning at any time during the year, students will already be familiar with the structure and routines of virtual learning. , Our intent is to create a smoother transition between in person learning and virtual learning to ensure success in both learning environments.
  1. It will decrease the density of students in the building at any one time, especially during the cold and flu season.
  2. We anticipate that 20-25% of parents may choose to have their students stay home for distance learning. We must provide time for teaching staff to check in with full-time distance learners.

It is our hope to return to Climate for Learning Level 1, full in-person learning, again in the spring at the conclusion of the flu and cold season and upon a decrease in community cases of COVID-19.

We acknowledge that our COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Plan is intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk. No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but the implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce that risk. We are pleased to share our plan with you.

While we celebrate that Minnesota’s numbers for hospitalizations and fatalities have continued to decrease in recent weeks, we recognize that the course of the COVID-19 virus is an unknown. As such, we have designed an agile instructional approach that will allow us to provide your child with the excellence you have come to associate with AOWL even as we may need to pivot and change as conditions warrant.

Finally, I want to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the entire AOWL organization and community for the incredible effort everyone exerts every day. Your tireless dedication will ensure an amazing school year as we shift the paradigm of education. Thank you!


For more information, please click on each tab below.

Climate for Learning Levels

Level 1: In-person Learning: Students attend all classes on campus. We recognize that our students thrive with face to face social interaction and we strive to support this vital aspect of our program. The daily schedule allows for appropriate social distancing as well as sanitation and hygiene protocols. We hope to start and finish our school year at level 1.

Level 2: Hybrid Learning: Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. Consistently including distance learning each week, among many benefits, enables students, parents, and teachers to be better prepared for the possibility of a shift to temporary virtual learning or full distance learning. When we move to hybrid learning, we limit the number of students on campus at any given time as an important safety measure for students, faculty and staff. This balanced approach to teaching and learning gives all students the opportunity to be with their peers and teachers in a regular and predictable schedule. A rigorous and predictable schedule is best for students with neurodiversities.

Level 3: Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, some classes may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education.

Level 4: Full Virtual Learning: AOWL campus is closed for classroom operations and only necessary staff will be allowed into the building. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education.

Special circumstances: Students whose parents have determined that their child would best benefit from distance learning due to special circumstances will attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. If this option is selected, students may opt to return to in-person learning after winter break.

 

  • All Students

    Please watch our 4-minute video with your child(ren) so they can get a glimpse into what a day at school will look like in the fall. Note - the video does not entail all of our mitigation strategies. For a full explanation of our mitigation plans click the tabs above. Visit the health and safety tab for specifics regarding AOWL’s strategies for keeping students and staff safe.

     

    A Message From Brenda Tollas, M.Ed., Head of School

    What a pleasure it is to collaborate with our dedicated and talented staff/community as we prepare a plan for this school year that prioritizes the health and safety of the AOWL community. What I have learned in my short time here within our AOWL community is that we can transcend any challenges we face by our joined forces and collaboration. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought to our 20-21 school year, I have complete confidence in the thoroughness of our dynamic, flexible, and responsive plan. Not only will AOWL transcend these unprecedented times, we hope to transform this unfortunate situation to new, beneficial opportunities for each student/client.

    After reading AOWL’S COVID-19 Communications, please look for an email from me that went out on Friday, July 17th. This email will include a link for you to access our Enroll Me documents which will include the regular start of the year forms, the family handbook, and a new Academy of Whole Learning COVID-19 Waiver. Parents who have determined that their child would benefit from distance learning due to special circumstances may opt in to full distance learning rather than in-person learning on the COVID-19 waiver. The sooner this is completed the sooner we can develop more precise planning for our school year. The deadline for completing and returning the start of year forms is Friday, July 24th.

    Also, plan on hearing more from me starting in our August newsletter, The Bridge. I value continuous communications and look forward to future opportunities to get to know all of you. Please reach out to me at any time with questions, concerns, or just to say, “Hi!”

    Thank you for entrusting your children to all of us at AOWL. Together, we will make this year successful.


    The resulting agile, dynamic, and responsive plan detailed above is in accordance with the current requirements, recommendations, and guidance of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. All decisions related to the plan will be made by Dr. Wyayn Rasmussen, Executive Director, in consultation with the Board of Trustees Advisory Group, the Division Heads, and the COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Team.

    Board of Trustees Advisory Group

    John Higgins, Ligand Pharmaceuticals, CEO, Board Chair

    Ross Olson, Cargill, Finance and Risk Management

    Pat Mulvihill, Augsburg University, Assistant Provost for Global Education and Experience

    Margie Fuchs, Go! Marketing, Owner

    Bob Tift, Ed.D., Partners in Mission, Partner

    Division Heads

    Wyayn Rasmussen, Ed.D., Executive Director

    Brenda Tollas, M.Ed., Head of School

    Katie Thromodsgaard, MSW, LICSW, Director of Clinical Services

    Mike Onan, CPA, Director of Finance

    Carly Kortuem, Director of Strategic Advancement

    COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Team

    Louis Bakalars, COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Coordinator

    Emily Ward, State Planning Director, Emergency Preparedness and Response at Minnesota Department of Health

    Keera Tijerina, Social, Emotional, Physical Instructor

    Luella Ramberg, Executive Assistant to Executive Director and Board of Trustees

    Georgette Benton, Technology Director

    Kaitlin Walsh, Director of Enrichment Programming

    Mike Faeth, Post-Secondary Career and Education Counselor

    Colleen Farley, Teacher Associate/Art Specialist

    Sunni Myers, Mental Health Therapist

    Lisa Janisch, Director of Behavior Education

    Liz Hall, Classroom Teacher (HS)

    Kade Drechsler, Classroom Teacher (MS)

    Anita Haas, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Innovation

    Anna Myrand, Classroom Teacher (HS)

    Amy Epperson, Behavior Therapist

    Peg Cuccia, AOWL Parent

    Hannah Weise, Behavior Therapist

    Board of Trustees Advisory Group

    Division Heads

     

  • Lower School

    Lower School Climate for Learning


    School Day Hours: 8:00 am-3:00 pm

    School entrance: Entrance #2 - closest to the AOWL Sensory Garden

    Virtual Learning Day: Wednesdays (beginning October 19th)


    School Readiness Experience: Monday, August 24, 8:00-11:30 am

    Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday, August 12, 6:00-6:45 pm


    Our Lower School teaching staff, faculty, and behavior therapists are devoted to strong differentiated learning based on the mission, vision, and values of Academy of Whole Learning at all Climate of Learning Levels. We are committed to excellence in both the delivery of instruction and the integration of social and life skills. The social and emotional needs of our students with neurodiversities will remain at the forefront of our instruction. Opportunities for building social relationships will be creatively addressed. Each student will have an individual storage chest next to their desk to limit the sharing of materials. Advancements in technology, with an interactive TV in every classroom, and additional technology tools will allow teachers to employ innovative technology and learning strategies to meet the individual needs of our students.

    Level 1 - In-person Learning: At this time, we hope to start and end the year at Level 1 with our extraordinary mitigation strategies in place. The typical schedule would be followed. Students will learn as usual from their homeroom teaching staff and specialists. To reduce exposure during high risk times. Lunches will be eaten in the classroom at student desks or outside when weather permits, one student at a time will be allowed in the bathrooms, and hallways are marked with ‘traffic’ lanes to provide social distancing.

    Over the last year, we have been researching how we could increase our outdoor instructional time; The COVID-19 crisis encouraged us to redesign our outdoor learning spaces now. Playing and learning outside as much as possible will reduce risk and helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment, and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly beneficial for children who learn best through active movement.

    Level 2 - Hybrid Learning: Lower School students will begin their hybrid learning schedule after fall conferences, on Monday, Oct. 19. Students will attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. There is a strong consensus that consistently including virtual learning each week, among many benefits, enables students, parents, and teachers to be better prepared for the possibility of pivoting to temporary or full virtual learning. The primary focus of virtual learning days for students will be independent work skills. Students will access a PowerPoint via Google Classroom or Seesaw and follow the list of activities outlined in their daily schedule. The daily schedule followed by these students will model the schedule for in-person learning, with a focus on retention of known concepts. The Lower School Virtual Learning day will be on Wednesdays.

    The majority of instruction will remain on campus with our full mitigation strategies in place.

    Level 3 - Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, some classes may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. A possibility for this scenario could include both teaching staff being out awaiting test results. They could teach from home but would have to follow our Symptomatic Person’s Response Plan criteria before they could return to the classroom. Parents and students would be informed of the beginning and ending dates through texts and emails.

    Level 4 - Full Virtual Learning: If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, students in K-12 will be engaged in full virtual learning. We believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place at a distance. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education and include scheduled direct time with teachers/supports/other distance learners. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. Our purposeful daily interactions between teaching staff and students will continue to take place at a distance. Our high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon our success of virtual learning in the spring of 2020 with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. We will continue to prioritize real-time teaching and create opportunities for interactions between peers and teachers.

    Students who choose full time distance learning will follow our Level 4 instructional model. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to meet with their teaching staff daily to receive support and clarification on assignments. Anita Haas, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Innovation, will provide additional support for distance learners. Distance learners will follow an asynchronous learning model and have synchronous social opportunities built into their daily schedule, including but not limited to: morning meeting, and lunchtime social time.

  • Middle School

    Middle School Climate for Learning


    School Day Hours: 8:15 am-3:15 pm

    School Entrance: Entrance #1 - main entry door for front office

    Virtual Learning Day: Tuesdays (beginning October 19th)


    School Readiness Experience: Monday, August 24, 8:15-11:45 am

    Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday, August 12, 6:45-7:30 pm


    We learned over the course of our time in distance learning in the spring, that in-person learning is a priority and is important not only for cognitive and academic development but also for social emotional learning and mental wellness. We plan to welcome our students back to campus to be with their friends and their teaching staff who cannot wait to work alongside them.

    Level 1 - In-person Learning: At this time, we hope to start and end the year at Level 1 with our extraordinary mitigation strategies in place. The typical schedule will be followed. Students will learn as usual from their homeroom teaching staff and specialists. To reduce exposure during high risk times, lunches will be eaten in the classroom at student desks or outside when weather permits, one student at a time will be allowed in the bathrooms, and hallways are marked with ‘traffic’ lanes to provide social distancing.

    A few noticeable changes to the student experience will include:

    • Specialists will rotate to the students’ homeroom classrooms, rather than having the students rotate.
    • Performing Arts will not be offered this year because the science behind the virus shows that singing and projecting the voice during drama are high-risk activities.
    • All Community Based Instruction will be suspended for the foreseeable future. This is in the best interest of all students to minimize travel into the community.
    • Locker assignments will be staggered to discourage congregation in hallways and reduce the opportunity for spread.
    • Outdoor spaces will be utilized on our beautiful campus for instruction and play.

    Over the last year, we have been researching how we could increase our outdoor instructional time; The COVID-19 crisis encouraged us to create our outdoor learning spaces now. Playing and learning outside as much as possible will reduce risk and helps students to understand and respect nature, the environment, and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly beneficial for children who learn best through active movement.

    Level 2 - Hybrid Learning: Middle School students will begin their hybrid learning schedule, after fall conferences, on Monday, Oct. 19. Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. The primary focus of virtual learning days for students will be independent work skills. Students will access a PowerPoint via Google Classroom or Seesaw and follow the list of activities outlined in their daily schedule. The daily schedule followed by these students will model the schedule for in-person learning, with a focus on retention of known concepts. The Middle School Virtual Learning day will be on Tuesdays.

    The majority of instruction will remain on campus with our full mitigation strategies in place.

    Level 3 - Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, some classes may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. A possibility for this scenario could include both teaching staff being out awaiting test results. They could teach from home but would have to follow our Symptomatic Person’s Response Plan criteria before they could return to the classroom. Parents and students would be informed of the beginning and ending dates through texts and emails.

    Level 4 - Full Virtual Learning: If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, students in K-12 will be engaged in full virtual learning. We believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place at a distance. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education and include scheduled direct time with teachers/supports/other distance learners. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. Our purposeful daily interactions between teaching staff and students will continue to take place at a distance. Our high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon our success of virtual learning in the spring of 2020 with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. We will continue to prioritize real-time teaching and create opportunities for interactions between peers and teachers.

    Students who choose full time distance learning will follow our Level 4 instructional model. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to meet with their teaching staff daily to receive support and clarification on assignments. Anita Haas, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Innovation, will provide additional support for distance learners. Distance learners will follow a synchronous learning model for afternoon content area classes including science, social studies, and life skills. They will also have social opportunities built into their daily schedule, including but not limited to: morning meeting, and lunchtime social time. These social opportunities have the potential to be synchronous with in-person learners as well.

  • Upper School

    Upper School Climate for Learning


    School Day Hours: 8:30 am-3:30 pm

    School entrance: Entrance #3 - second entry door to gym on south side of building

    Virtual Learning Day: Thursdays (beginning October 19th)


    School Readiness Experience: Monday, August 24, 8:30am-12:00pm

    Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday, August 12, 7:30-8:15 pm


    Our teachers have been working hard all summer to strengthen their curriculum and build even more engaged inquiry-driven, and student-centered learning experiences. AOWL’s curriculum is rigorous, fun, and researched-based. In our Upper School, we offer young people opportunities to be themselves, explore new ideas, be challenged by difficult lessons, connect with their peers, and question the world around them.

    Level 1 - In-person Learning: At this time, we hope to start and end the year at Level 1 with our extraordinary mitigation strategies in place. The typical schedule would be followed allowing for traditional academic and elective classes. Teachers will rotate to the students’ homeroom classrooms, rather than having the students rotate. Performing Arts will not be offered this year because the science behind the virus shows that singing and projecting the voice during drama are high-risk activities. To reduce exposure during high risk times, lunches will be eaten in the classroom at student desks or outside when weather permits, one student at a time will be allowed in the bathrooms, and hallways are marked with ‘traffic’ lanes to provide social distancing. Locker assignments will be staggered to discourage congregation in hallways and reduce the opportunity for spread. We have decided to suspend Community Based Instruction and after-school Experientials for the foreseeable future. This is in the best interest of all students to minimize travel into the community.

    We will increase our use of outdoor spaces on our beautiful campus for instruction. Over the last year, we have been researching how we could increase our outdoor instructional time; The COVID-19 crisis encouraged us to create our outdoor learning spaces now. Learning outside as much as possible will reduce risk and helps students to understand and respect nature, the environment, and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly beneficial for children who learn best through active movement.

    Level 2 - Hybrid Learning: Upper School students will begin their hybrid learning schedule, after fall conferences, on Monday, Oct. 19. Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. The primary focus of virtual learning days for students will be independent work skills. Students will independently work on assignments via Google Classroom. The Upper School Virtual Learning day will be on Thursdays.

    The majority of instruction will remain on campus with our full mitigation strategies in place.

    Level 3 - Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, students may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. A possibility for this scenario could include teaching staff being out awaiting test results. They could teach from home but would have to follow our Symptomatic Person’s Response Plan criteria before they could return to the classroom. Parents and students would be informed of the beginning and ending dates through texts and emails.

    Level 4 - Full Virtual Learning: If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, students in K-12 will be engaged in full virtual learning. We believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place remotely. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education in tandem with live classes happening on campus. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. Our challenging academic program and purposeful daily interactions with teaching staff can take place at a distance. Our high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon our success of distance learning in the spring of 2020 with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. We will continue to prioritize real-time teaching and create opportunities for interactions between peers and teachers.

    Students who choose full time distance learning will follow a synchronous model of learning along-side in-person learners. Students will login to Google Meet or other meeting software which will enable them to join the class lesson via a classroom-based webcam. This will allow them to interact, virtually, with their classmates and teaching staff. This synchronous learning model will extend to social opportunities as well, including, but not limited to: morning meeting and lunchtime.

  • Mental Health

    A message from Katie Thormodsgaard, MSW, LICSW - Director of Clinical Services:

    We have been working hard to prepare for our students' return in the fall. One thing that we can’t plan for is uncertainty. COVID-19 has created and will continue to create an uncertainty which amplifies anxiety and elevated feelings. We can get through this, together. We need to go into the 2020-2021 school year with a fresh perspective.

    Here are some tips:

     

    • Keep an open dialogue. You may not have the answer for your child, but if you can keep the conversation going it will help with anxious feelings and thoughts. It is important that your child feels comfortable talking to you about their fears and worries.
    • Limit television coverage, social media and news exposure. It can be alarming and there is a lot of misinformation. If you have an older child that researches on their own, discuss what they’ve seen or heard so you have an understanding of what they have been exposed to.
    • You may feel elevated or anxious yourself. A key thing to remember is that anxiety feeds anxiety. It is important to talk to your child with confidence and not avoidance. The more you avoid the topic the more fearful your child may become.
    • Doing calming strategies together is important. It will help you and your child return to baseline. Your child will feel more comfortable and confident if they see their parent engaging in the strategies. It is an activity that can become a habit and family focused.

    “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” Jane D Hull

  • Health & Safety

    Campus Safety


    Families’ Role

    • Stay home when sick.
    • Closely monitor your student's health as well as other family members. Be mindful of the following symptoms associated with Covid-19: fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
    • Be aware of possible close contact exposure outside of school. The CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of a symptomatic person for more than 15 minutes.
    • Encourage frequent hand washing while at home, especially before and after eating, using shared objects around the house, and before and after going out into the community.
    • Practice wearing a mask and social distancing in multiple settings.
    • Teach respiratory etiquette such as sneezing and coughing into one’s elbow.
    • Help your child to feel emotionally safe by listening to and validating how they are feeling.

    AOWL’s Role - Maintaining Student and Staff Health

    Key Terms:

    Cleaning: Physically removing germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects using soap (or detergent) and water or other cleaners.

    Disinfecting: Kills germs on surfaces and objects using chemicals.

    Social Distancing: Keeping 6 feet of space between yourself and other people outside of your home to reduce exposure from close contact with others.

    The CDC defines exposure from close contact as being closer than 6 feet to another person for 15 minutes or more.


    Mitigation Strategies:

    Social Distancing: AOWL has implemented a number of social distancing measures that allow for 6 feet of physical distance among students and staff at all times. We’ve also modified spaces where social distancing in classrooms and other spaces is not possible with plexiglass barriers.

    Staff and students wear masks: Given the sensory needs of our students, in addition to any other underlying health conditions, students and staff may also utilize face shields as an alternative to cloth face masks. It is recommended that families have multiple mask options for students and wash them daily after use, in accordance with the guidelines set by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health.

    • AOWL will provide disposable face masks for just-in-case type scenarios
    • AOWL will build times into all students' days for “mask break” times when students don’t have to wear masks.

    Staff health screenings: All staff will be required to complete a daily temperature check and exposure and symptom screening before coming into school.

    Student health screenings: Students will have their temperatures taken using touchless thermometers daily before entering school. Students will also be asked a series of questions about exposure and symptoms weekly.

    *AOWL has a full symptomatic person response plan in place in the event that a staff or student tests positive or displays symptoms related to COVID-19. The plan can be found at this link.

    Hand washing and access to sanitizing stations: Students and staff will have scheduled times throughout their days for hand washing and sanitizing.

    • Hand sanitizer stations located at each entrance to use before entering the building and before leaving at the end of the day. Hand sanitizer will also be encouraged when hand washing is not possible.
    • Hand washing routines built into the day, including times immediately before: eating, leaving the classroom, leaving the school, using shared classroom spaces.
    • Hand washing routines built into the day, including times immediately after: eating, entering the classroom, using shared classroom spaces, using the bathroom, sneezing, coughing.

    New cleaning/disinfecting procedures: AOWL has developed new cleaning and disinfecting routines to better protect the health and safety of our students and staff.

    • 4x daily cleaning and disinfecting of all spaces in our building. Cleaning and disinfecting shared classroom spaces between each student use.
    • Use of a cleaning tool called an electrostatic sprayer, which enables a more thorough disinfection of our spaces. Electrostatic sprayers work by charging disinfectants so that the droplets repel one another and actively seek out environmental surfaces, which they stick to and even wrap around to coat all sides.
    • New disinfectant for use with the electrostatic sprayer which meets CDC and EPA criteria for use against COVID-19. This disinfectant is effective for up to 28 days after it is sprayed.

    Hallway traffic modifications: All hallways in our building have been modified with “lanes” indicating the direction of traffic and enabling 6 feet of distance between students and staff passing in the halls. The hallways are also marked with visual cues for students to show distancing while transitioning as a group. Bathroomcapacity will be reduced to one student at a time. All bathrooms have been outfitted with a push light near their entrances, which students will turn on using their elbow, to indicate to other students that the bathroom is in use.

    Outdoor learning: We will hold classes in outdoor learning spaces as often as possible. We are currently working on solutions to enable dependable WiFi access for student devices while learning outdoors.

    Avoid student crossover as much as possible: Classrooms will only be paired in environments that allow for distancing between larger groups, such as in the gym and outdoors. Specialist Teachers will rotate between classrooms and each class will have its own dedicated specialist period.

    Reworking communal spaces: Some of our communal spaces, like the learning commons, are being converted to what we are calling “flexible learning spaces.” These areas may be used as extra classroom spaces, assessment spaces, clinic services spaces, in addition to other uses as well. This helps us to reduce crossover between multiple groups of students and ensures proper cleaning and disinfecting of these spaces. 

     

  • FAQ's

    Frequently Asked Questions


    Q: Why are we waiting until October 19th to start Level 2: Hybrid Learning (four-day in-person and one-day virtual learning) schedule?

    A: This decision was made for several reasons, but most importantly it was based on what will be best for our students and parents. Setting our students up for success entails directly teaching new expectations and skills, practicing with adult guidance, and giving extra time to process the change before being expected to execute these skills independently. This extra time will not only set students up for success, it can set parents up for success also. This date will allow more time for parents to find arrangements for their child’s virtual day, in addition to, having the opportunity to meet one on one during conferences with the teaching staff before the 4 day week officially starts.

    Q: How will we teach essential routines like hand washing, turning/off lights, opening doors, using the bathroom, etc.?

    A: Through AOWL’s distinct, balanced approach that addresses academics, social, and life skills, our experienced staff is already equipped to teach essential life skills, specifically hygiene habits, through these unprecedented times. To ensure a safe environment for all students and staff, teaching staff will begin instructing new essential routines based on CDC and MDH guidance, such as those listed above, in addition to others, during our Student Readiness Experience on August, 24th and continue throughout the school year. Teaching staff will demonstrate, offer time to practice, and give feedback in order to establish routines and continue to stress the importance to their students. Students will continue to practice these routines throughout the year.

    Q: Why are we able to have a different plan than public schools?

    A: One of the many extraordinary things about AOWL is our 4:1 student/teacher ratio. This specialized approach is a clear distinction between our school model and those of public schools and allows us to fully implement all of the Center for Disease Control recommendations; in addition to other precautionary measures we see needed.

    AOWL has a maximum of eight students and two teaching staff in a classroom, compared to MDE’s public school recommendation of 28 students for the same size classroom. The square footage per student at AOWL is approximately 500 square feet, compared to MDE’s public school recommendation of 100-150 square feet per student. AOWL has significantly more space for students to spread out and practice social distancing.

    Q: If my student starts the year doing in-person learning and our family becomes uncomfortable with it, can they switch to distance learning?

    A: A family can always switch their student from in-person to distance learning, just not the other way around. When a family chooses to have their student go into the distance learning model, they are choosing to remain learning-at-home until after winter break. If the choice has been made for a student to switch to distance learning, we will ask families to give us a one week period to allow our teaching staff to prepare for this transition. 

    Q: What will AOWL do in the event that a staff or student tests positive?

    A: AOWL has a full symptomatic person response plan in place in the event that a staff or student tests positive or displays symptoms related to COVID-19. The plan can be found at this link

    Q: What should I do if I have more questions? 

    A: Please contact Louis Bakalars, COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Coordinator,  or Brenda Tollas, Head of School. All questions are welcome! This page will be updated with additional questions as they are received.