The Madeira School in McLean will reopen for classes Sept. 2 with a hybrid model consisting mostly of live instruction on weekdays, plus some online-learning options for those who for various reasons can’t come to the campus.
“We’re really excited,” said Gretchen Warner, who on July 1 became Madeira’s 10th head of school. “As a boarding and day school, we are ready to welcome back all of our students for in-person, real-time learning five days a week. Luckily, our campus is 376 acres and we have the facilities and space to appropriately social-distance and use all the protocols set up by federal, state and local guidelines.”
Under Madeira’s modular schedule, students will attend three classes at a time for five-week periods, allowing them to delve more deeply into their subject matter, Warner said. Unlike online-class schedules created on the fly this spring, students’ fall schedules will more closely resemble Madeira’s traditional offerings, she said.
Students who are not able to attend in-person – whether they are international and can’t come to the United States, have compromised immune systems or have family members with health concerns – will be able to avail themselves of online distance-learning.
Madeira’s faculty quickly switched from in-person teaching to online learning when the pandemic struck this spring and spent the summer doing professional-development work, which led to the school’s hybrid learning model for this fall, Warner said.
“It’s not like a teacher pulls a binder off the shelf and teaches the same lesson every year,” she said. “That’s not what happens here. Particularly in the time of COVID, what we’re really seeing is our faculty using real-time data from students to change their practice and expectations are for students so they’re achieving at the highest level.”
Madeira is ready to switch to full-time distance-learning again if so mandated by the government, Warner said. Faculty members tried a variety of technology when conducting distance-learning this spring and Madeira staff spent the summer codifying and simplifying which digital platforms the school would be using in the fall, she said.
School officials are undertaking extensive prevention measures to ensure students and faculty remain healthy. Classrooms and buses will be reconfigured to keep students at least 6 feet apart.
The school is installing heavy-duty, clear-plastic drapes on floor-to-ceiling track systems to divide double-occupancy dorm rooms into two sections. Everyone on campus will be required to wear face coverings, but the dorm-room dividers when in use will allow students to remove the masks in their rooms.
Dormitory residents also will be assigned a sink/toilet/shower stall in shared bathrooms and receive instruction on how to sanitize them afterward using supplies provided by the school.
The school’s custodial contractor at least twice every day will close, clean and disinfect all restrooms on the campus, including ones in the dormitories. All campus buildings will be disinfected on a rotating weekly basis and facilities will undergo the same process again if a student or faculty member tests positive for COVID-19, school officials said.
Madeira is adding more than 40 hand-sanitizer stations to the campus, in addition to the ones already provided. All of the school’s air-handling systems have been inspected and officials are having high-grade filters installed in the buildings’ heating-ventilation-and-cooling systems.
Regarding sports, Madeira will follow safety-and-health guidelines issued by the Independent School League. If competitive outlets aren’t available, Madeira will strive to give its students an “affirmative athletic experience,” Warner said. This could include coaching, personal training and individualized attention to help them be successful when competitive sports seasons resume, she said.
Every student has an after-school activity each day. Madeira offers a co-curricular program in which students do internships and some of those opportunities may need to be engaged in virtually during the pandemic, Warner said.
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