COVID-19 Updates

From: Dr. Peter S. Lewis, Head of School
January 18, 2021

Dear Winston School Community:

We are looking forward to welcoming students and staff back to school, in-person, on Tuesday, January 19.  I am grateful to everyone in our community for their patience and dedication towards making all our learning experiences positive and productive. 

This letter provides updates on our school schedule and protocols for the future and shares our plans for Covid testing through the Winston School.

We will resume our normal schedule of four days in person and one day Friday remote starting, Tuesday, January 19.

We have the mid-winter break scheduled for the week of February 15-19; we will keep this break intact. 

The week after this mid-winter break, February 22-26, will be a remote instruction week and we will resume full in-person instruction the succeeding week, March 1 through March 4 with the remote Friday as scheduled on March 5. 

Parent-teacher conferences will be held as scheduled for the primary grades, 1-3 on Wed., March 3 and Thursday, March 4; these parent-teacher conferences will be held virtually, and details are forthcoming.  The Primary Division ONLY will have an early dismissal on Thursday, March 4 at 11:30am and a full remote day Friday, March 5.  

Parent-teacher conferences will be held virtually and as scheduled for grades 4-8 on Wed., March 17, Thursday, March 18 and Friday, March 19; there are NO classes in session for all grades on Friday, March 19. Details on these conferences are forthcoming. 

We are planning now for a move to a full five-day, in-person schedule starting on Monday, March 22.  Our intent is to then maintain this five day, in-person schedule for the remainder of the school year using the arrival and dismissal times and procedures we currently have in place.  Please note:  we must all realize that changes to our plans are possible due to the evolving nature of the Covid virus and the accompanying availability of the vaccine.  But, for now:  this is our plan for the future.

Spring break, Monday, March 29 through Monday, April 5 will remain as scheduled; classes will resume on Tuesday, April 6.  We are still in the process of determining whether this first week back from spring break will be remote or in-person. 

One additional note:  The Middle School EXPO (JanTerm) event has been moved to Friday, February 12; this will be a virtual event with details forthcoming.

As we return to school in-person next week, my message to the community today is that we remain fully compliant with protocols and procedures for protecting the health and wellness of our students, staff and families.  We do not want to let down our guard in maintaining vigilance, awareness and commitment to schoolwide responsibilities and guidelines.  Ensuring safety and wellness on campus is a shared responsibility for all of us—students, staff and parents—and it is vital for us all to hold to this goal with consistency and through our own conscientious behaviors inside and outside of school. 

It is imperative that all members of our community comply fully with the State, local and school guidelines and protocols.  Our shared values and shared experiences are more important than ever before as we work together on behalf of one another.  Thus, upon returning to in-person instruction, we want all to remember our morning protocols in submitting the on-line health information form and taking your child’s temperature.  If your child is not feeling well, keep your child at home and then ask questions.  If you have traveled out of State to a location on the quarantine list, you must remain in remote instruction for 14 days from the time you arrived back at home in New Jersey.  If you have questions or you are uncertain as to how to proceed, call or e-mail the school and we will make sure our nurse gets back to you with the appropriate guidance and information. 

A note on Covid testing:

Winston will institute a mandatory testing program for students and staff that will begin with a “trial run” for just primary school students in their pod, and all Winston staff, during the week of February 1-5.  We will begin collecting samples that parents can collect at home with their children just for the primary division students; we will also do the same collection with all staff.  We plan to do “pool testing” via an individual saliva sample that is a similar format to the process being used at several other independent schools.  We anticipate that samples will be dropped off to Winston by primary division parents on Wed. morning, February 3 and we would receive results back from the testing company on Friday, February 5.  

We plan to extend the testing process to all staff and the entire student body in specific “pods” during the remote week of February 22 through February 26, thus receiving full information on the samples from the testing company prior to our return to in-person instruction on Monday, March 1.

We are considering using this full community testing process prior to our return to in-person instruction after the spring break.  No formal decision, therefore, has been made on whether the week after spring break is remote instruction only and whether we will do the testing again. 

This is a new process for Winston, and we want to do it right.  Specific details and instructions will be provided through our school health professional, Marci Franciose, RN. 

I have provided extensive information in this letter; please reach out to your division head or to the main office (and our nurse) for any needed clarifications or to discuss your personal and perhaps unique set of circumstances. 

Sincerely and let’s all stay safe and healthy: 

Peter S. Lewis, Head of School

Video Message from President, of Board of Trustees, Jennie Tinkelman

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