Here you will find the latest information and resources about Princeton Day School's reopening plans and progress for the 2020-21 school year. We encourage you to check this page often for updates in addition to our regular series of summer email communications for our PDS families.
June 29, 2020
To the Princeton Day School Community,
I am pleased to share with you our School's foundational document for the reopening of school, Princeton Day School Reopens. The work of several months and of advisors and consultants both inside the school and beyond, it maps the way forward to achieving that most important goal: a safe return for students and faculty to our campus on the Great Road.
Within this document you will find details on the process we have used to come to this point, investments we have made in professional development and critical technology infrastructure, and information on a range of topics from hybrid learning to lunch in the Campus Center. You will also find there a link to a video message from me with additional details about our planning process and reopening considerations.
Still, this is a foundational document, one that points the way to the safe opening of school. Over the course of the next six weeks, we will sharpen our focus and, as we do, share with you specific details about the school community which will greet your children in early September.
As you have questions or suggestions, I urge you to share them at PDSreopens@pds.org. I also encourage you to check this landing page for updates and resources throughout the summer.
I look forward to seeing you in September.
Paul J. Stellato
Head of School
as of June 29, 2020
After several months of focused planning and in accordance with the recent guidelines established by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, we are able to share some important updates with you about the upcoming academic year. We are pleased to announce that we plan to resume teaching and learning on campus this fall. We plan to follow our published 2020–21 academic calendar.
Two main principles have guided our thinking and planning since the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to suspend normal operations on campus in March: prioritizing the health and safety of our school community, and providing the most PDS-like experience possible, with an emphasis on the academic program.
June 29 - Initial reopening plan announced
July 20 - Reopening plan update
August 10 - Reopening final plan
September 9 - First day of classes for all students
Click image to enlarge
We are excited to resume in-person teaching and learning, and we recognize that there are also several reasons to maintain our ability to teach and learn online for the 2020–21 academic year: some students may not be able to return to campus, and any student or adult who exhibits symptoms of illness will need to stay away from classrooms and other shared spaces until they are healthy. Therefore, we will be running a robust hybrid academic program for the year, so that in-person classes can happen on campus and remote learning will be available for students who elect not to return to campus or who must be away from campus for periods of time during the year.
We look forward to supporting all of our students, both on campus and off, with a rigorous curriculum in the year ahead.
On-campus learning will take one of the following forms:
- Students will return to “normal” operations with some restrictions in place
- Students will engage in a combination of online and in-person classes
New Schoolwide Procedures
Ensuring the safest possible campus environment will require some changes to the way we do things at PDS. In order enhance safety, reduce group sizes and limit the number of contacts each student has on campus, we will be implementing the following:
Health and Safety
- Masks will be worn by all students and faculty/staff
- Maintain six feet of social distance in classrooms and throughout campus
- Health screening protocols for students, faculty and staff before entering building
- Mandatory safety training before school starts for all students, faculty and staff
- Enhanced sanitizing and cleaning protocols
- New electrostatic technology for sanitizing
- Utilizing EPA registered cleaners
- Enhanced quality assurance measures
- New touchless hand sanitizers
- Increased number of hand sanitizer locations
- All school field trips and travel will be suspended
- Staggered schedule for drop-off and pick-up
- Playground and other equipment will be disinfected between uses
- Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized between use as much as possible
- Gym locker rooms will be closed
- Parents, volunteers and visitors may be on campus by appointment only and will be required to wear masks
- Outdoor space will be used to its full potential
- Flik will continue to provide lunch for students on meal plans
- A new mobile ordering system will be implemented
- Bus transportation
- After school programs
MS and US Athletics Programs
We are committed to providing an athletic program to our Middle and Upper School students, though whether students will be able to participate in interscholastic athletic teams is yet to be determined. We anticipate following the guidelines put forward by the NJSIAA in consultation with the NJDOH as they relate to athletic program offerings.
We remain committed to offering a physical education program that provides students with a structure in which to participate in regular exercise. We are exploring options that would allow students to partake in guided PE regardless of whether we are in a remote, hybrid or traditional environment.
Faculty are dedicated to spending the summer in formal professional development to design and implement a flexible, adaptable and engaging curriculum that will inspire our students regardless of whether we meet in person or virtually.
We will establish a framework appropriate for Princeton Day School learners that:
- identifies clear and focused learning objectives
- standardizes delivery modules
- utilizes accessible learning tools
- builds faculty competencies
- supports and develops student agency
- acknowledges the age and capabilities of our students
In order to do this, we need to first look at the goals we want to accomplish and determine how best to meet those goals in a variety of learning settings. With thoughtful planning, we can face a hybridized 2020–21 not as a time of disruption but as a mission-driven and effective way of doing school—of delivering programs and student support at accustomed levels of quality and rigor.
Princeton Day School is investing more than $1.2 million in enhanced technology infrastructure hardware and software to facilitate program delivery. High-quality audio, video, screen-sharing and whiteboard functions are equally accessible in the classroom and remotely through DTEN D7 videoconferencing. Remote students will be visible to their teachers and classmates, even as the classroom is visible to them. A simple interface and integrated design ensure that teachers can start their remote classes with literally one touch of the screen. The technology itself can then fade into the background while facilitating the best possible hybrid learning experience.
The School’s new DTEN D7 all-in-one video conferencing solution is custom engineered for use with Zoom and Zoom Rooms. PDS will utilize Zoom as our primary synchronous learning platform. Along with traditional video conferencing, Zoom allows for additional beneficial classroom features, such as breakout rooms for small groups, nonverbal communication, a collaborative whiteboard, and the ability for students to see all of their classmates at once, even on an iPad.
PDS will utilize Zoom Rooms, which integrate classroom hardware with the online Zoom environment to synchronize the experiences of on-campus and online learners. In the hybrid environment, this provides a simple way for teachers to ensure that all students are benefitting from the same high-quality synchronous learning opportunities
Google G Suite is the School’s cloud-based communication and collaboration platform. This includes our email system (Gmail), collaborative documents in Google Docs, and much more. These tools are fully accessible anytime from any location with internet access—on or off campus.
Schoology is our Learning Management System. Grades 3-12 use Schoology for classes, whether on or off campus. The platform provides an organized location for each day’s assignments, assessments, and communication, as well as serving as the digital hub for student life. Parents and guardians can also access class assignments and materials through their Schoology parent account.
Seesaw is the Learning Management System for our youngest students (PK-Grade 2). Through the Seesaw app, students can access their classes, submit work, and communicate with their teachers, whether on or off campus. Parents and guardians can also access class assignments and materials through their Seesaw parent account.
Veracross is our new Student Information System. Beginning in August 2020, students and faculty will access their class schedules and report cards through the Veracross Student and Faculty Portals. The Veracross Parent Portal will provide centralized access to student schedules and reports, school communications, calendars, and billing. Login instructions will be provided to families in July.
Zoom is our primary synchronous learning platform. Along with traditional video conferencing, Zoom allows for additional beneficial classroom features, such as breakout rooms for small groups, nonverbal communication, a whiteboard, and the ability for students to see all of their classmates at once, even on an iPad.
We can’t wait to see you! We’ve really missed having everyone on campus and are looking forward to the start of the new school year. Please be sure to monitor school communications for updates and additional information.
If you have questions, please contact PDSreopens@pds.org.