While Delaware’s public schools are wrestling with how they will resume classes in the fall, some of Northern Delaware’s largest private schools are bringing students back in person for the next school year.
Some of the private schools have not yet decided, and it’s possible multiple systems will be used.
“Our plans could change due to changes in regulations, guidelines, and safety practices designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Mark Anderson, the head of school at Sanford, in a post to the Sanford community, and his thoughts are pertinent elsewhere.
Archmere, Independence, Sanford, Tower Hill, Ursuline. Wilmington Christian are back in buildings.
Catholic Diocese of Wilmington schools have committed to in-person instruction.
All the schools are cleaning more and altering operations, with new guidelines and rules on social distancing, mask usage and other issues prioritized by the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their plans include sports, but athletic events with public schools await determinations by scholastic sports associations.
Albert Einstein Aademy
The Albert Einstein Academy is “hoping to open in person” on Sept. 1, said Gerri Chizeck, head of the Talleyville school.
“Our children will be in cohorts of no more than 12 students, not mixing,” and there will be “lots of outdoor learning,” taking advantage of multiple spaces in the large Siegel Jewish Community Center campus.
That said, the school is planning a virtual orientation and is ready to pivot on how to teach if the situation changes. The school is planning this year for 32 students in grades K-4, and she wonders if enrollment will grow with families interested in a smaller school.
Archmere returns Aug. 31 to its Claymont campus.
“In-person instruction will be supplemented with asynchronous lessons provided by our faculty through our learning management system,” Principal Katie Eissler Thiel wrote in an email.
To increase social distancing, students will take just four classes on Monday/Thursday and four on Tuesday/Friday.
“Wednesdays will be dedicated to science labs, Health classes, College Seminars, Liturgical events, clubs, and wellness activities.”
The school is also offering a virtual option to every class to accommodate differing levels of comfort among students and families.
Catholic Diocese of Wilmington
The Diocese is “committed” to opening schools in person, superintendent Louis P. De Angelo wrote July 6 in an open letter posted on St. Mark’s website.
The diocese runs three high schools in the Wilmington area: Padua, St. Elizabeth and St. Mark’s.
“It is expected that schools will receive the final version of Diocesan Task Force guidelines by the end of July and communicate their local school plans in compliance with those guidelines to you in early August.”
The Independence School plans to open Sept. 9 to on-campus learning for all students in preschool through 8th grade. The school will be following recommended health and safety guidelines outlined by the DOE, DPH, and CDC.
“We are fortunate to have a large facility and a 90-acre campus providing ample space for social distancing and outdoor learning. In addition, we are planning to offer an online learning option to those who request it,” said Victoria Yatzus, head of school.
On Thursday, St. Edmond’s Academy said it is opening its 25-acre Brandywine Hundred campus on Sept. 1 to its students, all boys, up to eighth grade.
John Jordan, who started as head of school in March, said the school plans to use outdoor spaces and large classroom areas to keep students socially distanced.
“Our intention is to do as much as possible in person,” said John Helmick, the Wilmington school’s chief administrative officer.
No decision has yet been made on the mode to be used for the first day, Aug. 27. He said school leaders are preparing for in-building, hybrid and virtual operations.
“We’re likely to bounce between those three scenarios,” Helmick said.
To reduce contact in hallways and among different groups in different classes and to increase the ability to pivot among the scenarios, Salesianum is making all classes run for just a semester, rather than all year.
Three or four longer classes will fill the day. Such an arrangement will also better prepare students for college schedules, he said. The school is preparing outdoor spaces for classes.
Sanford’s first day of school is Sept. 9 on its Hockessin campus. “Since some community members may need to be away from campus for medical reasons or due to other factors associated with COVID-19, remote learning options will be available,” Anderson wrote.
The school will require everyone on campus to complete a daily questionnaire via a phone/computer app. It is adding custodial staff and considering adding a part-time nurse to its full-time nurse.
Dining, van transportation and extended care are being rethought for social distancing.
Tatnall is planning for in-person, virtual and hybrid scenarios when the Greenville opens for orientation on Sept. 8. Classes begin Sept. 9.
“Our hope is that local COVID conditions will allow us to open in-person,” wrote Page McConnel, director of marketing and communications, in an email. “We can accommodate our students in classrooms or, when necessary, in alternative learning spaces, with social distancing protocols in place.”
The school also plans to host “a variety of opportunities for families to come together with their classmates safely and learn more.”
Tower Hill opens on Sept. 8 on its Wilmington campus, with families asked to tell the school by Aug. 1 if they are electing distance learning for health reasons, Head of School Elizabeth C. Speers wrote in a post. Parents and visitors will not be allowed in school buildings.
“Cleaning supplies will be provided in each classroom, with teachers and older students wiping down surfaces throughout the day and disinfecting materials daily,” according to a 1,000-word protocol that follows her post.
Students will be assigned entry doors by grade, with older students issued ID cards with swipe access. These cards also include a debit mechanism to buy masks and other items at the school store. Students will be assigned bathrooms based on their primary location.
The school is “exploring ways to utilize outdoor spaces for large-scale events, livestream to individual classrooms or limit the amount of time spent in larger gatherings.”
Clubs, extracurricular offerings and arts activities are also being reconsidered.
Ursuline Academy “will be ready for on-campus learning to begin as scheduled the week of Aug. 24,” the Wilmington school’s website says.
Everyone will be screened before entering the campus, and there will be changes in access for parents and other visitors, its re-entry plan says.
Wilmington Christian plans to open on Aug. 31 at its Hockessin campus, Headmaster Roger Erdvig wrote.
“All students will be assigned to a cohort, which is a grouping of a few grades together to minimize contact with the broader school community,” the school says.
“Cohorts will be used for various purposes, such as moving around the building, participating in chapel, or gathering for lunch.”
Wilmington Friends on Wednesday notified families that it’s planning hybrid instruction when the Alapocas school starts Sept. 8.
Head of School Ken Aldridge cited the current “yellow” phase, which indicates the moderate spread of the virus in his announcement about a hybrid opening.
Students in the Lower School “will attend school in-person each day and remain with the same cohort of students in their classrooms; specials will be taught in the homebase classrooms,” Aldridge wrote.
Middle and Upper School students will attend school in-person two days a week and be online three days. Monday and Tuesday: Middle School in the building, Upper School remote; Wednesday: all students remote, with extended cleaning; Thursday and Friday: Upper School in the building, Middle School remote.
The school is offering full remote instruction to families who request it by Monday, Aug. 3.
The school will not offer child care, drop-in care, field trips and large events while the state is in the yellow phase, designated by the Department of Education’s reopening schools guidelines.
Visitors to campus will be restricted, and students, faculty and staff must complete a daily health assessment.