Knowns and Unknowns as of May 21, 2021
Late spring is always a time of intense planning in school as we take up the important matters related to finishing the current year while simultaneously planning for the fall. This year, that intensity is more profound than ever as we contemplate what school will look like next year, quite literally. While much is still unknown about how the current easing of restrictions will translate to school life, practices, and protocols, there are some things we do know now, and that knowledge has formed the basis of a couple of principles that guide how we intend to open in August.
We now feel safe to open school for the 2021-22 school year as a unified campus. That is to say it is our intention to “un-pod” Watkinson at the conclusion of the current school year. We know that the pod structure was one of the most important elements to safely navigate this challenging year with zero known COVID transmissions on campus.
This means we will relocate offices and classrooms to something more akin to pre-pandemic spaces and locations, and that we will return to community use of space for dining and for gatherings. The Wilson Family Gymnasium will again become a home to athletics, and the Foisie Family Amphitheater will be home to theatre productions and other performances. Think volleyball, basketball, and singing! What remains unknown is how guidance and mandates from the State of Connecticut and the CDC will impact capacity in these settings. We will see a return of All-School Meetings and lunch, even if they occur in smaller groups.
Given the current and significant downward trends of infection and hospitalization rates, and Connecticut’s high rate of vaccination, and barring any big changes in this data, we will also move to regular capacity (average class size of 12) and no longer require social distancing in classrooms. Though, we will allow for 3’ distancing of desks/tables should individual teachers wish that.
Finally, as you know, the Governor has required that schools finish out the year with masks on. We know that this is an area families may have many questions about. While Governor Lamont’s updated COVID response directive, which took effect on May 19th, provided businesses and other institutions the ability to make their own best decisions for health and safety protocols, Watkinson will comply with the Governor’s directive for schools through June.