When students return to The Summit campus this fall, some things will look a little different. Classrooms will be spaced to accommodate six feet of physical distancing between students. Teachers, staff, and students will be wearing face masks. Students will receive temperature checks before entering campus at carline. These are changes our students have never encountered at school before, and we understand that some students may feel apprehensive about returning to school. If you would like to start a conversation with your child about any fears or anxieties they may be experiencing about returning to school, the United Nations International Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) article on Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health as They Return to School During COVID-19 is an excellent resource on how to approach this discussion in a gentle, affirming way. Please contact Summit Guidance Counselor, Becky Breckner, LPC, for additional questions or guidance.
Since our transition to Distance Learning in Spring 2020, The Summit has stayed abreast of the latest research, developments, and recommendations regarding COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Springfield-Greene County Health Department (SGCHD) as well as following guidance for educational institutions from Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry, the AAP “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” With this goal in mind, The Summit has spent the summer working diligently to update our campus, procedures, and policies with student health, wellness, and safety at the forefront of our efforts.
While there may be some unfamiliar changes on campus, we hope our students will be excited by some of the changes, too–like our expanded WiFi capabilities to extend learning beyond the classroom walls and into our big backyard or the newly added outdoor learning space. The track has been refinished and restriped, ready for relays. Our student-designed native plant and pollinator gardens have flourished over the summer and are waiting for students to dive in with hands-on, project-based learning. We are ready to welcome our students back to learning in their classrooms, exploring the backyard, and once again engaging (safely) with members of the school community.
At The Summit, things are looking different. But the feelings of community, belonging, acceptance, and security remain the same. The Summit is committed to bringing students safely back to school five days a week with increased health screenings and cleaning protocols, expanded learning spaces, and the same dedicated faculty ready to serve and support the needs of students with our whole-child approach. Mrs. Melissa Kimmons, Early Learners teacher, says, “An awesome part of being an educator is the commitment to being a life-long learner. These new circumstances have encouraged us to think ‘outside the box’ in creating new and inventive ways of teaching our students. Flexibility has always been at the top of our skill set, and we hope to foster this skill along with a feeling of safety and inventiveness with our kids. I have no doubt that we will still be able to love, teach, and grow with our students each day!”
We are also welcoming two new teachers to school this year: Ms. Lanae Ursino (1st Grade) and Mrs. Kendra James (5th Grade). When asked what students could expect in her classroom this year, Mrs. James said, “This year might look a little different, but I’m confident that together, we will still implement ways to be creative, innovative, and resourceful–all while having fun, of course! Getting to know my students and their families is one of my favorite parts of teaching, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of their 5th grade experience.” Ms. Ursino is also eager to meet her new students this year. She says, “I am so excited to be a part of The Summit, and I can’t wait for all the learning we will do together this year! We are going to have a great year!”
With our purposefully small class sizes, The Summit may not be the biggest school in the Ozarks, but we are a strong and resilient community. With the support of our families, we look forward to a successful and safe re-entry to campus on Monday, August 17th. We know parents still have questions, and we are here to help answer them as best we can in these ever-changing times. The Summit will be releasing an updated version of Small, Independent, Progressive: The Summit’s Re-Entry Plan 2020 to the community on Friday, August 7th, with more information on travel guidelines, face masks, carline procedure, and back to school events. Please contact administration if you have any questions about our plans for re-entry this fall.