As we plan for the start of school in August, we are developing creative and innovative strategies as we strive to be the educational leader in continuous learning programs in our city and in the nation. We are accomplishing this by combining the extensive experience and knowledge of our own people with the expertise of thought leaders who are partnering with us.
While COVID-19 is changing how we learn, teach and come together as a community, we are still Pembroke Hill. We will remain welcoming, fun, engaging, creative and inspiring, and we will never lose sight of what makes us uniquely Pembroke Hill.
Principles guiding our work include:
Fostering the important relationships that make Pembroke Hill so strong while committed to the health and safety of our community
Providing the best continuous learning program no matter the environment for our students from early childhood through upper school
Responding quickly, and making decisions thoughtfully, with clarity and confidence and based on facts
As we plan to safely open up our campuses in August, we have engaged Kansas City-based MRIGlobal to help us with emergency response and campus readiness. MRIGlobal’s worldwide expertise in defense, health and energy includes infectious disease and biorisk management.
Specifically, MRIGlobal is assisting with:
- Creating an Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan and document
- Developing a comprehensive Infectious Disease Readiness Matrix, which will guide our responses to potential future scenarios with clarity and confidence
- Providing training for faculty, staff, students and parents to address new policies and procedures put in place to promote the health and safety of our community
- Office of Infection Control
- Health Questions
- Social Distancing
- Water Fountains
- Hand Sanitizers/Wipes
- Visual Markers/Signage
Office of Infection Control
We are establishing an Office of Infection Control and are looking to identify a full-time nurse with experience in infectious disease. This office will coordinate our routines during COVID-19 as well as our response to any confirmed cases. School nurse Judy Donnellan will assist in this area as well.
There are many questions about the use of masks and other face coverings in a school environment. We believe face masks are vitally important in limiting the potential transmission of COVID-19 and in keeping everyone on our campuses safe including students, faculty and staff.
We are continuing conversations with pediatricians and local health authorities and awaiting updated information based on scientific research before finalizing our protocols regarding the use of masks on campus.
In an additional effort to keep everyone safe, we will expect all members of our community to answer the following four questions, designed by Johns Hopkins University, before coming on campus. These questions will be posted at all school entrances. If anyone answers “yes” to any of the questions, they should refrain from coming to school and contact their health provider and the PHS Office of Infection Control. These questions are:
Within the last 14 days, have you or anyone in your household:
- traveled internationally or to a domestic city considered a “hotspot”? Go to: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states
- had close contact with someone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 or higher, dry cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, labored breathing, new loss of taste or smell) - includes the period of time 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic?
- had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?
- currently have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 or higher, dry cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, labored breathing or new loss of taste or smell)?
As previously mentioned, our best learning environment entails having all students and faculty on campus. Thus, we will do everything we can to create safe classrooms, offices and common areas with appropriate spacing. In some cases, the installment of additional materials such as plexiglass may be required. The number of students in each class will be based on the physical size of the classroom.
Where possible, we will designate hallways and staircases as one-way. To avoid crowded areas in the hallways, students will use backpacks and not lockers. We will also limit the number of individuals in restrooms.
We believe it is important for students to continue to have outside play opportunities, so our playgrounds and athletic fields will be open. However, we will create a recess schedule that limits the number of students in the play areas. Our facility crews will increase equipment sanitizing.
Our dining services team (FLIK) will continue to prepare lunch, which will be served in classrooms and common areas where appropriate. Self-service will not be available. Menu items will vary by division and include pre-made salads, pre-made sandwiches along with a main entree and vegetarian option. Snacks will continue to be provided for students below third grade. FLIK has further enhanced their safety procedures and remains committed to providing a variety of menu options.
Throughout the day, our cleaning staff will be continuously cleaning common areas and frequent touch points such as door handles and restrooms. In the evening, the crews will sanitize the classrooms, common areas and play spaces. Many soft surface items such as furniture and rugs will be removed. We have also contracted with a specialty vendor to conduct decontamination, if necessary.
Our intention is to open the 2020-21 school year on campus. As this is an ever-changing environment, we know that plans and procedures may need to be adjusted as we go through the rest of the summer and into the fall. Our goal is that by making appropriate plans now we will be ready to adapt quickly, if needed, based on recommendations from MRIGlobal, the CDC and local health officials.
This task force is engaged in collaborations and research to make recommendations on how to best conduct continuous learning at Pembroke Hill. They are advising us on the following:
- Technology devices, products and platforms that are appropriate for all divisions so that faculty, students and families are using a minimal number of programs for consistency and usability purposes
- Enhancement of teaching and learning through models that combine competency-based lessons with social and emotional development support while also identifying appropriate assessment tools to measure student growth
- Use of resources and space on our campuses
- Coordination and planning of academic scheduling across all divisions
- Investment in faculty professional development to equip faculty with the knowledge and tools needed to offer the best educational program for students
- Effective sequencing, coordination and transition between grades, divisions and the transition to college so that our students are well prepared for the next step in their education
Several subcommittees have also been formed to address specific elements of a continuous learning plan.
- Learning Management System Advisory Committee
- Schedule/Logistics Advisory Committee
- Professional Development Subcommittee
Identify common technology tools and a platform to adopt as a Pembroke Hill community. These technologies will need to:
- serve the wide age range of our student body;
- ensure continuity for families with students in multiple divisions; and
- provide appropriate pedagogical tools and ease of use for students and faculty. Our goal is to identify a platform that will serve us well in the future whether we’re teaching and learning in person, remotely or some combination of the two.
- Chris Keller (IT Director)
- Sara Eshelbrenner (Technology coach program directory)
- Kim Banion (Upper school English)
- Jason Lips (Upper school arts)
- Lauren Nibberich (Upper school science)
- Aubrey Remy (Middle school social studies
- Lynn O'Toole (Middle school athletics)
- Scott Guthrie (Middle school math)
- Caroline Doctor (Kindergarten)
- Cathy Barron (Fourth grade)
- Esperanza Meli (Early childhood/lower school Spanish)
- Kate Shirk (Preschool/prekindergarten)
- Trudi Patterson (Early childhood/kindergarten art)
Coordinate a daily academic schedule to create an optimal learning environment for students and faculty across all divisions. While it is certain that our daily schedule will, and should, differ somewhat by age group, we deem it important to explore common start times, end times, breaks and/or lunch periods that can provide continuity for parents, students and faculty.
- Jeannette Jones (Upper school social studies)
- Kym van Zanten (Upper school foreign language)
- Tammy Pottenger (Upper school math)
- Mary Maxson (Middle school math/science)
- Heather Hoffman (Middle school English)
- Sandy Longhofer (Lower school science)
- Teri Truog (Second grade)
- Bridget Ward (Early years)
- Kit Smith (Preschool/prekindergarten)
- Lindsay Kobolt (Counseling)
- Tracy Herbert (Arts)
- Sharon Cole (Athletics)
Plan professional development opportunities for students, faculty and parents that relate to our work surrounding teaching and learning. Our advisory partners, such as Challenge Success, the National Association of Independent Schools, Global Online Academy and other continuous learning experts, will guide us as we focus on differentiation, competency based learning and criteria referenced assessments that support student growth.
- Chris Keller (IT director)
- Dan Iseman (IT data manager)
- Sara Eshelbrenner (Upper school technology coach)
- Alexis Viene (Middle school technology coach)
- Ashley Haase (Wornall technology coach)
- Jenny Marien (Upper school assistant principal - professional development)
- Molly Doherty (Interim lower school principal/lower school instructional coach)
We have developed a COVID-19-response framework that features several levels with a predetermined PHS response to each. The level in which we are operating will be determined by state and local health and government officials and will be based on the number of COVID-19 cases on campus and in our surrounding community. At each level, we are committed to providing the best possible academic experience for all of our students. A description of the levels is below.
School is fully open; no mitigations needed. We will return to this level when the virus is no longer a pandemic threat.
We anticipate opening at this level on Aug. 24.
All students and faculty/staff are on campus with modifications. If a case is confirmed on campus, a day of remote learning could be required while decontamination is performed. This remote learning may apply to the entire school, a single campus or a specific division, depending on the situation.
Hybrid, blended-learning models are in place with reduced headcount within a division or building. We will go to this level if local health officials direct us to accommodate a reduced number of people on campus.
If we are required to go this level, we may choose to adopt a rotating schedule. While the Scheduling/Logistics Subcommittee has not yet formalized a specific rotation, we have determined that an every-other-day rotation is not beneficial to students’ academic growth and social/emotional well-being. The committee will continue to evaluate other scheduling options.
In this level, we would still like to offer in-person educational opportunities for the early childhood and lower schools.
Short-term remote learning only for a division or a campus. We would like to still offer in-person educational opportunities for early childhood and lower schools.
Longer-term remote learning for the entire school because local authorities have mandated schools to close. In this scenario, similar to last spring, a campus closure credit program may be incorporated.
Learning Management System (LMS)
One of the top priorities of the Continuous Learning Task Force was to identify a single platform for all ages that would streamline our teaching and learning experience, be a benefit to families with children in more than one division and provide appropriate pedagogical tools and ease of use for students and faculty. After much research, demonstrations and engagement with peer schools, we have selected Schoology as our new Learning Management System (LMS) for all divisions. More information on how to use Schoology will be provided for both students and families prior to the beginning of the school year.
Surface Pros - all upper school students were already scheduled to receive Surface Pros this fall.
|Middle school||Currently all middle schoolers have iPads.|
|Lower school||Currently, all students in grades 3 - 5 have iPads. We will provide iPads for kindergarten through second grade, but only for use during distance or remote learning.|
|Early childhood school||We will provide iPads for early childhood students, but only for use during distance or remote learning.|
Additionally, there will be a device mounted on a stand in each classroom on both campuses so that information can be streamed back and forth between school and home, in cases of short-term absences.
Later this summer, we will provide students, parents, faculty and staff training opportunities in continuous learning techniques, the new learning management system, technology use and safety protocols. We will share more information about dates and times when they are scheduled.
The Schedule/Logistics Subcommittee is creating a daily academic schedule that provides an optimal learning environment for students and faculty across all divisions, no matter the level. It will feature:
- Coordinated start time, lunch time and end time
- Time for community connections
- An emphasis on social/emotional learning
- More breaks and longer transition times
- Opportunities for a student and teacher to meet, perhaps through “office hours”
- Faculty collaboration and professional development
Based on our work earlier this year with Challenge Success, we realized that we needed to adjust our schedule to address student/faculty health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic provided us the opportunity to expedite this work and to create a schedule that will serve us well, both during this time and in the years to come. We anticipate making slight adjustments to the schedule if we are in any level that features an online learning component.
We view these programs as essential to the Pembroke Hill experience, therefore we are working closely with MRIGlobal, MSHSAA and other educational and health officials to identify procedures that will allow us to provide these classes and activities in a safe manner for our students and faculty.
To help these task forces accomplish their goals, we are continuing to work with organizations with whom we already have relationships, and have expanded our advisory team to include other individuals who have expertise in continuous learning. This group will serve as a resource in areas such as pedagogy, social interaction and engagement, accountability, digital platforms, technology and assessments. These members include:
- Tim Fish, chief innovation officer at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
- Jon Kleiman, senior school program director, Challenge Success
- Dr. Mark Milliron, award-winning educator, author, and innovator and head of the nation’s largest teaching college, Western Governors University. Former deputy director for postsecondary success with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Michael Nachbar, executive director of Global Online Academy (GOA)
- Malone Schools Online Network (MSON), a national cohort of 25 independent schools
- Independent School Data Exchange (INDEX), a consortium of over 100 independent schools across the country
"Wow! I am blown away at the absolutely fantastic job The Pembroke Hill School is doing with this virtual learning situation. The teachers have been hard at work over their spring break to make sure on the first day of virtual learning everything goes smoothly. And they knocked it out of the park!!! We know we are in good hands with our girls’ teachers! We feel so lucky especially as we see so many of our friends freaking out because they aren’t getting much from their schools and are having to supplement on their own. Our girls’ learning is not skipping a beat. In fact, I think their learning is being enhanced by the virtual learning they are doing. They are getting such good quality instruction and attention from their teachers. It is simply amazing and such a huge relief! If you haven’t before, now is a great time to check out the amazing things that are happening at The Pembroke Hill School!!!" - Marcia Machens, lower school parent
We are so grateful and proud to be part of this PHS Community! The leadership and structure that they have provided during these uncertain times has been remarkable! The teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond to keep our children engaged and thriving. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts PHS!!❤️💙 - Amanda Lambright, middle and upper school parent
Is Your Child Engaged? Challenged? Known? Supported?
Small class sizes at Pembroke Hill allow teachers, counselors and learning specialists to fulfill our promise:
- Every child is known, cared for and valued
- Teaching and learning is at its highest level
- A growth-oriented culture of excellence thrives
- Positive supportive relationships exist