Four Winds School will operate on the following schedule from Monday, September 14th through Friday, October 30th, 2020:

Monday: in person in the school

Tuesday-Thursday: remote

Friday: in person in the tent,
or remote if weather conditions make it unsafe.

It is our hope and intention that meeting once per week in the school will help maintain our sense of community, school spirit, and student accountability. (Letting the building air out during the rest of the week is just one of the many safety precautions we will be following, the rest of which will be listed below.) Many of our parents have pooled together to obtain an outdoor event tent as well as tables and chairs to use as an outdoor classroom. We will make use of this classroom in the mornings on Mondays, and all day on Fridays should weather conditions allow. See specific details about our fall plan below.

Mondays:  in person in the school

Four Winds School will operate IN PERSON from 8:30am until 3:30pm on Mondays starting on September 14th. Click here to read the Monday Schedule(s).

Note: Students may opt out of in-person learning if they or their families do not deem it safe. We will live stream our instruction to students who opt out so they can follow along at home, and will arrange with the family to pick up handouts or other materials ahead of time. Please let us know no later than Friday, September 4th if your student plans to opt out so we can plan accordingly.

In-Person Safety Precautions 

Half of the students (up to 7) will have assigned work stations in the quiet room (now called Pod B), and the other half will have assigned work stations in the main classroom (now called Pod A). Teachers will rotate classrooms and deliver each lesson twice (once to each “pod”), and may “float” between pods when necessary.

Students will: 

  • keep their masks on at all times (a policy which be very strictly enforced) except when eating or taking a lap or mask break by themselves outside.
  • sit only at their assigned work station in their assigned pod, and refrain from touching other work surfaces or shared materials
  • bring their own pens, pencils, and other supplies every week so as not to share or touch communal materials
  • wash their hands upon entering the building, and use hand sanitizer throughout the day
  • bring enough water for the day and packed, nut-free food (that does not require the refrigerator, microwave, or toaster oven) for snack and lunch
  • enter/leave the classroom one-by-one to maintain proper social distancing (with the help and facilitation of the teachers)
  • sanitize their work station at the end of the day

Teachers will: 

  • take students’ temperatures with an infrared thermometer, and blood oxygen level with a pulse oximeter, in the parking lot at drop off. If they have an elevated temperature (99.5*F or above) or low blood oxygen level (below 90%), parents will take them back home. We know this doesn’t protect against asymptomatic carriers.
  • model appropriate sanitation, hygiene, and social distancing practices (when possible, see FAQ note below)
  • facilitate prompt hand washing on entering the building, and frequent sanitizing
  • facilitate students entering and leaving the classroom one-by-one, and monitor their interactions during outside time, to ensure proper social distancing
  • enforce a very strict “three reminders and you go home for the day” mask policy
  • clean the bathroom, classrooms, and wipe door knobs at the end of the day

Individuals will have to stay home if they are sick in any way. (This includes teachers, so it is possible that if we can’t find enough subs, we might have to cancel school for that day if it happens.)

If any member of the students’ or teachers’ household comes down with COVID-19, we will cancel in-person school for at least two weeks and continue remote learning from home. After the two week period, individuals can return once symptoms have subsided (as per the Gill Board of Health’s advice).

SAFETY FAQ:

Click to watch a video tour of the new, COVID-safe set up:

Ventilation:

  • The windows open (they have all recently been refurbished, too!).
  • The mini splits exchange air directly with the outdoors, and aren’t connected to any internal ductwork.
  • The old duct-work (that used to connect the upstairs and basement rooms) was filled in with insulation a few years ago.
  • One of our board members plans to donate a medical-grade air filter for each pod!

How pod groupings were decided:

We kept strong friend pairs/trios together; grouped new students with returners of similar temperament; and maintained a range of 6th through 8th or 6th through 9th grades in each pod, which mimics the Four Winds model when we’re whole, and generally fosters better group discussions and peer teaching opportunities (although the separate desks seriously impede both).

Please note: The pod groupings that were emailed to families on August 1st are subject to change, as at least one student is considering opting out, and we may get a new student, too.

Distancing:

We will do our best to make sure students stay 6ft+ apart from each other at all times, but if we are going to be able to teach your children, we will probably have to be in close proximity to them from time-to-time. We very much wish this were not the case, for our own safety as much as your child’s, but don’t see a realistic way around it.

Learning Stations:

Each student’s learning station comes with a collection of COVID supplies, including a small supply of disinfectant wipes, a hand sanitizer pump, a box of emergency/back up N95 masks in case something happens to the mask they brought from home, and a tissue box. We also divided up the supplies from the art closet so students can have access to scissors, glue, paper, crayons, markers, and colored pencils (a collection which has recently grown considerably thanks to a donation from a parent!). Feel free to send in other supplies from home, including the school supplies sent out in the monthly update email.

Tuesday-Thursday: remote

We are fortunate enough to be able to equip every student with a Chromebook (though they are allowed to use a personal computer instead if they so choose), and all of the textbooks and other materials that they will need for independent learning!

Terms:

  • Synchronous = together, over a video call using Discord. These are required classes.
  • Asynchronous = separately, at the students’ leisure

Key: no color=optional/asynchronous, blue=academic work time, green=synchronous class

Time Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
8:30-9:30 Poem/Writing Poem/Writing Poem/Writing
9:30-10:30 Alethea’s Office Hour Becca’s Office Hour Alethea’s Office Hour
10:30-11:30 Hattie’s Office Hour Hattie’s Office Hour Hattie’s Office Hour
11:30-12:30 Becca’s Office Hour Becca’s Office Hour Becca’s Office Hour
12:30-1:30 Lunch/chat Lunch/chat Lunch/chat
1:30-2:30 Essays with Becca Math with Alethea Book Club with Becca
2:30-3:30 Art/Project Time Art/Project Time Art/Project Time

8:30-9am Poem, creative writing, and morning announcements (Synchronous). We’re excited to continue everyone’s favorite part of the day, even while remote.

9:30-12:30 Academic work time (Synchronous or Asynchronous, a format that we’re borrowing from Falcons after learning it was quite successful last spring). In order to emulate the learning environment we all know and enjoy when in person at Four Winds, students may choose to work synchronously or asynchronously during Academic Work Time.

If you are unfamiliar with our method, please read! 

During Academic Work Time students work at their own level and pace on self assigned work (from their biweekly, which we help them write). Teachers are available to provide one-on-one guidance and help upon request, but do not deliver instruction to the whole group at this part of the day. Students are able to work independently because we use textbooks that are geared towards homeschoolers: Each lesson starts with an explanation of the new concept followed by exercises to practice the new concept as well as review previous concepts. Students ask for help when they are stuck, and turn in their assignment for corrections once complete. The teacher will mark any problems that are incorrect, and the student will try again (with as much teacher help and support as they need) until the assignment is 100% correct. In this way, they gain mastery over a concept before moving on to harder material.

Each teacher will have office hours for which they will be present during this time (schedule above). Alethea will be available to help with math, especially for students who are in the high school math books, or who need intensive instruction in any area or new concept. Becca will available to help with students who are in the middle school math books, and any questions that students have about the week’s reading or essay assignments. Hattie will be available to help students with their Latin work as well as their daily geography and Latin practices. For now, because we could not find suitable remote/distance options, we will be putting our grammar and vocabulary curricula on hold, but Becca will make sure to cover relevant vocabulary during Book Club, and Hattie is developing a way to integrate more grammar study into the Latin curriculum.

The on-duty teacher, and whichever students want to be present, will all work together over a video chat. Students may mute their computer if they need silence while working, and unmute to ask for help. If a student needs more than a little help, or just wants privacy, they can enter a private video chat with the teacher, after which the teacher and student will return to the group video call. This method will allow for the organic group learning (and socializing!) that happens at school and we anticipate this system will work well for many of our students.

However, unlike when we are in person, students will not be required to participate during this part of the day. For example, a student could, work by them selves and just log on when they have a question, or even structure their daily plan to match the teachers’ office hours and only have to tune in for one hour of academic work time per remote day. The students also don’t have to take advantage of this at all (though we don’t recommend this). If it suits them better to complete all their work after dinner time, that’s fine with us, but please note that teachers will not be available to help students with academic work outside of our office hours (and when we are in-person at school). It is our hope that by making this part of the remote day flexible that families will have more control over what things look at home during the day, but that providing optional structure for the whole time will be helpful to the students and families who need that.

12:30-1:30 Lunch and “recess” Academic break, and time for kids to socialize over Discord if they so choose.

1:30-2:30 Afternoon class over Discord (Synchronous)

  • Tuesdays: Essay writing with Becca. In normal times, Four Winds students are required to write 14 essays throughout the school year. We learned in the spring that maintaining that standard wasn’t possible or productive for most students, so we are slowing down the pace in this area. Instead, students will join Becca for a weekly class in which we discuss and practice the components of formal writing, strategies to become a better writer, and work on essays together. The only work that students will have to do outside of essays class (ie: during academic work time, or for “homework”) will be work that they didn’t finish during the class period. We’ll start the year with a short creative writing piece before preparing to write a reading response about our first novel (see below).
  • Wednesdays: Math with Alethea
    • 30 minute “Mathtivity” for everyone, to engage the mathematical brain and help students learn to appreciate math in our everyday lives (it’s not just that boring thing you do in a textbook!)
    • 30 minute check-in with folks who want specific math help, strategies, or support. Alethea may require certain students to attend this period.
  • Thursdays: Reading group/book club with Becca to discuss the previous week’s assigned reading chapters, and prep for the upcoming reading assignment. At Four Winds, students read a minimum of 6 books every year (all of which correspond with the year’s humanities curriculum. This year we’ll be learning about the 20th century), a standard which we think is achievable to maintain despite remote learning. The first book we’ll be reading is Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson. Becca will create reading worksheets to accompany each week’s reading assignment to help students with context and to practice vocabulary.

2:30-3:30: Optional Project Time (Asynchronous). If it helps students maintain a sense of routine, they may work on art or other projects during this time as we would have during the school day. (Maybe you can even convince them to clean the house on Thursdays, like cleaning day at school!) They may choose to congregate over the student-only video chat if they wish to maintain the fun, Project Time vibe, but teachers will not be on duty during this time.

Friday: in person in the tent, or remote if weather conditions make it unsafe

As mentioned above, many of our parents have pooled together to obtain an outdoor event tent as well as tables and chairs to use an outdoor classroom. We will make use of this classroom for poem, creative writing, and announcements on Monday mornings (and possibly other times throughout the day, too!), and all day on Fridays should conditions allow. If the heavens dictate that it is unsafe or unreasonable for us to use the tent for the day, an email will be sent out by 7:30am on Friday morning to announce remote learning instead of in-person learning for that day. Whether in person or remote, Alethea and Becca will supervise Writing Time and Academic Work Time on Friday mornings.

When in person: Fridays will be much like they were during normal times. On the first Friday of the biweekly, we will do a fun activity between lunch and pick up time. On the second Friday of the biweekly, students who are done with their work will have free time, and students who aren’t will continue to work on their biweekly work until finished.

When remote: We’ll have synchronous Writing Time followed by Academic Work Time as described in the Tuesday-Friday section above. We will determine the specifics of our office hour schedule for Fridays (if/when remote) as well as the Friday afternoon plan for remote days at our staff meeting on Wednesday, September 9th, and can announce the specifics at the family meet-n-greet on Friday, September 11th from 3-6pm. (Rain date= the same time on Saturday, September 12th. Families can see details about the meet-n-greet in the Monthly Update Email which was sent on Friday, September 1st.)

If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions about the above plan, please contact Four Winds founder and board president, Steve Hussey, at shussey@fourwindsschool.info. Thank you.