TRACK 1: ON CAMPUS
What's a Cohort or a Section?
Your child is a part of a group of students and staff throughout the day. We call them “Cohorts.” Your Cohort remains the same for the school year. By maintaining Cohorts, we minimize the number of people each student comes into contact with, one of the ways we minimize risk.
A Cohort is meant to describe a group that can share space. It defines who you can spend time with, much like the members of your household are a Cohort. But there will be times it makes sense to break into smaller groups for different learning experiences while maintaining the ability to socialize within the larger group. We call this a Section. Within each Cohort, there might be multiple Sections.
Regardless of division, your child's Section or Cohort is based in one room throughout the day and spends most of their time in there. It is a home outside your home, a place that is considered safe.
Each Cohort has qualified educators that are dedicated to just those students and that room. Specialists come to the classroom, instead of classes moving from room to room. We take full advantage of the wealth of space afforded by the EMS campus, from indoor to outdoor spaces, to give children access to more room to move while maintaining social distancing, as weather allows.
Cohorts don't just benefit our students, but our teaching staff as well. Through this experience, we've been provided the opportunity to engage teaching teams while integrating specialists across disciplines. The benefit to the students is a more engaged, supported teaching staff that works collaboratively to deploy curriculum. The benefit to staff is more support and collaboration
- Strong, intellectually engaging academics.
- Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) through exemplary academics and transformative student experiences.
- Indoor/outdoor pedagogy; experiential-based learning.
- Integration of social emotional and wellness.
- Integration of diversity and inclusion.
- A faculty of distinction that emphasizes growth mindset.
- Prioritize safety and health of children and staff above all else
Our Guiding Philosophy
Socialization is key to childhood learning. With that guiding light, we are committed to providing an authentic Early Childhood and Kindergarten experience that is driven by the power of human interaction and peer connection, whether on campus or remotely.
What we've always known, and are all discussing in our brainstorming groups across the nation, is the common theme that the loss of socialization has a profound impact on child development. Further, we know that in young children, anxiety manifests behaviorally because, at this age range, children don't yet have strong emotional regulation skills. It's almost certain these past months will have had an impact on each child.
In Chilton House, we are committed to an environment that emphasizes social and emotional learning. We are working with our parents in partnership to aid our youngest students in how to deal with the constant changes happening in the world today. We are committed to creating a culturally sensitive environment where each child feels safe, and to continuing the development, curiosity, and sense of self in these young minds.
In the Classroom
Each classroom should feel like a home to our Chilton House students, where the people and the materials inside are safe. Much like children interact with their family and everything inside their home with freedom and trust, we hope our children treat their Cohort and classroom the same way. It is their safe space.
The medical evidence suggests that transmission amongst this age group is exceptionally low between each other and to others. Our goal in Chilton House is to balance reasonable measures with the needs of children in this age range during these highly formative years for social engagement and learning.
We Meet or exceed CDC guidelines at all times, while also trying to provide reasonable expectations for the students and an authentic experience for them. Students ages 2-4 may struggle to keep their masks on all day, and they're likely to contaminate their masks. To ameliorate this, we will ensure handwashing and sanitation practices are part of our daily routine.
Each day students come into the classroom, put their belongings away in assigned cubbies and immediately wash their hands. Their day then follows the same pre-COVID routines in Chilton House, including choice activities and Morning Meeting. Throughout the day, children will actively learn through play in collaborative large and small group instruction, choice time, community-driven projects, and gross motor experiences. Our students move around classrooms, the newly renovated private patios, and the campus playground.
We offer many options for lunch, allowing for socialization and distancing, whether sitting on the floor next to friends or outside, as the weather permits.
When outside the classroom, or anywhere distancing cannot be attained, mask-wearing will be strictly enforced.
Each year, we add enrichment projects to our academics. Throughout EMS, we call these “Specials.” In Chilton House, Spanish, PE, STEAM, art and even gardening are Specials we bring into our curriculum to promote experiential and explorative learning. We have continued each of our Specials in modified and safe ways.
Music is an essential part of the EMS experience, and we are fully engaging children in the music curriculum with some modifications. Each classroom now has its own set of instruments, and singing can take place outside.
We are exceptionally proud of our new Early Childhood STEAM Lab called Exploration Alley, and are still planning how it can be strategically utilized, with all surfaces and materials cleaned after each small group exercise.
In each case, we've made accommodations for reduced sharing of materials. Each child has their own devices (if appropriate by age), and writing and drawing tools. In most cases, these activities take place in a Cohorts' classroom. Each child has their own napping mat, and we launder all sheets and blankets weekly.
All evidence suggests the best way to ensure the safety of all our students and staff is a closed campus. For that reason, there are no field trips planned at this time.
PE will still take place in the gym or outside, where we've marked circles that are 6 feet wide, 6 feet apart. Children have gotten to know the symbols and signage that helps them establish social distancing on campus, and staff is always present to assist. As long as the weather allows, we'll make ample use of the outdoors.
The Librarian continues to meet with individual classes to provide a robust library and research curriculum. The Librarian meets with the students in their classrooms.
Children have access to a Cohort of books, a group of books that have been allocated for the Cohort. The Librarian curates the selection to reflect Library, STEAM and classroom curriculum comprising different genres as well as personalized preferences of the students. Staff circulates these books in and out for variety, ensuring that each book is removed from circulation and sanitized after its been handled for at least 72 hours. Children may check out a book, read it in the library, or bring it back to their classroom and place it immediately in their bag to take home.
An online book club is offered to students as an optional activity.
No overdue fees are charged. If a library book is damaged or lost, we do ask that a replacement copy is provided
Little School- Grade 1-4
Our Guiding Philosophy
Each challenge presents opportunity, and this year has been no different. We are committed to engaging deeper in project-based learning where students are meaningfully engaged in real-world experiences that will help prepare them for the critical thinking requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Cohorts and teaching teams work in our favor.
This year, students have a five-day rotation instead of six, where a highly collaborative classroom is encouraged. Outdoor space is made liberal use of. We are actively engaging more critical thinking skills than ever before, embracing and encouraging the natural curiosity and sense of self of our Little School students.
We have expanded our Associate Teacher Program from one associate per Cohort to 6 to better aid our students. Associates are a really welcome addition to our teaching teams. They're teachers who are recently out of school or switching careers. Associates have a mutual benefit to our staff, as they've been exposed through school to the most bleeding edge methods of teaching and bring that back to our collaborative teaching efforts, while our staff imparts the deep experience they have one-on-one with children in a school setting.
We continue to use the CORE SEL and MindUP programs to bolster the social-emotional learning in our classrooms, aided by the associate teachers. We ask our students to also embrace our belief that from challenges come opportunities, and seek them out daily.
In the Classroom
Specialty teachers will join each Cohort for a few weeks at a time (or project) before changing Cohorts.
Our Little School students continue their daily instruction in Language Arts, which includes skill building in reading, writing, and speaking. Math instruction continues daily, and social studies is presented a few days a week. Morning and Afternoon Meetings continue daily, to teach community building, which have taken on a new meaning this year after all of the isolation our students have experienced.
Each of our activities: art, science, foreign language, gardening, STEAM and, of course, music, receive a focus we've never had before. Instead of experiencing these activities once in a while, the specialist teachers are now part of the Cohort, and teach each Special every day for a few weeks at a time, allowing students to really dive into the subject and connect with it more meaningfully.
Foreign language learning has been added to Little School, where Spanish is provided via a virtual platform. The Rutgers horticulturalists have reconfigured their curriculum to work with our new safety parameters for the gardening program in first and second grade. The Collabrium allows us to check items from the maker space out into our Cohort for use in our classroom. STEAM teams are part of the classroom experience, and two to three times a week, engage our Cohort members in STEAM projects.
Music continues to be the most fundamental Special we offer at EMS, and we have continued bringing singing and instruments into our children's lives this year. Children sing with masks on, or 15 feet apart, either inside or outside. Our third-graders have begun learning strings or percussion instruments, but no woods or brass this year. Our fourth-graders that have already begun instruction in woods or brass, are able to continue, but work exclusively on fingering exercises (they are not blowing into instruments at school). Ensemble continues in this vein.
Field Trip Friday persists, and while we aren't able to leave campus, immense opportunity now exists to bring places we could never visit back to campus. Museums and other cultural destinations have worked hard to provide virtual and live, guided experiences for students from afar. We're proud to support these institutions and broaden our student's view of the world.
The goal is to be physically active and to interact socially,play, and be creative. In Little School, there are so many options. The stream and woods are effectively a second playground. We go out in kinds of weather, only limited by dangerous winds or temperature drops.
Recess helps students achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day for children and adolescents, improving strength and endurance, enhancing academic achievement, and increasing self-esteem. Recess allows students to socialize safely and stay fit. All equipment and spaces are cleaned throughout the school day. Cohorts have areas specifically marked for them, and masks are required on the playground.
PE will continue in the gym, where 6-foot circles are clearly marked to help students achieve distance, and the gym will be sanitized between classes. Students will not change for PE, but rather will wear their PE clothes on days they are scheduled for PE. Please see the dress code for more details.
Every two weeks, a new selection of books are selected from the library and made available to a Cohort, and only that Cohort. Those books are then taken out of circulation and sanitized before being cycled into another Cohort. Additionally, students and teachers can request specific books from the library that the teacher would pick up. Students can not, for now, browse books on their own for safety reasons.
Morrow House 5th-8th Grade
Our Guiding Philosophy
A central mission in Morrow House is imparting the skills for students to thoughtfully navigate a challenge. In recent months, our students used every tool they've learned to make sense of what is happening in the world, how it affects their families, and continue moving gracefully towards success. Providing the opportunity to return to campus has been the best way for us, as educators and parents, to help their momentum forward into the world as fully formed individuals.
Our students have relationships with each other as well as staff, and have formed a community that serves as a fundamental part of their development. Our goal this year will be to give them their community back, both in person and online, when necessary.
We're modeling a 5-day schedule, based on a Monday-Friday calendar, and have switched from semesters to trimesters to better accommodate co-curricular and Specials.
Our Cohorts remain large enough to allow our students to congregate with their entire class but their learning groups are limited to roughly 10 students, based on math level.
We have welcomed a new psychologist to campus who specifically works on social and emotional development with our students, continuing the CORE SEL tenants our students carry from Little School: global citizenship, stress-management, self-reflection and regulation, and self-care practices.
Specialty teachers join each Cohort in 10-day rotations before moving to another Cohort. We seek to provide the full Morrow House experience to our students, from music to athletics to arts, modified in smart ways when necessary to protect the safety of our students.
Importantly, we still make space for the independence that Morrow House students usually enjoy as part of their development, while still maintaining the safety standards demanded by current circumstances. This is a new world, but our students still succeed in it.
In the Classroom
Students are largely based in one classroom, within the Section of their Cohort. Their instructors rotate in and out of the classroom Teachers remain in a specially marked space in each classroom at the head of the room. Students remain at their desks, masked and socially distanced from one another. Within the classroom, they are connected to their classmates at home on the Remote or Flex Tracks and are able to interact with them. This experience speaks to the nature of the workforce these students will be entering, where coworkers may be in a desk next to them, or across the world.
We have built in more time to transition between classes, which will allow students a moment to breathe and reset, and for instructors to sanitize and transition. Students still meet with advisors daily over lunch.
Students still receive daily instruction in math, history, science, English, and world language from the teachers assigned to their Cohort. We continue to offer language, allowing students to choose between Latin or Spanish.
Because students will remain in their Cohort and in their learning group, electives (classes the students choose) have been largely replaced this year by Specials. Students are scheduled as learning groups and together through a rotation of courses, such as those below fulfilling our goal to provide a well-rounded education for our students.
Science Lab remains open, with students working in small groups that allow for sanitization between groups.
Students have access to art in small groups, emphasizing projects where materials are not shared. This opens opportunities into projects like digital photography.
Music is the most fundamental Special we offer at EMS. Choruses and large group ensembles are not an option this year, but students are able to sing within their Cohort in Voice Lab, albeit with masks. Orchestra is not offered, but our students are still able to practice instruments. In the case of woods and brass, they work exclusively on fingering exercises (they are not blowing into instruments) at school.
We Offer theater, focused on drama instead of musical theater. Dance is still being offered, but dancers are expected to wear masks.
Our field trips have been canceled. Teachers will continue to build virtual field trips that engage students in the monuments and movements critical to their understanding of the curriculum.
PE will continue in the gym for grades 5 and 6, where 6-foot circles are clearly marked to help students achieve distance, and the gym will be sanitized between classes. Students do not change for PE, but rather wear their PE clothes on days they are scheduled for PE. Please see the dress code for more details.
In grades 5 and 6, we continue to emphasize movement and the development of the skills that will come into play in our interscholastic sports opportunities in grades 7 and 8.
Our seventh- and eighth- graders practice in sports that can be played with physical distancing or those that center around skill-building. Students can participate in cross-country, or soccer or football skill building, where students work individually with equipment. Other opportunities are offered asynchronously for students to work on independently like yoga, walking, and Pilates.
Following CDC and American Library Association guidelines, stacks are closed for browsing by students and faculty. Research can be conducted via the Destiny Library catalog online, and requests for materials can be made to the Morrow House librarian. Books will be checked out and handled only by the librarian, who can locate, check out, and deliver the books to the classroom. When appropriate, the librarian can curate selections of books needed by subject teachers and deliver those books to serve as “in-class” resources on a book cart. When those books are to be returned, the librarian will see that the books are quarantined for 72 hours. After 72 hours, books are reshelved.