Q: Why does Santa Fe Prep’s Board and Leadership Team think that implementing a Hybrid mode (when allowed) is the correct strategic move?
Throughout this public health crisis, Santa Fe Prep has remained committed to two fundamental principles: taking the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of our community members and reaching our significant potential as a transformational educational institution.
The method and manner in which Santa Fe Prep will operate is a management decision that is made by the Head of School with support from the Board of Trustees, input from the Leadership Team and with the advice of health professionals. It is in compliance with the CDC guidelines and the mandates from the Governor of New Mexico. We believe we have the physical environment and organizational capacity to implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation strategies that would enable Santa Fe Prep to utilize the Hybrid mode to best meet the needs of students while remaining committed to the health and safety of our entire community. As former Trustee and Davis New Mexico Scholar founder Andrew Davis sagely said about the work and mission of DNMS, “it is business as usual in an unusual way.” This statement applies to our ongoing work and evolution at Prep. Our hybrid program is well-designed and allows us to teach well both online and in person while creating the increased physical distancing we need to mitigate risk.
Q: Do independent/private schools in the state have any flexibility/liberty above public schools?
Yes. According to the current state of Public Health orders, Santa Fe Prep (and other private schools) are being regulated as private businesses. This means that we may operate with students on campus at up to 25% of our individual room fire code capacity and with more latitude in our tents and outdoor spaces (with physical distancing requirements in place). We also have the freedom to design ways to bring students to campus during Pausa (formerly called Day X) for optional activities, and we will communicate with families about these options once we launch the school year.
Q: How will the School make decisions about moving in and out of modes?
The school’s Leadership Team, in coordination with regulation and guidance from the Governor’s office and New Mexico Department of Public Health, will select the mode best suited to current health circumstances. The Governor is likely to address public and private school policies and current COVID-19 virus trends before Labor Day. Table summarizing our modes:
Q: How will the School shift from Mode 3 (Remote) to Mode 2 (Hybrid Mode)?
Planned changes in the school’s mode (the Pivot Plan) will be communicated through emails and the school’s website if and when we initiate a shift from Mode 3 to Mode 2. Mode changes will be communicated a minimum of a week or more in advance and a professional day (no online or in-person teaching) will likely be scheduled. All faculty and staff will be tested for COVID-19 immediately before welcoming students to campus in Mode 2.
Q: How will Mode 2 (Hybrid) work?
Our hybrid mode is divided into two weeklong blocks. During one week, Middle Schoolers will be on campus (following our “Week A” schedule), while Upper Schoolers are off-campus (following our “Week B” schedule). The next week, Middle Schoolers will be off-campus (following our “Week B” schedule) and Upper Schoolers will be on-campus (following our “Week A” schedule). Any student in a class with both Middle and Upper School students will follow the schedule for the week designated for their division. Those students will discuss logistics with their teacher, advisor, and/or Division Head, and we will have the capacity to broadcast classes to students at home as needed.
Q: Where can I find basic information on COVID-19 testing, Daily Health Screening, Masks, Education and Training, Hygiene Stations, Physical Distancing, Decreasing Shared Surfaces, Enhanced Cleaning, Cohort Grouping, Limited Group Size, Lunch, Off-Campus Trips, On-Campus Isolation Room, CDC Protocols and Remote Access?
These issues are briefly addressed in our health and safety measures document, and some topics are more definitively addressed in subsequent questions and answers.
Q: What is the definition of an adequate mask?
The WHO recommends that masks be at least three layers thick, where the different layers serve to either limit the spread of droplets from the wearer’s mouth or protect the mask from outside contamination and penetration. Tightly woven materials, such as cotton fabrics with higher thread counts, are preferable, while elastic materials (such as neck gaiters AKA Buffs) will not be allowed due to the higher pore size and lower filtration efficiency. Bandanas will not be allowed for the same reason.
Q: Will students ever be allowed to take their masks off at school?
Yes, on a limited basis. While this answer may surprise you, the research suggests that schools that allow students to have scheduled and supervised mask breaks (outdoors and with 20+ feet of physical distance) achieve higher levels of compliance when students are indoors or in closer proximity to each other.
Q: How will Santa Fe Prep conduct contact tracing (if needed)?
Two members of our team have completed contact tracing training over the summer, and we have developed clear internal protocols for contact tracing. If we have an employee or student who becomes symptomatic while we are in Hybrid Mode (Mode 2), we will follow our protocols and immediately comply with the rapid response protocols of the NM Department of Health and the Environmental Health Bureau. Obviously, Prep families’ adherence to social distancing protocols while off-campus is one of the clearest ways to decrease the number of contacts, mitigate risk, and help ensure that Prep can function to its fullest ability during the pandemic.
Q: How will you enforce students’ social distancing in their free time?
This could be a challenge and certain circumstances will likely be beyond the scope of the school’s authority. As stated above, our greatest asset in decreasing community transmission of COVID-19 is our families and their choices. We have clearly articulated expectations in our Responsible Health Practice Charter, which requires families to follow all public health guidelines and eliminate unnecessary contacts. It is possible that a family could receive feedback that their behaviors (either at school, observed off-campus or curated through social media) are making others uncomfortable. A child or family who is repetitively non-compliant could be moved to the full-time online option. As has always been the case, attendance on campus and membership in our community is a privilege with consequent responsibilities. We believe that our families will value the opportunities afforded by our Hybrid mode and be safe and respectful of themselves and their peers.
Q: How will lunch work?
Students are encouraged to bring their own lunches. We are also working with an outside caterer to organize an online system for parents who wish to pre-order box lunches in advance. There will be a few lunch options for each day, although families will need to opt in to a full week at a time. The price will be consistent with full lunches in previous years (~$8), and the school will bill families for those orders.
We will designate areas of campus for student groups to eat, including the field, Dining Hall, and classrooms. Students should not share food, and physical distancing rules are in effect, particularly because students will not be wearing masks while eating. As noted in previous communication, seniors will not have off-campus privileges and so will be required to eat on campus.
Q: The research shows that airflow is one of the most important factors; what does this look like at Prep?
Prep’s architecture and campus are ideally suited for maximizing fresh outdoor air circulation. Mechanical ventilation and filtration systems in buildings will forcibly bring outdoor air inside and then distribute that fresh air to different areas of the buildings. This circulation is critical because it can dilute and/or displace any present airborne virus, which reduces the probability that someone breathes enough infectious aerosol to become infected. The highest tolerable amount of outdoor air ventilation will be used, even if students, teachers, and administrators have to adjust their clothing to be comfortable (e.g., wear a jacket indoors in the winter). We are planning on having an air filtration unit in each indoor teaching space capable of purifying the area in one hour or less using medical grade H-13 filters (99.9% particle removal). Holding class outdoors provides the freshest air and most effective dilution of any infectious airborne SARS-CoV-2 and will be done frequently in outdoor tents.
Q: Will Prep require COVID-19 testing for Faculty and Staff?
Yes. Faculty and Staff will be tested for COVID-19 as part of our Pivot Plan immediately prior to our implementation of a hybrid schedule.
Q: How will Prep be cleaned on a daily and weekly basis?
Prep has increased its cleaning schedules and increased its staffing to allow for more daytime and weekly cleaning. Director of Facilities Todd Kurth and Maintenance Supervisor Mel Gonzales have researched CDC approved surface cleaning agents, and the school has invested in an electrostatic cleaning device which will provide us with the ability to sanitize our indoor spaces with an atomized and ionized cleaning solution at a rate of approximately 20,000 square feet per hour. The surface disinfectant is the E22 multi-purpose disinfectant which is an EPA registered bactericidal, virucidal, fungicidal, and mildew static cleaning agent. The hand sanitizer we use is 80% alcohol antiseptic with hydrogen peroxide, glycerin and purified water.
Our Hybrid schedule (one week on campus and one week off) was designed to maximize both weekend deep cleanings and droplet exposure time over the weekend both of which decrease the risks of surface transmission. Careful attention will be paid to cleaning Prep’s campus on a daily and weekly basis, however the research suggests that symptom screening, masking, hand hygiene, and increasing air ventilation are equal or more relevant mitigation strategies.
Q: Will you be hiring additional staff to manage traffic flow and/or health oversight?
Santa Fe Prep students will be supervised during non-academic activities by faculty and staff. Careful attention will be paid to passing periods and lunch. It is possible that certain elements of the Hybrid Mode (Mode 2) could require additional student supervision, and we are committed to meeting this need as it presents itself.
Q: Can I have my student stay online (Mode 3) full time even if Prep moves to Hybrid (Mode 2)?
Yes. Please click here for more information about our Mode 3 option.
Q: Will Prep be offering tuition discounts if families choose the Remote Learning Option, or if the school is in Mode 3 for an extended period of time?
No. We understand that investing in an independent school education takes planning and prioritization for our families. With this in mind, we will continue our fundraising efforts to support our Tuition Assistance Program to ensure access to deserving students and families. However, this year, and likely going forward, the cost of supporting a Prep’s student education has increased as we implement detailed and clear COVID-19 mitigation strategies and simultaneously invest in our teachers’ professional development programs. Specifically, Prep has strategically invested in outdoor structures, hand washing stations, cleaning supplies, PPE, and air circulation and filtration devices to ensure that our buildings and spaces are as healthy as possible.