Start of School and Remote Learning FAQs

Q: In what learning mode will the school year start?

On July 27th, 2020, Prep announced that it will start the 2020-2021 school year in remote learning (Mode 3). Our new daily schedule is available on our Opening Fall 2020 webpage, and we will follow special daily schedules for the first week of classes (8/26 – 8/28), which will be sent via email to students and parents at least one week before school starts.


Q: What about school forms; what do I need to do?

There are a number of school forms to complete through our online portal. Please refer to these helpful hints and reach out to Eric Rounds with questions about completing this important process. Santa Fe Preparatory School, like nearly every educational institution in the world, has evolved some of its forms to account for the presence of COVID-19 in our community. Please look for this updated acknowledgment form and updated addenda to our student and parent handbooks in the near future. All school forms do need to be completed prior to the start of the school year.


Q: How have Prep teachers prepared this summer for teaching online?

Each faculty member has taken a course on online teaching through the Global Online Academy or attended the Malone Schools Online Network annual conference. Some faculty have completed both professional development activities. Additionally, teachers are receiving in-house training on various tools necessary to teach effectively online (e.g., Zoom, PowerSchool, Loom, Flipgrid, EdPuzzle).


Q: Will there be any changes to the Academic Calendar (changes in start/end or vacation days)?

At this point, we are not planning to change our start and end dates for our school year, nor are we planning to alter or amend school breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Breaks), though it is possible this could change at some point during the year. We are removing the Senior College Visit Day and the November Head’s Holiday from the Academic Calendar; those will be class days for all. We will be making a decision about the end of semester events (Upper School Exams, 8th Grade ERBs, and 7th Grade Parent Conferences) during the first quarter.


Q: Are there changes to course offerings? How will visual and performing arts classes handle being Remote (Mode 3) and in Hybrid (Mode 2)?

We have not added or eliminated course offerings, but we anticipate that the focus of some classes may shift, depending on the nature of the work. Visual and performing arts classes have unique challenges in an online format, and the faculty and chairs of those departments have been identifying projects to start the year as well as specific arts-related safety measures. For example, our photography classes will start the semester by focusing on digital photography, and our ceramics classes will begin by using non-drying clay and photographing their work. We will be sending more details about how students can pick up art materials for their classes. In addition, for music classes in Mode 2, students will not share music or stands, and we will use the plexiglass baffles (previously used for pit orchestras) in order to set up smaller isolation areas. We are also investigating face shields specifically designated for singing.


Q: When the School is in Remote Learning (Mode 3), will there still be possibilities to do on-campus activities?

Yes. While academic classes will be delivered online, we will plan optional activities for students to visit campus and interact with their peers and fellow students while in Mode 3. Current restrictions limit the school’s capacity to 25% fire code capacity in every room on campus. Activities in tents and outdoor classrooms will be common.


Q: What are the current status of sports and the NMAA’s (New Mexico Activities Association) plans?

Sports remain in summer mode (NMAA phase I Guidelines) until 8/26. Due to safety concerns and the increased transmission rates for Covid-19 in Santa Fe, we have no athletic teams conducting on-campus training at this point.

The NMAA has adjusted their schedules. Between 8/26 and 9/28, only virtual communication will be allowed for interscholastic sports teams.

First Semester Sports (Start date: 10/5) with shortened season: Volleyball, Cross Country, Golf.

Second Semester Sports, also shortened seasons:

  • Basketball, Swimming and Diving, Fencing (Start Date: 1/4)
  • Soccer (Start date: 2/15)
  • Track & Field, Lacrosse, Tennis, Baseball, Golf; (Start in April after Spring Break)

As long as the State recommendations allow for in-person or hybrid learning, the NMAA is planning on proceeding with their revised athletic season schedules.  Sports will be suspended anytime the state moves schools to remote learning. The information above is subject to change, depending on the health concerns and state mandates.

Santa Fe Prep is planning to participate in the above NMAA guidelines regarding sports and activities unless deemed unsafe.


Q: How will Upper School PE Contracts be different this year?

One of our goals is to encourage lifelong physical activity for all of our students. As such, we have not modified the sports/PE requirement for Upper Schoolers (Grades 9 and 10: two sports/PE credits per year; Grades 11 and 12: one sport/PE credit per year). We will continue to offer PE Contracts so that Upper School students who are not participating in a sports season will be able to receive their PE credit. Lis Desmond is the point person for Upper School PE Contracts, and she will be in touch to share more information about the process this year. We recognize that some students are involved in programs (e.g., dance) that will be held remotely, and that others may need more guidance or ideas about a qualifying plan or program (e.g., students whose families are not comfortable with them going to a gym). Coach Desmond will share several templates for the PE contract plans, and we will require students with PE Contracts to either keep a log of their activity or share their Strava (or other activity App) with Coach Desmond. We are aiming for 30-60 minutes of physical activity per day. More details to come from Coach Desmond in the coming weeks. As in the past, students in Grades 9 and 10 who are participating in the Fall Play and/or Spring Musical will qualify for one PE Waiver per year.


Q: Will you offer non-sport extracurriculars in Mode 2 (Hybrid) and Mode 3 (Remote)?

We will continue to offer extra-curricular activities in Modes 2 and 3. We know that extracurriculars are an important way for all students, especially those new to a school community, to feel a connection to their peers and to the school. For example, Upper School Speech and Debate will follow the NMAA’s online competition model, and practices for that group adapt easily online. Our theater director, Brad Fairbanks, will be gauging student interest and sharing plans and modifications for the Upper School Fall Play. In addition, clubs that can be held virtually (Middle School chess and game clubs, Upper School Student Council, Skirmisher, etc.) may be scheduled during non-class times during online weeks. In addition, our Wednesday blocks on campus will allow students to participate in non-academic activities (e.g., clubs) as well as Academic Workshops or other programming (e.g., Middle School Life Skills).


Q: Will Prep create G-Suite and Zoom accounts for students?

Yes, all new students will receive Prep accounts, and all returning students already have access to Zoom and PowerSchool through their SFP Google Accounts. We will be sending usernames and passwords to new students (via their parents) ahead of New Student Orientation (8/21 and 8/24), and we will be sending information about accessing Zoom (which entails downloading an app on a laptop) to all students.


Q: Where can I find information about the Prep’s remote teaching and learning platforms?

Our Continuity of Learning Handbook contains detailed information for students and families about our remote learning programs and platforms.


Q: What will orientation look like for new students and ninth graders?

We are planning for the following virtual events to orient all students new to Prep:

  • Friday, August 21 (4:00 – 5:00 pm) – Technology training for new students (parents welcome)
  • Monday, August 24 (4:00 – 6:00 pm) – Orientation for new students and their parents

New students and their parents will receive information about their login credentials for their Prep accounts in advance of the 8/21 meeting.

The 7th and 8th grades will adapt to an online format many of the team building activities that previously took place during our orientation trips to 100 Elk (7th grade) and Corkin’s Lodge (8th grade). Middle School teachers understand that the time each student needs to transition successfully to a new school and new school year varies. Building healthy relationships and a supportive learning environment are at the heart of both our curricular programming and other events and clubs.

In the past, we have typically oriented all ninth graders (whether new or returning) at an Academic Workshop at the beginning of the school year, and Peer Mentors have helped with this orientation process. We are working to build orientation activities into ninth grade classes and hope to engage new students and ninth graders in optional on-campus activities on Wednesdays, as the health orders allow.


Q: How will you be supporting students with learning differences?

Before the start of the school year, our Learning Specialist, Claire Romero, schedules individual meetings with the families of all students who have a learning accommodation plan. In addition, Claire shares and discusses accommodation plans with all teachers in grade-level meetings near the start of school. This year, she will also be sharing universal strategies with faculty at our pre-service meetings in order to reinforce what we have recently learned about supporting students in online instruction. Moreover, we will also hold Parent Coffees for each grade via Zoom at the beginning of the year, and Claire will be at these meetings to share strategies with all parents to support their children at home as well as answer questions. Please reach out to Claire, your child’s advisor, and/or Division Head if you have questions specific to your child’s learning needs.


Q: Why did you put “Pausa/K’e Koŋ Woe’ Oŋ*” (formerly called Day X) on Wednesday rather than another day? What expectations will there be for students on Wednesdays?

In March 2020, we decided to add a non-academic day in the middle of the school week, primarily to allow students and teachers to take a break from screen time, but also to allow students and teachers to do asynchronous work and preparation. The mid-week pause created two manageable blocks of synchronous online learning per week. (“Pausa” is the Spanish word for “pause,” and “K’e Koŋ Woe’ Oŋ” is the Tewa equivalent of “rest” (specifically, the need to rest to build up one’s diminished strength). We thank the several faculty and community members who helped us find an appropriate name for this day.)

In the Spring of 2020, there were no expectations of students and faculty on those mid-week non-academic days, although we shared a menu of optional activities with students and families, including physical activities, service to others, playful/creative ideas, and intellectual pursuits. This year, during Mode 2 (hybrid), when a cohort is on-campus (Week A), we hope to offer students on-campus ways to connect outside of the classroom (e.g, clubs, service activities, physical activities). In addition, students will have a time for Academic Workshops, Advisory meetings, and other programming (e.g., College Counseling workshops for seniors). Our Deans and Class Sponsors will be sharing more information with students of optional activities during these days.

Also note that during weeks in which there will be no school on another weekday (usually Monday or Friday holidays), Wednesdays will be used to hold classes.

*Pronounced “K’ay Kong Woe’ Ong” (without the hard g sound, as in the English words sing and song).


Q: How will College Counseling work with juniors and seniors this year for college prep?

Our college counseling department is committed to working with students and their families as they prepare for the college process. Each fall College Counselors Story Leonard and Matt Ybarra prioritize working with seniors on their college applications, and Story and Matt will incorporate workshops into available Wednesdays. As in the past, they will work closely with juniors and their families starting in January. They will be sending updates and more information directly to 11th and 12th grade students and their families. In terms of standardized testing, you may reach out to Story Leonard or Matt Ybarra with specific questions. In the meantime, we have scheduled 11th graders to take the PSAT on campus on 10/14, but this is subject to change. In addition, we are registered to administer an in-person SAT and ACT for SFP 12th graders during the first quarter during the school day, as long as that is permitted under the current conditions.