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Alert: Planning for Fall 2020

Dear Providence Community,  

As we look toward the Fall semester 2020, we are engaging in a comprehensive planning and fact-finding process to help us make the best possible decisions for our students’ safety, development, and well-being. At Providence High School, we pride ourselves on being a community where our students are known and cared for. We are intentionally small so we can guarantee the intimate and supportive community we all know and love. We believe in relationships and the power of interpersonal connection.  

The realities of physical distancing are incredibly difficult, and we affirm, unequivocally, that we want campus to reopen, in-person instruction to resume, and co-curricular activity to restart. Rest assured: all those things will happen; we just don’t know when yet.  

We all know that we are living in incredibly unprecedented and unpredictable times that require us to consider many factors in our decision making, including: this crisis, our students and families, as well as how PHS has responded to this situation thus far. As we continue to plan for the months ahead, we will look to what we know to ensure the health and safety of our Providence community.

What We Know

This Crisis Generally

  1. Providence High School has unique access to the best clinical and epidemiological expertise. Thus, we are in a particularly strong position to make good decisions as the only independent school in the country governed by a healthcare organization, Providence St. Joseph Health.  
  2. Because infections are the result of exposure to the virus (via droplets in the air) over time, smaller indoor spaces (like classrooms) are particularly dangerous compared to large indoor or outdoor spaces. 
  3.  Adequate and accurate testing and contact tracing are required to reopen our physical campus. 
  4. A reliable and accessible vaccine may not be available for some time.  
  5. Stay-At-Home orders are likely to toggle on and off until the end of the pandemic. This could last through Summer 2021.  
  6. All schools are in a similar situation, but it is important to understand why and how schools are making decisions. 

Our Students & Families

  1. We highly value the health and well-being of our students, some of whom have underlying health concerns and will be unable to return to on-campus instruction until a reliable vaccine is administered.   
  2. We are responding to parents’ requests for our help in supporting them and their children during this crisis. Our ongoing partnerships with PSJH, Work2BeWell, Making Caring Common (of the Harvard Graduate School of Education), One Love, and the Institute for Human Caring, will be critical to foster. New partnerships and collaborations (e.g. #HalfTheStory) will continue to be pursued to support our community during these uncertain times.  
  3. We have seen some surprising positive outcomes from this experience. Many of our parents and guardians have told us how much they like certain aspects of it: their kids are getting more sleep and eating healthy meals. Many families are spending more quality time together. We are looking for ways to continue integrating these benefits into our educational experience moving forward, even when we return to on-campus life.  
  4. We recognize that many of our parents and guardians have either taken a serious cut in pay or are unemployed. We are committed to working with each family on a case-by-case basis, based on need. If you need to start a conversation about this sensitive topic, please reach out to Financial Assistance Coordinator, Vickie Bagwell, at vickie.bagwell@providencehigh.org.   

PHS & Our Response to COVID-19

  1. Our faculty and staff pivoted to remote learning with extraordinary speed and skill.  
  2. Our students didn’t lose a single instructional day in the process of going B.O.L.D.  
  3. We are not becoming an online school, but our use of digital learning tools and our B.O.L.D. approach will continue to support remote learning during this crisis. 
  4. Our focus on a robust B.O.L.D. program now allows us to respond to the needs of our students and families more effectively in the future. 
  5. We have already learned so much through this process and will only get better as we plan to provide extensive professional development opportunities for our faculty.
  6. We have conducted multiple student surveys and are currently conducting focus groups with students and parents to gather information to help us improve.   
  7. Our costs have not gone down during this crisis. In fact, our expenses increased in order to properly support our students, faculty, staff, and families as we transitioned to our B.O.L.D. approach to learning and working. 
  8. We are actively planning social and co-curricular experiences (like athletics, performing arts, clubs, etc.) for our students and families should learning be B.O.L.D. for portions of next year, because some of the most memorable experiences during the high school years are outside of the classroom. 
  9. We highly value the health and well-being of our faculty and staff, some of whom have underlying health concern and will be unable to return to campus until a reliable vaccine is administered.   

As we head into summer break, please know that we will remain in touch and continue to send timely and transparent communications. We are also working on some exciting programming to offer you over the summer months and beyond. I look forward to sharing those plans soon. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy, and know that we are in this together. Go Pioneers! 

In Providence,

Mr. Scott McLarty
Head of School