November 5, 2020
With the completion of Parent-Teacher Conferences, we are past the one-quarter point in the school year. By all accounts, it has been an extraordinary start to the year. From the beginning, our number one priority has been health and safety and mitigating the risks associated with COVID-19. We have balanced these essential safety protocols with the importance of keeping our students in school full time, learning and engaging in the activities that are meaningful to them.
The vital role each of you has taken has allowed us to remain open to in-person learning thus far. It has been an unsettling time for everyone, filled with varying degrees of stress and anxiety. NYA’s faculty and staff have worked incredibly hard to balance safety with keeping the school open. Our faculty has had to learn new ways of teaching, and many have taken on additional responsibilities. Our students have made many sacrifices and have been cooperative and creative throughout. Our families have been flexible and supportive. I can’t express how much I appreciate everyone’s collective efforts. Together as a community, we have demonstrated great resilience, and I have great confidence we will emerge stronger through this crisis. This has truly been a community effort.
The recent surge in cases across the world, country, and here in Maine, reminds us that we must continue to remain vigilant. NYA’s Health and Safety Committee continues to meet regularly. To that end, I want to share a few reminders as the year progresses:
- During recent Middle and Upper School announcements, I recognized and thanked the students for their exceptional efforts thus far and stressed how important it is that we not become too complacent. We should remain focused on wearing masks, social distancing, and making good decisions in and outside of school.
- On top of concerns regarding COVID-19, it may also be a challenging cold and flu season. I encourage you to take preventative measures and schedule flu shots for your family.
- I understand and respect the importance of visiting with family during the holidays. However, as you make your plans, I urge you to continue to make safe choices and follow guidelines set forth by the state of Maine. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were officially removed from the exempt list for travel on Wednesday, November 4. Currently, only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont remain exempt for travel. This, too, may change at any time. If your child travels to any non-exempt states, they will need to quarantine for 14 days or receive a negative test prior to returning to school. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ashley Moody with questions on travel out of state, testing, or other issues related to the health of your child. Additional information on the holidays and travel may be found through these links from the CDC and Brown University Public School of Health.
- Athletics and Activities: Middle School athletics and activities are scheduled to begin on Monday, November 9. Upper School boys and girls hockey, who participate in the NEPSAC, will also begin practice on Monday, November 9. Upper School drama will begin November 16. All other Upper School athletics participate under the governance of the Maine Principals Association (MPA). The MPA has delayed the November 16 start date, and we are waiting for further guidance. As a school, we are confident that with a focus on locker rooms, transportation to and from games, and mask wearing, our students will be able to safely participate in athletic competition. We are committed to supporting these activities to the best of our ability and as allowed by the state of Maine. More information will be forthcoming.
- While always planning ahead, we also take this crisis one day at a time. We should all be proud of the successful start to the school year. It remains our goal to continue with safe, full time, in-person instruction. If circumstances warrant, we have made the necessary preparations to shift to remote learning for a period of time. While nothing can fully replace in-person instruction, we were pleased with the success of the remote program this past spring. We also took the time this summer and fall to evaluate our schedule and make modest changes to enhance the experience.
- This is a stressful and challenging time on different levels for all of us. Faculty, staff, students, and families have all made sacrifices, just as our families have in their work and personal lives. The extra safety precautions, extra duties, different expectations, and other measures associated with COVID-19 all take a great deal of energy. To this end, we are planning a couple of strategically placed additional days off for the remainder of the school year to help our students, faculty, and staff remain refreshed and recharged. If unforeseen circumstances dictate, these dates may change, but I want to share them with you in advance for your planning:
Friday, November 20: Early release half day. This will allow us to get a head start on Thanksgiving break. Release times will be as follows:
- Toddlers and Primary students – 11:00 a.m.
- Elementary and Middle School students – 11:15 a.m.
- Upper School students – 11:30 a.m.
Friday, January 15: No school, extending Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend to four days.
Tuesday, February 16: No school, extending Presidents Day weekend to four days.
Again, I want to express my deepest gratitude for everyone’s continued commitment to NYA. I am grateful to each of you for your support and your important role in NYA’s success to date. While we can’t be completely certain what lies ahead, we are working to ensure we will be prepared. I hope your child is having a wonderful year thus far. I look forward to the rest of the school year. Thank you for entrusting NYA with your child’s education.
Head of School