2020-2021 Reopening Plans


Health and Safety

Mask Wearing

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Are face masks required on campus?

    Yes, all students in grades PreK-8, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus will be required to wear masks. Students and teachers will be required to wear masks for the duration of the school day, including during recess, PE, and music classes.
  • What types of masks are allowed? Are face shields acceptable?

    Use a well-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth. For best fit, the mask should go under the chin and should be held in place behind the ears or tied at the back of the head so that it fits snugly with the sides of the face.

    Ideally, fabric masks should be three-ply, using a medium weight fabric. (If a three-ply mask isn’t possible, at least a two-ply mask is required.) Please avoid the use of porous fabrics as they are likely less effective in preventing the transmission of coronavirus. Bandanas and neck “buffs” or "gators" are not allowed at this time. In addition, the CDC advises against the use of surgical masks, or N95 masks in the school setting as they are to be used by frontline workers.

    Parents are asked to provide a mask each day. We also ask that you please send a "back up" mask, labeled with your child's name, to keep at school. 

    The CDC does not recommend the use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks in a school setting.  
  • How often should masks be washed?

    Face masks should be washed at the end of each day. For this reason, we recommend purchasing several masks to have on hand.
  • Will there be mask breaks and how will they be safely executed?

    Yes, there will be scheduled mask breaks for students and teachers throughout the day. In addition to mask breaks during snack and lunch, each grade level will determine the right number of masks breaks for its students. Ideally, mask breaks will occur outdoors or in a large space, like Foster Hall or the gym, with doors opened.

    The school has also developed safety protocols for teachers to follow when an unscheduled break needs to occur, whether it's because an individual student or an entire class is in need of a break.

    During each break, students will remain at least six feet apart from one another.
  • My child is anxious about seeing his friends and teachers in masks and often refuses to wear one himself. What should I do and how will this be handled at school?

    Keep practicing at home! Talk about the importance of wearing masks and model the behavior in the weeks leading up to the start of school. 

    At CRS, social-emotional health is just as important as physical health, and teachers are prepared to support students who may be anxious about wearing a mask. During the first few weeks of school, teachers will spend time talking with students about the importance of wearing masks, washing our hands, and practicing social distancing. They will also introduce non-verbal positive reinforcement so students still receive those cues.

Social Distancing

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

  • How will CRS manage social distancing during lunch and recess?

    Lunch will be delivered to the classrooms and students will eat outside or in the classroom at least six-feet apart from one another. Recess will take place within cohorts, either separately or from a safe distance of other cohorts. 
  • How will you manage social distancing in shared spaces, including stairwells, hallways, bathrooms, and the nurse’s office?

    The school has placed signage and other wayfinding around campus to guide how we move about and access spaces. There will be one-way traffic marked throughout buildings to help students maintain at least six feet from each other.

    The school nurse's office has been relocated to Founder's House, where there is ample room for students to be safely spaced from each other. There are two medical waiting rooms, where any student who experiences symptoms while at school will be isolated and where Nurse Carol will continue to treat the usual bumps and bruises..

Symptom Protocols

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • What happens when a community member tests positive for COVID-19?

    If a member of the community tests positive for COVID-19, all students, teachers, and staff members in the cohort and anyone who has had close contact (defined as contact within 6 feet for 10-15 minutes or more) with the individual will be notified immediately. Learning and teaching will occur remotely for those community members.

    When there is a COVID-19 infection, the school will:
    • Notify the Dover public health department.
    • Isolate the case and exclude the individual from school for 14 days from symptom onset or test date.
    • Identify and quarantine exposed contacts (likely the entire cohort for 14 days).
    • Recommend testing of contacts, with prioritization of testing for symptomatic contacts. 
    • Disinfect and clean the classroom and primary spaces where the positive case spent significant time.
    • School remains open.
  • How will the daily health screening work?

    Community members will be required to use a pre-screening app called MyMedBot. Before arriving at school, families, faculty, and staff are required to submit responses daily through the app to assess symptoms and exposure to COVID-19. Temperature checks will be done at home and logged through the app. 

    More information about the MyMedBot app is forthcoming. Daily use of the app is required in order to attend classes on campus.

  • When should my child stay home, and for how long?

    A student should stay home with a fever of 100.0 degrees or higher, symptoms of COVID-19, or other communicable diseases. The student should remain at home for 24 hours after the fever has subsided without using fever-reducing medications.

    If necessary contact your child's pediatrician.
  • What will happen if a student shows symptoms of being sick at school?

    A student who experiences symptoms while at school will be sent to the nurse's office in the Founder's Building. If COVID-19 is suspected, the student will be assessed in the medical waiting room. Parents will be notified immediately and required to pick up their child upon request. Per the recommendation of the child’s doctor, the student may be tested.
  • My child has seasonal allergies or other ailments with similar symptoms to COVID. How will this be handled?

    One of the many benefits of our small, caring community is that our faculty and staff get to know every student and their family. Most likely, Nurse Carol is familiar with your child's health history and will take this into consideration when checking for symptoms. If you're new to CRS, please contact Nurse Carol to let her know about any chronic health issues, such as seasonal allergies, that your child might have. She may request a confirmation letter from a pediatrician.

    Also, we have highly detailed protocols for symptom assessments, and some symptoms on their own, such as a runny nose due to seasonal allergies, would not warrant being asked to stay home.
  • How will CRS manage contact tracing?

    According to current scenarios outlined by the state's Department of Public Health, which CRS has incorporated into its nursing protocols, if a COVID positive or presumed positive case is determined, all close contacts on campus, including members of the same cohort, teachers, and other community members, will be identified and notified. CRS will work with the Dover Board of Health to identify and notify contacts outside of the CRS community.

    Teachers will keep daily logs of who their cohorts interact with on campus. A close contact is considered anyone who was within six feet of the individual for 15 minutes or more. All close contacts will go into quarantine until they can be tested.

    The Health and Safety Committee, along with Nurse Carol and the administration, will support anyone with a positive or presumed positive test by ensuring their questions are answered.
  • There are more cases now in Massachusetts than when we closed in March. Why can we open schools now if there are more cases?

    There are defined, qualitative metrics that the Health and Safety Committee will consider with regard to in-person vs. remote learning.

    Even if the criteria for in-person learning occurs, given coronavirus is a highly contagious respiratory virus, there is inherently more risk to in-person learning than remote learning, specifically with regard to being infected with coronavirus at school. Since school closure in March, there has been much progress in the understanding of coronavirus and COVID-19 in the medical, scientific, and public health communities, improving approaches to diagnosis and care of COVID-19. Importantly, we now have specific measures we can take that are known to significantly decrease the risk of transmission (masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing). Our healthcare systems have more stability; our hospitals and clinics aren’t overwhelmed and there is PPE available for healthcare workers (including our school nurse). 

    In the past five months, our public health infrastructure with regard to coronavirus has been built up considerably. Massachusetts has remarkably increased testing ability since March -- now well over 10,000 coronavirus tests are performed each day in our state. This, plus the fact that guidelines now permit many more people to be tested (including those without symptoms), allows for members of our community to be tested as needed -- mitigating the likelihood that a community member is at school unknowingly with the virus.

    Perhaps one of the biggest shifts relevant to our PreK-8 school is the understanding of coronavirus transmission since school closure in March:  there is good evidence that children are less likely to become infected with the virus, and if they do become infected, they are less likely to have severe illness and less likely to infect others with the virus.

Cleaning and Other Health/Safety Protocols

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • What are the cleaning protocols? How often will classrooms and other spaces be cleaned?

    CRS has hired a professional cleaning company to provide additional campus cleaning. Cleaning and disinfection will occur three times during the day for bathrooms, common areas, and high-touch surfaces.

    In the evening, every visited area will be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected. During the day, faculty and staff will also clean shared supplies such as manipulatives. 
  • Has CRS installed additional hand sanitizing stations?

    Along with hand sanitizer in each classroom, we have added 12 non-touch hand sanitizer stands throughout campus. They will be available at entrances on the first and second floors of each building.
  • Has the school made any modification to the HVAC system?

    The Health and Safety Committee has developed indoor air quality protocols that optimize air quality to decrease transmission. Part of this protocol is assessing and improving HVAC systems in the best ways we can. CRS has hired an independent consultant to advise us on special measures we can take to improve air quality.

    Protocols include improving air filtration, ventilation, and avoiding the use of recycled air when possible. In addition, we are considering measures to add to the HVAC system that would kill coronavirus.
  • Has the school considered mandating testing for students and faculty, either to start the school year or periodically once we return?

    In-school testing is not recommended by the Department of Early and Secondary Education (DESE) or the CDC. Students' families should discuss testing with their healthcare provider.
  • How will outdoor space be used?

    Several tents have been set up on campus and will be used as outdoor classroom spaces for science (in grades 3-5), art, and music classes. In addition, faculty may choose to teach some classes outside, making use of outdoor spaces such as the Wetlands and other areas of campus. PE classes will be held on the fields as often as possible. Students should dress appropriately, as classes will still happen in light rain or slightly cooler temperatures. If the weather is prohibitive, PE classes will happen in a large ventilated space, such as the gym with doors open, or they will be canceled for the day.
  • We've been practicing safety precautions, including social distancing and mask-wearing while away from campus. How will CRS ensure that other community members do the same?

    We depend on your partnership in order for our health and safety protocols to be effective. Before the start of the school year, all parents will be asked to review and commit to a COVID-19 Community Agreement. The commitment will include a family pledge to submit daily health screenings; to stay home or immediately report to the nurse's office if students feel ill; to isolate and self-quarantine according to CDC recommendations; to maintain proper social distancing; to wear a mask when required; and to wash hands frequently..

Reopening Campus

Check back for updates to this page. Also, for more detailed information, visit the "Health Protocols" page.

If you have specific questions that are unanswered, please click here to submit them. Someone will respond as soon as possible.

Academic Program

In-Person Learning

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • When is the first day of school?

    The official first day of school remains Tuesday, September 8. During the first week of school, Tuesday, September 8 through Friday, September 11, CRS will be in session for half days. Also, we will stagger the first two days by grade. Limiting the number of cohorts for the first two days of school gives students the space they need to process and understand the changes on campus and in their classrooms. Dismissal will be at 12 p.m. each day. Tuesday, September 8, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. First Day of School for Grades PreK/K, 3, 5, 7 Wednesday, September 9, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. First Day of School for Grades 1/2, 4, 6, 8 Thursday, September 10 and Friday, September 11, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. All Grades The normal school day schedule (8 a.m. - 3:10 p.m., 8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. for grades PreK-3 on Wednesdays) begins the following week. This cautious, phased approach is to help students acclimate to the many changes on campus. We believe it is best for their social-emotional health to take this time for orientation activities, class discussions, and relationship-building.
  • Will CRS use a "cohort" system? What exactly does that mean?

    Yes, following guidance from the CDC, the school will use a cohort model. Cohorts are small groups of students, along with their teacher, that stay together throughout the day. Cohorts will not mix with one another during the day, in order to minimize exposure for students, teachers, and staff. Cohorting also allows for more effective contact tracing if a positive case is identified. Cohorts will consist of 8 to 12 students plus a teacher, depending on the grade level.
  • Will cohorts in grades PreK/K, One/Two, and 7/8 be blended age groups?

    Cohorts in PreK/K and One/Two will be multi-age groups to ensure continuous academic and social growth.

    Middle school cohorts will be designed by grade, and will not be blended age groups. This supports academic and curricular goals in both the seventh- and eighth-grades.
  • What will learning support services look like?

    Learning support services will follow a pullout model, meaning individual students or small groups will be pulled out of a classroom or cohort to receive services. Learning support will also be delivered remotely.
  • Has CRS considered an alternate on-campus schedule, such as a shortened school day or all-school remote learning days?

    Yes, our planning committees and the administration have and will continue to consider all models. We will lead with health and safety protocols and rely on what we know about developmental and age-appropriateness when deciding the schedule and how it's delivered. 

    As an example only, while in-person learning benefits all students, we know it is particularly important to the academic and social-emotional growth of students in grades PreK-3. If the school needed to limit the number of students on campus at a time, we might use factors like these, giving in-person preference to our youngest students. 

Remote Learning

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • What will remote learning look like in the fall?

    Students who participate in remote learning will have live access to classes through the use of technology. Our robust remote learning program takes into account best practices for each developmental age group. For example, students in PreK-3 can attend synchronous classes at specific times during the school day for skill-building lessons. Knowing that young students' ability to focus during Zoom classes is limited, teachers will use additional tools like SeeSaw for asynchronous assignments and activities. Students in grades 4 through 8 can process longer online sessions and will be able to tune into more classes via Zoom during the school day.

    Our Learning Support Team will be available to support students who participate in remote learning.
  • What factors would lead to CRS shifting to all-school remote learning?

    As a community, although we highly value in-person learning, we also understand that there is an inherently higher risk to having students and teachers on campus. In order to introduce or continue in-person learning once in session, specific criteria will need to be met.

    1. All guidelines will need to be reasonably incorporated so if someone did contract COVID-19, the risk of transmission would be lower.

    2. The Heath and Safety Committee will look closely at public health data and metrics to determine the degree of community spread. We will use objective criteria to determine the threshold for having in-person learning safely.

    3. After in-person learning begins we will also monitor symptoms or cases at school and use that data to guide our decisions.
  • Will the school provide supplies for students who choose to learn at home?

    Yes, every child, whether they learn remotely or in person, will get the same supplies. CRS has adopted a 1:1 device program: all students in PreK-3 will receive an iPad and students in grades 4-8 will receive a Chromebook. All students will also receive a headset and mic, as well as a personal kit with art, music, and science supplies.

    Families may be asked to provide some supplies. Grades 7/8 typically sends a short supply list and will do so again this year. Other grades might make a suggested list of supplies to have at home. If a family is unable to provide these items, the school will arrange for a loan.

Blended/Hybrid Model

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

Music, Art, and PE

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Will students have to wear masks during music or PE classes?

    Yes, students will wear masks during all classes, including music and PE.
  • Will students share art supplies or will they have their own?

    All students will receive a personal supply kit for art, music, and science classes. There will be no shared supplies.
  • What will PE look like?

    Physical education teachers will deliver and engage in the PE activities with assigned cohorts, outdoors when possible. Students should be prepared and dress accordingly to be outside in cooler temperatures or light rain.

    Teachers will do activities that require no equipment or sharing equipment. Students will be spaced at least six feet from each other and games will be created with social distancing in mind.
  • Will music lessons still be offered?

    Unfortunately, music lessons with outside instructors will not be allowed at the start of the year. Our Health and Safety Committee has determined that having additional people on campus poses too high of a safety risk. As with all protocols, we will continue to assess risk factors throughout the fall.
  • Will there be any changes to music and art classes?

    Both art and music classes will be held outdoors when possible. They will also be taught in mods: students will have either art or music four times a week for three weeks and then will rotate. This limits the number of teachers a student is exposed to while also allowing for a deeper, more meaningful curriculum. 

    In art classes, students will have their own supplies and projects will be designed with social distancing in mind. 

    Music classes will be instrument based (students will not share; they will have their own instruments to use). As much as we love hearing our students sing, there will be little to no singing instruction given its risk factors. 
  • Will chorus be offered?

    Chorus will not be offered this fall.

Otters Are Stronger Together

Charles River School’s strong sense of community has always been one of its most distinguishable features. We know there will be challenges to navigate in the upcoming school year. Just as we have throughout this new age of COVID-19, we will overcome these challenges together.

Student Life

Early Birds, EDP, After School Sports

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

  • Will there be after school sports?

    After school sports will not be offered immediately. When we return to campus in September, we will do so with a conservative approach, and extending the school day detracts from our health and safety protocols. The hope is that over time, with rates of positive tests in our state and local area declining, we can introduce more programmatic elements, like sports.

    PE will be added to the schedule for grades 7/8 so students can stay active. During PE classes for all grades, masks and social distancing will be required.
  • Will Early Birds and EDP be offered?

    Unfortunately, for myriad health and safety reasons, we are unable to begin the year offering Early Birds or Extended Day Program. We hope to introduce these programs later in the year.

Lunch and Snacks

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

Drop-Off and Pick-Up Procedures

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • What will be required at morning drop-off?

    Before arriving at school, families, faculty, and staff are required to submit daily health screening responses through the app, MyMedBot. Temperature checks will be done at home and logged through the app. 

    When parents pull on to campus in the morning, they will be directed to one of several drop-off spots. Parents will remain in their cars at all times and masks are required. There will be faculty and staff members stationed at each drop-off location to check that the health screening has been completed.

    After confirmation that the screening has been completed, your child(ren) can get out of the car and head to the classroom. Parents may not get out of their cars at any time.

  • What will afternoon pick-up look like?

    In order to de-densify the afternoon pick-up process, we will stagger student dismissal times at the end of the day.

    Daily Dismissal Times:
    • Grades PreK-3: 3:00 p.m (1:30 p.m. dismissal on Wednesdays)
    • Grades 4 & 5: 3:15 p.m.
    • Grades 6-8: 3:25 p.m.
    • Students who ride the bus: 3:30 p.m.
    If you have multiple children, your pick-up time for all children will be that of your oldest child. (For example, if you had children in grades PreK, 4, and 8, you would pick up all three children at 3:25 p.m.).
  • Can I go into my child's classroom to drop-off or pick-up?

    No parents will be allowed into the buildings. We also ask that parents remain in their cars at all times; please refrain from parking during drop-off and pick-up. If your child needs assistance, a teacher or administrator will help your child to their classroom.

Additional Questions

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Will there still be Sharing Assemblies?

    Yes! When we start the school year in September, all assemblies will be virtual. Students will remain in the classroom with their cohorts to watch the virtual assembly and parents can tune in from home.
  • What will recess look like?

    Students will keep their masks on and be reminded to maintain physical distance during recess. Cohorts will not mix together during recess.

    Playground equipment will be open and available to use. All playground equipment will be cleaned during the day.
  • How will cohorts be determined? Is there consideration for friend groups and social development in the cohorts?

    In the case of PreK/K through Grade 5, teachers and the administration will meet to determine the best design of cohorts. Considerations include social, emotional, personal aspects of student groupings.

    In Grades 6–8, cohorts will be designed according to world language classes. We will carefully review all the class lists before we share schedules.
  • Will there be a new student orientation?

    New Student Orientation will take place remotely this year, on the afternoon of Thursday, September 3 beginning at 3:30 pm.  Classroom teachers will be reaching out with specifics.
  • How will all of these changes and protocols be explained to students?

    The first week of school will include half-days on Tuesday, September 8,  through Friday, September 11, giving students time to adjust to being back together on campus. Much of the schedule, if not all, will be outdoors. The following week, during the second week of school, students will be orientated in the classroom to learn new protocols and procedures. 

    This cautious, phased approach is to help students acclimate to the many changes on campus. We believe it is best for their social-emotional health to take this time for orientation activities, class discussions, and relationship-building.

Social-Emotional Health

We consider our students' social-emotional health to be just as important as their physical health and safety.
Charles River School is a PreKindergarten through Grade 8 independent school that honors the pursuit of academic excellence and the joy of childhood. We nurture each child by igniting curiosity, encouraging creativity, and cultivating intellectual engagement. Our graduates know themselves, understand others, and shape the future of our diverse world with confidence and compassion.

Charles River School admits students of any race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational or admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.