What is next year going to look like at Infinity School?
The answer to that question is, “We really don’t know!”
What we do know is that as we did this year, we can respond and pivot quickly so the positive emotional, physical, and intellectual growth of our students continues. We didn’t miss a single day of school this year — no snow storms, strikes, or even a pandemic stopped us.
Several scenarios might play out next year: 1) We are not allowed in the building at all, 2) We are allowed in but with restrictions in place, 3) We are allowed to return to fairly normal activity because of our small numbers, but schools with hundreds cannot, or 4) Business (and learning) as usual.
Even with those potential scenarios, it is entirely possible that things will change during the course of the year due to a second wave of the COVID-19 virus. This mean we will have to continue to be prepared for whatever the next school year brings.
So this means we’re going into “astronaut planning” mode (thank you, Col Chris Hadfield for writing about how to do that) – we have made plans that we believe address all the potential scenarios we can think of and give us the ability to be flexible for those we cannot.
Watching what is happening in Europe, the U.S., and Quebec in regards to return to school, it is clear that we will still require ongoing strategies to help reduce the risk next year. Our smaller numbers already give us an advantage in reducing risk overall, but we can still utilize other strategies to help reduce that risk further.
We received an email from the Ministry of Education indicating a team is forming to outline regulations for schools moving forward. Rather than waiting for this document, we are planning ahead looking at what we can do to adhere to those expected guidelines including extra steps to support the children’s emotional wellbeing:
- Spacing desks out,
- Using staggered entrance times,
- Creating plans so belongings are placed and retrieved one person at a time,
- Having materials like pens, pencils, scissors, etc designated for each child so they aren’t shared,
- Going outside as much as possible,
- Opening windows and doors and moving the air through the spaces, (two of the four Studios have outside doors/ all have many windows that open),
- Creating learning opportunities that are fun and engaging for Quest but don’t require the touching of the same objects,
- Coaching on how to wash hands well and doing that when Eagles first arrive and periodically through the day,
- Having good communication within our small “bubble” of families so that we can monitor everyone’s health, and adhere to a strict sick day policy,
- Loving, supporting, and mentoring the children as they manage all their big feelings during this unusual time, and
- Engaging in rigorous cleaning protocols.
We’ll implement whatever is required and what is reasonable given our unique environment.
Initial reports from the public/ large school world are saying that in order to accommodate moving desks the minimum distance away from each other, they will be placed in gyms, libraries, and hallways. We can assure you that this won’t be the case here!
We have limited our enrolment for the upcoming school year to make sure we can fit all those who are in a Studio together in that space. Furniture has already been moved so we know what our maximum capacity will be, given the anticipated new requirements. Those numbers are: Ignite Eagles (4-6 years-old)- 12, Discover 1 Eagles (6-8 years-old) – 9, Discover 2 Eagles (8-11 years-old) – 9, and Explore Eagles (11-13 years-old) – 10. As we are already at capacity with three of those Studios, the only space we currently have for new Eagles is in the Ignite Studio.
The High School program will start when those in the Explore Studio are ready to move up. We believe this will happen in December or January. We’re not sure what the state of things will be with Innovation Works so the location of that program is TBD.
In terms of staffing, we are thrilled to let you know that we have secured employment with Mr Jeremy, Ms Peyton, Ms Janaya, and Ms Andrea (Director) for the 2020-2021 school year. The responsibility break-down is this: Ms Peyton will be with the Ignite Eaglets in the mornings three days a week and for the afternoon and aftercare on Tuesdays. The rest of the time the Ignite Studio Eaglets will be with Ms Janaya who will be onsite from late morning until the end of aftercare for most of the week. Ms Andrea will be the Guide for the Discover 1/2 Studio and Mr Jeremy continues to be the Guide for the Explore Studio and will be overseeing the High School when that begins. This is really an incredible team of people!
Did you know that Ms Peyton has an important role at CheerStrike? Or that Ms Janaya is an incredible artist whose highly developed skills are in all kinds of art mediums: sculpture, paint, jewellery making, among others. Have you heard that Mr Jeremy is a prolific writer and poet? Or maybe you know that Ms Andrea is a former psychotherapist and teacher and has been working with families for three decades? Everyone loves to be active, play, be outside, and care for the environment.
*We are starting a new program at our school: an Onsite & Home-learning Hybrid! This is for Eagles ages 8-13 who want to primarily learn at home but still be anchored in community. These Eagles will be onsite every Friday and be Guided by Ms Janaya. More information can be found here.
Please do let us know if you have any questions.