Our Stories

Fall 2020 Plans

August 5, 2020 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

Milton’s school leaders have been laying the groundwork for a joyful and engaging 2020-21 school year. We invite you to learn more about our fall plans here. We will provide parents with timely updates as our plans develop and provide opportunities to ask questions and share feedback. Please check your inbox for invitations to our webinars, fall planning survey, and more.

Read the August 3 letter from Deborah and the Executive Committee of the Board to learn more about our planning and current thinking for fall:

We are grateful for the grace, patience, and partnership our parents have extended to us as we navigate the complexities of planning for the academic year ahead. We write to you as fellow parents navigating this uncertain environment–parents of children ranging from first grade to high school. We are all worried about our children’s intellectual and emotional development. As leaders of the school, we also shoulder responsibility for the practical realities of mitigating health risks, planning for inevitable outbreaks of illness within our school community, and consistently staffing our classes with teachers who are subject to the same risks and logistical uncertainties.

Milton is much more than our two buildings–they are only the vessels for our creative energy, our intellectual rigor, and our warm heart. What we do together is more important than where we do it. In that spirit, our Board of Trustees and Leadership Team have determined that we will start the 2020-2021 academic year with an Off-Campus & Outdoor model. Students in Grades 1-8 will principally use distance learning for academic instruction, with regular in-person opportunities for outdoor education and community building, coordinated by Milton. We are still exploring whether our youngest learners in Pre-K and Kindergarten will be able to learn on campus based on distinct guidance for that age group from local health authorities. We plan to follow the Off Campus & Outdoor model for the first two months of the school year, and then re-evaluate whether circumstances allow for a transition back to campus. Our talented educators are hard at work developing innovative, thoughtful, and joyful programs and curricula to get students into fresh air and with their peers for meaningful learning!

As recently as ten days ago, we were hoping and planning for a full return to campus. We brought in construction and engineering teams to develop specific plans for reconfiguring our two campuses into lower density classrooms with every student coming to in-person school. Unfortunately, it is clear that a full, on-campus reopening is not yet feasible or advisable.

Over the past month, our professional staff and dedicated volunteer trustees have worked 24/6 to develop five different models for teaching and learning. Milton has the ability to deploy each model, pivoting quickly as the situation evolves. Among the variables we consider are:

  • Guidance from our Medical Task Force
  • Our students’ needs (academic, emotional, social)
  • Differing developmental stages within our student body, with special attention to our youngest learners who most need in-person instruction
  • Increased absenteeism for faculty, staff, and students due to Covid protocols
  • Our cherished faculty and staff
  • Parents’ need for consistency in planning for work-life balance

We are a mission-driven school with an emphasis on deeply rooted Jewish ethical precepts. These ethics offer us a north star in trying times, reminding us of the sanctity of life (pikuach nefesh) and shared obligations to our neighbors in DC and nearby Maryland.

Today marks one month since Deborah became our new Head of School. It’s an understatement to say that she assumed the helm in a tumultuous moment. We will begin the semester with 87 new students and their families who are joining our community at a time of enforced distance. To them, we extend a warm Milton welcome!

We acknowledge that there will be a range of reactions to this announcement. All of us feel grief, loss, and frustration that we cannot begin the school year in the ways we would prefer. We love and miss our students. We miss being at school–and we will re-evaluate our plans after the chagim (holidays), in early November. In the meantime, we are excited by the possibilities.

Read Milton’s Fall Plan for more information. In the coming days, you will also receive invitations to webinars with school leaders to be followed by a planning survey next week.

Thank you for your steadfast support and partnership. We look forward to seeing you soon, whatever the setting.

Deborah Skolnick-Einhorn, Head of School
Edna Friedberg, President
Jeremy Levine, President-Elect
Peter Federowicz, Vice President
Marina Feldman, Vice President
Maia Magder, Vice President
David Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, Treasurer
Adam Pearlman, Secretary