COVID-19 Information

Urban Prairie’s Covid-19 Plan Is Currently to Open

Updated on 8/24/2020

With our ample building size and outdoor space, along with our long experience with all-weather outdoor time across the grades, it is with great hope for the future that UPWS offers the following Phase plans for the various Illinois reopening phases. 

Statement of Intention

We will open our doors in whatever way possible throughout the Illinois pandemic phases because we recognize children need in-person connection and social interactions to learn in a truly meaningful and dynamic way. Ultimately, we all need this human connection. Through our work, we will be serving the children, our families, each other, and the world. By opening our doors to the children, we also support the work that you, their parents and guardians, are doing in the world. 

UPWS Reopening Plan

1. Urban Prairie Waldorf School will offer a hybrid program for the 2020-21 school year, with both on-campus and remote learning options. Enrolled families may make their selection here.

  • Families will have an opportunity to change programs at specific, designated times during the school year.

  • To support both teachers and families, the school will provide a dedicated staff member to facilitate the dual onsite and remote learning options.

  • Onsite learners who are ill or quarantining will join the remote program during their quarantine.

  • The faculty will determine how the remote option interfaces with onsite learning. This may vary across the grades and subjects.

  • The remote program will look different than the onsite program. By its very nature, the onsite program will be a more robust social-emotional experience for our students and offer more opportunities for direct student-teacher and peer interaction.

2. The start dates of the pods will be staggered as follows:

Early Childhood: Tuesday, Sept. 8

Grades 1-2: Monday, Sept. 14

Grades 3-4-5: Tuesday, Sept. 15

Grades 6-7-8: Wednesday, Sept. 16

  • Why? In order to support this pivot to meet the needs of all our enrolled families, we will use this week to provide additional professional development and planning time for your child’s teachers. Staggering also helps us ensure that we are mitigating risk as we put our safety protocols into action.

  • What will that extra week look like at home? Look for details from Community Connections (our parent/guardian organization) and/or from your child’s teacher(s) for opportunities to engage socially prior to or during the week of Sept. 8. Some grades may also receive reading assignments or other at-home foundational skills/academic work to get them started on the school year.

3. The school year will begin with a shortened day: Onsite: 8 am – 1 pm

  • Why? We heard from many of our families a real concern about “mask exhaustion” among the children as we ramp back up. The shortened day also provides additional support to our teachers, who will be supporting our enrolled families both in school and at home.

  • Note: Administration will announce by Tues., Sept. 29, if and when the school will shift to a full-length onsite day (8am – 3pm).

4. Onsite students must adhere to our Health and Safety Protocols

To keep our community safe and healthy, we all must work together. Families choosing the onsite option must support our protocols for mask use, social distancing, and handwashing and sanitizing. Onsite students must submit a 2-week health pre-screening/symptom tracker prior to starting, as well as daily health screening and symptom checks.

Pivot Points to close Pod/School:

  • Confirmed case in a pod, entire pod goes home for 14 days quarantine with remote learning

  • Second confirmed case in the school in 14 days, the entire school goes home for 14-day quarantine with remote learning

  • Mandate by City or State

We are in this with you for the long haul, so we want to do this right while maintaining a reasonable capacity for flexibility. Because the COVID landscape is rapidly changing, and because we know this virus will be with us for a while, we are striving to make the best decisions possible in real-time that build a foundation for the future. This plan reflects our current beliefs about what we can safely provide your children at this time.  

Health and Safety Protocols  

Mask use, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols are in place. Hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout our facility. Daily health screening and symptom checks are in place for all students and staff. Our protocols follow the mandates and guidelines set forth by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), which oversees the operations of all public and private schools. In addition, we follow guidelines put forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If at any time the City of Chicago sets mandates separate from the rest of the state, we will follow those rules. Here are the links for the most up to date guidelines:

Increased Outside Time 

Outdoors is the best place to be in regards to airflow considerations in light of COVID-19. For all the grades, we intend to fully utilize our large attached outdoor space and our access to nearby ample green space. 

  • The school will take an in-service break of 2 school days for teachers to collaborate and move content online.  
  • The school will use Zoom as our video conferencing tool and Google Classroom as our main online platform. 
  • Based on our experience this past Spring and your feedback, we will make Google Classroom more user friendly. For example, each special subject will have its own classroom.  
  • As in Phases 3 & 4, special subjects will continue to rotate in blocks. In this way, families and students will have fewer subjects at a time to manage during distance learning.
  • Our finalized distance learning schedule (i.e., live Zoom classes) across all grades will be available to the community by mid-August. 
  • We will schedule parent/guardian orientations for our online learning platforms prior to school resuming in Fall.  

Updated 7/30/2020

The school will be fully open to all students for onsite learning during Phase 4. Here are the parameters under which we will operate: 

  • Social distancing and mask use for all individuals ages 3 and up will be the norm and requirement, per the State Board of Education.  
  • Guardians must complete a daily questionnaire self-certifying that the student is free of symptoms and record their child’s temperature on the form. As per CDC requirements, no student with a temperature equal to or above 100.4 F or that has come in contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19 will be permitted to attend school. 
  • For those students who must be absent for an extended period due to illness or contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, we will work this summer to establish protocols to keep school accessible. 
  • The Early Childhood program will spend more time outdoors than already typical and may have other creative programming changes, in an effort to provide the best early childhood experience under Phase 4.  
  • The grades will be grouped together in “pods” that share intensive blocks of a few special subjects that rotate at 4-week intervals. This will minimize the risk regarding the level of exposure between students and teachers, as well as provide for deeper and more focused study in fewer areas at a time. 
  • Even within each pod, each grade will be a self-contained cohort and have limited contact with any other students outside that grade. 
  • The following pods, or groups of students, will share 2 to 3 special subject teachers for intensive 4-week block rotations:
    • Grades 1 & 2
    • Grades 3/4 & 5
    • Grades 6, 7, & 8
  • All classes will be preceded by outdoor time, which will allow for mask breaks when social distancing is required by Phase 4 safety protocols for schools

Special subjects 

Although the timing of special subjects will be different due to the condensed, intensive pod format, we will work to create a schedule that is comparable to years past in terms of total time spent in each subject. In this way, we maintain our commitment to providing a holistic and comprehensive educational experience. 

  • One exception to the rotation of special subjects is Orchestra, which will run once per week in grades 3 to 8, similar to previous years. The faculty has made this commitment in order to maintain the strength and efficacy of the instrumental program. 

Daily Schedule

In order to provide space and time to teach and uphold new safety protocols and requirements, as well as provide time for deeper, more expansive opportunities for learning, we will move to a 3-period day in the grade school, where special subject periods are 90 minutes, and all classes are preceded by outdoor time, which will allow for mask breaks when social distancing under Phase 4 safety protocols for schools. 

Following is a picture of the school day schedule. Expect a more detailed schedule from your class teacher later this summer, as well as a school notification of exact start and end times. 

  • Outdoor drop off with social distancing
  • Morning Lesson, 2 hours
  • Snack & recess, 30 minutes
  • 90 minute period (skills or special subject)
  • Lunch & recess, 60 minutes 
  • 90 minute period (skills or special subject)
  • Close of day and dismissal

The maximum group size in Phase 3, including any instructors, is 10 persons. Here are the parameters under which we will operate: 

  • Most classes will be grouped into 2 to 3 smaller cohorts and will require a hybrid model of on-site and distance learning, due to increased spacing requirements and restrictions. 
  • Our Phase 3 hybrid on-site and distance learning plan is still in the works. We aim to have a finalized hybrid schedule available for the community by mid-August.  
  • We recognize the younger the students, the more support required for learning. So, as we finetune our schedule of how many students and in what groupings can be on-site in Phase 3, we will prioritize younger students for the in-school time, while still seeking to provide on-site learning for all grades in some capacity.
  • Social distancing and mask use for all individuals ages 3 and up will be the norm and requirement, per the Board of Education.      
  • Guardians must complete a daily questionnaire self-certifying that the student is free of symptoms and record their child’s temperature on the form. As per CDC requirements, no student with a temperature equal to or above 100.4 F or that has come in contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19 will be permitted to attend school. 
  • For those students who must be absent for an extended period due to illness or contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, we will work this summer to establish protocols to keep school accessible. 
  • Our Early Childhood Phase 3 plan, still in the works, will allow those students to be on-site every day.  
  • During Phase 3, the “pod” model and special subject rotation will continue. 
  • Even within each pod, each grade is a self-contained cohort and will have limited contact with any other students outside that grade. 
    • Survey: Please complete our technology survey so that we can ascertain our community’s IT needs to make our distance learning program accessible to all. Urban Prairie may seek technology funding made available by the state and federal government during COVID-19.

Should we return to Illinois Phase 1 or 2, here are the parameters we will follow: 

  • All classes and grades will be in total distance learning. 
  • The school will take an in-service break of 2 school days for teachers to collaborate and move content online.  
  • The school will use Zoom as our video conferencing tool and Google Classroom as our main online platform. 
  • Based on our experience this past Spring and your feedback, we will make Google Classroom more user friendly. For example, each special subject will have its own classroom.  
    • Survey: Watch for a distance learning survey, coming soon, to provide your feedback and inform how we can make Google Classroom more user friendly. The survey will also allow for additional feedback regarding how we can support children and families during distance learning.
  • As in Phases 3 & 4, special subjects will continue to rotate in blocks. In this way, families and students will have fewer subjects at a time to manage during distance learning.
  • Our finalized distance learning schedule (i.e., live Zoom classes) across all grades will be available to the community by mid-August. 
  • We will schedule parent/guardian orientations for our online learning platforms prior to school resuming in Fall.  

With all of the changes and increased safety protocols, the school will begin the year with no aftercare. We understand some families rely heavily on this program, and as we practice and finetune our processes, we may explore opening the aftercare program, depending on which phase we are in.

We will not undertake any in-house food service until we reach Phase 5, at which point we will determine our capacity to provide this service safely. Furthermore, we have not yet decided whether we will provide restaurant-delivered hot lunches. A decision on restaurant lunches will come in August. Updates on our kitchen plans will also follow later in the summer.