Duke School First Week Observations

Dear Duke School Families, 

Congratulations to your children, our faculty and staff, and you on the success of our first academic week of the 2020-21 school year! Smiles abounded on-campus and on-screen as students and faculty greeted one another last week.  A Venn diagram in a Lower School classroom provided space for students to note with a sticker whether they were “nervous” or “excited.” It was certainly no surprise that, with new routines abounding, many chose both on the first day. A hearty “thumbs up” captured the sentiments of other students engaging in first day festivities from home. In Middle School, an advisory activity allowed students to share both “roses” and “thorns” about our “new normal.” Throughout campus on Erwin Road and extending to our Bridged Distance Learning campus, what remains palpable is the connection our faculty and students are making to launch the year with confidence, comfort, and compassion as we continue to move forward, together, one step at a time. To that end, I’d like to share some observations from our first week back to school. Wear a Mask, Wash Hands, and Wait The 2020 mantra of wear a mask, wash hands, and wait is taking hold among all on campus. · Hearing songs from the sink area and seeing students stop at the sanitizing stations outside of room doors, it’s obvious that students have reviewed videos and practiced at home to start school with healthy hand washing routines. We will continue to schedule frequent times to promote this practice with all students. 

· Students and adults alike are mindful to wait and maintain six feet distance from others. From a “zombie arms line-up” routine to students having agency in marking spots for distancing, Duke School faculty are helping students master this routine at school.

· Teachers have shared that students have adapted quickly to a consistent mask wearing routine and are being thoughtful about removing masks to eat or drink, taking care to respect distancing and to put masks back on as soon as possible. We want to remind families that current guidance states that masks with valves/vents, neck “gators,” and bandanas are not suitable face coverings Bridged Distance Learning Underway Students in Bridged Distance Learning reviewed fundamental routines that support robust engagement in a day of Duke School Learning. Tips for setting up cool personal work spaces and fun Morning Meeting/Advisory virtual activities designed to connect classroom communities were just a few activities that kicked off the week, students said. I have stopped by a few faculty planning sessions, listening to their review of highlights and opportunities to refine and tweak as they establish a strong presence and connection for students engaging from home. Their infinite care and constructive analysis certainly reflects the Duke School approach! Daily Wellness Checks If you have not received the email from Basecamp Health, please contact Russell Rabinowitz, Director of Finance and Operations, at Thank you for opening the App and completing the checklist, along with a daily temperature check, before you arrive at school every day.   Community Commitment

What we all do in our personal lives can have a significant impact on classmates, teachers, other families, and the ability of our school to continue on campus. For all of us to keep each other safe and help ensure the quickest return to a “new normal," it is critical to adhere to, model, and remind one another with kindness, candor, and understanding those practices mentioned in this letter. As one of you underscored in a recent email, “We’re all in this together.” Thank you for your ongoing commitment to all the practices that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19, both at school and at home.

Warm regards, Lisa

Duke School fifth grade teacher Claire exploring new techniques to engage with her Bridged Distance Learning students!

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