Mustangs (re)Unite 2.0

From the Head of School

December 3, 2020

Dear Breck Community,

This week marked the beginning of December and our 14th week of school. As we have since March, we are working tirelessly to deliver a Breck education in the context of a global pandemic. One silver lining in this complex time is that this holiday season we are made more aware of what matters most -- health, family, friendships, and community. Our school’s commitment to social responsibility is evident this year, and we are deeply grateful for your support and collaboration.

Today I am reaching out to offer specificity and transparency about expectations for our upcoming winter break (December 21 - January 1) and our return to school in January. In this communication, we outline our plan for a scaffolded return to Breck in January as well as clear expectations regarding a return to campus should you choose to travel or participate in multi-household gatherings. With the support of our consulting physician, we have based these decisions on new CDC guidelines for international travel, Governor Walz’s executive orders, our community’s response to the Thanksgiving holiday, and support for our faculty and staff.

Ultimately, it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to do our part to protect each other. At Breck, we take great pride in the strength of our community and now is the time to demonstrate that care for one another.

Return to Breck in January

This scaffolded return to campus will help us manage our COVID-19 response and contact tracing in the days following winter break. Barring outside restrictions, our plan for a return to school in January is as follows:

  • January 4th - 8th, all students PS - 12th grade, distance learning model, no on campus classes
  • January 11th - 15th, PS - 4th grade on campus, 5th and 6th grade hybrid model, 7th - 12th grade distance learning model
  • Starting January 19th, PS - 4th grade on campus and 5th - 12th grade hybrid model

This decision is based on three key factors. 

  1. The CDC has updated guidelines for international travel (as of December 2, 2020). Together with our consulting physician, we feel these guidelines are prudent for our Breck community whether travel is local or international.
  2. Observing our community’s response to expectations during the Thanksgiving break underscored how difficult it will be to expect our entire community to refrain from travel and/or multi-household gatherings this winter break. This scaffolded plan also allows seven days for those who travel or gather outside their households to test and quarantine.
  3. As a community, we want to support our faculty and staff’s ability to rest, restore, and refuel their energy for the spring semester. A return to campus on January 11 will make it possible for our faculty to gather or travel over the break while still complying with Breck’s health expectations as they return to the classroom with their students.

Expectations for those who travel/gather

Our hope is that everyone in our community follows CDC, MDH, and Governor Walz’s recommendations to stay healthy and safe. In the event you travel or choose to participate in multi-household gatherings over the winter break, we ask that you follow these expectations in order to return to campus:

A. Get a PCR molecular test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home for a minimum of 7 days after travel.

  • Even if you test negative, you must stay home for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, contact the Breck Health Center by calling 763-381-8241 or by emailing healthreporting@breckschool.org.
  • If you receive a positive test result you must isolate for a minimum of 10 days, beginning the day after your test was administered.

B. If you choose not to get tested, it is a requirement that Breck students in your household stay home for 14 days after travel prior to a return to campus.

  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
  • Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.
  • If you are symptomatic or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, for next steps please contact the Breck Health Center by calling 763-381-8241 or by emailing healthreporting@breckschool.org.

Again, I want to thank you for your collaboration. We could not have come this far, with such success, without your commitment to our community. We have been challenged in 2020 and I know we will emerge from this year even stronger than before.

Please do not hesitate to contact your division director, our health center, or me if you have any questions.

Natalia Rico Hernández, Ed.D.
Head of School

Head of School Letters

Our instructional models - November 19, 2020

Below families can learn more about the instructional model currently offered at Breck as well as our plans moving forward.

Our Current Model - Program Updates by Division

Upper School Program Updates

  • Following our design for moving between learning modes
  • Daily schedule stays the same
  • Additional focus on advisory, tutorial, and community building
     

Grades 7-8 Program Updates

  • Following our design for moving between learning modes
  • Daily schedule stays the same
  • Additional focus on advisory, tutorial, and community building

Grades 5-6 Program Updates

  • Remain in current model
  • Breck’s administrative team continues to evaluate 
     

Lower School Program Updates:

As a Lower School team, we’ve begun preparations for moving to distance learning so that we are ready if/when this comes. Our goal is to continue the strong learning experiences we engage our students in when they are in school.  Preparations will continue on the upcoming faculty planning days, November 18 and 30.  We are fortunate to approach this work with our previous experiences and your feedback from last spring, as well as the design and tech support from our innovation specialists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Operating Models Throughout the Year

Our Mustangs (re)Unite plan is built around three main models while allowing for flexibility between them throughout the year. While we want nothing more than to return to normal operations as soon as possible, we will approach the year with the health and safety of our students and community as our priority. It is important to note that we are prepared to increase or decrease student population on campus as the situation allows. 

On Campus
Hybrid
Periods of Off-Campus Learning

Responsive to community feedback. Driven by research and practice. Built by Breck Faculty. 

Levels of Decision Making

Our paramount priority is the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff. As we make decisions, we will lean into:

  • Research-based approach
  • Prioritize transparent and regular communication
  • Effective training and education 
  • Reducing risk

Below, we have provided a framework for our decision making as we move between models and levels of distance learning and on-campus instruction. While our reopening model accounts for Lower School on campus and 50% capacity of Middle and Upper School, we may increase or decrease the student population on campus based on the below criteria. 

Level External Environment/COVID Conditions Learning at Breck

In all circumstances, we will consider recommendations and/or directives from the CDC, MDH, MDE, and the Governor's office to determine our instructional model.

Case counts per 10,000 are as noted by https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/stats/wschool.pdf

Mustangs (re)Unite
  • No COVID-19 cases within our community
  • Community adherence to safety protocols
  • Widespread reopening of schools, businesses, and workplaces
  • Hennepin County experiences 0-9 positive COVID cases per 10,000 over a 14-day period
  • All students return to campus
Green
  • No COVID-19 cases within our Breck community
  • Strong adherence to Breck safety protocols
  • Area schools, businesses begin phased reopening
  • Hennepin County experiences 10-19 positive COVID cases per 10,000 over a 14-day period
  • Majority of students return to campus for full-time instruction and activities
     

Yellow

 

  • Possible cases/confirmed exposure of COVID-19 within our community
  • Inconsistent or unknown implementation of recommended campus safety protocols
  • Hennepin County experiences 20-29 positive COVID cases per 10,000 over a 14-day period
  • Students engage in a hybrid learning model
Orange
  • Multiple confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in our community
  • Inconsistent implementation of recommended campus safety protocols
  • Hennepin County experiences 30-49 positive COVID cases per 10,000 over a 14-day period
  • Students engage in distance and/or on-campus learning in a hybrid model
Red
  • Multiple confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in our community
  • Governor has issued a stay-at-home order or otherwise closed all schools.
  • Hennepin County experiences 50 positive COVID cases per 10,000 over a 14-day period
  • All-school distance learning
Understanding that we cannot mitigate every risk, we are working hard to create our school community to be as low risk as possible. Students, families, faculty, and staff will need to both assume a level of risk of their own and partner with Breck to proactively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their families and homes.

Reducing Risk

A clear understanding of the risk level of our shared environment and our structured response to these risks can provide an increased sense of confidence and calm as we return to educational and work activities over the coming year. Our school environment is considered “medium” risk for exposure to COVID-19 based on authoritative criteria from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).  Our goal is to use a hierarchy of control measures to further reduce that risk as far as possible so that our shared environment truly becomes a “low” risk environment where people can feel safe and focus on learning and growth. This hierarchy of controls includes:

  • Engineering - i.e., building use and ventilation, facility maintenance, and repairs
  • Administrative - i.e., reduced class sizes, decreased time in common spaces, and a commitment to physical distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment - i.e., wearing of masks, screening, reduced sharing of supplies

Our Compliance Planning Team is composed of working groups focused on meeting the following goals and objectives:

  • Plan and implement strategies for physical distancing and reducing density. This includes, but is not limited to, maximizing usable space, facility zoning (e.g., one-way hallways), facility modifications/layout, and maximizing ventilation
  • Plan and implement wellness, health safety, screening and preventative hygiene measures. These measures include increased health staffing, sick bay, screening procedures, building ingress/egress, PPE, hand washing, preventative hygiene, etc.
  • Plan and implement cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting protocols in compliance with CDC and MDH guidelines and in consultation with public health experts. Different protocols for different scenarios will be applicable (e.g., if a positive case is reported in a classroom).

Health and Wellness

In order to welcome students back to campus during Breck Summer Programs and again this fall for the start of the academic year, we've made a number of changes to our health and wellness policies. For information relating to Breck Summer Programs, visit their website here. Below are highlights for the start of the academic year. It is not all encompassing and will continue to be updated throughout the summer. For even more information, visit our COVID Handbook below.

COVID Handbook

Healthy Community

Healthy Classrooms

Healthy Building

Healthy Programs and Activities

How you can help

As we shared above, the partnership between the school and our families is critical to keeping our community healthy and safe. Here is how you can help at home:

  • Monitor your child for symptoms. 
  • Encourage frequent hand washing and healthy hand washing techniques.
  • Avoid large-group gatherings outside of the Breck community.
  • Continue regular well-child visits to your pediatrician or healthcare provider.
  • Practice wearing a face-covering during family outings and activities in public.
  • Monitor your child's mental health by providing space to ask questions and talk freely about COVID-19 and other concerns.
  • Connect with our Student Support Team. Our counselors, school nurse, and chaplains are available to help and support students.