Mustangs (re)Unite

From the Head of School

August 31, 2020

Dear Breck Families,

Welcome back to Breck!

One of the most common hallmarks of teaching is that we — educators — have a hard time sleeping the night before the first day of school. Never has this been more true than in this year. Much has been said about the trials and tribulations of 2020. The beauty of education is that we have the privilege of affirming our purpose and feeling hope through the eyes of our students. Educators see the good that can be born from the experiences of 2020. 

This year, the administrators, faculty and staff at Breck lost sleep on the eve of a new school year because we went through a litany of to-do’s that we toiled over throughout the summer. Will everyone remember a mask? Is everyone in place for all of the new drop-off procedures? Are the cameras and computers prepped and ready for students joining online? Will lunch go smoothly? Will students go to the right spots during off periods? Each division has its own list of logistical worries.

And still, there are even more substantive questions that toss around our heads as we think about welcoming our students. Are they scared? Will they be emotionally prepared for all of the new-ness that awaits? What questions will they have about George Floyd? Jacob Blake? Perhaps our youngest students will be sad that on top of everything that has happened this summer, their favorite superhero just passed away. Perhaps our middle and upper schoolers are coming expecting to see change in our school. How are we really doing better when it comes to being a more just and equitable school? It’s fair to say that our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students will have higher expectations for our school, and they should. It’s also fair to say that those students who represent the majority of our culture will have questions of their own. And, that is what we ask. We ask that we reunite with curiosity over certainty, with openness rather than blaming or shaming, with relationships rather than assumptions. 

I know this is true - we are taking mitigated risks to be together because our common purpose is the growth, learning, and development of every single Breck student. We believe that being together helps us develop the deep and lasting personal relationships that are needed to press our students through the discomfort that comes with real learning. So, your loving faculty and staff at Breck has had some sleepless nights as we welcome back our students. Our butterflies aren’t dissimilar to the ones our preschoolers are feeling as they meet their friends and teachers for the very first time in their lives - full of hope and nerves, excitement and apprehension.

We thank you for sharing your children with us. My wish for our community is that this year be filled with grace and progress toward achieving our mission.

Warmly,

Natalia Rico Hernández, Ed.D.
Head of School

What's New on this Page:

October 7:

  • Ventilation and airflow

We are Listening 

We hear you! We started our design process with 40 1:1 interviews and 20 open listening sessions.
We will hold additional listening sessions later this summer. For now, you can share your ideas via our suggestion/question box.

Feedback Themes

Throughout distance learning and since the creation of the design and compliance team, we've collected feedback through surveys and interviews with our students, parents, faculty, and staff. 

Themes

Our 2020-2021 Academic Year

Our Mustangs (re)Unite plan is centered around community and support, deeper learning, and real-world application of knowledge. We are building on the best of Breck as we generalize excellence, design for flexibility, and reimagine the Breck experience. 

Our current model

We will begin the year in a hybrid model for the start of the academic year. This decision was based on current information and community spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota, transmission rates of children ages 0-18, health and safety practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, as well as educational research for students preschool through grade 12. We are pleased that this plan also aligns with the Safe Learning Plan released July 30 by Governor Walz. Our hybrid model allows for fewer students on campus in order to maintain proper social social distancing, reduced class sizes, and increased attention to student and family needs.

Throughout this model, we will have all Lower School students on campus daily. Lower School students will be in cohorts of nine students or fewer with one teacher in the classroom guiding instruction. Specialist instruction like music, PE, art, and world language are all still important elements in their daily schedules.

Middle School and Upper School will be split into Blue and Gold Cohorts for our hybrid learning model. 

  • Students with last names beginning with A-La will be in the Blue Cohort
  • Students with last names beginning with Le-Z will be in Gold Cohort
  • Wednesday attendance will alternate based on grade levels in MS/US

Calendar and Schedules

Student Weekly Schedules

Lower School on campus 100%; Middle and Upper School in hybrid. Click on the graphic (above) for more information and a larger view of the schedule.

Semester 1 Calendar

In this schedule for the fall, we have prioritized five-day weeks in order to have all student cohorts to be on campus as regularly as possible. Read more by clicking on the title of photo.

Frequently Asked Questions

Other 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
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
Our current zone
 

  • 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.