2020-2021 School Year Reopening Plans and Covid-19 Safety Procedures

Updated May 11, 2021

Planning Committees, Process, and Scenarios

Reopening Committee: To prepare for various contingencies for fall, ISB formed a Reopening Committee, composed of Senior Administrators, Trustees, staff and faculty members, and parents in our community with medical, legal and design expertise.

The Crisis Management Planning: A group of administrators representing the Business, Technology, Communications, Health, Facilities, and Auxiliary Programs Offices, have been meeting weekly to discuss the logistics of ISB’s reopening.

Program and Academics: The Division Directors along with the school’s Academic Coordinators have been meeting regularly to discuss the academic aspects of the reopening, creating hybrid and distance learning schedules, and learning plans.

Social-Emotional and Wellness: A committee of faculty, administrators, school counselors, and school psychologist has been formed to support wellness and social-emotional health for students, staff, and faculty.

Cohort System & Social Distancing

ISB created student and teacher cohort systems in order to ensure that the least possible number of individuals are in contact with each other. In the Preschool (Pre-K 3-Kindergarten) and Lower School (1st-5th Grade), each cohort consists of a single language track with their associated main teachers. For example, our Spanish 1st Grade consists of the students in that class, their Spanish Teacher, their Spanish Assistant Teacher, and their English Teacher. The creation of this cohort system in Kindergarten-8th Grade reduces the number of individuals in contact with each other. Under the new 3-ft distancing guidance in schools, ISB is able to have all students on campus. If the distancing requirements were to change, ISB is prepared to implement our hybrid learning model that we followed from September 2020-April 2021. 


Preschool and Lower School Specialist teachers (Art, Music, Library, and Science) who teach their subjects to multiple cohorts, will primarily teach these classes either synchronously via Zoom or outdoors to reduce extended contact and cross-contamination between cohorts. Physical Education will be taught entirely outdoors.


In the Middle School, due to the larger number of subjects and teachers that students have, the cohorts are larger. The 6th and 7th Grades will constitute one cohort, and 8th Grade will constitute its own cohort. During their time in school, students will be taught in groups that respect the 6-ft social distancing requirements (group sizes will be mostly in the 6 to 12 student range, although one of the repurposed Middle School rooms will allow a group of at least 20 students). There may occasionally be times when classes may be divided into two with the lead teacher in one room (leading class) and an assistant teacher in an additional room.


Common Areas, Nurse’s Office, Visitors, Gatherings, Lunch and Snack

The Library, Staff Lounge, Cafeteria and other common areas will be closed for community use. Faculty and staff will be encouraged to eat in their classrooms or in the front courtyard. The yard will be used for small group recess and occasional outdoor classes weather permitting.

Arrival and Dismissal Procedures, School Day Hours, and Attendance

Pre-K 3 & Pre-K 4: 9:00am-2:45pm

Kindergarten: 8:25am-3:00pm

1st & 2nd Grade: 8:25am-3:15pm

3rd, 4th, & 5th Grade: 8:40am-3:30pm

6th, 7th, & 8th Grade: 8:15am-3:15pm

The building will be open every day from 8:00am-4:00pm. The building will close promptly at 4:00pm every day for enhanced cleaning and sanitization.

Program, Academics, and Social-Emotional Support

Distance Learning Enhancements and Language Learning Support
During the last period of Distance Learning, ISB staff and families rapidly adapted to a very new situation. The program that was put into place was tweaked and changed as we all learned about what worked and what didn’t. The lessons learned from this experience will be put into action during our next phase, in particular the need to reduce the number of digital platforms that parents are expected to use, clearer sets of instructions for students and families, and an increase in synchronous instruction for students in the younger years (K-2). More details will be sent to families when schedules are finalized.

Several teachers attended the NYSAIS Flexible Classroom three day conference to improve on their distance learning practice. Division Directors attended the One Schoolhouse leadership course for online learning.

In addition, as part of our Hybrid Model, ISB is hiring assistant teachers for all of the Lower School classes that did not previously have an associated assistant teacher (2nd-5th Grade), with the exception of Spanish 5th Grade, as that class does not need to be split into two groups because of its size. The new assistant teachers will primarily help in the classrooms during the in-school periods, and during the distance learning portion, they will help during lessons and provide extra language support for the students who need it. Some Middle School classes will also have assistant teachers.


Live Streaming Model: Remote Option for Families
In order to accommodate children who are unable to attend school physically due to health or other concerns, parts of the in-school portion of instruction will be live streamed. This will enable these students to access key parts of our in-school instruction. These students will also be sent digital packets of key worksheets, book references, etc. Families who need this accommodation for their child must make an appointment with the Head of School to discuss their individual situation.

Health, Hygiene, and Safety

Face Coverings and PPE
Masks or face coverings will be required for all staff members and students in 2nd Grade and up at all times, except for students who are unable to tolerate a face covering for medical reasons. Families with students in Pre-K 3-1st Grade may choose for their child to wear a face covering in class, however, face coverings will be mandatory for all students and staff when they are moving in between classrooms, going to and from restrooms, in common spaces, and when entering and leaving the building, and in other areas where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. All Staff and Faculty must wear face coverings at all times that they are around students or other staff members or adults in the building. Staff and families are encouraged to bring in their own face coverings, but there will be a supply of single-use masks at school for those who need them. We are also investigating the use of alternate PPE (face coverings that are transparent around the mouth) for faculty members to use for the purpose of language acquisition instruction, which requires visualization of the movement of the mouth. 

The school day schedule will build in time for face covering breaks both for students and staff where they can socially distance, especially outside. Acceptable face coverings include but are not limited to cloth-based face masks and surgical masks that cover both the mouth and nose. Face masks should be washed, disinfected, or replaced after each day’s use and must not be shared. Students and families should take responsibility for maintaining their individual face coverings. The CDC provides guidance on its website for additional information on cloth face coverings and other types of PPE, as well as instructions on use and cleaning.

Gloves will be provided for students and staff to wear when necessary, i.e. when staff are assisting students with their lunches. Facilities and Nursing staff will wear full PPE when performing deep cleaning or managing students in isolation. Pre-K 3 and 4 Faculty will be provided with covering for their clothes while working with the students. Should it be necessary, they will change the covering and place the dirty covering in a plastic bag to be laundered.

All students and staff will receive training on the proper wearing of face coverings and other PPE, including how to properly put on, take off, clean (as necessary) and discard PPE. Faculty and staff will provide one-on-one assistance to students who have difficulties adapting to wearing a face covering.

To encourage students, faculty, staff, and visitors to the school to adhere to CDC/DOH guidance regarding the use of face coverings whenever a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained, signs will be hung up throughout the campus. All who are entering the building will also be reminded at Reception or at the other entrances that face coverings are required on campus for all adults and students in 2nd Grade and up.

Facilities, Cleaning, and Sanitization

The School will follow all CDC/NYSDOH guidelines on proper cleaning and sanitization of the School premises. 

  • All water fountains will be used only as water bottle refill stations. Students and staff are highly encouraged to bring in and use their own water bottle.
  • Classroom rugs will be replaced with small mats that are able to be wiped down daily. Excess classroom furniture will be temporarily removed.
  • There will be no shared supplies. Each student will have their own supply box provided by the school. Sharing of manipulatives in Preschool will be very limited with disinfection occurring between each use.
  • Each cohort will have their own set of recess toys that will be used for their class only.
  • Toys used in Preschool will be disinfected daily.
  • ISB’s facilities staff will be expanded to perform these extra cleaning duties.

COVID-19 Outbreak Monitoring, Possible School Closure, and Communications Procedures

ISB is prepared for possible interruptions to on-campus learning, in the event that New York City experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases or in the event that a cohort needs to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. In that case, a shift to full Distance Learning will happen immediately for the necessary groups. ISB will follow State and City guidelines on school closures should there be an increase in cases in the state. Our new distance learning schedules, specifically created with the needs of each age group in mind, will enable a more seamless transition between in-person instruction and a distance learning model.


ISB has trained several administrators, through John Hopkins University,  to be Contact Tacers. In the event of a positive COVID-19 case at ISB, This Contact Tracing Team, in conjunction with the School Nurse will begin comprehensive contact tracing within the community and notify all affected parties. The cohort(s) that the positive case is in will begin distance learning immediately for a minimum of 10 days as required by the quarantine period.

If a single COVID-19 case is identified at school, the immediate response will include closing off areas or classes where individuals were infected and engaging in a process of deep cleaning and disinfection either in the affected area(s) and high traffic common spaces, or the entire school, as determined in consultation with DOH guidelines or conversations with the ISB’s local DOH contact.

In the event that the number of infected individuals reaches 3% of ISB’s student and staff population, the whole school will switch to distance learning for the length of the required quarantine period.