January Reopening Plan for Sparhawk Upper School

Yvonne Domings

Dear Grade 8-12 Parents & Students ,

We are hopeful to be able to begin welcoming our 8th grade students back to campus on Tuesday, January 19 and students in grades 9-12 back on the 26th. As you know from our previous communications, flexibility during the time of Covid is important. We will continue to strive to give you as much notice as possible for any changes. Thank you for your continued trust and patience this year. 

We continue to be committed to putting the health and well-being of our community as the highest priority. Our HVAC system was brought to the highest standards in multiple ways, we have a strict cleaning protocol, and we will continue to strictly enforce mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing protocols (details below). 

From our opening this fall, we learned about many challenges of running a school and working with adolescents during a global pandemic. Developmentally, adolescents need and benefit from increasing levels of independence. During a pandemic, this means nearly constant adult monitoring. The hybrid model we have planned for the near term allows students to work on and maintain their independence while being monitored and reminded to comply with health and safety protocols during transitions.

Many of our students are tired of being housebound, while at the same time some are also anxious about going back out into the world and resuming previous routines and activities. We have seen that many of our students are feeling concerned, yet feeling socially isolated. We believe that the hybrid model along with seeing our insistence on health and safety measures will allow some of our students who are anxious about returning to in-person learning to dip their toe into the water before jumping in for an entire week. As we roll out the hybrid groups, students will be notified by their advisors next week.

As you know, Sparhawk is deeply committed to experiential, hands-on, minds-on learning. As you have seen, our remote program is great, but we do even better when students are present. I urge you to send your child back to school in person (except when necessary to be remote due to health and safety reasons). All of our full-time staff will be teaching in person, on campus when we return. We have hired a new student-life coordinator and will begin building back some remote community events in which we hope all students will take part. Therefore, we ask that all of our students attend school in person whenever possible.

Things to know and remember:

Hybrid model:

  • Students in 8th grade will attend in-person school Monday through Thursday.
  • Students in grades 9-12 will be assigned to attend school in pods--A or B. You and your child will be notified early next week in which pod they are scheduled.
  • Each pod will attend school for two days a week. Pod A will attend on Monday and Tuesday and Pod B will attend school on Wednesday and Thursday. We will be remote on Friday as was detailed in the previous email from the administration.
  • Parents of students who need a 4-day, in-person schedule should reach out to me immediately so that we can accommodate your request for an exception.

Remote policies:

We are changing our remote policy for the spring semester. Please review these policies:

  • Students will not be allowed to learn remotely "at will," The only exceptions are
    • they are ill (or a family member is ill)
    • they are required to quarantine
    • there is a school-wide remote day.
  • If your child needs to be remote for the day, you must notify the school by 7 am and include the reason for remaining remote. This notification is vitally important so that we know where students are in the event of an emergency. Therefore, if you do not notify us, your child will be marked absent.
  • Because we value the in-person experience for academic and social and emotional reasons, we strongly urge you to send your child to school in person when they are scheduled to be in school (with exceptions as listed above).
  • If your child needs to be remote for more than a day, you will need to file a plan of your intentions with the school by logging in and filling out the form on Home Base and provide the reason for remaining remote. 

Drop off: 

  • In order to help us keep drop off efficient, please be sure to fill out the Daily Home Health Screening by 7:15am each day. We will be sending text reminders to all parents daily to help everyone remember to do this.
  • We will continue with the same procedure for drop off as we used in the fall. 

    • Vehicles enter our campus by Noel Street and wait until they receive  the OK signal from the adult for students to exit their vehicle.
    • High School Students will be dropped off near the High School entrance on the far left of the building.
    • Please make sure your child is ready to exit the vehicle promptly when they receive the signal to do so.
    • Vehicles exit via Main Street by Family Dollar.


  • If your child is ill for any reason, please keep them home and notify the school by 7 am as outlined above. 
  • Please notify us immediately if your child or a family member has symptoms of or contracts Covid, or has been exposed to someone who has contracted Covid. This information is vital to the health and safety of our community and our ability to do contract tracing. You and your child's identifying information will be kept confidential.
  • Freshman, Sophomore seminars and College Readiness are personal development for-credit courses that are required for graduation. All students, whether attending school in person or remote, are required to attend these classes and will be given credit on a pass/fail basis.

Health and Safety:

  • All students are required to wear masks while on campus unless otherwise directed by an adult.
  • Gaiters, bandanas and neck coverings are not acceptable.
  • Masks must cover the nose and mouth at all times.
  • Masks should be changed and washed daily.
  • Dress code policies apply to mask design (may not be provocative, offensive, or distracting to others).
  • Students should bring a backpack or duffle bag large enough to hold their personal items, lunch, clothing and books as locker breaks will be confined to the beginning, end and middle of the day.
  • Only Sparhawk students and staff are allowed in the building. 
  • Students are not allowed to leave campus once they enter in the morning and until they leave campus in the afternoon. Family Dollar or the Hollow Cafe are not part of the Sparhawk School campus. 

  • Only students whose parents have completed the Daily Home Health Screening that day may enter the building.
  • The Daily Home Health Screen form has been changed to include a question about travel outside of the state of Massachusetts. We are required to have all students abide the Travel Order of the state of Massachusetts. If students travel, please notify us and follow quarantine requirements.

Failure to follow protocols:

We love your children and do not want anyone to get sick. I'm proud to say that most of our students acclimated to the rules and protocols of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing and needed few reminders. 

In the event that students do not follow social distancing and other protocols (page 8-9), they will be required to learn remotely. In order to keep everyone safe, we have a zero-tolerance policy for lack of adherence to the protocols. The following are the steps that will be taken with students who do not follow the protocols: 

  • 1st offense: student will be given a verbal reminder.
  • 2nd offense: student will be required to spend 1-day learning remotely (and parent will be notified).
  • 3rd offense: student will be sent home and required to learn remotely for one week.
  • 4th offense: student will be sent home and required to learn remotely for the rest of the semester. 


  • We are now a nut-free and peanut-free school. Please be sure your child's snacks or lunch don't contain tree nuts or peanuts or products that contain these items. Pleaseread the labels to help everyone stay healthy and safe.
  • Students must bring a snack and lunch to school in a container to keep it warm or cold. They will not have access to refrigerators, microwaves or toaster ovens this year.
  • Students may not have food delivered to the school. 


  • All students should be picked up between 3:10 and 3:30pm every day. 
  • Students may not leave campus once they enter the campus in the morning until they are dismissed in the afternoon. Our campus does not include Family Dollar or the Hollow Cafe. 
  • The campus will be closed at 3:30 for break down and cleaning.
  • Students are required to leave campus by 3:30pm every day. We are unable to provide supervision after 3:30pm.
  • Students who are dismissed early may not re-enter the campus or buidling until the next school day.

The above is a summary list of the big things to remember. For additional information, please refer to The Upper School Plan for School Year 2020/2021. There is also a summary of the information on our website under 2020 plan. This page is a quick reference for information such as schedule and FAQs. Please reach out if you have any questions. 

We are looking forward to seeing your children again!