Shady Hill 2020-2021

Shady Hill is committed to providing a safe, authentic, challenging, mission-driven educational experience for our students despite the complexities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the health and safety of our community at the center of our action plans, 2020-2021 will call on us to be flexible, innovative, and quick to action as we navigate uncertainties. 

Outlined below are our guiding principles and tactical plans to ensure we can provide the highest quality program possible in a manner that keeps our students and community healthy and safe.


We have created multiple opening scenarios (on-campus, hybrid, remote). Health experts have suggested a slow and gradual transition back to school is safest. Given current health metrics and local transmission rates, we plan for on-campus learning for the Lower School and a transition from remote to hybrid to on-campus learning for the Middle School. This decision will allow for a smooth and safe return to campus, including enough time for faculty training and for students to practice good safety habits in a lower density setting. The graphics below highlight our plans for the first seven weeks of school.

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For the coming year, we will be placing students into smaller Gradehead sections with one Gradehead and one support person. With social distance and required mask wearing recommendations, each grade will have four sections with the exception of Grade 7 which will have 5 sections. Department classes will be held either via Zoom for both online and on-campus students, or in outdoor tents if appropriate. Most grades have both online and on-campus learners and every classroom with the exception of Beginners has Swivl cameras to enable our online students to more fully participate in the life of the classroom. 

Over the summer, faculty were provided opportunities for professional development on remote learning, social emotional learning, All Kinds of Minds, and equity and inclusion, while also engaging in trauma sensitive teacher training to help them best support the emotional needs of our students. In addition, all department teams and grade level teams completed three days of collaborative planning for hybrid learning. 

We will continue to broaden our social emotional learning and curriculum. We have welcomed new Middle School Counselor, Jamila Wilson allowing Lower School Psychologist Mark Steward to focus his time exclusively in B-4. In the fall, TOAD (Talks On Adolescent Development) will add technology-specific classes for online learning and digital wellness.

All students in grades 1-8 will have 1-1 technology provided for them. We have increased our internet connection bandwidth to support outdoor spaces and have upgraded mobile device management software to allow for updates to both on and off campus computers and iPads.

Interscholastic athletics have been cancelled for the fall. Students in all grades will participate in physical education as part of the academic day. 

We have made numerous improvements to campus over the summer to conform with current health and safety guidelines. We have repurposed buildings and spaces to create 42 separate gradehead classrooms. We have redesigned all classrooms to ensure six-foot separation of students, and in most rooms have purchased new furniture to accommodate social distancing. We have arranged for six outdoor tents which will be utilized for department classes and other purposes.

Ventilation and air quality improvements are being made in all classroom spaces. In rooms with ducted HVAC systems, sub-micron filtration pads are being installed to provide added filtration in excess of the recommended standard for schools. For buildings without HVAC systems, we are installing Novaerus 900 portable air disinfection units in addition to the fresh air intake units already in place. Buildings without HVAC systems all have an abundance of operable windows for fresh air and the Novaerus units are being added as an enhancement.

Along with the changes mentioned above, we have also:

  • Installed hand sanitizing stations in each classroom and outside bathrooms.
  • Ordered plexiglass partitions for teacher and apprentice desks. 
  • Ordered portable handwashing stations to be placed throughout campus.
  • Procured foldable three-panel desk shields for students to use during lunch and mask breaks.
  • Made all bathrooms single use (one occupant at a time).
  • Procured an individual storage bin for each student to store items during the day.
  • Removed and stored upholstered and shared use items.
  • Preserved two teaching spaces to be used as swing space if a pod needs to be moved during the day due to a suspected COVID-19 case.
  • Replaced drinking fountains with water bottle fillers.
  • Procured 6 foot spacers (pool noodles) to be used as visual markers for social distancing around campus.

Keeping our students, employees, and families healthy is paramount in our planning. School leadership carefully reviews guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as well as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and numerous other leading health and education experts. The School’s Health & Safety Advisory Committee, comprised of senior administrators and outside medical experts, reviews local health metrics regularly to advise on potential changes to our program.

All students and employees will be required to wear masks while on campus. Students are expected to bring their own masks and for added safety, the School will provide face shields for all students and faculty.

Masks should have at least 2 layers of fabric and be comfortable for kids to wear for most of the day. Nurse Emi suggests bringing in a couple of masks and trying them on before school starts to make sure they will work. No gaiters or bandanas, please. See the Health & Safety FAQ section below to learn more about face masks. 

Student desks will orient in one direction with their teacher facing them and separated by plastic shielding. Mask breaks and mask-free zones will be established to allow students periodic opportunities to interact at social distance without masks. 

We have procured large quantities of cleaning supplies in accordance with CDC guidelines and have established daily cleaning protocols for classrooms. High touch areas such as playground grab bars will be cleaned multiple times per day. We have updated our medical facilities to include three health services areas plus an isolation room in the event students or employees exhibit COVID-19 symptoms while at school.

All families and employees will use a new mobile app, SchoolPass, to report daily wellness screenings. See chart at right for protocols if a community member presents with illness.

Relationships are central to who we are at Shady Hill. Forming and maintaining bonds between students, faculty, and parents will be challenging but essential in the coming year. For students, meetings that require different sections to interact, such as Lower and Middle School Assembly, student board, affinity groups, gatherings, and partners will continue virtually. Parents and guardians will continue to meet and form connections online via the reimagination of many of our regularly scheduled events. In addition to the overview provided below, Lower School Psychologist Mark Steward will continue to hold his weekly parent coffees online. 

While our school community centers on our children, we are also a place for adults to form connections and forge long-term bonds. Traditionally, parents and guardians have been invited to campus during the school day for assemblies, at drop-off and pick-up, and for educational and social events. This fall, we will continue to foster our adult community, but virtually. Below are welcome letters from three volunteer groups central to the life of the School as well as a fall calendar of virtual events for the adults in our community. 

• Welcome from Parents Council
• Welcome from DASH
• Welcome from Shady Hill Fund Co-Chairs

Teaching and Learning

List of 7 frequently asked questions.


List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • • When does the school day begin and end?

    Grade I–VIII Arrival: Classrooms open daily at 7:50 AM. 
    Grade I–VIII Dismissal
    • MTTF: 3:00 PM for bus/bike/walk; 3:15 PM for carlines 
    • W: 12:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 12:15 PM for carlines
    • M - F 12:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 12:15 PM for carlines
    • Beginners Extended Day: 3:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 3:15 PM for carlines  
    • M - 12:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 12:15 PM for carlines + Extended Day (3:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 3:15 PM for carlines)
    • T - 3:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 3:15 PM for carlines 
    • W - 12:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 12:15 PM for carlines
    • Th - 3:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 3:15 PM for carlines 
    • F - 12:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 12:15 PM for carlines + Extended Day (3:00 PM for bus/bike/walk and 3:15 PM for carlines)  
  • • Will the on-campus and remote weeks follow the same daily schedule?

    The schedule will be the same whether in person or at home, with only minor changes to classes that are synchronous/asynchronous.
  • • Are B&K Extended Day and Afterschool available?

    An Extended Day program running from noon to 3:15 PM will be available to all B&K students. Numbers will be limited, and we will be giving priority to families unable to get to Shady Hill by the noon dismissal. Afterschool is available to families of essential workers, and students are being registered on a case-by-case basis. For more information about Extended Day and Afterschool, contact Director of Auxiliary Programs Mike Evans.
  • • When will school-bus service start in September? 

    Bus Coordinator Jake Nunes writes:
    Due to the fact that middle schoolers are not coming to campus during the week of September 14-18, combined with the overall lower numbers of bus riders this year, we have decided not to run the buses that week. We realize this will cause some inconvenience for some families, but running buses with two or four students doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.  Accordingly, monthly bus fees will start being assessed on the 21st. 
    I am still waiting for a final decision about the bus from a handful of parents. Once I have those, I will be sending emails with seat assignments and information about bus stop locations and pick up and drop off times.

Daily Life

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

Health and Safety

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

June 2020 Fall Plan

617.520.5260        178 Coolidge Hill    Cambridge MA 02138