RCS/OMS COVID-19 Update
Rainbow Community School and Omega Middle School have successfully implemented in person programming, for all grades, since the opening of the school year in August. Our recent decision to transition to remote learning for 2 weeks (December 7-18, 2020) ensured compliance with CDC guidelines. Two COVID positive cases, impacting a classroom and administration required that all potential trace contacts quarantine for 14 days. In addition, a week of remote learning (January 5-8, 2021) was previously built into the school calendar to encourage community quarantine before returning from holiday break. In both cases, our decision to move fully remote centered community health and the commitment to prevent community spread in service to a swift and safe return to campus.
To date, no further cases have been identified, and we remain committed to returning to in person learning in January pending information that would require an alternate plan. We are so grateful for your support in keeping our children, families, and staff safe during these difficult times.
Some Common Questions:
Following the recommendations of public health officials, as well as local, state, and federal requirements, and with the absolute priority of safeguarding the health and well-being of our students and staff, Rainbow Community School and Omega Middle School have created a phased operating plan. It is our intention to welcome students and teachers back to campus for On-Campus Learning in August with the most recent inquiry being placed on a Plan B-2 which further restricts our in-person model. In the event that public health guidelines or concerns require a delayed campus opening or campus closures throughout the school year, we will move into Plan C, with considerations for a partially remote or fully remote program for P-2.
What are some of the safety procedures being considered by Rainbow?
Current recommendations from the CDC advise daily health checks for children and staff, regular hand-washing and sanitation procedures, spaces designed for physical distancing, possible face coverings particularly when distancing is not possible, and minimal multiage interaction between students. These are all protocols that we are considering should they remain necessary into the 20-21 school year.
NC schools have been instructed to come up with 3 plans for the 20-21 school year. A level one plan that has minor mitigation strategies, a level two plan that has more extensive mitigation strategies and a level three plan that outlines a remote setting. The administration is consulting guidance from the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction, along with continuing to center our mission in all response planning for COVID-19. The administration hopes to have these plans for public view by about June 26th. Governor Cooper is expected to announce which plan schools should be prepared to use for the opening of the 20-21 school year on July 1st.
What is the policy for unenrolling from Rainbow?
The following outlines the formal policy that outlines the process for release from contract. Please know that the school is dependent on accurate enrollment information in order to build a budget that will serve the community. This policy is designed to help families understand the impact of a change in their commitment to the school while also providing an equitable system to attend to a change in a family’s needs.
Release from contract K-8
- moving from the area too far away to commute
- a serious medical complication that has arisen
- if there has arisen, since the time of signing the contract, an extreme financial setback the parent/parents can document.
- If special support needs are beyond the capacity of RCS to serve.
Will there be a COVID-specific tuition refund policy?
In her role as Executive Director, of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution, Susie Fahrer is in service to our children, families, staff and the school mission. This means she must weigh out every decision through the lens of what is feasible and supportive to these various stakeholders. Currently, she is prioritizing ways to support the families that plan to stay with Rainbow into next year. This included offering Crisis Tuition Funding for current families financially impacted by COVID-19, trying to re-enroll for the 20-21 school year. In addition, funds are being marked for redesigning physical spaces to attend to the latest recommendations for a return to in-person learning including outdoor classrooms, cleaning materials, and any furniture to help with distancing in classroom spaces as developmentally appropriate. The budget will also prioritise keeping our staff employed and sustaining the impacts of Covid-19 and a potential recession that could unfold over the next several months. Over 85% of our budget is paid to teachers and staff, and with so many unknowns I must be cautious. I am sorry I am not able to do more, but I am hopeful that continuing to offer transparency for families will build understanding and resonance.
Will Rainbow emails and the Google Classrooms remain accessible long-term?
We do not anticipate disabling these resources over the long term, not at least without letting our community know. We understand that some students and families have come to rely on the google classroom for social interaction during isolation, and we are aware that this may serve as a resource for some to continue to make contact. We simply ask that interactions remain “school appropriate” and that parents generally monitor these interactions to ensure that is the case.
How does Rainbow's Seven Domains holistic model influence the approach to school the new school year?
“We develop accomplished, confident, and creative learners who are prepared to be compassionate leaders in building a socially just, spiritually connected and environmentally sustainable world.”
Looking ahead, we need to live into our mission with strength and integrity so that our words continue to become reality. Many people are wondering what it looks like to develop accomplished, confident and creative learners in the face of so many unknowns. Fortunately, even with mitigation strategies in place, we center meaningful learning grounded in essential skills and embedded in relevant experiences. Small group instruction is already a common best-practice employed at Rainbow, and this will help ensure distancing is in place when students are engaged in learning. Returning to an in-person approach is an opportunity to model for our students resilience, flexibility, and prioritising our shared community values. We plan to use the outdoor campus extensively for instruction that previously took place inside the classroom walls. Of course, we are planning for a wide variety of circumstances, so along with our focus on various models of in-person learning we are exploring samples of elevated remote learning that use the lessons from initial iteration and apply them to a refined approach. This includes things like stronger integration of specials, strategies to attend to diverse learners and family experiences, and incorporating some options to address the vast array of needs present when we are in isolation.
The second part of our mission in its commitment to foster compassionate leadership in building social justice, spiritual connection, and environmental sustainability feels profoundly necessary in the current climate of our nation. Over the past several years, Rainbow has committed to educating our whole community, not just our children, on the historical inequity that people of color and other marginalized groups have been fighting for years. These past months of isolation and pandemic have brought a new level of suffering to these realities and a continued level of violence that I wish I could protect all people from, and yet the reality is some remain more vulnerable than others. This truth stands as an affirmation to continue our educational obligations and institutional commitments in bringing about social justice and racial equity through teaching, learning, listening, and action. Not just for our children and families, but for the community beyond our doors. I understand my role in embracing spiritual connection as a tool for addressing potential polarity and providing the healing we crave as humans facing hardship. I believe in furthering our commitment to the earth and environmental sustainability, so visible in the movements around the world being championed by our youth. In this instance, and many more, the children are inherently wise and all we need to do is engage them.
Our Plan for Opening the 2020-21 School Year
Please note: we have been operating with the goal of visioning a school that can be open for those in need, with safety at the forefront. While we value stability, we understand that in this ever-changing environment, it is essential that we are willing to shift our approach if that is what is called for. New ideas are always evolving for approaches that may provide a balanced and supportive option should Rainbow feel it is necessary to further restrict our in-person programming.
As of August 2020, we are opening the school year with Plan B-2:
- in-person learning 5 days per week
- full in-person learning PreK – 2
- cohort model for grades 3-8
- 1/2 class attends in person and 1/2 attends remotely, switching weekly
- facial coverings both indoors and outdoors for all staff and students
- outdoor learning classrooms
- extensive sanitation throughout campus
- small class sizes
- no before or after school for K-8
July 10, 2020 – Director’s Kaleidoscope – Campus, reopening, and partnerships
May 31, 2020 – A Message from Susie Fahrer, Rainbow Community Head of School – watch video
April 29, 2020 – RCS Community Circle – a shared, safe space to build understanding within our community as we move forward with remote learning through the end of the school year.
April 19, 2020 – A message to our Rainbow Community from our rising Head of School
March 17, 2020 – Getting Started With Online Learning at Rainbow
March 14, 2020 – School Transition to Remote Learning
March 12, 2020 – Kaleidoscope – Special COVID-19 Edition
March 11, 2020 – COVID-19 Considerations for Travel
March 3, 2020 – COVID-19 Update
We are committed to:
- Closely monitoring the situation and following all recommendations and mandates from local, state, and national health services.
- Being prepared to implement stronger response strategies should they become necessary in the coming weeks and months.
- Revising school field trips and travel plans, as necessary to maintain wellness within our community.
- Delivering education that is consistent with our mission should school closure become mandated or necessary. See our Vision for Online Learning.
RCS School Calendar (subject to change)
- New Family Orientation (online) – Aug. 16, 2020, 4-6 pm
- General All School Orientation (online) – Aug. 19, 2020, 4-6 pm
- K-8 Classroom Orientation (online) – Aug. 24, 2020, 4-6 pm
- Preschool Classroom Orientation (online) – Aug. 25, 2020, 4-6 pm
- Staff work day – Aug. 26th, 2020
- One on one meetings with classroom teachers – Aug. 27th – Aug. 28th
- First day of in-person learning cohort A and K-2 – Aug. 31, 2020
- First day of in-person learning cohort B – Sept. 8, 2020