Plans for Spring at Poly

When Poly returned to in-person school in September, students, faculty, and administrators began a journey together. We made it through months of successful in-school classes at the Lower School and “Outdoor School” in 111 tents on the Dyker Heights campus, and not only survived, but also thrived. Our community’s commitment to safety and agility to pivot and innovative thinking allowed traditions to move forward in new ways.

We enjoyed our annual Winter Concert, Upper School plays, Lower School Festival of Lights, master classes by authors such as Andre Aciman, Poly on Film discussions with Robert Cort ‘64 and Laura Terruso ‘99, and Context speakers Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Tawny Chatmon—all virtually. Our students danced and played jazz on the Malkin Terrace, filmed dramatic performances using the backdrop of our Dyker campus, and played xylophones on the steps of the Lower School. They used their surroundings on the backfields to learn how to measure angles in geometry and studied soil in labs in the greenhouse.

After a monthlong Winter Break, students returned to Poly on January 19 with the youngest students back in their classrooms with teachers, Middle School on campus with their teachers, and Upper School students attending school in their classrooms on the Dyker Heights campus, under the supervision of Classroom Assistants, with faculty teaching remotely. Mary Kinnane ‘22 appreciated the efforts to be back on campus.

Mary Kinnane ’22

“I would say a benefit of going in person is having a routine,” she said. “I love that I can get out of the house and see my friends in a safe and socially distant way. I would say that some teachers have a harder time seeing who is raising their hand in the classroom when participating in class. The benefits absolutely outweigh the disadvantages, and I’m so glad to be back inside safely!”

We’re Doing It. All Students and Faculty are Coming Back to Campus After Spring Break.

In a February 3 All-School Forum, Head of School Audrius Barzdukas P’20 outlined two main goals for the spring: to have 100% of students back in the classrooms and to have teachers back in person with them, all safely. On February 18, Barzdukas announced to faculty our spring reopening plans, saying, “The kids need to be in school. Kids need their teachers to be with them.” This was followed by a Town Hall on February 22 for Middle and Upper School parents. Beginning March 24, our Middle and Upper School teachers will be back on campus for in-person classes. Middle School pods will continue to attend classes in large spaces and classrooms, primarily indoors. Upper School students will attend a combination of indoor and outdoor classes. At the time of the Town Hall, over 75% of our teachers have received the first dose of COVID vaccines with more appointments confirmed each week. The Health Team was working on the addition of double-masking protocols for Upper School students and will continue to require regular on-campus COVID testing for all in-person students.

Our Lower School will continue with in-person classes as they have done successfully since last September. In-person class sizes were made smaller by adding an additional class for each grade. SVO (Simultaneous Virtual Option) families had the opportunity to switch to in-person learning for the final portion of the school year. Lower School requires weekly on-campus COVID testing. Participation in weekly testing is a requirement for all in-person students.

Read about the details of Poly Prep’s COVID-19 testing strategy.

We know school is the safest place for our students to be, not just for learning, but also because COVID fatigue and social isolation are real concerns. “We have done it,” Barzdukas said. Poly has tested 100% of its population every week. Parents sacrifice to drive their children to school and pick them up each day. We have kept to our pods in classes and at home to be safe. And so, our children can go to school on our campuses and be with each other.

Spring at Poly may look different than it has in years past, but providing a safe and healthy learning and social environment for our community remains paramount. We have reimagined what school could be. Our students and faculty prove that every day.