Reopening Plan for SY20-21

Message from Administration:

Faculty and staff at Henry Barnard School have always put the health, safety, and social-emotional well-being of our community members at the forefront. Now, more than ever, as we work to support each other in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this focus on health, safety, and well-being is critical.

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Vision and Guiding Principles for Re-opening

Henry Barnard School is committed to continually researching and adopting only the best academic and social-emotional strategies in the profession so each Henry Barnard student can succeed in an inclusive, supportive and creative learning community. This year, a safe return to school necessitates that we broaden our focus to continually researching and adopting the best physical distancing, cleaning, ventilation, screening, COVID prevention, and illness response strategies.

To support all stakeholders in reopening schools, Henry Barnard School will follow five guiding principles for the planning, decision-making, and execution of returning to school.

Hopes and Aspirations

Based on RIDE's and RI-DOH’s June guidance, every effort is being made to get students back to in-person learning across Rhode Island, but plans must allow for HBS to pivot to a virtual learning model if necessary. In both in-person and distance-learning settings, HBS aspires to adopt the optimal academic and social-emotional strategies in the profession. In part, achieving this means renewing our commitment to listening and reflecting on feedback (click here and here to view spring survey data) and continuing to grow our professional practice. In either scenario, HBS remains committed to the belief that each student can succeed given an inclusive, supportive, and creative learning community.

How the Plan Was Built

In response to the uncertainty and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean Dingus-Eason, HBS administration, Nurse Sara Blessing, School Psychologist Julie Richardson, HBS faculty representatives, and members of the RIC administration have worked collaboratively to ensure that all reopening plans follow guidelines from the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and recommendations from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RI-DOH). The team has consulted with our school physician, Rhode Island College professors with related expertise, and local childcare programs that have remained open over the summer. The input of HBS parents and families through survey data on June 18th, June 30th, (resent July 7th) and July 21st has been very valuable. As faculty, staff, students, and families prepare for school opening on September 14th, HBS will continue to follow recommendations from RIDE, Governor Gina Raimondo, and RI-DOH, and will update the plan accordingly.

The landscape of COVID-19 in Rhode Island is changing daily. Updates have been made to this plan throughout the school year by the HBS COVID-19 team, which includes: Linda Colvin, HBS school nurse; Sarah Hess, HBS Interim Principal; and Julie Richardson, HBS school psychologist. The team meets weekly and posts updates, as necessary, on this website. Please refer to "Recent Updates."

The Need to Be Flexible

HBS would like to emphasize that RIDE and RI-DOH will offer final guidance on whether it is safe to open for full in-person learning or which of the alternate routes Rhode Island students will take. Such a decision will be made before the start of school in September and will be continually reevaluated based upon COVID-19 community outbreak rates and in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak within the immediate school population. HBS will assume the responsibility of communicating such decisions to the HBS community as soon as the information becomes available. Therefore, the HBS community will need to be agile and flexible throughout the upcoming year. Know that Henry Barnard’s reopening plans detail options for a full, in-person return for all students; partial in-person learning; limited in-person learning; and full distance e-learning for all students, so Henry Barnard is prepared for each of those options. Nurse Blessing will be working closely with RI-DOH and will request guidance on any potential exposure within the school community. You can expect to receive frequent updates from HBS interim principal Sarah Hess, Nurse Sara Blessing (Health), and Julie Richardson (Social-Emotional).

Terms and Definitions

To ensure clarity, please reference the following definitions for terms used in this document. Henry Barnard's small class sizes allow for students to learn in-person in two of RIDE's models, which will differ from many nearby schools. Remote learning will be required in RIDE's limited-in person and full-remote models. RIDE will determine which format HBS and other Rhode Island schools use. Health and safety will drive all decision making, and we will support families in making each scenario successful.

Full In-person or Partial In-Person

  • All students resume in-person unless they elect to learn virtually.

  • Physical distancing, cleaning, ventilation, screening, COVID prevention, and illness response strategies employed.

  • Stable pods will not exceed 30 and most pods will be defined as grade level groups. (Preschool pod size is calculated differently. Please see "Preschool" page for relevant details.)

  • Specials and lunches will take place within the classroom or outdoors.

  • Explorations will be open for after-school programming, with limits.

  • Please visit the Instruction, Health and Safety, Social Emotional, Reopening Operations, and HBS Families tabs for a fuller picture of the in-person learning.

Limited in-person or Full Remote

  • HBS students will learn remotely through the Virtual Learning Academy.

  • Synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities will be offered using Google Classroom as a school-wide platform and Zoom for live lessons.

  • Remote instruction has been revised based on experience and feedback to include more live (synchronous) instruction, a single platform school-wide (Google Classroom), and a shared daily schedule school-wide.

  • Please visit the Instruction, Social Emotional, and HBS Families tabs for a fuller picture of the Virtual Learning Academy.


Stable group of 30 or fewer people, including adults and children, who stay together for most or all of the school day in order to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.

Distance Learning

Distance learning refers to any curriculum, materials, and teaching that occurs during the school day but not in the school building. This can include physical materials, online materials, and digital platforms. Distance learning curriculum and activities will continue to meet the expectations of grade-level standards, including multilingual learners and those who are differently-abled.

We will support you!

HBS is prepared to provide learning experiences in any of the learning formats. Please see Instruction, Health and Safety, Social Emotional, HBS Families, and Reopening Operations for more information.

Plan Overview

Henry Barnard’s in-person model includes keeping students together in stable groups or pods. This means that students will be with the same classmates and in the same space throughout the school day. Classrooms have been redesigned to enable physical distancing. Masks are expected in most circumstances. Specialist teachers (art, physical education, music, technology education, Spanish, and library), will be assigned to grade levels each day and specials lessons will be taught within the regular classroom or outdoors.

Key Points

  • Teachers and students are encouraged to get outside when possible.

  • Recess will take place each day. Recess areas will be dedicated to specific pods or scheduled to avoid pods overlapping.

  • Schedules will be created for any bathroom shared by multiple pods and movement in the hallways will be minimal.

  • Lunches will be delivered to classrooms each day.

  • Our housekeeping staff will follow set schedules to clean each bathroom multiple times each day, to wipe down all touch-points (door handles, light switches, etc.) and to help clean tables in classrooms. They will also be on-hand to offer additional cleaning assistance if needed.

  • Students and staff will physically distance themselves as much as possible.

  • Desks and seating will be spaced at least 6 feet apart when attainable; otherwise, they will be spaced to greatest extent possible.

  • Students and staff will stay at least 6 feet apart when feasible. Stable groups will remain at least 14 feet apart from other stable groups.

  • Face protection will be expected for staff/faculty and students, unless there is a medical condition that makes this unsafe for an individual. Mask-free times include snack, recess, when outdoors and 6 feet from others, and during outdoor P.E. (*Pending updated guidance from RIDE regarding mask-wearing at recess and P.E.)

  • Hand washing and use of hand sanitizer will be expected to occur multiple times throughout the day.

  • Cleaning practices will be increased and employed daily and as needed.

Calling the HBS community a community is more than a figure of speech. Henry Barnard relies on families and community members to partner with us in educating your children. In the 2020-2021 school year, HBS will lean on parents more than ever to help maintain a safe school environment for all students. Please jump to HBS Families to learn about how you can help.

HBS faculty and staff are looking forward to being back in the classrooms. Although we will be reinforcing physical distancing, it is our goal to continue to promote socialization and play within daily interactions.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 19). Considerations for Schools. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from

Rhode Island Department of Education. (2020, June 19). Back to School RI: Health and Safety Guidance to Reopen Rhode Island’s Elementary and Secondary Schools [PDF]. Providence, RI: RIDE.

Rhode Island Department of Education. (2021, Jan. 21). Outbreak Response Protocols PK-12. [PDF]. Providence, RI: RIDE.

Rhode Island Department of Education. (2020, July 10). Back to School RI: Reopening Frequently Asked Questions SY20-21 [PDF]. Providence, RI: RIDE.

RI School Health Playbook:

State of Rhode Island. (2020, July 16). Child Care and Youth Activities. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from

State of Rhode Island: Department of Health. (2020, July 13). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved July 20, 2020, from