Be Happy. Be Together. Be BRIGHT!
Dear Bright School Community,
I am very excited about the start of the upcoming school year. I am eager to see our students and faculty back on campus. I have spent much of my first month here meeting one-on-one with our faculty and staff, and I have been impressed with their level of dedication, preparation, and enthusiasm for educating your children in light of the challenges that we have all faced over the last year.
The pandemic has been very difficult for families and educators, and we are all hoping it will end soon. Unfortunately, there is an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County largely due to the prevalence of the highly contagious Delta variant. In the best interest of all of our school community members, we believe it is imperative for the school to follow the most recent guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Hamilton County Department of Health.
Therefore, starting today, masks will be mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors while indoors, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. Masks are not required during outdoor activities. As educators, we know the value of verbal and facial communication, and we are disappointed to return to masking. However, the overarching goal is to remain at school for in-person learning, and we believe masking is the safest way to open school at this time. Once the school year is underway, we will continue to evaluate the number of cases and changing health guidelines so that we can lift the mask requirement when it is safe to do so.
As noted in last week’s Woodshop, we do intend to offer several activities that were not available last year. For instance, parents will be allowed inside the building, wearing masks, and we do intend to have several activities outdoors that will not require masks. Parents may join their children at lunch for their birthdays. We were not able to do this last year. We hope parents will enjoy this special time together.
Quarantines will still be required when a student or unvaccinated adult tests positive or is a close contact of a positive case, and we will follow similar protocols in notifying families. We will use the Ascend online survey that families must complete daily. Visitors must sign in at the main lobby.
In the spring, the school partnered with Access Pharmacy and other local independent schools to offer vaccinations for our faculty and staff. We encourage everyone over the age of 12 to be vaccinated. When the vaccine is approved for children ages 11 and under, we will advise parents to consult their child’s pediatrician about being immunized.
For some of you, this is not news you wanted to hear. For others, this is welcome news. Managing these differing opinions is difficult for a school, but in the end, it is the health and safety of our children, faculty, and staff that matter most. Thank you to the many parents who have reached out over the summer to discuss our policies. I look forward to meeting all of you in person.
Head of School
August 2, 2021
The following guidelines and processes will be followed in response to COVID-19, as recommended by public health experts such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as well as federal, state and local health officials. This is a “living” document that may be updated at any time by The Bright School given the fluidity of this situation.
Ascend: Daily Online Health Survey
All students and staff must complete the daily COVID-19 questionnaire for symptoms and temperatures checks via the Ascend system. Ascend’s online system asks health questions, including a current temperature, and helps people determine next steps if they are not well. All of the information in the system is kept secure and complies with the American Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The only information the school shares with Base Camp Health is student name, family name, and email addresses. Students, faculty and staff who are ill will be required to remain at home. A child should not be sent to school after taking fever-reducing medication. This is an important partnership with parents, and we will rely on families to help us all stay safe.
If a student has a temperature of 100.4 F or above, he/she should stay home. If your child has a fever of 100.4 or above while at school, the school nurse will contact the child's parents or guardians to pick up the child. The child should not return to school until the temperature has been normal without fever reducing medication for a minimum of 48 hours.
If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms you should notify the school nurse and keep your child at home. A student who presents at school with any of the following symptoms should report directly to the school nurse to be evaluated. The nurse will contact the child’s parents/guardians to be picked up from school. Parents should contact their child's primary care doctor to discuss whether a COVID-19 test is required. A test also may be necessary for any siblings currently enrolled at Bright. These symptoms include:
- Fever (less than 100.4 F)
- Uncontrolled cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Or two or more of these symptoms: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea
The school encourages faculty and staff to be vaccinated and recognizes this is the best line of defense against COVID-19.
The school nurse maintains a list of faculty and staff who have been vaccinated for the sole purpose of coordinating quarantine protocols in the event of a positive case or close contact. This information will otherwise be kept confidential, and the school will not disclose individual vaccination status to students, parents, faculty, staff, and other members of the school community.
When the vaccine is approved for ages 11 and under, the school will advise parents to contact their pediatrician for guidance about having their children vaccinated.
Each child is required to wear a face covering at all times indoors. Fabric face coverings must have two layers, and gaiters must be folded over to create two layers. Bandanas are not allowed. Disposable masks are permissable. Please make sure fabric face coverings are clean each day.
Face coverings should not have any words other than Bright School or the school logo. Face coverings may be any color or any design. Please no face coverings from other schools. Read these CDC guidelines when choosing a face covering for your child.
Students are required to bring two face coverings to school to keep in case extras are needed. You may provide face coverings of your choice from any store. Please label all face coverings!
All adults, including teachers and staff, are required to wear face coverings inside the school.
Face coverings do not have to be worn outdoors.
Testing Positive for COVID-19
Any student, faculty or staff member, or family member of a student, faculty or staff member who receives a positive COVID-19 test must report these findings to Bright School by notifying the school nurse on the same day of results and upload the information to the Ascend online program. The person should continue to complete the Ascend survey every morning even during quarantine.
Currently, the school is accepting any COVID-19 test, including rapid tests, based on guidance from the Tennessee Department of Health and the health professionals on our COVID-19 task force. If you plan to seek a test for your child for any reason, please contact Nurse Rachel Sarvela in advance at [email protected]. You will need to keep your child at home while you wait for results, and your child needs to be symptom-free for 24 hours and fever-free for 48 hours without medication before returning after a negative test.
If a parent or other household contact of a student has been tested due to a potential exposure or illness with COVID-19 symptoms, please keep your child at home as a precaution until you receive negative test results. If the test is a requirement for work/school or another reason not related to an exposure or symptoms, your child may come to school while you await results.
The school will notify local health officials of any case of COVID-19 and communicate to the school community any quarantine or potential closure of school, campus or building. The identity of any individual diagnosed with COVID-19 will not be disclosed within applicable guidelines. The area where a positive COVID-19 has been present will be closed off to be cleaned and disinfected based on CDC and OSHA guidelines.
Individuals who test positive are quarantined at home for a minimum of 14 days, according to Hamilton County Health Department guidelines. If a household contact is able to isolate from the positive case in the home, they may begin their quarantine the day after the last exposure. Household contacts that cannot be isolated from the individual will begin their quarantine once the positive case's isolation period is complete.
Close contacts not living in the home, such as a student identified as a close contact to a positive classmate or teacher, must follow local quarantine guidelines beginning the day after the last date of exposure.
A quarantine can be reduced to 10 days if the following criteria is met:
No symptoms present during the entire quarantine period.
Negative test on fifth day or after. Please send test information to Nurse Rachel Sarvela.
Information sent from the school notifying parents that a child is a close contact will include details about the dates of quarantine and how to reduce the quarantine period with testing.
How Does Vaccination Affect Quarantine?
Individuals who have received their COVID-19 vaccines do not have to quarantine if they present no symptoms after being exposed to a positive case. You must send proof of vaccination to nurse Rachel Gentry. If a vaccinated person develops symptoms, he/she must complete a full 14-day quarantine and follow the fever policy and symptom policy before returning to school.
Unvaccinated people must follow the quarantine guidelines whether they present symptoms or not. Faculty and staff who are unvaccinated and are exposed to a positive case outside the classroom must quarantine at home, and a substitute teacher will be hired to teach the class.
After a student, teacher or staff member tests positive and is symptomatic, that person may return to school by meeting both of these requirements:
- be at least 10 days since the first symptoms appeared
- be symptom-free for 24 hours (or 48 hours for a fever) without medication
If a person tests positive and is asymptomatic, he or she can return 10 days from a positive test.
Testing Negative for COVID-19
If a student, faculty or staff member receives a negative test and presents no symptoms, that person may return to school after submitting the results to Ascend and contacting the school nurse.
If a test comes back negative, but the person is still showing symptoms, the fever policy must be followed for a fever (48 hours fever-free), and other symptoms must subside for at least 24 hours without medication.
COVID-19 Task Force
The task force meets to discuss policies and procedures to help promote the health and safety of our school community. These policies and guidelines will be updated and amended as needed throughout the year.
- Betsey Kates, Board of Trustees chair and parent
- Philip Byrum '85, trustee and alumnus
- Dr. Kathleen Hunt, former trustee and former parent
- Dr. Jay Sizemore, infectious disease specialist and alumnus
- Kristin Watts, head of school
- Renee' Kropff, assistant head of school
- Kendra Reasor, assistant head of school
- Rachel Sarvela, school nurse and secretary
- Elizabeth Davis '86, director of marketing and communications and alumna
Visitors, including parents, are allowed inside the building to attend scheduled meetings and events. No drop-ins are allowed. Visitors should report to the main entrance at the columns. Please put on your mask before entering the building.
The receptionist will assist visitors as they complete a brief health screening and sign in online.
If you are picking up your child for a doctor or dentist appointment or other reason, please contact your child's teacher and receptionist Elizabeth Jackson in advance by emailing her at [email protected]. She will arrange to have your child leave his/her classroom at the appropriate time to be ready to be picked up in the lobby.
If your child is tardy, please come to the main entrance to sign in. Make sure you have completed your child's Ascend survey in advance. If your child is in an early childhood grade (JPK, PK or K), sign in and then drive your child to the ECC building entrance. Mrs. Jackson will call your child's teacher, and the teacher or assistant will meet you at the ECC door.
Classes and Activities
The academics and offerings of the school have not changed. Students attend all regular classes during the day, and parents may sign up for additional after school activities such as Bright Afternoons, after school classes, sports and Cadek music lessons. Fourth and fifth grade hand bells are offered in the mornings, and Bright School Choir is open to third, fourth and fifth graders on Friday mornings.
Field trips will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.
Grade-level plays are planned for this year.
Large events such as the Thanksgiving and Christmas programs will be evaluated in advance.
School begins at 8 a.m., but we encourage parents to drop off students at 7:45 a.m. to allow them time to prepare for the day. Early drop off begins at 7:15 a.m. Grades 1-5 go to the theater, and grades JPK-K go to the library. Students are considered tardy at 8:05 a.m.
Lunch and Birthdays
Lunch will be delivered to the Early Childhood Center building for PK and kindergarten. Grades 1-5 will go to the dining hall to pick up lunches. For now, students will be eating outdoors with their classes or in the classrooms. We hope to allow students to eat in the dining hall when it is safe to do so.
Parents may join their children for lunch on their birthdays. Parents may bring party favors (toys or trinkets) for the class, but outside food or candy of any kind is not allowed. Please enjoy this special event by spending time with your child during his or her lunch period. If you plan to come for lunch, please contact your child's teacher in advance to let her or him know you are planning to come and if you are bringing party favors. Teachers may prefer to hand out the favors at dismissal.
One day each month will be a celebration of birthdays with cake for all students, and special arrangements will be made for food allergies. Head of School Kristin Watts will visit with each child on his or her birthday in the classroom.
If Learning Continues at Home
If your child is quarantined at home, distance learning will be provided. Please allow teachers one to two days to organize materials and communicate plans with parents.
Project-based Learning materials and supplies will be delivered electronically or taken home. We will utilize Zoom with live teaching mini-lessons followed by small group collaboration and reflection sessions to check for understanding and mastery. Consideration will be need to be given to families with multiple children for scheduling of live sessions.
There will be weekly agendas with goals and essential questions. Social and emotional learning will be an essential component of the distance learning curriculum.
Students in grades K-2 are equipped with iPads, and students in grades 3-5 have Chromebooks that are used during the regular school day. These would be used at home to provide a seamless transition between school and home learning during a quarantine.