2020-21 School Reopening Plans


Reopening Decision Framework

We look forward to partnering with families to create the best school year possible for GMS students. We know that any plan will be a compromise -- yet we are so excited to welcome back all grades under our In-Person Learning Model after Spring Break. 

Decision Framework

The Girls’ Middle School is complying with all guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health, Santa Clara County Public Health, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education as it relates to the safe reopening of schools and businesses. GMS is meeting, and frequently exceeding, all requirements and recommendations for a safe school reopening.

Our goals are:

  • Prioritizing the health and safety of students and staff

  • Maximizing learning for each GMS student

  • Building and sustaining a strong learning community with a GMS spirit

  • Supporting faculty in delivering the best possible learning experience in a challenging time

Our own decision framework includes the following criteria:

  • Santa Clara County in the Red Tier (or lower) of the State of California’s “Blueprint” for two weeks
  • San Mateo County in the Red Tier (or lower) of the State’s “Blueprint,” since many of our students and staff live in San Mateo County
  • Air quality forecast to be significantly below an AQI of 100, since our plan relies on outdoor learning spaces and bringing outdoor air into the building
  • Enough lead time to put final touches on building readiness, implement new policies, communicate detailed policies with families, and comply with latest county directives 
  • Enough lead time for faculty to adjust their curriculum plans
  • At least two weeks’ notice for families 

Reopening Decision Framework FAQ

Facilities Updates

In response to COVID-19 and in an effort to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, and community, we have made the following modifications to the facility. 

  • We have equipped every indoor classroom space on campus with new technology to facilitate synchronous learning between students on campus and students at home to allow for maximum flexibility in academic options.

  • All classrooms have been set up to adhere to CDC and California Department of Public Health guidelines requiring that students be no less than three feet apart in classroom settings. 
  • Students will be provided clear, portable protection barriers. Teacher desks have been equipped with clear plastic panels.
  • We have reconfigured our use of the building in order to maximize physical distancing.

  • We have equipped eight outdoor learning spaces that allow multiple opportunities for outside learning. Teachers envision using these spaces for discussions and writing time. Outdoor learning spaces include canopies with side panels, similar to a party tent.

  • Touchless hand sanitizing stations have been installed in every classroom, at every entrance, and at other locations throughout the building.

  • Multiple outdoor hand washing stations have been installed on the Turf to facilitate handwashing at arrival, throughout the day, and at dismissal.
  • Foot traffic flow into and out of the classrooms has been carefully prescribed. Most hallways are one-way with clear signage. 
  • As always, our HVAC system has been set to maximize fresh air flow with the best possible filtration for our existing system. It has been equipped with MERV 13 and carbon filters. Rear facing doors will remain open to increase air flow. 

  • Each classroom has a commercial grade HEPA air filtration unit that provides four complete air changes per hour. 
  • Our water bottle refilling stations have been replaced with touchless ones. Students are encouraged to bring enough drinking water for their time on campus.

Many additional modifications to the campus and protocols are being made in an effort to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Facilities Updates FAQ

Teaching and Learning Models

Teaching and Learning Models

These are the broad teaching and learning models that provide a roadmap for the school year as we continue to respond to the current pandemic. At this time, GMS is making final preparations to bring all students back to campus for four full days of in-person instruction per week after Spring Break. 

Remote Learning: In this model, students learn from home, with classes presented through live video conferencing, recorded videos, and Google Classroom assignments.

Cohort Day Model: As a careful step up from Remote Learning, in November, we opened in the Cohort Day Model, which invited students from each grade level on campus one morning per week for in-person learning. On those days, students were in a cohort of 8 to 9 students with one teacher. With only one grade-level on campus, interacting with one teacher (in most cases their Cohort Guide), and the ability to spend much of the time in the outdoor spaces we set up, this was our most cautious and conservative option for any in-person learning.

Grade Level Rotation Model: In this model, each grade level of students has one week of on-campus learning, followed by two weeks of remote learning. Students remain in their small, stable cohorts, with teachers rotating between groups of students throughout the day and the week. We will follow the current remote learning schedule, with classes from 8:20 am to 3:20 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesdays, everyone is at home for mostly independent work. This model has the advantage that students see all of their teachers during the in-person time and are on campus for full school days. From a health and safety point of view, the 2-week break between weeks of in-person learning allows quarantine time in case of an exposure.

In-Person Learning: The new guidance for 3-foot spacing between students in classrooms allows us to have students in their regular class configurations of 16-18 students, rather than their smaller cohort groups. Students will be in one grouping for Humanities, Computer Science, Art, Science, and SEL, and a different grouping for Math, Spanish, and PE. Students will mostly stay in one classroom while teachers rotate; classes will also have the option to move to our outdoor spaces. Students will not have passing periods where they are in the hallways. 

The schedule for classes will be similar to our current one, though times will shift as we create a staggered lunch schedule. Wednesdays are a vital planning day for teachers and will continue to be a mostly asynchronous day, with one grade level coming on campus each week for the Wednesday classes and activities. 

We will also continue to provide the option of remote learning through the end of the school year, with students at home joining through Zoom.

Our Teaching and Learning Goals

For over twenty years, The Girls’ Middle School has offered students an education dedicated to our core values of innovative, progressive education, diversity and equity, social and emotional learning, and hands-on, project-based learning. We love our emphasis on learning in community. Global events have led us to stretch our skills. In response to extended school closures and physical distancing requirements, we are leaning into the challenges of teaching and learning remotely. After a steep learning curve in the spring of 2020, our summer and fall have focused on developing plans that would allow us to bring the GMS experience to our students remotely and to move between learning models as needed nimbly.  

Our goals for our Remote and In-Person learners are to:

  • Provide structure and predictability, both because these are comforting in times of stress and help students focus and learn.

  • Provide as much connection as possible by using synchronous learning each day so students can see their teachers and set times when teachers are available to students in real-time (by chat, email, video, etc.)

  • Provide student collaboration where appropriate.

  • Preserve the GMS spirit as we continue to learn together!

Please refer to the GMS Remote Learning Handbook for more information about remote learning expectations.

Sample Schedules

As we transition to the In-Person Learning Model, daily class schedules will largely stay the same, with some slight modification to overall timing to allow for staggered lunch periods. Students will follow the same schedule whether they are learning from home or campus. Students are already familiar with accessing their schedules via their Cohort Dashboards. We will publish revised sample schedules in early April.

Sample Sixth Grade Schedule

Sample Seventh Grade Schedule

Sample Eighth Grade Schedule

Teaching and Learning Models FAQ

Personal Health and Safety Protocols

In response to COVID-19 and in an effort to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, and community, we are implementing the following policies and protocols for the phased reopening of the GMS campus, with guidance from the California Department of Public Health and Santa Clara County Public Health. This information is subject to change, as official guidelines are revised often. 

The decision to reopen and welcome students back to campus is being made made in accordance with state and county public health officials. 

  • Masks covering both nose and mouth are required on campus at all times for students, faculty, and staff, as well as for any vendors or volunteers.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained in classrooms, outdoors, and as much as possible in hallways and restrooms.
  • Students will wash their hands at the beginning and end of school, before and after recess and lunch, and will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer regularly. 
  • Parents will be expected to take their child's temperature, and complete a symptom and exposure screening via the Magnus Health mobile application every day prior to arriving at school.
  • Teachers and staff will do the same screening each day they come to campus.
  • Students, faculty, and staff who are on campus will be tested for COVID-19 on a regular cadence as suggested by state and county public health officials.
  • GMS is limiting the number of vendors, volunteers, and non-essential staff on campus. Parent volunteers must provide evidence of a negative COVID test before entering campus.
  • Drop off and pick up procedures have been carefully orchestrated to maintain physical distancing. 
  • To avoid congregating in the hallways, students will not be using lockers. Instead, they will be storing materials in an assigned classroom. Students will be informed ahead of time which supplies to bring to campus.
  • Learning materials that are typically shared, such as art supplies and math manipulatives, are being provided by the school to each student are and available in their bin. 

Personal Health and Safety Protocols FAQ

COVID Testing for Students

GMS is excited to begin offering weekly on-site COVID testing for faculty, staff, and students, with the first testing event on February 17, 2021. Students will be required to have a negative PCR test result on record before coming to campus for in-person instruction. The FAQ below answers many of the questions we anticipate parents asking about this on-site testing program. Please note that additional links for registering for and scheduling testing are available behind the password protection of the GMS Family Portal.


State and County Documentation