2020-21 School Reopening Plans

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 -- we all wish we could resume school as usual, fully present and in-person -- but we know that is not likely to be the reality. 

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 

2020-21 School Year and Reopening Plans 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 are equipping 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 Santa Clara County guidelines requiring that students stay six-feet apart. Teacher desks have been equipped with clear plastic panels to safely allow for closer student-teacher interactions. 

  • We have converted our art studio, woodshop, and gym into standard classrooms, adding four additional learning areas in order to maximize physical distancing.

  • We have added six outdoor learning spaces that allow every cohort the opportunity 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.

  • Four 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. Weather permitting, rear facing doors will remain open to increase air flow. 

  • Additional air filtration units are being installed in each indoor classroom.
  • 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

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 plans to reopen for in-person instruction during the month of November under the Cohort Day Model. 

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: A careful step up from Remote Learning, the Cohort Day Model invites students on campus one morning per week for in-person learning. On that day students will be 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 are setting up, this is a more conservative option than Hybrid Learning. 

Grade Level Rotation Model: In this model, each grade level of students will have one week of on-campus learning, followed by two weeks of remote learning. Students will remain in their small, stable cohorts, with teachers rotating between groups of students throughout the day and the week. Nominally we will follow the current remote learning schedule, where students have classes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with everyone at home on Wednesdays for more independent work. Students would be tested in the days leading up to their assigned week of on-campus learning. 

In-Person Learning: Students come to school each day and follow a more or less normal academic schedule. There would likely be restrictions on the size of gatherings and travel.


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 focused on developing plans that would allow us to bring the GMS experience to our students remotely and to nimbly move between learning models as needed.  

Our goals for Remote Learning are to:

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

  • Provide as much connection as possible by using synchronous learning each day so students can see their teachers, and by having 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

When we transition to the Cohort-Day Model or Hybrid Learning, new personalized schedules will be made available to students via their Cohort Dashboards, and families will be provided with sample schedules. Below are examples of the Cohort Day Model, which will begin November 2, 2020.

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 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 will be made in accordance with state and county public health officials. 

  • Masks covering both nose and mouth will be required on campus at all times for students, faculty, and staff.
  • 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 and will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer regularly. 
  • Parents will be expected to take their child's temperature, test their child’s sense of smell, and complete a health screening via the Magnus Health mobile application every day prior to arriving at school. Teachers and staff will do the same health screening each day they come to campus.
  • Faculty and staff who are on campus will be tested for COVID-19 regularly, and at least once during the three weeks of the Cohort Model in November.
  • Visitors, volunteers, and non-essential staff will not be allowed on campus on days students are present. This includes parents. 
  • 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 material in their assigned cohort classroom. Students will be informed ahead of time which supplies to bring to campus for their morning of instruction under the Cohort Day Model, and their plastic bins may travel to and from school once GMS shifts to an ongoing Hybrid Learning model.
  • 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