Lower School 2020

In the hybrid model, the goal is try to safely provide on-campus instruction for all Lower School students. DA’s priorities for Lower School students while on campus are:

  • Building connections and creating warm and supportive learning communities.
  • Ensuring health and safety protocols while students and teachers are on campus.
  • Developing student agency and independence so that they can work independently and successfully at home when necessary.
  • Teaching students the skills and strategies they need to be capable and curious thinkers, readers and lifelong learners.

*DA’s ability to offer hybrid educational experiences hinges on the willingness of the DA community to come together in support of our collective health and safety. Prior to orientation, families will be required to electronically sign the DA Community Health Compact and COVID-19 Addendum to the All-School Handbook, which outline DA’s health and safety protocols designed to protect the DA community. If families have not indicated their agreement by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21, their children will not be permitted to attend on-campus activities or events.

Lower School Back to School 2020–2021

Important Dates

  • Aug. 4 Extended Day information sessions 
  • Aug. 5 Back to School Information Session with Michael-Ulku Steiner and Kristen Klein
  • Aug. 10 Back to School Update
  • Aug. 10 Registration opens for Extended Day and online enrichments
  • Aug. 18 Lower School Parent Orientation Night

  • Aug. 19 Back to School Information Session with Michael-Ulku Steiner and Kristen Klein 
  • Aug. 21 Deadline to sign DA Community Health Compact and DA COVID-19 Addendum to All-School Handbook, return any medical, immunization or and athletics forms
  • Aug. 24 First day of DA Hybrid

Student Orientation (Weeks of Aug. 24 and 31)

Exclamation Mark Team

Aug. 24–27

Question Mark Team

Aug. 31–Sept. 3

Students will have a four-day orientation on campus in two separate groups — the Exclamation Mark Team and the Question Mark Team — based on The Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which students and teachers will read together at the start of the school year. This sweet, engaging book explores identity and the importance of leaving one’s mark on the world. The exclamation marks and the question marks will come to campus for orientation on the dates listed. The purpose of student orientation during these weeks is to:

  • Establish student-teacher relationships
  • Provide community-building activities
  • Administer academic assessments
  • Implement health and safety protocol training 

Schedule (Begins Sept. 8)

This schedule will be valid unless there is a school holiday that falls during an on-campus instruction day. In those cases, Fridays will be used as a make-up day for on-campus instruction. Parents will receive a rotational schedule as part of back to school information.

Families who choose to learn remotely for a portion of or the entire school year will receive lessons and activities that students can complete at home, as well as daily synchronous Morning Meetings and a check-in with a teacher.


Includes lessons and activities in:

  • Core subjects of literacy, math, social studies, science
  • Enrichment classes of art, drama, music, PE, Spanish and TED (technology, engineering and design)
  • Social-Emotional Learning and counseling support

*For grades 3 and 4, lead teachers will rotate between both classrooms for core subjects. TA’s and enrichment teachers will monitor independent lessons and work. Enrichment lessons will be pre-recorded for viewing at school or at home. Outdoor spaces will be used to maximize distancing.

Stay-at-Home Students

DA recognizes that there may be students and families who may choose to or need to access remote instruction for a portion of or for the entire academic year. While we do know that many students will be learning at home (some for longer periods by the choice of their families, some for shorter periods due to precautious quarantining, and everyone if we move to fully-virtual Durham E-cademy mode), DA cannot promise a matching experience for at-home learners when we are on campus. DA faculty learned a great deal about online instruction in spring 2020. Every teacher has attended workshops this summer to hone their abilities to teach remotely and to keep at-home learners connected and moving forward.

Grade level teachers will plan core lessons (literacy, math, social studies) the week before for the week ahead. Teachers will post this work online for parents to access for their children who are working from home. Children will have a school-issued iPad to complete their work. Most of this core academic work will be asynchronous and will include books to read, videos to watch and activities / lessons to complete. Students at home will be invited to join their class online at 8:30 a.m. every morning for their class’ Morning Meeting. 

For cohorting reasons, all Lower School enrichment classes (art, drama, music, science, Spanish, and TED) and any all-school events like assemblies will be offered virtually. Students at school will view these lessons or events together at school, and students at home will be able to access these easily on Seesaw.

Keeping up with school work and showing academic growth will be manageable and engaging. The more challenging goal will be to keep our children who are at home as connected as possible to their peers at school. Children at home will need substantial emotional and social support from their teachers and classmates. Lower School Counselor Martha Baker will be available, and teachers will find opportunities for children at home to connect to classmates during lunch or other class meetings.

Arrival Times and Locations

Front entrance

7:50–8:10 a.m. Grades 1 & 3
8:10–8:30 a.m. Pre-k & K 

Library entrance

7:50–8:10 a.m. Grade 4
8:10–8:30 a.m. Grade 2

Dismissal Times and Locations

Front Entrance

1 p.m. Pre-k
2:15 p.m. K
2:30 p.m. Grades 1 & 3

Library Entrance

2:30 p.m. Grades 2 & 4

Families with children in multiple grades can drop off at either time.

*Health screenings will be conducted for all students upon arrival. Students will not be allowed into facilities until health screening is completed. 

*Morning care will not be available. Extended Day will be available until 6 p.m. for a limited number of students. Registration will be available via the Veracross Parent Portal between Aug. 10 and Aug. 21.

Physical Distancing

Grades 1 & 2

  • Class size: 18 students per class
  • Lead teacher and teaching assistant
  • Facilities: 1–2 and 3–4 commons, art studio, Brumley Auditorium, drama room, library, music room

Grades 3 & 4

  • Class size: 2 groups of 8–10 students per class
  • Lead teacher, teaching assistants and enrichment teachers
  • Facilities: Lower School classrooms

After School

Registration for Extended Day will be available through DA’s Veracross Parent Portal from Aug. 10 to 21. Space will be limited for these programs and DA will only be offering an annual-contract, in-person option for Aftercare and Extended Day. Drop-in and part-time contracts will not be available for the 2020–2021 school year. On-campus afterschool programs will be following DA’s health and safety protocols including health screening, temperature checks, mask-wearing, grade-level cohorting in the Preschool and Lower School, frequent handwashing, physical distancing and outdoor activities.

On-campus Extended Day:

Preschool: Monday-Thursday through 5 p.m.  
Lower School: Monday-Thursday through 6 p.m. 

On-campus Pre-k Aftercare: 1 to 2:30 p.m.

After school enrichments will be online only, and registration opens Aug. 10.


  • To support synchronous/asynchronous learning at home, every student will receive a school-issued iPad during orientation week.
  • Students will receive in-person and online instruction about iPad use and care.
  • Every student iPad will be configured with appropriate security controls (e.g. to prevent downloading of inappropriate apps) and web filtering.


  • Veracross (student/family database)
  • Microsoft Teams (synchronous meetings/instruction)
  • Seesaw (asynchronous instruction)