Middle School 2020

In the hybrid model, the goal is to provide the best learning environment for students in the safest way possible, in accordance with the DA’s Roadmap for a Return to Campus and Guiding Principles. DA’s priorities for Middle School students while on campus are:

  • Ensuring health and safety protocols while students and teachers are on campus.
  • Establishing and building important student-teacher connections and creating supportive learning communities.
  • Providing opportunities for students to build relationships with their peers.
  • Developing student agency and independence so that they can work independently and successfully at home.

After a two-week orientation period, the Middle School’s hybrid model divides students into two rotating groups, each one named for one of the crossroads of our beautiful campus: the Academy group and the University group. Each week, each group will have two days of on-campus instruction and two days of remote instruction. On five-day weeks, the fifth day is either for remote work or, for some students, half-day activities that focus on social-emotional learning….and fun! Reducing the daily on-campus student population to 50% allows DA to implement safety protocols and social distancing throughout the school day. 

This weekly schedule is designed to be used in both hybrid or Durham E-cademy scenarios. Also, all academic programming is designed to be accessible from home or on campus, allowing for easy transition between these two instructional models. This will also accommodate the needs of students and families who may choose to or need to access remote instruction for a portion of or the entire academic year. 

Students will be enrolled in our regular slate of academic classes. We will reduce the time we spend in PE and arts classes and alter those learning experiences to accommodate safety protocols. 

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.

Middle 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. 19 Back to School Information Session with Michael-Ulku Steiner and Kristen Klein 
  • Aug. 20 Middle School Parent Orientation Night 

  • 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

Orientation Weeks

The first two weeks of school will follow a different schedule than the rest of the year. In these pre-Labor Day weeks,  we  will welcome different groupings of students to campus each week to maximize this opportunity to build community.

On-Campus Student Orientation (Week of Aug. 24)

This week will focus on establishing relationships between students, their advisors and their advisory group. We will also train students on health and safety protocols and use of technology. Students new to the Middle School and new to DA will be introduced to the Middle School campus, faculty and routines first, followed by returning students.

Monday, Aug. 24

Fifth-Graders: 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.
Students New to DA in Grade 6: 8:30a.m.–10 a.m.
Students New to DA in Grade 7: 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Students New to DA in Grade 8: 2:30–4 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 25

Grades 5 & 6: 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m..

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Grades 7 & 8: 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 27

Grades 5 & 6: 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 28

Grades 7 & 8: 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

On-Campus Student Orientation (Week of Aug. 31)

This week will focus on practicing the on-campus rotational schedule and establishing class routines. Students will be divided into the two groups that they will remain in throughout the academic year. 

Monday, 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

Academy Group On Campus 
University Group Online

Tuesday, 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

University Group On Campus
Academy Group Online

Wednesday, 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

Academy Group On Campus 
University Group Online

Thursday, 8:15 a.m.–3 p.m.

University Group On Campus
Academy Group Online

Friday Fun Day

On-campus activities, Grades 7 & 8: 8:15–11 a.m.
On-campus activities, Grades 5 & 6: 12:15–3 p.m.

Academic Year Schedule (Begins Sept. 8)

During a four-day academic week, students will be on campus two days and will be remote learning for two days. On weeks when there are five school days, Friday will be a “flex day.” On “flex days” two grade levels of Middle School students will learn remotely. The other two grade levels will engage in a half-day of on-campus activities that focus on fun and social emotional learning, including advisory activities, fine arts and PE, club experiences, community engagement and community meetings. Groups will alternate weeks for Friday on-campus “flex day” activities.

A Typical Five-Day Week Schedule:

Friday on-campus groups alternate weeks.

In a four-day week, the flex day drops. This rotation stays intact but shifts to fill the remaining four days, maintaining the alternating pattern between Academy and University groups.

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.

The Middle School program is designed to be accessible to students whether they are in-person or remote. Daily and weekly schedules are designed to be predictable and consistent so that students know when classes are happening regardless of whether the student is on campus or learning remotely. 

During the start-of-year orientation, students and teachers will learn the specific ways we will use online platforms to facilitate learning. Through those platforms (mostly Google Classroom), teachers will design lessons that will deliver content virtually. The exchange of materials (student submission, delivery of feedback) will be facilitated online. Students participating in on-campus instruction will experience the in-person exchange that has always been at the heart of sound instruction. Students who are learning remotely will still participate in that exchange, facilitated by Microsoft Teams and other technology platforms. While it is not possible for that digital exchange to be equivalent to the relationships that will develop if in-person, we will provide a robust learning experience.

Because both our schedule and academic program are designed this way, students who are remote will be able to complete academic tasks, participate in group work, converse with teachers and peers regarding feedback and remain on the same learning schedule as students who are able to be present on campus.

Arrival Times and Locations

Students will arrive on campus in two shifts, one at 7:45 a.m. and one at 8 a.m. Families will drop off in specific campus locations. Groups and locations will be shared on Aug. 10.

Dismissal Times and Locations

Dismissal will take place in shifts with pick-up at specific locations. Groups and locations will be shared on Aug. 10.

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

Physical Distancing

The Middle School is carefully planning ways to keep students safe on campus following the most current guidance from medical experts. Per the school’s guidelines, we will require all “students and faculty to wear masks at all times indoors (except when eating or drinking in a socially-distanced way), and outdoors in situations where social distancing is not possible”. We will further clarify that policy for our campus by saying: “masks at all times outside except planned, supervised, distanced activity”. That makes it clear that masks are expected on our outdoor sidewalks and during free times. 


Arranged to provide six feet of distance between students, making most classrooms appropriate for 10-12 students. 


Specific protocols to direct foot traffic to ensure appropriate distance. Teachers will oversee students during times between classes and break times to reinforce safety behaviors.

After School

Middle School enrichments will be online only, and registration opens Aug. 10. 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.


Fall teams will have voluntary pre-season training sessions from Aug. 3–21 (coaches will email team schedules). To sign up for a fall sport, fill out this Google form no later than July 26 to be added to the team’s email list. Durham Academy will not participate in any sports competitions prior to Sept. 1. All tryouts for fall sports will be held no earlier than the first day of school, Aug. 24.  

All student-athletes must have a valid up-to-date physical on file and complete the COVID-19 waiver through Veracross (click on “Sign Policies” under “My Household”) prior to participating. 

More information about fall athletics


  • All Middle School students new to DA and all fifth-graders will receive a school-issued iPad the week of Aug. 24 (returning students in grades 6–8 already have a school-issued iPad).
  • Students will receive in-person and online instruction about appropriate iPad use and care, and efficiency in using remote learning platforms.
  • Every student iPad will be configured with appropriate security controls (e.g. to prevent downloading of inappropriate apps).
  • We will offer parent information sessions about our school/parent partnership regarding technology. We will announce dates for these sessions on Aug. 10.


  • Google Classroom (accessing assignments/submitting classwork)
  • Veracross (student/family database)
  • Microsoft Teams (synchronous meetings/instruction)
  • Microsoft Outlook (email)