The Return to Campus Coordinating Committee

The New Committee and Their Decisions for the School Year

It’s been 179 days since Parker last held in-person classes. The Return to Campus Coordinating Committee (RCCC) is a new sub-committee of the Parker Board of Trustees that was created after the school shifted into emergency online learning due to COVID-19 concerns. The RCCC comprises five sub-committees. 

The first of the five subcommittees is the Communications Committee which is tasked with keeping the Parker community informed with the evolving return-to-school policies. The second sub-committee is the Education Committee. The Education Committee was created to “talk about the daily learning experiences and educational and social experiences for students,” Middle and Upper School Director of Studies and member of the Education subcommittee of the RCCC, Sven Carlsson said. They also discussed “for teachers what would teaching look like in its various forms. If we were doing in-person, hybrid, online,” Carlsson said.

  The third subcommittee is the Finances and Facilities Committee which is tasked with designating funds for changes throughout the school, making funds available to purchase PPE, and managing the school’s entrance and exit plans for the upcoming school year. This committee also works to manage the school’s facilities during this school year.

The fourth sub-committee is the Human Resources/Legal Committee for which the “key area of focus was on employee policies and procedures that are impacted by federal and state pandemic-related legislation.” Elizabeth Samuels, a member of the HR/Legal sub-committee, and chair of the Board’s Audit Committee said. According to Samuels, “another area of focus was on Parker’s employees and ensuring they were supported during this uncertain time. We needed to ensure the school was following employment laws and had the necessary processes in place.” 

The final subcommittee is the Medical Committee which reviews the coronavirus cases and death numbers, creates sanitizing protocols for inside the school building, and manages the process of creating pods for students who will be in school and limiting their exposure to other students. In addition to the aforementioned responsibilities, the sub-committee also deals with many other medical safety concerns that need to be addressed to help get students back on campus. 

These sub-committees are “charged with developing plans for when and how students might return to school,” according to an email from Rika Yoshida, Board Chair, and a co-chair of the RCCC. Along with Yoshida, the co-chairs of the sub-committee are Principal Dan Frank ’74 and Chief Financial Officer Bob Haugh. The co-chairs of the RCCC meet weekly to weigh all of the opinions from the different sub-committee members and to create plans for the school’s eventual return to 330 W. Webster. 

One of the decisions that the RCCC made was announced to the Parker community on July 10 via an email sent by Frank. This email announced that “Parker will open school on campus for all students, five days a week, within the scope of normal school hours for the 2020-21 academic year.” Although Frank stated that all students would be on campus five days a week, he announced in another email on July 31 that, “although Parker would strongly prefer to have all JK-12 students back on campus five days a week, we must plan with an abundance of caution and cannot begin the year with Upper School on campus but instead with remote learning.” Attached to the email were plans for the upcoming school year that the RCCC developed.  

This committee provides a perspective to the administration that is not often represented in the decision-making process at other schools

— Max Keller

In addition to the RCCC, the Upper School Council was created to seek student perspectives on the school’s return to campus plans. This council is composed of 18 Upper School students, along with nine Upper School faculty members and chaired by Head of the Upper School, Justin Brandon. The Upper School Council met four times during the summer to discuss different aspects of plans for the upcoming school year. “This committee provides a perspective to the administration that is not often represented in the decision-making process at other schools,” Max Keller, a sophomore and member of the Upper School Council said.

Although school can’t start as it has in years past, Carlsson is optimistic that all students will have the option of returning to campus by the end of the school year. 

“The whole goal is to have teaching and learning that is really vibrant, that’s progressive and meaningful,” Carlsson said. “Another priority goal is we like being together because we’re not a virtual school. We weren’t before COVID-19, we won’t be after COVID-19, we are an in-person school, and we like being a community together. I think it’s a question of as soon as we can safely be together we’ll be together.”