School Reopening 2020-2021

Information for Uncommon families about the upcoming school year, including updates to learning models, and health and safety protocols.

2020-2021 Instructional Model

An overview of our instructional models from the first day of school. Includes sample schedules for remote and hybrid learning.

Read the Overview

What will learning look like for 2020-2021?

To Our Uncommon Families:

Updated April 21, 2021 at 1:21 p.m.

This site will serve as a resource for families for the 2020-2021 school year. We will post information as it becomes available so be sure to bookmark this page for easy access. If you have any questions, please reach out to your school leaders.

Please see below for planned hybrid launch dates by region. You can see an overview of our remote-only and hybrid learning models and sample schedules here.


January 20
All Grades


March 15
All Grades


April 7
All Grades


January 20
All Grades


March 1
All Grades


January 20
All Grades


Family Resources on the COVID-19 Vaccine

The general public is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in all of our regions and across the country. This is an incredible milestone after an unprecedented year. In alignment with the CDC, Uncommon encourages all eligible staff, families and students to get vaccinated to support the health and safety of our communities.

Eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccine by Region

BOSTON People ages 16+ who live, work or study in Massachusetts are now eligible for the vaccine MA Vaccine Finder

Boston Vaccine Information

People ages 16+ who live, work or study in New Jersey are now eligible for the vaccine. NJ Vaccine Scheduling System
People ages 16+ who live, work or study in New York state are eligible for the vaccine NYC Vaccine Scheduler

Monroe County Vaccine Info & Appointments

NYS Vaccine Appointment Finder


Sign up for up-to-date information about your schools:
Read previous newsletters here: NYC | Troy | Rochester | Newark | Camden | Boston

FAQs About School Reopening

The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we have spent the past several months consulting with health experts to create plans for when we are back together in person. State and local guidelines continue to be released and adjusted, and our plans will also be continually adjusted to incorporate the latest guidance.

Health and Safety

Uncommon is following CDC guidelines and consulting directly with medical and public health experts to develop health & safety protocols. We are also incorporating all state and local guidelines as they are released to be sure when our schools open they are following the latest local advice on how to keep students, families and staff safe.

Yes, we will monitor symptoms for all students and staff before they enter any of our buildings, including mandatory temperature checks. Any students or staff showing symptoms of illness should stay home, for their own well-being and the safety of others. If a student or staff member arrives at school with a fever they will need to go home. If a student arrives with a fever without a parent, the student will be separated from other students and a parent or guardian will be called to pick them up.

Yes, health experts advise that wearing masks is one of the most important ways we can lower virus transmission. While in school, all students and staff will be required to wear masks.

Yes, Uncommon will provide masks for students and staff. We will provide more information about the distribution of masks closer to the start of school. Students and staff can also bring their own masks from home if they prefer.

Yes, health experts tell us that, along with wearing masks, physical distancing is the most important way we can lower virus transmission. We will rearrange our classrooms to have fewer students in each room, and stagger and separate large group moments like arrival, dismissal, meals, and hall transitions.

Over the summer, our facilities team did an inventory of the space in each school and provided sample classroom layouts to accommodate physical distancing between students and teachers. In-person class sizes will be limited, desks will be spaced out to follow physical distancing guidelines, and extra desks and furniture will be removed. Other offices and spaces in the school may also be identified to allow students to come back to school while following physical distancing guidelines.

All buildings will be sanitized before students return. We have developed new cleaning and disinfecting protocols which will be in use during and at the end of each day. All buildings will be sanitized at night between groups of students, where all desks, chairs, bathrooms and surfaces will be disinfected. And there will be a sanitizing schedule during the school day where high touch surfaces like doorknobs, bathrooms, water fountains, hand railings, elevator buttons, etc. will be sanitized more frequently.

Yes, hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms and common spaces. Time for handwashing and sanitizing will also be built in throughout the day, including at minimum when students arrive, before and after breakfast/lunch/snack, and after restroom use.

Students experiencing symptoms after they arrive at school should immediately alert the nurse or school leaders. They will be separated from others and evaluated, and will be sent home immediately if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. The nurse or school leader will follow up with families on student symptoms and testing after they go home, and students must either have a doctor’s note clearing them of any symptoms, whether they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, or quarantine for 14 days before they can return to school.

Yes, we will minimize sharing of materials between students and staff while in the building as much as possible.

School Reopening

In order to accommodate physical distancing and reduce the chances of virus transmission, our current plan when we are back together in person is a hybrid model. In a hybrid model students will be divided into two groups where they will attend in person at least 2 days a week in elementary and middle school and at least 1 day a week in high school, on alternating days with remote learning on the other days.

Whether online, hybrid, or in person, we are committed to student learning. Across all grade levels, our curriculum has been designed so that regardless of your learning model (remote/hybrid), the curriculum will cover consistent content and timeline over the course of the year. As we continue to receive guidance from our states and local officials, we will finalize and update families with specifics on the exact schedule. For now, you can view an overview of our remote and hybrid learning models and sample schedules here.

Yes, we know that even when schools reopen in person, some families may wish to consider keeping their child at home due to student or family health concerns. Families can request to sign up for a remote-only instruction option, as we are committed to providing all students with access to learning even when they are unable to be physically present in the school building. Students participating in remote-only learning will receive live, teacher-led instruction each day at a consistent time. You can sign up for remote-only instruction by contacting your school.

For families that decide to keep their student in remote-only learning, that decision will be for the first half of the school year (August – January). Families will still have a chance to opt back in to in person hybrid learning later in the year. Families that enroll their student in the hybrid model when schools open in person can also change to remote-only learning at any time. You can view an overview of our remote and hybrid learning models and sample schedules here.

As you may have seen in the return to school video, we are excited to share that Uncommon Schools is planning to provide each scholar with his or her own Chromebook. Given the demand for technology during remote learning around the country and our commitment to providing high quality devices, Chromebooks will arrive at some point later in the fall. We will start the year with online platforms and technologies that will work with any device, as we did in the spring. School Leaders will work to fill, as best as possible, any device gaps for students that do not have access to a wifi enabled device (laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones). If you are a returning student, please complete the re-enrollment survey to indicate you do not have access to a wifi enabled device. Further details will be communicated around the timelines, distribution, best practices, and support for both the start of year and later this fall.We are committed to ensuring all students have access to a chromebook and internet service, which we know is crucial for remote learning. We will reach out to families closer to the first day of school to confirm distribution.

Regardless of whether we are in person, remote, or in a hybrid model, we remain committed to serving our students with disabilities and our English Language Learners. Students will continue to receive services, supports and modifications in accordance with their IEPs and 504 plans. Some of these supports will be in person and others will be provided via video conferencing based upon individual students’ schedules. Additionally, once school re-opens we will resume initial evaluations and re-evaluations.

Yes. We believe it is critically important to provide all students with meals whether they are learning remotely or in person. Each city has a food program in place where meals can be picked up during remote learning. Schools will reach out to families with specific details for their site.

Yes, students participating in remote-only learning will receive live, teacher-led instruction for at least 2 hours Monday through Thursday in Elementary and Middle School, and at least 4 hours each day in High School. Student schedules for live instruction will remain consistent from week to week, with additional content to be reviewed and student work to be completed outside of live, teacher-led instruction as needed.

For families with multiple students, we will try wherever feasible to coordinate schedules so siblings are in school on the same day.

Each school is redesigning their arrival and dismissal plans to minimize large gatherings and accommodate physical distancing. Arrival and dismissal times may be staggered and multiple doors used to minimize the number of people entering/exiting at one time. While we will welcome students with a smile each morning, we will not have any physical contact like handshakes at the door. Before entering the building students and staff will have their temperature taken with a touchless thermometer and will need to put on their mask.

Each school building is a little different, so schools will share specific details on their plans with parents before they reopen in person.

Where possible, students will eat meals in their classrooms rather than gathering in large groups. Students will be seated at least 6 feet apart, which we are advised by health experts is the appropriate amount of social distancing to feel safe removing masks temporarily to eat. Students will wash/sanitize their hands before and after eating, and all surfaces used for eating and distributing food will be sanitized before and after meals.

Yes, all students will be able to receive meals on all days. Schools may provide meals for the following day as students depart, or they may set up “grab and go” for families to pick up meals during a time that limits exposure to students in school. Because each building is a little different, your school will reach out with specific details before schools reopen in person.

Students and staff can use water fountains to refill clear plastic water bottles that they bring from home with their name marked on it, but will not drink directly from the water fountain. Water fountains will be sanitized during the school day.

We will be adapting to new state guidelines for conducting emergency procedures, but imagine there will still be drills to prepare for evacuations, lockdowns, and shelter-in-place. During drills, students and staff will maintain school distancing and PPE requirements at all times. Schools will conduct an emergency procedure training with all staff prior to students being in the building.

We have developed age-appropriate lessons and information for each gradespan to help students learn and understand the health and safety protocols in place in schools.

We believe students should continue to have access to programming to develop the whole-child, including specials, electives, wellness, and community-building activities. Schools are working to build these into their schedules for both remote and hybrid learning, and will ensure that any in person activities follow all health and safety guidelines.

Because afterschool is a bit different at every school, your school will provide specific information on what is available before buildings reopen in person. Any afterschool programs will follow the same health and safety guidelines as during the school day, including mask wearing, social distancing, sanitizing, and hand washing/sanitizing.

Students will not be required to wear their uniforms during remote learning but should be dressed in school appropriate attire to avoid distractions from learning. Students will be expected to be in uniform when in the building after schools reopen in person. Please see information from your school about specific uniform policies, and work with them if you are unable to secure a uniform due to financial hardship.

Protecting the health and safety of our community is our top priority. We have a robust monitoring plan to track daily any confirmed positive cases in our community and the presence of CDC-identified COVID-19 symptoms even if not confirmed by testing. We will consider all appropriate options including reclosure and a return to full remote learning of a classroom if there is a confirmed case and the entire school if there are multiple cases. Reclosures will last at least 14 days to allow for quarantining and rigorous cleaning protocols.

Regular and transparent communications about possible or confirmed resurgences of COVID-19 is crucial for the safety of our community. You will receive an email and autodialer from your school if it needs to reclose when the decision is made. 

We will also proactively communicate as we have new information even if it does not result in an immediate closure (e.g., trends in symptoms that have not yet resulted in a need to close).

Remote Learning for Grades K-8