SAR Academy to use ‘pods’ of its own


The city’s parents are between an ever-growing assortment of rocks and hard places when it comes to learning options for their children. They’re juggling the moving parts of in-person classes, mitigating exposure to the coronavirus, and — for parents of younger children — child care.

But SAR Academy is putting all of those worries at ease with its reopening model — and it doesn’t even include remote classes for its youngest.

Instead, nursery and elementary school students at SAR will operate in “pods” similar to the new teaching fad sweeping major cities. But the students will still be in classrooms five days a week. And to ensure no student is left behind, they’ll wear color-coded masks to keep track of each other.

This model is largely possible because the nursery and elementary school classes are smaller than middle and high school classes, according to school administrators. In addition, the younger students don’t require specialized subject classes as older students, and can largely rely on two teachers for all their learning.

For the older, middle school students at SAR Academy, many of the same procedures will be used. They’ll still be in the building five days a week, but will have at least some supervised remote classes — where they’ll attend remote classes, but still be in an actual classroom. Just in a different room. This “fills the gap” for specialized subject classes, but still allows students to have “classroom time,” administrators said.

Architects Hila Stern and Esther Sperber were put in charge of both renovations and repurposing existing facilities that could be used as classrooms — like cafeterias and offices of school personnel who are working remotely.

“We mapped out every available space,” Stern said. That’s how we managed to get all of the students from the (early learning) center and the academy.”