Below is an outline of our plans to start school in the fall. I am keenly aware that no matter what we decide, some will be pleased and others will not. That said, I believe the plan detailed below gives us the best chance of balancing the educational needs of our students with the safety of our employees and families. Our Executive Administrative Team has spent many hours looking at CDC and North Carolina recommendations for starting school, and while we know there is no risk-free scenario, we have identified protocols that will help us minimize risk. While we still have some details to iron out, here is a brief overview of our plans for the fall semester.
- Our intent is to open school on August 12, live and in person, 5 days per week for all students.
- We will observe Fall Break (October 5-9) and Thanksgiving Break (November 23-27) as normal.
- We will limit the number of enrolled students in each grade and class as necessary to facilitate appropriate physical distancing in classrooms. With slightly smaller capacity limits, several grades are nearly full.
- Bus routes will run as normal with staggered seating, one student per seat.
- Our After School program will operate with students appropriately spaced, utilizing outdoor spaces to the greatest extent possible, as usual.
- Students will be required to undergo health screening upon arrival, including temperature and symptom checks.
- Morning drop off locations will be added to eliminate large assemblies of students in a single room.
- Sinks are being added on the first floor of Hampton Hall (JK-2nd grade), hot water circulation has been improved, no-touch paper towel and soap dispensers will be added across campus, and all students will have designated places to wash their hands on a regular basis.
- We will purchase additional school resources, art supplies, and curriculum to minimize the need for students to share materials.
- We will stagger arrival and dismissal from classes and create one-way stairwells to minimize traffic congestion in our hallways.
- Students will be divided into smaller groups for chapel and will alternate between attending live and watching a livestream from classrooms.
- Students will be divided into smaller groups for lunches and breaks with some eating in classrooms or outdoor spaces as weather allows.
- We plan to expand our use of outdoor spaces for PE, recess, lunch, breaks, and some classes as the weather allows.
- We are increasing our internet bandwidth to improve our ability to livestream classes to the greatest extent possible for those who may need to quarantine.
- We will adjust attendance policies for students and faculty who document a positive Covid test.
- Classrooms will be reconfigured to allow students to spread out appropriately.
- We will adjust our HVAC systems to maximize ventilation and teachers will be permitted to leave classroom doors and windows open where it is safe to do so.
- Large spaces such as the library, the lower level of Hampton Hall, and the First Building commons will be used as teaching spaces for larger classes.
- Cleaning protocols will be enhanced in cooperation with our new custodial provider.
- Field trips to indoor public places and all overnight travel has been cancelled for the fall semester. In some cases, we are working to reschedule trips and retreats for later in the school year.
- We will address sports on a case by case basis as we get additional guidance from our athletic association.
Now to the subject of masks. Scientific research has demonstrated consistently that the proper use of masks can reduce the risk of disease transmission. We know, therefore, that using masks to some degree gives us the best opportunity to return safely to live instruction. We also know that masks can be a nuisance, especially for younger children. Our strategy will be to use masks as little as possible but as much as necessary. Whenever we cannot be physically distant from each other indoors, we will wear masks. Where we can configure classrooms, activities, and traffic flow to practice safe physical distance in well ventilated areas, we do not plan to require masks. We plan to establish a capacity for each classroom below which masks would not be required, and we will work to keep capacity below that threshold. Masks will be encouraged for anyone who wants or needs to wear them at any time. Students with documented health issues that make wearing a mask unsafe will not be required to wear one. Beginning August 12, all visitors to campus, including parents, will be required to wear a mask while inside school buildings. We plan to purchase CDC approved reusable cloth masks for every SLCA student as part of their school uniform and to distribute them before school starts. These protocols are in keeping with CDC guidelines, current state and local mandates, and the advice we are receiving from medical professionals. Of course, some of these protocols are subject to modification as new scientific data informs our decisions.
Undoubtedly, you will have questions we haven’t answered or concerns we haven’t addressed. We have a few details to iron out, but feel free to ask questions and we will answer them as soon as possible. We know that the fall could be more complex than this past spring, particularly if people in our community begin to test positive for Covid. We all need to be prepared to move into an online environment should government officials enact stay-at-home orders. Whatever the fall brings, I know that God is faithful and you have done amazing work in the year 2020. For these reasons, I am more thankful than ever to be at SouthLake Christian Academy and confident that together we can navigate the coming school year in ways that honor Christ and best serve our students.