SouthLake Christian Academy – Update August 2021

Dear SouthLake Christian Family,

I hope you have enjoyed a restful and relaxing summer. August begins the mad dash to the starting line. For those new to SouthLake, I send a monthly update on or near the first of each month called First Thoughts. Let me officially welcome each of you to a new school year. As you finish (or begin?) your back-to-school preparations, perhaps you will find this information helpful.

First, we plan to announce our COVID safety protocols later this week, most of which will seem rather mundane by now. Of course, we have paid close attention to research on the Delta variant and new guidance from health agencies related to masks. Our teachers return to campus on Wednesday when we will discuss the matter at length. We also plan to host a school-wide panel discussion on Zoom this Sunday with three SouthLake parents who are medical doctors on the front lines. They will discuss Delta, masks, vaccines, and answer your questions. With so much new information every day, I would rather us take time to get this right rather than make quick announcements we later retract. Please be patient and reserve sharing your opinions until after Sunday afternoon meeting. I will send more information near the end of the week. If you’d like more insight into our decision-making process, I’ve written on the subject here.

Second, we have new faculty members to introduce. In our Lower School, please welcome Sarah Drake (JK teacher), Angela Roberson (JK assistant), Katie Henline (JK assistant), Julie Salony (K teacher), Michelle Lahetta (K assistant), Deborah Sammons (grade 1 teacher), Brittany Darland (grade 1 assistant), and Jacqueline Nicholls (grade 3-4 assistant and PE teacher). To our Middle School, welcome Cami Parsons (grade 7 math) and Andrew Bennett (grade 8 math and technology). To our Upper School, welcome Lucy Lepeley (Spanish III and IV), Tyler Melton (US history, government and economics), Noel Powell (chemistry), and Joshua Bas (math). Adding fourteen new teachers reflects the recent enrollment growth we have seen at SouthLake, particularly in our Lower School. For the first time in years, eight of our fourteen grades now have wait lists and others are near capacity. Because we keep class sizes small, almost every teaching space on campus will fill. Campus space now represents one of our greatest future challenges. And on that subject …

Third, we will soon send to print the final draft of our school’s strategic plan. You will see it in your mailbox early this fall. We began the planning process in late 2018 and finished in early 2020 after sustained consultation with hosts of our constituents. When you read it, you will note how many things we have already accomplished in the few months since we completed the plan. I remain grateful for how well our families continue to support SouthLake during a global health crisis, economic strain, and political upheaval. Together, we continue to rise above contentious cultural currents, keeping our focus on educating and ministering to the children God gives us. For this, and because of you, I have hope and excitement for the new year ahead.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.

Head of School

SouthLake Christian Academy


SouthLake Christian Academy – Update July 2021

I trust the summer is affording you a different pace of life and some time to recover from a stressful year. At the risk of interrupting your leisure, I would like to give you several school updates as we head into the second half of summer break.

Financial Operations

This week the School Board approved our budget for the coming academic year. We project revenue of approximately $7.8 million and expenses of around $7.5 million for a 4% operating margin, an important marker for a healthy organization. This assumes an enrollment of 610, and we are only 11 students away from that mark as of today. Our payroll expenses will increase from just under $4.1 million to almost $4.5 million (61.2% of our total budgeted expenses), with most of the increase supporting school-wide pay raises. We are also budgeting carefully for deferred maintenance. Based on a recent report from engineers and contractors, we have approximately $1.5 million in maintenance needs that must be addressed over the next 10-15 years, particularly HVAC, roofing, flooring, and paving. Simply put, as our facilities age, we must set aside money to keep them in good shape, admittedly not the most glamorous way to spend money. Simultaneously funding pay increases, facilities improvements, and strategic cash reserves feels like a juggling act, but we must keep all the balls in the air. We will always do our best to make decisions to best serve our students and put the Academy on the surest financial footing possible.

New Staff Roles

I have a few new staff roles to announce. Moving away from the “principal” titles more typical of public schools, Mark Apgar, Jennifer Thomas, and Becky Makla will now be Lower School Head, Middle School Head, and Upper School Head respectively. The Lower School has been the fastest growing division of SouthLake for the past two years, now with 12 classes, 24 teachers, and nearly 200 students and their families. Mark Apgar (soon-to-be Dr. Apgar) will thus need to focus his leadership on grades JK-4. Jennifer Thomas will relinquish her role as Assistant Principal and assume full leadership of grades 5-8. Becky Makla will no longer be interim but will assume permanent responsibility for leading grades 9-12. Kim Howlin has agreed to an expanded role as Middle School Dean of Students, a job she has already been doing without the title. Farrell Boone will take on new responsibilities as JK-8 Curriculum Director, helping us complete curriculum mapping needed for an accreditation review later this academic year. I will have several new teachers to introduce to you in my next email correspondence in August.

New Carpet and Paint

Most of the carpet on our campus is – shall I say this euphemistically – vintage, antique, original to the school. The time has come for us to replace it. This week we have been packing up carpeted offices and moving furniture into hallways. Next week almost all the carpet on campus will be replaced. The First Building Commons will also get carpet as the space is being renovated to create a sanctuary for SouthLake Church and a chapel, meeting space, and performance venue for the Academy. Until the carpet project is complete, some folks may be working from home for the next week or so while trying to avoid flashbacks of COVID lockdown.

COVID Measures for Fall

We continue to monitor guidance and legislation by local and state officials regarding COVID protocols for fall. We hope to begin the school year normally, ending most or all of our unusual safety measures, but I acknowledge this is dependent somewhat on circumstances beyond our control. Anecdotally I can tell you we’ve been operating summer camps mostly without masks and without incident. One safety measure will remain, however. If exposed, unvaccinated people will need to quarantine. Although we are not requiring the vaccine this year, it will eliminate your need to quarantine if exposed to COVID.

Happy Independence Day

As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, I share with you the concluding phrase of the Declaration of Independence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” These words remind me that any worthwhile endeavor needs both divine providence and mutual trust. I am thankful to live in a country and serve a school that actively recognizes the former and continually seeks to build the latter.

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.

Head of School

SouthLake Christian Academy


SouthLake Christian Academy June 2021 Update

Dear SouthLake Christian Family,

I hope your summer is off to a relaxing start. For those new to SouthLake, I send a school wide update on the first of each month called First Thoughts. We welcome you to the school and look forward to knowing you better in the months to come.


This past Friday we held the 19th graduation ceremony in our school’s young history. Here are some noteworthy facts about the class of 2021. Of our 58 graduates, one third are so-called “lifers” having attended SouthLake continuously since junior kindergarten or kindergarten. 50% of the class earned scholarships totaling nearly $3 million for academic achievement, leadership, and service to the community. 10% of the class will compete as student athletes at the collegiate level in soccer, baseball, basketball, and gymnastics. Our graduates were accepted to 72 different colleges and universities across the country. They will attend 31 different schools in 11 states and the District of Columbia. 53% will matriculate in state and 43% out of state, attending schools in the Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast. During the pandemic, these students finished their senior year in person and thrived during arguably the most challenging year in the history of modern education. We are proud of them and pray for God’s wisdom to guide them as they take the next steps along life’s journey.


As of today, we have 594 students who have finished enrollment for the coming school year, 484 returning and 110 new. With almost three months to go in our enrollment cycle, we have already equaled this past year’s enrollment. Grades K, 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 are now operating on wait lists. Word of mouth remains the most common way new families learn about SouthLake, so thank you for telling others about our great teachers.

Summer Enrichment Camps

We have a full slate of enrichment camps on campus this summer, with 214 students enrolled in 38 different camps, 9 of which still have space available. Many of our campers will be new to SouthLake this fall, and some are non-SouthLake students. We have both morning and afternoon camps available throughout the summer for students in junior kindergarten through high school. Camp registration closes at midnight on June 7. For more information and to register online, go to


This summer we will be doing significant work improving our campus. Many of our teachers will be moving to new rooms as we flex space for new classes. Additionally, we will be painting the exterior of our main academic buildings, reflooring several rooms and offices, and doing significant renovations to our large playground. Your Annual Fund contributions help make these improvements possible. So far this year, nearly 50% of our families have made charitable contributions to the school. If you would like to give before the close of this fiscal year, you may do so online at

In closing, I want to say thank you for our success this past school year. We knew we would need a strong combination of committed teachers, cooperative parents, and courageous students, and by God’s grace, we got all three in abundance. The doctors and medical professionals whose children attend SouthLake were a tremendous blessing this year. Their calm advice and encouragement helped us make fact-based decisions, avoiding the extremes of panic or denial. As I finish my third year at SouthLake, I am more grateful than ever to be a part of this remarkable community.

Blessings for a restful summer,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Head of School


SouthLake Christian Update – May 2021

Amazingly, only 13.5 days of school remain before summer break. I’m not typically one to count down the days, but this year is an exception. Each day in person this year has felt like a gift, and every week a victory. I will save my congratulations for the official end of the school year, but for now, I cannot thank our teachers enough for their herculean efforts to make this year possible. Did you know that the average tenure of our faculty is greater than 10 years? We have never needed their experience and expertise more than this year. I encourage you to drop your teacher(s) a note of appreciation next week. You have no idea how far those notes go toward sustaining endurance and boosting morale.

I have a few general updates on how we plan to approach the 2021-2022 school year in terms of COVID safety.

  • We will continue our Online Academy for students who need it for health reasons.
  • We plan to keep classroom capacities where they are now. Although the CDC has said three feet of spacing is adequate, we value small classes and hope greater spacing will allow us to relax other safety measures sooner.
  • We would all like to move away from masks as soon as we can do so safely. This will depend on vaccine acceptance by our students, families, and teachers, along with metadata showing vaccinated people are unlikely to contract or spread the virus. Although we do not plan to require the vaccine at this time, it’s likely our fastest way to eliminate masks.
  • We plan to return to as many in-person gatherings as possible, including weekly chapel services, although meeting sizes will depend on area conditions and health agency recommendations.
  • We will soon discontinue temperature checks as the NC Department of Health now considers them optional.
  • We plan to play football this fall. We have a full slate of games already scheduled, and I look forward to Friday nights under the lights once again.
  • We will keep you posted as we are able to make additional changes toward normal operations.

This past week I had the opportunity to spend three days at a Christian school a few hours away, serving on a site visit committee with ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International), one of our accrediting bodies. As a relatively new head of school, I found the experience incredibly educational as we prepare for our accreditation site visit next year. I came away from the experience with a head full of ideas, but mostly with gratitude for SouthLake and all that we’ve successfully navigated during our three years together.

Finally, we have a busy summer ahead as we offer a full range of enrichment camps on campus and several high school classes through our Online Academy. You have probably been bombarded with information on these topics, but if you need a refresher, let me know. We will also make campus improvements, prepare our classrooms for the fall, and finish academic scheduling to get you that information around July 1. And sometime in July, we’d like to take a few days to rest before we start it all again this fall. Until then, I encourage you to finish well, say thanks to your teachers, and say a prayer of gratitude to God for his blessings during a most unusual but successful academic year.


Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.

Head of School

SouthLake Christian Academy

COVID Education

One Year Ago …

One year ago, we closed our campus and moved to online instruction for all students. At the time, I will confess I had grave concerns about what the following months would hold for our school. How long would our campus remain closed? Would our people get sick? Would our students thrive online? Would we survive financially? How and when might we reopen our campus? These and a hundred other questions weighed heavy on my mind during long days working from home and occasional sleepless nights.

Fast forward to one year later. We are a better school today in every way. Enrollment is strong and nearing capacity as we have added four new classes in our lower school. Our financial position is sound and participation in charitable giving has grown remarkably. Our teachers have learned to navigate online learning with amazing skill and our technological sophistication as a school has developed at light speed. Our students have learned new coping skills that will pay dividends long after this pandemic ends. We all learned the value of cooperation and trust as we navigated this year together as a community.

One year after our world shut down, I feel gratitude. I am thankful to each of you for your support and cooperation this past year. We faced many issues that threatened to divide us as a community, but we remained unified in our commitment to educate and care for our students. I am thankful to the medical professionals whose wise guidance has helped us navigate the complexities of running a school safely during a pandemic. I am grateful to our teachers for the sacrifices they make every day to continue the noble work of education by whatever means necessary. And finally, I am thankful to God whose providence and protection we owe for whatever good the past year has brought us, and whose love for us in Christ drives us forward in our mission. The past 12 months have brought us precious little to celebrate, but today, we can certainly celebrate that we are still here and still doing the work God has for us, day by day, week by week, until one day all things are made new.

Academics community Education

Why I Am Thankful, Now More Than Ever, For a Liberal Arts Education

I have an undergraduate degree in French Horn Performance. I have master’s degrees in business and theology, and a PH.D. in philosophical theology. Aside from my MBA, all of my education has been in the so-called liberal arts. As opposed to concentrated vocational training in a career-specific course of study, a liberal arts education focuses on the academic disciplines of philosophy, history, language, literature, music, art, and the social sciences. Also called the humanities, these courses of study teach one to think and write and solve problems rather than merely to do a job. The humanities endeavor to make one a better person rather than merely a more credentialed one. I have never held a job that specifically requires me to have any of the degrees I hold, and yet in every job I have had, and at every stage of my adult life, I have been incredibly grateful for a liberal arts education. This is especially true now, for two key reasons.

First, closing and opening a school during a global pandemic has forced me to think carefully, critically, and calmly, skills without which I might have lost my mind or my job long before COVID could get to me. This year I have had to read and study more diligently than ever, sorting through mountains of data, discerning fact from fiction, disregarding hyperbole and speculation in order to attend to relevant information. Leading an organization during a public health crisis requires the kind of information literacy that a liberal arts education helps develop. Sure, a degree in public health would be helpful, but one cannot earn a degree to match every crisis. The abilities to learn concepts quickly and apply them appropriately are valuable precisely because they are transferrable.

Second, the racial turmoil and political polarization we have seen in recent months has exposed our inability as a nation to engage thoughtfully and productively in public dialogue on controversial topics. We are all tempted to exist in an echo chamber, listening to voices that reflect our own, viewing events exclusively through the lens of our own experience, and discounting alternative perspectives. Sustained engagement with the humanities inoculates against the kind of narrow ideology that divides and radicalizes. When we humbly subject our viewpoint to sustained critique, we are much more likely to see our own blind spots and to show empathy toward others with whom we disagree. I see no other way to live peaceably with my fellow citizens.

The free and critical exchange of ideas lies at the heart much of the western intellectual tradition from its inception. As the cost of a true liberal arts education has increased exponentially, I fear the value has been increasingly marginalized. Research shows that the humanities tend to have a moderating influence; serious students tend to view the world with less dichotomy and more nuance, less polarization and more subtlety, less estrangement and more empathy. In the process, perhaps students of the liberal arts also come to see that both politics and pandemics have less ultimate significance than matters of faith. Diseases and democracies rise and fall, but the Kingdom of God remains forever. Worry less about the schools you or your children may attend. Worry less about the fleeting social dramas that tend to occupy our immediate attention. Let us concern ourselves more intently with the kinds of people we are becoming, the kind of society we are helping to create, and the God who sits enthroned above all our fleeting and temporal concerns.

Education Leadership

SouthLake Christian Academy Reopening Plans


The Executive Administrative Team of SouthLake Christian Academy has established a plan to return to live instruction on campus this fall. While we acknowledge that there is no risk-free way for students and teachers to return to campus, our plans intend to mitigate risk and balance the spiritual and educational needs of our students with the health and safety needs of the entire community. Attempting to resume on-campus operations during a pandemic will require careful strategy and unprecedented cooperation. We are committed to the words of our vision statement “that Christ may be preeminent in all things” (Colossians 1.18) and we take seriously the promise of our mission statement to education and disciple students “in all aspects of God’s reality.” We also know that we have an obligation to the common good, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. With these principles in mind, we will keep our plans flexible, our operations nimble, and our eyes attentive to changing circumstances.

Our decision to reopen campus for all students, five days per week, is based on the following considerations:

  • Monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases in the primary zip codes that feed our school
  • Monitoring the percentage of COVID-19 cases in our area affecting children ages 0-17
  • Available scientific evidence showing that children are at lower risk than adults for contracting the virus and developing severe symptoms
  • Available evidence that prevention practices such as physical distancing, hand washing, surface cleaning, and face covering (masks) significantly reduce the risk of infection
  • Mandatory COVID-19 testing for all SouthLake employees prior to the start of school
  • Enrollment caps to allow sufficient room in school classrooms to space students safely
  • Our ability to implement daily health screening and safety practices schoolwide
  • Willingness on the part of our teachers, parents, and students to return to live instruction, understanding both associated risks and prevention strategies
  • Our continued ability to provide quality online instruction during the year when it becomes necessary for students with health concerns or those in quarantine
  • Information from health officials allowing us to make precise decisions by class, grade, hallway, or building about any needed shut down of operations
  • Continuation of Phase 2 or 3 or North Carolina’s reopening plan and the absence of stay-at-home orders by government officials

Should there be an outbreak at school or increasing disease prevalence in the areas where our families live, or if local, regional, or state government officials issue stay-at-home orders or other restrictions that make campus operations impossible, SouthLake Christian Academy will shift to online instruction until conditions allow us to return to campus. The Executive Administrative Team, in consultation with local health officials, will continually assess current conditions and closely follow the latest research to adjust our safety protocols as the school year unfolds. The following document outlines details of our reopening plan that parents and students need to know. This is a long document, but we ask that you please read all of it carefully.

Executive Administrative Team

  • Matthew Kerlin, Head of School
  • Rebekah Leonard, Associate Head of School
  • Becky Makla, High School Principal
  • Mark Apgar, Lower School Principal
  • Jennifer Thomas, Middle and High School Assistant Principal


Successfully navigating the 2020-2021 school year will require clear channels of communication. Email is the official means of communication for SouthLake Christian Academy. Emails from the school to families should include SLCA in subject line and a brief description of the content. The school will send at least one weekly email communication to all families and the Head of School will send schoolwide updates on the first of each month. Teachers will send regular communication related to classroom activities. For urgent, emergency, or time sensitive communication, parents may receive a Renweb Parent Alert (text and/or voicemail). Certain times of the year may require more frequent communication than normal.

Both parents and employees are encouraged to attend carefully to all school information, particularly information related to safety protocols. As rumors tend to proliferate during stressful times, remember that the only official source of information for school operations is a direct communication from an official representative of the school. Everyone should be certain that all relevant contact information is correct in Renweb. To update your contact information, go to the “Family” tab in Renweb or the “School” tab in the Renweb app.

School Calendar and Attendance

School will begin as scheduled on August 12. Fall Break will be October 5-9 and Thanksgiving Break will be November 23-27. Other relevant dates will be updated and posted on our website at at About > School Calendar prior to the first day of classes. Calendar dates are subject to change this year as needed to protect instructional time or promote safety.

Attendance policies for the coming school year have been revised. For the 2020-2021 academic year, students will be allowed 10 absences for semester-long classes and 20 absences for year-long classes, twice the number of allowed absences from last year. This should prevent students from feeling pressure to attend school when they are showing symptoms of any illness. Furthermore, should a student contract COVID-19 or be required to quarantine because a member of his/her household is being tested or tests positive, we will seek to provide online instruction and suspend normal attendance policies provided we receive documentation of the positive COVID test. Documentation allows us to isolate potential spread of the virus and to assure that we make attendance allowances fairly and accurately.

If online instruction becomes necessary, students will be expected to participate fully unless illness prohibits it. In cases of illness, we will provide grace and reassurance, doing our best to help students make up any work missed. The school may make additional changes to policies for assignments, grading, and exams as needed to effectively facilitate any necessary online learning.

Health Screening, Hand Washing, Cleaning

Each student will have a temperature check every morning. Students with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be isolated and sent home. Parents should be familiar with COVID-19 symptoms, including:

  • congestion, sore throat, runny nose
  • recent loss of taste or smell
  • worsening cough, shortness of breath
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • fever, muscle aches, unusual fatigue

Students with any of these symptoms should stay home and seek medical attention from a physician to determine whether a COVID-19 test is needed. A signed commitment to this effect appears on the final page of this document.

We will make time in our daily schedule for students to wash their hands on a regular basis. Students who change classes (grades 5-12) will wash hands between every class using staggered dismissals and assigned sinks. Students in self-contained classrooms will wash hands at least every 90 minutes. Sinks have been added in all JK-2nd grade classrooms to minimize hallway traffic. All bathrooms will be equipped with both electric dryers and paper towel dispensers. Students are encouraged to use paper towels to open bathrooms doors upon exit.

All surfaces used in class will be cleaned between classes with a cleaning solution approved by the CDC to kill viruses and bacteria. Except in cases where we have a student with a chemical allergy, we will use a properly diluted and safe solution of water and chlorine bleach, paper towels, and gloves. In grades 5-12, students may use masks and gloves to assist with surface cleaning between classes.

Face Coverings/Masks

Students and employees will be required to wear an approved face covering (mask) when they arrive at school, when they transition between classes or lunch, when they are dismissed from school, and any other time when physical distancing is not possible. Administrators and teachers may require masks at any time during the day as they deem it appropriate to protect the safety of students or teachers who may have a heightened risk of infection or complication from the virus. We will begin the semester wearing masks anytime we are indoors, but our aspiration will be to relax use of masks when seated and spaced in classroom as health conditions in our area allow. Students with health problems that might prevent them from wearing a mask in certain settings should submit documentation from a primary care physician to that effect. In such cases, we will consider exceptions to our mask policy on a case-by-case basis. All parents and guests entering a school building will be required to wear a mask.

We will provide three washable cotton/poly masks for each student. Additional masks may be purchased from the school. We recommend that you use the masks we provide for a few days to test for comfort, breathability, and fit before purchasing more. Cotton/poly masks should be washed and hung to dry after each day of use. In addition, students may use a standard disposable light blue surgical mask. Disposable masks should be used for no more than one day. No other types of masks or face coverings will be allowed except by written recommendation from a primary care physician. We will consider such situations on a case-by-case basis.

School Arrival

School buildings will open at 7:15 AM each morning. No student will be allowed to enter a school building prior to 7:15. Students should not be left at school unattended before 7:15. Students should wear masks as they enter school buildings each morning.

  • JK – 8th grade students will arrive at Hampton Hall and proceed to the lower level until 7:30 when they will go their classes. Students in grades JK – 8th who arrive at 7:30 or later will go directly to their classrooms.
  • High School students will enter Wilcox Gym upon arrival and will leave for their A block classes at 7:30. High School students arriving at 7:30 or later will go straight to their A block classes.

Class Transitions

  • Students in grades JK-4 will transition to PE, specials, and recess by grade and separated from other students.
  • Students in grades 5-6 will change classes as normal.
  • Grades 7-12 will change classes in a staggered format, one-half of each class dismissing at a time, separated by five minutes to minimize hallway traffic. Students will be allowed to use backpacks should they wish to do so to avoid the need to go to a locker after each class period.

School Dismissal

Students in grades JK-6 will dismiss at 2:30 as follows:

  • 2:30 PM – car riders will dismiss for the pavilion
  • 2:40 PM – After School students will move to the Lower Level of Hampton Hall
  • Late Wait students will remain in their classrooms until 3:10 and then dismiss for the pavilion

Students in grades 7-12 will dismiss at 3:10 as follows:

  • 3:10 PM – bus riders and students picked up by a parent or guardian dismiss for the pavilion
  • 3:20 PM – student drivers and their siblings dismiss to cars


We have established a maximum capacity for each classroom on campus that allows us to separate students by approximately 6 feet from nose to nose in each classroom. Most Hampton Hall classrooms will seat 18 or fewer students. Most Wilcox classrooms will seat 16 or fewer students. First Building classrooms seat between 12 and 18 students. On the rare occasion that a class size exceeds designated limits, that class will be moved to a larger area on campus such as the First Building Commons, Mezzanine, Library, or lower level of Hampton Hall. School HVAC systems will be adjusted to provide maximum air circulation and classroom doors and windows may remain open as weather and security precautions allow.


To start the semester, Wednesday chapel services will be pushed entirely into individual classrooms through livestreaming and video curriculum. Our aspiration is to transition to in-person chapel services when circumstances make it safer for large gatherings. In the first stage of that transition, chapel services on will operate on a rotation.

  • JK and K classes will alternate weeks with grades 1 and 2, attending chapel in person in the First Building Commons (8 AM) one week and holding chapel in individual classrooms the next.
  • Grades 3and 4 will hold chapel together each week in the First Building Commons (11:25 AM).
  • Grades 5 and 6 will alternate weeks with grades 7 and 8, attending chapel in person in the Wilcox Gym (8 AM) one week and livestreaming chapel in their A Block classes the next.
  • Grades 9 and 10 will alternate weeks with grades 11 and 12, attending chapel in person one week in Wilcox Gym (9 AM) and livestreaming chapel in their A Block classes the next.

Lunch and Breaks

Our Hot Lunch Program allows students to pre-order food from area vendors who prepare and package meals off campus and deliver to SouthLake. We keep the food warm and serve it to students during one of three designated mealtimes. Most meals and breaktime snacks will be eaten in classrooms during the first few days of school. To minimize crowds in our lunchroom, we will deliver lunches to classrooms whenever possible.

  • Teaching assistants and lunch volunteers will deliver lunches to students in grades JK to 4.
  • Students in 5th to 8th grades will wear masks and dismiss to get lunch on a staggered schedule by grade, and then return to classrooms to eat.
  • High School students will wear masks and depart for lunch staggered by cohorts to wash hands, get food, and then return to B block classes to eat.
  • Each stairwell will facilitate one-way traffic only. After the first few days of classes, students may eat outdoors in our pavilion and other designated areas on a rotational basis, as the weather allows.

Because some students have food allergies to nuts and nut-based products, each classroom will have 1-2 desks that are designated nut free and marked accordingly. Students with nut allergies should always sit at a nut free desk in each classroom they use. Teachers will strictly monitor to be sure that only nut free meals and snacks are consumed at nut free desks. Some classes with students having a severe nut allergy may be asked to bring only nut-free snacks at the discretion of the teacher and our school nurse.

School Supplies, Curriculum, and Library

We are purchasing additional supplies and textbooks to limit the need to share resources in the classroom. When technological devices must be shared by students they will be cleaned appropriately. We are purchasing additional art supplies and redesigning art projects to limit group work. The list of school supplies that families purchase for the coming year will be shortened to eliminate items that are now expensive or difficult to find and the school will order needed supplies in bulk. The library will be used primarily as a classroom this year and library time for lower school students will be pushed into individual classrooms on rotation. STEM instruction will be incorporated into individual classes as the STEM lab will be closed and repurposed for the academic year.

Technology for Online Instruction

Online instruction at SouthLake involves three primary platforms.

  1. Renweb is our school information management system where you access student information, schedules, class resources, and grades.
  2. Google Classroom is a free online class content manager that integrates with Renweb and facilitates assignment creation, grading, testing, and file sharing.
  3. Zoom is a free online video conferencing tool. Zoom meetings require a meeting ID and password. For security purposes, students and parents entering a Zoom meeting should use their real names as they appear in Renweb.

Other online platforms may be used as curriculum dictates and we will provide training for parents and students as needed. If parents or students have a technological need, they should contact the Technology Help Desk at During school hours, a member of the Tech Team will typically respond to your request for assistance within a few minutes. After-hours responses may sometimes take longer.

Bus and School Travel

We will continue to provide bus service to and from school each day. Buses will be limited to half capacity with one student per seat. Siblings are encouraged to sit together in the same seat. When weather allows, buses will travel with windows open to allow maximum ventilation. Students will be expected to wear masks during bus travel unless directed otherwise by a school official.

Travel to any scheduled school athletic events will follow the same bus protocols mentioned above. 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.

After School Care

After School Care will operate following the same safety protocols outlined above. Parents entering a building to pick up a child from After School will need to wear a mask.


The North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) governs competitive sports at SouthLake Christian Academy and other member schools. Our ability to compete this fall, and our ability to host spectators, will depend on both the decisions of the NCISAA and our assessment of the risk of each particular sport for students and spectators. At this time, the NCISAA has delayed the start of all fall sports until at least mid-August. We suspect that high risk fall sports may be further delayed. Voluntary no-contact practices for some sports may begin at the discretion of coaches and the Athletic Director. In the event that a fall sport is cancelled for the season or moved to the spring semester, we will explore all safe options for inter-squad practice and non-contact competition.

Quarantine and Contact Tracing

In the event that a student or a family member living under the same roof shows symptoms of COVID-19 or is tested for COVID-19, we will follow guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and the Mecklenburg Department of Health (MCDH) for isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing. The following are some guidelines for responding to symptoms and/or the need for testing. This list is not comprehensive nor intended to replace CDC, NCDHHS, or MCDH guidelines.

  • In the event that a student develops symptoms of COVID-19, that student should stay home and contact a health professional to determine if a test is appropriate. A student should not return to school until he/she has been cleared by a health professional to return to school, typically after testing negative and/or being symptom free for at least three days.
  • If a health care professional recommends testing for a student or any household member under the same roof, you should notify the school and members of that household should quarantine until either (a) the COVID-19 test is negative, or (b) fourteen days have passed and all household members are symptom free.
  • If a student or any household member living under the same roof tests positive for COVID-19, please contact SouthLake Christian Academy immediately. We will consult with the MCDH and relevant medical authorities to determine a timetable for return to school and to provide online instruction during needed quarantine.
  • If a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, we will begin the process of confidential contact tracing in accordance with the MCDH and local health officials.
  • We will handle each case of potential COVID-19 transmission on a case-by-case basis in conversation with you, the MCDH, and school medical personnel, giving you enough information to make decisions while protecting the confidentiality of our employees, students, and families.

Determining When to Close

We will take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should someone in our community test positive. This includes identifying students who have had high-risk contact with a person who tests positive and notifying parents or legal guardians of the need to isolate and seek medical advice and/or testing. We have made every effort to schedule classes and school activities to keep students in smaller groups and with people in their own grades to the greatest extent possible. This will limit exposure and facilitate more precise contact tracing should it become necessary. Should a student or employee test positive for COVID-19, it may become necessary to close a class, hallway, or building temporarily (2-5 days) to consult with health officials, to clean and disinfect, and to contact trace. In each case, we will attempt to be strategic and precise with our containment measures, closing as little as possible but as much as necessary. More extensive closures would likely coincide with local or state closure mandates.

Signed Covenant of Cooperation

We have read and understand the contents of SouthLake Christian Academy’s Reopening Plan. We understand that COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization and that COVID-19 is a dangerous and potentially deadly disease. We understand that COVID-19 is contagious and believed to spread primarily by human-to-human contact.

We understand the symptoms of COVID-19 include congestion, sore throat, runny nose, recent loss of taste or smell, worsening cough, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, unusual fatigue, and other less common symptoms. We commit to keep our children home from school should they present any of these symptoms and to seek medical advice concerning the need for a COVID-19 test. Should my child test positive for COVID-19, we agree that we will notify the Head of School immediately so the school can help my child shift to online instruction and begin confidential contact tracing as needed to protect the health of other students and families.

We understand that health practices such as social distancing of six feet, coughing and sneezing into one’s arm, wearing masks or face coverings, washing one’s hands frequently, and cleaning surfaces thoroughly may help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We agree to support these mitigation efforts by asking my child or children to participate cooperatively in these practices while at school as instructed by teachers and school administrators.

We understand that although SouthLake Christian Academy has put into place preventative measures to reduce the risks of disease transmission, no measures can completely eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while participating in school-related activities. Having enrolled in SouthLake Christian Academy voluntarily, we understand and acknowledge these risks and agree to assume these risks on behalf of our children for the 2020-2021 academic year. We agree that we will not hold SouthLake Christian Academy, its officers, directors, employees, agents, and representatives liable for damages of any kind caused by COVID-19.

[Document to be signed and returned to SLCA before the first day of classes on August 12.]


Plans to Open School: SouthLake Christian Academy, Fall 2020

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.


Continuity of Instruction Plan for SouthLake Christian Academy

How does e-learning work?

School may look differently in the days to come, but education will continue. Here you will find our plans to provide instruction to SouthLake Christian Academy students in an online environment, also called telelearning, distance learning, or e-learning. Our teaching plans aim to keep things simple, clear, and flexible.

Simple. Effective online instruction does not need to be fancy. Neither parents nor students need to be technology specialists to learn well in an e-learning environment. We will start with basic tools – phone, email, internet – and build from there. We will focus on essential curriculum and skills. Students WILL learn the most important content.

Clear. Effective online instruction requires clear two-way communication. Teachers should be organized, accessible, and responsive. We ask students and families to relay problems to us quickly. We want our students to have a clear understanding of class expectations and content and not to struggle with logistics.

Flexible. Effective online instruction utilizes both synchronous and asynchronous engagement. Most instruction will be asynchronous, meaning that students will be able to access materials on their own schedule rather than in coordination with the entire class. Synchronous instruction will be scheduled to accommodate student availability. Many of our families have multiple children and childcare challenges. We could potentially move back and forth between live and online classes in the weeks to come. This will require each of us to be patient, accommodating, and supportive of each other.

What can parents and students do to prepare?

  1. Give us the information we need to help you. If you have not done so already, please complete our tech survey so that if you have a problem, our tech team will know what technology you have at home. If you have not done so already, make sure we have the correct demographic information for you in Renweb.
  2. Get organized. You will soon receive more electronic communication from SouthLake than you are accustomed to receiving. Set up an email folder for each of your children or for each class or subject. Check email regularly, file or deleted unneeded mail, and respond quickly and briefly to any emails that require only a short response.
  3. Be patient. This is a learning curve for all of us. We are landing a plane while finishing the runway. We will all make mistakes and maybe get frustrated from time to time. We will try to solve problems as quickly as possible. This plan is a work in progress. We will update, revise, and improve as we go along. Give and receive grace.
  4. Stay connected. You can see what is happening around the school and stay informed by following our school’s various social medial channels. Here is a list:
  • Facebook – SouthLake Christian Academy
  • Instagram – southlakechristian
  • Twitter – @SLCAEagles
  • Head of School Blog –

What technology will we use?

We will use technology platforms that are free, accessible to everyone, and work well on both Mac and PC devices. Teachers will provide instructions for using these resources as needed. Not all teachers will use all of these programs, and our Tech Team will be available to assist as needed. Here is a list of most of the platforms our school will be using.

  • Email – we will use the contact emails you provided in Renweb.
  • Phone or FaceTime – we will use the cell phone numbers you provided in Renweb.
  • Renweb – our online school database and the primary means of posting class content.
  • Microsoft Office 365 apps including One Drive, One Note, Forms – online file sharing and storage (mostly for High School use).
  • Google Suite products including Classroom, Calendar, Docs, Forms – online program for managing classes, assignments, content, tests, quizzes, calendars, and file sharing.
  • Zoom – an online communication tool for video recording and video conferencing.
  • Smart Music – an app for recording individual music practice and receiving feedback.

What if I need technology support?

Email the help desk at A member of the tech team will contact you.

What are our plans by grade or division?

Although each teacher is unique, our plan provides some standardization to minimize confusion to the greatest degree possible. All teachers will use a combination of the following: video (instruction and conferencing), regular email or phone communication, assessment (tests, quizzes, papers, projects, etc.), and virtual office hours.

Junior Kindergarten – 3rd Grade (Spano, Canipe, Calhoun, Moore, Davis, Patton)

  • Teachers will email families regularly to communicate expectations and information needed to complete assignments.
  • Teachers will post weekly plans, assignments, needed documents, web resources, and video content on Renweb.
  • Students may turn in assignments by email, text, or an online student-interactive website.
  • Teachers will phone, FaceTime, or Zoom to connect with students and parents each week to check in and answer questions.
  • Teachers will set up virtual office hours for individualized assistance.

4th – 6th Grade (Boovy, Gonzalez, Bussell, Clemmer, Jacobs, Rowles, Vance, Boone, Belvin, Thomas)

  • Teachers will email families prior to March 30 to explain in detail how to access all electronic resources needed, primarily Renweb, Google Classroom, and Zoom.
  • Beginning March 30, all teachers will communicate via regular emails with information relevant to all 4-6 grade students.
  • Each teacher will email daily with specific information and reminders to check Renweb and Google Classroom for assignments in specific subjects.
  • Needed materials not already sent home will be linked to both Renweb and Google Classroom.
  • Students may turn in assignments using a combination of text messaging, Google Docs, Google Forms, or other Google apps.
  • Teachers will schedule virtual office hours for students needing individualized help.

7th – 8th Grade (Belvin, Bumgarner, Boone, Jacobs, Reeves, Russell, Wilson)

  • Each teacher will email families prior to March 30 welcoming students to e-learning and explaining in detail how each class will work.
  • Beginning March 30, teachers will post lesson plans and links to primary resources in Renweb. They will give assignments and provide instructional content through Renweb, Google Classroom, and curriculum specific sites (science and history). Links to these items will be posted in Renweb.
  • Each teacher will produce video lessons weekly or more frequently, depending on the nature of the content.
  • Each teacher will communicate regularly with students via email, video, and/or phone to provide specific instructions and reminders to check Renweb for assignments.
  • Each teacher will schedule virtual office hours for students or families with questions or concerns.

High School

  • Each high school class is unique, so e-learning plans will be highly individualized, just as they are in a live classroom setting.
  • Teachers will use a blend of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.
  • Teachers will email students prior to March 30 with introductions to online learning and instructions for use of any new technology.
  • Each teacher will post lesson plans, notes, videos, and assignments on Renweb and other file sharing platforms.
  • Students will submit assignments through OneNote, OneDrive, and Google Classroom.
  • Teachers will use Zoom for scheduled online class gatherings.
  • Teachers will schedule virtual office hours for individualized assistance.

What about specials like library, PE, Fine Arts, and STEM?

  • Most music classes will move to individualized instruction using the Smart Music app.
  • Other classes will utilize online resources for singing and choreography.
  • Library instruction will include reading recommendations, videos, and book blogs.
  • Art teachers will send weekly project ideas and post completed projects on Instagram and our online art gallery called Artsonia.
  • PE instruction will consist of weekly video workouts that student can do in their own homes.
  • STEM instruction will involve periodic emails with ideas for projects that can be completed at home to support subject area learning.

What about students receiving services from our Academic Development Center (ADC)?

  • ADC teachers will continue to support their students by providing consultation and individualized assistance to students with issues that affect their learning.
  • ADC teachers are familiar with distance learning technology and will have access to their students’ Renweb resources and e-learning apps.
  • ADC teachers have received special certifications for teletherapy and will use Zoom for individualized therapy session.
  • ADC teachers will schedule virtual office hours for those needing additional assistance.
  • ADC teachers will continue to support students with an Educational Plan of Action (EPA), and provide documentation needed for accommodations on standardized testing.
  • ADC teachers will continue to consult with prospective students and their families.

What about high school students needing help for fall scheduling or from our College and Career Counseling Office?

  • Course request meetings will be handled using Zoom. Individualized assistance will be provided by phone or email from our scheduling team.
  • Students needing schedule counseling will use Sign-up Genius for Zoom meetings.
  • Junior planning meetings and sophomore PSAT and Pre-ACT test review meetings will take place using Zoom as students request.
  • Blog posts will contain grade level updates, encouragement, and links to resources.
  • Email communication will inform students of collegiate information and any testing changes.
  • Personal communication will continue to support post-grad research, virtual tours, and senior schedules.

Final Considerations

Thank you for your steadfast faith and trust in SouthLake Christian Academy as we continue to teach and minister to your students. We hope to return to live classes as soon as it is safe to do so. Truthfully, the months that follow may have a profound impact on the future of education. New capacities, efficiencies, competencies, and possibilities will likely emerge from this unprecedented time in our history. We cannot see exactly what the future holds, but we trust that Christ is preeminent in all things.

Compiled and edited by the Faculty and Staff of SouthLake Christian Academy

March 2020

Academics Education Technology

A Short Guide to Starting School

School starts back at SouthLake Christian Academy this week. Today was open house and I saw a lot of excited families, and maybe a few nervous ones. Here are a few words of encouragement for those starting school for the first time, or returning to school for another year.

  1. Get organized. Calendars, planners, to-do lists, family meetings, and good communication with everyone involved will help you get off to a good start.
  2. Establish good habits. Pay attention in class. Use school hours to start homework and get extra help as needed. Do homework as early in the afternoon or evening as possible in a distraction free environment. Go to sleep each night at a time that allows you consistently sufficient sleep. Keep to a schedule.
  3. Build relationships. Students – get to know someone in each of your classes. Parents – get to know parents in your child’s class. Stay in communication with the teacher. Treat everyone around you with respect, even when you have a disagreement. You will forget most of what you experience at school, but you remember the relationships you make.
  4. Keep things in perspective. Students are not defined by their academic performance (or their athletic or musical performance). Your identity is not determined by whether or not you out-perform your peers. The question to ask is this: “Am I doing all that God created me to do, to the best of my ability?” If the answer to that question is yes, be at peace.
  5. Learn things other than what we teach in school. Read books you love that we haven’t assigned. Visit museums, art galleries, and other cultural attractions that stimulate your interests. One of the most important things you can learn during your school years is HOW TO LEARN, and how fun it is to learn!
  6. Unplug. Spend some time outside every evening. Put down your electronic devices, go for a walk, play in the yard, walk the dog. Nurture hobbies
  7. Don’t worry. Nothing that happens in the first several days of school is likely to make or break your school year. There may be a few emotional, academic, or logistical bumps in the road early on, but you are going to be OK. Be calm, problem solve, and ask for help if you need it. One keen piece of advice Jesus gave his own followers was this: “Do not worry about your life … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6.25-34)

I hope your school year gets off to a great start.