If you haven’t yet, please read the reopening plan at the above link.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are we having “real school” this year? Yes. The first day of school is Wednesday, August 5.
Why aren’t we delaying the start of school? We understand current case numbers are a concern for many, but we feel that our reopening plan has the safeguards needed built in, and we are ready to begin our school year. We have spent the summer months in preparation both for our procedures and in gathering supplies. We are also in agreement with the CDC’s The Importance of Opening America’s Schools This Fall.
Will students have to wear masks all day? Our policy has changed since our Facebook Live event due to Gov. Kay Ivey’s newest mandate. Through at least Aug. 31, preschool students will not wear masks, and elementary students will wear them when they enter the building and any other time the teacher deems it necessary. Middle and high school students will need to have a mask on when they enter the buildings in the morning and will wear it unless socially distant in their grade, eating or drinking.
Is this for the whole year? There is no way to know right now. All of our COVID plans are subject to change as circumstances improve, worsen, or change in any way within our school or community. However, our ultimate goal is to ease restrictions whenever it is safe to do so.
I just really don’t want school to feel like a prison. How strict is everything going to be? We don’t want that, either. Parents and families can do their part in keeping kids who are sick at home. We will treat each grade level as if it is a family that limits contact with other grades (families). The goal is that when you are with your grade in your classrooms, the learning environment feels as normal as possible.
I don’t really know what that means. Can you elaborate? Sure. For example, if you are in elementary school, you will have your mask on when you get dropped off by the elementary doors. You’ll get a squirt of hand sanitizer when you come in and then head to your classroom. When you leave for the bathroom or PE you’ll definitely be washing your hands for 20 seconds or getting another squirt of hand sanitizer. You’ll eat lunch in your classroom or at our new outdoor classroom area if it’s nice outside. Art, music, and library story time teachers will come to your room (wearing a mask), and you’ll enjoy those activities together like always.
If you are in middle or high school and arrive before 7:55, you’ll have your mask on, get a squirt of hand sanitizer at the door, and go to your designated morning wait spot. When you go to your locker before school, be sure to get everything you need for 1st and 2nd period if you are in an even grade (6, 8, 10, 12). If you are in an odd grade (7, 9, 11), you’ll get your materials for 1st period because you’ll get to go to your locker after 1st. When you enter your first period class, you’ll get an alcohol cloth from the tub, wipe down your desk, and return the cloth to the tub. Then it’s class as normal, but your teacher may have rearranged a bit so you aren’t sitting super close. When the bell rings at the end of 1st period, if you are in an even grade, you will head straight to 2nd period. You could stop for a water bottle fill up or bathroom break if needed. Students in odd grades will go to their lockers and get materials for both 2nd and 3rd periods. This pattern continues the rest of the day.
What about break? Middle schoolers will “place their order” with their 1st period teacher if ordering break from the lunchroom. When you get to your 2nd period class, your order will be delivered or you can eat what you brought. You’ll have break time for about 20 minutes and then start class. No more standing in line for a biscuit!
High schoolers will have break as usual, except that you will keep your mask on until you are ready to eat and drink. Watch for the seating signs if you stay in the lunchroom, because we’ll need you to space out. If you eat somewhere else in the building, please eat with your grade or socially distance from students of other grades while eating.
I’m in elementary school, and I buy my lunch. I won’t go to the lunchroom to eat? Nope, not if you are in K3 – 5th grade. At least not to begin with. The lunches will be put into a “to go” box and delivered to your room. That’s right! Like room service! Fancy!
What about us older kids? What’s changing about the lunchroom for us? First, at least in the beginning, we will prepare the full lunch in a to-go box for all lunch buyers, so all you’ll have to do is pick it up and go. Second, we have 3 options planned for helping with social distancing during lunch. The tables will have seating signs to help you space out. We will also have a teacher who will open his/her classroom for students who would prefer to not eat or if they brought their lunch, or just would prefer a smaller eating area. And weather permitting, our newly-built outdoor classroom area will have picnic tables, so you can eat there as well (special thanks to Tristen who is working toward her Gold Award – the highest recognition of the Girl Scouts of America).
Will we have a full time virtual option? Distance learning options are reserved for short-term situations or extreme health concerns. However, students who stay home due to illness, suspected illness, or quarantine will be provided various distance learning opportunities to stay on track during their short-term absence.
What about sports? An update states that we WILL have fall sports but no tournaments. According to the AISA on July 23, 2020,
“After considering options for resuming athletics in the fall, the AISA Athletic Committee has decided that fall sports (cross country, volleyball and football) will proceed as originally scheduled with plans for full and complete seasons. However, until further notice, volleyball and football teams will be restricted to competition against only one other team and multiple team events (i.e. tournaments, jamborees) will be prohibited. Practice for volleyball and football may begin on July 27th and cross country is scheduled to begin on August 3rd.
In the coming days, the AISA will release safety protocols for fall sports and be available to answer any questions. Of course, as time progresses, safety protocols will likely need to change or be adjusted and we will need to be flexible as we proceed.”
So will the spectators have to wear a mask? Until Aug 31, everyone in the state of Alabama is subject to Gov. Kay Ivey’s newest mandate.
What if someone tests positive? Our current plan is as follows: if a student is positive in K3 – 5th grades, then that student will stay home with distance learning until one of the following: a negative test with no symptoms, a doctor release for return to school, or 14 days and no symptoms. The classmates of that student will be notified of a positive test (but not given the name), and at that point, the parents can choose one of the following options: keep their student home with distance learning for 14 days, or continue sending their student for on-campus learning with the understanding that their student and teacher will wear their masks the whole day, except for eating and drinking.
If a middle or high school student tests positive, the same procedure is followed. For example, if a sophomore student tests positive, we won’t have to inform all high schoolers — just the sophomore parents. At that point, the sophomores can choose home e-learning for 14 days or to continue on-campus learning, but wearing their masks at all times except when eating or drinking.
What will virtual learning look like? Well, it will look a lot like it did March – May, but there may only be a few students virtual and others may still be in-person. Teachers will live-stream their classes, provide additional resources, etc. so that students stay on track and can rejoin their classmates when they are ready. We will set up Class Dojo (grades K5 – 5th) and Google Classroom (grades 6-12) at the beginning of the year, so transitioning between virtual and in-person will be seamless.
What about exempting 2nd semester exams for perfect attendance? All students in grades 6-12 will take exams in the 1st semester, as usual. Students having a C average or better at the end of the 2nd semester will be exempt from those exams.
What about chapel? Our plan is to broadcast our chapel service on the TVs and have students watch in the classrooms to begin the year.
Are pep rallies canceled since the whole school would be crammed in the gym? Our goal is to do whatever we can to make school life as normal as possible while keeping you safe. Our plan is to have our pep rallies at the football field with grade families socially distanced from one another. The younger grades may watch live in their classrooms or watch on the football field.
What other changes can I expect? Visitors must wear a mask and won’t be allowed to go past the main office. We added another lunch time so that fewer students are in each lunch period, so some middle schoolers will eat earlier than last year. We also added another minute to change classes, so you’ll have 4 minutes instead of 3. Each building now has a touch-free water bottle filler, so not only will we be eliminating the touching of water fountain handles, it’s also more eco-friendly. Bring your reusable water bottle (with your name) every day.
Will you be checking temperatures every day? Our preschool will follow the DHR protocols which includes checking temperatures of each student as they arrive. However, we are depending on parents to check students’ temperatures regularly in grades K5 – 12th. We will have several touch-free thermometers on hand to check as needed.
All that sounds good, but I’m still kind of scared about starting school. Our priority is a SAFE return to school, and we have done our best, with our years of experience in a school, to create a safe environment to return. And remember 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of sound mind.”