This past June, NorthCreek Academy assembled a Re-Opening Task Force comprised of representatives from the Academy’s leadership team, our school nurse, the School-Wide Awareness Trainer, the leader of our Buildings and Grounds crew, and members of NorthCreek Church’s leadership team. Through participating in weekly webinars with leaders from over 200 private schools across the country, our task force has had the opportunity to hear from physicians and educators who are guiding schools like ours as they prepare for the upcoming school year. In addition to meeting with our task force, I’ve been attending weekly webinars and Zoom meetings with administrators from other local Christian schools. The networking and collaboration in these sessions has been extremely valuable, and I am thankful for the opportunity to strategize and walk in-concert with these school leaders who are facing the same challenges.
The most important outcome of the many lessons from this season is that, during this time, we have been able to re-embrace our mission and purpose! The challenges of this time have served to confirm that we have built our school on the solid foundation of twenty-plus years of a Christ-centered, classical education! We believe that in this coming school year, we can – and will – continue to fulfill our mission of cultivating academic excellence, imparting biblical truth, and proclaiming Jesus Christ to all. We believe this fulfillment of our mission will be true regardless the location of our learning. We long to support the academic, spiritual, and social needs of our students while prioritizing the safety of all – staff, students, and families – and we can’t wait to get back at it!
In years past, we have spent our summers ordering supplies and meeting new families. This summer, we have spent our time drafting policies and protocols in preparation for this unique year. As we have prepared for the coming school year, we have worked to design plans and consistent schedules to account for any and all contingencies. We know that this is a challenging time, and our heartfelt hope is that all of our planning will minimize the potential stressors that come with any change. Our preparation has included planning instruction that works for multiple platforms, addressing staffing needs and scheduling desires, all while attempting to address the facility modifications that are necessary to keep our campus safe, and last, but not least, addressing our projected funding deficits.
Instructional Program Priorities
This past spring, we had some unexpected, but very successful, practice in living-out our Academy’s mission through our Virtual Academy. If we must do so, we can/will return to this model, but with the goal of making our Virtual Academy even better, through building-on what we learned last time. Please know and understand that, as we look to this coming school year, we are making every effort to make REASONABLE AND RESPONSIBLE decisions based on the following guiding priorities.
- Regardless the location of our instruction, we are committed to living-out our Mission Statement.
- Our goal is to OPEN SAFELY and to STAY OPEN.
- We value IN-PERSON instruction as much as possible for ALL students, whenever possible.
- We are committed to designing an avenue for students to receive virtual instruction at any time, for personal preference, illness, etc., should they need to be learning from home.
- Believing CHANGE will happen, our ability to PIVOT between a virtual learning platform and live instruction is vital, whether this pivoting happens through cohorts (consistent groupings of students), classrooms of students, or an individual child.
- We are working to establish a consistent schedule for our students, regardless of location.
- Core technologies are being adopted to extend learning to our school community on campus or at home.
Health and Safety Priorities
At this time, we have identified the following as a primary list of issues that will be addressed via policies or protocols for any/all individuals accessing the school campus. These initiatives are the result of our listening to health experts discuss school health and safety imperatives, numerous instances of our seeing counsel and, of course, via the mandates and guidelines outlined by a variety of governmental agencies. Specifics on these areas are being addressed and will be published for all members of the school community.
- We prioritize the health and safety of our staff and students.
- We will adopt a layered approach to mitigating the potential transmission of an illness – with as many layers of protection as possible, as often as possible, for as long as possible.
- Wellness Screenings – AM and PM.
- Increased, intentional campus cleaning.
- Better ventilated classrooms (increasing outdoor air intake as much as possible).
- Frequent handwashing/sanitizing.
- Face coverings for teachers and students.
- Prioritizing “Safer at 6.”Distancing children by 6-feet will also lead to smaller cohorts of students per room.
- We are also developing layers of protection for all aspects of our programing including, but not limited to:
- Restroom etiquette and protocol.
- Lunches being eaten in classrooms or outside.
- Recesses and breaks enjoyed in cohorts.
- Staggered arrivals and dismissals.
- Illness policies and protocols.
- Campus access.
To reiterate our plans for the fall – we’re mindful of the conditions that are necessary before we can begin on-campus instruction. With changes happening each day, we have been building a platform for instruction that has the ability to pivot to virtual learning if needed! Even with this platform, we have every hope and prayer that we will have in-person on-campus instruction whenever possible for those who can join us. As we approach the start of school, our Re-Opening Task Force is working tirelessly to define exactly what type of instruction we will be providing, and time will tell whether we can/will begin with live instruction. (I write this in reference to our Governor’s order from July 17). And, for families who are still hesitant to return to campus under any circumstance, we will have a way to help your child(ren) stay with us!
On behalf of the Re-Opening Task Force, I thank you for your partnership and prayers. Thank you for trusting us with your children.