Update on School Reopening for 2020-2021

Thank you all for your patience as we have worked on preparing the 2020-2021 school year.  There is simply no roadmap for times like these.  We can only consider all factors and make decisions we feel are in the best interest of our families and our faculty and staff.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the upcoming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present at school.  The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and the fourth quarter of last year shows the negative impacts on students when school closes, not just at Tabernacle but in schools across the country.

The AAP also notes that although children and adolescents play a major role in amplifying other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, the evidence shows that COVID-19 appears to behave differently in this age group.  The preponderance of the evidence indicates that children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic and less likely to have severe a disease resulting from a COVID-19 infection.  In addition, children may be less likely to spread infection.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also recognized that the data concerning children and COVID-19 has shown that children generally have mild symptoms and a much lower risk of serious illness.

The AAP’s recommendation, therefore, is to have students physically present at school, but with policies in place to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  We will follow the AAP’s guidance to start the 2020-2021 school year.

We will have a dual approach to our COVID-related polices – preventative measures and responsive measures.

Preventative Measures

We have made adjustments to a lot of what we do and how we do them for the safety of our students and families.  The following is a list of some of those measures.

  1. We will take the temperature of each student upon arrival to ensure he/she does not have a temperature of 100 or greater.
  2. We will modify larger gatherings such as Chapel, Gym, Lunchroom, etc. to limit the capacity and keep classes separated.
  3. We will modify programs and events to prevent the mixing of different classes.
  4. We will have enhanced sanitizing and cleaning processes.
  5. We will limit campus access for non-essential visitors.
  6. We will stagger class dismissal times, reroute hallway travel routes, and reschedule extracurriculars to prevent the mixing of classes.
  7. Facemasks will be worn in common areas, except for lunch and PE/Recess. This includes traveling from point to point within the school.  Students will not have to wear masks in the classroom.
  8. We will have physical reminders of procedures, such as signs and markings on the ground.

    Responsive Measures

    The (CDC) outlines responsive measures for the various situations concerning COVID-19.  We will adhere to those measures, as detailed below.

    If you think or know you have/had COVID-19, and you have symptoms, you cannot return to school until after (1) 3 days with no fever, and (2) respiratory symptoms have improved (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and (3) it has been 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

    If you tested positive for COVID-19 but continue to have no symptoms, you can return to school after (1) 10 days have passed since the positive test, and (2) you receive 2 negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

    If you have had close contact with a person with COVID 19, you can return to school after 14 days of quarantine.  “Close contact” is defined as (1) being within 6 feet of someone for at least 15 minutes who has COVID-19, (2) you had direct contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them), (3) you shared eating or drinking utensils with that person, or (4) that person sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

    If you have taken a COVID-19 test but have not yet received the results, you can return to school after receiving a negative result.

    Students who show symptoms while at school will be directed to an isolation room, and parents will be called to pick up the student.  If it is determined that student has a confirmed case of COVID-19, we will contact our local health officials and seek their suggestions, which may include dismissing that class from school for a specified amount of time, or possibly even in the closure of the whole school for a 2-5 day period to clean and assess individuals who may have been in close contact with that student.

    Start of school

    To help get all of these measures in place, we will be pushing back the start of school until August 17th.  This will also change the dates and times of Orientation.  At Orientation we will cover all the details of the preventative measures mentioned above, so it is imperative that one parent attend with each student.  We will communicate the dates and times of those Orientations as soon as they are finalized, and the calendar on our website will be updated with the new and correct information.

    In addition to preparing for the physical classroom, we are also looking outside the walls of a traditional classroom.  We have been diligently exploring possibilities for off-campus learning.  We are looking at options that could be feasible as an off-campus opportunity while holding true to the academic standards our families expect.  Our plan is to conclude this research next week and send our families information on viable options.  Please be in prayer for us as we continue to research these options for our families.

    Again, thank you all for your patience and understanding through all of this.  We have tried hard to balance the need to consider the ever-changing guidelines from state and local officials with the need for our parents to receive information.  Our ultimate goal through this is the same as we have always had – we will provide an environment where your children are safe and learning.