Our theme this year has been "Deep. Real. Fierce." Each month has had a theme as well, with a Bible verse and parable to match. April's theme was to be "Deep Certainty," which has become all the more striking in the current atmosphere. We can rest assured that our God has a plan for the future, and He even has a plan for us as his children! Our accompanying verse is I John 5:12-13, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." Keep those words and our certainty in Christ at the front of your mind during this weekend, as we remember Jesus' sacrifice for us tomorrow and his resurrection and victory on Sunday.
He is Risen!
DCS Parents, Students, Teachers, and Staff,
COVID-19 has obviously disrupted our usual way of life. The last quarter of 2019-20 was entirely online, and I again want to thank you all for your hard work in making that as successful as possible. That said, I know we all want to have students coming to school in the fall. With that in mind, the rest of this letter will outline the plan for reopening the school in the fall, along with a few contingency plans. This is the question that I kept in mind as we developed these measures: what do we have to do to make sure that school starts in person and stays in person for as long as possible? With that in mind, let’s go through the plan.
First, a few things that families can do at home to help the school.
□ Discuss social distancing with children and model that behavior.
□ If comfortable, discuss how wearing a mask will help inhibit spread.
□ Monitor symptoms at home (fever, cough, etc.)
□ Keep child(ren) at home if they experience symptoms of any kind.
o Your child will be checked at the door.
Second, the school will do everything it can to make sure that students and staff are safe.
□ Students will be checked at the door for symptoms
o Students who don’t pass will be sent home
□ Mobile hand sanitizer stands will be placed throughout the school for students to use often.
□ Students who develop symptoms during the day will be sent to a separate room to avoid spread.
□ Plastic barriers will be placed in the office and kitchen for protection
□ 7-12 Students will disinfect their desk after each period
□ PreK-6 Students will disinfect according to their classroom schedule
□ High contact surfaces, such as door handles, will be disinfected after each school day
□ Teachers will track seating for contact tracing
Third, lunch will be more spaced out than before:
□ Line-up times will be staggered to avoid cross-class contact in the line
□ Lunch tables will be spaced out more than before
□ Classes will sit together at tables
□ Tables will be cleaned after each use
□ Seating will be tracked for contact tracing
Fourth, a few contentious items
□ Older students (3-12) should have a mask at school and are encouraged to wear it (not required)
□ Families are responsible for their child wearing a mask if they feel it is important
o DCS staff will not police masks during the day
□ Staff members will be encouraged to wear a mask when in close contact with students (one on one help, etc.)
□ Students are encouraged to bring a water bottle to avoid touching the fountain itself
□ Bullying about precautions will absolutely not be tolerated. Respect others’ opinions, regardless of your own. This includes intentionally disregarding social distancing practices.
Those measures will be in place for the foreseeable future while we are in school. However, we must also be prepared for cases and outbreaks in the school. The Departments of Education and Health have been in contact with schools about how to proceed in either case. Generally, each scenario will be handled on its own. There will be no “one size fits all” approach to this.
For exposure, meaning there is no confirmed case in the school, those who were identified as in close contact with the positive case will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Students who are in quarantine will be expected to participate in school activities via videos and livestreaming classes. Because they are participating in class activities, they will not be counted absent.
For a positive case in the school, several things will happen. First, the school, with the aid of the Department of Health, will determine when and how long school will need to close for cleaning. Second, contact tracing will occur to identify those exposed, who will need to self-quarantine. Essentially, this means that each case and occurrence could have different consequences; thus, it is impossible to say exactly what will happen. Communication will be open and ongoing as information becomes available.
If there is substantial spread in the school, it is likely that the school would have to shut down for the 14 day period. This would allow everyone to quarantine at home, as well as allow for deep cleaning of the school.
For any time when we are not meeting at school, we will utilize the distance learning plan that we formulated this past spring. Adjustments to that plan are currently underway, and families will be made aware of any changes before the school year begins.
I hope that you have had a relaxing summer thus far. Continue to pray for our community as we approach the new year. As Paul reminds us in Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”