To: Office of Catholic Schools, Arlington Diocese
From: St. Veronica Catholic School, Chantilly Virginia
What: August 26 Re-Opening Plan for 2020-2021
This Document includes:
1. Background Information
2. A Message to our Families
3. The Plan
1. Quote from The American Academy of Pediatrics:
“The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.”
2. A Message to our St. Veronica Families:
Much like we responded back in mid-March of 2020, when we had almost zero time to prepare for the unknown, we will respond all over again, taking into consideration the needs of the children. Regarding our re-opening plans, we are on it, and we will remain with it! However, to our advantage with this latest opportunity, we have more time to prepare. Very attentive and aware of some of our families need for urgency and swift, concrete plans today or tomorrow, I beg patience as this desired approach may unnecessarily be void of peaceful and careful discernment, creative thinking, best practices of safety, care and concern. Again, please be patient and know the following is our first iteration of The SVCS 2020-2021 Re-Opening Plan, which WILL, AS NEEDED, be modified and tweaked to make it better. Our planning and policies may/will change as conditions change.
Our overarching goal as we consider options for the upcoming school year is to deliver as much in-person instruction as possible, beginning on August 26, 2020. We want to provide the safest, most rewarding, academic, spiritual, and social experience we can for our students and families within the current and shifting health landscape. Furthermore, based upon the nearly 200 SVCS families who took the re-opening survey, we found most families had as their first choice the need for a full, five day, return to the classroom in August.
To help guide me in the planning process, I have put together a Re-Opening Team consisting of our pastor, two teacher/administrators, two school nurses, our facility manager and our Admissions/Extended Day/Pre-School Director to discuss different concerns, considerations, and options. This Team also has the pulse of the parent community from the disaggregated data from various surveys and email communication. I am so grateful for the willingness of all of these individuals to give of their time and insight as we continuously develop plans for the coming year.
Additionally, I have been in regular contact with the Office of Catholic Schools as they seek to provide guidance to school leaders across the Diocese. Our plan is to start the school year on time, with K-8 classes beginning on Wednesday, August 26, and PreK-4 classes beginning on Monday, August 31. Current guidance from the Office of Catholic Schools (OCS) suggests that each school within the Diocese will be permitted to develop certain aspects of their own plan for re-opening. Each school, including St. Veronica Catholic School, will be required to submit a plan for re-opening schools safely—following federal and state health guidelines for mitigating public health risk of COVID-19—and complying with CDC and VDH recommendations. St. Veronica Catholic School’s plan has been approved by the Office of Catholic Schools (OCS), and soon will be sent to the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE).
3. The St. Veronica Re-Opening Strategy During COVID-19 Pandemic:
Saint Veronica Catholic School has decided on plans to reopen school five days a week with live instruction, in the brick and mortar, and we will service all families who chose our second option of distance e-learning. These two options were of significant importance to our families. Therefore, beginning August 26, 2020 school will be in session for the families who expressed the need to send their children to the brick and mortar classroom and for the families who are choosing Distance E-Learning. However, from August 26-September 11, during this re-acclimation time period, which is needed for both teachers and students, our hours will be from 7:30-11:30, with staggered drop-offs and dismissals beginning at 7:30am and 11:00am respectively.
Our normal school hours of operation, and this is tentative, will be from 7:30am-3:00pm effective September 14. Playing it safe, we reserve the right to extend this period of 7:30-11:30, as needed. We want you to know ahead of time that the month of September will look different due to this pandemic season.
After much consideration and based upon feedback from our parent community, guidance from the Office of Catholic Schools and the Diocese of Arlington, and feedback from our teachers, we will open schools safely and effectively. Again, we will implement live remote teaching and learning (DEL) which will include independent study for students whose families choose to not be in the brick and mortar classroom learning environment due to personal and or health/safety reasons.
Our Re-opening Team will continue to meet in advance of the start of school to carefully discern and peacefully prepare the learning environment for success. Saint Veronica Catholic School will comply with state and local public health directives in planning for reopening. Below is a summary of the approaches we will take.
Health and Safety Practices for all Victors
Any scenario in which many people gather poses risk for COVID-19 transmission. Children generally experience mild symptoms with COVID-19 and have not been found to contribute substantially to the spread of the virus. However, transmission from an individual with mild or no apparent symptoms does remain a risk.
Saint Veronica Catholic School will reopen school with measures in place to control the spread of disease to include:
• Social distancing from 6 feet, with exceptions to a minimum of 4 feet in the classrooms.
• Face coverings for PK-K, when necessary, and Mandatory cloth face coverings for 1-8th grades as often as possible, when less than six feet apart.
• Use of Minuteman disinfecting/sanitizing mist sprayer in all rooms, daily and sometimes twice a day, as needed, in the event church groups/clubs use the facility in the evening. On evenings of use, use of Minuteman mist sprayer will be utilized first thing in the morning to cover surfaces, before students enter the building.
• Using effective cleaning and hygiene; monitoring for symptoms; handling suspected, presumptive or confirmed positive cases of Covid-19 in isolation
• Monitoring water and ventilation systems, keeping these clean and free of germs.
• Providing student and faculty social-emotional support and educating adults on coping and resilience.
• Having strict protocols for visitors to the school building.
• Reviewing all current health plans for accommodating students with special health care needs and update their care plans as needed to decrease their risk for exposure to COVID-19.
• Create a process for students/families and staff to self-identify as high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, and have a plan in place to address requests for alternative learning arrangements or work re-assignments.
• Students with temperature of 100 or greater and/or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will need to be picked up within 60 minutes; good, accurate and up-to-date contact information is crucial.
• We will work directly with the local health department to determine necessary actions if a positive COVID-19 case is identified.
• Parents will take temperatures and complete required daily screening the morning of prior to coming to school, including bus riders.
General Training and Communication
• During our In-Service Professional Development, we will include orientation and training for staff and students specific to new COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
• We will communicate with staff, parents, and students of new policies.
• We will prepare transparent plans for how to communicate an outbreak or positive cases detected at the school, keeping cases completely confidential.
• We will use Constant Contact for consistent communication with families, faculty, and staff.
Food, Recess, Gatherings
• Students will eat lunch in their classrooms (eventually) or in an outside area which allows for social distancing. Lunches will be purchased through school vendors or provided by their family.
• Recesses will be longer or more often during the day, as the weather allows. Recess will be segregated by class as much as possible, and safe distancing will be used during recess.
• Gatherings and Mass: We will adhere to guidelines (gatherings of 250) as mandated by the Governor’s orders for gatherings and the Governor’s and our Bishop’s orders for Masses. That said, Flag Ceremony nor large assemblies which will not allow for 6 foot distancing will not be allowed. However, that said, flag ceremony must go on and will be conducted electronically.
• Limited Hallway use will be expected
• Masses will be broken up into two to three different days per week, separating the students out
Teachers, Homerooms, Bathrooms, Hallways
• Specialist teachers will go to the students’ classes rather than students going to Specialist locations.
• Middle School students will remain in homerooms, and Middle School teachers will travel to homerooms to teach their subject areas, as much as possible. Mixing of Middle School Students will be limited to safe practices allowing for social distancing.
• Bathroom visits will be strictly monitored, and signage will be important as reminders for students for safe distancing and proper handwashing in bathrooms. We will have markers every 6 feet throughout our hallways to remind students of safe distancing. We will also have signage and direction arrows.
• Classrooms: After an analysis of the building capacity was completed, it was determined that approximately 20 students can be accommodated in most classrooms with four to six feet of distance between students. We understand, with the allowable variance of no less than 3 feet, that students will wear mandatory face coverings when in this situation.
Teaching and Learning
• In the Fall, teachers will review monitoring sheets from the 19-20 academic year. We will identify which standards were not covered due to COVID-19 and remote learning to adjust curriculum as needed to address gaps that may be present.
• We will continue to share the curriculum vertically among grade levels.
• Scantron standardized testing will be facilitated early on to establish a baseline for where students are academically. Teachers will be required to create plans to close any gaps that exist.
Grading and Assessment
• Students will be assessed in all subject areas, including specials and electives, and in all developmental categories whether students are back in the building or participating in distance learning.
• Teachers will be flexible and reasonable if we are mandated to return to full e-learning for any reason.
• Our plan is to be teaching all the diocesan standards, to the extent we are able.
Attendance and Uniforms
• We will return to an attendance system that accounts for student engagement in the school building and in e-Learning/Live Stream for each day school’s in session.
• We will have staggered drop offs and pickups where our attendance collection will be flexible, within reason.
• Whether in distance e-learning at home or in the brick and mortar, school uniforms will be worn.
• All enrolled students must have current paperwork and updated immunizations per Virginia state requirements whether in DEL at home or in brick and mortar. (This from VDH and VDOE- no waivers allowed).
Extended day will follow the daycare/preschool guidelines issued by the Department of Social Services found here: https://www.dss.virginia.gov/cc/covid-19.html.
• The media center, teachers’ lounge in middle school, art room, parish hall, and the John Paul II room will be used as classrooms to house different classes.
• A floor plan will be created for each room in the building to accommodate three-six-foot distances between students and teacher.
• Current classroom usage and common areas will be reconfigured to maximize occupancy and distance between students, where possible.
Working Schedules, Times
• In order to accommodate potential morning temperature checks and health checks, we will stagger drop off times, and use additional adult-monitored school entrances for student entry points. An alternative to morning temperature checks is being discussed and will be communicated effectively before the start of school.
• We will add time before and after lunches to clean hands, for lunch delivery and clean up, recess and fresh air time, etc.
• Consideration may be given to end school time by 30 minutes, but we will need to assess that in order to accommodate mandated instructional time.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) & Wellbeing
• We will attend first and foremost to the social/emotional needs of students by focusing on a slow and steady, “re-entry, return” of limited hours through most of September.
• We will focus on building community within our school and classrooms. Care must be taken to accommodate mental health needs of students. Teachers will be trained with additional strategies to include in their already well stocked tool kits.
• We are researching school-wide, faith-based SEL curriculum and materials for the 2020-2021 school year. One consideration is the Friendzy program, and others we will look into stemming from our Health curriculum
• More basic mental health professional development will also be provided to all in the Fall.
• This plan will remain fluid for the time being.
• This plan will be modified and additional iterations may be disseminated to all school families, as needed.
• Early August Parent meetings to field questions and concerns will be scheduled in the next few weeks.
• We are open to more thoughts and considerations which we may not have thought through and may be able to manage. Please contact the people below to get 48 hour return feedback on any issue which needs addressing at this time.
- Kandis Rouck at firstname.lastname@example.org for families with 6-8th graders
- Claudia Bachand at email@example.com for families with K-5 graders
- Mary Jo Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org for families with PK3&4 year olds