September 28, 2020
Dear Columbus Academy Families,
As I write you about our continued plans to bring all our students on campus, I am thankful for the spectacular weather this fall (which has made all the new outdoor classrooms very popular), for your patience as you adjust to our plans, and for the mettle of our faculty/staff members who have taken on both more work and more responsibility in teaching and caring for students.
When will 100% on-campus learning start in our Middle and Upper Schools?
Having half of our middle- and upper-schoolers every day has been a good test of our COVID protocol systems, and while we will need to make adjustments to moments of gathering times like lunch and class period changes in the next week or so, we are going to welcome all of our middle and upper school students (lower-schoolers have been 100% on-campus for some weeks now) starting Friday, October 9th.
Other schedule changes this fall for all divisions
A result of the many additions of lower school classrooms as well as the changes to scheduling and hybrid teaching in our older divisions has been that there is no scheduled opportunity for faculty to meet with each other to calibrate their work, plan for grade-level or departmental engagement, and act with cohesion as they would in any other year. Instead, they are working more hours in both online and in-person work with less collegial contact -- a set of circumstances that goes against all we know to underpin good teaching.
Therefore, the school will have one day each month this semester when no students will be on campus, beginning October 12th, when faculty will be able to meet with each other and plan as they usually do during the school days in other years. The other days are November 10th and December 2nd.
Why we are able to have 100% of our students on campus and how it could change
I need to call your attention to the four conditions we have to attend to in order to keep all our students on campus, and they require a delicate balance of behavior in and out of school -- by our entire community -- to maintain in-person learning.
In addition, there are other considerations as we enter into 100% on-campus learning just as the weather gets colder and our reliance on the outdoors to mitigate crowding becomes less appealing. Please bring boots, coats, mittens and whatever else students need to keep comfortable in brisk fall weather because there is no doubt we will continue to be outside.
Finally, just as we increase the numbers of students on campus in Middle and Upper School, we are concerned that families are beginning to relax their vigilance about their own high-risk behaviors of attending large gatherings inside without face coverings and other casual social interactions that can quickly bring the disease onto our campus. In honor of all the commitments the school has made to maintain safety and health on our campus, please prioritize in-person learning and curb those risky behaviors in your spheres of influence as a family.
We know there is a high likelihood we will continue to have positive cases diagnosed in our community, though we expect the number to be low and intermittent. Our COVID Response Team is in close contact with Franklin County Public Health and will be planning with those officials how our positive tests could and should affect school.
As we all navigate these unprecedented times together, we are so grateful for our families’ patience and understanding that we are doing everything we can to provide the best possible education in these circumstances. Giving our faculty the opportunities to gather and plan without students on October 12th, November 10th and December 2nd is an important part of these efforts, and we thank you for accommodating the inconvenience of keeping your children at home on those days.
Head of School