Dear VCHS Parents and Students,

Our decision has been made! We are moving forward to reopen our campus so that all students and teachers can be together for in-person teaching and learning starting August 17 th . I’m deeply grateful that we will be able to come together as a school family again while protecting the health and safety of our faculty/staff, students, parents, and larger community.

Two reopening task forces (Education/Technology and Health/Safety) have been hard at work for over a month preparing recommendations for me. This week, the VCHS Board of Directors supported the reopening plan I presented as well as the necessary funding for success. The task forces and I are working in strong partnership with Eagle County Public Health. We will continue to follow and in some cases exceed CDC and state/local public health guidelines as we further develop and adapt our plans. I will continue to keep you updated on our progress throughout the summer. 

What follows is the overall framework within which we will be educating students followed by FAQs.

Learning in-person, on-campus with home based alternatives when necessary

Whichever scenario COVID-19 sends our way, we will be prepared to offer an Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere education. With health and safety always in mind, our priority will be to have all teachers and all students on campus. Scenario #1 (Traditional-Campus Based) is campus based with all teachers and students. When needed, we will easily be able to pivot to Scenario #2 (Hybrid-Campus Based) with most teachers and students on campus and some teachers and students at home. Keep in mind that when the first positive COVID-19 faculty/staff or student case occurs, along with the subsequent quarantine, we will need to move into this scenario. Scenario #3 (Home Based) seems unlikely but could occur when the Governor, Eagle County Public Health, or I deem it necessary to move to home based teaching and learning. With all three scenarios, we will hold to a 5-day school week teaching and learning with normal school hours. 

To support teachers and students in each scenario, we have developed a new daily schedule and have heavily invested in new educational technology. We will continue to hold classes Monday through Thursday (8:00-3:12) and Friday (8:00-12:12). Monday through Thursday classes will be 90 minutes in length alternating on an 8-period odd/even schedule (4 classes each day). Fridays will alternate between odd and even periods. Why the change? When teachers and students are ‘campus based’, the new schedule better supports social distancing reducing student hallway interactions during passing periods. When it’s necessary for some teachers and/or some students to be home based, the new schedule provides a work-life balance with synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning. On the whole, an 8-period schedule also opens up more opportunities for our students to take a variety of electives. 

VCHS 2020-21 Daily Schedule
For campus and home based teaching and learning, we have invested in the following educational technologies: Internet Bandwidth (5x more), Canvas Learning Management System (personalized, user-friendly, collegiate), Vuja (a media storage platform holding an archived digital library including VCHS instructional videos), Swivl (classroom hardware for live or recorded class videos), and an upgraded Zoom educational account. 



What guidance will you follow in determining whether you can safely open in August and remain open?
We will follow guidelines provided to us by the CDC, Colorado Department of Public Health, and Eagle County Public Health. We will act on the conservative end of the spectrum and meet or exceed professional guidelines. As Christians, it’s important that we follow decisions made by those in authority, as well as respect the tough decisions they are having to make on behalf of others and us. 

What is the sick room and isolation room plan for students?
We have a dedicated sick room and adjacent bathroom and a separate isolation room per Eagle County Public Health guidelines.

What happens if a faculty/staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19?
Faculty/staff and parents should contact their personal health care provider and isolate in accordance with state and local guidance. Eagle County Public Health will be notified and contact tracing will begin. 

How will contact tracing take place?
VCHS will support Eagle County Public Health with their contact tracing efforts.

What is the protocol for people who had contact with a positive-tested student or faculty/staff?
Current guidelines from Eagle County Public Health state that ‘contact’ implies being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more with or without masks. Contact tracing individuals identified as a ‘contact’ with a positive-tested person will be managed by Eagle County Public Health and most likely will result in the need to quarantine. 

When will a quarantine contact or positive case be able to return to campus?
At this time, the following need to be met per Eagle County Public Health:
1. Three full days of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication, and
2. Other symptoms have improved, and
3. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Are we taking any additional measures to increase our capacity to support the mental health of our students and faculty/staff?
Yes. Resources for health and well-being overall, and mental health specifically, will be enhanced in 2020-21. We will communicate our plan before the school year begins.   

Apart from the 6-foot social distancing rule of thumb, what are other ways that you plan to practice social distancing?
We will do our best to practice ‘cohorting’ when possible. We will have 4 cohorts – one for each grade level. With mixed grade level classes, lunch, and chapels or assemblies, we will make every effort to cohort or group students by grade level. This practice supports social distancing and Eagle County Public Health contact tracing. 


What are the rules for PPE/Masks while on campus for faculty/staff and students?
All faculty/staff and students must wear masks everywhere inside buildings except when seated inside classrooms or seated during lunch. Masks must also be worn on busses.

Campus Cleaning Protocols

How will you handle cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, common spaces, and the campus in general?
We will be instituting daily disinfecting and cleaning protocols for all classrooms and campus spaces. A local professional company will provide regular disinfectant cleaning and other housekeepers will be using new disinfectant technology recently purchased.

Hand sanitizer

What will your hand sanitizer policy be?
All faculty/staff and students will be required to use hand sanitizer upon building entry. Each classroom will have a wall-mounted hand sanitizer container which students will be required to use upon classroom entry and exit. As well, there will be hand sanitizer stations throughout campus buildings. 


Will VCHS provide lunch, and if so, how?
Rustic Farm to Fork will continue to offer school lunches through online order only (no walk-ups) and delivered as a box meal. Each grade level will have a separate campus location for lunch and practice social distancing. Per Eagle County Public Health, with a parent waiver, juniors and seniors will still be permitted to have off-campus lunch. 


What is the schedule for fall semester?
Classes begin on August 17 th and conclude on December 18 th .

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities

Will we have our All-School Retreat at Frontier Ranch on August 24-26?
We are saddened that we will not be able to have an overnight experience at Frontier Ranch. We will be working with our STUCO to plan for the best possible local (non-overnight) retreat experience following Eagle County Public Health guidelines and social distancing recommendations. 

Will we have fall sports?
We are awaiting more information from CHSAA, our athletics and activities association. However, we recently learned that CHSAA is moving forward with guidelines and standards to resume fall sports as planned. Boys Golf officially begins on August 3 rd and all other CHSAA sanctioned fall sports officially begin on August 10 th . Please contact Athletic Director, Tim Pierson, or fall sport coaches with specific questions. 

Will we have classes and after school activities such as Choral Ensemble, Theater, and Worship Arts?
We are working with Eagle County Public Health to find the best way to offer these classes and their related after-school activities. We are creating guidelines for how students can continue to engage with the arts and will share those with you as soon as possible. We are deeply committed to offering our exceptional fine arts classes and programs. 

Health-Related Conduct Policies

What will you do to provide assurance that faculty/staff and students will follow health-related guidelines?
The Student/Parent Handbook will be updated to include health-related expectations necessary for a healthy and safe community. We will be working on a Health Pledge that we will ask all faculty/staff and students to sign and support.

Final Note

In the coming days, each VCHS family will receive a survey. Those survey results will help us learn if we have any student(s) who might need the home-based option as early as August 17 th . If you’d like to discuss the home based option for health/safety reasons, please reach out to me directly by phone or email as soon as possible. Survey responses will also help us further strengthen our reopening plan. During July, the leadership team and I will be making phone calls to every VCHS family to check-in and field any questions you may have.

Speaking on behalf of all the faculty and staff, we can’t wait to see our Saints again and welcome the Class of 2024 and our new transfer students. The lessons we learn this school year from this pandemic will strengthen our character and better equip us for any tough days that might come at us in the future. With our spacious campus, small community, and plentiful resources, I’m confident this upcoming school year will be a success.

Through this time, I remain deeply committed to our values – faith, excellence, character, and community. I’m reminded that our faith in God centered on Jesus Christ gives us hope beyond anything we or the world can offer. And that faith should compel us to love others – extending generosity of spirit and grace, more than ever before. The VCHS family can be all of that and we will strive to do so.

Warm regards,

Steve O'Neil
Head of School