Melissa Soderberg, Head of School
May 18, 2020
 
Dear Columbus Academy Families,
 
As Memorial Day shows itself on the horizon and school begins to wind down (albeit in ways we never could have imagined at the beginning of the year), our thoughts turn to one main question: What will school look like when it starts again in August?
 
Of all the possibilities, know we are committed to opening school on our campus safely this fall. As we think about the ways to do that, we have spoken with school leaders abroad who have successfully opened their schools as well as listened to medical leaders across the country about the best ways to conceive of and practice safety in classrooms and hallways, and we will continue to formulate the ways we can return to in-person learning at the start.
 
As we all know by now, however, the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond our control, and the school will be prepared to provide a Columbus Academy education to every student regardless of the circumstances set before us by this virus and our state. So whatever the restrictions and regulations, we will find the best ways to maximize our in-person learning, our online learning and our sense of community and activity.
 
For the past three weeks, in addition to focusing on our academic end of the year, our school leadership's attention has been on the preparation we will need to make to have our students safely at school in the fall. As of now we have seven scenarios that range from having all students in school on our campus (scenario 1) to having all K-12 school campuses closed by the state and being completely online in our learning (scenario 7). In scenarios 2-6 (blended learning of both in-person and online), we are examining every aspect of school including our physical campus, our school calendar, daily schedules, programming and social habits as they may require modifications based on recommendations from national, state and local health authorities. Given the lack of predictability of these times, we are expecting to use whatever scenario our circumstances call for during the next year.
 
Just in the first weeks of this planning, it has occurred to me more than once how lucky we are to already have excellent facilities, a low student-to-teacher ratio, control of our own buildings/grounds and a tremendously dedicated faculty and staff. I am convinced we will be able to accommodate many of the state's social-distancing and sanitation concerns as they are articulated now.
 
We are so committed to making the fall, and the entire 2020-21 school year, an exceptional one for our students that we have made a number of important decisions to that end. While the Governor has opened day camps, ours will remain closed. We need to have access to every piece of our campus so we can spend the summer planning for the return of all of our students in August. In addition, our dedicated faculty and staff will be working thoughtfully during the summer as they participate in the training necessary to conduct classes in a new health and safety environment and learn even more about how to maximize their online teaching should that become a necessity. Among many other ways we are particularly well-suited to this challenge compared to much larger K-12 institutions is our membership in two leading educational online consortiums -- the Malone Foundation online network and Global Online Academy -- that are both rated as top professional development organizations for teachers in an online environment.
 
Our planning will continue all through the summer, and you will be hearing many more details about the start of school near the end of June.
 
As always, I am grateful for your trust in Columbus Academy as the best place for your child(ren), particularly now as we navigate these waters together.
 
Warmly,
 
Melissa
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