Fall Opening Update 7/13/2020
Dear ACA Families,
This past Wednesday Gov. Cuomo finally announced the timeline for the regulations for opening this fall. The new regs will be released on Monday and schools will have a few weeks to put together plans and submit them to the State for approval by Aug 1st. Interestingly, his comments on Wednesday made no mention of independent schools and thankfully our faithful Assemblywoman, Carrie Woerner was able to make some calls on our behalf and found that there will be guidance specific to independent schools that will come out alongside, or shortly after, the public school regs come out. I was very grateful to also hear from our regional member of the NYS Board of Regents that, indeed much consideration has been given to the differences between independent schools and state schools. As such I continue to be optimistic that we will indeed be as on time, on campus, and in full as the extent of the regulations permit.
For our part, as we wait for specifics, we continue to work on maximizing our classroom space as the spacing out of students will certainly be a key element of any re-opening plan. And we continue to work out provision for those among us with higher risk or greater concern that would preclude them from being on campus for in-person instruction. We are making plans so that, in one way or another, all of us can “be there” (in person or remotely) on the first day of classes.
In considering our experience this spring, I found myself boiling school down into three buckets: Instruction, Plan, and Community. Since our start we have worked hard to put a biblically-consistent and excellent plan into the hands of expert instructors in the midst of committed community of like-minded parents. This past spring when we went to remote instruction we found our basic formula greatly challenged. While our plan remained remarkably intact, our teachers were often scrambling to figure out this new context and our community largely disappeared. While we expect to be on campus in September, a big chunk of our planning now is focused on shoring up our instruction and our community should we find ourselves online again at some point during this coming school year.
The rest of our energy is going to make sure that we can best respond to the requirements of the regulations that we will hopefully see in this current week. If indeed the independent school regs come out alongside the public school regs, then this letter next week will have a very different subject line.
In the meantime I would ask you to begin your own preparations for Fall with two considerations:
Transportation: The public school world is very concerned with how to manage busing. Many schools are saying that busing will be their Achilles heal: they have plenty of classroom space, but will not have enough space on buses to get the students to school as a group. Be prepared for your school districts to offer alternative arrangements than you have enjoyed in the past. Or, you may want to limit your interactions with these vehicles of public transportation for other reasons. Start thinking about what your carpooling or ride-sharing options might be.
Clothing: I expect that our students will be spending much more time outside this year. As Ann, Tamra, and I have talked about how to use our small spaces, we have often come to the conclusion that outside will be best. From dismissal lines and lunch tables in the parking lot to walking around buildings rather than through them, we need to all start embracing the iconic German Kindergarten adage that there is no “bad” weather, only “badly dressed children.” Certainly extreme rain and cold will keep the students inside, but whenever we can get out, we will be expecting the students to be ready to do so. Please be making your own preparations for hardy school wear (hats, mittens, layers) and if you have a heart and head for these things, please don’t hesitate to speak up with suggestions for modifications to the dress code that will better equip our students to be outside.
While re-envisioning school for the coming year has been overwhelming and disheartening for the past few weeks, I am grateful now for the opportunities it affords. God has gifted us with an excellent and historic plan for discipleship. He has provided a talented and committed faculty. He has created a community of like-minded parents that we can join together in this time of adversity. These three elements, honed and strengthened, will enable us together to effectively disciple this next generation through whatever storms we face.