Covid-19 Phased & Distant Learning Plans

Grace Covenant Academy has adopted the following plans for the 2020-2021 school year, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For further clarification please contact us at the Academy office at 704-892-5601.

GRACE COVENANT ACADEMY REOPENING PLANS 2020-21

Published 8/12/20

Covid 19 has thrust our world and our school community into a difficult time. Without a doubt, each GCA family has a different personal circumstance, health status, and opinion on what is best. The leadership of Grace Covenant Academy, Grace Covenant Academy Advisory Team, Grace Covenant Church leadership, and other medical professionals have been consulted extensively in the development of this plan. We fully realize that there may be points on this document that you do not agree with, and other points you fully support. There may even remain some questions in your mind, but in this challenging time we realize that we cannot meet everyone’s needs or wishes, so our focus has been to seek godly wisdom and discernment, consult with outside individuals, and make the best decisions possible given what we know. 

At Grace Covenant Academy, it is our mission to equip students for life by releasing their God-given potential. We believe that given the circumstances of the world, moving to an on-campus learning environment at this time is a part of carrying on our mission as a Christian school. While we take on this plan to reopen our school in the White Phase for the 2020-21 school year, we do not do so lightly. It is with the full support of the church leadership, the Advisory Team, and all faculty and staff that we proceed with reopening for the fall.

This said, should the state mandate stay-at-home orders, we will plan to move to the Red Plan which means we will use distance learning only until conditions allow us to return to on campus learning. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed as the year unfolds. 

Below is an outline of our reopening plans, keeping in mind that we will continue to pivot as needed while we remain attentive to changing circumstances. We ask that you read the document in its entirety, as you will be asked to return the last page of this document to the school office prior to the first day of school.

PHASED PLAN OUTLINE 

COMMUNICATION

We will continue our practices of communicating with families on a weekly basis through the Weekly Warrior. Other pertinent information regarding COVID-19 cases will be communicated with parents in a timely manner as each situation deems necessary. Parents will continue to have communication with their child’s teacher via email and phone calls. 

TUITION

We recognize the significant financial investment each family makes in sending their child to Grace Covenant Academy. For that reason, we are offering the following tuition adjustments for the 2020-21 school year if we must pivot to distance learning. Tuition adjustments will be issued quarterly.

EARLY ED CLASSES 

OPTION 1: A tuition refund will be given beginning on day 11 of closure, for the duration of the mandated distance learning.

OPTION 2 (available to PreK families only): Families who opt to withdraw children during distance learning will be given a tuition adjustment for days not spent in school.

GRADES K-8

  • Students will be offered a 30% discount per day beginning on day 11 of distance learning to off-set the loss of enrichment classes due to limitations with online learning. 
  • Students who withdraw during the school year, no matter if the school is in on-campus learning or distance learning, will be subject to the GCA withdrawal policy.

SCHOOL CALENDAR 

The school calendar has been shifted to start on August 26 in order to provide ample time for faculty and staff to prepare for the 2020-21 school year. In order to account for the lost days on the school calendar, the fall break has been lessened to a 4-day weekend (see updated school calendar online).

ATTENDANCE/GRADING

It is our goal to make attendance allowances fairly and accurately.

Attendance policies for the coming school year have been revised. For the 2020-21 academic year, students will be allowed 15 absences each semester in order to alleviate the pressure to have students attend school when they are showing symptoms of any illness. 

Furthermore, should a student contract COVID-19 or be required to quarantine because a member of his/her household is being tested or tests positive, we will seek to provide support and suspend normal attendance policies provided we receive documentation of the positive COVID-19 test. 

If quarantine becomes necessary, students will be expected to complete assignments unless illness prohibits it. In cases of illness, we will provide grace and reassurance, doing our best to help students make up any work missed. The school may make additional changes to policies for assignments, grading, and exams as needed to effectively facilitate any necessary online learning.

HEALTH SCREENING

A mandatory non-contact infrared temperature check will be performed on each student before they enter the building. Students who have an above average temperature (above 100.4) will be sent home.

HANDWASHING/CLEANING

The following practices and procedures will be in place in order to maintain a healthy and clean learning environment for students, faculty, and staff:

  • High traffic/touch areas will be cleaned and sanitized at least twice a day. All tables will be sanitized before snack, before lunch, and at the end of the school day. In addition, all classrooms will be completely disinfected at the end of each day. 
  • Students will be asked to physically distance as much as possible, keeping in mind that exposure is defined as within six feet for more than 15 minutes without a face covering.
  • Students will be asked to clean their hands (sanitizer or hand-washing) at every point of entry and before and after transitions. 
  • Bathrooms have been upgraded to include touchless faucets, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers.
  • Students will be encouraged and reminded often to keep their hands away from their mouth, face and eyes.
  • Student water bottles will be filled by staff as needed throughout the day, as students will no longer have access to water fountains around the building.

FACE COVERINGS/MASKS

At Grace Covenant Academy, we believe that masks are a helpful tool in controlling the transmission of germs. However, we believe that it is not the ONLY way we can increase the possibility of staying well. For that reason, and because we believe masks can prohibit the learning environment, we have developed the following plan for mask wearing at GCA:

  • Students in K-8th grade will be asked to wear a face covering from the time they exit the car until they enter the classroom, at which point they can remove them. They will also be asked to wear them in afternoon dismissal until they enter their car. 
  • Students will be physically distanced (in accordance with the CDC guidelines) in the individual classrooms to accommodate the option to not wear a mask. 
  • Students with a health issue that prevents wearing a face covering for this short time are exempt.

GCA will use physical distancing throughout the day so that students/classes are not congregating together within close proximity, diminishing the need for students to wear masks.

Families with health or other related circumstances may request an exemption from wearing masks. Contact the school to receive an Exemption Waiver.

SCHOOL ARRIVAL/DISMISSAL

In an effort to limit exposure, students will enter and exit through different doors based on grade level. If you have students in multiple locations, they will need to be dropped off and picked up in their individual locations. We realize this might be an inconvenience to some of you and thank you for your cooperation.  

MORNING CAR LINE

  • Early Ed: GCA Entrance 4
  • K – Grade 3 students: GCA Entrance 3 
  • Grade 4-5 students: GCA Main Entrance 2
  • Grade 6-8 students: GCA Entrance 1

AFTERNOON CAR LINE

  • K students: GCA Entrance 4 (Portico)
  • Grade 1-2 students: GCA Entrance 3
  • Grade 3-5 students: GCA Entrance 2
  • Grade 6-8 students: GCA Entrance 1

 

CLASS TRANSITIONS

We will strive to keep our students in their individual classrooms as much as possible throughout the school day. However, transition times will occur, and students will use some of the school’s high traffic areas. Thus, the following practices and procedures will be in place to keep our students safe and healthy:

  • High traffic/touch areas will be cleaned and sanitized at least twice a day.
  • Care will be given to ensure that minimal classes share the hallway at any given time throughout the day. 
  • Students will be encouraged to maintain physical distancing while walking through the hallway.
  • Early Ed and Elementary stairways and hallways will have each side designated for one way traffic.
  • Middle School lockers will be assigned to ensure physical distancing.
  • The Middle School schedule will be adjusted so that each grade visits their lockers individually on a staggered schedule.

CLASSROOMS

Class sizes have been reduced as follows, based on room square footage and following a maximum 50% capacity guideline, which allows us to ensure better physical distancing.

  • Early Ed: Max 6
  • Kindergarten: Max 13
  • First Grade: Max 13
  • Second Grade: Max 14
  • Third Grade: Max 14
  • Fourth Grade: Max 15
  • Fifth Grade: Max 15
  • Sixth-Eighth Grade Homerooms: Max 15

For Early Education and Kindergarten families, we understand that it is not practical to get children this age to physically distance. However, we will have the children leave more space between each other during circle time, encourage playing in smaller groups and will space students further at tables throughout the school day. Students will be using individual desks beginning in First Grade to diminish shared space.

In addition, student supply lists will include additional items this year so students will be able to  keep their supplies separate. Shared supplies will be kept to a minimum and sanitized as needed.

Teachers will utilize our outdoor spaces whenever possible.

CHAPEL

Students will attend live chapel at least once a month to minimize mixing of grade levels. Chapel will continue to be held in Clanton Hall where we will maintain a 50% capacity of the room and require students to practice physical distancing.

In addition, different points of entry and/or staggered times will be used to allow for movement to and from Chapel times.

SPECIAL EVENTS

We will practice physical distancing for all Grace Covenant Academy events and activities. GCA will maintain a maximum occupancy of 50% for each venue used for school events (i.e. Clanton Hall, sanctuary, gymnasium, and MS youth room). Size of participation will determine the location of any given school event, which will require us to keep an accurate head-count ahead of time in order to plan appropriately.

LUNCH AND BREAKS

Students and teachers will eat lunch in their individual classrooms occasionally outdoors when weather permits. Desks/tables will be cleaned and sanitized prior to eating. Hot lunch offered by Apple A Day Catering will still be offered during the 2020-21 school year and will be delivered to the classroom door.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES/CURRICULUM/ENRICHMENT

Student supply lists for the 2020-21 school year will include additional items in order to keep supplies separate that may have been shared in the past. Enrichment teachers will follow hygiene and sanitation practices with shared spaces or supplies.

TECHNOLOGY

RenWeb will continue to be our school information system. RenWeb will be utilized all year long for families to access grades, attendance records, health information, family billing and more.

In the event of distance learning, the following plans and practices will be put into place. Information and instructional documents for these platforms will be given to families at the start of the year.

  • Early Ed: Three’s
    N/A
  • Pre-K
    Optional distance learning available through the See Saw platform
  • Grades K-3
    Students will utilize the SeeSaw platform in the event of distance learning and students will need access to their own device.
  • Grades 4-8
    Students in grades 4-8 will utilize Google Classroom in the event of distance learning. Students will already have an assigned GCA device that they would be able to use. Should you foresee access to technology being an issue in your family please contact the GCA office.

CLUBS

As long as Grace Covenant Academy remains in the White Phase, clubs will not be offered for Early Education and Elementary students for the first quarter of the school year. Limited clubs that can allow for physical distancing will be available for middle school students.

RECESS

Daily outdoor recess will remain a high priority for our GCA students. Early Ed and Elementary students will have outdoor recess daily except in inclement weather. Students will be on playgrounds with students from their grade level only. Classes will enter the playground on a staggered time schedule, allowing individual classes to travel through hallways. Hands will be cleaned before and after time on the playground.

EXTENDED CARE

Extended care will continue to be available for students before the school day begins and at the end of the day. Each student participating in Extended Care will be given a health screening prior to the start of each Extended Care session. Reservations for both Morning and Afternoon Extended Care are required. Email Susan Clark, Extended Care Director, at sclark@gracecovenant.org for the link to the sign up genius. Spots are limited to no more than 15 students for each session (morning and afternoon) in order to allow for physical distancing.

Cleaning and hygiene will reflect the procedures utilized during the school day.

QUARANTINE AND CONTACT TRACING

In the event that a student or a family member living under the same roof shows symptoms of COVID-19 or is tested for COVID-19, we will follow guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and the Mecklenburg County Department of Health for isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing. The following are some of the guidelines for responding to symptoms and/or the need for testing. This list is not comprehensive nor is it intended to replace CDC, NCDHHS, or Mecklenburg County Health Department guidelines.

  • In the event that a student develops symptoms of COVID-19, that student should stay home and contact a health professional to determine if a test is appropriate. A student should not return to school until he/she has been cleared by a health professional to return to school (typically after testing negative) and/or being symptom free for at least three days.
  • If a health care professional recommends testing for a student or any household member under the same roof, you should notify the school and members of that household should quarantine until either (a) the COVID-19 test is negative, or (b) ten days have passed and all household members are symptom free.
  • If a student or any household member living under the same roof tests positive for COVID-19, please contact the Grace Covenant Academy office immediately. We will consult with the Mecklenburg County Health Department and relevant medical authorities to determine a timetable for return to school and to provide support during needed quarantine.
  • If a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, we will coordinate with local health officials who will begin the process of confidential contact tracing and make adjustments in the learning environment as needed.
  • Each case of potential COVID-19 transmission will be handled on a case-by-case basis in conversation with you, the Mecklenburg County Health Department, and school personnel, giving you enough information to make decisions while protecting the confidentiality of our employees, students, and families.

DETERMINING WHEN TO CLOSE

We will take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should someone in our community test positive. This includes identifying students who have had high-risk contact with a person who tests positive and notifying parents or legal guardians of the need to isolate and seek medical advice and/or testing. We have made every effort to schedule classes and school activities to keep students in smaller groups and with people in their own grades to the greatest extent possible. This will limit exposure and facilitate more precise contact tracing should it become necessary. 

Should a student or employee test positive for COVID-19, it may become necessary to close a class or hallway temporarily (2-5 days) to consult with health officials, to clean and disinfect, and to contact trace. In each case, we will attempt to be strategic and precise with our containment measures, closing as little as possible but as much as necessary. More extensive closures would likely coincide with local or state closure mandates.