COVID-19 Opening Plan
Opening of School 2020-2021
December 11, 2020 Update
December 11, 2020
As we come to the end of the first semester on December 18, 2020, I would like to thank our parents, grandparents, scholars, teachers and staff for their hard work, patience, flexibility and support during these unprecedented times. This year, unlike any other, has challenged us all beyond what any of us could have imagined. We have all had to work together to embrace education in completely new and different ways. There have been challenges, and successes. All of these experiences have brought us together in faith as a school community, providing support, encouragement, reassurance, and extending grace.
As we plan for the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year, we have reached out to you for input on your experiences with virtual learning during the first semester and how we can best meet the needs of our school community going forward. The information gathered via surveys and one-on-one conversations have been helpful and enlightening. Thank you everyone for your participation and candid feedback. We heard heart wrenching stories from some who lost loved ones to COVID-19. We heard the frustration of parents who are essential workers and had to juggle job responsibilities while supporting their child during virtual instruction. We also heard from parents who have had to rely on extended family members and friends to serve as learning coaches while the parents worked from home and their children engaged in virtual learning. Others have told us that they have no assistance from extended family and as a result, are the sole support for their child during virtual learning, making it difficult, if not impossible, to work from home and be a learning coach. Some of these families expressed their desire for AOS to return to in-person learning for the second semester.
Some parents, on the other hand, are reluctant to return to in-person learning due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of COVID-19. These families would like to continue with virtual learning in the second semester.
After considering the feedback and relying on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the National Association of Independent Schools, and Pennoni (an environmental consulting firm with specialty in COVID-19), The Academy of Scholars has decided to provide both in-person instruction and virtual learning for the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. This decision was not an easy one and is still contingent on the trending risk of the spread of COVID-19, as well as the impact of any governmental orders.
Before we can provide additional details about how in-person and virtual learning will look in the second semester, we will need an accurate count of the scholars who will attend in-person and those who will attend virtually. As a result, we are asking parents to complete the Second Semester Attendance Commitment Form (attached below) by the end of the day, Wednesday, December 16th. Any family who does not complete the form by the deadline will automatically remain with virtual learning.
In an effort to provide both virtual learning and in-person instruction and meet the needs of all stakeholders, we cannot guarantee that your child’s teacher for the second semester will be the same teacher that he/she had during the first semester. While this may seem unsettling to some, please know that all AOS teachers are exceptional and share the same curriculum within the grade level.
Lesson plans, modules, and newsletters are prepared collaboratively so that all classes in each grade receive the same excellent curriculum, quality of teaching, and adherence to the AOS way. Teachers assigned to teach virtual classes will only be virtual and teachers assigned to teach in-person classes will only be in-person. Finally, in making your decision, please note that this commitment will be for the entire second semester and cannot be changed once your decision has been made.
Thank you once again for your patience, support and understanding as we navigate through this pandemic, relying on the feedback of our stakeholders, the recommendations of experts, prayer and God’s continued guidance. God Bless!
Q. Why did AOS decide to provide 100% virtual instead of hybrid or face to face instruction?
A. We value the safety, health and well-being of our scholars, their families and our staff. Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, feedback we received from parents, teachers and risk assessment with our consulting team, we believe that it is too risky to return to in person schooling at this time.
Q. Will virtual learning continue for the entire year?
A. We plan to return to in-person education as soon as we can, based upon the risk assessment. Virtual learning will continue through at least the end of Quarter 1, Friday, September 25. We will be continuously assessing the risks, and we will communicate changes, as necessary.
Q. How will virtual learning look?
A. Virtual learning will be a daily, live experience for scholars who can do so. There will be scheduled classes, just as if the scholars were in the classroom, and the teacher will teach lessons directly to her class. For scholars who cannot attend live sessions, sessions will be recorded and available for viewing.
Q. Is AOS Online and the brick and mortar virtual at-home experience the same?
A. No. AOS Online has different classrooms from our brick and mortar classrooms, although both follow the same curriculum. Both will utilize the Canvas Learning Management System which is used by top-notch universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT and Georgia Tech. In addition,
both will use Microsoft Teams as the video component of the LMS and both will use the Pearson digital curriculum. Teachers for AOS Online are not the same teachers for our AOS brick and mortar. The start date for AOS Online is September 8th ; most students across the country start school after Labor Day. In addition, parents who enroll their children in AOS Online are making a commitment for online learning for the entire year. Our brick and mortar virtual at-home learning will return to in-person instruction based on our risk assessment. However, scholars who are uncomfortable returning to in-person instruction this school year may opt to remain at home. In this instance, teachers will not be teaching virtually. Recorded lessons will not be available when we return to in-person instruction. Assignments will still be placed in the LMS and parents will have to provide support at home. If you want the availability of on-line classes throughout the year, AOS Online provides that option.
Q. Will Encore classes take place during virtual classes?
A. Yes. Scholars will have one Encore per day, just as they did in their daily in-person classes.
Q. Will AOS provide a device for scholars to participate in virtual learning?
A. Yes. Scholars in PreK and Kindergarten will receive Nexus tablets. Scholars in grades 1 st through 6 th will receive Chromebooks. There will be device pick-up dates and times provided in later correspondence.
Q. I already purchased uniforms; may I return them?
A. You may return any uniforms purchased on or after June 1, 2020 and we will issue a refund. You can re-purchase items when in-person school resumes.
Q. Will we get a refund for school supplies?
A. Charges for school supplies will be prorated in accordance with the time spent in-person versus online. If you have already paid for school supplies, we will issue a refund at your request or you may hold the credit.
Q. Will we get a refund for the snack fee (PreK/Kindergarten)?
A. This fee will be prorated in accordance with the time spent in-person versus online. If you have already paid the snack fee, we will issue a refund at your request or you may hold the credit.
Q. Will we get a refund for lunch?
A. There will be no refund related to lunch. Lunch is included in tuition and is not a separate charge. We must continue to pay our lunch vendor when school is not in session in the building.
Q. Will there be other refunds?
A. There will not be any other refunds. AOS has incurred very substantial costs related to COVID-19. In addition, the school has implemented the Canvas
Learning Management System to deliver an excellent platform for both in-person and online instruction, Microsoft Teams as the video component, individual student desks instead of tables, a digital library system, digital textbooks, and Chromebooks for all scholars in grades 1 st through 6 th and tablets for PreK and Kindergarten scholars, which may be taken home while school is in a virtual learning environment.
Q. Will parents receive training to use the learning management system?
A. Yes, there will be training provided to use our new learning management system.
Q. Will scholars have to wear uniforms for virtual learning?
A. Scholars will have to wear their AOS uniform shirt during their virtual learning classes.
Q. How will grades and feedback be given by the teachers?
A. Scholars will be held accountable for work assigned and will receive weighted grades and feedback for assignments identified by the teacher as classwork, homework, tests, quizzes, and projects.
Q. Will scholars be given assessments?
A. Consistent with our prior practice, scholars will be assessed at the beginning, middle and end of the year to determine growth; weekly/biweekly for
review of content lessons and to determine math/reading flexible groupings, and monthly at the end of content units.
Q. Will there be an orientation session prior to the start of the school year?
A. Yes, a virtual orientation will be provided.
Q. Is the AOS COVID-19 plan aligned with any other school district?
A. No. The AOS COVID-19 plan is designed for the AOS school community. Our risk assessment includes the needs of our scholars, their families and the vulnerabilities of our staff. For example, the AOS start date of August 17 is not being moved. We are often asked to align our start date with one or another of the neighboring school districts; however, we must make our decisions based on what’s best for AOS. Therefore, our return to in-person instruction may or may not align with the dates of other school districts.
Q. My child has a medical situation that makes me uncomfortable resuming in-person classes this school year. What do I do once in-person school resumes?
A. We understand that families need to make this difficult decision based on what is best for their family. Your scholar may remain at home and AOS will not require medical documentation. However, remaining at home is an option for this school year only. Virtual teaching and recorded lessons will not be available when we return to in-person instruction. Assignments will still be placed in the LMS and parents will have to provide support at home. If you want the availability of on-line classes throughout the year, AOS Online provides that option.