Our Plan to Open the 2020-2021 School Year
We are ready to welcome students back 5 days a week!
All of us at Whitinsville Christian School are eager to welcome students and faculty back on campus! Our Readiness Task Force has been meeting for weeks, evaluating information and guidelines, and developing plans to safely begin the school year. Using guidelines outlined by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), along with information from the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), and the medical professionals in our own community, our goal is to fulfill our mission as we provide the best balance of individual safety and school building management.
Please carefully review the Education Plan Summary and the Health, Safety & Wellness Plan Summary (below) for important information regarding the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. We’ve also developed a section of FAQs for your convenience and the complete Health, Safety, & Wellness Plan is available with more specific details regarding the measures we are taking to return to in-person learning.
Our world belongs to God. These words remind us that we can lean on our God who is sovereign, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As a community of believers, we know He is our Refuge, our Rock, and our firm anchor in times of trouble.
Review our Health Plan Summary, Educational Plan Summary, and FAQs Below
What will look different as we return for on campus learning?
We look forward to welcoming our students on the first day of classes, August 25. The summaries of our plans are available on our website, outlining some of the differences to expect from a “normal” day at school. A number of things about in-person learning will look very familiar, including five full days on campus a week.
How is WCS's approach to the 2020-2021 school year different from other schools?
As a private, Christian school, WCS makes decisions we believe will best allow us to fulfill our mission. This year is no different. It is our responsibility to evaluate all of the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), and the medical professionals in our own community regarding the safe return to school in August. We feel strongly that we can best serve our students by welcoming them back on campus in a safe manner. Our expansive campus allows for plenty of room for outdoor classes. Just as we adeptly adjusted to online learning in the spring, our faculty is equipped to deliver an exceptional education under these new circumstances.
When should I notify WCS of our intentions for this school year?
Enrollment decisions must be made by Friday, August 7. Class lists, staffing requirements, and similar enrollment-dependent items will be developed based on enrollment as of August 7. After August 7, families who are enrolled will be responsible for 25% of the annual tuition, even if they choose to withdraw at a later date. Families that withdraw after the first day of school up until December 15 will be responsible for 50% of annual tuition. Withdrawing after December 15 will mean responsibility for 100% of annual tuition and fees is due to WCS.
Are there exemptions for wearing a mask?
If a student or staff member has a medical condition which requires some accommodation or exemption for wearing a face covering, the family will need to provide documentation from a physician or medical provider. Please submit documentation to the school nurse by August 18th.
Will WCS offer a remote learning opportunity this fall?
Our goal is to have in-person learning for all students. Last spring, WCS quickly implemented its virtual learning plan and was considered a model of excellence among other schools. This summer, all Massachusetts schools have been required to develop contingency plans in the event that students are not able to be on campus. WCS has prepared two contingency plans: E-School and Remote Learning. Remote Learning is synchronous learning that will be offered on a very limited basis for families or students who are high risk or who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quarantined at home. Christine McCabe, School Nurse, will work directly with any family and their primary care physician(s) to determine student or other family member’s risk. In the event of an all-school closing, WCS will immediately transition to E-School.
Is there a chance the state could mandate “rolling outages” of schools or even a complete campus shut-down again?
It would be irresponsible to say anything other than “maybe.” Many area public schools have released their plans to allow only limited time on campus for students. Many of the large public schools surrounding WCS have much higher numbers of students, even at 50% capacity. Please know that WCS intends to do everything possible to continue with on-campus/in-person learning. It is our strong preference and the preference of nearly 80% of the responses in a recent school-wide survey. The reboot of in-person school will take extra time and effort by our entire staff, but we believe it is generally the best option for our youth. With the experience gained during virtual learning last spring, WCS can and will adjust quickly for a seamless transition to E-school in the event of a state-mandated closure.
In the event the State mandates remote learning for everyone, will tuition be reduced?
Simply said, tuition will not be reduced (see Education Plan for details regarding Stepping Stone Preschool tuition reductions). Other schools in our network, locally and nationally, have adopted similar or identical policies. WCS will continue to provide the same excellence in instruction that it has for more than 90 years. It is important to remember that our strong preference is on-campus and in-person learning. Our pledge to you? The same excellence-driven WCS you’ve counted on so many times will remain arm-in-arm with you in your home. Most importantly, a Christ-centered and Biblically-rooted education never has been more important as it is now. There is nothing more important than having our child(ren) in front of Godly men and women every day upholding Biblical truth, inspiring minds, and igniting hearts.. Lastly, we are providing record-tuition assistance for the coming school year. We encourage families to reach out to the Business Office with any financial concerns before making decisions about withdrawing in the event we transition to E-School.
What about athletics, performing arts, and other extracurricular and/or co-curricular activities?
We are following the guidance of the MIAA and DESE. We are in frequent communication with each of these organizations and remain hopeful that our students can participate in as many activities as possible under the guidelines. Certainly we acknowledge that events and activities will look different than usual in the short term, but we will exercise creativity to offer as many experiences to our students as possible.
What if my child is a higher risk, but I’d like to discuss in-person plans and health protocols with someone?
Please reach out to your appropriate principal or the school nurse to discuss the arrangements that WCS will have in place so that you are able to effectively make this decision for your child.
Why did WCS choose to have screening done at home instead of at school? And how will this be handled?
The guidance from the state allows for screening to be conducted at home. We believe this will maximize our instructional time while at school rather than having hundreds of students line up at the door for a temperature check and symptom screening. It’s important to stay at home when sick, and screening at home allows parents to check in with their children regarding symptoms and temperature, before arriving on campus with other students. WCS will provide an easy screening/reporting step for parents (and staff) to perform at home, which must be done in the morning before school. This will quickly become a part of our morning routine as we cooperate together.
How are you going to ensure parents and employees are truthful when they complete the daily health screenings?
As a Christian school, and based on past experience, we believe that our community is highly responsible and attentive. We can’t ensure people are truthful, but we can continue to advise and implore parents and employees that the best pathway to health and wellness for the whole community is to take the appropriate time each morning before you come to campus to honestly and accurately complete a health screening. We will be reminding parents and employees about the critical importance of this protocol frequently. It is vitally important for public health that employees and students stay home when sick or when they are known to be exposed to someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive and are within the incubation period set by the CDC and DESE. At WCS, we have a trusting relationship between families and school staff.
What if we’ve been exposed to someone who thinks they have COVID-19? Can my child(ren) return to campus while they wait for the results?
DESE guidance states that anyone who has been in “close contact” with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19 infection should quarantine at home and monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If that close contact tests negative, the student may return to school immediately. If that contact is indeed COVID-19 positive, the student will need to have a negative COVID test prior to returning to school. Currently, guidelines define “close contact” as within six feet for more than 15 minutes, with or without a face covering.
What if a WCS student or employee tests positive for COVID-19?
For all grades, please contact our full-time school nurse, Christine McCabe, by phone at 508-372-3250 or by email at email@example.com to inform her of a positive test result. She will work with the family and the local health department to determine the next steps. This will include informing close contacts such as classmates. Additionally, we will communicate with the WCS community when there are known/confirmed cases of COVID-19 by a student, employee, or visitor who has been on campus, all while complying with confidentiality requirements. Returning to school after being COVID positive requires being 72 hours without fever, without fever-reducing medication, improvement of symptoms, and at least 10 days since symptoms appeared. Please see addendum to WCS Communicable Disease Policy which can be found in the Health, Safety, and Wellness plan for more details.
Will WCS conduct contact tracing?
The school will notify all close contacts, defined as being within 6 feet of the positive person for more than 15 minutes. Those close contacts will need to test negative or quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. These details are also included in the Health, Safety, and Wellness Plan.
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