Welcome Back! #BRCSfamily #BRCSthrive
August 31, 2020
Blue Ridge Christian School
Health and Screening Guidelines
The following guidelines are based on a “Healthy Campus, Thriving Community” framework and in consultation with local healthcare providers and with the Virginia Department of Health. This framework requires parents and staff to ensure that only healthy individuals are permitted on campus. Please review these guidelines carefully. These guidelines will be revised based on local data and updated recommendations.
Reference: VDH Algorithm for Evaluating a Child with COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposure Definition: Exposure/Close Contact- Means being within 6 feet of a person with proven or suspected COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more OR direct exposure to respiratory secretions.
How should I screen my child(ren) before school?
Proactive measures are crucial to our in-person learning. Before leaving for school, a parent or caregiver will screen each child in their family.
There are two main screening questions that must be addressed DAILY:
1. Has this child had close contact with someone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
2. Is this child sick with ANY symptom or symptoms of COVID-19?
Fever (100.4 or greater), sore throat, new uncontrolled cough, diarrhea/abdominal pain, new onset headache, muscle aches, or loss of smell/taste
If the answer to BOTH questions are “NO” for ALL children, families may head to school for the day. If a child answers “NO” to having close contact BUT does have a symptom or symptoms of COVID-19,the c hild must stay home. Parents should promptly notify the school and then call your healthcare provider for further directions.
If the other children in the family answer “NO” to both questions, they may come to school.
What happens if my child becomes sick at school?
When a student begins to feel ill at school, he or she will be sent to the office for evaluation by staff. If a child has a symptom or symptoms of COVID-19, the student will be isolated and a parent will be called to pick the child up from school. Please know that when a child is “isolated” and waiting pick-up, it simply means that they are in a designated area that the school has developed. A member of the staff will always remain with your child and provide support until the parent arrives.
When can my child return to school?
A child may return when:
● He/she has been symptom-free AND fever-free WITHOUT the use of medication for 24 hrs.
● The child has been seen by your healthcare provider for care and diagnosis. BRCS requires a physician’s note with an alternative diagnosis for ANY student who is ready to return to school.
If your family chooses not to see a healthcare provider, your child must remain at home for 10 days. At the end of those 10 days, if the child has been fever and symptom-free for 24 hrs. WITHOUT the use of medication, he/she may return to school.
The purpose of this document is to provide a SIMPLE overview and quick reference for families. There are numerous scenarios and questions not covered in this document. We welcome any questions and concerns you may have. It is the sincere desire of BRCS to support all families during this unprecedented year. To that end, we humbly ask that you continually extend grace and understanding to all staff as we seek to continually keep abreast of the latest medical guidance and best practices that are continually being updated in our region. Additionally, our school is committed to regular communication with the VDH and local healthcare providers to consistently support our intention to maintain a “Healthy Campus, Thriving Community.”
Questions? Please contact:
Becky Jellum, RN, BRCS Consulting Nurse
“But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
In the news!
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Let’s Stay Connected
BRCS has a private parent group on Facebook. Only school families are able to join. This is a great place to ask questions and talk with other families.
Even though the students are out, we will continue to post updates. We hope that you will find encouragement in what is shared and stay up to date.
June 12, 2020
I’m sure you have been keeping up with Governor Northam’s announcements this week about plans for reopening schools in Virginia. There is much to consider, and we all have questions about how those guidelines may impact BRCS next year. In the midst of this rapidly changing situation, these two things remain constant: our God’s sovereign care for His people, and our school’s capacity to be proactive and adapt quickly. Those constants are an anchor for all of us as we discern our next steps.
I want to share with you our school’s goals for the coming school year. After reviewing Governor Northam’s announcements this week and seeking counsel from ACSI and the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE), here are our key priorities as we prepare for the 2020-21 academic year:
- Provide in-person, on-campus educational experiences for all preschool-12th grade students.
- Follow best practices for the optimal health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, in accordance with mandates from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
- Design our academic and extracurricular programs to maximize opportunities for all students, within the parameters of VDH mandates.
- Ensure we steward our financial resources and facilities with wisdom and creativity this summer and into next school year.
- Communicate regularly with our families over the summer as we finalize our plans for reopening school.
Reopening school will be a collaborative effort. Community is what BRCS does best, and this is our opportunity to shine! As our Leadership Team refines our plans for next year, we will be seeking the knowledge and insight of our faculty, staff and parents. We will also continue to consult with ACSI, VCPE, local resources and the BRCS Board of Directors in the coming days and weeks to ensure we have the most accurate and up-to-date information to guide our decisions.
I also want to thank you for participating in our end-of-year virtual learning survey – 87% of our parents responded, and we are very grateful for the insights you shared. We were very encouraged that 88% of parents on both surveys indicated they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with BRCS’ transition to virtual learning. Parents also offered many thoughtful ideas about ways to improve the experience. These results and ideas will factor into planning for any virtual learning model we may need to use in the future.
Thank you for extending grace and patience as we move forward together. Have a safe and relaxing weekend!
Karen K. Shomo
Head of School
June 26, 2020
As we continue to look ahead to re-opening school in August, there’s no better time to be part of the BRCS family! Since we are a small school community, we are able to be nimble and flexible.
Two weeks ago, I shared with you that BRCS is developing a comprehensive plan in accordance with Governor Northam’s guidelines for re-opening K-12 schools. Private schools must submit plans to the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE). These plans must address health and safety protocols as well as educational practices. At this point, all Virginia schools are in Phase II of school re-opening. We are permitted to run summer camps during Phase II, so we already submitted our Phase II plan and are operating our summer camps under that plan.
The next step is to begin preparing for Phase III, which is the expected status for all schools by August. We are in the process of developing the Phase III plan now. We will continue to prioritize student and employee health and safety and on-campus, in-person educational opportunities for all students.
Here are some of the steps we’re taking to move forward with our program for next year:
- Phase III guidelines permit on-campus instruction if classroom capacity allows for 6 foot distancing. After measuring classroom space throughout both campuses, I am happy to report that we have sufficient space to provide in-person instruction for all preK-12 students, every day. It’s such a blessing to have this gift of abundant space!
- Phase III guidelines also recommend very limited use of shared spaces. We anticipate that students will remain in their “home base” classroom for the majority of the day when school opens. We are looking at schedules that ensure students get extra time for recess and other physical activity throughout the day.
- For larger gatherings like chapel, we are considering creative solutions to preserve the best parts of those gatherings while maintaining 6-foot distancing.
- Our Athletic Department staff will follow recommendations for safely resuming fall sports. Coach Padilla sent out an email today with updates.
Major considerations for health and safety measures, to ensure compliance with Department of Health guidelines, include:
- Developing health screening protocols for all members of the BRCS community. We are piloting screenings during summer camps. We anticipate further guidance on this process for the school year.
- Consulting with local health care providers to develop policies that will promote a healthy campus environment.
Over the next several days, we will continue to map out many specifics of our re-opening plan. I will send an email update at least every other Friday, or more often if there are important updates to share with you. Between updates, please feel free contact me by email or at the Lower School office. I am grateful for our incredible team of educators at BRCS who will work with diligence and innovation to formulate and carry out our plan. Thank you for understanding that this situation is constantly changing, and we are doing our best to stay up-to-date with the most current information available.
We are praying for your families – for God’s blessing, protection and provision this summer. I am truly looking forward to being together again in just a couple of months!
Karen K. Shomo
Head of School
July 17, 2020
In the BRCS office, our summer has been very full, but we welcome the activity! It means we are getting ready to launch a new school year with all students back on campus, every day. We are so looking forward to resuming in-person classes and reconnecting with you and your families.
Over the past three weeks, the BRCS Leadership Team has developed a comprehensive school re-opening plan. This plan is in accordance with Phase III of Governor Northam’s guidelines for re-opening K-12 schools and will be submitted to the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE). As I’ve shared with you over the past weeks, we have two key priorities: student and employee health and safety, and on-campus, in-person educational opportunities for all students. Our re-opening plan reflects those priorities: “Healthy Campus, Thriving Community” is the framework on which the plan is based.
One thing we quickly realized in working through the planning process was the need to develop separate re-opening plans for the Lower School and the Upper School. Attached are Lower School Guidelines and Upper School Guidelines for your review. Please do note that these plans are subject to change due to updated guidance from the Virginia Department of Health or from VCPE. We anticipate submitting these plans to VCPE no later than July 31st to fulfill the Phase III requirement. Next week, I will join a Zoom meeting with other ACSI schools in Virginia and VCPE representatives to talk through this process further.
An important item to highlight: We have added two teacher work days during the opening weeks of school. On Friday, August 28th and Friday, September 4th, school will be closed so staff can meet to assess the opening weeks and make any adjustments to our protocols. We will also use those days for ongoing technology training to support remote instruction.
I welcome your feedback and questions about these plans. Please feel free to contact me by email or by phone at the Lower School office (Monday-Thursday). I will continue to send updated information on Fridays.
Thank you for your prayers and encouraging words throughout the summer. I am so grateful for the way the BRCS community continues to be a source of support and inspiration during a challenging time. Serving your families is a privilege and blessing for all of us
August 8, 2020
“Healthy Campus, Thriving Community”
That framework is focused on two key priorities: the health and safety of all members of the BRCS community, and in-person, continuous educational opportunities for all students. As we continue to work through the many details of reopening school, we are basing all decisions on those priorities. Thank you to all who have expressed your support of these priorities and for your understanding that, though some day-to-day aspects of the BRCS program may look very different this year, the heart and spirit of our mission remains constant. We are committed to caring for your students’ academic, spiritual, social and physical needs, no matter what the circumstances may be.
We continue to work with local medical professionals to develop health and wellness protocols for all students and staff. We are using current guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health to formulate these protocols. This document will include details about how BRCS will handle student or staff illness, including scenario planning for potential COVID-19 cases on campus. I know this is of great concern to many parents, so please know we will have a plan in place very soon. We are aiming to have this document ready to share with parents within the coming week. It’s important to keep in mind that medical guidance is updated frequently as researchers learn more about best practices, so our plan will have to adjust accordingly.
August 12, 2020
As we move forward toward reopening our school year together, we want to bear a testimony for our Lord that is above reproach. We wish “to walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (Eph. 4:1) in all ways, and to make decisions that are guided by wisdom, faith, and godly counsel.
Over the past week, the BRCS Leadership Team has collaborated with an advisory committee of BRCS parents who are also medical professionals in our community. Our goal is to develop health and safety protocols for the coming school year that reflect the most recent research findings and best practice recommendations regarding the Covid-19 virus. Our bottom line is this: We want to ensure uninterrupted, in-person education for our school this year. “Healthy Campus, Thriving Community” continues to be our aim. These protocols are designed to help us all achieve that goal, but they depend on the support and vigilant cooperation of all members of our community.
First, our protocols depend on the prevalence of Covid-19 in our local community. We are in a constantly evolving situation. If there is an increased rate of positive cases locally, then BRCS will implement more stringent health screening, physical distancing, and face covering requirements. Because this rate may vary over the next several weeks, please understand that the school may adapt our protocols accordingly.
Second, screening begins at home. Students and staff who exhibit any of the symptoms in the attached document must remain at home. This is absolutely essential for the well-being of all members of our school community.
Third, in order to minimize risk and minimize disruption to our program, we must minimize potential exposure. Physical distancing and limiting student movement through the buildings is part of this effort. In addition, to begin the school year, BRCS will require mandatory face coverings for all students, staff, and visitors when indoors and when within 6 feet of others, at both campuses, grades PK-12. When students are outdoors, in PE, and at lunch, or seated 6 feet apart indoors, they may remove their face coverings. This requirement will help us protect the health of all students and of our faculty and staff – again, so we can ensure uninterrupted, in-person education. We are also fully supportive of families who wish to have their students wear face coverings at all times.
According to the most updated research, face coverings should consist of at least two layers of material and must cover the mouth and nose fully. Acceptable face coverings include homemade masks with 2 or more layers, disposable surgical masks, or N95 masks. Unacceptable masks would include single layer fabrics such as handkerchiefs or neck gaiters and one way valved masks.
The Health Advisory Committee and the Leadership Team will be meeting monthly to review current data and consider protocols changes. Pray with us that the Covid-19 percent positivity rates remain low in our region so we can move forward with this plan as outlined.
These new protocols represent a policy change from what BRCS shared with parents last month, particularly for our Lower School families. Updated versions of the Lower School and Upper School Reopening Guidelines are This is a lot of information to absorb, and we’re here to walk beside you through this. Please contact me, Mary Beth Anderson, or Amy Good with any specific questions. Thank you for praying with us as we navigate this ever-changing time. Together we worship and serve a sovereign Lord who is our firm foundation through all the storms. To Him be the glory!