Español: Great Hearts Regreso Seguro
Updated August 19, 2020
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying your summer. As we approach August, we want to share with you our plan to reopen our academies in the fall.
Over the last three months, our school management team has worked relentlessly to design an approach that balances the safety of our students and staff with the return to a learning environment that allows our students to thrive. The team included academy leaders, health professionals, technologists, and instructional experts.
As a first step, the team listened to parents, teachers and support staff, and consulted with national experts.
Following this deep dive, we designed our plan to maintain a healthy building environment, to provide flexibility for families not ready to return, and to prepare for future contingencies. Our plan is built to adjust to evolving conditions regarding COVID-19 and we will update you further over the summer as appropriate.
All of our plans are informed by and consistent with current state and national public health guidelines, and our plans will evolve if guidelines and orders are adjusted. While we know most families plan to return to campus, attendance policies in Texas and Arizona continue to allow your children to attend from home via remote learning. We are maintaining the remote learning access we provided this past spring.
Please review the six-point plan that follows and do not hesitate to reach out to your school headmaster with any questions or feedback.
We are deeply grateful for you—all our families and staff—for all the resilience and resolve you have shown in recent months. We look forward to the new school year.
JAY HEILER, Co-founder, Chairman Great Hearts America
The most recent CDC guidelines on opening schools sorts its recommendations according to the degree of community spread. In the case of no community spread, the CDC recommends that schools intensify cleaning and disinfection strategies, actively monitor students and staff for absenteeism, limit large group gatherings to only essential activities, and require sick students and staff to stay home.
In the case of moderate community spread, school leaders are also asked to consider social distancing strategies for classrooms and movement in buildings and to accommodate the needs of students and families at high risk. When a school has a confirmed case, the CDC recommends that the school closes for a short period of time.
All levels and sources of guidance are consistent in recommending individual screenings, social distancing, and enhanced sanitizing procedures as the main prevention strategies. They also emphasize the need to have a comprehensive incident response plan and a set of dual contingency plans in place: one for students and faculty who need to stay at home for long periods of time and another to be enacted in the event of a full-school shutdown.
Continued shutdown of schools can negatively impact student health, and disruptions to instructional time can have a severe impact on a child’s ability to learn. Prolonged closures can cause stress and anxiety due to the loss of peer interaction and disrupted routines. Risks are amplified in marginalized communities. The longer at-risk children are out of school, the less likely they are to return.