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Chambers Academy details reopening plan for 2020-21

Chambers Academy has announced its plan for the 2020-21 school year, which was approved by its board of directors on Monday.

“We are making plans that are changing every day,” Chambers Academy Headmaster David Owen said. “Nobody knows all the answers, and the blessing here is that our school is small enough that we can make decisions based on trying to control the environment to the best we can to try and give our kids and their families the educational experience they’re looking for.”

The school year will start on Aug. 6. There are three plans that the school has in place to deal with COVID-19 situations as they arise.

“FFor the past few months, the school’s administrative team and our CCEF board of trustees have been working towards a common goal: plans for a SAFE return to school,” the plan read. “Our planning has been guided by two main principals which are prioritizing the health and safety of our school community and providing an exceptional CA education of our students, with an emphasis on academics. We have collected information from health providers, the AISA, the SAISm the ALSDE and taken under consideration a wide range of actions to address sanitation, physical distancing as well as containment.”

The first plan is for on-campus learning. In order to make sure this option is safe for students, their families and faculty, Chambers Academy has received $68,044 in CARES Act money and has used most of it to make the school as safe as possible.

“We are putting in a lot of safety protocols,” Owen said. “We’re taking a lot of steps like buying the Merv 13 filters to go in our HVAC systems to kill any airborne particles. We’re buying stand-alone temperature detectors that can read up to 30 temperatures a minute.”

Some purchases include self-standing hand sanitizer stations, 1,000 masks, backpack sprayers, handheld sprayer kits, three temperature kiosks, air purifiers for classrooms and non-contact thermometers among other purchases.

All purchases were processed through Chambers County Schools on Tuesday according to Owen.

Each student and faculty member will receive two reusable masks that are customized with the CA logo. Students are not required to wear masks but they are strongly encouraged. Teachers can decide to require masks.

“We are not requiring masks right now, just strongly encouraging,” Owen said. “There may be a couple of classes where a teacher might say in high school if you have this particular teacher’s class, you have to wear a mask this period.”

There will be extra masks.

Each teacher will be given a non-contact thermometer that they can use to check a student if the need arises.

The stand-alone thermometers will be placed at the three main entrances of the school, one at the front where the fourth through 12th-graders enter, one at the side where the kindergarten through third graders enter and one at the top where the preschool is located. They will also be used at extracurricular events, like football games.

There will also be separation of classes.

In the kindergarten through third grades, students will stay self-contained with the bulk of their classes taught by their grade level teacher.

Fourth through sixth grades will also be self-contained. They will not change classrooms for their core subjects, instead teachers will rotate classrooms.

“Just another way to keep the kids limited to one workspace, rather than multiple workspaces,” Owen said. “We can go in every evening with the fogger and sanitize the room.”

The seventh through 12th grades will rotate, but Owen said that the administration is working on figuring out a schedule that will stagger students as much as possible, to cut down on traffic in the halls.

“The logistics, we are really close,” Owen said.

Students will also not be allowed to go to the water fountain, so they are encouraged to bring their own water bottle, which can be refilled at a non-contact refillable water bottle filling station, which will be paid for with the remainder of the school’s CARES Act money.

Lunch schedules will also be staggered, but students will not be eating in classrooms. Along with the Marv-13 air filters, there will be two standalone air purifiers. According to Owen, both purifiers will cover 1,800 square feet combined.

The lunch schedules will most likely be as followed, kindergarten and first grade, second grade and third grade, fourth through sixth grades, seventh through ninth grades and 10th through 12th grades. This is subject to change.

If a teacher has come in contact with a person with COVID-19 or has the virus, they will be required to miss the next 14 days of work at least and self-quarantine. If a student catches the virus or someone in their family has the virus, that student will learn remotely for at least 14 days. Families in the classroom will be notified if there is a positive in their class.

If there is 22.5% of the student body, or 51 students out of school due to COVID-19, the school will shift into its online learning, which it followed from the middle of March until the end of school in May.

“Right now, our board is weighing the option of a 22.5% or 25% mark. It seems to be a mark a lot of AISA schools are considering from the 20 to 25% range,” Owen said. “Many of our families, students and teachers got a heavy dose of virtual learning and fondly missed traditional learning. We’re committed to trying to make our bubble as insulated as possible to make a traditional schooling model available to our students without trying to sacrifice safety, safety being paramount.”

Juniors and seniors will receive laptops to use for the 2020-21 school year, as will teachers. The 90 laptops were paid for with the school’s CARES Act money.

Chambers Academy will hold two open houses this year as well. The first open house will be on Aug. 3, which will be open for families of students from kindergarten to sixth grade. The second open house, for seventh to 12th-grade students will be on Aug. 4.