For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Guiding Principles: How we are making decisions
The school’s reopening task force and leadership team have defined the following guiding principles to lead our work: operational and medical. We hope these principles help you to understand the thought behind our conversations and decisions. When possible, we believe that in-person schooling is the best experience for a child’s overall health and education.
It is very important to remember that school policies and procedures may change over time, hopefully for the better. As new data becomes available, one of our guiding principles (see below) is to be flexible and fluid so that we can adjust appropriately and wisely from month to month. Rather than trying to sort through endless and sometimes conflicting articles from a Google search, we are leaning on the expertise and integrity of the state’s roadmap, our local health department, school leadership, and our task force members to discern and provide the best information we can work from.
Key operational principles in reopening AACS:
- We remain wholeheartedly committed to our mission to provide strong, Christ-centered education, and this puts God as the unshakeable foundation of our hope and our future.
- Prayer is critical to the life of AACS during the pandemic.
- We will live out the command to love through the pandemic. This includes being respectful, gracious, mindful, and compassionate with different opinions and comfort levels on how to best handle the pandemic. This call to love also applies to any confirmed cases of COVID-19 that might occur within AACS.
- There is no such thing as “perfectly safe” in any area of our lives. God’s steadfast nature is the only thing that is constant and perfectly good and free from the brokenness of a fallen world. With COVID-19, what we will do is take reasonable and responsible precautions.
- While striving to keep everyone safe, we seek to reopen in a holistic and developmentally-appropriate manner that addresses the whole person, including critical spiritual, emotional, and social needs. There are many important facets to a healthy child, and AACS desires to work with families to meet these (the role of facial expression and language development were part of the discussion about overall health.). We also wish to meet the same critical needs of the staff.
- We will make decisions that are mission-driven and data-informed so that we are making smart, responsible, and informed decisions that are neither overly constrictive nor overly lax and factoring in common sense. We will make the best decisions to address as many needs as possible.
- With proper adult support and guidance, we believe that our students can be resilient during these times. As in the spring, we learned that we can adapt to dramatic changes with proper care and with time. We will strive to make the most of the circumstances we are in. Adults are critical in shaping how our students will respond.
- A top priority is maintaining in-person classroom instruction and to make other decisions that will allow in-person education to be the most likely outcome (e.g., if interacting with other schools might notably increase the odds of a COVID-19 case at AACS, we may reduce or eliminate contact with other schools temporarily).
- To the best of our ability and within guidelines, we seek to maintain the best aspects of AACS as much as possible, such as chapel, chapel families, class buddies, knowing each child, and holding key community events. In some cases, this may mean taking some novel and creative approaches, such as how we handled the 8th grade graduation. In other cases, we may need to take a hiatus for a season.
- We are ready to be flexible and fluid. As time passes, we may be able to ease policies and guidelines as trends warrant. What is true in September may be different in November or March.
Key medical principles in reopening AACS (based on the roadmap and the input of the medical members of the task force):
- Knowing that they factored in broader guidelines, we will use our regional guidelines as our primary resource for our approach to reopening. We want to use the best context-based guidelines.
- The vast majority of COVID-19 transmission appears to be due to the inhalation of respiratory droplets. Infection due to contact with contaminated surfaces or objects is secondary.
- The purpose of a non-medical grade facial covering is two-fold: to reduce breathing out of possibly infected respiratory droplets (main purpose) and to reduce breathing in those droplets.
- Children, while not immune, appear significantly less likely to contract COVID-19 virus or to spread it to other children. The reasoning for this is unknown, but current data suggests that their infection rate is very low among children and adolescents. If a child develops COVID-19, symptoms generally do not appear or are very mild. Serious COVID-19 illness is rare for children and early adolescents.
- The COVID-19 transmission rate from children to adults seems to be very low.
- With increasing age, the probability of symptomatic infection by COVID-19 seems to gradually increase.