Last Updated June 17, 2020
COVID-19 Mitigation Plan for Shenandoah Valley Academy
As the big Virginia sun brings the onset of summer, our energies at SVA are focused on the soon arrival of a new school year. We are so grateful that our SVA family will be able to be reunited again! With this anticipation comes a commitment to reopen wisely. Our reopening committee has carefully studied Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines, advice, and statistics regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic. We have also consulted with the director of the county health department and other medical doctors. Below you will find our policy for reopening school. It is based on current information and current CDC and VDH guidelines. Due to the developing nature of this pandemic, we are aware that updates to this policy will be essential. Our website will be kept current with the most up-to-date information regarding our policy.
Our reopening policy has eight key components:
- Daily health monitoring of staff and students.
- Provide signage across campus explaining proper hygiene techniques and etiquette.
- Provide hand sanitation stations and routine cleaning in buildings to meet CDC requirements.
- Ensure that students and faculty have access to face coverings and provide guidelines for use.
- Ensure air exchange and quality in classrooms and buildings.
- Arrange classrooms to ensure social distancing is possible according to state mandates.
- Modify music classes for student and staff safety.
- Encourage faculty and students to arrange class/club/office meetings in larger areas, outdoors, or virtually.
- Provide online academic support for COVID-19 related absences.
- Ensure that the sizes of various groups meeting together account for the current expectations outlined by the State of Virginia
- Publish guidelines for physical distancing for groups that gather.
- Find new and creative ways to worship and build community in our social activities together.
- Evaluate and revise on and off campus events & activities.
- Limit the number of students in shared spaces (such as laundry rooms, etc.) according to current CDC/VDH guidelines
- Consider dormitory roommates as we would members of a family who live together
- Educate and promote personal responsibility and safe personal habits
- Increase ventilation in dormitories
- Cafeteria will use best practices for meal preparation, service, and adjusted dining environment
- Instruct students as to the symptoms of COVID-19, the importance of reporting any illness, and the importance of staying home (or in their dorm room) when sick
- Implement an enhanced sick list policy
- Establish a quarantine area in each dormitory
- Comply with CDC/VDH requirements for office spaces
- Encourage student-teacher, parent-teacher, etc., meetings to be in classrooms and larger spaces rather than in offices
- Safety interventions, including masks and plexiglass, for employees
- Provide robust screenings (including COVID-19 testing if indicated) following off-campus visits and home leaves
- Educate staff and students about travel safety and risks
- Screening of parents and campus guests, with expectation that they will follow campus safety precautions
- Promote strong immune systems through health education, a healthy diet, and opportunities for a healthy lifestyle
- Train students in the importance of spiritual, mental, and physical health
- Mental health counseling is available for qualified students (see school nurse for details).
- Continue to work with the Potomac Conference mental health initiative to improve services for students, including those effected by COVID-19.
Individuals with a higher risk for COVID-19 complications will be addressed on case by case basis. A parent who is concerned about his/her higher risk child, should contact the School Nurse or Administration. We will actively work to accommodate requests or circumstances wherever possible.
We have been in communication with and will continue to communicate with the director of the county health department, Dr. Colin Greene. We will abide by current VDH quarantine requirements. Personal protective equipment will be available for use.
- School Nurse evaluation and communication to parent
- COVID-19 testing as indicated
- Precautionary quarantine until negative test results, or cleared by medical doctor
- Ongoing monitoring and care provided by deans and School Nurse
- Implement CDC guidelines for community related exposure.
- Student will be quarantined and the County Health Department will be notified.
- All parents of SVA students will be notified.
- Arrangements will be made with parents of infected student for pick-up in order for student to complete quarantine off-campus.
- Remaining staff and students on campus will be under heightened screening and precautions
- Contact tracing with implementation of CDC guidelines for community-related probable exposure
- Area sanitization according to CDC guidelines.
- SVA will provide virtual learning opportunities for infected student(s) and others, as needed.
- We will remain in consultation with the health department to promote the safety of our staff and students
We are looking forward to welcoming back students in August and are prayerfully preparing for a safe and productive year so that the mission of Shenandoah Valley Academy can continue to be a blessing to our students as it has for over 100 years. We recognize that, as with other diseases and hazards that we live with daily, we cannot guarantee complete safety. It is likely that despite our best efforts, some students may contract COVID-19 during 2020-21. Statistics show that younger COVID-19 patients have less severe disease than older patients. The latest data provided by the CDC (dated June 10) states that there have been a total of 129 U.S. deaths involving COVID-19 in patients between the ages of 5 and 24 this year. That is .13% of all COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. As of June 17, 2020, there have been 3,296 COVID-19 cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health in the 10-19 age range. There have been 53 hospitalizations and no deaths. Again, this reflects a less severe illness in younger patients. Given that many people with COVD-19 have no symptoms, many more have likely contracted the illness than tests reveal. The rates of hospitalization are therefore likely much better than reported by the Virginia Department of Health. Treatments are continually improving and we are hopeful that a vaccine will become available before the school year ends. Despite these encouraging statistics, we want to emphasize that the safety and health of our students and staff are of utmost importance as we make plans to reopen.
We are looking forward to answering your questions and addressing your concerns. Once again, we will very likely make changes to the policy as the situation evolves. We will keep you informed of substantial revisions. You can find the most up to date policy right here on our website.
A task force has been meeting to address the different areas of our school program that may be affected should public health guidance necessitate social distancing or other measures. We are evaluating all available information and contingencies as we prepare for next year.
A list of the different areas that are being evaluated are as follows:
- Increase training and education for staff, students, and volunteers
- Increase sanitation stations and cleanliness
- Alternative meal distribution plans
- Classroom spacing and air circulation
- Off-campus/leave protocols
- Sick list protocols
- Establishing emergency operation plans for different levels of community impact
SVA COVID-19 Statement
Shenandoah Valley Academy responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in several ways. Our goals were to comply with government issued restrictions and to protect our students, families, and extended community. We began offsite instruction on March 25, 2020. This continued until the completion of the academic year on May 20, 2020. Many employees began working from home. We cancelled Alumni Weekend, and many other on-campus functions. We moved commencement exercises to July 12, 2020.
Based on available information, and pending state approval, SVA is planning to resume on-campus operations for the fall 2020 semester. The first day of classes will be August 17, 2020. Careful plans are being laid. We will implement practices to reduce risk and safeguard the health of our students, faculty, and staff. A taskforce including administration, the school nurse, and the head deans has been working to establish recommendations and requirements. We anticipate the partnership of students, parents, and family physicians as we implement reasonable measures. Of course, in this fluid situation, we will continue to consult healthcare professionals, government officials, and available data from the Centers for Disease Control and other experts, as we prepare for a successful 2020-2021 year.
In these challenging times, we are grateful for our students, teachers, and families who have adapted admirably, and for the continued strong support from donors and prayer warriors. We affirm our alumni who are working on the front lines to combat the pandemic and we wish for all of you, across the wider Shenandoah family, strength, health, and the peace of Christ.