COVID-19 Information

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COVID-19 Information

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS

The health and safety of our Providence School students, families, faculty and staff are of the highest importance. We are monitoring the fluid COVID-19 situation closely and taking proactive measures for safety.

Although campuses are closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, our faculty and students are still fully engaged in the work of teaching and learning as we use technology to “do school” remotely. 

Please refer to this page for the latest updates, plans for reopening campuses for the 2020-2021 school year, messages from the administration, and other resources.

See also the Remote Learning Resources web page, with links to video messages, chapel services, and other Providence School resources for all class levels, Preschool—High School.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR

May 27, 2020, 1:30 p.m.

One of the advantages of being an independent school is our ability to freely chart our course (what we teach, how we teach it, and who will teach it). As an independent Christian school, we have much latitude in determining our school’s mission, educational programs, and operational practices. While that freedom remains intact due to our independence as a private school, with or without COVID-19, there are some requirements given by the state that we are compelled to follow. Some of these are for the protection of our students, such as the need to check the background of new employees. Others are for the safety of our community, such as our inability to meet in person since mid-March due to the “stay-at-home” order issued by the state due to the spread of the Coronavirus.  

So, what does this mean for our school in the upcoming school year?  We’ve prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to assist parents and will update these throughout the summer if anything changes.

FAQs

Will Providence be open for the 2020-2021 school year? What are the general plans for opening school in the fall?
  • The answer is absolutely YES, PROVIDENCE WILL BE OPEN! We look forward to welcoming students back to campus for the start of school on August 19, 2020, as planned. Of course we are closely following the reopening steps provided in the county’s RISE document and will notify parents of any change to our plans if that becomes necessary.
  • We firmly believe that in-person instruction is the best pedagogical approach to engaging our students in learning. As state and local guidelines permit, and in accordance with best practices and the availability of classroom space to allow for social distancing, our goal is to offer an in-person school experience for your children to the maximum extent possible while this being safe for our teachers, students, families, and community. 
  • We will opt for distance learning only as necessary pursuant to state and county directives and guidelines.
What will the classroom experience look and feel like?
  • We will most likely be required to operate school under some type of social distancing guidelines. This may change before school opens in August, but we believe it is highly unlikely. Our plan is to continue to evaluate the latest recommendations from federal, state, and county government agencies and carefully map out an action plan that works best for our school while ensuring the safety and health of our students and employees during an in-person school experience. 
  • To maintain social distancing, we plan to group roughly 8 to 12 students in classrooms (a large room might fit 15 to 22) by grade level.
  • These groupings will stay together for much of the day to minimize close interaction with other groupings on campus. Students will likely remain in their classroom while teachers rotate into the classrooms. (For example, the art, science, and humanities teachers will rotate into the classroom during the day while the students remain in the room.)
  • Of course, students will get out of their seats and their classrooms during the day. We anticipate normal routines such as lunch, recess, and physical activity, among others, will continue under social distancing guidelines. 
  • To accommodate students five days per week for in-person, socially-distanced instruction, we are working diligently to add classroom space at both the Canon Perdido and San Roque campuses. We are in conversation with the Boys & Girls club about using additional spaces in their building and are actively working to obtain the proper permits for adding the modular building on the San Roque campus. Furthermore, we are actively exploring other opportunities in the community as well. 
What safety and cleaning measures be in place?
  • We anticipate the state and county government will continue to issue updates regarding health screenings, personal protective equipment, and campus sanitization guidelines that will apply to schools. As we get updates, we will keep you posted on any changes to Providence’s plans and decisions.
  • Below are some examples (not an exhaustive list) of specific steps we are planning to implement:
    • Minimize surfaces that need to be touched. 
    • Cleaning service will increase daily sanitation practices and we will implement regimented cleaning routines during school hours.
    • Daily use of atomizers to thoroughly disinfect surfaces with a safe salt/water/vinegar solution (no harmful chemicals).
    • Review other measures to increase sanitation such as: hand washing stations, hand sanitizer dispensers readily accessible, signs to help with social distancing, etc.
    • We foresee daily health screening for students and employees upon arrival (per state and county rules or guidelines) that may include temperature checks and screening for known Coronavirus symptoms. 
    • Access to school buildings will likely be limited and any guests or vendors that are allowed on campus will be asked to wear a mask and undergo basic screening, in accordance with any local health department guidelines in effect.
    • As we prepare to open in August, we will closely watch the CDC and Santa Barbara County guidelines for K-12 schools regarding the use of protective masks by students and teachers while on campus. Please note: Even if masks are not required, individuals who choose to wear a mask will be free to do so. 
Will there be distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year? What would that look like?
  • We have no way of knowing if, when, or for how long a future stay-at-home order may be required. Please remember the spring 2020 stay-at-home orders were put into place to allow hospitals to prepare for a possible surge of unknown numbers of Coronavirus cases. With those preparations now in place, more understanding of the virus and how it is transmitted, and greater availability of testing in our area, we hope that we do not have to experience another extended stay-at-home order due to the Coronavirus.
  • If there is a resurgence of COVID-19 and governing authorities require schools to transition into distance learning, we will quickly move into remote learning.
Will Preschool children experience distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year?
  • We recognize that distance learning works better for some age groups than for others. This is particularly true of preschool-age children where social relationships and meaningful interpersonal interactions are the critical focus of our early childhood program. 
  • If we need to start the school year under distance learning on August 19, the preschool division will not open (under distance learning), but will be closed until we are able to meet in person on campus. 
  • If, after opening in person on August 19, we are forced into a short (two to six week period) stay-at-home order, then preschool teachers will implement distance learning as we did these past few months.
  • Should there be an extended and extensive (over six weeks) stay-at-home order issued, the preschool division does not plan to implement distance learning past the sixth week (of distance learning) and the school will work with families with preschool students to determine how to equitably handle tuition paid. 
Will there be sports and enrichment activities, such as PE, music, etc. in the 2020-2021 school year?
  • Based on the current status of professional and collegiate sports programs, it seems to be clear that we cannot make any promises about after-school sports programs for the 2020-21 school year at this time. While we recognize some sports are more amenable to social distancing guidelines–such as golf, tennis, and cross country when compared to other contact sports such as volleyball, soccer, and basketball-–we simply do not know at this point what will or will not be allowed by the state or county. We will carefully consider the recommendations of CIF, our league, and other similar bodies before making a final decision. We remain committed to follow the recommended health and safety guidelines in place during the season of competition, if applicable, once they are issued by the governing organizations or agencies.
  • Based on current information, there are challenges that still need to be assessed as we wait for further guidance on PE and music classes, among others.  
Will trips, retreats, and extra-curricular activities be held in the 2020-2021 school year?
  • Subject to county health department social distancing guidelines for such school activities, we plan to hold trips and retreats as scheduled during 2020-21. 
  • If we are not able to hold overnight retreats, but are able to meet in person, we anticipate planning day-long retreats or experiences that would achieve goals and outcomes of the traditional overnight experiences. 
  • Of course, we will carefully evaluate the potential health risks of these types of experiences in light of the educational values and social rewards we expect from each trip, retreat, or extracurricular experience prior to implementing these activities. While our goal is to return to some level of normalcy and enrich our students’ social, emotional, and physical growth and development we will continue to mitigate the potential risks to students and staff.  
Will there be any change to tuition agreements?
  • The short answer is no, we do not plan to introduce any changes to the continuous enrollment agreement for K-12 or the preschool enrollment agreement.
  • Our annual budget is based on our enrollment numbers as of June 1. A significant portion of the annual budget represents fixed expenses and commitments made for the duration of the entire school year. We rely on regular payment of agreed-upon tuition and fees as the primary source of revenue in order to make the Providence School experience possible.  
  • With that being said, while we cannot offer refunds for time periods of distance learning that are beyond our control, any family who experiences a significant change to their financial situation is encouraged to reach out to the school’s business office. 

If I have any specific questions not answered here, who should I talk to?

We can’t anticipate everything the next few months hold, but we want to do our best to share our plans as a school and to help families make the best decision for their children and their education. If you have any questions that were not covered in these FAQs, please contact the following individuals:

 


UPDATES

Monday, May 18, 4:45 p.m.; updated May 27, 1:30 pm

Plans for Fall Reopening Discussed at Town Hall Meeting on May 21

Providence plans to reopen campuses for the 2020-2021 academic year on August 19. The administration is developing various scenarios for ensuring adequate physical distancing and other safety protocols for students and faculty, based on public health information and best practices.

To share information about the plans and how they are being made, the school held a virtual Town Hall Meeting on May 21. At the meeting, Tim Loomer, interim head of school, and Soo Chang, incoming head of school, along with moderator and board member Kelly Marsh, made brief presentations and answered parent-submitted questions.

Watch a recording of the virtual Town Hall meeting.


Monday, May 11, 3:00 p.m.

Campuses Closed through End of Academic Year; Plan for Reopening August 19

The Providence Board of Directors determined at their meeting last week that distance learning will continue through June 4, the close of the current academic year. Even if the public health authorities were to sanction reopening campuses in the next few weeks, so little time remains in the current year that school leadership believes it would be less disruptive for learning to continue to from home.

If it is safe to hold small gatherings, some year-end celebrations may take place in person—most likely from the safety of vehicles. See the Year-End events page for up-to-date plans for celebrating with the Class of 2020 before they head off to college.

At this time, Providence plans to reopen campuses for the academic program on August 19. The administration is developing various scenarios for ensuring adequate physical distancing and other safety protocols for students and faculty, based on public health information and best practices.

Offices on both campuses remain open, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 


Monday, April 6, 3:00 p.m.

ERB Standardized Testing; Class Trips Cancelled

From a message to parents from Dr. Tim Loomer, sent Sunday morning, April 5:

After close consultation with the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) and careful consideration of the feasibility of our parents and teachers teaming together to deliver the standardized assessment remotely, we have decided to cancel standardized testing for this year. Remote testing would place an undue burden on parents and students at this time. We will not give the CTP-5 assessment to students in Grades 2–8 this year.

Class trips for Grades 3–6 and the high school Kern River whitewater rafting trip also have been canceled. The business office is working with the trip coordinators and vendors to refund our deposits and initial payments. Families who made payments toward these trips will receive a communication from the business office this week.


Friday, March 13, 12:30 p.m.; updated March 16

Providence Moving to Remote Learning on March 16

From a message to parents from Dr. Tim Loomer:

Providence classes switched over to remote learning beginning today, March 16, in a proactive measure responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation. Campuses are closed to students but staff and faculty reported on Monday. Faculty may choose to work from campus or from home for the remainder of the week. Staff will be on campus throughout the week and school offices will be open 9 am–3 pm.

All non-essential, school-related activities are canceled, including athletic practices and games, rehearsals, and other after-school classes and activities.

In his letter to parents announcing the move to remote learning, Dr. Tim Loomer, interim head of school, wrote “The leadership at Providence School has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus situation for the past several weeks. While we continue to hear from medical professionals within our community that we can safely continue to operate, we are also very aware of decisions being made by schools and organizations across California to close or switch to remote learning. … Our leadership team and board of directors have concluded that we should proactively close our campuses to students and transition to remote learning next week (Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20). We will hold classes on campus tomorrow, Friday, March 13. Coming together on campus for one more day will allow teachers to prepare students for distance learning and to send them home with books and materials they will need next week.“

Providence is not closing due to any COVID-19 illness within the school community.

“We understand the burden this decision places on our families; it is the last thing we want to do,” wrote Dr. Loomer. “But, at this time, we feel this decision is in the best interest of our families and community at large. We are concerned for the health and wellbeing of all of you, your extended family, and our community.”

Providence is on Spring Break March 21–March 29. The school will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and will evaluate the date for students to return to campus. At the present time, the planned return is for Monday, March 30.