RSMCS COVID-19 Re-Opening
July 24, 2020
“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
This passage emphasizes being strengthened, rooted, established (grounded), and filled to the brim as we continue to grow closer to God. Paul reminds us that God IS able to do immeasurably more in our lives and in all of those around us than we could ever imagine. In the midst of COVID-19, we may have forgotten that none of this surprised God! He has been and will continue, moving among his people and through his people to have an eternal effect on this world. So, as we continue to monitor updates, changes, whatever - let us cling firmly to Christ. Life may not look like we want it to right now, but we need to remember that God WILL work all things out for our good and in his time. (Romans 8:28)
As we continue to plan for the inaugural year of Rancho Santa Margarita Christian School, our focus has been and will continue to be, to partner with parents to educate our students to discover their purpose in the work of God’s kingdom, bridging the gap between who our students are and who God has created them to be.
The health and safety of our RSMCS families is a high priority, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to provide a safe learning environment for our staff and students. While the global pandemic has altered our daily lives in so many ways, there is one thing that has remained constant - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
In light of Governor Newsom’s announcement on July 17 concerning the reopening of California schools, we are reviewing the plan we had hoped to reveal this week. We ask you to be in prayer for the administration, faculty, and staff as we review and update our return to on-campus learning and/or distance learning model based on state recommendations, the most current guidelines from the CDC, the Orange County Department of Public Health, and other local school districts in order to put together a comprehensive plan for school in the fall. We will also be in contact with our local government in Rancho Santa Margarita to review our plans for the 2020-21 school year.
While our goal remains to re-open school on Aug. 26, 2020, in an on-campus, face-to-face learning environment, we must also live within the two options available to us. If Orange County is removed from the California State Watch List for COVID-19 cases, or we are successful in receiving a waiver from the Orange County Department of Public Health (which we have begun the process for), then we will return to campus as intended.
This being said, we also wish to honor the responses from the recent parent survey. While the majority of families wish to return to on-campus learning, there is a small percentage who wish to continue distance learning. Therefore, we are revising our re-opening plan to include distance learning for those families. Administration and teachers have already met to discuss and plan running both learning models for our students while keeping high standards for both. Please be mindful that there are still several weeks between now and the first day of school, and so much can change regarding our daily lives in easing restrictions in that period of time. We are hopeful the changes will only improve our opportunities to return to school as normal.
Rest assured that whether your child participates in the return to an on-campus instructional program or continues with distance learning, the rigor and content will have the same high expectations reflected in our school program. Collaborative planning is already taking place to reflect areas of needed growth and strength identified by the teachers in their continual desire to improve their instructional practices. The importance of consistency between on-campus and distance learning is essential for when ALL students will be returning to campus.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN STUDENTS RETURN TO CAMPUS:
The processes and procedures listed below will guide us and be implemented upon the start of on-campus learning for the 2020-2021 academic school year. We will be mindful of both local health agency guidelines and the city of Rancho Santa Margarita’s expectations and recommendations in a common-sense approach as we return to a traditional learning environment. We will be considering strategies in each of the following areas including, but not limited to:
(While we are not releasing the complete return to school plan today, we would like you to understand the areas we are focusing on. More detailed information will be provided when the full plan is released.)
Cleaning procedures and shared spaces:
- Sanitation procedures: Strengthening ongoing procedures and instituting increased disinfecting regimens schoolwide in accordance with CDC cleaning guidelines. This includes classrooms, outdoor spaces, and other shared areas.
- Lunch and recesses will be staggered (as it always has been) to address appropriate physical distancing needs.
- When appropriate, teachers will increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible.
- Use of PPE (i.e. masks or face shields, and gloves) will be recommended, but not required, for students 2nd grade and below. Students 3rd grade and above, as well as faculty and staff, will follow CDC guidelines for face coverings when social distancing is not feasible.
- Utilizing classroom space through strategic classroom seating configurations.
- Applying appropriate distancing measures throughout campus (for example, lunch dining areas, the worship center, etc.)
- Proper and necessary hygiene procedures, which include handwashing, sneezing/coughing into tissues, and/or one’s shoulder/elbow will be reviewed on a regular basis.
- Outside spaces will be used for classroom learning activities when appropriate.
- Drinking fountains will be shut off to reduce the transfer of any germs. Water bottles (plastic or reusable) from home are highly recommended.
Health standards for students, faculty, and staff:
- All members of the RSMCS family will check their child’s temperature each morning before leaving for school. Persons with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be required to stay home for 24 hours and until their fever is gone.
- Medications may not be taken prior to school starting in order to reduce fever. Strict adherence to this policy will be enforced and monitored. All RSMCS family members must do their part to keep our school healthy.
- Everyone will have their temperature screened before exiting cars both before and after school. Students with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will need to remain in their cars and stay home for the day (see above). Students, faculty, and staff may return to school when they have been fever-free for 24 hours.
- Anyone who exhibits signs of any illness will be sent to the office for a more detailed evaluation and possibly sent home.
- Anyone with fevers, nausea, loose stools, and/or lethargy consistent with a potential illness will be expected to remain home from school until such time as they are no longer exhibiting these symptoms.
- Students exhibiting the above symptoms will be sent home from school. Parents will be contacted by office personnel and additional information will be provided to the parents at that time. Students will need to be picked up by parents or by designated contacts on their emergency form within one hour of being called.
- Physical distancing will be implemented when possible to decrease exposure.
- All RSMCS family members on campus will use hand sanitizers (minimum of 60% alcohol) each time they enter any classroom setting. Proper handwashing techniques will be followed by everyone on campus.
Visitors and/or Parent Volunteers:
- To ensure the safest possible environment for all students and staff, parent volunteers or other visitors will not be permitted in classrooms during school hours and/or when students are present to ensure the safest possible environment for our students.
- If parents are on campus before/after school during drop-off and pick-up, masks are recommended in high traffic areas as long as the social distancing protocol is in effect.
- When possible, students will participate in chapel in the multipurpose room. In situations where it is deemed necessary to refrain from large gatherings, Chapel may be recorded in advance and watched in the classrooms, or chapel may be held via Zoom.
Please note: the above information is an overview of the final plan and will be updated/amended as needed.
SHARED RESPONSIBILITY OF THE RSMCS FAMILY MEMBERS (STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF)
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
All members of the RSMCS Family (students, parents, faculty, staff, and administration) share in the responsibility and success of our face-to-face, on-campus education plan. We are all in this together, and our commitment to each other as members of the RSMCS community has never been more important. Before returning to school in the fall, all parents will be required to sign a “Commitment to Shared Responsibility.” This agreement will outline the required health and safety protocols and behavioral expectations. Together, let’s commit to doing the following:
- We will monitor the health of students, faculty, staff, and administration and stay home when necessary to protect others from being infected.
- We will respect and honor the decisions/needs of families as they make their own decisions about safety choices or precautions (masks, social distancing either on campus or off, etc.). We will use Philippians 2:1-4 as we honor one another above ourselves.
- We will be diligent in praying for the health and safety of our entire school campus and will continue to foster a kingdom-minded community for all members of the RSMCS family.
- We will remain sensitive to the needs of our school family and be willing to step up and minister to others when needs arise.
Next week, our administration will send out a second parent survey asking for your thoughts as well as a document entitled “Statement of Support” that we would like every RSMCS family to complete and send back to us. This document will be sent to the Orange County Department of Health to show parent support in our endeavor to reopen school on-campus on August 26th.
Thank you for your continued support of RSMCS. We are excited to be a part of all of the amazing things God is going to do on and through this campus!
Have a blessed weekend!
The RSMCS Administrative Team