It is a historic time—one for the history books you might say. Similar to Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the city of New Orleans, Covid-19 has altered our lives forever. There is no “going back.” Life will forever be known as “before,” “during” or “after” Covid-19. The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate the way we live, the decisions we make, and how we make them. As life moves forward, and we all learn to navigate our new normal, many families are looking for new school options for their child(ren). Below we offer some top tips for choosing a school during the Covid era.
- Safety first!
It may seem obvious, but be sure to examine what health and safety measures a school has in place for Covid-19, and beyond. Is the school following state, local, and national guidelines? What protocols are in place to help prevent the spread of Covid or other illnesses? How has the school adapted, and what are they doing to keep up to date with the ever-changing information?
For example, Trinity Episcopal School is fortunate to have a full-time nurse who chairs the Covid-19 Health and Wellness Committee. This committee researched, developed, and implemented specific plans for masks, carpool, lunch, recess, classroom set-up and traffic patterns, handwashing and bathroom schedules, and exposure guidelines and action plans. In addition, Trinity entered into partnerships with Children's Hospital and Ochsner Health Systems Both hospitals sent medical experts to walk campus and make suggestions about precautions. We continue to attend virtual workshops with these institutions for up-to-date information and recommendations, and contact them directly for advice about how to handle specific situations as they arise.
- Options and flexibility are key.
This is an unusual time, and we are all navigating uncharted water. Be sure to ask schools what the learning options are for your child(ren). Will your child be required to learn in-person? Virtually? What if something changes for your family? What are the options if your child(ren) or a member of your family tests positive?
Trinity strives to strike a balance between the safety of isolation and the benefits of in-person interaction. Trinity offers two parallel educational paths: in-school and online. This hybrid model allows families to choose what is right for their child and positions the School to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Trinity is also fortunate to have four Online Education Coordinators who work closely with the at-home students, their families, and the classroom teachers. At-home students follow a daily schedule very similar to the regular classroom schedule, so when the child is ready, he or she can transition back to in-person learning seamlessly. Trinity is also offering in-person and virtual tours for interested families. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours today.
- Look into available resources.
It is crucial to investigate what resources are available to you and to the schools you are considering. Do they have the necessary technology to support students who are learning at-home? How many students are in one classroom? How is the school supporting current and prospective families who are affected financially by the pandemic?
Trinity has bountiful resources including one-to-one iPads or laptops for First through Eighth Grade, low teacher-student ratios, a healthy endowment, and a supportive Board of Trustees. This has allowed Trinity to adapt to the city’s demands and keep it’s doors open with no large quarantines thus far. Furthermore, in keeping with the School’s mission, it remains Trinity’s goal that no student be unable to attend Trinity due to financial circumstances. An emergency aid fund, The Upstander Fund, has been created to assist families experiencing temporary financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is in addition to $900,000+ in annual Tuition Assistance awarded.
- Transparent communication is non-negotiable.
The stakes are high; the situation is ever-changing, and in-person access is limited or gone. Now, more than ever, communication is paramount. Be sure to ask schools how they are navigating Covid-19 related communication with families. What are the protocols for a Covid positive diagnosis within the community? What are the alternatives to in-person events or conferences that parents and families would normally attend?
The Head of School at Trinity has made open communication a top priority. Parents are kept up to date on all Covid-19 guidelines, procedures, and policies. As stated in the School handbook, in the event of a positive diagnosis on campus, all affected individuals will be notified as soon as possible. The wider school community will also be informed, although the name(s) of those diagnosed will be kept confidential.
Trinity Episcopal School’s successful start to the school year has validated that, with the proper safety precautions, flexibility, resources, and clear communication, education can occur successfully in the Covid era. To learn more about Trinity, join our Virtual Open House on Wednesday, October 28 at 10:00 a.m. Click this link to register and receive the Zoom link https://tinyurl.com/RegisterTES28