Updated Policies and Procedures for a Safe Return to Campus
In an email sent on August 23, Loyola Academy Principal Charlie Heintz alerted families to a temporary transition to back e-learning after a successful week of orientation programming. The decision came after a handful of students had tested positive for COVID-19 and dozens of others were in quarantine for issues related to exposure, travel or symptoms. It is important to note that none of the cases were linked to in-person instruction at Loyola; it is believed off-campus social exposures were the sources of these instances.
“Based on this data and recommendations from our health experts, I believe it is in the best interest of our students, faculty and staff to suspend in-person classes for the next two weeks. We aim to resume our Hybrid Schedule on Tuesday, September 8,” said Heintz in his email from August 23.
“This decision was not made lightly, and it is made with the health and safety of our entire school community in mind,” he continued. “In-person learning is still a priority. It cannot exist without everyone's cooperation. The next two weeks will be an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we can increase our personal responsibility and minimize our exposure risks.”
To help facilitate a healthy and safe return to in-person learning on Tuesday, September 8, school leadership reevaluated Loyola’s hybrid schedule and made improvements to both the in-person and remote learning components.
Efforts were made to reduce the number of students in classrooms by dividing each grade level in half alphabetically by last name and scheduling each half to report to campus on a rotating schedule. This adjustment decreases class sizes, decreases the number of students free during each lunch period, and allows for six feet of distance between students. Moreover, this decision to de-densify classrooms subsequently minimizes the need for contact tracing, which has proved to be a slow and cumbersome process.
The hybrid bell schedule changed to 50 minute class periods after the addition of a ten minute passing period. This modification gives students a better transition between classes, whether remote or in-person, and allows teachers more time to clean and sanitize classrooms.
Principal Heintz reminded the families that despite Loyola’s best efforts and significant investment, a safe return to school would require the cooperation of the whole community.
“A safe return to school depends upon the personal responsibility and community accountability of us all. There is nothing more fundamental to our faith than the call to love one another. Let’s work to manifest that love in the actions we take to be safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he encouraged. “What you do outside of the school building matters greatly to the health and well-being of the entire Loyola community. We all know that in-person learning is a much richer and beneficial experience for students. And we all want to be on campus, but this will not work if all of us are not vigilant at all times about these simple but incredibly important efforts,” he said.