July 16, 2020
Dear Orangewood Parents/Guardians and New Incoming Families–
First, I want to thank many of you for reaching out to me about our current situation. I appreciate your involvement and believe the more feedback the better. If you haven’t received a direct response from me, it is because things change so quickly and I don’t want to give incorrect information to anyone.
We’re in mid-July and I want to communicate to everyone where we are as of now. Our First Day of School has been moved to August 24, 2020. This change is to accommodate time for teacher in-services that are necessary to prepare for all scenarios, including Synchronized Learning.
Our plan is to start the school year with Option A: In-person Instruction with Synchronized Learning. Synchronized Learning gives parents the choice to have students participate in class or choose online instruction for their child(ren). There is no tuition discount involved in stay at home learning in Option A. To accommodate Synchronized Learning, teachers will be using Swivel in the classroom. Swivel is a robot/iPad program that the Southeastern California Conference is providing to our school. This device’s camera will follow the teacher around the classroom to allow any online students visibility of the teacher as well as hear instructions using microphones placed in the classroom. Teachers will coordinate so that students at home won’t have to be online 7 hours straight each day. Teachers will be trained to make the situation a win/win for the teachers and students.
Recently the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) and school district leaders from Orange County issued recommendations for resuming in-person instruction complemented by online learning. They also recommended no masks and no social distancing. But we are attempting social distancing as much as possible and when not possible, wearing masks. We will also have outside instruction as much as possible. While the OCDE can offer recommendations to reopen schools consistent with federal and state guidelines, it is ultimately up to each individual school district to create their own plan based on what is best for their students, staff and communities. As a private school, we are our own district and the Administration feels it is important to have in-person instruction where teaching is more effective. We are determined to provide a safe environment for students to get the support they need to be successful mentally, physically, spiritually and academically. We also recognize that students need to learn resilience. Some students have been very resilient and others not so much. Additionally, we believe that in a Christian school environment, this can be taught, developed and maintained.
On campus we will be following every safety protocol. Temperatures will be taken at arrival along with regular hand-washing and hand sanitizer use throughout the day. In the elementary classrooms (K-8th), we are putting doors between empty classrooms to create space to spread out as needed throughout the day. Grades K-4 will not be required to wear masks, but can if the parents want them to. Understand that according to scientific research, the risk to younger students is very low to none.
If it becomes necessary and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires us to partially shut down or spread out more, then we will go to Option B. This would involve a hybrid schedule of students being on campus a limited number of days each week. We believe a hybrid schedule would mainly affect the high school students due to less space resources available.
Option C will be implemented if we are mandated by the CDC to shut down and would mean remote or online instruction for all students. I’ve heard some voices of concern regarding tuition and should we need to go to complete online/remote education, we will communicate any tuition changes at that time.
We are making every effort to save Adventist Education in Orange County. Many of our sister schools are struggling with COVID-19 issues and we are not exempt. Any more discounts above the current would mean cutting staff and teachers, doubling the workload for those still here making it difficult to provide a quality education which would be unacceptable to you, our customers.
There is a lot of discussion still happening in the local districts. Know that your Administration, along with other principals, are continuing to review local, state, and Federal CDC guidelines. Your prayers and your feedback, after considering all of the above factors, would be appreciated. I understand that not everyone will agree with every decision that the Administration makes and I pray that at those moments we can agree to disagree as we continue to move forward together.
Please continue to pray for God’s guidance and protecting hands around us as we endeavor to do His will in all things.
In His Service,