SAN ANGELO, Texas — Private schools in the Concho Valley are just a few days away from starting a new school year.
"We plan to start face-to-face instruction on the 13th," said Jennifer Rackley, the administrator at San Angelo Christian Academy.
While most public schools in Texas are offering both online and in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year, both Cornerstone Christian School and San Angelo Christian Academy are taking advantage of their smaller class sizes and bringing all of their students back to campus right away.
"I think our biggest class is probably 14-15 kiddos. So, we've spaced out the desks in the classroom, and we've moved some classrooms to accommodate a bigger classroom. We’ve gone through those mechanics of social distancing in the classroom," said Susan Brooks, the director of school development at Cornerstone Christian School.
In order to bring students back into the classrooms, there will be a lot of changes. SACA is planning on dividing their students into cohorts in order to prevent cross-contamination between different age groups
"Pre-K and kindergarten will spend time together, our primary grades will spend time together, and then our secondary students. We’re not going to cross those cohorts to avoid any cross-contamination there," Rackley said.
Susan Brooks said Cornerstone Christian is considering doing the same thing.
"In the past, for instance, if a secondary student needed to leave campus, or needed aspirin or a bandaid or something, they would go to our elementary front office. We're not going to crossover like that this year. Our hope is that we keep everybody in their little cohorts, so, if a case popped up in third grade, we would not shut down the whole school, we would probably just shut down third grade," she said.
Both private schools said they will be sanitizing lockers, athletic equipment, the playground, and classrooms in between each group's use. Cornerstone will be giving temperature checks to students at the beginning of each school day and during lunch break. SACA will be administrating daily health screenings.
Cornerstone Christian is asking their students to wear face masks in between class exchanges but leaving it optional in the classroom. San Angelo Christian Academy students in fifth grade and above must wear masks at all times while on campus. SACA has also placed dividers around the elementary students' desks.
"All of the secondary students - fifth grade and up - will all wear masks. We’re not asking our elementary students to wear masks. Of course, it’s an option, and we will fully support it if they do, but we’re not requiring it. We have implemented dividers in the classrooms of the elementary students since they're not going to have a second barrier of masks. Those have been put in around every desk," Rackley said.
Both Rackley and Brooks said that while they are planning to conduct the semester in-person, both of their schools are ready to switch to virtual learning if a student or staff member contracts COVID-19.
"We ramped up almost immediately when all of this came down in the spring. We kept right on teaching and doing what we do every day until the end of May. I think if we have to do that for a short period of time moving forward, it'll be a piece of cake," Brooks said.
Cornerstone Christian School will begin classes on August 12. San Angelo Christian Academy will begin on August 13.