By Barbara AugsdorferPosted Aug 6, 2020 at 3:41 PM
In contrast to Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, which are offering a virtual-only format to begin the new school year, Savannah Classical Academy (SCA) has announced that it is offering dual learning options for its 2020-21 school year, which begins Aug. 19.
These options are subject to change pending governmental orders and guidance from health officials.
SCA is a K-12 charter school open to all students residing in Chatham County. It is funded by the public education system but retains a charter that allows it to operate autonomously under a board of parents and community members.
“We surveyed our families. Many wanted (to be) on campus, so about 40% of our students will be on campus,” Barry Lollis, SCA’s executive director, said in a phone interview Thursday.
During the summer, Lollis served on a statewide task force for the reopening of charter schools.
″(The task force) very strongly suggested that we listen to our parents and that we make the best decision for our particular schools,” Lollis said. “Some charter schools are opening like we are with students on campus, and some schools are just choosing to be completely virtual.”
New air-purification system in place
In order to keep on-campus students and staff safe, many facility upgrades were put in place during the summer.
“Once they are in the building, they will step on a sanitation mat. It will sanitize their shoes before they track into the building,” Lollis said. “And they pass through a UVC light in the doorway to help decontaminate when they come through that.
“Then as they walk through the hallway, we added plasma ionization devices to our HVAC system in our common areas. It purifies as well as disinfects the air. So the students are walking through an air that will help disinfect them and surfaces.”
He said lower-school students (grades K-2) will be given water bottles and upper-school students (grades 3-12) will have reusable water bottles that can be refilled at touchless water stations.
And of course, more cleaning and sanitizing will be done.
“We have more cleaning going on throughout the day,” Lollis said. “The building is cleaned multiple times during the day.”
Students will lend a hand in that as well.
“We’re trying to teach them good habits (before) they leave their classroom space,” Lollis said. “We’re going to have them help wipe down surfaces and so forth, just to get them in the habit of hand washing and cleaning in areas. And then our cleaning vendor comes behind everybody and (sanitizes) the building.”
Most of the students study music at SCA. The available instruments are strings, piano and guitar. Instruments are not shared.
For students participating in in-person instruction on SCA’s campus, breakfast and lunch will be provided from the school’s new kitchen. A plan for virtual students to have access to meals from the school’s kitchen is still in progress, according to Lollis.
Transportation to the school is usually shared with other SCCPSS schools, but since the district is going virtual to begin, regular bus routes for SCA students are not available. However, “fuel stipends will be available for SCA families,” Lollis said.
If a student still needs an electronic device, the family is urged to contact the school directly.
“The district has reached out to us and through ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds are assisting by providing devices to us. We’re thankful for that,” Lollis said.
A curbside pickup for needed devices is tentatively planned for Aug. 17-18, according to a video sent to parents.
No pajamas allowed
All students — whether attending virtually or in person — will be required to wear school uniforms.
“We require them to wear uniforms at home or virtual because they will be participating in the class live,” Lollis said. “We want them to get into the routine of going to school.”
The dual-instruction model will have breaks for virtual students simultaneously with the in-person classes.
“Making decisions regarding the education of our children is not an easy task, and we hope that providing these two options will help make these challenging times easier for SCA families,” Lollis said. “SCA is committed to ensuring our students continue to receive high quality instruction, and we are pleased to offer these two options for our families while ensuring learning outcomes.”