EXCEPTIONAL CHRIST-CENTERED EDUCATION

COVID 19 Response

My heart is full of gratitude and admiration as I watch our CSAGH community respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with new levels of partnership and care for one another. 

It is with great excitement that I share with you that CSAGH Schools – Harrisburg Christian School and West Shore Christian Academy – will re-open on-campus and in-person on Tuesday, August 18!

–Phil Puleo, CSAGH Superintendent

Latest Information:

**Original Announcement: Read the full letter announcing the re-opening of CSAGH schools on-campus, on-time, and in-person.

Yes. Both Harrisburg Christian School and West Shore Christian Academy will re-open on-campus and in-person on Tuesday, August 18.

We are implementing a variety of responsible and reasonable changes to further protect the health and safety of our students and staff while minimizing the disruption to students’ education. A few examples include:

  • School Nurses: CSAGH is seeking to hire two part-time nurses to assist in monitoring community health and provide needed care through the 2020-2021 school year.  Please pray the Lord provides us with two great people.
  • School Attendance: As we always have in the past, but now more than ever, we are directing parents to keep their child home when they are sick or not feeling well ( i.e. fever, body aches or chills, cough, sore throat, headache, loss of taste or smell, upset stomach, or diarrhea, etc.).  To accommodate anticipated increased absenteeism, we will make provisions for students and faculty to be able to actively participate in their classroom education via an online platform.  In addition, we are reviewing attendance policies in order to provide increased flexibility while maintaining an appropriate level of accountability.     
  • Body Temperature: Parents should take their children’s temperatures prior to sending them to school. A student or staff temperature registering 100.4 or higher requires the individual stay home until fever-free without medication for 48 (This is a change from our previous policy which required being fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.)  As recommended by medical personnel, all student and staff temperatures will be taken at the start of the school day.  More information will follow on the specific thermometers being utilized and procedures being followed.
  • Personal Hygiene: Keeping hands clean is an important part of maintaining good health.  Each classroom is now equipped with a hand sanitizer dispenser for students to use each time they enter and leave a classroom.  In addition, students will be directed to wash their hands at the start of the school day, prior to and after lunch, after recess, and following PE.  Students are recommended to cough/sneeze into a tissue or into their elbow and to wash or sanitize their hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Physical Distancing: Classrooms are being reviewed to increase physical distancing between student desks.  In addition, procedures are being developed to encourage physical distancing when walking between classes and when gathering together.  
  • Wearing Masks: Wearing masks will be voluntary.  Families and students wishing to wear a mask will be encouraged to do so.  CSAGH is committed to building and enforcing a culture of acceptance about mask-wearing. 
  • Campus Cleaning: All school spaces will undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfecting each evening using a hospital-grade disinfectant electrostatic spraying system.

We are adding several daily measures and practices to mitigate the spread of harmful pathogens. This list is not exhaustive, but we anticipate:

  • Increasing, where possible, the distance between student desks
  • Practicing physical distancing as students walk from class to class
  • Requiring more frequent and scheduled hand washing and hand sanitization for all students and staff
  • Requiring students to wash their hands before and after recess. (It is our intention to allow students to use the playground; families who are uncomfortable with their child using playground equipment can notify their child’s classroom teacher.  Alternate space will be provided for independent or physically distanced activities during recess.) 
  • Providing regular guidance and instruction about health and safety practices and being mindful of the physical well-being of others.

We are adding several daily measures and practices to mitigate the spread of harmful pathogens. This list is not exhaustive, but we anticipate:

  • Increasing where possible the distance between student desks
  • Requiring more frequent and scheduled hand washing and hand sanitization for all students and staff
  • Practicing physical distancing as students walk from class to class
  • Providing regular guidance and instruction about health and safety practices and being mindful of the physical well-being of others.

Neither the federal or state government has provided specific guidelines in this regard; however, it is our intention to keep schools open unless excessive absenteeism at either school warrants closure or governmental authorities mandate school closure. We understand families will have different thresholds for how much exposure they’re comfortable with for their child, which is why flexible learning options are a critical component of our re-opening plan. If a parent wishes to keep a child home during a spike in illness, they can do so without their child losing academic ground—provided their child attends to the requirements we will outline for them.

Yes, we intend to open and utilize the cafeterias. Our food service employees already take great care in preparing food, per PA Department of Agriculture guidelines. We have installed sneeze guards and plexiglass as well as developed a plan to provide additional physical spacing during lunch.  Students will also wash their hands before eating and sanitize them after lunch. 

Yes, CSAGH will offer flexible learning options that build upon our distance learning model enacted this past spring.  CSAGH recognizes that throughout the 2020-2021 academic year there may be times when our students or staff need to be off campus because they or a family member are immunocompromised, are sick or not feeling well, or are uncomfortable being in a more public environment.  The focus will be on offering students the opportunity to participate in classroom lectures and discussions even if symptoms or caution necessitate their absence. We will communicate more about the flexible learning options later this summer.

Yes. Because we believe strongly that the value of Christian education we offer our students is too important to be hindered by potential repeated interruptions to school attendance, we are developing a concurrent online and in-person education model for the 20-21 school year. This flexibility provides families with options for allowing their student(s) to continue in their Christ-centered education.

CSAGH schools are committed to the education and spiritual development that comes through participation in fine arts, physical education, and chapel services.  Administrators and faculty are collaborating to provide these opportunities while instituting responsible and reasonable practices that promote student/staff physical wellbeing.  More specific details will follow by the end of July. 

No, wearing a face mask is voluntary. This decision was among the most challenging.  While face masks assist in the reduction of aerosol transmission of harmful pathogens, they also significantly interfere with the learning environment and present other health complications for certain students and staff.  Students and staff who are immunocompromised or have a heightened concern may elect to wear a face mask.

We are spacing desks apart in classrooms to increase the physical distance between students.  Students will be regularly encouraged and reminded that physical distance is an important aspect of reducing the transmission of harmful pathogens.

Handwashing and sanitation will be a part of student/staff daily practices.  Students are expected to sanitize their hands when they enter a building, when entering or exiting a class, before and after lunch, before and after recess and PE, and before or after touching a common use item (i.e. stapler, pencil sharpener, etc.).  Students are recommended to cough/sneeze into a tissue or into their elbow and to wash or sanitize their hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing.

All of these scenarios will require the student to stay at home in quarantine. During the time a student is off-campus, CSAGH will provide flexible learning options through an enhanced distance learning program that is being developed this summer.  If a physician directs you or someone in your household to self-quarantine or if COVID-19 testing is conducted, we request that you notify the school immediately. 

CSAGH has been advised by medical specialists that each potential exposure or occurrence of COVID-19 does not require the closing of school or the suspension of classes. It does obligate us to inform you of potential exposure to COVID-19.  In order to do this efficiently, a general “Possible COVID-19 Exposure Notification Email” will be sent to families who have students that may have had a contact exposure during the course of the school day.  This email will focus on maintaining the privacy of the student and/or family that is “under investigation for COVID-19” (the phrase being used when a person has been screened AND tested for COVID-19 but the result is not yet known).  This allows families to be aware of a possible exposure. Families are encouraged to monitor for symptoms and to contact their physician in the event they are concerned about their own health.  It is important to understand this process of potential contact and exposure notification as we been advised that it may become a regular occurrence this school year.

CSAGH expects students and staff to stay home until they are evaluated by their primary care physician. If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they will need to follow current quarantine guidelines and the direction of their primary physician before returning to school. During the time a student is off campus, CSAGH will provide flexible learning options through an enhanced distance learning program that is being developed this summer.

When a student tests negative for COVID-19 and is cleared by a health care provider, they may return to school provided they are symptom-free and fever-free for 48 hours.

An important component of limiting the impact of COVID-19 on our school communities is parents’ vigilance about their child’s health. We want to affirm parental responsibility in monitoring their child’s symptoms and overall health as well as parental discretion in keeping their child out of school on any given day because of suspected illness.  Our attendance policies are being reviewed and adjusted to provide students/families more flexibility while also maintaining accountability. Changes may be made to the policy, and we will keep you informed of those changes. 

The spiritual development of our children is a cornerstone of a CSAGH education.  We are exploring ways that students can safely gather for corporate worship, community praise, and the hearing of God’s word.

Principals are working with local retreat centers and venues to determine whether our annual fall retreats are possible.  The postponement of these retreats to the spring – with the hope that more facilities will be open and operating by then – or the development of on-campus spiritual emphasis days are under consideration. 

We are planning on resuming athletics in the fall.  However, as members of the CCAC (Christian Commonwealth Athletic Conference), which is part of the PIAA, our ability to resume fall sports depends on what the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) permits. As members we need to follow what they direct. As we receive helpful information from the PIAA, we will communicate that to you.

Principals and faculty are working on ways to continue to offer these opportunities in a way that is responsible and reasonable.  More information will be shared later in the summer of how we plan to facilitate these activities. 

We continue to communicate and work with public school districts to ensure the transportation of our students to school.  A detailed plan still needs to be completed. We will communicate our full drop-off and pick-up plan when it is solidified.

Our recent parent survey was very informative and confirmed that our community overwhelmingly prefers on-campus learning because families value the relationships that are built through involvement at their school. It is also apparent that our community has been affected both personally and financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we prepare to return to on-campus and in-person instruction in August, the CSAGH administration and board are closely monitoring our financial situation and waiting to see if the schools are forced to close for an extended time in this academic year.  We may have an opportunity to either reduce costs or pass savings on to families. This evaluation is ongoing as we monitor the challenges we face due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

We are a community that cares for one another, and if you experience financial hardship, please contact [email protected] and Superintendent Phil Puleo will respond to talk through how we can assist with tuition support. Because of generous donors, we have some financial support dollars available for those in need.  

We have a team, comprised of principals, faculty, IT personnel, and guidance counselors, examining how best provide a flexible learning option to continue a student’s education during times when he/she may need to be home. We are pleased about the progress we are making on our flexible learning options and are excited to communicate those options as we finalize the details.   Our current options will provide students with more access to teacher instruction and the classroom experience than our platforms and abilities allowed during our spring distance learning.

We understand that it can be overwhelming for a student to make-up several days of missed work, especially at the high school level. We intend for students to be able to more fully participate in their classes and interact with their teachers when they are absent so that they can keep pace. That does not mean they won’t have any makeup work to complete when they return to school, but it should be minimized.

Flexible learning options provide students the opportunity to continue their education whether on or off campus.  The frequency of that transition presents its own challenges which will be addressed through the ongoing partnership between parents and classroom teachers.

A hybrid school week was certainly researched, reviewed, and discussed.  At this point, a hybrid school week is not the model we will be utilizing when CSAGH students physically return to campus.

Students will be encouraged to refrain from close contact (and touching) while passing through the hallways.  To maintain physical distancing, students may be instructed in the times for which they might go to their locker.

The social-emotional well-being of our students is very important.  Our school counselors, teachers, and administrators will provide both individual and small-group support as our students navigate the school year ahead.

The fine arts are an important part of our students’ and community’s experience.  At this point, we cannot provide a definitive answer.  It is not our intention to alter our fine arts programming, but the medical professionals advising us have not yet felt comfortable/confident making a suggestion about activities like band and chorus that may cause an increase in aerosol transmission of infected droplets.  We will continue our conversations with the medical advisors and fine arts faculty to consider options and, hopefully, find a safe way for students to participate in band and chorus.

The short answer is yes. Will all of those activities look different to some degree? Yes. Teams of people are strategizing how to continue recess, lunch in the cafeteria, and chapel in responsible and reasonable ways.

Our operations team continues to investigate and implement best practices for safely handling prepared foods and managing the cafeteria environment. More detailed information about the changes that will be implemented for lunchtime will be communicated later this summer.

In many cases, yes. We will make decisions on group gatherings on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as space capacity and the expected number of attendees.

Families will be notified if a student or teacher their child is in contact with tests positive for COVID-19. We do not intend to quarantine whole classes. (We encourage you to watch the webinar, as one of the medical professionals explicitly addressed this question in more detail.) However, if a family chooses to keep their child home as a precaution, our relaxed attendance policies (more specifics coming later this summer) and our increased ability to give students access to their classes and teachers remotely will keep the student from losing much academic ground.

We are encouraging all families to carefully self-monitor for symptoms and be abundantly cautious about interacting with others if they are not feeling well. We will not be able to report every possible COVID exposure, but we will report every confirmed case of COVID-19 in a student or employee.

We do not plan to adjust our stance on vaccinations should a COVID vaccination become available. While we recognize the important role immunizations and vaccinations play in public health, we plan to continue to support a parent’s right to sign a vaccination waiver should they hold a personal belief objection related to this matter.