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Southampton Academy prepared for safe return

Steps include self-screening, disinfecting, face-coverings, distancing

By W. Scott Wasdin

COURTLAND

Throughout the spring and summer, Southampton Academy has remained focused on preparations to safely return to campus. All scenarios have depended on a variety of interconnected factors, including permission by state and local government to allow children to attend classes on campus.

Our school established a COVID-19 task force consisting of members of the administrative team, faculty, members of the Board of Directors and parents. The group’s function is to collaborate with national, regional and local organizations, including educational leaders, medical professionals, health departments, and government agencies to develop processes and plans that follow health and safety guidelines. This team will continue to monitor all of the appropriate sources of information and provide ongoing guidance. Our School Reopening Task Force members have partnered with subject matter experts to establish new health and safety practices while developing teaching plans and learning experiences that allow us to adapt to current conditions in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Desks in Megan Everett’s Kindergarten classroom at Southampton Academy are evenly spaced apart from one another. — Submitted

Based on current Phase III Guidelines in Virginia, Southampton Academy is providing in-person instruction five days a week in addition to accommodating families that have requested a virtual learning option for their students during the academic year. We are also planning for students and teachers who may be required to quarantine during the school year. In the event that SA is notified by government officials or the health department of the need to partially or entirely close our campus, instruction will continue virtually. Southampton Academy faculty, staff and administration will facilitate a distance learning plan, which will provide varied synchronous and asynchronous instructional practices for Pre-K3–12th grade.

Southampton Academy is following best practices while implementing layers of protection to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These practices include self-screening protocols, contactless temperature checks, increased disinfecting protocols, face covering requirements, thorough and frequent handwashing, physical distance guidelines and restrictions and the strict limitation of visitors.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, first grade teacher Lisa Skeeters is pleased with how well her 6-year-olds have adjusted to new safety protocols. She is grateful for parents who have partnered with school staff to ensure proper mask usage, physical distancing, and handwashing.

“It has indeed been a challenge to redesign my classroom environment and our daily routines to accommodate proper spacing,” Skeeters said. “Despite these unchartered waters, I am delighted to have my students back for face-to-face instruction!”

Middle & Upper School Social Studies teacher Debbie Dunn is in her 15th year of teaching at Southampton Academy, where both of her sons graduated. She watches her students and colleagues stepping up to the plate this year and she knows it’s because they believe in the value of education and the importance of getting back to school.

“I am blessed to be a part of a school that is so invested in the education of our children that we are accepting the challenges presented in this era of COVID-19,” said Dunn. “I am happy to be back in the classroom with my students as we find new ways to teach and learn together. Even though there are new obstacles, we are all working together for the betterment of our school and community.”

W. SCOTT WASDIN is the headmaster for Southampton Academy. Contact him at either 653-2512 or swasdin@southamptonacademy.org.