September 24, 2020 UPDATE:
We work tirelessly behind the scenes to create legal and safe playing opportunities for our students. We know that competing is important for the mental, physical, and emotional state of our kids. However, we will only engage when the professionals we rely on can support the safety and legality of doing so. We have made progress and have the support of our Board of Trustees to pursue competition in a safe and legal way.
Please keep in mind that there are so many factors that go into these decisions. To name a few:
- To play outside the county, we need opponents and locations to play. Many schools outside our county won't play us, already have a full schedule, or can't play us. Case in point was that the Archdiocese did not allow their schools to host a STL County team. That excludes some of our likely competitors.
- Many of these big public schools districts are not doing in person learning full time, or in some cases, at all. Playing always brings heightened risk, and those schools do not need to consider bringing the virus back to their classmates. We take our in-person option very seriously at LuSo.
- We always want to clearly live out our Christian identity, especially in such a public way. In June, we made it clear that we were going to be and in-person school five days a week because we think what we do is too important to try to do exclusively online. In this situation, we chose to be very careful about not crossing the lines of the authority that God has put over us in a public way without being assured about the ramifications of our decision.
We are thrilled to report that our low-frequency contact teams (tennis, golf, and cross-country) have been competing for weeks and are doing well!
Knowing what is coming down the pike helps our planning for our other sports. While we began to create schedules for our moderate-frequency contact sports, we had indications of what decisions are coming and we knew we needed to exercise patience. Alas, you may have heard today that Dr. Page lifted restrictions for the moderate-frequency contact sports (soccer, volleyball, and softball), and our games can begin within or outside our county.
July 31, 2020 UPDATE:
Lutheran South is in the minority of schools that is offering an every day, in-person option for all of our students. We are fortunate to be different than many other schools in how we can plan to be healthy and safe due to the size of our enrollment, facility, and resources including:
- The cooperation of everybody to wear a mask while on campus.
- The ability to always have everybody spatially distanced at least 6 ft. apart while on campus.
- Our MERV-13 + UV-C light systems will give us incredibly clean air.
- Our school and families are equipped with the technology to enjoy in-person, online, hybrid, or blended learning as needed and desired.
#4 above is important. You have read snippets about it here and there, but I want to make sure that you understand our safety net options and what we're asking our teachers to do. Our students and parents have some freedom to do what fits them best.
Our teachers knocked the quarantine teaching and learning process out of the park. We have now purchased HD cameras for every classroom so that every lesson can be streamed online. Now that we have proven to have the skills and now have the technical ability at school, students could choose to be in person or be online at any given time.
NOTE: We believe that in-person teaching and learning makes for the ideal educational environment. Taking classes online is similar, maybe, to watching church online. It can be done, but the experience is not as rich, and the sense of community is missing to a large extent. However, sometimes it's the best option for many reasons. Here is a summary of the potential options:
IN-PERSON EVERY DAY: Parents can choose to send their student to school in person as normal. When everybody adheres to our strict guidelines that have been created to ensure a safe environment, the assumption is that illness will never force us to take away this option for any lengthy amount of time.
ONLINE EVERY DAY: Parents could choose to simply plan on having their student take all classes online from the very beginning, or move to this option at any time. It would be helpful if the family would let the office and the teachers know ahead of time for planning purposes.
CHOOSING ONLINE OCCASIONALLY: Parents could allow their student to stay home to take a class(es). Car break down? Need to babysit a sibling for the morning? Out of town? There are other reasons, but students will be counted as 'virtually-present' instead of 'in-person-present' if this happens.
FORCED ONLINE OCCASIONALLY: Parents could ensure that their student never misses class if he or she is not able to be at school for a variety of reasons. Not feeling well or showing symptoms of illness? COVID positive and need to be quarantined? Been exposed to COVID and want to be extra careful? These and more reasons are all valid for logging in virtually. Most importantly, students, please DO NOT come to school in person if you are showing symptoms of illness.
SCHEDULED TO BE ONLINE: To make our spatial distancing work with classroom capacity limitations, there will be times during the week in our larger classes where the teacher will have to teach a portion of the class in person while sending another portion somewhere else in the building to log on virtually. Our building is intentionally set up for this case, as our overall schedule is created to build in time and space for our students to gain life skills proven to be valuable for college. These teacher decisions will be clearly communicated by the teacher every week based on the content plan for the coming week's classes.
July 29, 2020 UPDATE:
Due to a few ongoing maintenance updates to ensure the safety of our students and staff amid COVID-19, we are moving our start date one week later to Thursday, August 20. The first day of school is for freshmen only, and the rest of our student body will join on Friday, August 21. Please read on for our reasoning.
This later start date gives us at least three distinct advantages, but especially the last:
- A week later allows us to gather as much information about our community's recent spike in COVID cases. Previously, some experts thought starting earlier would be better, but these days it is thought that is not necessarily the case.
- As you read in our Ready to Return document, there are so many moving parts (items to order and install, rooms to equip and ready, procedures to know and understand, etc.) that have been changing so quickly over the summer that every day gives us more assurance of avoiding hiccups. We have created a solid plan that involves daily testing, wearing masks, social distancing, and daily disinfecting all so that we can welcome every student to campus every day.
- Lutheran South has made a significant financial investment by purchasing MERV 13 air filters and new UV-C purification "scrubber" systems for our HVAC units, giving us surgery room-like air quality in every space in our building. Due to the time-intensive process for installing them, we could only be given confirmation they can be installed by our later August 20 start date. Extensive details about the technology can be found online, but an image is below. While these systems cannot guarantee virus-free zones, they offer immense advantages by providing cleaner air in every space on campus. They are a true differentiator for us at Lutheran South.