St. Andrew's-Sewanee School plans to resume in-person community life, classes, and afternoon programs in August when they welcome both new and returning students to campus. When boarding students return on August 8 and classes resume for boarding and day students on August 17, the community will follow specific health precautions including COVID testing and an expectation that everyone will wear face coverings on campus when physical distancing is not possible. SAS has also designated space for on-campus quarantine and isolation for boarding students when COVID is detected on campus.
The first of several planned communications sent to students and parents regarding reopening plans included a link to information on Health; Prevention and Mitigation; Treatment and Containment; Residential Life; Campus Life; Academics; Afternoon Programs, Athletics, and the Arts; Travel to Campus and Move-In; Transportation; and Enrollment and Tuition. It included information about what SAS will do in the event that classes have to go back online, including the school’s intention to keep boarding students in residence. The school also revised the fall semester calendar to continue classes in-person until Thanksgiving and then complete the semester online. The Reopening Plan can be found at www.sasweb.org/reopening-campus.
In communicating the plans to SAS families, Head of School Karl J. Sjolund wrote, “While we believe in our ability to provide a strong online curricular experience, we recognize that being in community is an important part of the SAS experience.” Sjolund quoted a recent statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics urging that all policy considerations for the coming school year start with the goal of having students physically present in school. A 24-member team of administrators, teachers, and staff members at SAS developed the school’s opening plan acknowledging the importance of a community of peers for adolescent development and social and emotional well-being.
SAS COVID Coordinator Dan Monahan noted that this is just the first of many communications which will also include online meetings for parents with members of the COVID planning team and with their child’s faculty advisor. “We anticipate that new and improving information, an evolving situation, and the constructive feedback of our community will necessitate changes as we begin to live into these plans,” said Monahan. “We will keep our community informed as plans evolve and look to our community for constructive solutions as issues may arise.”
With the recent uptick in COVID cases across the country and in the state of Tennessee, SAS continues to carefully monitor the situation and federal, state, and CDC recommendations regarding in-person classes. In the event that SAS cannot start the year in-person, teachers are fully prepared to provide robust online courses. SAS parents overwhelmingly indicated satisfaction with the school’s distance learning in the spring, and teachers have undergone additional training in the delivery of online learning this summer. The school’s new learning management system and additional technology will also ease the transition if classes have to go back online.
“I believe the school did an amazing, great job of converting to distance learning this spring,” wrote parent Hayden Mattingly in response to a mid-summer survey of parents. “I trust that the faculty and staff would continue to do their best to keep the experience as positive and healthy as possible given the circumstances.”