5 Questions about Our In-Person Classes
Westminster is proud and excited to be offering in-person classes for the 2020–2021 school year. While we know our current and prospective Westminster families are excited too, we also understand there are still lots of questions.
Please read the answers to these five common questions we’ve been receiving, and then feel free to reach out to the Westminster staff if you still have concerns. We’re all in this together!
1. Why Move to In-Person Classes?
Westminster is proud of what we accomplished with our distance learning program last spring. We quickly and effectively pivoted to a virtual learning environment that complied with state mandates but also provided our students with both core and enrichment classes.
If this program was such a success, why move to in-person classes this fall? Our years of experience in child education support the belief that in-person learning is more beneficial than virtual learning, no matter how well executed the distance program. (The American Academy of Pediatrics concurs.)
Some benefits of in-person learning include the following:
- More attentive, engaged students.
- Limited school-related screen time.
- Greater addressing of social and emotional needs.
- Freedom for parents to work during the day.
With our small class sizes, scope of services, and campus environment, we’re confident we’re in a position to safely provide all the benefits of in-person instruction this year. It’s one of the many benefits of attending a private school, especially during changing or challenging times.
2. What If I’m Not Comfortable Sending My Child to In-Person Lessons?
We understand that sending your child to school right now is a personal decision. In-person lessons won’t be right for every student. Perhaps your child has an underlying health condition; maybe your child lives with an immunocompromised individual.
Whatever the reason for opting out of in-person lessons, we are offering a modified distance learning alternative. It will include live streaming of all core classes, as well as recordings made available in case of absence. Other resources for assignments, assessments, and assistance include email, scheduled Zoom calls, and Blackbaud.
3. What Safety Measures Will Be Taken?
Our comprehensive plan to minimize disease transmission includes some of the following provisions:
- Face masks required for students and staff.
- Training sessions for staff about recognizing signs of COVID-19.
- Extensive building preparation.
- Various physical distancing efforts, including spacing desks apart within the classrooms.
- Regular hand-washing schedule.
- Small, non-mixing student groups.
- Increased CDC-compliant cleaning regimen of buses, bathrooms, playground equipment, and any high-touch surfaces.
- Temperature checks and wellness assessments by parents and staff before each school day.
- A child demonstrating any symptoms of illness must be kept home.
4. What Happens If There’s a Confirmed or Suspected Case of COVID-19?
If a student or staff member falls ill while at school, that person will be isolated until he or she can leave the campus. If a family member is in quarantine due to exposure to a positive case, the student will still be allowed to attend Westminster. If, however, there’s a positive test within the household, that student must remain out of school for two weeks. A negative diagnostic test and two weeks without symptoms will be required before returning to school.
A positive diagnosis for a Westminster student or staff member will trigger several steps:
- Notification of the Fairfax County Health Department.
- The positively diagnosed individual must stay away from school for two weeks, returning only after no symptoms present themselves and a negative follow-up test is confirmed.
- Notification of anyone in direct contact with the individual (without sharing names).
- Increased sanitizing of the diagnosed individual’s classroom.
5. What about Extended-Day Programs, Field Trips, and Extracurriculars?
With some level of continued uncertainty, activities outside of our core classes are subject to change. Currently, though, here is the breakdown:
- Early-Care Program
- After-school enrichment classes (unless they can be conducted online)
Still under Consideration
- Junior Chorus and Gryphon Chorale
- After-school athletic training
- Outdoor field trips (observing social distancing and wearing masks)
- Orchestra lessons
- Regular and Drop-In After-School Care (only for K–4 students)
As always, we thank you for your understanding, support, and flexibility during this time. We love our Westminster families! For a full breakdown of our return-to-school policies, download the PDF here.
If you’re still deciding what the 2020–2021 school year is going to look like for your child and you’re interested in in-person lessons, attend one of our virtual open houses. Tour our beautiful campus, ask any questions, and see if Westminster is right for you and your family!