Holly Academy News & Views
August 14, 2020
This week several school districts announced that they plan to start the school year virtually. The decision regarding our return to school plan for our Huskies has been laborious and fraught with emotion. Southeast Michigan is currently in Phase 4 in Governor Whitmer’s Return to School Roadmap. In Phase 4 schools are allowed to open in-person while adhering to strict guidelines. Holly Academy is adhering to every required guideline. Our administrative team and Board of Directors have made the decision that while we remain in Phase 4, HA will provide the three options for our families: full time in-person, blended, and 100% virtual. We want the decision for your Husky to be left up to you.
Parents, guardians, and caregivers should weigh the relative health risks of COVID-19 transmission from in-person instruction against the educational, social-behavioral, and emotional risks of providing no in-person instruction when deciding between our options. Aside from a child’s home, no other setting has more influence on a child’s health and well-being than the school. The in-person school environment not only provides educational instruction, but supports a child’s social and emotional skills, safety, speech, mental health, and opportunities for physical activity. Each family will make the decision that is right for them. However, please make your decision based on your own family’s needs.
School begins in two weeks. It is imperative that our families are vigilant in following all safety protocols to ensure that our Huskies are healthy when they return.
As you know, all Huskies will return to school wearing masks (in common areas for Y5-5 and in all areas for 6-8). We are requiring cloth masks. Some studies on “gaiter style” face coverings have determined that gaiters are not as effective as masks in the mitigation of COVID-19. Holly Academy will provide your Husky with a cloth mask. CDC guidelines recommend that cloth masks be washed each day, so please purchase enough masks for Monday-Friday. Please adhere to the following stipulations regarding masks:
1. Ensure that the mask fits snugly over the nose and under the chin.
2. Masks can be any color and have a design but must not be distracting in nature (i.e., “silly” teeth, animal mouths, inappropriate messages, etc..).
3. Huskies should bring an extra mask each day just in case a mask is soiled during the school day.
As long as there are cases of COVID-19 in the community, there will be no way to prevent all risks of COVID-19 spread in schools. The goal is to keep the risk as low as possible and keep schools/school activities as safe as possible. If students did not go to school, they would be at risk of COVID-19 illness from their interactions in the community. Yet going to school is very important to the development and well-being of our children. Our goal is to ensure that the benefits of in-person education outweighs any risks. Holly Academy is mitigating risk by instituting the following practices:
1. Following the required protocols in the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap (including mask requirements).
2. Cohorting all students – all Huskies will be cohorted with the same students all day. No co-mingling of students will occur.
3. Reducing class sizes.
4. Social distancing students as far apart as feasible.
5. Each elementary student will have a transparent “sneeze guard” around them at their desk.
6. Middle school students will follow a block schedule to limit transitions between classes.
7. Rather than transitioning classes in a crowded hallway, middle school students will transition outdoors.
8. All teachers will teach outdoors as much as feasible.
9. Health screening and temperature checking staff daily.
We want to thank everyone for stepping up in these unprecedented times. It has become very clear our families have various needs, a variety of perspectives, and certainly different opinions. In the end, we must work together to live out our motto of “daring to be remarkable”, no matter if our Huskies are in our classrooms or online.
Does a sibling of a child in quarantine have to be quarantined?
No, if the sibling was not a direct contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19, then they should monitor for symptoms and can continue attending school.
How long must a teacher or staff person be out of school if they test positive for COVID-19?
A teacher or staff person that tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home. The teacher or staff person may return to school after 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and 24 hours with no fever and symptoms have improved. (CDC Guidelines)
If a teacher or staff member has a household member that tests positive, but does not have symptoms, can they come to work anyway and monitor for symptoms?
No, asymptomatic people who test positive can still spread the virus. A teacher or staff member that has a household member that tests positive and is considered a close contact must quarantine during the household member's isolation period and 14 days after the isolation period ends.
Must we close a classroom if a person tests positive for COVID-19 attended class in that classroom? If so, for how long?
Yes, it is recommended to close off the area for at least 24 hours and then be cleaned and disinfected. Additional closure guidance will be provided after completion of the case investigation. (CDC Guidance).
How many children have to be sick with COVID-19 before a school closes?
The Health Department will work closely with School Administration recognizing there are many factors to be considered when closing a school.
Does the school have to inform the families of students when a child is excluded from school because of COVID-19, or does the Health Department do that?
The school is responsible for communication to families of students. However, the Health Department will provide guidance as needed.
Does the school have to tell families which child tested positive for COVID-19? Isn’t that a violation of HIPAA?
The identity of the child or teacher must be protected as much as possible. Close contacts will be contacted and only given information related to their exposure. The name of the COVID-19 student or teacher will be shared on a need to know basis only.
If a student has an illness that is not COVID-19, like a cold, does that child still have to be out of school until they are 72 hours fever free?
If the student is experiencing any COVID-19-related symptoms, they might have COVID-19 and they should not attend school. They should contact their regular medical provider and get tested for COVID-19. If they test negative for COVID-19, then they can return with proof of negative result, provided symptoms have improved and fever resolved.
Does a teacher, staff person, or student have to retest for COVID-19 after testing positive before they are allowed back to school?
No, the teacher, staff person or student who tested positive can return to school after 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and 24 hours with no fever and symptoms have improved.
What if a staff member/student goes out of state?
There are no current restrictions for staff members or students who travel out of state. However, everyone should assume COVID-19 exposure and monitor for symptoms.
Does a student who has a sibling or other household member that tests positive for COVID-19 need to quarantine at home?
A student who has a sibling or other household member that tests positive for COVID-19 and is considered a close contact must quarantine during the household member’s isolation period and 14 days after the isolation period ends. (CDC guidelines)
What if I or my student is not sure about the safety guidelines for in person classes?
Holly Virtual Academy (HVA) may be a good choice for students and families who are unsure about the safety precautions for in person classes. For more information regarding HVA, contact Mrs. Potteiger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I have questions related to COVID-19 during the school year, who do I contact?
We have set up a hotline for COVID related questions/concerns: email@example.com
If you email through the hotline you will receive a response within 24 hours (Monday-Friday).
Thank you for filling out our Return to School Commitment Survey. If you have not done so, please go to www.hollyacademy.org/survey and complete it by Monday, 8/17. ALL families must fill out the survey. This ensures we have the proper staffing and planning completed for each learning option.
Drop off and Dismissal
The 20-21 school year will look a little different in terms of drop off and dismissal. We drop off and dismiss this entire population in a 25 minute window using family cars carrying several students at a time. This is all coordinated without incident twice a day.
We are asking all families to follow the guidelines for morning drop off:
- Y5, Kindergarten and 1st grade students will enter the building though the main canopied entrance (M1). Parents may park in the parking lot and walk their students to the door. As a reminder, Parents are not allowed to enter the building after the first day of Y5 and Kindergarten. Please do not drop off students along the sidewalk.
- 2nd and 3rd grade students will enter the building through the west doors (M13) in the front of the building.
- 4th and 5th grade students will enter the building through the east doors (M12) in the front of the building.
- Middle school students may be dropped off at the middle school or in the front drop off lanes.
The following list is a brief overview of Holly Academy's dismissal procedures.
- The lane closest to the building will be designated for Y5/K families only.
- Please turn off your cell phone.
- Please stay in your lane.
- Staff will direct you to move forward or exit the parking lot.
- Be sure your sign (student last name, grade, and teacher) is clearly displayed.
- Turn on your right blinker when your car is loaded.
- Students may not exit vehicles once they have loaded.
From the Athletic Department
To say we are going through a strange time is an understatement! I have come to the very difficult decision to cancel our fall sports: girls’ volleyball and co-ed soccer. As you know, I am passionate about athletics and feel it is a very important component of our school. Therefore, you can imagine how difficult it has been to come to this decision.
Ultimately, there are two primary reasons for this decision: while I am confident in Holly Academy's plan to open school with the three options of face to face instruction, a blended model and full-time online instruction, athletics brings in another variable that is more difficult to control, mainly what other schools are doing and not doing with their safety protocols. Secondly, the other schools in our conference are having a difficult time fielding team this season. The decision regarding boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball in the winter, then cross-country in the spring will be handled as those seasons approach.
To give you some insight about the bigger picture, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has issued guidelines to keep our student athletes safe, which we are perfectly willing to follow, but some items like not having groups inside of a building larger than 10 people, would make volleyball practices have to move outdoors. Further, games cannot take place and MHSAA has already canceled all volleyball tournaments for the season. MHSAA has been very strict on not allowing scrimmages for soccer, which makes any sport difficult to properly prepare players for games.
Again, this decision was not taken lightly. My intent is for Holly Academy athletics to resume in a normal manner as soon as possible. One important lesson I learned from athletic competitions is no matter what the adversity is which you are facing, it is how you respond to that adversity that counts! Thank you for your support. Go Huskies!
Holly Academy Athletic Director
UPCOMING EVENTS (pending State mandates)
- June 12 - Aug. 31 - Summer break
- Aug. 27 - Open House, 12:30-3:30pm by last name schedule
- Aug. 31 - First day of school for 1st-8th grades (half day)
- Sept. 1 - First day of school for Y5 and kindergarten (half day)
- Aug. 31- Sept. 3 - Half days (8:00am-11:30am)
- Sept. 4 - No school
- Sept. 7 - Labor Day