DISTANCE LEARNING UNTIL NOVEMBER 20
For the first few months of in-person education we have been blessed with a limited COVID impact upon the health of our employees, students, and parents. We know this is due to God’s grace upon our community and in large part to the extensive health and safety measures instituted on our campuses.
We have experience limited impact from COVID cases. Our school nurses continue to be in close communication with the Fairfax County Health Department officials and confirm that Northern Virginia is experiencing a significant spike in COVID cases. Because of the direct impact to our community and out of an abundance of caution, our campuses (K-11th grade) will convert to distance learning starting on Tuesday, November 17 and will continue through Friday, November 20. Our regularly scheduled Thanksgiving break is November 23-27.
We know this will directly impact your work and personal schedules and we appreciate your understanding and support. It is our plan that in providing this brief break from in-person instruction, combined with the Thanksgiving break next week, that we will return to in-person instruction on November 30.
Please continue to be vigilant with social distancing and continue to monitor your health symptoms. Contact our school nurses if you have any questions.
STAYING THE COURSE
We continue to thank God for His continued protection over our students, employees, families, and extended community. Our health care professionals have worked long hours to establish protocols and policies that inform our decisions as we continue to evaluate ongoing initiatives. Please continue to pray for the health and safety our community in the weeks and months ahead.
We encourage our community to continue to follow guidelines from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health. ICS parents may find this chart helpful from the VDH (Virginia Department of Health) as they evaluate the protocols for evaluating their child with symptoms or had a recent exposure. Additionally, a recent update provides local metrics and can be found on the VDH Metrics webpage
WELCOME BACK TO CAMPUS IN AUGUST
Our leadership team is looking ahead when we welcome students, parents, and employees back to campus full time in just a few weeks! We continue to closely monitor the latest information surrounding COVID-19. While we are confident that we can continue to provide the same robust program ICS is known to offer, please note that some programs and activities may be limited or delayed due to health and safety restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.This page will be updated frequently as the situation evolves, and includes past school communications, contact information, FAQs, helpful parent resources, and other general information.
Our campus is open for visitors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday from 9 AM – 3 PM. Should you have specific questions that are not noted below, kindly email email@example.com and we will respond quickly.
The ICS team is praying for you throughout the summer months. We are asking God to show what He desires to accomplish in our students and in our school throughout these unusual months. We are praying that He will teach us how to live by faith rather than by fear, to move from our instinct for self-protection, to courageously serving and caring for one another and the community around us.
RETURN TO CAMPUS PLAN FOR 2020-21 SCHOOL YEAR
JULY 2020 UPDATE FROM OUR PRINCIPALS
A MESSAGE FROM OUR LOWER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, JENNILEE MILLER:
Hello ICS family. I’m Jennilee Miller and I have the privilege of serving as the Lower School principal, overseeing the program for kindergarten through 4th grade students. I pray that you and your family are doing well as we continue to navigate life during this unique time. Your team of principals is eager to share our plans to Return to Campus, and we appreciate you taking the time for this video and to review the Return to Campus plan. I want to start by saying: Every student, parent, teacher, coach, and employee is precious to us and to the Lord. The information provided to you today is developed with this understanding as our foundation. Attached to this email you will find an important document that details our plans; every parent will need to review and sign prior to receiving their child’s class assignment in August.
We are so eager to welcome our students back to campus this fall for full time instruction, and our teachers have already been hard at work making needed adjustments and changes to their classrooms to create more individual space for students. We recognize that there is risk with ANY activity that is not done in isolation, and so we have spent hundreds of hours as a team reading, researching, seeking counsel from medical professionals and discussing what strategies are the best practices for US, in order to mitigate risk as much as possible.
While we are aware that many public school districts are limiting in person instruction or eliminating it all together, we also understand that these large school districts have significant challenges that do not apply to ICS. As a small school, we are not constrained by transportation complexities, already over-crowded classrooms, the inability to limit the number of students enrolled or experiencing the loss of staffing support. We are thankful for the flexibility to create a learning plan that is specific to the needs of ICS and are collaborating with the Virginia Council for Private Education.
In addition to the recommendation for a return to school from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the overwhelming majority of our parents expressed a desire for in person instruction. As educators, we affirm that an in-person education is optimal and provides for dynamic and engaging instruction with immediate feedback from godly teachers helping to shape the mind and the heart. Simply stated, students thrive in a school where their academic, social, emotional, and spiritual needs are nurtured ….especially in the midst of a pandemic.
Because our goal is to be on campus in the safest way feasible for our employees and students, we will require employees and students to complete a daily health screening. Parents will receive instructions before school begins on how to record this information quickly and easily. We will also require a face covering to be worn for all students, employees, and visitors on our campus. We realize, particularly in the younger grades, that this will be an opportunity for grace-filled training and adjustment, but we are confident our students will adapt and adjust. In our first weeks of school as we are establishing classroom expectations and rhythms, we will be explaining the importance of our new habits, including social distancing, healthy hygiene habits and mask use. You can help your child get ready for back-to-school by starting the conversation at home. We can’t wait to see you.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, BEN FRENCHAK:
Hello. I’m Ben Frenchak. It is with great excitement that I am joining the administrative team at ICS as the middle school principal. My wife Candace will also be joining ICS as a Teaching Assistant to first grade and my three sons, Josiah, Elijah, and Zachary, will be starting school at ICS this fall in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade. Clearly, the Frenchak family is excited to be a part of the ICS community!
As I pray for you and the beginning of the school year I look forward to getting to know each of you and seeing the gifts that God has planted in your hearts. Whether it is playing soccer, sharing music, or just being a blessing to someone else, I believe God has a great plan for you this year. I am excited about the great adventure God has for all of us this year and that we have the opportunity to discover it together. I also want to let you know that while some things will look different this year due to the new health and safety guidelines, many of the opportunities that are unique to ICS will still take place. One of these is the 8th Grade Wilderness Retreats. At his point, we are still planning to offer these unique educational trips but with updated health and safety measures. You will receive more detailed information about this trip as well as many other grade-level activities when school begins. We are committed to providing these learning activities to our students using best health practices because we know these programs enhance the educational experience for all students.
You heard our Lower School principal address one health strategy that we are implementing but I also want to make you aware of another mitigation strategy. Students will report directly to their homeroom classroom upon arrival instead of greeting them in gym which will eliminate this large group gathering activity. The cost of this decision is the loss of morning faculty prayer time, team meetings, and devotions led by Mr. Danish that are part of our required Continuing Education plan to maintain our accreditation. To provide for this essential time, we identified seven Friday afternoons throughout the year when we will have an early release at 1:30 PM for K-8th grades and 1:45 PM for high school. Our dedicated teachers are the greatest asset we have to offer our students, and protecting this time for administration to invest in them professionally and spiritually is a high priority for us. An updated calendar notating these Early Release days has been uploaded to Parent Square as a link and is also attached to this email. Extended Care will be available but will close at 4:30 PM on these afternoons.
I look forward to meeting each of you in person and I am excited to be a part of such a dynamic school. Please stop by the Middle School office and say “hi”.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, RACHEL RENO:
Happy July! I’m Rachel Reno, the High School principal. We have been hard at work getting our brand-new high school campus ready for students and teachers. I am pleased to announce that we currently have 59 9th, 10th and 11th graders enrolled with several more applicants in the pipeline. Just a few of the highlights of our new building include a state-of-the-art Science Laboratory, unique seminar spaces, the Heart and Mind Center where students will gather daily for Bible class, and multiple location options both inside and outside for eating lunch. Students will enjoy choosing between the spacious student center or the learning stairs, or outside on 2 balconies or at the outdoor picnic area. Students and teachers will be wearing face coverings when they are not outside or able to socially distance. Through the Lord’s provision and the generosity of donors, the high school boasts large, airy classrooms, as well as several independent student workspaces throughout the building that will aid in effective and creative social distancing during our school day. Please continue to pray for all the final details as we prepare to welcome our high school students on campus.
Many of our high school parents have asked about the Winterim trip. This year we will once again travel with Good Comma Classroom in order to provide an unparalleled national adventure exploring two US cities—alike in dignity, distinct in character that will together illuminate the foundations of American self-government. We continue to work with health professionals to carefully track the health and safety protocols and plan to offer a May-term if January travel proves ill-advisable. Since Winterim is an integral part of our curriculum, including a course that is a part of students’ graduation requirement, we will continue to monitor the situation and plan accordingly. As always, ICHS is committed to keeping parents informed as the year develops and we will continue to provide information in the weeks ahead.
Finally, while many are worried and anxious, we know that we serve a God who loves us and promises to care for us. Philippians 1:6 reminds us that God who began a good work in each of our lives will continue this good work until the day that Jesus Christ returns or calls us home. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Him, who is the author and perfecter of our faith.
JUNE 2020 UPDATE FROM OUR ASSISTANT HEAD OF SCHOOL
Good morning parents! I trust you are doing well, staying healthy, and having fun making memories with your family. Just this weekend I was hiking in the Shenandoah area with an ICS family and then yesterday I ran into an ICS family that had just finished playing tennis. I enjoy seeing our ICS families out in the community enjoying God’s creation. I want to take just a few minutes to speak with you about what fall will look like for our school. The classrooms and hallways have been silent far too long. We have missed seeing students, teachers, and parents on campus. We know that it was important to step away for a time for the health and safety of our community. Just last week, the governor released recommendations for schools to prepare for once again meeting together in person, on campus. Our school nurses are in close communication with health professionals at the state level and we are preparing to submit the state required opening plan. Based on the latest information from state health authorities, the ICS leadership team is optimistic that we will be in phase 3 in August which will permit on campus instruction. That is great news!
Our Opening Task Force, supported by an Advisory Committee composed of teachers, health care professionals, a school board member, parents, a government leader and the Immanuel Bible Church Director of Facilities has been diligently preparing to welcome teachers and students back on campus with all the necessary health and safety modifications. While the quality education that first drew you to ICS will largely remain unchanged, we will be implementing new recommendations to include:
- Reducing class movement around the building to limit student group interaction.
- Introducing a wellness check for all visitors before entering our campus.
- Launching a staggered bell schedule to reduce class crowding in hallways.
- Creating new cleaning procedures for athletic equipment, library books, electronic devices and other shared materials.
- Requiring all students & employees to take temperatures daily at home before coming to school.
- Researching a state-of-the-art bio cleaning compound that can be applied to frequently touched areas such as door knobs and stair railing and provides continuous cleaning of surfaces for 30 days.
- Implementing a nightly cleaning routine to all classrooms and common areas where these areas are sprayed with a water-based disinfectant.
- Creating a new carpool route where students of various grade levels are dropped off at different doors to reduce crowding at entry and exit points.
- Providing instruction and the time for students to continually make use of proper hand washing.
- Installing touchless hand sanitizers in every room and placing hand sanitizer stations throughout the building.
- Creating options for classrooms locations to help provide distancing requirements. Some learning opportunities may even be outside!
We recognize that information about COVID-19 continues to evolve and we will adapt and adjust as new health care recommendations are introduced. Our highest priority has always been to provide a rigorous education based on a biblical worldview in a safe and loving environment. Our mission is unchanged even in the face of these new opportunities and an ICS education is needed more today than ever before in the face of a complex world. We are committed to partnering with you in the great work of educating the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders. Together with your support and the grace that only God provides, we look ahead to the fall when our classrooms will be filled with the sound of students learning about our Father’s magnificent and complex world. We can’t wait to welcome you back!
MAY 2020 UPDATE
We are planning to return to full time instruction on campus in August. In preparation for our return we have formed a Reopening Task Force to look at the health and safety measures that will allow us to deliver the challenging academic program you expect at ICS. We are focusing our energies on the steps needed to welcome students and employees back in August. We are evaluating new classroom cleaning protocols, social distancing measures, changes to how school supplies are held in common, and updating standards for electronic device cleaning between uses. We are grateful to have the summer to adapt and refine our plans for the fall.
The value of an ICS education is found in the eternal investment our teachers make in the lives of their students. They are deeply committed not only to spiritual preparation but also to the comprehensive academic training that prepares each student for the future. We are blessed with teachers who love our students, love the Lord, and are dedicated to mentoring and discipling your children every day. This kind of education is a priceless treasure to be valued and protected.
HOW DECISIONS WILL BE MADE
Our Reopening Task Force will review the latest updates from a number of health and educational sites in order to inform proactive, thoughtful, and appropriate decision-making for our community. We also have an Advisory Team composed of teachers, parents, and additional health professionals to advise our task force as we assess the optimal measures to ready our campus for the return of employees, students, and parents.
As an independent private school we are not bound to follow the decisions of local public schools systems. Instead, our school board will follow state and local mandates, gather recommendations of best practices for health measures, and seek guidance from our task force.
Our primary agencies for information are:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- US State Department
- Fairfax County Department of Health
- The Governor of Virginia
- National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
- The Association of Christian Schools (ACSI)
We ask for your support as we continue to seek the Lord’s guidance for the ongoing strength and vitality of ICS.
EXTENDED CARE AVAILABLE DURING 2020-21 SCHOOL YEAR
JUNE 2020 UPDATE
Extended Care for the 2020-21 school year will be available beginning on the first day of school. We are currently finalizing details that will meet state guidelines and will communicate that to all our enrolled Extended Care families in the coming weeks.
With the expectation of entering Phase 3 on July 1, our plan is to offer Morning Care from 7-8AM in the gym and escort the children to their respective classes at 8AM when classrooms open. Afternoon Extended Care will also be offered with new health and safety modifications designed to meet state and local mandates. Additional details regarding club offerings, snacks, pick up, and health routines will be provided prior to the start of school.
Currently enrolled families should email our Extended Care Director with questions.
INNOVATIVE DISTANCE LEARNING
DISTANCE LEARNING IN SPRING 2020
ICS implemented a comprehensive distance learning plan for the final quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. Students received daily instruction from our dedicated faculty using online technology resources. Our faculty and staff also participated in workshops and developed effective lesson plans.
DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FUTURE
While we are immensely grateful for the tremendous efforts made by our teachers to turn their classrooms into digital classrooms in a matter of days, we also recognize lessons learned. It is essential that our distance learning models grow and improve so that we can continue to offer a rigorous academic program our parents expect. In order to prepare for the possibility for distance learning in the future we are committed to a continuous improvement plan to build flexibility into any future distance educational plan. We gained insight from our teachers and parents through ongoing communication and through the response to two surveys. We value the recommendations we received and will continue to adjust our future distance learning plans in response to the suggestions received. Educational leaders attended webinars that featured the latest best practices for distance learning and will continue to evaluate new opportunities to improve our models in the coming months. We are committed to responding to the desire for more live instruction and more frequent small group options that provide opportunities for students to engage directly with our gifted educators. Finally, we are creating more streamlined online platforms for students and parents to help reduce the need for multiple logins and passwords. Regardless of whether instruction is delivered in person or online we are certain that our students will continue to receive a world class education from highly qualified and committed faculty grounded in a biblical worldview, which is more important now than ever before.
We know this question is on the minds of many families and we earnestly desire to provide any reduction possible. However, we do not anticipate being able to provide tuition reductions for the upcoming school year for a number of reasons. Personnel costs traditionally account for over 85% of our budget. The cost to operate Immanuel Christian School’s core program does not automatically drop during a facility closure. Due to the generosity of Immanuel Bible Church, our school families do not pay toward the IBC facility costs, so our expenses were not reduced by the closure this spring. That probably is a surprise! Our school incurred additional expenses because of the digital tools and subscriptions that were necessary due to the demands of distance learning. Additionally, donations that we normally count on to subsidize every student’s tuition were suppressed during this time, reducing our available income. As for personnel, rather than furlough a few of our salaried employees who were not directly responsible for classroom instruction during the last two months of the 2019-20 school year in order to save $15 per month per student, we re-tasked those employees to support where they were most needed. We are proud of all our team members for their flexibility in serving the ICS community so well during this unexpected season.
As we prepare to return for on campus learning ICS is committed to having all the resources in place. We are making significant, informed, and strategic financial investments in supplies, equipment, personnel, and training to prepare for a variety of learning scenarios. We are also preparing for possible mandates which may cause us to limit the number of students in each class to provide for appropriate distance requirements. We will be ready to shift quickly from one scenario to another. We will utilize all salaried team members productively if we experience a short-term requirement to close our campus.
In the event that a mandated building closure of longer than two months is announced, we will re-assess staffing needs at that time. We also will continue to provide refunds for services that are no longer fulfilled, such as Extended Care and Fun Lunch, as well as any excess from Security Fees. Families may also receive a refund of excess Activity Fees if we are unable to postpone, reschedule, or replace planned activities.
We care about every family at ICS and desire to support you during these difficult months. If your family is concerned about your ability to pay tuition because you are in financial crisis, our online Financial Aid application is available through your FACTS account. The normal March deadline for the application is waived for those families experiencing an urgent financial crisis due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please contact our Finance Director, Mandy Croushore with any questions.
We understand that parents desire to have as much flexibility as possible before committing non-refundable financial resources for education especially during these uncertain times. At the same time, ICS has hired teachers and staff based on enrollment commitments in late spring, purchased teaching supplies, invested in technology, and ordered student workbooks and curriculum in anticipation of the start of school. It is our desire to balance these two perspectives and determine a fair refund policy that does not place an undue burden on either party. It is in this spirit that our withdrawal and refund policy has been created and can be found in our 2020-21 Tuition and Fee Schedule. Please contact our Admissions Office if you have questions or concerns about your enrollment status.
PARENT FEEDBACK DURING SPRING DISTANCE LEARNING
We value the feedback from our parents and are grateful for their willingness to provide us with insightful comments that will help us develop our plan to open campus for the 2020-21 school year. Of the more than 60% of ICS families who responded to the survey, 80% support our plan to reopen.
Many of the concerns were repeated between those expressing support to reopen and those expressing significant concerns which indicates that most families want a clear understanding of the procedures that will be implemented that address the health and safety of all. We understand that until there is a vaccine that is widely available, complete agreement is unrealistic. What we can assure our families that we will adhere to official guidelines and will continue to communicate and coordinate with families throughout the coming months. We will also use this information, along with other ongoing feedback, to develop a robust program that offers students an unparalleled Christian education as we shift to a new educational paradigm.
MESSAGE ON JULY 23 DETAILING NEW HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES TO WELCOME STUDENTS BACK TO CAMPUS IN AUGUST
Click to read our health & safety plan for in-person instruction.
MESSAGE ON JUNE 29 ABOUT RETURNING TO CAMPUS
Click to read a message from Mr. Danish. Use the arrows to flip through book below to read additional details about our return to campus plan.
MESSAGE ON JUNE 15 ABOUT REOPENING
MESSAGES DURING DISTANCE LEARNING