UPDATE FOR ICS PARENTS — SEPTEMBER 2021
One of the blessings of Christian education is that it engages our school in that which is most valuable and precious to parents, their children. This sometimes makes our task more complex but also rewarding as we partner daily with parents in the education of their children. If all we were doing was delivering goods and services, that might be simpler. But when our work involves the heart, mind, and future of a student, it intersects with some of the deepest longings and desires of our parents.
We are a school that believes in the power of the presence of the teacher in the classroom. This is because the work of Christian education is not just about the transfer of information and knowledge. It is about modeling the Christian life for our students every day through example. It is about walking with students daily through paths of learning and wisdom. We believe this happens best when teachers and students work together day by day through in-person learning and instruction.
While school systems around the country shut down for many months last year, ICS stayed open from day one and remained open for the entire year. This is because of our commitment to in-person learning and the extraordinary efforts of our administration, faculty, and staff. But it also happened because so many of our ICS families sacrificed their personal preferences and joined us in participating in protective measures that enabled us to remain open and in-person.
Our school board, administration, faculty, and staff are committed to maintaining in-person learning at ICS, but we need your help in order to make that happen. As you may have heard earlier this week, the rate of community transmission for COVID-19 in Fairfax County moved to “High” community spread. Because the Delta variant is significantly more contagious, it makes our effort to keep our school open much more complicated. Based on the trends we now see in Fairfax County we expect this problem to continue for a while.
It is likely that COVID constraints will be with us for some time to come. The question is, what do we need to do in order to move forward through this entire year with maximum in-person learning? Our school board and administration will continue to evaluate what it will take to protect our families and meet the needs of our students. Based on current data and guidelines, we have decided to emphasize three aspects of our COVID mitigation plan. We are asking all ICS families to help us in three specific ways:
- Have students, parents, and visitors to wear masks inside the school building.
- Complete the COVID-19 vaccination for those who can.
- Be vigilant in all activities outside of school hours.
Many of our protocols from last year are still in place throughout our classrooms. These include, daily health screening, distancing, face masks, hand-washing, surface cleaning, testing, and quarantining when needed. We also continually review public health data and guidelines in order to ensure our school practices are meeting the needs of the ICS community. But in spite of these efforts, the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant threatens our ability to keep school open and in person. For this reason, effective today, September 2, we are asking all students, parents, faculty, staff, and visitors to be diligent in all of these mitigating strategies, including wearing masks whenever they are inside the school building, regardless of previously requested accommodations.
One of our deeply held values as a Christian school is pursuing unity as followers of Jesus Christ. Although we don’t agree on everything, we strive to walk humbly with one another and find common ground, because the things that unite us are far greater than the things where we disagree. I am asking each of you to extend patience, respect, and grace to one another as we strive to maintain the spirit of unity in the bond of peace throughout our entire school. I am asking each of you as members of the ICS community to support our school board, the administration, the faculty, and staff as we work daily to keep our school open for another year of in-person learning and instruction.
Yours in the Great Mission of Christian Education,
Head of School
HEALTH & SAFETY PLAN FOR 2021-22 — JULY 22, 2021
Our leadership team is looking forward to students, parents, and employees returning to campus full time in just a few weeks. We are excited to welcome over 535 students to our two campuses and are nearing the end of renovations to the first floor of the high school campus.
With the COVID-19 vaccine now widely available for the most vulnerable population and the revised guidance on July 21 from the Virginia Departments of Health and Education, the updated Health and Safety plan for the start of the school year is provided for your review. The Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools reinforces the importance of in-person learning and supports school divisions in making decisions on masking and other prevention measures, as informed by local data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We appreciate your patience and are grateful for the many families who shared their thoughts on our health and safety procedures for the start of school.
The most significant revision is that we intend to start the upcoming academic year with parents making the choice of face covering use for their children. As a school, masks will be optional when entering the school building. This decision was made after reviewing metrics, considering the guidelines from the governor, VDOH and VDOE, and consulting with the Virginia Council for Private Education and our health care professionals on staff. As always, our faculty and staff will continue to support those families that choose to have their child wear a face covering.
We will continue to be vigilant with our health and safety measures. To that end, we will:
- Require all K-8 families to complete the Magnus health screening every morning.
- High school students will be required to use Student Square for their daily health screening.
- Continue to use our established, increased cleaning practices in all areas of the school.
- Continue to encourage hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer.
- Have all campus visitors complete a health screening.
We are committed to continually reviewing data and guidelines, and updating our school practices, as we make ongoing decisions that best meet the needs of our community. Thank you for your continued support as we partner together to develop purposeful lives of learning, godliness and service.
Assistant Head of School
COMMUNICATION FOR 2020-21 SCHOOL YEAR
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.
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 Tuition and Fee Schedule. Please contact our Admissions Office if you have questions or concerns about your enrollment status.
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