Opening Plans for 2020-2021

As we move into the new school year, we know there is uncertainty regarding the coronavirus pandemic. We have been and are making decisions based upon the best information available, with an emphasis on health and safety. GCA Administration has been in communication with Dr. Gary Voccio, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, and Lisa Crowder, Nurse Manager at Gordon County Health Department, and we will continue to seek advice and counsel from them and other medical professionals.

In accordance with public health department counsel, we are not requiring COVID-19 testing prior to registration. 

Parents and/or students who have questions are encouraged to contact Principal Gerard or Vice Principal Gariepy

REGISTRATION

Village Registration, Thursday, August 6 – All village students should plan to register on Thursday, August 6.  Registration will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Dormitory students may not register on August 6). We are asking that you come at specific times by last name:

A-E      3:00-3:45 p.m.
F-J        3:45-4:30 p.m.
K-O      4:30-5:15 p.m.
P-T       5:15-6:00 p.m.
U-Z      6:00-6:45 p.m.

Dormitory Student Registration, Sunday, August 9 – Registration for dorm students will be Sunday, August 9. With two registration times we hope to have less congestion so that social distancing will be possible. We are asking that you come at specific times by last name. Those that travel long distances can still come at a time convenient to them. 

A-E      8:30-10:00 a.m.
F-J        10:00-11:30 a.m.
K-O      11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
P-T       1:00-2:30 p.m.
U-Z      2:30-4:00 p.m.

ITEMS FOR SCHOOL

Uniforms - If you haven’t already, please be sure to order any uniforms you will need right away.  

  • Go to the Lands’ End website and search for GCA under the school link using our code: 
    • Everything in the section under that code is approved wear for GCA. 
    • The GCA logo must be applied to all items.
    • When ordering, if you don’t see the step to have the logo included then you aren’t ordering through the GCA school list.
    • Watch for sales on their website. Subscribe to their emails because there are significant discounts advertised throughout the year.

Masks – We will start the school year wearing masks or face coverings while in classes, in buildings, and during times when physical distancing isn’t possible.  

  • We will evaluate this as we move through the school year. 
  • Each student will be given a mask and a gaiter with the GCA logo.
  • Much like the dress code policy regarding socks, if you bring your own mask, please be sure it is one with a solid color or a basic pattern (floral, plaid, etc.). Masks worn on campus should not have any images, pictures, wording, etc. 

School Supplies 

  • Reusable water bottle. We have installed water bottle fill stations around campus and will be disconnecting the regular water fountains.
  • Foldable lawn chair. Many of our worship meetings will be taking place in the gymnasiums, on center campus, or in other creative areas where we can physically distance. Having a comfortable, and easily portable, chair will be important this year.
  • Other basic school supplies—keep an eye out for an email from Mrs. Hartwell soon for a more detailed list.

PREPARATIONS FOR A HEALTHY SCHOOL YEAR

Summer Preparations

  • Carpets in the dorms and student center have been cleaned and sanitized.
  • Sanitation stations are positioned around campus.
  • New water bottle fillers have been installed at our drinking fountains.
  • A new ionic air filtration system has been installed in all our buildings and dorm rooms that remove pathogens and viruses from the air.

Health Screenings – GCA hired a full-time nurse in preparation for this school year. We welcome Dorothy Self RN, WHNP-BC, MSN to our staff and we are grateful for the expertise she brings to our campus.

  • Each staff member and student will undergo a temperature check each day. 
  • All classes will be in-person with a Zoom option.
  • Students with mild symptoms or low-grade fever will stay home or in their dorm rooms and join their classes via Zoom.
  • Staff or students that test positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine at home for a minimum of two weeks. If students are well enough, they can still participate in classes via Zoom while home during quarantine.
  • Contact tracing will be a challenging, yet important, component through the school year. We are still developing protocols for contact tracing with our administration, nurse, and deans.

Physical Distancing – From all credible sources, the virus is spread through breathing, coughing, and sneezing. 

  • We will be taking steps to physically distance in the classrooms, cafeteria, school gatherings and dorms. 
  • Cleaning and sanitizing supplies will be used on all surfaces after each student use in school buildings and the cafeteria.
  • Food will also be served to students rather than self-serve in the cafeteria. There will be several pre-packaged items to choose from as well.
  • Dorm rooms will have restrictions on guests.

Increased Disinfecting 

  • Each classroom will have multiple disinfecting spray bottles so desktops and chairs can be cleaned and wiped down between each class period.
  • Student workers and staff will be ensuring restrooms, doorknobs, and other common surfaces will be disinfected on a regular basis throughout the day.

Mental Health – It is important for all of us to pay special attention to our mental health.

  • COVID-19 and tensions across the country have created increased anxiety and depression, especially in teenagers.
  • Our nurse, guidance counselor, deans, and administration team are available and willing to help in any way we can as we focus on developing positive mental health.

Village Student Health and Temperature Screening Protocol (Temporal infrared thermometers)

  1. Reading 99.9 degrees F or below- normal and no further intervention.
  2. 100.0 degrees F or above with NO other symptoms and NO known exposure to Covid-19:
    • Place student in isolation room, lay down, rest, drink water and recheck temp after 10 minutes.
    • Rechecked temperature---If temperature is 99.9 degrees F or below- normal, may leave isolation and resume to normal activities.
    • Rechecked temperature--- If temperature remains 100.0 degrees F or above- person must remain in isolation, notify parent for transportation home, recommend covid-19 testing and they must be cleared by health professional prior to returning back to school.
  3. 100.0 degrees F, WITH other symptoms and NO known exposure to Covid-19:
    • Place student in isolation room, lay down, rest, drink water and recheck temp after 10 minutes.
    • Remain in isolation.
    • Notify school nurse on call.
    • Notify parent and arrange for transportation home. Recommend covid-19 testing and person must be cleared by health professional prior to returning back to school.
    • Administer fever reducing medication per Tylenol protocol and treat symptoms with OTC remedies.
    • Recheck temperature after 4 hour of administration of Tylenol if student is still waiting on transportation home while in isolation.


CAFETERIA

Health & Safety – Several precautions will be put in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

  • All cafeteria staff and student workers will have their temperatures checked at the beginning of their shifts.
  • Tables and chairs will be regularly cleaned as students come and go during meals.
  • Cafeteria staff and student workers will be wearing masks, gloves, and face shields while working.

Seating – There have been several modifications to our cafeteria seating options.

  • The seating capacity in the cafeteria dining hall has been reduced to ensure physical distancing.
  • Additional tables have been placed in the lobby to allow students to spread out.
  • Umbrellas have been added to the outdoor picnic tables and additional picnic tables have been purchased for outdoor seating.
  • Students will be permitted to take their meals to their dorm rooms, to the student center, to center campus, and possibly the gymnasium during inclement weather.

Food Service – We will be following the CDC guidelines regarding food service as closely as we can.

  • Cafeteria staff and student workers will be serving food rather than self-serve.
  • There will be more pre-packaged food items available.
  • There will be lines with physical distancing reminders on the floor.
  • Serving times will be extended to ensure students have enough time to get their food.

 
CLASSROOM SPACES

Room Capacity – Following CDC and Southern Adventist University’s guidelines for reopening, we are committed to having students physically distanced in classes. 

  • Many of our regular classrooms cannot accommodate physical distancing for sections with over 20 students.
  • We are utilizing several unique spaces as classrooms to ensure proper distancing
    • The church fellowship hall
    • The GCA chapel
    • The cafeteria dining hall
    • The two gymnasium stages
  • Each location has been set up as a fully functioning classroom, equipped with AV technology, white boards, and WIFI access.
  • For class sections that have fewer than 20 students, they can meet in our regular classrooms and have sufficient space for distancing.
  • Instead of a weekly assembly/chapel meeting, we will be having virtual announcements and worship talks live streamed to the classrooms during 4th

Staff Offices – Due to the sizes of staff offices, there will be restrictions on the number of people allowed at a time.

  • Masks will be required for the first few weeks, due to the inability to sufficiently distance in office spaces.
  • Teachers will be available for questions and help during office hours—they will be in offices physically but will have Zoom available as well. 
  • Students will be encouraged to call, text, email, or jump into a teacher’s Zoom session from home or from their dorm rooms if they have any questions.

 

DORMITORIES

Rooms 

  • Ionizing air filters have been installed in all dorm room and common areas.
  • We will continue to have two students to each room. 
  • Initially, no guests will be allowed in dorm rooms. We hope to loosen this policy as the school year progresses.
  • As always, we encourage students to keep their rooms clean.

Chapels 

  • Deans will still organize dorm worships.
  • There will be multiple chapels offered so we can ensure physical distancing.

Restrooms/Showers 

  • These facilities are still shared among students that live on the hall.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting will be done even more frequently.
  • Student workers will wear protective equipment during the cleaning process.

Sick List

  • Each dormitory is setting aside guest rooms and dorm rooms for quarantine purposes.
  • If students exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, or other significant symptoms as determined by a dean or the school nurse, the school nurse or dean may take the student to get tested or ask parents to pick up their student.
  • Any student with a positive COVID-19 test must be quarantined until a parent can pick up their student.
  • We will be implementing a two-tiered sick list system:
    • Tier 1 – A student exhibits mild symptoms or low-grade fever. In the past, this student would have been encouraged to attend class. This year, we will require these students to stay home or in their dorm room and attend classes via Zoom. These students can stay current with their school work.
    • Tier 2– A student exhibits severe symptoms or high fever. Whether COVID-19 or not, these students will need to be quarantined and be transported to their home as they focus on recovering. All schoolwork will be made up at a later date.

 
RECREATION & EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Evenings – Students will still want to socialize in the evenings. We will be encouraging physical distancing, not “social distancing.” We want our students to stay social, but to also stay mindful of physical distancing.

  • There will be multiple locations available for recreation time:
  • Gymnasium (limited numbers)
  • Gym lobby
  • Outdoor ball fields
  • Tennis courts & outdoor basketball court

Intramurals – Intramurals has become a highlight for students and staff over the last couple of years. We plan to continue offering intramural sports, but with some precautions. All guidelines are subject to change.

  • Each participant will have their temperatures checked.
  • Outdoor spectators should minimize in-person contact and maintain 6 feet separation where possible.
  • Outdoor bleachers will have taped sections to show where to sit.
  • Foldable lawn chairs should be used for additional seating outdoors.
  • We still encourage positive sportsmanship, but without the physical contact (high fives, etc.)
  • Spectators for indoor intramural games will limited in number.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be made available.
  • Detailed rules will be provided as each sport comes up in the schedule.

Varsity Sports – The GCA administration has been in communication with local high school leagues to gauge what other schools are doing with regards to varsity sports. Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) Sports has been a helpful resource as we all “wait and see” what the best steps are with varsity sports.

  • We plan to select teams and begin practicing.
  • Some sports will allow for more distancing than others during practice, but this will be the focus as we work on individual skills as much as possible.
  • Masks may be required when distancing isn’t possible during practice.
  • Games have already been scheduled for first semester. We are planning to move forward unless we see evidence otherwise.
  • We will limit the number of ‘home’ spectators, and ‘visiting’ spectators will not be allowed to attend indoor games.
  • All varsity games will be live-streamed.

Gymnastics – Much like varsity sports, we plan to form a GCA AcroFlyers team this year.

  • There will be fewer team members.
  • Individual skills and small group routines will be the primary focus. 
  • Masks may be required when there are more than 2 or 3 in a close space working on a particular skill.
  • The national AcroFest program, hosted at one of our SDA colleges and usually scheduled in the late fall, has been cancelled. This helps us shift our priority to individual skills development and small group routines.

Music – From information that is readily available, it is known that singing expels particles similar to coughing or sneezing. Thus, we are planning to take significant precautions with our vocal and instrumental music groups.

  • Physical distancing will be required in each of these groups.
  • Masks will be required for singers.
  • Masks may be required for those not playing a wind or brass instrument—strings, percussion, etc. depending on distancing possibilities.

Trips – A highlight for any GCA student is being able to participate in some of our off-campus trips throughout the year. Our trips are still scheduled in the calendar and we would like to keep as many open as possible.

  • Until COVID-19 numbers decrease or flatten, most or all our off-campus trips in the early fall will be cancelled.
  • We are holding out hope for our trips in the spring—mission trips, study tours, band and choir trips, New England trip, and senior class trip.
  • We are currently planning to offer multiple town trip options on weekends to Walmart for students that need to stock up on supplies. Walmart currently requires all employees and customers to wear a mask.
  • We are still planning to offer home leave transportation south to Orlando and north to Knoxville. Seating availability on the buses will be reduced for distancing purposes.

Please let us know if you have concerns as we start the new school year.  Our goal is to minimize risk to the extent possible and continue to provide a learning environment that students will enjoy and cherish.  Though some aspects of the new school year will be different, we believe the coming year will be a vibrant and exciting year that students will value.  We encourage your counsel and advice and look forward to answering any questions.

GCA Administration

 

Georgia-Cumberland Academy is Accredited by

  • MSA – Middle States Association
  • GAPSAC – Georgia Private School Accreditation Council
  • Adventist Accrediting Association