(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Of Arlington’s eight private schools that offer a level of K-12 education, seven have announced plans to bring students to the classroom either five days a week or in a hybrid model.
Full Circle Montessori School is the only school that told ARLnow it is not planning on opening for in-person instruction.
All reopening schools have said they will implement plans aimed at curbing the coronavirus’ spread as cases continue to rise in Arlington. Required mask wearing, physical distancing and general compliance with Virginia’s Phase 3 guidance for schools were the most common strategies schools said they will use.
In other parts of the country, some schools that have reopened to in-person learning are already reporting coronavirus outbreaks. A recent study from South Korea found that while children under 10 are less likely to spread the disease, those ages 10-19 spread it “at least as well as adults do.”
The following list provides a brief outline of each local school’s plan. Only schools where the majority of education is at a K-12 level were included.
Full Circle Montessori School:
Full Circle has an elementary school for 1st-6th grades near Bailey’s Crossroads and Montessori schools at three locations throughout Arlington.
Tatjana Vichnevsky, head of school at Full Circle, told ARLnow in an email she is “not planning on opening Full Circle Montessori School until — at the earliest — the week of October 5.”
Vichnevsky added that her husband, an epidemiologist, is directing the school’s reopening plan using COVID-19 metrics for the D.C. region and Arlington’s population.
Our Savior offers kindergarten through 8th grade instruction to about 120 students at its Barcroft building.
Its reopening plan is based on a modified hybrid model. Students who do not want to return in person can choose distance learning, but classroom lessons will not be available virtually and these students will instead work with an online liaison to their classroom teacher.
Only staff and students will be allowed in Our Savior’s building, and everyone will have their temperature checked upon arrival.
Students must wash their hands when they enter the classrooms and everyone in the building must wear a mask. Socially distant breaks will be provided during the day for students to be without masks.
Rivendell School, located on Lee Highway in the Yorktown neighborhood, has K-8 education for about 150 students.
A spokeswoman said Rivendell “is planning to be at school with a modified schedule and mitigation strategies.”
Parents will also have the option of keeping their students at home for distance learning.
The Sycamore School, based in Ballston, enrolls approximately 60 students in 5th through 12th grades.
According to the school’s website, it announced on July 21 plans to resume in-person instruction five days a week in the fall.
No visitors, including parents, will be allowed in the school. The school’s meetings and community workshops will be conducted over Zoom.
Arlington’s four other K-12 private schools are under the direction of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
St. Agnes School, St. Ann Catholic School, and St. Thomas More Catholic School:
These three K-8 schools — with student body sizes of approximately 460, 220 and 400, respectively — will open five days a week for in-person instruction, according to Joseph Vorbach, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
Vorbach said the schools’ reopening plans are primarily based on Virginia’s Phase 3 school guidance. The state encourages schools to require face coverings, limit gathering sizes, restrict classes and groups of students from mixing, and mandate six foot distancing whenever possible.
Vorbach added that additional cleaners will be hired for the schools and plexiglass separators will be placed on some classroom desks.
St. Agnes School is also working with Senseware, a company that installs sensors meant to check for virus particles and conditions in which the coronavirus thrives. Senseware has said it wants to filter more air inside schools and utilize technologies like UV light to kill virus particles.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, which oversees 41 schools in the D.C. region, will also open St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School for students who choose to not return in-person.
“We have some teachers who are not able to return to the classroom… and students and families who are not ready to send their child back,” Vorbach said. “There seemed to be an opportunity there to see if we could form a virtual school that would continue to provide Catholic education.”
Students in any of the Diocese’s K-8 schools are eligible to participate.
Bishop O’Connell has about 1,200 students in its East Falls Church building.
The school will follow a hybrid plan similar to what Arlington Public Schools was planning before it moved to online-only.
Students will be split into two blocks, with each block coming for in-person instruction a week two days a week. When not in the building, students will complete classes virtually. Students can also chose to complete all coursework virtually.
Vorbach said the Catholic Mass that is typically celebrated during the school day will continue in Bishop O’Connell’s auditorium, but the gathering will comply with the state’s 250-person limit on crowds.
Photo via Our Savior Lutheran School
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