COVID-19 Protocols and Safety
Because the COVID-19 pandemic was in full force before we opened our school in the fall of 2020, we made important changes to our instructional and operational models to put student and staff safety first.
In the spring of 2019, when schools were closed by the Washington State Governor, we knew many schools would struggle to pivot to providing high quality and equitably accessible remote learning. Because of this, and because of our need to connect with future scholars and families, we piloted several projects to build our capacity to offer high quality distance learning for students.
By the summer we launched three rounds of Catalyst Camp. These camps were free, online experiences that were designed to provide hands-on, high quality remote learning experiences for students who had been out of school since the spring. Two of these camps were challenge-based design thinking camps for middle school students. Our Bee camp, intended for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners provided opportunities for scholars to participate in science activities related to the lives of bees. The project culminated in scholars turning the textbook for the course into a beehive that they could hang in their yards!
Running these camps was vital to our school's early success. We served over 100 students and our founding team became well versed in the challenges and opportunities of remote learning. Before each camp scholars were sent a kit of all the materials that they needed to participate in the classes and we created launchpads so that families could easily access any links and learning materials their scholar would need. These experiences also influenced our understanding of how to offer high quality distance learning.
Once scholars were welcomed back to our building for in person learning we consistently followed all requirements and recommendations from the Washington Department of Health. In November of 2019 we started bringing scholars back for in person and prioritized the students who needed in person learning the most. This included offering in person learning for scholars whose parents were front line workers or were on a military deployment. It also included scholars who receive special education services or those who were struggling academically. By January of 2020 we were able to offer in person learning seats to all families who wanted them. By this time about 90% of our families returned to in person learning because of their faith in our COVID-19 mitigation strategies. These strategies included maintaining a social distancing of six feet in all spaces, limiting classroom sizes to 15 scholars per room, completing health attestations, temperature and wellness checks, and ensuring frequent hand washing and consistent mask-wearing for students and staff.
Because we fully renovated our building in the year before we launched we also installed photohydroionization filters in our HVAC system to ensure that the air was as clean as possible. With these measures in place, we successfully ended the 2020-2021 school year with 0 cases of COVID transmitted on site.
Starting in the 2021 school year we have fully returned to in person learning and are still following the practices recommended by the Washington Department of Health and we have remained nearly COVID-free. In October of 2021 we had 1 positive case of COVID onsite which was neither contracted nor transmitted on site. See more about the model that we offered to families via the video below.