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COVID-19: Reopening Campus 2020

 

This page was updated on July 23. Please check back regularly for new information.

Dear Parents,

Thank you so much for the great and immediate response to our Reopening Survey sent out on Tuesday. We received 323 responses, which included feedback from all grade levels. These results, which were shared with our community via email, were extremely helpful in solidifying our full intentions to return to campus.

We recognize that the current COVID-19 numbers in the Brazos Valley are concerning; however, we remain optimistic. We appreciate the confidence that has been shown to us by you and the entire Allen community as we move closer to opening day.

As I have previously communicated, we will be returning to campus on August 19th, unless a mandate preventing return is issued by local authorities. Allen Academy places a high value on classroom-based, engaging education with teaching and learning experiences on campus; however, we understand that special circumstances and concerns may exist for families. Therefore, in order to meet the needs of our community, arrangements for synchronous (live) distance learning may be made. Should you feel that your situation precludes in-person learning for your child(ren), you are welcome to make arrangements to meet with me and discuss available options in further detail. For those students who are out sick, are in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, or have a family member who is at high risk for exposure to COVID-19, we will certainly provide this alternative option. Other situations may be discussed on a case-by-case basis. We are happy to do what is reasonably possible to work with you and your child. All arrangements for distance learning must be made with the Head of School. Please make arrangements to meet with me by emailing Rebecca Funkhouser, Administrative Assistant to Head of School, at rfunkhouser@allenacademy.org

Additional Reopening Information

Please be on the lookout for future communication detailing on-campus protocols and procedures, which are continually being updated and reviewed. Our intent is to provide updates to you each week. In the interest of clear and transparent communication, we have also posted previous communications and will continue to add additional information and updates to our website, www.allenacademy.org. I hope that you will find this page to be informative and address any questions that you may have. If you have any additional questions, please email Rebecca Funkhouser, Administrative Assistant to Head of School at rfunkhouser@allenacademy.org 

Allen Academy prides itself on offering an exceptional educational experience for every child, and despite COVID-19, we remain committed to our mission. Thank you for your continued support of Allen, our faculty and staff, and our wonderful students.

 

MIKE

 

Mike Notaro

Interim Head of School

Allen Academy

What a great day it is at Allen Academy!

 

The opening of school is approaching and our full intentions are to make campus life as normal as possible, while staying as safe as possible for our students within the context of our current environment. Clearly, we will work within the boundaries of government mandates and guidelines as we plan for the 2020-201 school year. As an independent school, we can be nimble in our use of space and schedule to meet our mission.

We support the vision of the American Academy of Pediatricians which “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and need to take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While we are hopeful for the best, it is realistic to expect that it will continue to be disruptive in all of our lives for the foreseeable future. We also know how important it is for our students to be on campus, learning from our teachers. As I have shared previously, children need to be in school in order to meet key developmental milestones for growth: academically, physically, spiritually, and socially.

 

COVID-19 Overview

Common symptoms of COVID-19 which may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus include but are not limited to: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The virus is spread mainly from person to person by respiratory droplets that are created when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. The spread of the virus is more likely when people are in close contact with one another.

As indicated in my previous correspondence to you, we have continued to solidify our plan to return to school on time beginning August 19th. Included below you will see our actual plan that will welcome our students back to a safe educational environment. We believe that with everyone’s cooperation we can resume school in person with some deliberate safety precautions.

 

Allen Academy Plan of Action:  

We plan to have all of our students on campus during the school day. We do not foresee any of our students taking classes through distance learning unless:

1) there is a government mandate to close campus, or 

2) if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in our Allen community, or

3) special and rare circumstances that keep numerous students within a class from attending school. This would be handled on a situational basis, approved by the Head of School, appropriate Division Head, and teachers. 

4) Unique circumstances within a family, discussed well in advance with the Head of School, appropriate Division Head and teachers for approval

*If there is a need to implement distance learning virtually, our full intention is to NOT send our young children home! We believe that we can provide a safe educational environment at school and allow our younger students to remain in the classroom on campus. We understand that our older students do not need the constant supervision that our young people require. With that in mind, we will prioritize keeping the young students on campus and in class, if difficult circumstances develop. If virtual learning becomes absolutely necessary for our Middle and Upper School, we will do everything necessary to smoothly transition into a virtual model led by our fantastic faculty.

 

Allen Academy Adaptations

It is important that we all have some clear facts about what we will be doing to meet the needs and safety requirements for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors when we begin and maintain school this fall. As with most guiding resources we are following, there is regular change in their announcements. This includes guidelines from the CDC and the Texas Private School Association. Despite this revolving door of information, there are some implementations we have within our plan. Lunch and break are still topics of discussion. Here are a few procedures (not all) that we are confident will be in place at Allen Academy:

 

Allen Academy Families,

Let's Get Ready For School!

First, may I say how much I am looking forward to arriving! Throughout the month of June, I will be on campus working together with Dr. Rush until his departure, and the Allen Faculty and Staff. Please feel free to contact the school and plan a time to stop by and say hello. Under normal circumstances, I would welcome drop-ins, but presently we need to schedule all visitors coming to campus due to that awful "C" word.

I am so excited to announce that Allen Academy intends to safely open our campus for teaching, learning, and student life on the first day of school on August 19th, 2020. How excited our team is to see the students in person again! 

First and foremost, children need to be in a structured and safe learning environment with peer interaction in order to meet developmental milestones and develop into healthy young adults. Hey, let's face it...kids need school and so do many of our parents! Even though our children have shown great adaptability during these difficult times and our teachers did an amazing job keeping teaching and learning going during the past spring, we know that learning from home through technology is not a long term solution, and it is particularly challenging for younger students.

Work has been non-stop preparing for a variety of scenarios. All of us are hoping for a return of somewhat normalcy, guidelines and mandates are being prepared that more than likely will include social distancing as well as other restrictions. We are developing plans on how we can safely gather and learn together to fulfill our mission in developing our students to embrace our core values of Independence, particularly Adaptability, Integrity, Partnership, and Vigor.

Much of our preparedness in returning to school is physical. We are very confident adjustments can be made to the way we use space on campus to accommodate our students. Detailed work has been done to physically measure all areas under-roof to de-densify using a square footage formula that meets or exceeds CDC guidelines. We will work within boundaries of government mandates and guidelines as we plan for the 2020-2021 academic year. Because we are an independent school, we can be flexible in the use of space and scheduling.

I strongly encourage us ALL to support the optimism that is uplifting your Allen staff to work diligently in preparing for next year. We will continue to update you throughout the summer. Meanwhile, have confidence that we have a talented team on campus and a wise and resourceful Board of Trustees, that all have a passionate desire to get back at it!   

Blessings,

MIKE

Mike Notaro

Incoming Interim Head of School

The Path Forward: Looking Ahead

Dear Allen Academy community,

Since our initial closure, our school has focused tremendous energy squarely on providing a robust learning experience for our students through our Distance Learning Program. During extraordinary and challenging times, our faculty continue to adapt, innovate, and tweak our students’ distance learning experience by providing meaningful engagement and connection.  While certainly not the same as being on campus, we have been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response to our Distance Learning Program and have been so impressed with our students’ engagement and enthusiasm. As a result of such vigorous commitment by our students and faculty, our students will successfully complete this academic year and be promoted to the next grade level, and our seniors will all graduate. Allen Academy students will be prepared for the next phase in their educational experience.

It is important that both the School and I acknowledge the emotional and financial stress of such historic and volatile times. At varying levels, all households are experiencing notable financial hardship, so having regular and transparent communications about plans to finish this school year and for next school year is very important to us. Tuition does not cover the full cost to educate your child or children at Allen Academy. Our school is a service industry and non-profit, with our most significant expense being payroll. The success of the Distance Learning Program, and therefore our ability to continue to provide your child with an exceptional and robust learning experience for the rest of this year, is contingent upon our ability to maintain the employment status of those individuals critical to its success – primarily our faculty and administrators. We simply would not be able to provide a Distance Learning Program or fulfill our contractual obligations if it was not for our ability to ensure their ongoing employment and engagement with and commitment to the process. We have been blessed that we have been able to do so.

As we look at the days, weeks, and months ahead, I remain in regular communication with the Administrative Teams, our Board of Trustees, and peer Heads of School in our accrediting body, Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS). Also be assured that our school is committed to a strong, smooth leadership transition, despite the extraordinary circumstances.

We want you to know that despite such uncertainty in our world, Allen Academy continues to thoughtfully chart parallel paths forward for next school year. We will be taking direction from local and state officials, along with medical experts, and ISAS about the start of the next school year. Through careful planning, we will be able to be agile and prepared for all contingencies.  We remain hopeful to have a normal start to the school year. At the same time, we are preparing for different scenarios that will depend on what is permitted by local and state officials, and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and Brazos Valley health professionals. We are exploring how school will function if, for example, we are unable to permit students in large gatherings, like the kinds found at lunch, assemblies, athletics events, fine arts performances, and more. Given space constraints of some of our classrooms and learning spaces, we will also be researching how we can maintain appropriate social distancing. Additionally, possible schedule modifications to help ensure social distancing. We have pursued and acquired cleaning supplies, we are working with a local outfitter on Allen Academy branded personal protective equipment (PPE), will conduct enhanced staff training on cleaning protocols, and other ways that we can insure community health and safety. There is admittedly much to consider and for which to plan, and during such a fluid, uncertain time, we will lean upon the expert guidance of local and state officials, and medical professionals. It is our goal to share these parallel paths forward in the upcoming weeks and to dispel any uncertainty you may be feeling about your child’s next phase of learning.

Please know that our greatest wish is to resume school as usual in the new academic year and have your children return to campus. In the unfortunate event that we have to start the year in distance learning, or if we have to return to distance learning in the fall because of a second wave of infection, or if there is a need for some students to utilize distance learning at times throughout the year, the faculty is currently strategizing how we can further strengthen and improve our Distance Learning Program to ensure that our students continue to make appropriate progress in their learning and that we meet the mission of our school. We welcome your feedback about what has worked and about where you feel improvement is needed, and will deploy a survey in the coming days.

As our path forward becomes clearer, you will receive timely communication about our school planning. Please know that nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and all our families.

We are all in this together, and every family is valued at Allen Academy. I am grateful for your trust in and support of our faculty and administration.

Stay safe and be well,

Matt

 

 

Dr. Matthew J. Rush

Head of School

Allen Academy

Dear Allen Academy community

As we approach the month of May, there are many traditions and customs that we've come to anticipate. While the pandemic has impacted all of us in more than one way, we are committed to honor these events the best way we can. In some cases, they may seem less personal simply because of the digital nature. In others, they may seem very different. Others still will be completely new versions of old classics. In the end, however, they will all be done with the love and care for and the celebration of our students.   

In that spirit, we are committing to no Zooms or classwork on Fridays moving forward. We believe there is a need for fun, for balance, and to seize the opportunity to do other important work in school, including highlighting athletics and arts the best way we can. As such, these three Fantastic Fridays will look as follows, with details from each division to come from teachers/Advisors.

  • Friday, May 1 - Drive By and Hi, Well Wishes, and Reflections  
  • Friday, May 8 - Field Day 2020!
  • Friday, May 15 - Celebrate and Create Fine Arts Day

Below you find dates for specific events in each division for the month of May. I hope this information serves you and your family well, and can be something to which you refer, if you have questions.

Preschool End-of-Year Events

  • PS Ocean Day: Coordinated with Field Day; May 8
  • Last Day: Friday, May 15
  • Goodbyes/Yearbook pickup: Friday, May 15

Lower School End-of-Year Events Plan

  • Drive by/Pick-up/return items: Friday, May 15
  • Last day of class: Wednesday, May 20
  • Grade 5 Moving Up ceremony: Thursday, May 21 (10:00am)

Middle School End-of-Year Events

  • Last Day of class: Thursday, May 21
  • MS Awards & 8th Grade  Commencement: Thursday, May 21 (video at 10:15am)

Upper School End-of-Year Events

  • Last Day of class: Wednesday, May 20
  • US Awards Assembly: Wednesday, May 20 (video at 2:45pm)
  • Seniors
    • Senior Dinner (TBD)
    • Commencement (TBD)

Athletics Update

  • MS Athletic Awards: Video released Monday, May 18
  • Varsity Athletic Awards: Video released Monday, May 18 with home viewing dinner party

Fine Arts Update

In lieu of Spring Fine Arts Night, the May 15th Celebrate and Create Fine Arts Day will include an online gallery featuring artwork and performances from our students in LS, MS, and US. This day will be focused on inspiring and encouraging individual creativity, and celebrating our students and their development in all of the fine arts. 

Mental Health & Wellness

Reminder that should you need/want any advice, or need specific help in this area, we have a tremendous partner in Oakwood Collaborative and Jeremy Dew.

As a reminder, if you need anything from any of us, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am grateful to the teachers for their incredible efforts, the parents for your partnership, and our students for their commitment to see this through to the end of the year. 

With gratitude,


 

 

Dr. Matthew J. Rush

Head of School

Allen Academy

April 24, 2020

Dear Allen Academy community, 

Happy Friday, and we hope this email finds you all safe, healthy, and well.

This week, I'd like to take the opportunity to celebrate selfless service. Many of you are spending today in service to our community, making masks as part of the Allen Academy 500 Mask Challenge. We also have our US Student Council demonstrating a great deal of compassion in the aftermath of having to cancel Prom, as well as our hardworking Facilities Department going the extra mile. Mr. Vanadore and his team have been making great strides, which he gives more detail on below, and our campus continues to improve because of their efforts. The thoughtfulness and generosity of these actions and individuals epitomizes the spirit of service and partnership that Allen Academy has always valued, and continue to make us proud to be part of the Allen community. 

We look forward to seeing many of you on Monday when you swing by campus to drop off your finished masks. In the meantime, have a great weekend ahead and don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything the school can do to help you.

Regards,

 

Matt

(Click here to see Friday's Video Message from Dr. Rush.) 


What is happening on campus while everyone is away:

There may not be any students on campus, unfortunately, but the Facilities Department is working hard to make sure everything is ready for when everyone returns. During everyone's time away, the custodial and maintenance crews are here to ensure that the campus is kept in peak condition, and are taking care of many projects that we might not be able to do with the usual crowd on campus. We are still doing our normal cleaning duties and general landscaping items, but now that we have some extra time, the crew is able to do a deep clean of all classrooms and common areas, correct some issues with lighting in various areas by converting fixtures to LED, and work on several improvement projects that will help refresh certain areas of campus for students and faculty. Additionally, Mr. Moore and I are working on improvement of a garden area that will be dedicated to Mr. George Mattair upon its completion, and we will share pictures of this upon completion.

We are also looking ahead to the fall and what school life will look like when students return. Although we will send more specifics about certain protocols and procedures as we approach August, we are happy to share that we have already added many hand sanitizing stations throughout campus near all of the main entrances, and we are using cleaning chemicals that are approved by the CDC to eradicate COVID-19 on high contact surfaces, such as door knobs and tables. 

 

The entire maintenance and custodial staff will be back to full time on Monday, April 27, and eagerly awaits the return of students and faculty in the fall because Allen is not the same without everyone on campus. We look forward to seeing you all in August, and if there is anything you need from us, please know that we are here for you! In the meantime, stay safe and wash your hands!

 

Sincerely,

Trent Vanadore

Director of Facilities

Dear Allen Academy community, 

As you may have heard during Governor Abbott's press conference Friday afternoon, on-campus learning will not resume this academic year for all schools in Texas. As such, it is with great sadness that we will not return to our campus this academic year. Allen Academy will, however, continue our Distance Learning Program for the remainder of this school year.

While Governor Abbott's announcement may not have come as a surprise, it does not minimize the emotions we all feel at this time. The disappointment that comes with our students' inability to be on our campus with their friends, to see their teachers in person, to play their last games of the season, to perform on the stage one more time, to have moving up and Commencement ceremonies on campus; all of it is really beyond measure. My heart is especially heavy for our seniors.  Whether those students have been here a few years or are "Lifers," never in a million years could our seniors imagine either their last day of high school in early March, or that it would end in this gut-wrenching fashion. The faculty, staff, and I grieve both your longing and loss.

As we look forward to those end-of-year ceremonies, it is important to acknowledge that it will simply not be the same. We are doing and will continue to do the best we can, and the send-offs our students deserve will be magical and memorable - just different from recent years. Similarly, I know many of you will have questions regarding end-of-year logistics and accessing the campus in light of this news. Please know that the Admin Team is meeting this week to discuss these topics and develop a plan that we will communicate to you. 

I want to close by thanking the faculty and staff for their continued and unwavering efforts under the most extraordinary circumstances. They are true heroes and continue to press forward with a student-first lens in all they do. Similarly, we are grateful to the local and national medical personnel and all who are on the front-lines. Thank you.

Be well and know that you are loved,

 

 

Matt

Dear Allen Academy community, 

Happy Friday and I hope this email finds you safe, healthy, and well.

One of the distinguishing features of our school are the 5 Core Values. This week, I'd like to spotlight one that is playing out at almost every moment: partnership.

(Click here to see this week's video message.)

Partnership is a concept of both give and take. In business, marriage, or any kind of relationship, when done correctly, the results can be truly amazing. Over the last four weeks, there have been countless examples of partnership throughout our community: parents celebrating teachers, teachers celebrating and working with students, businesses working with us, and even in times of the recent loss of a beloved teacher and friend, George Mattair.  

Allen is also fortunate to have a partnership with Oakwood Collaborative and Jeremy Dew. Just this week, Jeremy presented to 200,000 employees at Microsoft as their employees transitioned to full-time work at home, on Parenting Through a Pandemic.  In it, Jeremy offers ideas and strategies around navigating work at home, talking to your kids about the virus at different developmental stages (3-18 years old), and then when to ask for more help from a professional. I hope you find it useful.

Finally, in the week ahead, we are excited to partner with you as we give our time and service to our local medical professionals, creating masks and working together to allow people to help other people through the Allen Academy 500 Mask Challenge. Thank you for the incredible response so far!

Have a great weekend ahead and please let the school know what we can do to help you in the interim.

Sincerely,

 

Matt

 

Dear Allen Academy Families,

During this pandemic, we've all been forced to give up things to which we are accustomed.  Some of those are tangible, some are more abstract. 

Meanwhile, our teachers and students continue to work hard, be flexible, and maintain vigor as we head toward the end of the year we started together. With that in mind, and in conjunction with the Allen Academy spirit of selfless service, I am asking that we take next Friday, April 24, as a day of service, school wide. We have an opportunity to help our medical professionals, as well as the Brazos Community Emergency Operations Center.  

To that end, I am issuing a challenge to our school community to help others in order to safely provide medical care to those who are in need of attention.

The Allen Academy 500 Mask Challenge

With your help, our goal is for the Allen Community to combine our efforts and make (250) higher-quality stapled masks to be used in doctor's offices or hospitals, and (250) cloth masks in response to the Brazos Community Emergency Operations Center request.

Thanks to donations from our Allen family, Allen Academy is able to provide every family interested with the materials for a set of 10 masks of the type you choose - all we need is your commitment to complete 10 (or more) masks by Monday, April 27th.

In order to facilitate our students' involvement, this will be the designated learning and instruction for Friday, April 24. Students in all Divisions will not be required to attend any sessions or complete any other work that day, so that the family can focus on this service project any time that day that is convenient for you. This also leaves a two-day grace period in which masks could be completed before they're due.

In advance of this workday, complete mask kits will be available for pickup on Tuesday, April 21, from 3:00-6:00pm at the Allen Academy campus. This will be a drive-thru style pickup process, to maintain social distancing. 

In order to have the mask kits prepared and ready for easy distribution, we ask that you review the mask style videos below, and then complete this Google form to let us know which type of mask you would prefer to make, as well as a few other pieces of pertinent information.

(Please note that care must be taken with the stapled mask project, so be sure you are able to meet the detailed requirements for quality masks. Cloth masks requirements are not as stringent because they can be washed, but they require some simple sewing skills and access to a sewing machine.)

Here are the videos and instructions for each mask style:

Stapled Masks

Sewn Cloth Masks

My hope is that with no schoolwork due, no Zooms scheduled, and dedicated time together as individual families, we can devote this day to helping others.  I know the spirit and drive of the Allen Academy family, and I am confident that we will rise to the challenge and help others in the Brazos Valley.

Yours in partnership, 

 

Matt

Dear Allen Academy community,

As you may know, this week would have been when we invited grandparents and special friends to campus, and honored them through music, poetry, and more. Although our Grandparents Day Celebration had to be canceled, we wanted to take the time to recognize and appreciate all the individuals who would have celebrated with us. With that in mind, we've put together a Grandparents Day Video, available here.

As we enter into this long weekend, our wish for you is that you stay safe, stay healthy, and take the time to appreciate one another and the connections we have. 

Regards,

 

Dr. Matthew Rush

Head of School

Allen Academy

Dear Allen Academy community,

First, I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to our incredible faculty and staff and to our wonderfully adaptive students for a successful first two weeks of learning via our Distance Learning Plan. Thank you!

Second, please click here to see this week's short video message.

As you may know, the Governor announced earlier this week that we will be continuing Distance Learning into early May, rather than returning in mid-April as intended. This is only one reminder of the fact that our current situation is unpredictable and relies critically on interconnectedness. With that being said, I remain optimistic that the guiding principles of Adaptive Expertise and our Core Values have prepared us in ways other schools could not, and that our mission as a school will be lived out so that we can thrive amid the uncertainty of the days and weeks ahead.

As such, I remain fully confident in our faculty and staff to continue to provide a remarkable education for our children, and am grateful for your patience and partnership.

My best to you all,

 

 

Dr. Matthew J. Rush

Head of School

Allen Academy

Dear Allen Academy community,

Over the last two weeks, a lot has changed. With that change has unquestionably brought tough times. Businesses are crippled, medical professionals are exhausted, and our "normal" has been flipped upside down.

Despite this seismic shift, I have thought a lot about the simple things we often take for granted: the ability to have everyone at home for dinner, the opportunity to go on a family walk in the early evening, and the chance to evaluate what is really important. Recently, Coach Jolly put together a competition for the faculty and staff that has numerous components to keep us healthy and mindful. I am failing miserably at most of it (like unnecessary snacking), but I have been able to check one box each day: two expressions of gratitude. Let's not forget to do that with people we know and love, and to be thankful for the many blessings we do have in our lives.

As an education professional, one of those blessings is Dr. Julie Lythcott-Haimes, a former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean. She holds a BA from Stanford, a JD from Harvard, and an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. She is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult, a parenting manifesto which gave rise to one of the top TED Talks of 2016

Amid all of the craziness and disruption of the Coronavirus, Dr. Lythcott-Haimes made a recent video where she outlined 10 Tips for parents on how to shelter in place without losing your mind. It's worth watching and listening to, but I am also keenly aware that some people prefer the Cliffs Notes version of things. So here it is:

1. Put on your own oxygen mask first

  • We must practice and model good self-care
  • Have a schedule and routine (and don't forget to make the effort to get dressed, brush your teeth, hair, etc.)
  • Be present with your family

2. Presume everyone has COVID-19 and act accordingly

  • We have a mutual obligation not to give it to each other
  • Don't touch your face
  • Good social distancing is 6 feet or more
  • Vigorously wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds

3. Don't shirk your authority

  • A 'happy kid is a happy house,' but parents still need to parent, and children need structure and accountability. Maintain regular rules, expectations, and consequences
  • NO PLAYDATES
  • NO SLEEPOVERS

4. Keep your house clean  

  • It's something that you can actually control at a time when we feel out of control
  • Children of all ages should be expected to help

5. Seek social connection

  • We must embrace our humanness
  • Keep your distance physically, but not emotionally.  Be overly kind, grateful, and full of grace in all your interactions

6. Also, give everyone their SPACE!

7. Set an aspirational personal goal you want to meet by the time we can get out again

8. Take delight in small dividends

9. Support your local businesses

10. Serve those in need (but do so with good social distancing)

As we begin the month of April, a month typically associated with spring showers and growth, I hope you might take some time to heed great advice from Dr. Lythcott-Haimes and grow in areas that are either hard or that you've been given opportunity to do so during this time. 

It is also true that every family has different circumstances, and we are learning a new normal. Please know that we support the choices you make during this time of distance learning, and that your family, your health, and your wellness must always come first.

Best,

 

 

Matt

Dear Allen Academy community,

As uncertainty continues to grow amid the Coronavirus outbreak, I recognize that feeling scared or nervous would naturally follow. Fortunately, like a great children's book with a villain and a hero, we have numerous heroes in our midsts.  

First, our teachers and administration have been awesome, working tirelessly to prepare, conduct, and partner with others various lessons to engage students from the age of 3 to 19. This is no small feat, and they deserve huge praise for adapting, promoting, and delivering the continuity of our program from afar.

Second, please click here to see this week's short video message.

We also have many families associated with local businesses, particularly those in food service. They, too, have had to pivot and adjust, while still providing nourishment for local residents. If it is safe, you are able, and you are willing, let's do our best to support those businesses as well.  

In the world of education, we often talk about assessments; tests, quizzes, papers, and projects. In my view, we have a big test in front of us as a school. How will we do?  

It may be a longer battle than we want, but I trust and support the heroes around us. And, if we are the community and family I know and believe we are, we will emerge not only successfully, but even stronger than when we started.

Be safe, go be with your family over the weekend, and be in touch if you need anything from us.

My best to you all,

 

 

Dr. Matthew J. Rush

Head of School

Allen Academy

Dear Allen Academy community,

I recognize that all of us are being bombarded with emails, texts, and breaking news alerts 24-7. My aim is not to pile on, but instead create communication that is clear and easily accessible. Our focus has and will remain on providing the best education for our students. The teachers have been working tirelessly in that pursuit, and I am proud of the work they've done in a very short period of time. Thank you, faculty and staff!

Below you will find easy answers to some frequently asked questions which I hope is helpful.

Campus / Facilities 

When will campus re-open?

Currently, Allen Academy is operating under Brazos County's Order to Shelter in Place. Our Distance Learning Plan began Monday, March 23 and will extend through Friday, April 10. The Admin Team, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, will evaluate the re-opening of campus weekly while monitoring CDC and local government guidelines. Families, students, and visitors may not access campus at this time.

 

Communications

Is the main switchboard open to the community?

While our Receptionist, Gabby Rodriguez, will not be at the school physically, please feel free to contact her if you need anything at all.

 

Who do I contact if I have a question during Distance Learning?

If you have a question specific to your child, please reach out to either your child's homeroom teacher or advisor. Please direct questions about distance learning in a particular division to the appropriate Division Head, or Department Chair for grades 6-12. 

 

What is the type and frequency of communication that I can expect to receive from Allen Academy?

  • Division Heads are available via email and by phone throughout school hours and you are welcome to contact as needed
  • Homeroom Teachers are available via email throughout school hours for families in grades PK-5 and will make regular Zoom calls/contact with students/parents as needed
  • MS/US Advisors will check-in regularly with students (email, Zoom, group chat)
  • The Head of School will communicate weekly (or more depending on situation) through email or video
  • Sunday Snapshot will be replaced by daily posts and communication via Allen's Facebook page and Instagram
  • As a general reminder, when campus is reopened, any events or activities will be added to the school's Tandem calendar, available here 
  • All events hosted by Allen Academy or scheduled to be held at an Allen Academy facility will be postponed or canceled through April 12. Rescheduling of events will be reviewed case by case and will depend on CDC and government guidelines. Field trips scheduled through April 12 are also either postponed or canceled.

 

School Support

Will families receive a tuition refund while students are not on campus?

As mentioned in our Partnership Pledge, the school is committed to provide each student a caring, safe environment to enhance learning.  During this current pandemic, the physical campus needs to be closed for everyone's safety; yet learning will continue.  

Beginning on Monday, March 23, like many great independent schools, colleges, and universities, Allen Academy shifted to distance learning for all students.  From Preschool to twelfth grade, lessons are being tailored to students to enrich their education. The school asks for your partnership to continue to remain current in the financial obligations to the school. 

Our mission is to cultivate the skills and attitudes that characterize adaptive expertise, and we are fully committed to living this mission in the midst of a local and global crisis.

 

What if my child (or parent) needs technology help during distance learning?

Please be in contact with the appropriate Division Head.

 

Bandwidth

With the potential of multiple devices being used simultaneously in a home, bandwidth could be taxed. It will be helpful if parents monitor so that one user isn't streaming or playing video games (Netflix, Fortnite, etc.) while another is having class via Zoom.

 

My child left an item at school, how can I retrieve it?

Families may not come to campus during the Shelter in Place Order. Please contact your child's Division Head so we can work out if the item(s) needed are crucial to your child's distance learning plan.

 

What is the plan for standardized testing such as the SAT or AP?

Allen Academy is monitoring the standardized testing plans that are managed by the College Board. As of now, the May SAT is cancelled, and the College Board is planning on administering AP tests to students at their home in a modified format. We will communicate with families as we receive additional updates and details.

 

How will my child receive counseling support?

The Allen Academy Distance Learning Plan includes plans for wellness and counseling support. Jess Rios is available by phone daily and by email to support students and/or families in this time.

  • Wellness: Encourage Physical Activity and Movement and Monitor Student Stress 

Physical movement and exercise are vital to maintaining physical and mental health, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving concentration and focus for more effective learning and retention. Parents should monitor student stress levels and reach out to an appropriate Allen employee for advice as needed. The health and wellness of our students is of the utmost importance to us, and so we have worked with our PE department to set aside time during the week for students to maintain a level of activity, even if homebound. Parents can partner with the school by checking in on their child's physical activity, ensuring that they participate in the activities provided, and even joining in!

 

Will the Nurse's Office be available to help families during Distance Learning?

While the physical office is closed, Allen Academy's School Nurse, Beth Hoffman, will be available to answer questions and provide guidance for families that have questions or concerns. She may be reached via email.

 

Distance Learning

How will distance learning work for students?

Consult the Allen Academy Distance Learning Plan to find out what learning looks like at Allen Academy in each division. Division Heads are regularly monitoring the effectiveness, as well as adjusting and how to optimize learning in this different environment.

 

Will my child be on a screen all day long?

Students should absolutely not be in front of a screen all day. The amount of screen time will vary by the child's age and grade. Our expert teaching faculty have designed a Distance Learning Plan that is developmentally appropriate. Breaks, off-screen time, wellness, physical activity, and daily advisory meetings are all part of the Distance Learning Plan for our students. Nevertheless, children may need to be reminded to take time away from screens when class is not in session, or to remember that homework doesn't have to begin immediately after the session itself.

 

How Can I Support My Children During the Distance Learning Plan?

Allen Academy understands that a shift to a distance learning approach will require our students and families to make adjustments. Yet a continued partnership with parents and guardians can play a vital part of ensuring the success of the plan. The Admin Team, Division Heads, and teachers are all available to support and guide students (and parents/guardians/caregivers) should they need help. Below are some guidelines for parents/guardians/caregivers to help students achieve success with distance learning. Overall, we encourage you to embrace this time at home as a new adventure with great possibilities. Enjoy your family!

  • Establish a Regular Schedule for Your Child & Stay Engaged with their Learning

Now that distance learning has begun, it is important for parents/ guardians/ caregivers to help students establish and maintain a routine and structure for their day, beginning with a regular bedtime and wake-up time each day. While some of our students may want to stay up late and sleep in, establishing a regular school day routine will help your child retain a sense of normalcy and stay engaged in learning. Be sure to help your child build in "breaks" during the school day, encouraging them to stand up and move around, so they are not remaining sedentary throughout the day. Begin and close each "school day" with a brief check-in as well as checking in throughout the day at regular intervals to ensure that your child is successfully engaging in distance learning. Reach out to your child's teacher if you observe your child struggling to stay focused. Setting clear expectations with your child about regular school day hours will help your child maintain a schedule and stay on top of his/her schoolwork.

  • Create a Study Space for Your Child

Productive learning relies on a conducive environment. We recommend that you create a separate, quiet space in your home for your child to study. The family room sofa with close proximity to a television or your child's bedroom may not be the optimal place for your child to learn. We recommend that you choose an open area in the family living space (kitchen table, dining room, etc.) to avoid isolating your child and to allow parents/guardians to monitor your child's learning and screen activity. A room with strong wireless connection will also be important. 

  • Stay in Communication with your Child's Teachers

Your child's teachers will maintain regular communication with parents/ guardians/ caregivers. The frequency of the communications will depend on your child's age, developmental stage, and level of independence. While teachers are available as resources for your child and for you, please keep in mind that our teachers will need to be in regular email communication with all of their families, so we ask that you be mindful when communicating with teachers, strive to be succinct, and focus on the essential. Please use email (not texting) as your primary method of contact with teachers.

  • Encourage Independence and Allow for Productive Struggle 

Stay engaged in your child's learning by asking them questions and having them share their thoughts while encouraging their independence, so they can take ownership of their own learning. Some productive struggle is essential to learning, so we ask that parents allow their children to grapple with problems and come up with ideas for tackling them. Stepping in too quickly to help solve problems will deprive your child of the opportunity to learn, try new approaches, and gain greater independence and confidence. If your child becomes discouraged and/or overwhelmed by schoolwork, please reach out to your child's teachers, advisors, or the School's counseling partner.

  • Help your Child Maintain Social Contact with Peers

It will be very important for your child to stay in social contact (through virtual means) with their friends and peers during distance learning periods. Encourage your child to interact with friends through Facetime/Google Hangout or through phone conversations if social distancing is required. They can form study groups created by their teachers or informal groups that they develop on their own.  For our youngest students, please consider setting up Skype or Facetime video calls with their friends, so they have virtual play dates. You can simply prop the device up in their rooms, and they can play. Social interactions, such as virtual lunch buddies, will help your child stay connected and feel a part of the Allen Academy community.

  • Time Management 

During certain times in the distance learning schedule, some students may need help with time management. Teachers are available to assist, but it is also important for parents to ensure that students are spending this time on school work. Even if a student says that he or she is done with assignments, this is a valuable time to meet with teachers, study with peers, and master the learning outcomes for the course. Students should be actively working during the designated times.

 

In closing, let me reiterate that our partnership is critical in this time of uncertainty. If you need something, please ask. As an Allen Academy family, we will navigate this crisis together and emerge a stronger community as a result.

In partnership,

 

 

Matt

Dear Allen Academy community,

As promised, I wanted to reach out to you regarding the short term future of our daily operations at Allen. Things continue to change rapidly, but we are fortunate to have a growth mindset as part of the ethos of our school. Moreover, as our world becomes even more unpredictable and interconnected, I'm grateful we've embraced the guiding principles of Adaptive Expertise to prepare our students.

Thus, despite the uncertainties and emotions that come with it, I am fully confident in our faculty and staff to continue to provide a remarkable education, given the parameters of what is going on around us.

(Click here for video message from Dr. Rush.)

Below you find links to multiple sections of this communication. I hope it serves you and your family well, and can be a document to which you refer if you have questions.

As a reminder, Allen Academy's campus remains CLOSED with no access through April 12, 2020. Looking forward during our extended closure, there will be at the minimum a weekly electronic communication from me to our community. In the interim, please focus on your health and family, and let us know how we can help you during this time.

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Matthew J. Rush

Head of School

Allen Academy

Dear Allen Academy community,

Over the course of this week, I have worked closely with the Allen Academy Administration, faculty, and staff, and am confident in our Distance Learning Plan in all Divisions as we navigate these uncertain times together. As the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been diagnosed in the Brazos Valley, however, we need to adjust our initial plan. 

As such, after consultation with the Board, I have decided that we will:

  • Extend distance learning beginning on Friday, March 20 through April 12 
  • Close campus during this extended time period
  • In consultation with medical experts and public health officials, near the end of the extended campus closure, assess the situation and potential return to normal school operations on campus

The plan is to resume normal operations on Monday, April 13. At this time, TAPPS is also scheduled to resume spring athletics, allowing all of our students to return to operations as normal in regard to extracurricular activities.

The intent of this extended campus closure is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all of our constituents, by avoiding large concentrations of individuals. During this time, through distance learning, email communications, etc., our admin and faculty are on the job and available to help Allen families just like any other school day.  

A comprehensive informational email will be sent this Friday with details regarding the Distance Learning Plan, as well as information and instructions from division and academic leadership specific for your children.

Closing our physical campus is not a decision that has been made either hastily or lightly; rather, it is one that we make in order to ensure the healthy return of all students when it is prudent to reopen the campus and encourage group interactions. For the time being, I encourage you to maintain open lines of communication with myself, your Division Head, the teachers of your child(ren), and trust that going forward, every decision we make as a school continues to be about doing what's best for families of Allen Academy.

In partnership,

 

Matt

Dear Allen Academy community,

With the spread of COVID-19, we find ourselves in a time of uncertainty. There are unknowns surrounding us in our local community, our state, our nation, and the world.   

As such, after consultation with the Board, I have decided that we will:

  • Extend Spring Break one week (March 16-20) to allow faculty and staff to prepare for distance learning
  • Initiate distance learning beginning on Friday, March 20 and extend through the following week
  • Close campus during this extended time period
  • In consultation with medical experts and public health officials, at the end of the extended school closure, assess the situation and potential return to normal school operations on campus

The plan is to resume normal operations on Monday, March 30. I ask for your patience with the teachers and administrators in the week ahead as we work to plan and communicate the distance learning and operational details. The intent of distance learning is not to replicate a daily school experience. Distance learning will be the school's best good-faith effort to provide a degree of learning and student engagement during the extended closure.  You'll receive additional information and instructions from division and academic leadership specific for your children, and again, I commit to updating you along the way.

This is not a decision that I make lightly, nor in response to any kind of political or social pressure. And it's not made in response to specific cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) being present in our community. Allen Academy continues to have no reported or confirmed cases of students, faculty, staff, or administration with COVID-19 or who have had direct exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Allen Academy is people, not buildings or data. It prides itself on relationships, human interactions, and partnership. Often, we even refer to each other as family. I believe all of these things are true about us, and as such, the focus needs to be on us.  

I realize that this decision will not meet with everyone's approval, and I also recognize that it may cause disruptions for many of us. Still, I believe it is the right thing to do for our children, for our faculty, and for our community. I'm confident in our faculty and staff, and in our students. The challenges in the weeks ahead will bring into focus what it means to be the dynamic community I know it is, and one that supports challenging students to question, imagine and create in order to contribute boldly to a changing world.

I urge you to stay home, stay isolated, and not only protect your families, but also the Brazos Valley community. Let's be proactive rather than reactive. Let's trust the goodwill in each other and the desire to navigate uncertain times together as an Allen family. If you're able to stay at home, play board games, watch movies, talk about issues at hand (another article).

I'm grateful for the many ways you're taking care of each other and working to strengthen our community.  I'm also reminded time and again of how important it is that we continue to be clear about our mission and values, that we consciously work to strengthen the bonds in our communities, and that we take care of each other.

Our theme for the year has been #wearefamily. Focus on your own family during this time, and trust that every decision we make as a school going forward will be about doing what's best for families of Allen Academy

In partnership,

 

Matt

COVID-19 UPDATE