For the 2022-23 school year, LFA will be mask optional.
Masks remain among the best tools to combat the spread of COVID-19. Especially when community transmission remains high, masks will be recommended but not required at LFA. Community members may choose to remove masks in all areas of campus, including the dorm. Masks continue to be federally required in health care settings and for health care personnel, including school nurse offices, this applies to LFA's Health Center.
- Visitors to campus may also choose to remove their masks when visiting.
- Should conditions change and there is a need to return to masking or other mitigations, the Academy will actively communicate policy changes.
- Masks should be worn by symptomatic individuals cleared to be on campus.
- This increases the importance of remaining home if community members have ANY symptoms of illness as the Academy will not have the added community protection of universal masking.
- Those returning after day 5 of infection MUST continue masking through day 10 if returning to campus.
- Wearing masks is not required but highly recommended for those with suspect or known exposure to a COVID-19 case, especially higher risk exposures.
- All community members who test positive must isolate for a minimum of five (5) calendar days. Day zero is either the date of symptom onset or on the date of a positive test, if asymptomatic. If after five days, the person has remained asymptomatic (or seen a resolution of symptoms, including 24 hours without fever or the use of fever reducing medications) they may return and remain masked at all times through day 10.
LFA will no longer be conducting official contact tracing but communicating exposure to those with increased exposure risk is highly recommended.
If you choose to mask, LFA strongly recommends using a medical grade mask or better. N95 or KN95 or KF94 masks are recommended, and the School does have a supply of these on hand due to a very generous parent donation for any community member who otherwise cannot access these.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (any of the following: fever [100.4°F or higher], new onset of a moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, congestion/runny nose, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of sense of taste or smell, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches from unknown cause), no matter how every day or minor they may seem, follow the applicable guidance below:
- Day Students or Faculty/Staff should not come to school. They should inform LFA’s health services team email@example.com of symptoms and testing status (e.g, one negative, awaiting another).Individuals with 2 negative tests may return to school when fever free without fever reducing medication for 24 hours, have no diarrhea/vomiting for 24 hours, and have had improving symptoms for 24 hours. A positive result should follow the isolation protocol above.
- Boarding Students or Day Students Developing Symptoms at School should go to the Health Center immediately so that the health services team can assess and perform the appropriate testing. Individuals should plan to isolate until they have 2 negative test results 24 hours apart. (in a designated location on campus or at home). Individuals with 2 negative tests may return to school when fever free without fever reducing medication for 24 hours, have no diarrhea/vomiting for 24 hours, and have had improving symptoms for 24 hours. They can then follow the return instructions above. A positive result should follow the Isolation protocol above.
For ANY questions, you can always contact LFA's Health Services Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 12, 2022
Dear Members of the LFA Community,
We are excited for everyone to return to campus and begin what promises to be an exciting year! As we put the finishing touches on our preparations, we thought that we would take a moment to communicate a few pieces of information.
First, we are going to move preseason registration to the Crown Athletic Center on Sunday for boarding families and Monday for day families.
On Sunday, students and families can go to the athletic center first to register and make sure that all of their forms are up to date and then they will be able to head to their dormitories to move into their permanent rooms.
On Monday, students can check-in at the athletic center and make sure that their forms are up to date and then head into the gym for an overview of the week by Mr. Madeley.
Second, we want to send along information regarding the Academy’s COVID mitigation strategies for the start of school:
- Community members may choose to mask based upon personal risk tolerance and behaviors. Anyone who chooses to wear a mask will be supported in their decision to do so.
- Visitors to campus may also choose to remove their masks when visiting.
- We will continue to update the school community of positive COVID cases.
- Positive cases must isolate for 5 days and may return with a negative antigen test on any day after day 5 provided they can fully mask until day 10.
- Per the CDC and IDPH, community members who are up to date with vaccination (meaning fully vaccinated with applicable boosters) are not close contacts who need to quarantine. Please submit proof of any COVID vaccine doses to your child’s Magnus account by September 15.
- Symptomatic community members should not come to school until they have taken 2 negative antigen tests (at-home tests are acceptable) 24 hours apart, symptoms are improving, and they must not have a fever, be vomiting, or have diarrhea for 24 hours without medication.
- LFA will no longer offer Zoom for quarantined or isolated students. Please know that our teachers will continue to be supportive and understanding of students who are absent and will utilize Canvas so that students know what is being covered and will work with them upon their return to fill in any gaps and make sure that they are caught up.
- Our campus-wide mitigation measures (i.e. hand sanitizer, ventilation, air purifiers, daily cleaning, etc.) all remain in place as these things proved to be extremely successful during the last two years.
- Any boarding students needing to isolate, and unable to go home to do so, will continue to be well cared for by LFA.
This is a true partnership and know that we are fully committed to do our part so thank you in advance for your honesty and understanding. Please don’t hesitate to communicate with us if you have concerns or questions. Should conditions change and there is a need to return to masking or other mitigations, we will be certain to communicate about that.
Head of School
Anna Kliner, MSN, RN, FNP-C
Director of Health Services
*The article below was featured in the fall 2020 edition of LFA's school magazine.
LFA’s Reopening of Campus During COVID-19
The Prep Process
By the time the Academy had waved a bittersweet good-bye to the Class of 2020 in late May 2020, LFA’s board and administration had already started preparations for the reopening of school in August. With the leadership and guidance of Head of School José M. De Jesús P’22, every facet of LFA’s daily operations was examined, and then re-examined, by dedicated teams for health and wellness, facilities, academics and remote learning, residential life and more throughout the summer. While keeping a pulse on the digital cyclone of news and updates from other school communities, LFA established protocols and policies for building usage, masking and sanitization, off-campus sign-outs and remote classes.
Associate Head of School and Dean of Students and Academic Affairs Chris Tennyson described the working process for reopening of school as cohesive. He said, “The creation of the Health & Wellness group, the Density & Space group and the E-Team were critical for us to continuously pivot with the ever-changing landscape and adapt our plan to make sure that we were comfortable with things. These groups, while also working with the Deans Council, Academic Council and Residential Council, allowed us to solve problems and build out a plan that was very effective.”
As the State of Illinois entered Phase Four of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan in late June 2020, the Academy notified families that the start of preseason would be on August 16, 2020 and in-person classes would begin on August 24, 2020. In order to fully open with confidence, LFA established a partnership with Franklin Rosalind University for COVID-19 testing on campus during the week of August 17, 2020. Close to 400 students, faculty and staff were tested in mid-August, resulting in an overall low positivity rate for COVID-19.
With such success to start the school year, on August 24, students headed to advisory to begin the first day of school with a mixture of excitement and caution. Soon, LFA’s students and employees fell into a daily routine that involved answering questions via an app to track symptoms; attending morning advisories for temperature checks; sanitizing desks after every class; mask-wearing; and using one-way exits and entrances into buildings. In addition to regular duties, faculty and staff took on other roles, such as lunch monitors and extra van drivers for runs, especially since social distancing required that only seven students be on one school van.
Going Above and Beyond
History and Social Science Teacher Ackim Mpofu called the extra duties a part of “communal reciprocity,” in which every person at LFA played their various roles for the larger good. Mpofu was part of a larger group of teachers who taught additional classes to accommodate LFA’s remote students. He noted, “Having an e-learning section was a challenge because it was an extra class in the morning that completely changed my schedule. But it was also a benefit because I connected with students who unfortunately could not be on campus. Having the luxury of comparing my e-learning and in-person classes helped me develop my teaching skills.”
Due to travel restrictions and backlogs of visa appointments at embassies all around the world, more than 80 LFA students started the 20-21 academic year remotely. Consequently, the Academy’s teaching faculty stepped up to hold 30-minute classes of all subjects from 5 or 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Central in the morning and 7:15 to 10 p.m. in the evening. Amongst the teachers was also a familiar face; former LFA teacher, parent, and Dean of Admission Loring Strudwick P’13. ’15, ’18 rejoined LFA’s faculty as an early morning math teacher this fall, and will continue to teach students until the end of the academic year.
With the dedication of LFA’s teachers, remote students continued their studies throughout the semester. One student, Xinruo “Jaroy” Wei ’22, took classes at home in China through the fall. She stated, “I felt that LFA was very supportive. I have heard from my friends at other American high schools that they have had to wake up at midnight to take classes. LFA provided remote students with a special class schedule, so we never needed to stay up late to study.” She added, “Currently, even though we are remote, we can always send emails to arrange cycle meetings with our teachers or to ask questions, so my LFA teachers make me feel like I am next to them even though I am actually about 8700 miles away.”
Staying Engaged as a Community
As the semester progressed, some students who started the year remotely were able to come back to campus. The LFA community underwent additional COVID-19 testing with nasal swabs on campus on September 9 and 10, and continued to follow various protocols to keep each other safe. When asked about the in-person experience, this year’s All-School President Nick Alutto ’21 answered, “Being able to go to school in-person, eat lunch in the Student Center, and play sports after school gave students a chance to enjoy a sense of normalcy in a very abnormal time.” While many aspects of life on campus had changed, LFA’s effort to provide the best student experience possible stayed the same.
In the summer, when the Illinois High School Association finally announced sports schedules for the 20-21 school year, LFA’s athletics department moved quickly to accommodate student-athletes amidst the countless modifications; while boys and girls cross country, co-ed golf, girls tennis, and girls swimming were allowed to have matches, other traditional fall sports like boys soccer, girls volleyball and field hockey shifted into PE options that met three days a weeks.
Athletic Director Darrin Madeley P’11, ’14 and his department members had to deal with daily and weekly changes, but Madeley stayed energized by the presence of the students. Madeley said, “Our students showed me once again why they always make me so proud to work here. They did an amazing job competing against other schools and showed great character during truly once in a lifetime circumstances. The cross country, golf and girls swimming teams had strong seasons while girls tennis completed one of the best all around team records at LFA in the past 10 years.”
In addition to a robust sports program, LFA’s students, with the guidance of the arts faculty, worked hard to develop their artistic and performance skills, whether by creating art pieces that went on display in the JC Cowart Student Center, or singing and playing instruments for a two-part concert at the end of the semester. Clubs and organizations like Co-ax and Science Olympiad continued to meet both in-person and remotely. Meanwhile, LFA’s Prefects, Student Council, Dorm Council and the Dean of Students Office organized themed dress days, food truck visits to campus and weekend activities like Knockerball and tie-dye shirt making.
Safiya Nicol ’22, who is also a member of Student Council and a resident of Marshall Field Dorm, was ecstatic to be back on campus. As a junior, she appreciated the opportunity to learn in-person, and wanted to give back by helping to organize activities as well as showing participation at on-campus events. She shared, “We found creative ways to keep up school traditions like having morning meetings on Zoom or still having our yearly rock-paper-scissors advisory tournaments. It has been remarkable to watch the students, faculty, and especially the Sodexo staff all team up together to make this semester work, and for that, I am truly grateful.”
A Surprise Recommendation
Given all the precautions that every member of the community adhered to, LFA’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate well below the local average. Yet in a global pandemic, anything could change.
In the ninth week of the semester, on October 20, the Lake County Health Department recommended that all K-12 schools, both public and independent, move to a remote learning model as a cautionary response to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the area. The recommendation was taken seriously and required discussion amongst LFA’s board and administration. After two days of thoughtful consideration, LFA decided to prepare another round of COVID-19 tests on campus for all students and employees on October 26 and 28 while going remote during that week.
With many hoping for the best, the community took a total of 475 total tests. Amazingly, the conclusive data showed a total infection rate of 1 percent in the community; the few individuals who tested positive and their close contacts went into quarantine for 14 days. Based on those results, on October 30, Head of School José M. De Jesús P’22 announced to the community that LFA would resume in-person classes until the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, with weekly testing until the end of the school year and enhanced mitigation protocols.
LFA resumed classes on campus on November 2 until the start of the in-person assessment period from November 19 to 24. Students and employees conducted saliva tests in advisories on November 10 and 11 and November 17 and 18. Following the Thanksgiving break, students and teachers had two weeks of e-learning during the first two weeks of December, with final grades and comments posted on December 18.
School Counselor and Health, Wellness, and Community Chair Jennifer Madeley, MSW, LCSW, P’11, ’14 summed up the semester, commenting, “I am so glad that we reopened in August. There are so many benefits to in-person learning. We put a lot of safety measures in place, and even though it was hard, I
am incredibly thankful that we were able to make it through
Chris Tennyson added, “A sentiment that I have heard from many parents and students is that the way we have had to change school due to COVID is really hard, but being in-person is so worth it. Our community has proved its resiliency, its strength, and its love for the Academy. The collective power of working towards a common goal has been pretty spectacular to witness.”
Looking Ahead to 2021
LFA resumes classes virtually on January 4, 2021, with a plan to return to in-person learning on January 25 with weekly COVID-19 community testing. Director of Health Services Anna Kliner, MSN, RN, FNP-C, is working with internal and external team members to minimize the risk of infection even further. She explained, “Currently, we are doing needs assessments to see where our services would be most usefully expanded and building relationships across departments and with local medical partners.” She continued, “While all signs are that the next 21-22 school year will bring more normalcy, we should prepare to hold on a bit longer; families should remember that we are here for you and we appreciate all you do for us.”
With the end of the 2020 year, both students and employees have traded expressions of gratitude to and from each other. Parents Association President Jorie Alutto P’19, ’21 also voiced her perspective, stating, “As a parent of a senior, I am so thankful and proud of LFA for the dedication and commitment to keep our students learning together as a community this year during the pandemic. The herculean efforts of the faculty and staff have successfully put the safety of our children first. I know that the LFA community will be stronger as a result of this year’s challenges.”
Despite its challenges, the pandemic has given LFA yet another opportunity to unite as one entity. While there is no doubt that there are several more obstacles to come, after a historical 2020, the Academy remains prepared to continue educating students from all over the nation and world.