- Updates & Information
- Dress Code 2021-22
- LFA’s Reopening of Campus During COVID-19
- COVID Vaccinations at LFA
September 24, 2021
Dear Members of the LFA Community,
Campus is full of energy as we are in the midst of celebrating Lake Forest Academy’s Alumni Weekend & Reunion. We held a Celebration of Philanthropy and Service on Thursday night and we will be honoring our Hall of Fame recipients and Women of Distinction on Saturday, but we wanted to take a moment to reach out to all of you. We hope that you are doing well, and we can only hope that the weather is as nice where you are as it has been here on campus.
In the Academy’s Reopening Plan that was published this summer, we stated that LFA would begin the school year with short-term COVID protocols in place so that we could conduct a vaccination clinic on campus and also allow other community members to have the opportunity to become fully vaccinated. The date we targeted was September 29 and it’s amazing how quickly time flies. LFA continues to be extremely proud of what we have accomplished and what we have offered our students, and we have some very positive news to share with you! As of September 29, we will have 94% of our total population completely vaccinated, including 97% of our boarding student population. This is very reassuring and should help us continue to be able to remain in-person while minimizing disruptions to our students’ daily lives.
As a result, we have some general community updates that we wanted to provide:
- As of October 1, we will be able to return to full capacity for athletic transportation as long as everyone remains masked.
- The Stuart Center for Global Leadership does plan to offer travel opportunities during Spring Break. Please note that travel for 2021-2022 will be limited to domestic and local sites, with no international programming, due to so many restrictions and changes within and between borders.
- We are continuing to evaluate ways that we can safely transform the upper Student Center into a space with greater capacity and fewer restrictions, and we will be having a meeting with student leadership next Thursday.
We also wanted to provide some specific residential updates:
- As of October 1, we will return to full capacity for vans and buses for weekend and weeknight activities. Masks will be required, but this will be excellent for our residential program!
- There will also no longer be a limit on the capacity for taxis and student-driven cars as long as everyone remains masked.
- We will continue to strongly encourage outdoor dining and the use of good judgement to determine whether indoor dining should occur. However, we are no longer going to restrict boarding students from signing out to restaurants and eating indoors. We do ask that parents have conversations with their children about their expectations
while keeping in mind that outdoor dining is still considered the safest option for everyone.
- We will also begin to allow weekend trips and sign outs to movie theaters.
And, in spite of all this, there are still some things that will remain the same:
- Lake Forest Academy will follow the law and continue to adhere to the State of Illinois’ Executive Order and require masking in every building on campus. This will be required in all shared campus spaces regardless of vaccine status and regardless of whether social distancing can occur. The only exceptions will be when in one’s own dorm room with one’s roommate with the door closed or when actively eating or drinking.
- We will continue to layer mitigation measures on campus, including working to maintain distance in classrooms and other campus settings to the extent possible and maintain improved ventilation and cleaning practices.
- Due to this fact, all-school meetings and morning meetings will remain as they currently are. We will continue to livestream the meetings with 50% of our community in attendance and the remaining 50% watching from their advisory location.
- As stated in our community update on September 3, any unvaccinated community members will need to test weekly on campus or provide proof of a negative test by Monday morning.
- We also must remind everyone that unvaccinated community members that travel must quarantine for 14 days without the option of joining classes remotely (this includes LFA-related travel). Therefore, they will not be permitted to travel overnight for athletics.
As always, please do not hesitate to be in touch with any questions or concerns. Best wishes for continued good health and for a wonderful weekend.
José De Jesús
Head of School
Associate Head of School, Dean of Students and Academic Affairs
Anna Kliner, MSN, RN, FNP-C
Director of Health Services
The Lake Forest Academy Dress Code reflects the Academy’s belief that how you present yourself communicates engagement and a seriousness of purpose and positively impacts the quality of life and social standards of the school. The Academy recognizes that not all students express their gender in line with their biological sex and thus supports any student’s expression of gender within the spirit of the dress code. LFA also supports our gender non-binary or non-conforming students within the spirit of the dress code.
It is the responsibility of each student to adhere to these ideals daily. Students not adhering to the Academy’s Dress Code will be recorded by the Dean of Students Office under the point system. Repeated violations will result in more serious disciplinary action. It is important to note that a faculty member makes the final decision as to whether a student’s dress and appearance is appropriate; when a student is asked to change, he/she will be
expected to respect that faculty member’s judgment and act upon the request immediately and without argument. Reports to the contrary will be addressed to the Dean of Students. Repeated reports will result in a detention and may also be considered by the Discipline Committee.
Academy students are expected to look “academically professional” and clothes must be clean, in good repair, and neatly worn for the three categories of the Dress Code, which vary according to time, place, and occasion. The guidelines for each are as follows:
This category applies to the academic day on the Academy campus:
- Collared shirt or collared, button-down shirt that is tucked in.
- Dress pants, khakis, nice-colored denim, or corduroys, accompanied by a belt. Pants with pockets down the legs, athletic pants, sweat pants, shorts, leather pants, low riding pants, or pants that are frayed or ripped are not allowed.
- Dress shoes or nice sandals. Non-athletic socks are encouraged with both.
- Nice tops of modest fit and at least three fingers of shoulder coverage. Collared shirts, collared blouses and polo shirts are strongly recommended. Plunging necklines and uncovered spaghetti straps are not allowed.
- Khakis, nice-colored denim, or corduroys. Pants with pockets down the legs, athletic pants, sweat pants, shorts, leather pants, low riding pants, or pants that are frayed or ripped are not allowed.
- Dresses and skirts of mid-thigh or longer length.
- Dresses must also allow for three-finger shoulder coverage. Spaghetti strap or razor-back dresses must be covered with a sweater, jacket, or blazer.
- Leggings are only acceptable with dresses or skirts.Leggings worn alone as pants are not acceptable.
- Dress shoes or nice sandals (flip-flops are not acceptable).
- Sweaters, jackets, blazers, or LFA sweatshirts are optional on regular school days. Non-LFA sweatshirts are not allowed.
*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.
- If you have not uploaded proof of vaccination for COVID-19, we will not be able to confirm your child is vaccinated and they will be required to test weekly.
- Our on-campus COVID vaccination through Passport Health will be on August 25, 2021 (dose #1) and September 15, 2021 (dose #2). These are open to ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS. In order to participate you MUST sign up using this link. You will be asked for consent, for some medical history and asked to sign up for a vaccination time slot. We ask that students try to schedule during a free period; however, if this is not possible, vaccine appointments will be considered an excused absence for our students.