Dear Members of the LFA Community,
I hope this message finds you well and enjoying the summer. I write to share an update on LFA’s plans for the fall.
To put it mildly, this is a challenging moment in the history of education. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine along with The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published pieces calling for schools to work towards in-person instruction whenever possible due to the potentially adverse effects of extensive remote learning on children. With that said, COVID-19 presents significant health issues that would challenge any school community. We are aware that other institutions around the country and the Chicago area have released various plans to start the school year remotely, with hybrid models, or with in-person classes. Each school has its unique set of advantages and challenges, resulting in individualized models that reflect the needs of each community.
As a boarding and day school with 435 students, LFA has a close-knit, small student and faculty population, allowing us to maximize the use of our own facilities and campus to ensure social distancing and the safety of everyone. Our plan is designed to fit our class sizes and identity as a boarding and day school. Please know that LFA continues to plan for various scenarios given the dynamic situation of the pandemic. Any changes to our previously announced plans will be announced in a timely fashion to our community.
As of July 30, 2020, LFA is planning to open its campus for daily in-person instruction on schedule. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees has given unanimous support to LFA’s reopening plan. We continue to monitor public health guidelines with the guidance of our consulting epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Vernon. Our current plan meets and exceeds expectations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC. Please note that our plan is subject to change if the medical situation warrants it.
We have done a lot of work since my last update and webinar in late June to make our school as safe as possible. Below are some particularly important updates:
Testing & Quarantine
- Thanks to a partnership with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, LFA will make baseline testing available for all faculty, staff and students starting in mid-August. Families no longer have to obtain their own tests within 7 days of arrival. We will then conduct serial testing as the year progresses. The turnaround time for tests through Rosalind Franklin is 24 - 48 hours. Testing schedules will be shared shortly.
- Lake County has determined that some of our students should quarantine upon their return. The Dean of Students Office will be in touch with those families directly.
Faculty and Staff Training & Hires
- 20 LFA faculty and staff members trained to be contact tracers this summer through a remote class offered by Johns Hopkins University.
- LFA has hired another full-time nurse, Jennifer Feldman, who was most recently a registered nurse at Woodland District 50 in Gurnee, IL. We have also hired a Director of Health Services, Anna Kliner, who was previously a family nurse practitioner at Erie Family Health Center. We have also contracted with a nursing service for overnight health coverage, if necessary.
Health Protocols & Daily Symptom Checks
- Although not in most reopening guidelines, out of an abundance of caution, we have inspected our HVAC systems and plan to use a UV light device that helps kill viruses where applicable.
- We will use the CrisisGo app to record daily symptom checks with every member of the community. We will use advisory for daily temperature checks.
- At the beginning of each academic year, our students are asked to sign a form that indicates that they understand the expectations and guidelines contained within the Student Handbook. This year, when our students sign that form, we will also ask them to pledge to follow our health guidelines or lose the permission to learn in person.
E-learning and Hybrid Teaching Models
- We have been preparing for the use of hybrid learning tools to serve our students who will start the year remotely due to visa and travel restrictions. Recently, the Academy invested in devices that can bring the classroom experience to our students learning remotely.
- Some of our faculty who are at high risk medically or have complicated child care needs may need to teach remotely. As a result, some students may have a combination of in-person and online courses in order to support our community members with particularly challenging circumstances. We understand the importance of in-person learning and we are currently reviewing students' schedules; we will make every effort possible to minimize the number of remote classes students will take. Spaces will be available for students to learn remotely on campus if needed. I thank you in advance for your flexibility as we help support each other in these challenging times.
- We will have two infirmaries this fall. One will be for well visits (in Reid) and the other will be a triage space for students showing COVID-19 symptoms (Mengel Meeting Room in Crown).
- We have identified McIntosh Cottage as our isolation space in case we have boarding students who are COVID-19 positive.
- The dining hall has been reconfigured to accommodate social distancing, and our lunch schedule includes 12 different periods for students and faculty and staff.
- LFA and Sodexo have partnered together to adjust our food service and sanitizing needs for social distancing and proper health requirements.
- In order to increase our learning spaces, we will be setting up several outdoor teaching spaces around campus. This is in addition to other spaces we have converted to learning spaces throughout campus in order to abide by classroom distancing rules and to help lessen the concentration of students in any given space.
Events and Athletics
- Larger gatherings and events have been cancelled, switched to remote environments, or adjusted into small groupings. Please watch for an update from LFA regarding parent events soon.
- The Illinois High School Association has recently announced that they will be following the direct guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health when it comes to athletics. LFA will organize its athletics program according to IHSA rules once those are released, and we expect to hear from the IHSA within the week.
We recognize that we are in extraordinary times and that our community will have a range of needs. LFA has already shown over the last few months what we are capable of when we are united. I know we will rise to this collective challenge once more. I look forward to the work ahead in service to our amazing students.
José De Jesús
Head of School
- August 18 - Access to Campus Update
- August 14 - Preseason Information Pt. 2
- August 12 - Preason Information Pt. 1
- July 22 - Plans for Domestic Boarding and Day Families
- July 20 - Information for New Boarders, Returning Boarders, and Proctors
- July 10 - Plans for International Families
- June 22, 2020 Update
- June 9, 2020 Update
- May 18, 2020 - Tuition Freeze
- April 24, 2020 - Update on COVID-19 Preparations
- April 1, 2020 - A Message to the Community
- March 26, 2020 - Supporting Our Students
- March 24, 2020 - To Our Alumni
- March 16, 2020
- March 16, 2020 - A Note to Our International Families
- March 12, 2020
- March 9, 2020
- March 6, 2020
- March 3, 2020
- Feb. 20, 2020
- Jan. 27, 2020
Q & A
What are the symptoms of the COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- shortness of breath
The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Source: CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html