Covid - 19 Update

Reopen Plan—July 24, 2020

Hello Piñon Hills Academy families!


It seems like as quickly as we develop a plan for our students to return to school, there is a change at the state level.
While we are so excited to see your kids back in the classroom, we want to also submit to the authority of our government. We know that you have many questions following our governor's news conference yesterday and this communication is an attempt to answer many of those questions. I have no doubt it will also create more questions. Please bear with us as we continue to adapt our processes.


We have worked diligently to modify our plans to adhere to state requirements. Many of you will remember that during the Q & A portion of the news conference yesterday, the governor stated that private schools are not under the authority of the state education system, however private schools are a state business and must comply with all state and local public health orders like mask wearing, groups of 5 or less OR 25% capacity. One of the many great things about the Piñon Hills Academy (PHA) campus is that we have very large classrooms and additional meeting spaces that allow us to comply with all of the state guidelines.


Our modified plan will have students in Pre-K through 3rd grade returning to the classroom on August 18th. Our classrooms will adhere to the 5 to 1 student to teacher/education assistant ratio. We will adhere to social distancing recommendations and prioritize hand washing and sanitation.  Teaching techniques may feel a little different as most teaching will occur in small groups of 5 or less. Our teachers are working hard this summer remotely to be ready for this plan.


Students in grades 4th through 8th will also return to school on August 18th. We will adhere to state guidelines for NM businesses with a combination of the following: Instruction happening in groups of 5 or less, 25% room capacity, social distancing and mask or shield wearing. Teachers will be trained during in-service on 'best practice" options for these classroom scenarios.  There may be times that Educational Assistants or parent volunteers are needed to help us maintain these guidelines.


You still have a fully online option that you can enroll in. This will be the same academic information presented in the classroom.  Students may move from in-class learning to online learning at any time. We ask that if you sign up for online learning, that you commit to an entire semester of online learning. Should an in-person student need to be online for a short period of time due to illness or exposure to Covid, that student may return to the classroom once they have either spent 14 days away or have had a negative test.


Back to School Orientation will occur on August 17th between 10am - 2pm. We will stagger the times that you are in the building alphabetically. This will allow us to maintain proper meeting requirements and if you have more than one child enrolled in PHA, you will only have to come to the school once. This is a time for you to come to the school as a family, see your new classroom, meet your teacher, drop off your school supplies and become overall acquainted with PHA.  More information on Back to School Orientation will be coming out next week.


The current public health order requires masks in all public places. Mask wearing will be required and enforced in all public places in the building (lobby, hallway, restrooms, library, etc.) and during any transportation.  Mask wearing will not be required during periods of eating or exercise (PE and recess). We will also take "mask breaks" during the day while paying close attention to social distancing. Those students that have a health related issue with masks (physical, mental or emotional) may wear a face shield or potentially be exempt in the classroom. The school will provide a mask or face shield for students, staff or guests if they do not have one. Protecting each other is our priority.


Lunch will be eaten in the classroom, cafeteria or outside while practicing social distancing. Students must bring their lunch from home this year. To avoid additional contact and cross contamination, lunch will not be provided by the school. We will have food on hand should a student forget their lunch on occasion.


Each student, at drop off, will have their temperature checked and will be asked a symptom questionnaire. Students with a temperature greater than 100.4 or experiencing any of the symptoms listed on the CDC website at that time for Covid will be asked to return home. Please do not bring a student to school if they have a fever or a known Covid symptom or exposure. Please do not give students a fever reducer and then send them to school. Students experiencing symptoms or fever at school will be isolated and a parent or guardian must pick them up immediately. Initially, parents will not be permitted in the building during drop off and pick up and may be limited to the lobby at other times of the day unless volunteering. Parent volunteers will be required to have their temperature checked, complete a symptom questionnaire and wear a mask or face covering. Drop off and pick up times may be modified and staggered to provide additional protection. Before and after school care will still be available for PHA students only and will be required to meet the same temperature and symptom standards.


The governor eluded to potential modifications to these guidelines regionally based on a downward trend of Covid case percentages in that particular region. Should that occur, we will further modify our plans. Should cases and guidelines increase, we will evaluate our unique situation and make modifications based on state or regional recommendations.


Parents, reading back over this email, I'm sure you are thinking what I am feeling. It feels so regimented and restrictive. Please know that our heart is to create as much normalcy and routine as possible day to day while at school. Are these guidelines ideal? No. Will we get it right every time? No. But, what I can promise you is that we will do our absolute best each and every day to keep your children and our staff safe. We will love them and provide an excellent academic experience infused with Biblical worldview. We need your grace, your understanding and your patience as we navigate the Covid conscience classroom. We will also need your help! We know that student spread and case severity is significantly less likely, however statistically speaking, it is likely we will have a positive Covid case at some point. We will over communicate, we will protect our vulnerable, we will go beyond requirements in cleaning procedures and we will get through this together.


Our Father in Heaven did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.
Pray with us as we continue to seek wisdom and use discernment in the days ahead.


Kindest regards,


Dr. Justin H. Jordan
Head of School

Update from Dr. Jordan — July 6, 2020

Dear Families,


We are currently monitoring the Center for Disease Control and the State of New Mexico's recommendations.
We will be updating our families as new information is available.

Piñon Hills Academy is a ministry of Hills Church.

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