Fall 2020 Update: Together Again
The mission and vision of Veritas Academy has remained unchanged since the founding of the school and is rooted in partnership. We continue to believe that together we are better, and this is at the forefront of our minds as we work through logistical details to safely reopen campus in the fall.
Our primary objective for the 2020-2021 school year is to maximize in-person, on-campus instruction for our students, conducted in a manner that is as safe as reasonably and practically possible for both our kids and their teachers. Striking this balance will not be the easiest thing we attempt this year, and yet we believe it is possible as we remain committed to supporting the safety of our community and upholding the mission and values of Veritas Academy that have brought us together.
FAQs & General Plans
Here is an overview of our evolving timeline and possible plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Please understand that in this fluid situation, information can change rapidly.
We intend to keep the community up-to-date of decisions as they are made via the biweekly Summer Memo, with final changes/adjustments to be announced closer to the end of summer when we have more definitive (and real-time) direction from the state via the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the CDC, Hays County, and Austin/Travis County. At this point, TEA is the lead agency providing direction and guidelines for Texas schools, and while they released (then withdrew) draft plans for reopening, they have not yet settled on or published definitive guidelines for the fall. Even though we are a private school, we intend to abide by TEA recommendations as much as possible and will look for ways to improve upon them.
Veritas administration has been very busy exploring various scenarios and changes to policies and procedures that support the safety of our community and the mission and values of Veritas Academy. Current evaluations include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
2020-2021 School Calendar
The school calendar was updated at the beginning of the summer to help maximize instructional days, especially in the event of another forced closure of the campus for a period of time. One week was added directly into the school year by moving up the start of each semester, and three weeks of "make-up" days were added to the end of the year to be used if needed.
- Days 1-5 of any closure will not be made up since they are now built into the calendar.
- Days 6+ of any closure will be made up, as needed, May 27-Jun 16.
Should the need arise to close our campus, we will have a true break from school for up to two consecutive weeks (making up the time/instruction in-person as described above). If there is ever a time when campus is still closed after two weeks, we will commence Virtual Veritas to help students maintain their academic footing and avoid the need for additional make-up days.
Classroom Capacity & Setup
Our current class sizes all fall within earlier guidance provided by TEA. Similar to how our Grammar School students are already in "self-contained" classes, we are considering "sections," or cohorts if you will, for the School of Logic as well. Tables and chairs will be used to provide personal space for students in the classroom.
We see an opportunity with our beautiful 97 acre campus to provide greater flexibility and safety for our students if numerous outdoor classrooms are available for use during this coming school year. We have even kicked around the idea of having entire school days take place outdoors once the weather cools down in the fall.
Developing outdoor classrooms will require help from the community, especially when it comes to clearing and grooming spaces. If you are willing to help us create outdoor classrooms, please check the Summer Memo for details.
Through TEA, we have received approval for an allocation of PPE. The allotment includes disposable and reusable masks, gloves, thermometers, sanitizer, and adult-sized face shields. As we continue to evaluate and decide on the best policies for PPE at Veritas, we are grateful for the provision of this at least initial resource.
As we consider adjustments to attendance policies, we will be relying on parents to be the first line of defense by keeping their children home if they do not feel well. To make this possible, we are looking at ways for students to keep up with their school work when they need to stay home. One option for this is possible streaming/videos of class instruction. This option would also be available for students who need to stay home if they or a family member are immunocompromised. But know that this is not as easy to pull off as you may imagine.
While this makes us very sad, there will likely be limitations on campus visits and special events as we prioritize safety and learning for our students.
Soap and water, along with regularly cleaning surfaces, are two of our best defenses, with sanitizer being a great backup. We are evaluating how we can increase frequent hand washing and disinfecting throughout the school day.
While we are optimistic that outbreaks within our community will be minimal, we are also developing protocols to ensure quick communication when members of our community get sick.
Again this list is not comprehensive, yet a representation of the evaluations and scenarios being researched and debated.
As a faith community, we are going above and beyond to read, research, and collaborate with as many sources as possible, all while praying together and asking the Lord for wisdom to lead and care well for our community. This is all the more important in a time when sources and recommendations can vary drastically from one another. To help navigate this sea of information, we have identified a few go-to sources, which are only a sampling of all the research we are compiling:
- Texas Education Agency (TEA)
- Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
- Executive Orders from the Governor and Hays County Judge (where the entirety of our campus resides), as well the City of Austin Mayor and the Travis County Judge
- Articles and Research published by children's hospitals & healthcare providers
- Schools in other countries who have already reopened
- Schools in our area who are similar in mission and vision (just yesterday and today, we have had the opportunity to confer with a group of classical Christian schools in Dallas), as well as other schools throughout the country
Check here for our updated 2020-2021 School Calendar. Recent changes support our priority to maximize on-campus, in-person instructional days.
Our annual back-to-school checklist has everything you need to prepare for a great school year. Login with your Family Portal username to access each grade level's list.
Our primary source of communication is the School Memo, which is published bi-weekly throughout the summer. Enrolled families receive an email when a new edition is available and can also login to the archives.
Skills Camps are offered to help students in the Schools of Logic & Rhetoric brush up on grammar, writing, and keyboarding. The camps are open to all Veritas students and are highly encouraged for new students.
FACTS Family Portal is our school information system used for posting class & school events, homework, grades, our directory, and much more. All faculty, parents, and 7th-12 grades students have their own account.