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COVID-19 Safety Response

As we continue working diligently to keep Bethany a safe place for students, faculty, and staff during COVID-19, we appreciate the options our facility offers us for adapting to these new needs. We are analyzing our building to determine typical patterns of interaction and taking steps to make our school safer for students and staff. Here you will find documents and resources outlining our safety approach and more detailed information about specific topics. 

Dear Parents and Students,

 

Greetings! I hope that everyone had a great fall break. I talked with a couple of high school students this morning who were grateful for the time to “do nothing” and “break free” from the busy schedule of school. I trust that for most of us, the break was rejuvenating.  

 

Now that fall break is over, winter is fast approaching. Last year we had our first snowfall on November 1! Students come to school before first light and many who are involved in extracurricular activities will leave after sunset. As fall is fading into winter, students will be spending more time indoors, both at home and at school. Winter has always been known as cold and flu season but now it is also potentially COVID season.  

 

By now, we all know the basic precautions. Wash and sanitize your hands, cover your mouth and nose, and social distance where possible. Though it seems easy, social distancing and covering our faces are hard to do on a long-term basis, especially around our closest friends and loved ones. It is hard to wear a mask most of the day at school. It is hard to sit only four per table in the cafeteria, and it is even hard to remember to always sanitize our hands.  

 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BCS has strived to develop a layered approach to our mitigation strategies that balance the needs of optimizing the learning environment with safety.  We continually monitor the local spread of COVID and seek the counsel of local and national health experts. According to the Indiana Department of Health, Elkhart County currently remains in the “orange’ category indicating relatively high spread and test positivity rates. The good news is positive cases in the county are on a downward trend since a fall peak in mid-September.  

 

The BCS community came out of the fall spike relatively unscathed. From Labor Day until fall break we had 3 cases among faculty and staff and one known student case. For many of us who contracted COVID, the symptoms were relatively light (such as I have been told, as I have not personally contracted the COVID virus). For others of us, the COVID virus is “nothing to mess with.”  My own experience with family members bears this out. Thankfully, nobody at Bethany has had a case that involved significant medical intervention.  

 

Even though it is hard, I am proud of the conscientiousness of our school community. We have teachers, staff, and students who are immuno-compromised and at higher risk should they contract COVID. Fundamentally looking out for our neighbors while respecting our differences is the basis of a well-functioning community. I am pleased that so many of us have chosen to get the vaccination, and I am exceptionally proud of our compliance with the masking rules, even when we disagree with the importance of such measures.

 

It is not always easy to respect one another’s differences. I admit that sometimes I fall short of this standard, as I suspect many of you do. As our COVID mitigation strategies continue to evolve, some of you will think we are becoming too cautious, others will think we are not cautious enough. We have and will continue to modify our approach as new information comes to light. Inevitably in retrospect, we are likely to have been either too cautious or not cautious enough. We are attempting to approach this situation with humility and grace, as I am sure you are as well.  

 

For now, Bethany is going to stick with the same strategies that were employed before the break.  We continue to evaluate our policies weekly and will make adjustments as our situational context continues to evolve.  I am hopeful that soon we will be in a position to loosen some restrictions. You can see our current policies here or by going to www.bethanycs.net, hovering on the “Community” tab in the upper left corner and clicking on “Covid-19 Safety”. Again thank you for your understanding and continued support.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tim Lehman, 

Ed.D. Head of School

 

Hank Willems

Principal

COVID-19 School Quarantine Guidance 
 
COVID-19 School Mitigation Strategies
  • Transportation is once again possible for many school activities. Masking will now be required at all times in vehicles per federal guidelines (adjusted based on changes to federal law and local circumstances).
  • Social distancing is continuing where possible. Classrooms, hallways and common spaces are set up to provide the greatest amount of space between students, faculty and staff.
  • Sick students should stay home and adhere to expectations that will be shared in a future communication.
  • Sanitation stations are set up outside of all classrooms and common areas. Students should utilize these stations throughout the school day.
  • Restrooms and drinking fountains are set up to mitigate cohort interaction and provide maximum hygiene. Drinking fountains remain closed with water bottle filling stations available throughout the school.  
  • Hallways, lockers and passing periods continue to be monitored by school personnel to help ensure social distancing. Passing periods are lengthened to five minutes to help with traffic flow and congestion.
  • Daily breaks for students and staff are built into the schedule to give all individuals the opportunity to spend time outside.
  • Outside classrooms and instructional spaces are again available to teachers for use throughout the day.
  • The School Cafeteria is continuing to limit the number of individuals per table and will run five lunch shifts, allowing us to cohort groups, provide social distancing space and ease congestion during transition times.
  • Guests to our school will continue to be limited and those entering must be screened and tracked.
  • The Drop-Off / Pick-Up system utilized last year for items and students is once again in place to decrease office traffic and traffic.
  • Symptom screening at home is essential to maintain a safe school.  While we will no longer be taking temperatures of all students this year, we will need families to screen all students before coming to school (a COVID-19 Parent Screening guideline will be provided).
  • Student pick-up at the end of the day will continue to be staggered to help alleviate congestion and cohort interactions.
  • School cleaning continues in a thorough manner to ensure safe classrooms and common spaces for all individuals.
Face covering policy
  • Bethany Christian Schools will comply with the ECHD recommendations and beginning on Tuesday August 10, will require masks for all people in the school building. We are hopeful that the incidence of the COVID-19 Delta variant will decline soon, and we can relax some of our masking requirements.
COVID-19 Student and Staff Testing
  • A voluntary COVID-19 screening program for students provided by Health and Human Services (HHS) will help Bethany identify students who have COVID-19, but don’t have symptoms and who may be contagious. This will allow us to take quick action to prevent further spread to other students and their families, faculty and staff.
  • BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing provided by the state of Indiana can be utilized to determine positive COVID-19 cases on an individual basis when students display symptoms at school or immediate results are required.
BCS COVID-19 Reporting Form
  • If your student has tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone else who has tested positive, please fill out this form to communicate with administrators.