Our Future Is Strong, Protocols & Moving Forward (Edition #12)

Dear Good Shepherd Families,

“Our Future Is Strong” is a series of brief, informative emails/posts which began April 30, 2020 to keep the community informed about our preparations for our return to campus and the ways we will live together as a community during the pandemic. 

In this twelfth edition, we will discuss some of our experiences gathering together as a community and how we anticipate moving forward. 

First, we are happy so many of our students are back on campus and others are successfully connecting via Distance Learning! My office has views to the courtyard, and I love seeing our students playing outside each day. Walking the halls has a familiar energy and joy of students learning. I’m so grateful for the cheerful  spirits of our students, faculty, and staff!  

Our Protocols are Working

As you know, our goal was to design a safe way to not only open the campus, but to keep it open for our students. We heard how important this is for our families! As we continue to refine our protocols, we are in constant contact with other area ISAS schools and the Dallas County Health Department. We are also watching other schools to monitor their cases and determine where their protocols might differ from ours. This process does take time, as many schools have not yet reported a case on their campuses. (See “Moving Forward” below.)

We are in our fourth week of having almost all of our students on campus together. So far, we have had only two positive cases of COVID-19, and we’ve only been required to have one class learn from home for just one day. We are very pleased the virus did not spread on our campus. 

Moving Forward

As we move forward, we will continue to listen to you, the medical community, and our faculty and staff, adjusting processes as we maintain the health and safety of our community. We might identify protocols that are providing little to no value in mitigating the spread of the virus. We want to pull back on those and focus on the ones that are working. For example, we know some students were having trouble with their masks while doing strenuous physical activities. We have formalized our mask-break policy to follow recommendations from Dallas County Health Department and other experts. When mask breaks are performed properly, they do not cause virus-transmission issues. Students and teachers will be able to have short, outdoor mask breaks when they can maintain social distancing. Of course, always encourage your children to talk to their teachers in the moment if they are having trouble! 

We are pouring a lot of energy into finding ways to continue to offer our beloved traditions. In a time when many schools are postponing simple field trips, we are offering opt-in COE experiences to our families. As your children’s COE trips approach, you will receive detailed information from our team with your options. We are continuing to provide our middle school retreats which occur by grade level throughout the school year, and they have been completely updated. Finally, we are creating a new way for our students to participate in the annual Halloween parade, and the Super Dads have designed an exciting alternative to the Halloween hot dog lunch! As noted above, we will continue to watch trends at area schools, collect data on our own school experiences, and refine our protocols. We also remain committed to keeping as many of our traditions as possible this year. 

In other words, our future is strong and bright! As a community, we have so much to look forward to and so many creative ways that we will continue to connect and grow! We know our current situation isn’t ideal, but every one of us, from our students to the adults, will emerge from this experience stronger! We also know it won’t be this way forever! We will find our rhythm of the “just right” mix of protocols, and the medical community is continuing to make advances in treating and preventing the virus.  

“Our Future Is Strong” will continue periodically on an as-needed basis. We have also posted this series on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage for your reference.  

Together we are #gsesStrong, 

Julie McLeod, Ph.D.
Head of School