SAFE RETURN TO SCHOOL

VCS is Open for In-Person Learning

We want to thank you for your continued prayers, support, and flexibility throughout this summer as we have developed our Safe Return to School plan.

For Grades 7-12, families are able to choose to participate in-person or online, based on what works best for your children and personal circumstances. For our high school students, we are currently offering in-person classes four days per week. This is a temporary while we continue to upgrade our infrastructure in order to support synchronous learning. For our junior high students, we are offering in-person classes five days per week with live, online learning.

Based on current guidance, we have also released new information and made updates to our Safe Return to School plan. You can find more information on our learning options, our 2020-21 School Calendar, several updates to our K-12 Safety Measures, and our COVID-19 Symptoms and Exposure Flow Chart for students on this site below.

While any state requirements or guidelines do not directly apply to our private, Christian school, we have sought state and county guidance to help inform our decisions and our Safe Return to School plan.

Thank you for entrusting us with your children and partnering with us in their education.

COVID-19 Dashboard

Total Number of
Students, Faculty, and Staff
Total Number of
Current Positive Cases
% of Active Cases Resolved Cases
Elementary (K-6) 251 1 0.4% 14
Junior High (7-8) 91 0 0% 4
High School (9-12) 517 9 1.7% 84

Last updated: January 15, 2021 at 1:24pm | Updated Monday-Friday

This data is made available to inform our community about the number of current laboratory-confirmed positive cases that have been reported to our School Point of Contact and Human Resources. Please note, these numbers reflect any reported positive cases in our student, faculty, and staff community, regardless of whether they displayed symptoms while on campus. Persons who were identified as having direct or potential exposure will be notified. To protect the privacy of the individuals affected, we are not in a position to provide additional information. It’s important to note that VCS will not send out emails each time a case or suspected case of COVID-19 is reported. Instead, the dashboard will be updated when each confirmed case is reported.

COVID-19 SYMPTOMS AND EXPOSURE
STUDENT FLOW CHART

  • VCS regularly consults CDC, Arizona and Maricopa County guidelines for protocols regarding reported cases, and our COVID-19 Task Force is evaluating options for a variety of scenarios. Reported cases will be addressed on an individual basis.
  • Maricopa County has advised that schools should not be closed as a result of a COVID-19 case in the household of a student or staff member. If a school reaches a point at which we cannot adequately supervise and ensure the safety of students, our school will consider school closures.
  • Our “Symptoms and Exposure Flow Chart” explains the process families should take should their student experience symptoms or have an exposure to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.

Model Information for Grades 7-12

For Grades 7-12, families will be able to choose to return to school in-person or online, based on what works best for your children and personal circumstances.

2020-21 School Calendar

Due to our August 17 start date, several updates have been made to the 2020-21 school calendar to ensure 180 days of instruction.

Notable changes to our calendar are listed below:

    AUGUST 17

    Start of School
    (In-Person or Online)

     

    OCTOBER 5-6

    School Days
    (Previously No School)

    NOVEMBER 25

    1/2 School Day
    (Previously No School)

    APRIL 5

    School Day
    (Previously No School)

    MAY 28

    Last Day of School

    K-12 Safety Measures

    SOCIAL & PHYSICAL DISTANCING

    • Classrooms have been organized to allow for social distancing as much as possible.
    • All students will face the same direction within a classroom, when feasible. 
    • Students will not be physically grouped together in small groups.
    • Lockers will be removed from the high school and not utilized at the junior high. Elementary locker use will be spaced out to maintain physical distancing.
    • Social distancing protocols will be used outside of the classroom along with limited use of indoor common areas, when feasible.
    • For employees, social distancing protocols will be used outside of the classroom along with limited use of common areas, when feasible.

    CLEANING & SANITIZATION

    • Enhanced, daily deep cleaning of all classrooms and common spaces.
    • Hand sanitizing stations will be provided throughout the campus.
    • Signage will explain proper hand washing to students, encouraging them to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
    • As part of daily cleaning regimen, EPA approved Virucide will be used on all touchpoint surfaces.
    • Installation of an enhanced air filtration systems.
    • For indoor common spaces, sanitization will occur between scheduled group uses.

    HAND WASHING

    • Hand sanitizing stations will be provided throughout the campus
    • Signage will explain proper hand washing to students, encouraging them to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds

    VOLUNTEERS & VISITORS

    • Visitors will be limited on school campuses.
    • Volunteers on campus will be limited until further notice.
    • Visitors will have to come through the front entrance and pass a temperature check before being permitted on campus.

    EVENTS, FIELD TRIPS,
    AND LARGE GATHERINGS

    • Field trips, events and large gatherings are postponed, cancelled, or will be temporarily moved virtually.
    • School-wide assemblies that cannot ensure appropriate physical distancing will not be held with students assembled in the same physical location. As an alternative, VCS may hold school-wide assemblies virtually, with student groups remaining in their classrooms.
    • Large-scale school events such as “Back to School Night” may be held virtually or reconfigured in order to maintain social distancing. Small-scale activities like parent-teacher conferences may take place virtually.
    • Other extracurricular activities that cannot be conducted in compliance with social distancing protocols or group size limitations will be cancelled or held virtually.

    CHAPELS

    • High School chapels will be temporarily re-imagined and held virtually to begin the school year. 
    • Junior High and Elementary chapels will be held with appropriate social distancing protocols in place. 

    CLASSROOMS

    • Enhanced, daily deep cleaning of all classrooms and common spaces.
    • Classrooms have been organized to allow for social distancing as much as possible.
    • All students will face the same direction within a classroom, when feasible.

     

    ATHLETICS

    • High School and Junior High Athletics are awaiting further guidance from the AIA and NFHS.

    TEMPERATURE CHECKS

    • All students and staff will have their temperature checked on campus prior to beginning the school day.

    FACE COVERINGS

    • Face coverings will be required of students and staff anytime – indoors or outdoors – that social distancing cannot be maintained until local, county, and state mandates and guidance determines that face coverings are no longer necessary.
    • Students will not be required to wear face coverings during physical activities, including playground time, or while actively drinking or eating. They may voluntarily wear face coverings at any time.
    • Students may be given designated breaks to take their face covering off within their learning environment.
    • A student with a demonstrated health or behavorial condition that prohibits them from safely wearing a face covering will not be required to wear a face covering.  

      TRANSPORTATION

      • VCS has limited bussing and is only provided as a convenient service to our families. Our desire is to continue to provide this service, however, social distancing on a school bus greatly decreases the number of students who can ride a bus.
      • Families must register for transportation ahead of time.
      • In order to provide transportation without social distancing, masks will be required of all students riding a school bus.
      • Students will not be seated next to one another on the bus unless they are siblings.
      • Students are asked to have masks available and ready to wear prior to getting on the bus.
      • All bus drivers will be required to wear a mask.
      • Where possible, drivers will load bus back to front and unload front to back.
      • All transportation vehicles will be cleaned once per day.
      • Additionally, a disinfection will occur between uses.

        FOOD SERVICES

        • Students will begin the school year eating lunch in classrooms or designated common areas, physically distanced, depending on the weather and the campus.
        • No student meals will be provided and students will be expected to bring their own lunch.
        • Seniors will be allowed to leave campus for lunch.
        • We will follow the CDC’s “No Sharing” guidelines with all food, drinks, devices, personal belongings, etc.

        We will evaluate the benchmarks released by the Arizona Department of Health Services on August 7 and will take them into consideration – similar to what is being asked of public and charter schools.

        COVID-19 Testing and Resources

        There are great resources available for parents and community members to learn about the virus symptoms, preventative measures, and current confirmed cases.

          Arizona’s Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger Executive Order issued on May 12 requires businesses and other entities operating in the state to implement health and safety plans to protect workers and customers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In response, we implemented procedures for our summer operations as part of our phased re-opening to protect our community.

          Due to updated guidance issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services and mandates by Maricopa County, the City of Chandler, and City of Tempe, we are adjusting our policy for operations effective Monday, June 22.

          Any VCS employee, including coaches, interacting with a guest or student while indoors must wear a face mask. During this temporary phase, face masks will also be required for employees, students, or guests if they cannot maintain six feet of social distancing – regardless of being inside or outside. This requirement does not include student-athletes or campers actively participating in training or camps. Exceptions include those who cannot wear a face mask due to a medical or behavioral condition or children under the age of six.

          Partnering with Our Families

          We are depending on our partnership with families as we seek to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff while returning to school as “normal” as possible.

          If your student is exhibiting any of the symptoms below, they should stay home from school.

          • Fever of 100.4 or higher, or chills
          • Cough
          • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
          • Sore throat
          • New loss of taste or smell
          • Muscle aches
          • Headache
          • Fatigue
          • Congestion or runny nose
          • Vomiting
          • Diarrhea

          Safe Return to School Updates

          December 17 Update

          VCS Families,

          Congratulations on navigating 2020! We want to thank you for partnering with us throughout this school year. As we head into Christmas break, we want to share our plans to return to school in January.

          Similar to our return from Thanksgiving Break, we will return to school in January with modified learning models on January 4 and 5. These two days will allow us to evaluate where each of our campuses are with active cases and quarantined individuals and safely transition from break back to in-person learning.

          At our high school and junior high campuses, these school days will be online. Our elementary students will operate those two days using their hybrid model. Your campus principal will be communicating additional details regarding learning those two days.

          We ask that if your student does test positive for COVID-19 over break, that you still notify your campus point-of-contact via email.

          We hope you and your family enjoy a safe and healthy break as we celebrate Christmas and “the true light, which gives light to everyone, coming into the world.”

          November 30 Update

          VCS Families,

          We hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving and enjoyed the holiday break. 

          After evaluating our COVID numbers today and the impact of quarantines, our Executive Leadership Team has decided to continue at-home learning for our high school campus through Friday, December 4.

          We will continue to monitor the full impact of COVID within our community as the week progresses and will communicate an update about the Week of December 7 for our high school families by the end of this week.

          The decision has also been made to cancel Christmas Extravaganza: The Tour on December 10 and 11 on our high school campus. Our Fine Arts team will be communicating a new plan to the program’s students and families for the high school’s Christmas performances.

          Our junior high and elementary campuses will continue with their learning models this week, as previously communicated. If the need should arise to adjust our learning model on a campus, your campus principal will communicate that with you.

          Finally, a reminder to our families, if a student’s parent or sibling tests positive, then the student needs to stay home and follow the direct exposure path on the flow chart. Also, if someone in a student’s immediate family is awaiting test results, the student should remain home until the test results come back. You can view our exposure and symptom flow chart here.

          We thank you for your continued partnership, prayer, and support.

          November 25 Update

          VCS Families,

          As we head into Thanksgiving Break, we wanted to give you an update on COVID-19 and its’ impact on our campuses.

          Our community has seen an uptick, along with the rest of the state, in active cases. While our elementary and junior high campuses have stayed relatively healthy throughout this pandemic, our high school is experiencing a significant increase in the amount of active cases.

          At our high school campus, we have 18 cases as of this morning – 15 students and three faculty and staff. While this spread is beginning to occur among our high school students, it is being traced to social settings outside of school. As difficult as it is, please consider limiting your social activity with other students during this time. We want our high school to return to school in-person as planned on Wednesday, December 2. That goal is in danger with our current high school numbers and the way they are trending. Effective today at 12pm, we will be cancelling all scheduled high school activities – including practices and rehearsals – until December 2.

          For our junior high and elementary families, our previously communicated plans for those campuses remain unaffected.

          Since our first COVID-related communication on January 31, we have been updating you regularly to the situation and impact on our campuses. We can all agree we have had enough, but we must battle our COVID fatigue. The fact remains that this is not going away, and inaction will only worsen our ability to educate students in-person. We must stay diligent as a community and be willing to make some sacrifices to keep our community healthy so we can keep our students learning on campus.

          For all our families, we ask that as you gather to celebrate this Thanksgiving with family and friends and enjoy this short break from school that you are mindful of your setting and exposure risk and take proper precautions. As always, if you or your student feels ill in any way, please stay home and isolate from other families and students.

          Finally, as we take time to reflect this Thanksgiving, we give thanks for you and our Valley Christian community. Even in the midst of uncertainty and a pandemic, we take complete solace knowing the Lord has gone ahead of us and has great plans for our school and our families. With God as our guide, we will see through this together. We ask you to continue to join us in prayer for the protection, safety, and health of our students, staff, and families.

          November 16 Update

          Valley Christian Families,

          We want to thank you for your continued partnership and cooperation as we progress through the school year during this season of COVID. Your cooperation in large part has kept our campuses relatively free of COVID cases. As of Monday, November 16, we have had zero cases among students or teachers on our elementary and junior high campuses. To this point, we have had only 11 students on our high school campus test positive – three active cases – and zero teachers. Of the cases we have had this school year, we have had virtually no spread on our campuses.

          We would like to continue with those trends. Our goal is to continue to put the school and our campuses in the best position to continue face-to-face learning. Our leadership team has been consistently reviewing our metrics, the ability to properly staff, and the impact of positive cases and quarantining, and evaluating each of our campuses. As we mentioned yesterday, maintaining this learning method is impacted more due to quarantining direct contact individuals to help limit the spread than the active cases we have had on our campuses. The number of staff and students who are quarantined will be assessed when we determine the most efficient learning model for each campus.

          Due to the increase in cases and quarantined individuals, the projected continued rise in cases, and the upcoming holiday we are going to briefly adjust our learning models for all K-12 students on November 30 and December 1 as we return from Thanksgiving Break.

          Our high school and junior high students will temporarily switch to at-home learning while our elementary students will operate in a hybrid model to reduce the number of students on campus each day. This is not a decision we take lightly, and we want nothing more than to continue face-to-face learning as much as possible. We believe by taking these precautions and briefly alternating our learning models that we will help mitigate the spread of COVID on our campuses and keep us in the best possible position to maintain our on-campus instruction.

          Each campus principal will be sending out information, or already has, on what these two days will look like for their campus. VCS will resume our current face-to-face learning model for all K-12 students on Wednesday, December 2.

          If active cases, the impact of quarantined individuals, or the ability to properly staff causes an event cancellation or affects a campus to the point where we need to temporarily alter our learning model outside of those two dates, we will communicate those details with you at that time.

          We continue to pray for God’s wisdom and direction and the health and safety of our students, faculty, and families. Thank you again for your continued support and partnership. Please continue to stay diligent and commit to our mitigation strategies.

          A few reminders:

          1. If your student is feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms – please keep them home.
          2. Please mask up, wash your hands, and social distance – both home and at school.
          3. Notify the school if your student or a family member has tested positive for COVID.
          November 15 Update

          Valley Christian Families,

          We are experiencing an uptick in active COVID cases across all three of our campuses.

          Please be assured, any individual who has been identified through contact tracing as having direct or potential exposure to a COVID-positive individual will be notified. Due to privacy laws, we cannot disclose any information that could compromise the identity of the individual. When an active case is reported, we will notify all direct and potential exposure individuals through contact tracing and report the case on our dashboard (www.valleychristianaz.org/safereturn). Please note, we will typically not send out a school-wide notification for each positive COVID case.

          You can anticipate a communication early this week with our plan to keep our school in the best possible position to continue face-to-face learning for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. 

          We cannot let our guard down and we need to manage the things that are within our control. While our numbers are still relatively good in terms of active cases, we are beginning to feel the impact of quarantining individuals due to their exposure. As we head into winter, we ask that you join us in re-committing to our mitigation strategies to keep COVID off our campuses and our students in the classroom.

          1. If your student is feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms – please keep them home.
          2. Please mask up, wash your hands, and social distance – both home and at school. Nearly all of our cases have come from off-campus.
          3. Notify the school if your student or a family member has tested positive for COVID.
          4. Continue to pray for the health, safety, and protection of our students, faculty, staff, and families.

          Along with all our families, it is our utmost desire to have face-to-face learning on our campuses. We can only continue to do that when we are all working together.

          July 27 Update

          VCS Families,

          We want to thank you for your continued prayers, support, and flexibility throughout this summer as we have sought to develop our Safe Return to School plan.

          We are excited to announce that we will resume in-person learning across all three of our campuses on Monday, August 17!

          For Grades 7-12, families will be able to choose to return to school in-person or online, based on what works best for your children and personal circumstances. For our high school students, we will be offering in-person classes four days per week to begin the school year. This is a temporary while we continue to upgrade our infrastructure in order to support synchronous learning. For our junior high students, we will be offering in-person classes five days per week with live, online learning.

          Based on current guidance, we have also released new information and made updates to our Safe Return to School plan. You can find more information on our learning options, our 2020-21 School Calendar, several updates to our K-12 Safety Measures, and our COVID-19 Symptoms and Exposure Flow Chart for students on this site below. Additional campus-specific safety measures will be updated and re-released by our campus principals the Week of July 27.

          While any state requirements or guidelines do not directly apply to our private, Christian school, we have sought state and county guidance to help inform our decisions and our Safe Return to School plan. We will evaluate the benchmarks released by the Arizona Department of Health Services on August 7 and will take them into consideration for our Safe Return to School plan – similar to what is being asked of public and charter schools.

          Thank you for entrusting us with your children and partnering with us in their education. We cannot wait to start the 2020-21 school year on August 17!

          July 17 Update

          VCS Families,

          Thank you for the overwhelming response to our Return to School Survey. We understand how important this is to our families. Our Executive Leadership Team and COVID-19 Task Force have already begun evaluating the data from the survey, which will be extremely helpful in finalizing our options for the start of school in August.

          As many of you know, we had a very beneficial meeting with Governor Doug Ducey and Dr. Cara Christ this week to engage in a discussion regarding the safe re-opening of schools. We anticipate the Governor will announce his plan and guidance for all schools the Week of July 20-24. After his announcement, we’ll be releasing our updated Safe Return to School Plan to our families.

          We thank you for your continued support and patience. We are excited to partner with you in the education of your children again this fall and cannot wait to safely welcome them back to campus.

          July 10 Update

          VCS Families and Students,

          We thank you for your continued support during these unprecedented and challenging times. We continue to place our hope and trust in the Lord as we make decisions that seek to balance our desire to welcome our students back to campus as “normal” as possible with our charge to ensure the health and safety of all our students and faculty.

          Out of our desire to ensure a safe return to campus and in light of Governor Ducey’s executive order for Arizona public and charter schools, the Valley Christian Board of Directors has approved our administration’s decision to welcome students back to our campuses on Monday, August 17. This date is not only in alignment with the targeted in-person start date for public and charter schools, but also for nearly every Christian school in the state.

          The health and safety of our students, staff, and faculty is our number one priority. While the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic remains fluid, VCS remains committed to taking the health and safety seriously. This includes following any city, county, or state mandates in place that apply to our school’s operations. Our community is a hallmark of the Valley Christian experience and is the reason we are doing everything we can to bring our community back together in a safe and considered manner.

          Leading up to our August 17 start date, we will be engaging in additional training for our faculty and staff to prepare for the safe return of our students to our campuses and provide an enhanced virtual learning platform across all of our campuses should the need arise during the school year.

          We are excited to host an all-new Trojan Welcome Week the week of August 10-14 for our students and families. This week will consist of orientation days and activities to prepare for our return to in-person instruction on August 17. To facilitate social distancing, the events will be designed to limit the number of individuals on campus at one time. Your campus principal will communicate specific dates and times for Trojan Welcome Week and other related information specific to your campus. An updated school calendar for 2020-21 will be released shortly, as well.

          Again, we appreciate your ongoing support and patience as we address these challenges. We ask that you keep in mind the need for continued prayer and flexibility leading up to the start of our 2020-21 school year. We also want to reiterate our commitment to hold classes on campus for the upcoming school year. As we come together as a community once again, we will love our neighbors by putting needs for safety first. We cannot wait to welcome our students back on campus this fall and provide our distinctly Christian education that has made VCS the No. 1-rated Christian school in Arizona by Niche.com.

          June 30 Update

          In light of Governor Ducey’s Executive Order pushing back the start of in-person learning in Arizona K-12 public and charter schools to at least August 17, our leadership team is currently re-evaluating our in-person start date and calendar for 2020-21. We will communicate any changes and additional information by Friday, July 10, as decisions are finalized.

          Additionally, all VCS Athletics and activities (including camps/clinics, practices, trainings, etc.) will be shut down until July 19. We plan to re-open athletics and activities on Monday, July 20.

          We are excited to partner with you in the education of your children again this fall and cannot wait to safely welcome them back to campus. We ask that you keep in mind the need for continued prayer and flexibility leading up to the start of our 2020-21 school year.

          June 19 Update

          VCS Families,

          We hope you and your family are enjoying a fun and healthy summer break.

          At VCS, we have been working diligently to create a reasonable and responsible plan for returning to our physical campuses for the start of school on August 4. We are looking forward to welcoming your student back to campus this fall as we seek to return to school as “normal” as possible. As a school, community is one of our three core pillars. The traditional classroom model allows our teachers and students to be in a classroom together devoted to instruction and learning, and actively engage in growing together both academically and spiritually. We believe this is where our community is best accomplished. We appreciate your patience as we have worked on developing a comprehensive plan that accomplishes our shared desire to return to school as “normal” as possible along with keeping our students and community as healthy as possible.

          Given the fluidity of the situation, our plans to safely return to school in August will be constantly evaluated for necessary modifications. These plans embrace current recommendations for returning to school from the Center for Disease Control, Arizona Department of Health Services, and Arizona Department of Education, along with recommendations from our COVID-19 Task Force. Please note that recommendations from each of these organizations will evolve between now and August and will be taken into appropriate consideration, which could result in changes to our Safe Return to School plan.

          Here are some things you can expect across our three campuses as we return in the fall. In addition to those procedures, we have a detailed plan specific to each of our campuses that ensures student and staff safety. These additional details (including plans for athletics, fine arts, recess, lunches, etc.) will be communicated to you by your campus principal no later than June 26.

          The following K-12 procedures should give you a good idea of what our intentions are when we return in August.

          • Parents will need to pre-screen students at home for symptoms each day. Faculty and staff will pre-screen at home and undergo a wellness and temperature check upon arriving at school daily. Parents must keep students at home if they present any COVID-like symptoms and notify the school.
          • It is not our intention to require face masks to be worn by students and staff while on campus. If students and staff desire to wear a face mask while on campus, they are welcome to wear them.
          • Enhanced, daily deep cleaning of all classrooms and common spaces. For common spaces and high-touch surfaces, sanitization will occur between group uses.
          • Addition of hand washing stations and hand sanitization stations around campus.
          • In-class furniture will be arranged facing the same direction and spaced as much as possible. All classes will have assigned seating.
          • Shared water fountains will not be utilized on any of the campuses.
          • Until further notice, the number of guests will be limited. All guests, including volunteers, must check-in to the front office and answer wellness questions along with recording their temperature. Guests will be required to wear a face mask while on campus.

          We anticipate that circumstances and guidance related to COVID-19 will change and have built a flexible plan that will be modified, if necessary. We thank you for placing your trust in Valley Christian Schools and for your continued support and prayers, especially during these times. At VCS, we will always place the health and safety of our students and staff first.

          If you have any questions or concerns about our Safe Return to School plan, please feel free to reach out to your campus principal. Again, additional campus-specific procedures (including plans for athletics, fine arts, recess, lunches, etc.) will be communicated by your principal by Friday, June 26.

          We are excited to partner with you in the education of your children again this fall and cannot wait to welcome them back to campus in August. We ask that you keep in mind the need for continued flexibility leading up to the start of our 2020-21 school year. Conditions can fluctuate, including federal, state, and city regulations, and we may need to alter our plans. We will continue to keep you updated.

          Last updated on September 29, 2020