Alert to Academy community

May 15, 2020

Dear Academy at the Lakes Community: 

As we head into our last week of school in this historic 2019/2020 year, I share these reflections:

Now, more than ever . . .

I am filled with pride at the performance of our community through the challenges we have faced thus far.  Our teachers, students, and families have all taken on extra burdens we neither anticipated nor bargained for.  Yet, learning, connection, community, and growth have continued.

Now, more than ever. . .

I feel great gratitude, not only to live where I do, but also to have the job I do, to have the opportunity to serve the community I do.  I am deeply grateful to have the students I have, young people who have shown resilience in the face of difficult circumstances.  I am most grateful for the outstanding Class of 2020, 39 young adults who have achieved and performed with magnificence, understanding, and grace.

Now, more than ever . . .

I am convinced of the huge margin of difference between an Academy at the Lakes experience and other options available to students and families in our area.  Our teachers’ flexibility, creativity, and commitment to delivering curriculum and care to their students has been inspiring.  Our hybrid model of E-Learning has been effective and much more engaging than the Florida Virtual School or our local public schools can provide.  Now, more than ever, I am convinced of the value of the experience you have chosen for your family.  No matter the conditions we face in the near- or long-term, Academy at the Lakes will deliver value way above all other options. 

We are preparing to be back in face-to face school in August.  Toward that end: 

  • We are closely monitoring and examining all the procedures, updates, and guidelines developed by the CDC;
  • We will add a health care professional to our staff (nurse, PA, or physician);
  • We will be installing anti-viral features throughout our HVAC system to create the healthiest ambient environment possible;
  • We will implement enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
  • We will implement procedures that are best suited to the moment we find ourselves in.  Among those are:
    • handwashing protocols
    • temperature-taking
    • sending and keeping both adults and children home when they show any symptoms
    • appropriate distancing
    • masks and shields, as appropriate
    • prohibiting shared toys and manipulatives

The Administrative Team, faculty, and staff are actively planning for multiple scenarios that could be part of our world and our school throughout next year.  If we cannot be back together, we will return to our E-Learning delivery system.  We’ve also learned from our experiences this spring, and our E-Learning will be even better if we have to use it again.  We will do more teacher training and include parent training and support. We are also working to develop multi-track, hybrid home/school learning delivery systems. We will be prepared. 

There are still many unknowns about how best to manage school during the coronavirus pandemic. What we do know is that no school in the area has done or will do a better job of educating your children in the coming year than Academy at the Lakes.

Now more than ever, I am grateful to you for choosing Academy at the Lakes. Thank you.

If your family is experiencing any kind of hardship through this crisis, please reach out to us.  We are a community.  And we will emerge from this chapter of our history even stronger, better, and more creative than we’ve ever been. 


Mark Heller
Head of School


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