June 27, 2020

Dear Academy at the Lakes Community:

First and foremost, we hope everyone in your family is healthy and safe.  The flexibility, creativity, and support for each other we muster together will carry the day! We will get through this!

Thank you very much for responding to the survey we recently sent out.  The response rate was very strong, and that has given us a good picture of what our families are thinking and feeling.  That helps us to serve you better, and we appreciate the time and effort you gave to the task.  We plan to send out a similar survey in a few weeks to see if circumstances at that time have changed the skew of opinions.

If local conditions allow us to open safely, face-to-face school will begin on Thursday, August 13.

Families will have the option of attending face-to-face school or attending through our E-Learning system. We will ask families to tell us their preference of face-to-face school or E-Learning by Friday July 24, as that will provide us with the lead time to plan delivery to all of our students most effectively. (We will be most effective for all if we know the numbers who choose each option.)

Each family will be expected to stick with their choice for a specific period of time before switching (barring unforeseen developments, like positive tests or diagnoses in your family or other situations that require flexibility).

Your responses throughout the spring and in the recent survey have given us great direction to improve our E-Learning program for the year to come.  Whether you choose E-Learning as your primary delivery system or if we must again implement E-Learning school-wide because of the pandemic, you will see an even better iteration in version 2.0. For example, there will be a more well-defined schedule, more direct teacher/student contact, more opportunity for students to interact with each other, and specials classes and other elements of the program (such as advisory) will become a more significant part of E-Learning delivery. Though the reviews of 1.0 were quite positive, we have both the benefit of experience and more time to plan as we create E-Learning 2.0.

We will share more detailed information about our plans in the weeks to come, including information about sports and fine arts.

Attributes of Face-to-Face School (pandemic permitting)

  • Lower Division groups will be as small as possible and will remain together throughout the day with very limited mixing.
  • Middle and Upper Division will follow our block schedule every day to minimize the changing of classes and the mixing of groups.
  • Excess furniture will be removed from classrooms and seating will be spread out as much as possible to follow social distancing principles.
  • Extra personnel will be on site during the day to implement enhanced cleaning procedures.
  • Face coverings will be required for all faculty, staff, and students (except when outside).
  • Time will be allotted for outdoor “mask/face covering breaks.”
  • Each morning’s drop-off (all-school) will include temperature checks and a brief symptom checklist/Q and A.
  • If we must go to full E-Learning again, we intend to continue to provide Early Childhood services (much as many entities did for essential workers).

Please join us for a Community Conversation around what we learned from E-Learning 1.0 and what face-to-face school will look like this fall.  This conversation will take place on Monday, July 6 at 7:00 p.m.  I will be joined by our Division Directors (Ms. Jewell, Mr. Pitcairn, and Mr. Sullivan) and our Athletic Director (Mr. Haslam).  We will send out a Zoom invite next week.

Thank you very much for choosing to be part of our community. The relationships we build with each other through the Academy Experience support us as we raise our children together, perhaps even more so during times of challenge like those we face today.  Because we are there for each other, our children and our families will emerge from today’s circumstances better, stronger, and even more prepared to face the future.

I look forward to seeing you on July 6.


D289522d 9326 4fbb 9370 6e1837ae3055, Academy at the Lakes
Mark Heller
Head of School