Pinecrest Academy Continues In-Person Instruction with COVID-19 Protocols in Place

We are grateful for everyday we are able to be here in person.  A sound preparation plan for a safe back-to-school opening has allowed us to remain open for in-person instruction since August 6, with very little disruptions.  Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in our County, and with a handful of high school students testing positive on October 28, we made the decision to switch to Remote Learning in the High School for the week of November 2-6, in an abundance of caution. High School students will return to in-person learning on Monday, November 9.  Lower and Middle Schools are on campus for in-person learning as usual.

As we live this school year out together as a community of charity, always mindful of how our words, actions, and thoughts impact our ability to keep our doors open, we have successfully managed our COVID-19 cases without additional spread.  We know from our experience with COVID-19 and data on our students that our protocols have worked well. Student exposure has not been the result of events during the school day, there have been no hospitalizations, no spread from one positive case to another, and remote learning has bridged the gap for those in quarantine.

Our COVID-19 response plan for managing active cases, contact tracing, and quarantine, following the Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines to avoid spread within our community, continues to prove a wise course of action. All of our mitigation efforts are working, and overall, students continue to comply with the protocols.

With small class sizes and large spaces, we are able to implement at least two of three mitigation strategies in every space. These mitigation strategies include: face coverings, physical distancing, and plexiglass barriers. Our most important effort is health screening, required by every student, faculty, staff, and visitor on campus. This is the first step to ensuring a healthy and virus-free environment. All are asked to take their temperature and answer a few screening questions before coming to campus. If prompted by the app to stay home, they do so. A key factor in our success is that our faculty and staff are not coming to work symptomatic, nor are parents sending a child to school with symptoms.

Communication and honest reporting of information also continues to be a measurement for success. We created a COVID-19 Dashboard - a report card of our school’s health that our community can view; the dashboard is updated weekly. COVID-19 updates are also issued bi-weekly or more frequently, as needed.

To minimize the number of students being asked to quarantine after an exposure, we have partnered with our representatives at the DPH to fully understand how contact tracing and quarantine works. Students who need to quarantine begin remote learning for a two-week period so that they do not fall behind and may continue to participate virtually in classroom instruction.

We moved to a “YELLOWISH-GREEN” course of action on October 19. (See our School Reopening Plan HERE, describing Red, Yellow, and Green Courses of Action.) We will remain cautious, we will be flexible, and change course immediately, if necessary. We will keep in place our non-negotiable protocols, continuously reviewing events, activities, and school traditions that we would like to add back. We’ll do so cautiously, with COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place, following all necessary guidelines to keep our community healthy.

Non-negotiable protocols: We will continue to follow guidelines/recommendations from any Executive Orders from the Governor and the CDC and DPH.

Remaining in place: Use of face coverings, directional pathways throughout campus buildings, six-foot physical distancing, sanitization and cleaning methods, all classroom mitigation strategies, assigned seats, limited mixing of grade levels/classes, and limiting visitors to campus.

What has changed: We have added back into the school day the use of playground equipment and balls, grade level Mass, locker usage, fans to attend sporting events, Homecoming Week activities, Angel Parade, Saints Parade, admissions tours, confession, adoration, class level retreats, Challenge and Conquest Clubs, use of  buses for sports team travel - all done with mitigation strategies in place.

Upon return from Thanksgiving break, we will begin to review action plans for next semester. Our hope is to get to GREEN, which would allow face coverings to be optional and parents back on campus for important events. We will continue to work toward this goal, evaluating risk, and our community's willingness to support a "go GREEN" decision.

Please continue to refer back to this page regularly for updated information on COVID-19 and our mitigation efforts at Pinecrest Academy.  Questions can be directed to our COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator, Charlene Dougal, at cdougal@pinecrestacademy.org.

COVID-19 Task Force

Mr. Larry Blandford -Task Force Advisor, Former CEO of Green Mountain/Keurig Coffee, and current member of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission
Dr. Margaret Bourdreaux - Pediatrician
Mrs. Lori Chmura - CEO, Pinecrest Board of Directors member
Mrs. Missy Collins - Pinecrest Nurse
Mrs. Charlene Dougal - Assistant Head of School
Mr. Mark Doxtader - Business Owner, Pinecrest Board of Directors Chairman
Mr. Lenny Forti - PreK-8th Grade Principal
Mrs. Beth Howard - Interim Head of School and High School Principal
Mrs. Laura Kelley - Pinecrest Founding Family, Faculty Member, and Former Healthcare Provider
Dr. Patrick Kindregan, DO - Family Physician
Mrs. Jamie Kutter - Physician Assistant
Mrs. Joan McCabe - Pinecrest CFO
Mrs. Donna Marie Mitchell - Physician Assistant
Dr. Stephanie O’Rourke - Dentist
Mrs. Dianne Patota - Business Owner, Educator, and Pinecrest Board of Directors Member
Dr. John Petros - Emory University, Urology
Dr. Teresa Petros - Urgent Care Pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Dr. Manuel Rodriguez, DO - Infectious Disease
Mr. Tan Tam - Pinecrest Board of Directors Member
Mr. Mark Tollett - Pinecrest Facilities and IT Director
Mr. Mark Meersman - Owner of IPC Global
Mr. Alex Caraballo - IPC Global
Mr. Juan Cristian Santa Maria - Coca-Cola