This will be the first time students return to the campus at 11123 Cypress North Houston Road, Houston, since March, when schools were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. CCS Executive Director Jeff Potts said the school has spent more than $250,000 on safety and technology measures to help mitigate health risks.
Religious private schools such as CCS are the only type of school exempt from Harris County’s public health order mandating all public schools and nonreligious private schools remain closed for in-person instruction through at least Sept. 8.
Neighboring districts, including Klein and Spring ISDs, have opted to begin the fall semester exclusively remotely in mid-August, while Cy-Fair and Tomball ISDs both elected to delay the start of the school year to Sept. 8. Potts said the school is taking advantage of the opportunity to offer on-campus learning for parents seeking a more traditional experience for their children.
Potts said “the majority” of CCS families want to return to campus, but an alternative livestream learning option is available for those who do not yet feel comfortable, he said. Cameras will be set up in classrooms, allowing students to synchronously engage in class with their teachers and peers from home.
While Potts said most education experts would agree in-person education is the best option, it simply is not an option for all families, so the goal was to create as similar of an environment as possible.
“The livestreaming students are going to get online at 8:00 for their first class of the day in their uniform,” he said. “The teacher will have a Bluetooth capability to answer questions from them as they sit at home and participate in class.”
Regardless of the option they choose, every K-12 student at CCS will be given a Chromebook for both on-campus and at-home use, an initiative Potts said is new for the 2020-21 school year. According to the school’s reopening plan, there is also a contingency plan in place for the school to temporarily transition to a fully virtual system if CCS is forced to close again.
Elementary students learning from home will use a platform called Seesaw, and secondary students will use Schoology—the same software being used in CFISD this year and many other school districts across the state.
Typically enrolling about 650 students, CCS is anticipating an influx of new students as parents show increased interest heading into the 2020-21 school year, Potts said. He attributes the growth to parents feeling safer sending children to smaller classes in addition to the learning options offered this year.
“I’ve been [in education] over 20 years, and this is the busiest enrollment summer I’ve ever seen,” he said. “[There has been] just a ton of interest. In fact, we may wind up being full in some of our elementary grades.”
Throughout the process of planning to reopen, Potts said CCS has contracted with physicians specializing in internal medicine and pediatrics for further guidance in addition to recommendations from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Safety measures being implemented include daily temperature checks, frequent hand-washing, regular disinfecting of high-touch areas with hospital-grade equipment and a campus-wide face covering policy.
“Every person on our campus regardless of age or [position], every single person’s wearing a mask as part of our safety protocols at all times,” Potts said.
When possible, officials will also cohort students. If a student tests positive in a third-grade class, for instance, that one class could then transition into livestream learning from home, limiting the effects to students elsewhere on campus, according to Potts.
Visit www.cypresschristian.org to read the full CCS reopening plan, which includes the following safety measures, among others:
- Parents will not be permitted to park and walk their students up during drop-off or pickup.
- Hand sanitization will be encouraged throughout the school day.
- Social distancing will be implemented as much as possible.
- Lunch will be eaten in classrooms or outside in cohorts.
- Classrooms and backpacks will be used for storage needs instead of lockers.
- Plexiglass will be installed in reception areas.
- Only essential visitors will be allowed on campus.