Dear Academy Families,

For your total camaraderie, commitment, love, and patience this year we are grateful. You will never know of our abiding inspiration drawn from the love that you have for your children and their wellbeing throughout this time of uncertainty.

In keeping with our promised communication, we wanted to give you our October ‘state of the union’ regarding COVID, our community, and our ongoing precautions. This update comes upon the heels of our monthly meeting with our Academy Physicians Advisory Group this Tuesday previous. As ever, our physician panel was prayerful, candid, unified, and supportive in every way. We thank God for them even as we thank God for you.

Regarding the past month, we have continued to monitor different Academy families with varying degrees of COVID-exposure, all of whom have been honoring of other students (and our whole community) in their careful self-reporting, moving through various terms of quarantine, and returning to in-class instruction. To our knowledge, we have not had a single student-to-student exposure in our first nine weeks of instruction. All thanks be to God. The other brushes that we have had with the virus have not been in any scenario that the CDC would define as ‘close contact’, and have therefore been managed in our typical quarantine fashion; and again, to our great relief, have not been the occasion of any kind of spread.

That being said, we are as observant of external reporting as we are of our own internal reporting. Because the available COVID-specific hospital beds in Oklahoma City are more or less full–resulting in many of the more severe cases now being taken to Dallas and Tulsa–we want to be considerate of our city context as well, and in no way contribute to public health concerns due to an otherwise manageable oversight on our part. We want to love our own students both now and in any future scenario. Our local health system is being tested, and we want to do our part in contributing as little as possible to their existing burden.

To that end, we feel compelled to stay the course with our current safety guidelines and protocols, and encourage our students to maintain the highest level of hygienic responsibility as possible. Our physicians were unanimous in their recommendation to ‘stay the course’ with our students. If anything, we need to be more vigilant in maintaining the standards we’ve already outlined.

But as a perfect complement (and certainly held in tension with our larger concern for being COVID-safe), our physicians panel was unanimous in one other recommendation – STAY IN SCHOOL! Reports are increasingly appreciative of how critical it is that students stay in school for their academic, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Which puts us in that sacred but complicated place of 1) keeping these students together in class, while 2) maintaining the kinds of health measures that give us the highest possibility of success over and against the spread of the virus. Kids not in school are now often facing sobering realities that are every bit as concerning as the kinds of issues that we are managing with kids IN school.

But for the grace of God, friends. As noted in earlier reports, we are committed to remaining responsive, agile, flexible, and creative in navigating this virus (and the other accompanying illnesses of the winter season: flu, strep, &c.). With the full installation of the supporting technology of TAO (The Academy Online), the activation of our school nurse, the availability (finally!) of on-site COVID testing, and the careful monitoring of our parents; we will continue to push forward as a school in constant prayer.

Finally, I want to thank our teachers in particular. They are on the front lines of personal exposure, mask-management, homework tracking of quarantined students, TAO rotations, student fatigue, and a thousand other pressures (as if teaching a class of our beautiful students was not inherently difficult enough). There is no Academy apart from them, and they have shown us THE better way. I am personally undone at the end of a meal with six children, friends, in simply attempting a family meal with any kind of civility. Our teachers, on the other hand, have maintained with hearts and heads held high blueprints, fears, tears, and cultural upheaval in the most unsettling educational season in recent history. Our hats are off to them–we love them, appreciate them, pray for them, and support them.

May the God of peace, teachers and families, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.