August 18, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am excited to update you on Gonzaga Prep’s plans for welcoming students back to campus for the start of school on September 1. As I send this to you, our faculty are eagerly preparing for our students to return. We have modified our existing Back To Campus Plan due to recent recommendations by the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). A new phased approach will give families the option of choosing either fully digital instruction, or starting the year with in-person instruction in small groups, one day per week. This model was developed in consultation with the SRHD and will add robustness to existing health and safety measures, while supporting the school’s goal to incrementally expand future opportunities for in-person instruction. By the end of the week we will be sending detailed plans and answers to your frequently asked questions.
School leadership, in partnership with the Board of Directors, has carefully considered the recent recommendation by the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) that all high schools in the county begin the year in online-only education. The SRHD's assessment is that even with the strict implementation of required safety measures, returning to in-person instruction presents additional risks to students and the adults who care for them, and that these risks must be weighed carefully with the benefits of in-person instruction.
It is our conviction that our parents are in the best position to weigh the risks associated with in-person instruction with the specific needs of their child. The school is asking each parent to discern the unique educational needs of their children, in light of the recommendations by the SRHD, and our shared commitment to acting in a manner that promotes the greater good of both the Gonzaga Prep and Spokane communities. In a recent survey, nearly 80 percent of our families indicated a strong desire for their student to receive in-person instruction.
In order to meet the needs of our students, the school has developed a phased approach for returning to in-person instruction, and is offering parents the option for their students to begin the school year receiving in-person instruction one day per week, or fully online instruction. Our modified planning for starting the school year adds resiliency to our existing health and safety measures by:
- Decreasing the number of students on campus each day to a maximum of 25% of our student body, and reducing class sizes to an average of six students.
- Dividing each grade level into four cohorts, in order to decrease the potential exposure and/or spread of COVID, while minimizing the impact of any required quarantine measures.
- Enhancing the school’s ability to teach and enforce the required safety protocols, while developing a body of evidence that will support the school’s continued improvement.
If the school is successful in preventing COVID spread in this initial phase, we will work to incrementally expand students’ access to in-person instruction. Alternatively, if our experience demonstrates that we are unable to prevent or minimize COVID outbreaks and experience disruption to our in-person instruction, then we will be prepared to move to fully digital learning until we are confident we can ensure the health and safety of our students and our faculty/staff.
Parents who opt for in-person instruction will be required to sign a forthcoming acknowledgement of risk and commitment to a shared duty of care for ensuring that their child and family will act in a manner that minimizes the potential health impact of their decisions on the safety of fellow members of our community. Students who attend in-person instruction will be required to sign an acknowledgement of new school rules, and an honor code for abiding by these rules at all times. The school will continue to offer the option of fully online learning with synchronous instruction while providing enhanced support for our online learners to support their success. Families may choose to move between in-person or synchronous digital learning.
We have carefully evaluated our 2020-21 budget and will be offering a tuition rebate of 5% of your family’s Fair Share Tuition commitment. This tuition rebate recognizes that some of our programs will be limited for part or all of the school year. The tuition rebate will be applied to your tuition account on a quarterly basis (September, November, February, and April) if we have not yet returned to fully in-person instruction for that quarter. Families who have been granted an Emergency Tuition Assistance Grant will not be eligible for the tuition rebate.
I want to conclude with deep gratitude for the significant sacrifices that are required in order to sustain our mission, by you, our parents, as well as your extended families, and especially by our faculty and staff. These generous commitments are not made lightly, and are the lived expression of our work to educate our students to be persons who are for, and with others. Thank you for all you do to prioritize the importance of your child’s education, and for the trust that you place in Gonzaga Prep to serve your family.