North Yarmouth Academy (NYA) intends to open campus safely in September with a full, five-day per week schedule for all students. The average classroom size of 14 students uniquely positions the Academy to accommodate the full population on campus at the same time while practicing social distancing. The school plans to make necessary and prudent adjustments to mitigate health risks and create the best environment possible for students to learn, grow, and engage within the current public health conditions around COVID-19.
“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our guiding principle,” said NYA Head of School, Ben Jackson. NYA’s plans follow recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and draft guidelines contained in the Maine School’s Return to Classroom Instruction Framework which are the same guidelines that all Maine schools are following. “NYA is in a better position than many schools to resume on-campus learning because of its model and commitment to small class sizes,” explained Jackson. "Larger schools may require split schedules for students, where only a portion of the student body is on campus at once, limiting valuable in-person instructional time.”
Early on during the pandemic, NYA developed several administrative teams to address specific areas of the COVID-19 response and the plan for reopening campus. These teams continue to address all aspects of health and safety, program and student life, and school operations to guide the process for reopening campus. The health and safety of the students, faculty, staff, and families is at the forefront of all decision making. Health and safety efforts are aligned to mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus on campus and include daily screening, use of PPE’s, increased cleaning and disinfecting, designated entry and exit points in buildings to allow for one-way traffic flow, modifications for large school gatherings, health and safety education, to name a few.
“A highly individualized and challenging program in a supportive environment is what we do best at NYA. We believe it is most important for the education and well-being of our students to deliver this education on campus. We further recognize the challenges that campus closures present for families that are trying to return to work,” said Jackson.
NYA is proud of its efforts with remote learning this past spring. The Academy continues to invest in technology to offer hybrid learning experiences for students who may need to shift to remote learning temporarily because of health risks. NYA will remain flexible and ready to pivot as CDC and state guidelines dictate to create the best possible outcome for students and families. “While we are committed to opening in the fall, we will be prepared to transition back to remote learning for any length of time if it is required of us,” said Jackson.