March 18, 2020 Update (11:00am)
Dear TFA Family:
We pray that you are enjoying a restful Spring Break. Since we last saw you on March 13, so much has happened that has surprised us all. Who could have imagined mass closures of restaurants, churches, schools, and other organizations? At first, we thought this was a short-lived season. Now we are learning it may be a longer-term season, through April 15 for now.
In the midst of the uncertainty, we hold fast to our faith and families. We are reminding one another that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). We are also following the wisdom of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6).
The purpose of this communication is to let you know that we are extending Spring Break for our students for two additional days! We are designating March 23 and March 24 as collaboration days for faculty and staff as we transition our Remote Learning Plan from a potentially short-term plan to a longer-term plan. We want to be prepared to serve you well regardless of the length of the current school closure. As always, it is our intention to continue following directives from the Federal Government, State of Florida, and Orange County Public Schools with reopening our campus.
We will be continuously communicating with you in the days that are ahead. We are working to reorganize our staff to serve you more effectively (more on that in the days ahead). We recently invited Julie Young, former TFA parent and Founder/CEO of Florida Virtual School, to walk alongside our team for remote learning and strategy planning. Her expertise has already been an enormous blessing! We want to do all that we can to serve you and be responsive to your concerns and questions.
Thank you for your partnership. We look forward to walking alongside you and conquering these challenges together.
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D
Head of School
March 13, 2020 Update (8:00pm)
Dear TFA Families,
With the new direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Florida Department of Education announced that all state schools will close for one additional week beyond spring break (returning to school on March 30). As mentioned in previous communications we will follow OCPS, as well as the recommendations from the CDC and the Florida Department of Education. While the campus will be physically closed, we will activate our Remote Learning Plan beginning March 23. Please stay tuned for details and communications from your divisions as outlined HERE.
Enjoy your Spring Break as you spend time with friends and families. We are here to serve you and walk alongside you on the journey. What a great time to lean into our School Year Theme – Stronger Together!
Most importantly, remember that we find our peace and hope not from circumstances but from our relationship with Jesus. These moments give us the opportunity to be a light and love our neighbors well by showing them that while some “trust in horses and some in chariots (human ingenuity), we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School
March 12, 2020 Update (11:30am)
Dear TFA Families,
We are prayerfully committed to the ongoing health and safety of our school family. As we carefully review guidance from federal, state and local officials we want to ensure that your family is supported and prepared for possible scenarios that may arise as a result of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
We want to assure you that an action plan is in place should we have a school closure as directed by OCPS or other agencies. Schools around the nation are developing plans and procedures to maintain instruction and we have done the same with much research and collaboration. Our goal is to find the best balance between keeping the instructional momentum we have achieved this year with our students and being sensitive to challenges our families may be working through with having children at home due to an extended school closure. We are here to work through this process with our students and parents and you will have our full support each step of the way.
Most importantly, I want us to remember that our peace and hope comes not from circumstances but from our relationship with Jesus. These are wonderful days to remind one another through prayer and scripture that while some “trust in horses and some in chariots, we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7
With the link below, you will find important information and action plans for each division. In the event that the school does experience an extended closure, we will send a weekly newsletter in this format to keep our families informed and updated. We will communicate school closure decisions through our website, email messages, and social media.
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School
March 11, 2020 Update (3:30pm)
Dear TFA Families,
The First Academy is continuing to monitor developments in reference to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and proceeding with the best interests of our school and community in mind. We expect to communicate frequently in the days ahead as events are changing by the minute. It is our commitment to keep our families informed and up to date regarding school policies, procedures, and preparedness.
We will follow OCPS and other local schools and we will move forward with local school field trips and activities that are scheduled for the remainder of this week. The final decision regarding whether to send your student on a field trip is that of the parent. If you are concerned about any upcoming field trip, please do not hesitate to stay home. There will be no academic penalty for the absence. Additionally, for the health and wellness of all of our students, if your child is ill or showing symptoms of illness please keep them home.
Earlier today we shared information from CDC guidelines regarding travel. To clarify those guidelines:
- Travel and cruise travel to areas identified as Risk Assessment Levels 2 & 3 are highly discouraged and will require a mandatory self-quarantine of 14 days upon return.
- Travel and cruise travel to areas identified as Risk Assessment Level 1 is still highly discouraged, with a recommended self-quarantine of 14 days upon return.
In the event of a needed self-quarantine, rest assured that the school will work with and support our families to make that time as seamless and stress-free as possible.
Most importantly, please join us in praying for all those already affected by this virus. Tomorrow morning at 8:15am we invite families to pause and pray as a school community. Please take some time individually (wherever you are) to pray that God’s hand of protection will rest on our school community and pray that God’s peace will calm our hearts. Psalm 46 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength . . . He is our ever-present help in times of trouble.” Below, we have offered some helpful verses to guide you during this time of prayer and self-reflection.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
We will continue to monitor the status of the virus and we will update families as necessary (via text, email, & social media) should there be any changes. We will also communicate with families within the next 48 hours to outline our action plan for remote learning should the school need to close following the break.
As mentioned in our previous communications, we ask families to please stay informed. Check the CDC website for risk levels and other guidance as well as the State Department’s travel advisories. Be vigilant about cleaning surfaces and washing hands. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
CDC Website for Reference:
March 11, 2020 Update (11:30am)
Dear Royal Families,
Many parents have been contacting us regarding their spring break travel plans. We will continue to follow the guidelines shared by the CDC regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
While the CDC may not require quarantine following all international travel as of today, the local school districts and/or TFA may choose to impose restrictions at their discretion following international travel. As shared by the CDC, If you choose to go on a cruise, it is a mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days. The CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel at this time. In addition, the US Dept. of State recommends against cruise ship travel. The status of this virus, and the risk associated, is changing daily; even hourly.
The First Academy strongly recommends that all individuals who are planning to travel internationally comply with these guidelines, based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommendations:
- Assess the locations of upcoming spring travel.
- Check the CDC site for risk levels and other guidance as well as the State Department’s travel advisories. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- For domestic travel, consider whether “states of emergency” have been declared/are in effect in the city or state. Consider other relevant outbreak facts as they evolve.
- Travel to CDC Level 2 & 3 Countries and Cruises: mandatory 14-day self-quarantine upon re-entry into the United States.
Steps to Take Before You Go (and While You are There)
- Stay informed! Check the CDC site for risk levels and other guidance as well as the State Department’s travel advisories. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- Check the news and contact the local public health official at your destination. Do this before you go and before you return.
The best way to avoid potential exposure to the virus is to avoid travel and remain in an environment over which you have optimal control. Public transportation and crowded spaces limit your ability to protect yourself and your family from disease. We will provide another update this afternoon including action steps that TFA is taking for preparation and preparedness for the Coronavirus.