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The volume and intensity of students’ needs are intensifying as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Texas Hill Country between Austin and San Antonio, one school is meeting these challenges head on: San Marcos Academy.

“San Marcos Academy has created opportunities for students when most other schools were scaling back or limiting availability of opportunity,” explains Les Davis, Director of Student Affairs.

Indeed, San Marcos Academy recognises that in order for parents and students to feel confident about returning to a safe campus, a well-designed strategy has to be in force. Enter the Communicable Disease Action Plan (CDAP), a four-stage innovative response system that will facilitate the smooth continuation of school activities at San Marcos Academy amidst inevitable COVID-19 breakouts.

San Marcos Academy

The Communicable Disease Action Plan ensures that San Marcos Academy’s activities and learning can continue despite COVID-19 risks. Source: San Marcos Academy

While other Texas schools closed entirely, San Marcos Academy stayed open – in 2020, during the worst of the pandemic, the majority of the Fall semester had no recorded COVID incidents.

That is why Tiffany Portis, who has five children at the academy, is especially satisfied: “San Marcos Academy has remained focused on the delivery of quality academics, as well as extra-curricular and spiritual activities as opposed to other distractions. This helps to offer a more normal routine and study regimen for students and they are more productive and happy as a result.”

It comes as no surprise then that with the CDAP in place, people coming to San Marcos Academy can expect a cleaner and safer environment with little to no COVID cases.

Here, masks and vaccines are optional as well.

The Bear Six-Man Football team managed to complete a full 17-weeks season, winning an unprecedented 10 games and even advancing to the state championship game. However, what is even more impressive is that students thrived academically and felt happier and healthier, as compared to other schools, thanks to the quickly-implemented CDAP which allowed uninterrupted learning.

Such is the efficacy that it strongly convinced parents like Sarah and Zach that San Marcos Academy is the right place for their children.

“Safety is a number one priority at San Marcos Academy. The gated campus, officer on campus, and the detailed plan to get our children back to in-person learning during a pandemic in a safe manner, are all things that set this school apart from others,” enthuses Sarah and Zach. “We sleep easy at night knowing our child is in excellent hands.”

The brainchild of Bob Wiegand, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, the CDAP spells out a four-stage return to school plan. Certain identified triggers will activate different CDAP levels within San Marcos Academy .

For the first level, when the absence rate in LS, MS or US hits seven to 14%, everyone still comes to the school and participates in physical lessons, athletics and residential activities along with increased sanitisation protocols. Everyone has to observe one-way hallway flows with optional or suggested PPE usage, and follow reminders to wash their hands and use sanitisers.

San Marcos Academy

The CDAP has four different response levels, which let San Marcos Academy students and staff know how to be prepared. Source: San Marcos Academy

Should a 15% absence be registered, Stage Two will see students choosing either to report to classes or remain at home. Lessons are conducted on campus or via distance-learning platforms. Teaching and administration staff report for work but athletics will be under under the direction of TAPPS with intensified health and safety protocols. Campus visits will be restricted as well. While sanitisation protocols will be increased for all rooms and buildings, both Pre-K-8, and Grades 9 to 12 students will operate in cohorts and follow the same rule of walking in one non-congregating direction along the hallway. The rate has to stay below 14% for 10 school days before San Marcos Academy can return to Stage One.

Stage Three will kick in when the absence rate reaches 25%. Only essential staff and faculty – who are either suggested to wear or required to don PPE – come in for work while all pupils remain at home to attend online learning. The campus will be closed with athletics put on hold. Residential life and activities are limited while compulsory temperature and health screening are carried out among on-campus vital workers and boarding students. For San Marcos Academy to go back to Stage Two, a 15% absence rate must be maintained for 10 days.

Upon the government announcing a mandate or natural disaster, Stage Four will be enforced, with academics suspended amidst the closing of campus. All staff and students must stay at home. Only important sanitisation and maintenance staff wearing PPE and complying with temperature and health screening are permitted to enter school grounds while the residential community prepares for evacuation.

As Wiegand says, “Battling a virus is not a game, but we fought through this year with a combined effort of personnel, students, and parents, and SMA won.” Truly, the CDAP ensures San Marcos Academy continues to provide their outstanding brand of education in helping your child achieve success amidst the COVID pandemic. Apply today.

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