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Covenant Academy has class
Covenant Academy Back to School 1.jpg
Covenant Academy students, from left, Grace Spicer, Alondra Lassiter, and Sarah Grubbs pause for a picture at the end of their second day of the 2020-21 school year on Thursday. Covenant’s small student enrollment makes proper social distancing possible, giving them the confidence to start back to school in a traditional manner. - photo by Chris Simones

Covenant Academy is back to school with a traditional opening as of Wednesday and headmaster Tim Miller is ready for the upcoming year.

“We actually got started back on Sunday, Aug. 2 with open house for students with last names that begin with the letters A-H,” Miller said. “Monday night we did letters I-R, and Tuesday night we did letters S-Z. We broke it up into three nights and it was perfect. The number of parents and the number of children that were in the building were just right for us to distance appropriately.”

Every school day begins with temperature checks for students, faculty, and staff. Students are checked again after lunch before heading back to class.

“If someone checks a little high we give them the benefit of the doubt,” Miller said. “They may have just gotten out of a hot car with no air conditioning. We just had that happen this morning. A little girl’s temperature was above normal. We sat her down and checked it again in 15 minutes and she was fine.”

Covenant is a small school with a total of 140 students in grades K-12 which makes it possible for them to properly social distance.

“In the elementary wing, the classrooms average 12 students to a class,” Miller explained. “In the middle school/ high school part of the building, we’re averaging 14 students to a class.”

The school is emphasizing regular handwashing and good hygiene. Two to three hand sanitizing stations are placed in each hallway and teachers have hand sanitizing stations in their classrooms.

Masks are not required but students are free to wear them if they choose. If they do not have a mask one will be provided in the school’s office.

“We do require students in grades 6-12 to wear masks when they’re changing classes because that section is just too crowded during those times,” Miller said. “While they’re changing classes, we wipe down the tables, chairs and desks in those classrooms.”

Miller and the rest of the faculty decided during open house it would probably be best not to require the elementary students to ever wear masks.

“We learned quickly that students that age find masks to be a distraction. Several of our elementary students were using them as sails and windsocks and one little boy decided that it would make a fine slingshot,” Miller laughed. “He shot a little wheeled toy across the gym and then used his mask to push it around on the floor.”

The elementary students don’t change classes during the day but their chairs and desks are wiped down throughout the day.

Covenant is staggering its lunch times in an effort to keep student crowding to a minimum. Each class that eats in the cafeteria gets a 25-minute lunch. A

ll cafeteria tables and chairs are wiped down before the next group arrives.

Covenant Academy is still accepting students for the 2020-21 school year, provided there is space. 

“Our first and second grades are full and so are our eighth, 10th, and 12th. If a student wanted to enroll in any of those grades they would be put on a waiting list,” said Miller. “If a spot becames available in any of those grades they would be welcome to join at that time.”

Covenant is willing to enroll students throughout the year  as long as they have a letter of recommendation from their school or pastor.

“We’ll take them in now if we have room. It would probably take a day or two to go through the registration process. We’ll take students all the way up until Christmas if need be,” Miller said.

Covenant Academy has a virtual learning program they call Learning Lion if students should not be able to attend.

“We went virtual from March through May last year. Our teachers got right on it. Our teachers are very capable,” Miller added.

“Ben Lomand came out and fixed us up with wi-fi so our parking lot is a hotspot now. It doesn’t cost anything to use and it doesn’t require a password,” said Miller. “It’s not just for our students. It’s for any student who has slow or no internet. We have good, strong filters on it, but anyone’s welcome to use it.”