COVID-19 Information

Countdown to the 2020–21 School Year

We look forward to safely welcoming back our students and faculty!

Our Mission

Westminster Academy is committed to delivering high-quality, Christ-centered education. That is our “what we do” statement. It hasn’t changed since our founding in 1971. The “how we do it” has changed over the years. While the start of school this year will undoubtedly be a change from the past, we are committed to equipping our students to excel by using their gifts and talents for God’s glory. We believe that is best accomplished on-campus, face-to-face in a dedicated learning community. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has strongly advocated that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school.

It is with that goal in mind and a desire to pursue excellence and best serve our families in the present circumstances that we share our plans for reopening school on campus in the fall. We understand that individual needs may require time away from campus, and we have developed a Flex Learning program, which will minimize the impact of transitioning in and out of the classroom.  We also understand that circumstances change quickly and have also developed contingency plans should remote learning be forced by state or local authorities.

Reopening Task Force

In planning for the 2020–2021 school year, we created two task forces—one focusing on academics and the other focusing on operations. These two teams include senior administration, faculty from both the lower and upper school, and staff from athletics, operations, technology, and facilities.

The academic task force has been working through modified schedules, cohorts (by class in the lower school and by grade level in the upper school), a Flex Learning program, technology needs, and a robust model for remote learning if required.

The operations task force has developed plans for a variety of health and safety measures, including screening, cleaning, and creating an environment in which social distancing can be observed as much as possible.

Recommendations from both teams have resulted in significant investments in technology and facilities. These include expanding our one-to-one program down to kindergarten, contactless temperature-checking devices at entrances, and relocating the clinic closer to the Lower School front office to minimize traffic in the halls.

At this time, we are planning to open at Level 3.

Both teams have worked tirelessly this summer to ensure we are following the framework of our operating guidelines and the best practices and guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Florida Department of Health, the City of Fort Lauderdale, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA), Christian Schools of Florida (our primary accrediting agency) and more.

Operating Guidelines

Operating Guidelines

Our General Operating Guidelines (PDF) serve as a framework based on the current levels of concern regarding COVID-19. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Health & Safety Measures

Will my child be required to wear a face covering?

We understand that recommendations from the CDC, AAP, and the health department have varied and may continue to do so. Students in PK4 through grade 12, along with faculty and staff, will be expected to bring a face covering to school every day. They will be asked to wear their face covering during arrival and dismissal, when in common areas, and when physical distancing is not possible. Face coverings may be required in some classrooms to accommodate faculty health concerns. Some students will choose (or need) to wear face coverings the entire day. We understand that prolonged use of face coverings could be difficult and even inappropriate for some students (especially our younger students), and we hope to provide flexibility based on meeting physical distancing criteria.

Face coverings should not include anything inappropriate or that could become a distraction to the learning environment. Also, please do not use bandanas, neck gaiters (fishing masks), or one-way valve masks.

Will hand sanitizer be available?

The school will be stocked with adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors including soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, tissues, and no-touch trash cans. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the campus. Students, faculty, and staff are required to use upon entering and exiting classrooms. Regular hand washing will be encouraged/reminded by both teachers and signage particularly before lunch.

What is the daily screening process for students, faculty, and staff?

All students will be temperature checked at arrival by a touchless thermometer. Any student with a temperature of 100.4° F or higher will be sent home. We are asking families to perform daily temperature checks of their children before coming to school for the day. If a student has a temperature of 100.4° F or higher, they should stay home.  In addition, all faculty, staff, and campus visitors will also be required to check their temperatures daily to ensure the health and safety of our campus.

How will the school plan for social distancing?

Understanding that schools, by design, are not conducive to physical distancing, Westminster Academy will adhere to guidelines in order to maintain a safe learning environment. We will take advantage of the opportunity to utilize space on the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church campus. According to the CDC, AAP, and the health department, keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the virus. However, we understand for small children the rule of 6 feet distancing might be difficult to follow, so we will continually encourage and monitor good hygiene practices in the classrooms. When possible, classroom desks will be placed 6 feet apart. The AAP has stated that evidence suggests that spacing as close as 3 feet may approach the benefits of 6 feet of space. Lockers will not be used during Level 3 to avoid congregating and congestion in the halls.

What will be done to educate and encourage social distancing and safe practices?

Westminster Academy’s full-time, on-site, registered nurse will educate students regarding social distancing, hand washing, face coverings, and other measures aimed at reducing the likelihood of COVID-19  transmission. Signage will serve as a reminder and encourage safe practices.

How will classrooms be set up?

The following safety measures related to the classroom environment will be implemented:

  • Student desks and tables will be arranged with the maximum social distancing measures possible.
  • Student desks and tables will be arranged to reduce face-to-face positioning as much as possible.
  • Classroom materials and furniture have been minimized for more space and less surface contamination.
  • Students will use their own personal school supplies. There will be no shared supplies.
  • Movement by students within the classroom will be monitored to support social distancing measures.
  • Student and staff groupings will remain as static as possible—having the same group of students stay within the same classroom in Lower School as a cohort. In Upper School, student cohorts will be by grade level to the extent possible.
  • Students will use only their own assigned iPads in kindergarten through grade 5. Upper school students will use their own iPads and MacBooks.
What happens if my child shows symptoms of COVID-19?

Families are asked to commit to keeping their child home if they are demonstrating any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4° F or higher (without medication)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Or two or more of the following symptoms:
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

If a student develops a fever of 100.4° F or higher (without medication), cough, or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while at school, he/she will not be allowed to return to class. There is a designated place for sick students, and they will remain there until they are picked up by a parent or guardian. The school nurse will be sure to be in communication with the family for the next steps and a resource regarding return to school.

What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

It will be important for the school to have knowledge if anyone has tested positive for COVID-19, resides with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and/or has come in direct contact within a 10-day period with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Tracing diagnosed cases within our school community will allow us to have a better understanding of the overall school-wide health condition, localized to campus, building, and classroom. We will notify parents of a positive test result within the student’s cohort (class or grade level depending on the school division) and notify the Broward County Department of Health.

If my child tests positive for COVID-19, when can he/she return to campus?

Parents are asked to communicate with their divisional principals to determine a return date.

While every situation is different, generally students will only be allowed to return to campus with a doctor’s authorization, a negative test, and administration approval.

Campus Operations

Are there any changes to school start times?

Yes. Both start times and arrival procedures have been modified to accommodate the logistical requirements of entering the campus, to limit the opportunity for student exposure, and to maximize the instructional day.

What are the arrival procedures?

All students should report directly to their classroom upon arrival.

PK2 & PK3

  • School starts at 8:00 a.m., car line 7:30–7:55 a.m.
  • Enter from Federal Highway on the east side of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.
  • Non-contact temperature checks will be taken while the student remains in the car. 
  • Parents will be questioned regarding fever and medication.
  • If the temperature is above 100.4° F, a second temperature check will be taken with a tympanic (in-ear) thermometer. If below 100° F, the child may go to class.
  • If the temperature is above 100° F, the child is taken home, and a doctor’s note is required to return to school.

PK4 & Kindergarten

Same as PK2 & PK3 except:

  • Use 22nd Avenue car line gate entrance to drive around to the front circle for drop off by the clock (students MUST remain in cars until by the clock).
  • Entry to the car line is ONLY permitted with the tag provided.
  • Walk-ups entering via the Welcome Center will have their temperature taken before entering the gate.
  • If PK4 & kindergarten parents want to walk their students from the car to Welcome Center, they may do so but only after 8:30 a.m.

Grades 1– 5

Same as PK2 & PK3 except:

  • Use 22nd Avenue car line gate entrance to drive around to drop off under canopy by the pool (students MUST remain in cars until under canopy).
  • Entry to the car line is ONLY permitted with the tag provided.
  • Walk-ups entering via the Welcome Center will have their temperature taken before entering the gate.

Grades 6–8:

Same as grades 1–5 except:

  • Students in grades 6–8 use the car line in the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church parking lot for entry unless riding with a lower school sibling.
  • The car line and school start times are staggered:
    • Grade 6: School starts at 8:20 a.m., carline 7:30–8:15 a.m.
    • Grades 7–8: school starts at 8:30 a.m., carline 7:30–8:25 a.m.
  • Social distancing is required while crossing 56th Street.
  • Pass through the Welcome Center gate showing ID.
  • Names will be taken of students without ID’s and given to the Welcome Center to prepare temp ID’s to be distributed by the Upper School office.
  • Students proceed up the stairs and have temperature taken at the Upper School entrance.
  • Students must answer questions regarding fever and medication taken.

Grades 9–12:

Same as grades 6–8 except:

  • School starts at 8:00 a.m., car line in Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church parking lot 7:30–7:55 a.m. 
What are the dismissal procedures?

Masks are to be worn until in vehicles.

PK2 & PK3

  • No change in the process

PK4 & Kindergarten

  • Students will wait in the gym until parents arrive at the canopy by the pool.

Grades 1 & 2 

  • Students will be dismissed individually from classrooms and escorted to the canopy by the pool as parents arrive.

Grades 3–5

  • Students will be dismissed individually from classrooms and walk to the canopy by the pool as parents arrive.

Middle School

  • Carline for dismissal in Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church parking lot.
  • Staggered dismissal
    • 6th grade 2:50 p.m.
    • 7th grade 3:00 p.m.
    • 8th grade 2:55 p.m.

High School

  • Carline for dismissal in Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church parking lot at 3:00 p.m.
What campus enhancements have been made relating to COVID-19?

At the recommendations of our reopening task force, we have invested in the following in preparation for opening in the fall.

  • moved the clinic closer to the front lower school entrance and created isolation rooms for symptomatic students
  • contactless temperature devices (hand-held thermal scanners for carlines and contactless temperature-checking kiosks for visitors and the Upper School)
  • purchased iPads for each lower school student to use
  • plexiglass shields in reception areas
  • picnic tables for additional lunch seating
  • signage to encourage safe practices and social distancing
  • secured additional cleaning and sanitation supplies
  • installed hard flooring to replace the carpet in a number of classrooms
Are parents allowed on campus?

Campus visits will be by appointment only and at times when students will not be entering or exiting the school. Parent meetings should be held virtually except in rare instances. All visitors must have their temperature checked and wear a face covering.

Will the WA Spirit Store be open?

The WA Spirit Store will not be open for in-person shopping while in Level 3, but purchases can be made online. Online orders will be available to pick up at the Welcome Center between 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. within 48 hours of your order. You will receive an email once your order is ready. Please present your receipt (printed or on your phone) when picking up your items at the Welcome Center.

Will student have access to water fountains and vending machines?

The vending machines will not be available due to their high-touch nature. Students are encouraged to bring snacks from home if desired. Water fountains around the campus will be disabled for direct drinking but will have the feature to fill student-provided water bottles.

What additional cleaning and sanitation procedures be used on campus?

Our contracted custodial services with Sunshine Cleaning Company have been expanded to include specific measures related to COVID-19. Sunshine Cleaning Company has extensive experience in cleaning and sanitizing high-traffic facilities such as airports, sports venues, colleges, and more.

In addition to enhanced daily and nightly cleaning routines, they will perform nightly electrostatic disinfectant spraying of every interior space on the campus. Electrostatic spray surface cleaning is the process of spraying an electrostatically charged mist onto surfaces and objects. The electrostatic spray uses a specialized solution that is combined with air and atomized by an electrode inside the sprayer. Subsequently, the spray contains positively charged particles that are able to aggressively adhere to surfaces and objects. Because the particles in the spray are positively charged, they cling to and coat any surface they’re aimed at. For awkwardly shaped objects or hard to reach places, cleaning staff only have to point and spray; the nature of the mist allows it to coat surfaces evenly, and envelope objects—even if the mist is only sprayed from one side. After the spray is applied, the sanitizing agent works to disinfect the covered surfaces. The electrostatic spray is an excellent solution for germ and contaminant ridden areas.

We have also added a second daytime custodial person to increase cleaning coverage of restrooms, lunchroom, and other high-touch areas.

We have also installed plexiglass sneeze guards in all reception areas.

If the campus must close, will preschool remain open?

At this time preschools and daycares have been designated as essential. If schools must close and preschools and daycares are allowed to remain open, then students in PK2 through PK4 may still attend school.

Student Life

What are the plans for sports?

Given the nature of interscholastic athletic competition, we will be following the recommendations and guidelines of the Florida High School Atheltic Association (FHSAA) and other athletic conferences in which we compete. It is our desire to have our student-athletes compete in a safe manner and environment. At this time, it seems likely that there may be restrictions, and fan participation may be limited.

How will the Children’s After School Activities (CASA) program operate?
  • Preschool students will remain in the classroom.
  • Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will be divided into three groups of no more than 15 and meet in the Ballet Room, the Lower School Media Center,  and Lower School Music Room.
  • Students will wear face coverings while in CASA unless eating or outside.
  • Pickup will be in the circle drive by the clock. Parents must remain in vehicles.
  • The gate for car pickup will close at 5:30 p.m.
Will there be After School Enrichment Programs?

In Level 3, after school activities will be limited. If circumstances permit, After School Enrichment Programs may continue but will require face coverings for students in PK4 through grade 5. The entire group will be escorted to the front circle drive by the clock to wait for parents when the activity has concluded.

How will lunch work for students?

We will continue to operate the program with our partner, SAGE Food Services, a national organization that has independently developed its own robust COVID-19 response that will include pre-plated meals served by SAGE staff in closed containers.

Health safety precautions:

  • face coverings are worn until seated and eating
  • hand sanitizer at the entrance and on tables
  • custodial staff assigned to the area to sanitize high touch points and tables between seatings

Food serving process:

  • enter via the front lobby and form a single file line along the stage
  • new service line for social distancing
  • condiments table eliminated. Served in individual packets
  • student ID’s set up with bar codes to facilitate more efficient checkout
  • tables set with 50% seating
  • additional picnic tables have been purchased and set up on the field for lunch.

Grade Specific Procedures:

Preschool and kindergarten will eat in classrooms.

Grades 1–5 will eat in classrooms and will preorder using the menu that will be sent via email. SAGE will deliver meals to classrooms in closed containers.

Middle school will have staggered lunch schedules for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades that will allow for social distancing at tables, without any overlap with high school.

High school students who bring lunch will eat on the school campus and not in Fellowship Hall.

Seniors must remain on campus for lunch and study periods during Level 3.

What will Physical Education classes look like?

Students avoid the locker rooms and—weather permitting—groups will be divided between the gym and field.

Will students participate in chapel and assemblies?

Chapels and assemblies will be held via video and viewed from the classrooms to avoid a large gathering. Small groups may meet and follow social distancing guidelines.

Will the media centers be open?

The media centers will not be open before school. The capacity will be limited during the day to facilitate social distancing. Lower school students will select from a cart of books each week. After school use will be limited to high school students. Designated and supervised classrooms will be available for middle school students.

Will lower school student have recess?

Yes. The playgrounds will be limited to one class on each playground and/or field during Level 3. Face coverings are not required on playgrounds and field.

Flexible Learning Experience (FLEX)

We recognize that there are a number of reasons that a student may need to be off-campus during the 2020–21 school year. To meet those needs, we have developed a Flexible Learning EXperience (or FLEX) option. The FLEX option is designed to be a temporary mode of instruction for students with underlying medical conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Level 4: Remote Learning

While we remain firm in our conviction that on-campus and face-to-face learning is best, we need to be prepared for both short and long-term campus closures that are out of our control. We are also convinced that should the need for remote learning arise, we must do much more than we were able to do at the end of the last school year. To that end, we have redesigned the schedule to improve instructional time and the student experience.

Additional Questions?

If you have other questions or concerns that were not addressed here, please fill out the form below. Please allow two business days for a response as we will route your question to the person who is best suited to answer your question.