NHA Heading Back to School 5 Days a Week Safely!

 In General Announcements

The health and safety of our students is our top priority! We take their physical and emotional well-being very seriously. During this COVID-19 pandemic, New Horizons Academy (NHA) will do everything in its power to serve your children and keep them safe.

As a regional special needs school, New Horizons Academy is a very special place, serving students from 37 different school districts from over 9 different counties across 3 different campuses. With Ohio’s county-by-county approach to reopening schools, NHA will work with all of Northwest Ohio’s health departments to meet the individual needs of our students under a variety of risk levels.

Since the March 2020 school closure, education has been very challenging for our special needs students. Our students thrive in small groups with individualized, hands-on instruction, which is why many struggled with at-home, online learning. NHA believes that our students’ special education and social needs are best met through face-to-face, hands-on instruction. With our small class sizes, NHA is able to meet the social distancing guidelines to bring our students back to school five days a week from 8:15 a.m.-2:45 p.m. for the 2020-2021 school year!

But returning to school will look a little different than it did before. Thank you to the parents and staff who have shared their questions and concerns with us! Some parents are worried that the state’s guidelines are not stringent enough to protect their children while others are concerned that the health and safety guidelines are too strict for their children and their family. All of us, NHA staff, students, and parents, will need to be flexible and understanding of each other as we return to school. We have tried to take a common sense approach, which incorporates and modifies the federal, state, and local guidelines for our special needs students. Through our summer camps, we were able to pilot this approach and gain a great deal of experience and understanding on successfully implementing these health and safety guidelines.

Returning to School 5 Days a Week!

  • Our teachers and staff have really missed your children and are so excited about welcoming them back to school!
  • Our first day of school will be August 19 with our regular school day from 8:15 a.m.-2:45 p.m.
  • With all of our students on individual education plans (IEPs), NHA will continue to provide personalized, individualized education to meet the diverse learning needs of our students.
  • Classes will be held in and students spread out across our Wauseon and Springfield/Holland Campuses, Sara’s Garden building, and our new NHA Career Center in Wauseon.

Heading Back to School Safely
To protect your children and our medically fragile students, NHA is planning on:

  • Daily symptom and temperature checks for both staff and students with anyone exhibiting symptoms or with a fever of 100 degrees or greater immediately sent home to isolate,
  • Social distancing as much as possible,
  • Teachers rather than students rotating classrooms,
  • Frequent hand washing and liberal use of hand sanitizer,
  • Meeting students at the car or lobby door to limit parental exposure,
  • Utilizing water bottles with snacks and lunch in the classroom,
  • Sanitizing high-traffic areas throughout the day and intensive building cleanings,
  • Ongoing staff training.

Face Coverings

  • All staff will wear face coverings.
  • Students will be encouraged, but not mandated, to wear face coverings (bandanna, scarf, mask, etc.) as a part of their behavioral plans. We want to help them build up their ability and tolerance in case they need to wear them on the bus, for appointments, during a group outing, etc.
  • Be imaginative, creative, and fun like wearing a favorite team’s bandanna, playing dress up with a special scarf, playing pretend with a mask, or choosing a favorite ball cap with an attached plastic sheet or shield.

Online Learning

  • Just being in school or any public area carries some risk of exposure.
  • For parents who are not ready to send back and/or do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school yet, NHA will offer a full-time, online learning option, which may be accessed through any smart phone or device.

Communications

  • Keeping parents updated and informed is critical!
  • NHA will reach parents by posting updates on our web site and Facebook page, texting and/or emailing out critical announcements, making phone calls, sending home letters, leaving notes in students’ communications folders, etc.
  • Additional information about how day-to-day school operations like pick up, drop off, and classroom schedules may be impacted will be sent out over the summer.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please call the school offices at 419-335-7272 (Wauseon) or 567-703-1322 (Springfield/Holland). We would be happy to hear from you!

Visitors

  • To reduce exposure risk, NHA will try to limit entrance to its buildings.
  • Parents will be asked to wait in their cars with staff coming out to escort students into and out of the school buildings.
  • Anyone, entering the buildings, will be asked to wear a face covering and will undergo a symptom and temperature check.

Transportation

  • Bussing is up to the home school district. If you are planning on your home school district providing transportation for your child to school this year, please contact them right away.
  • If you are transporting your child to and from school, please look for additional information from NHA on drop off and pick up locations and procedures.

Social, Emotional & Behavioral Support

  • With children feeling afraid, angry, sad, anxious, and depressed during this pandemic, their negative or disruptive behaviors may increase.
  • As an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)-based school system, NHA’s behavioral specialists are here to help.
  • This year, NHA will also have a part-time school counselor available for mental health support.

Blended Education

  • During a coronavirus outbreak which causes the Ohio Department of Health and/or the local health department to classify a county or counties as Level 3-Red, NHA will follow the health department’s guidance.
  • This may include utilizing remote learning (electronic or online coursework through smart phones or other technology, interactive bins or bags sent home with the students, and/or hands-on activities posted on the web site or Facebook page).
  • If due to a Level 3-Red alert, students from a specific county are unable to physically attend school or if either of NHA’s Wauseon or Springfield/Holland Campuses are forced to close for an extended period of time, NHA will continue instruction remotely until the health department drops the county down to a Level 2-Orange designation with instruction then physically returning back to the classroom.
  • During that time, NHA will provide telehealth or online therapy services.
  • NHA will also give first priority to and will try to offer one-on-one, in-person interventions and therapies to our most needy students, who struggled the most with online learning, when it can be offered and scheduled safely using all of the health guidelines previously discussed.

COVID Exposure

  • If any student or staff member would test positive for COVID-19, NHA is committed to working with the local health departments and public health officials on contact tracing while still maintaining individual privacy.
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