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Pinecrest Academy loosens COVID-19 restrictions ahead of 2021-22 year
School no longer requiring face masks for students, employees
Pinecrest Academy
Photo courtesy of Pinecrest Academy.

Pinecrest Academy

Pinecrest Academy recently announced that it has set in place new COVID-19 protocols, allowing for on-campus events and repealing the mask mandate for students and staff.

The private PreK-12 Catholic School put the new protocols in place through its internal COVID-19 task force, and they went into effect on June 1, in time for the school’s summer camps beginning on June 7.

A press release stated school leaders decided to put the new protocols in place to follow updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Public Health along with new executive orders signed by Governor Brian Kemp.

“We are so grateful to our families, our faculty, and our staff for their continued support and trust as we lived through a pandemic while keeping our school open this past school year,” COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator Charlene Dougal said. “We are pleased to be able to loosen many of our COVID-19 protocols going into the upcoming school year.”

Here are some of the changes students and staff can expect on campus this summer and next school year:

●     Students and employees who have been fully vaccinated and have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine from home. One is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their last dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

●     Health screenings through the Magnus app are no longer required for students and staff. A statement reads, however, that families are still encouraged to continue using the app and screening for their child’s health.

●     Face coverings are no longer required for any students or employees regardless of vaccination status.

●     The number of individuals allowed in an indoor space is now only limited to how many can fit inside the space while maintaining a distance of at least three feet from each other.

●     The rolling acrylic screens purchased by the school last year will remain in classrooms for use at each teacher’s discretion, but all vinyl student desk top barriers will be removed before the start of the school year. In small group table settings, teachers may still use some barriers.

●     The school will now return to nightly cleaning of school buildings and work spaces as school administrators agree that the best defense against COVID-19 now is not disinfecting surfaces but making sure students are washing and sanitizing their hands.

●     The school plans to bring back Before Care and After Care for all families, and campus events will be reintroduced with “appropriate mitigation measures in place.”

●     Parents and volunteers will be allowed back on campus, following safety protocols.

According to the release, Pinecrest leaders also plan to launch a schoolwide campaign encouraging hand washing and sanitizing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

While the school will continue with mitigation measures, they will not be requiring vaccines for their students or staff, leaving that choice up to each individual.

“We have accomplished so much and have been able to add back many of our most cherished traditions in the spring semester, and we look forward to some normalcy as we head into a new year,” Dougal said.

Pinecrest found success through the pandemic last year, taking advice from their COVID-19 task force, which included professionals both in education and health care.

The protocols the school set in place before the start of the year resembled those set by Forsyth County Schools, but Pinecrest required face masks for all students and staff, required social distancing and limited on-campus events.

Pinecrest closed it’s high school for one week during the year when a small rise in COVID-19 cases sparked worry. Otherwise, the school has remained open.

Dougal explained that the COVID-19 task force finished its advisory work in November of last year, and after that, the school continued with an internal task force of school faculty, staff and administrators. The task force plans to reach out to external members as needed.

“We have an entire year of data and success under our belt and don’t foresee needing to re-initiate this group on-going,” Dougal said.

Heading into the next school year, Dougal said she is grateful for the success Pinecrest has seen so far in keeping their students and staff healthy and safe.

For more information, visit Pinecrest Academy’s website at pinecrestacademy.org.