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Pinecrest Academy plans to return to in-person classes Aug. 6
FCN Pinecrest Academy Integrates 010619
Pinecrest Academy, the private preK-12 Catholic school on Peachtree Parkway, plans to integrate male and female students in its high school classrooms starting in the 2019-20 school year. (Photo courtesy Pinecrest Academy)

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Pinecrest Academy administration members recently decided to open the school back up for in-person classes for the 2020-21 school year beginning in August.

The administration started a COVID-19 task force in early June to discuss what measures and plans they could put in place for reopening that would ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and parents.

Charlene Dougal, the leader of the task force and assistant head of the school, said that the task force is made up of educators and health care workers, including pediatricians, infectious disease experts, dentists, physicians, and school administration members along with Larry Blandford, a member of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission.

With the help of the task force, the administration has decided on a plan to reopen the school Aug. 6 with three safety measures for students: health screenings, social distancing and face masks.

Dougal said that the restrictions that will be in place are similar to what public schools in Forsyth County are considering for the fall, except that students will be required to wear a mask, and they must stay six feet apart in all situations during their school day.

“The benefit to us is we have plenty of space and small class sizes,” Dougal said. “So because we can accommodate that, then we can get children in the classroom six feet apart with a teacher in most cases.”

Right now, Dougal said that the task force is working out how to put these measures in place before rolling out the plan to parents so that they can prepare and do their part in making sure students, faculty and staff are protected.

After the plan is in place and school starts back, Dougal said that the task force will wait a few weeks before coming together again to discuss how the measures are working and if they can relax certain measures. If the plan works, Pinecrest may relax certain requirements such as face masks.

“As the data changes, we’ll change, and because we’re small enough, we can do that,” Dougal said. “And because we’re an independent private school, we have flexibility to make the change immediately if we need to.”

Dougal said the school may also put up plexiglass coverings in areas throughout the school such as the main office, so things may look a little different as students are coming back, but she thinks parents will be happy to have their kids coming back to school in the fall.

“This virus is something to be respected, but not feared,” Dougal said.