NCA’s Unique Approach to In-Person and Virtual Learning In 2020-21
This year, most Washington schools began the school year 100% remote with tentative plans to phase back in-person classes when the pandemic lessens. Unfortunately, this plan has left a lot of uncertainty for parents. With constantly changing rules and public health conditions, many parents are concerned about logistics or do not want to put their families at unnecessary risk.
At Northshore Christian Academy, we believe it is important to give parents more choice and consistency in their children’s education. That’s why we currently offer two enrollment options: NCA Traditional and our new 100% Virtual Academy.
NCA Traditional: Monday-Friday On-Campus Learning
Northshore Christian Academy offers on-campus education for families who want it. While we are subject to the Governor’s requirements and continue to implement recommendations from the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Washington State Board of Education, and the Washington State Department of Health, we are still able to provide face-to-face education for students within these guidelines to create a classroom community.
We have maintained our regular programming and foundational learning goals for each grade. There are scheduled specialist and elective classes each day, as well as ample time for lunch, Wednesday family chapels, and outdoor recess.
Spiritual, social, and emotional needs are especially paramount this fall. We are building the loving and nurturing classrooms that are so enjoyed by students, as well as consistency between on-campus learning and remote learning should the need arise.
Health and Safety at Our Physical Campus
NCA relies on official guidelines and medical recommendations to operate as safely as possible. Our measures for classroom safety include:
- Daily classroom sanitization using advanced equipment and products, including fumigators
- Highly advanced air filtration and ventilation system
- Large, spacious classrooms
- 7 large indoor spaces: Auditorium, Lunchroom, Performing Arts Center, Gym, Olympic Pavilion, and Rooms A-2 and B-108
- 7 outdoor play areas used throughout the day
- Health room staffed by a registered nurse
- More learning equipment and sanitization between uses
- A multitude of hand-sanitizing stations
Currently, the Washington State Governor and the Department of Health are mandating that all K-8 students wear a cloth face covering or face shield at school. As these requirements change, we will continue to evaluate the best course of action for our school and inform parents of the change. We understand concerns regarding face masks for younger students. Fortunately, we have found our students adapting very well to this new uniform requirement.
One of our most important safety decisions was to have all students and teachers join a classroom “family” or pod that does everything together. There is no mingling between pods so we can cut down the risk of illness spreading between classrooms. Students learn, eat, and play only with other members of their pods. Middle school students do not separate to take different courses and electives, but instead, have a rotating schedule of specialist teachers who work with each class for a week. Within the classroom, each student has a desk in an assigned spot so everyone can stay physically distanced. Activities that involve students from different classrooms, such as Chapel and cultural groups, take place virtually.
Each class has a separate recess schedule and enjoys recess on different parts of the school grounds. There are restroom break schedules so that students use the multi-stall restrooms at the same time as the rest of their “family”, with the option for students to use single-stall restrooms as needed between scheduled breaks. We also have more time between specialist classes to allow for equipment cleaning, reimagined PE classes that focus on light exercises done in place, reimagined music classes which focus on instrumental music equipment that is cleaned between users, and lunch in the classrooms rather than in the cafeteria lunchroom.
When students arrive, we have many staff members on hand to check each student’s temperature, ask if anyone in the family is feeling sick, and ask if anyone has been exposed to COVID-19. We also have three different dismissal times to allow for sufficient spacing between students.
Our staff has specific strategies for sanitizing and cleaning processes, health screening, and monitoring, training all employees on health and safety protocols, and changes to campus access for visitors. We will continue to communicate these details with our families as they change.
Guiding Principles for Reopening
NCA is dedicated to providing a healthy and safe standard of care for students, faculty, and staff. We utilize State and County health guidelines and establish effective uses of our campus spaces to support physical distancing.
Students benefit from familiar school routines that maximize learning and a sense of semi-normalcy. We strive to cultivate a sense of family in our classrooms while keeping everyone safe.
Improved Remote Learning Environment During Interruptions
Although Snohomish County has experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases, we have been able to maintain minimal interruption to our on-campus learning. When a student is tested and confirmed Covid-19 positive, we immediately shift their entire class, or pod, to remote learning. We have already been successful in making this transition as seamless for students as possible. In these scenarios, we have been blessed to be able to realize our ultimate goal of bringing teachers and students back to their restored classroom quickly and safely.
During interruptions, NCA Traditional students receive robust distance learning from their same homeroom teachers until it is safe for them to return to the classroom. We maintain curriculum continuity through our enhanced technology platform.
We have used the lessons learned last spring to improve our remote learning model. Students receive a combination of daily and synchronous live instruction, asynchronous instruction videos, and personalized support within a structured school day. We take care to ensure students continue to have opportunities for spiritual growth and social engagement.
We are excited to see such creativity and intentionality happening! It has been amazing to see our staff working so hard to make in-person school possible and safe. Together, we are living through the pandemic, and still creating a fantastic year of learning.
NCA Virtual Academy: 100% Remote Online Learning, Available All Year
Our remote enrollment option in 2020-21 is NCA Virtual Academy, a 100% off-campus, accredited learning option for families who prefer to have their students learning from home. Students do not have to be located in the Everett area to attend. We provide a highly engaging and effective virtual learning environment facilitated by NCA teachers with parent support.
The Virtual Academy is an accredited program under NCA’s ASCI and Cognia certificates. We have worked to carry over the top-quality curriculum, teacher support, and academic standards that are characteristic of a National Blue Ribbon School.
Our school leadership team developed the Virtual Academy in conjunction with a national consultant who specializes in Christian schools utilizing online learning. We conducted in-depth research to plan and create our virtual learning school academy. In addition to our outstanding curriculum, we provide highly experienced teachers who are excited to provide an exceptional educational experience as well as technical support seven days a week for online courses.
Students who enroll in NCA Virtual Academy do not participate in on-campus learning or activities during the school day. However, all students are still a part of a community with high academic excellence standards, solid Biblical integration, and meaningful student discipleship.
A Typical Day in NCA Virtual Academy
Each morning begins with a group meeting for students, which is open to parents of younger students. We provide opportunities for students to build relationships and community as well as clear specifics for that day’s learning. Students look forward to engaging activities such as songs, Q&A, and class discussions during this time.
For the rest of the day, students are provided with optional schedules that suggest when to work on each subject throughout the day. However, students are free to adapt their schedules to fit their family’s plans.
Virtual Academy lessons focus on core subjects as opposed to specialist education. Families are free to extend the online school day with other learning materials as they choose. For parents who request it, our team suggests ideas that align with the student’s unique interests, gifts, and passions.
Kindergarten students are taught three core subjects, which come with curriculum workbooks. 1st and 2nd graders also have curriculum workbooks and have their time split across seven subjects. For older students, we have an online curriculum with five core subjects. 7th and 8th graders may optionally select one online elective course per semester.
Individualized Virtual Learning at Home
NCA Virtual Academy provides increased learning flexibility within our shared school community. We recognize that no two students learn the exact same way at the exact same pace, and we are thrilled to create a more personalized learning experience with differentiated instruction.
Students are free to spend more time on subjects where they need extra help, delve deeper into their favorite topics, or challenge themselves in subjects where they excel. With more schedule flexibility, students often have more time to pursue their interests.
Our NCA teachers have a weekly call with each family to enhance the student-teacher relationship and provide a high level of service to each family. They are also available to answer any questions via phone, email, and video call.
As always, parent support and involvement are an integral part of the learning process. Some learners occasionally require parents to assist with reading the directions, explaining activities, or staying on task, especially in grades K-2. Older students are more independent and capable of asking their teacher for help when needed.
Socializing and Community in Remote Online Learning
Community building is a priority for our Virtual Academy families. Teachers employ age-appropriate activities and provide avenues for students to build social relationships. Several Virtual Academy parents have also volunteered to host and create student engagement activities.
If you are looking to enroll your child in NCA, learn more about the application process for NCA Traditional or NCA Virtual Academy. We hope to see you soon, whether in person or virtually!
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Northshore Christian Academy is known for more than just our amazing curriculum, we also have one of the most incredible private school campuses in Washington State. See it for yourself.