By Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy was among the first high schools in the United States to reopen for in-person classes on August 9. Now, eight weeks later, they’ve completed the first quarter without a positive COVID case.

School nurse, Jenny Gann, was instrumental in developing the health and safety policies which have helped Campion manage the risk of an outbreak. For starters, mask wearing is required at all times, even outdoors. “As frustrating as they can be, I believe masks and limiting our students coming on and off campus have been the main policies which have kept our students healthier this quarter,” Gann commented.

Residence hall students have only been able to leave campus with immediate family members, and trips off campus have been vastly reduced, which has limited the potential for community exposure. While some of these restrictions can be draining on students, Gann said, “I appreciate that the staff and students have been cooperative, so that we’ve been able to stay open.”

Teachers have had to adapt as well to social distancing and to managing an in-person classroom along with students joining on Zoom. Anytime a student experiences any type of viral symptoms, he or she must stay home or in their residence hall, able to join classes remotely through Zoom until they’ve been cleared through testing and/or nurse approval to rejoin their classes.

Erin Johnson, literature and geography teacher, comments, “I think the challenge is trying to be creative with the restraints. I’m typically a teacher that puts students in groups, so I have to be creative in getting students to work together without being physically close.”

With all the added precautions and bumps in the road, has in-person education been worth the risk? “Definitely,” said Johnson. “The kids value our spiritual programming and having in-person help from a teacher. Just being able to see each other’s eyes face to face is valuable. It’s hard to have that ‘ah-ha’ moment, or connection, through a screen.”

Donavan Reeder, principal, commented, “I am so proud of our staff, students and families. It has been difficult to navigate all of the restrictions, but I am amazed at the creativity of our teachers in delivering education with these challenges. Students and families have been understanding and cooperative. Our Spiritual Life team has been faced with challenges for spiritual programming, but the efforts are worth it. We can see God’s Spirit moving on our campus as we seek to Know Him and Show Him.”

While Campion can celebrate this milestone, the administration recognizes that the fight is not over. Students were able to return home for a much anticipated break last week, but with that, the risk of COVID exposure was increased at the start of the second quarter.

Gann explained, “It is easy to let our guard down because we’ve been safe so far, but diligence in wearing our masks, washing our hands, keeping our distance, all of those difficult things, is extremely important right now.”

As students have returned from the break, Campion plans to continue the second quarter as they did the first: with diligence.

Jill Harlow, Campion Academy communication director; photo supplied