The Non-Traditional First Days of School
Anela Akana

While not a typical start to a new school year, students were eager to return on their designated first day. Some went back to a classroom on campus, while others had virtual classrooms. Students were happy, nonetheless, to once again see their friends and teachers again and to arise from the doldrums of staying home.

Queen Emma Preschool was the first to start on August 24 and followed the same in-person format as their summer session. The first days for preschoolers were staggered for new and returning students over the course of two weeks. “The parents confessed that they were scared and stressed at first...and so was I, a little,” said Susan Okoga, Director of Queen Emma Preschool. “They were sending their precious children to masked strangers, temperature checks, and unfamiliar kids playing six feet away from each other. But the children were really resilient, and they followed their parents' and teachers' cues.”

The Priory and The Prep Lower School followed suit as they began online classes on August 27 for grades 4-6 online and in-person on August 31 for grades K-3. For the younger ones’ first day on campus, St. Andrew’s Schools staff were all hands on deck to ensure a safe and supportive environment during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. “We are definitely working together and are making “SAS Strong” (as the newscasters say),” said Sandy Souza, Lower School Teacher. While these past couple weeks has had its challenges, the focus for the Lower School has been to look at growth opportunities and to continuously learn how to do things better.

In the Upper School, online classes commenced on August 31 and last Tuesday they came together for both chapel and for assembly using a Zoom link they affectionately named, hoʻolōkahi or unity and the name is starting to catch on. As the days pass, the Upper School has been finding that they are using the term more and more outside of assemblies and chapel, making it their mantra to remember the importance of being unified during these uncertain times.

This theme is certainly applicable to the school as a whole as each division continues to support and stand strong together. “Even in these COVID times, which have presented several unique challenges, the staff, students and their families have been supportive of each other with practicing social distancing and wearing masks in a positive manner,” said Alethia Donathan, Upper School teacher and member of the SAS COVID-19 Campus Health and Safety Committee. “One thing that hasn’t changed is that we are educating the whole child, whether they are in-person or online, and every teacher is planning and preparing to meet all students where they are at. The positivity within our school, the eagerness to learn from each other, and everyone’s flexibility and understanding during a nontraditional start of the school year are the things that have allowed us to have a successful first week of school.”

St. Andrew's School continues to accept new applications for the 2020-21 school year. To learn more about the school's reentry plan during COVID-19 and to apply, visit standrewsschools.org/about-us/covid-19/reentry