Dear DLSA Community,
In March 2020, De La Salle Academy (DLSA) was forced to close its doors with the arrival of COVID-19. Since then, we made our way through this pandemic with flexibility, grace, and care for our community members. As we start the new year, I would like to take stock of all that we have accomplished. Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, we have created a robust online learning environment with five days a week of live instruction in all our core subjects, advisories, homerooms, community meetings, clubs and electives for all grade levels. Our generous supporters have enabled us to provide faculty and families with all the educational technology they need to carry out a successful online experience.
In addition, we opened our school building for orientation sessions, in-person class meetings, high school placement exams, Chromebook distributions, DLSA admissions testing and professional development for teachers. Most importantly, the school was able to accomplish all of this without incident. This is in great part attributed to the hard work and care of our faculty, staff, students, and families. All of us took our jobs to provide a healthier and safer environment seriously and looked after one another.
At this stage, we have come to learn a great deal more about the virus. In particular, we are learning that schools following all necessary protocols (masks, air ventilation, social distancing, testing, health and hygiene protocols) can provide safer and healthier environments to learn. In addition, the recent approval by the FDA of COVID vaccines, and the prioritization of educational workers and teachers, has provided even more reasons to hope for an end to all the ways that our work has been altered. However, we also know that there is still a great deal left for us to tackle and that we must exercise caution and remain flexible in our planning. This pandemic is by no means over.
Nonetheless, through careful consideration with the leadership team and the COVID task force, we have decided that now is the time to plan our return to in-person instruction. Our goal is to begin providing weekly in-person instruction starting the week of March 1st. This would be in addition to our ongoing in-person social activities on Fridays. While our ultimate goal is to return to five days of in-person instruction, our decision at this time takes into consideration the constraints of our building, staffing, success of our online platform, and the unique commutes of our students.
Supplementing our strong online offerings with the social, psychological and academic advantages of in-person is the best course of action for our community at this time.
As we prepare for this important milestone in DLSA’s path back to in-person instruction, I will continue to monitor multiple indicators and developments pertaining to the pandemic. While we can be excited for any progress that returns us to our preferred modalities of instruction, we must still be prepared as a community to pivot and be agile in our programming. We know that planning during this period has pushed us to develop approaches that live in uncertainty, but prepare us for multiple scenarios. As we move closer to our target date for in-person, I will make a final determination of our capacity and relative safety in proceeding with in-person instruction. If need be, we will reevaluate and reconsider when to open every three to four weeks in order to better ensure the health and safety of our entire community.
I would like to continue to express my immense gratitude to all members of our DLSA family for your trust and support of our efforts this year. I am confident that the love and support that we have all shown one another through this period will continue to enable us to do what is right by this beloved community.
Angel Rubiel Gonzalez, Ph.D, ’99