Private schools prepare for online learning option

As Joanna Johannes talks about the uncertainty surrounding the weeks ahead in this current school year, there are no hints of worry in her voice.
The founder and head of school of Lighthouse Private Christian Academy, which has campuses in both Gulf Breeze and Pensacola, is calm and collected in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, though she is taking necessary precautions while preparing for what the remainder of the school year may look like.
“We are not panicking,” Johannes said. “We are keeping parents and students informed and we have a plan in place.”
Lighthouse was on spring break this week, and like the public schools around the state of Florida, it will adhere to what Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered last Tuesday afternoon – that schools remain closed until April 15.
But if the decision comes down that schools will be closed for the remainder of the year, Johannes said Lighthouse is ready and that the transition to online learning won’t be an issue.
“It’s not going to be a big deal,” Johannes said. “We have always offered an online option for school. It will be a smooth transition for us and the parents appreciate that we are keeping them informed on everything.”
For those who don’t have on line access, Johannes said accelerated curriculum packets will be available for students, who will be responsible for returning assignments electronically or by dropping them off at the school.
Lighthouse has a student population of around 500 in grades K-12. Johannes said she expects everything to run smoothly in the coming weeks.
“Its not a lot of students per teacher when you break it down. It’s going to be easy on everyone,” Johannes said.
Johannes did add that testing will still take place even if online school is the route that is taken for the remainder of the school year.
She also noted that precautions are being taken to make sure the virus doesn’t become an issue in the school, cleaning and disinfecting often.
“They are actually calling me the Lysol lady,” Johannes said with a laugh.
No matter what the year looks like from here on out, be it online or in-person learning, Johannes knows the students will still get their education.
“It’s going to be business as usual for us,” Johannes said.

Gulf Pointe Academy Update
Currently, Gulf Pointe Academy in Navarre is on a two-week spring break. School previously had been scheduled to resume March 30, but the plan now is to remain closed until April 15.
Dianne Hamer, the head of school for Gulf Pointe, said her school is following the guidelines of the CDC and Department of Health. She said if DeSantis mandates that schools be closed for the remainder of the year, Gulf Pointe will follow that directive and adopt an online learning format for students.
“We’ll probably hold class through video with the teachers,” Hamer said. “We’d send all books home for the students and they would just do school from home.”
In the meantime, Hamer said she is busy keeping the school clean and disinfected. She added that because spring break is going on, this extended layoff for the schools comes at a good time.
“It’s actually a great time right now because it gives us a chance to get work done and plan for how things will go once break is over.”

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