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Reopening with changes

Fuqua School will be traveling a different path than the area public schools, welcoming students back in person for its first day of school Aug. 12, but things will be a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have hybrid (curriculum) plans in place if we should have to pivot,” new Head of School Paul “Chance” Reynolds said.

He said any and all sanitation materials Fuqua needs have been ordered. School days will have staggered start times for students.

The earliest start time will be for lower school students.

“Our bus drivers are taking temperatures once the students arrive at the bus stop,” Reynolds said. “On the bus, the students will be wearing masks.”

He said when they are dropped off at the school, if their temperature has already been taken, students will report directly to their classrooms.

“However, students who come with their parents will have to have their temperatures taken upon arrival, so that time is slightly staggered,” he said. “We wanted to create distance, so middle (school) will come in right behind them, upper school will come in right behind them, and then once temperatures are taken, they all report to their first-period class.”

Reynolds stated there is no doubt things look different on campus due to coronavirus-related precautions.

“We’re calling it the new normal for now,” he said. “We have logos on the sidewalks that are six feet apart, so the students will remember to physically distance. They’ll know if they’re in a line, they should be staggered that way.

“They’ll order lunch online, so there’ll be to-go boxes with their names ready that we can deliver to the lunch rooms, and our upper school students have three lunches, staggered,” he added. “And so they’ll actually walk through, pick up their lunch, and they can sit two to a table, spread out, of course.”

He said Fuqua has masks and gaiters now that actually have the Fuqua logo on them.

“The students are purchasing (those) so they can wear those in the classroom and when moving between classes,” he said. “When a teacher’s working with you, one-to-one, we want to, of course, mask in that situation and when they’re traveling on the sidewalks in between classes, that sort of thing. So, it’s another way to show school spirit in this interesting time we all find ourselves in.”

The lower school features see-through dividers between desks in four different classrooms to aid younger students in social distancing, he stated.

“We also will have hand sanitation stations throughout the campus, so students can sanitize their hands when they’re walking into the classroom (and) when they’re leaving the classroom,” he said. “And of course, they’re going to be cleaning the classrooms after each student leaves.”

Additionally, he stated the school will have a professional cleaning service coming in every Tuesday night and Thursday night to deep clean the campus.

“We want to create that safe and supportive environment just like our mission statement (says) where our students can pursue their boundless individual potential,” he said.

Senior traditions are noteworthy parts of every Fuqua school year. Reynolds said he is trying to find as many ways as possible to preserve and observe school traditions, but of course, the school has to abide by the governor’s directives and by the standards.

“The (senior) students, they’re (still) painting their parking lot spots,” he said. “They’ll be wearing their senior T-shirts. We will have our (senior) parade, but, very similar to what we did at graduation, each student will come in their own car. They won’t be in cars together, so that we have that physical distance. So they can drive one to a car, and if they’re not a driver, we would like for their parents to drive them in terms of our senior parade on campus.”

The senior photo at the bell tower will still be taken.

“We just want to make sure the students are six feet apart in the photo and spread out,” he said.

In terms of fall sports, the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association has canceled fall state championships, but it has left the decision of holding conference play and regular seasons up to the individual schools, Reynolds stated.

He is working daily with Athletics Director Mike Edwards on determining if and how Fuqua fall sports will happen.

“I haven’t come to a conclusion there yet,” he said. “I’m still gathering information.”