From the headmaster: DEA ready for new school year

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We at DEA always ask the Lord to guide us and direct our paths, and He did just that when our 15-person committee met to review CDC guidelines and prepare the plan for our new school year. I am excited to say we will start school as previously scheduled on Friday, August 7. Our families are ready for their kids to be back in school, and all the same, we are ready to have our students back as well. Of course, we have implemented COVID-19 precautions for when we welcome our DEA family back to our home in Stillmore to keep health and safety atop our priority list, and we continue to pray that God guides us through these unchartered territories. We do these two things mindfully of a single goal as next Friday approaches: for our students to have the best possible experience they can this year, despite the circumstances in the world around us.

As we began discussions about reopening school, we had no hesitation at all. We know it’s best for our kids to be in school. Studies show children need school for various and diverse reasons. When our panel met, the committee represented administration, early, middle, and high school age groups as well as athletics and the transportation department. Not only did we want to reopen DEA—we were newly equipped with the knowledge that we could easily and successfully switch to remote learning at any time if necessary.

Like every other school across the country, COVID abruptly stopped our last academic year. All educational institutions were sent into a territory we’ve never had to navigate before, yet even though the year ended quickly, we continued the pace and path set before us. Our students continued their education for six more weeks of moving through our curriculum. As to be expected, there were questions and unknowns, which we took one day at a time. Our teachers learned and implemented Google Classroom and video conferencing immediately. I would be amiss if I said the 2019-2020 school year was everything we dreamed it would be, but now we know we’re capable of switching to distance learning if another emergency evolves.

In addition to this, when we were discussing our reopening plan, we knew DEA needed to start school on time in a traditional manner, given the general consensus that our families wanted that. So, we set out to form a plan for the year.

First and foremost, we have increased our cleaning staff. We’ve also installed hand sanitizer stations throughout the campus. Morning screenings will take place upon arrival. Bus drivers will screen students as they load the bus at the bus stops in the mornings as well. In addition, we’ve purchased an electrostatic sprayer, which our cleaning staff will use along with other cleaning products as they rotate all over campus every day. Social distancing, naturally, is being implemented on the buses and in our classrooms. This is not our entire protocol but rather just a few of the important measures we’ll be taking this school year to keep our hallways and facilities safe. For more in-depth information on our safety plan, I encourage you to email deanews@deaeagles.com or call 912-562-4405. We will be more than happy to provide more details.

Transitioning off the topic of coronavirus in this back to school address and onto more general matters, DEA has a few new staff members joining our family this year. Specifically, due to increased enrollment, we’ve added another middle school teacher as well as a paraprofessional. We’re also welcoming two new high school teachers, one for history and another for English following a retirement in that department.

Our Eagles are still competing in the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) athletic association. GAPPS is in charge of the protocol and guidelines for our athletics and arts at DEA. While the specifics aren’t finalized just yet, we know this much about our Eagle teams: it’s going to be a great year! We plan to add to our rich history of success this year, thanks to good, strong numbers, new students, and a well-spirited student body.

We also look forward to utilizing our new 90-passenger bus to help our growing athletic department and bus route needs. Equally exciting, we’ve renovated the last classroom of the original historic building, and we know our students and staff will appreciate this improvement starting this year and all the years that follow.

Our open house is set for August 6. The all-day open house will operate on a time schedule assigned alphabetically by families’ last names. An email detailing this schedule, complete with a breakdown, has been sent to all DEA families.

In closing, we truly have our DEA family’s best interest at heart. From students to teachers to administration to help staff to parents and extended family to visitors and beyond, we want everyone to have a safe and healthy school year as we try to start returning to some sense of normalcy. Our prayer is solemn and simple in that our kids can “be kids” as much as possible. There are a number of implementations that are going to take place to keep our kids safe while they learn; our hope is our students aren’t cognizant these small but vital changes are taking place because we don’t want to bombard them with worries or concerns. We always want to do our best, be kind, and represent our families and the Lord well in all we do. As we move into the 2020-2021 school year, we remain mindful of all these things: safety, education, family, and, above all else, godliness. From Team DEA to you and yours, we wish everyone a safe, happy, and successful school year. You all are in our prayers!

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