Providence School‘s application for a waiver to hold Lower School (K-6) classes in person has been approved by the Santa Barbara County and California health departments.

All faculty and staff who will be on the San Roque campus are completing baseline routine COVID-19 testing and will be retested on a rotating two-month basis. Health and safety protocol training and run-throughs for K-6 staff will take place on a previously scheduled in-service day, Friday, Sept. 18. 

“We are eager to reopen our San Roque campus and welcome everyone back to school, and we remain deeply committed to our students’ safety and health and the safety and health of our faculty and staff,” Soo Chang, Providence’s head of school, wrote in a notice to to school families. He thanked them for “your patience and your prayers.“

Chang also wrote: “Please join me in praising God and celebrating this good news for Providence Lower School families. And keep praying that it won’t be long before all Providence students can resume their studies in person.”

A tentative staggered reopening will allow students and staff sufficient time to become familiar with the new procedures. Junior Patriots (kindergarten) classes will use Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 21-22) to get comfortable with health screening, and drop-off and pick-up procedures.

Other classes will come back to campus one grade per day, beginning with first grade on Sept. 23 and culminating with the sixth grade by the following Wednesday, Sept. 30. Details will be sent home to parents in the next few days.

Providence@Home distance-learning will continue for all classes not yet back on campus, to provide a relatively seamless transition from the remote classroom to the physical classroom. Students began the year already assigned to their classroom teacher and cohort.

“We understand that some families may not be comfortable with sending children back to school at this time and we respect that decision,” Chang said. “We will discuss with each family how we can make accommodations to serve those students.” 

Providence preschool classes have been meeting in person since Aug. 19. Middle and Upper School classes (grades 7-12) will continue using the school’s distance-learning model until Santa Barbara County moves from the purple tier to the red tier and secondary schools are allowed to reopen.