Spanish teacher Sarah Bentley teaches high school students online through Google Classroom and Zoom technology.

Spanish teacher Sarah Bentley teaches high school students online through Google Classroom and Zoom technology. (Courtesy photo)

Since June, Providence School in Santa Barbara has been preparing for an in-person return for each of the school’s divisions — preschool through grade 12 — while preparing to deliver distance learning, if required. 

The independent Christian school is opening Aug. 18 for in-person learning for preschool through kindergarten-age children.

“We are thrilled that students from age 2.5-6 will be welcomed with joy by their teachers at the San Roque campus,” said preschool interim director Tracy Larson.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate that schools remain closed while their county is on the state’s watch list makes it impossible to welcome all students at this time, Providence said. Students in grades 1-12 will begin the year with distance learning, with orientation activities this week and the first day of academic classes on Aug. 24.

“We will provide a robust online experience, improving upon the distance-learning program put in place last spring,” said new head of school Soo Chang, who joined Providence July 1.

“We will make use of technology tools, such as Zoom, Google Classroom and Seesaw, but our core curriculum will not change and our faculty remains as  committed as always to deliver academic excellence,” Chang said.

Providence campuses and classrooms have been organized to provide safe physical distancing and opportunity for utilizing outdoor spaces. The school is ready to quickly transition to in-person learning as soon as it is deemed safe to do so at each grade level.

Health screenings upon arrival, enhanced personal hygiene procedures, and new sanitization measures are set to go in each division.

“We are eager to welcome our entire student body back to campus for in-person learning and we are confident in the plans we have made,” said Rod Meadth, principal for grades 7-12. “In the midst of deep and significant changes in our economy and culture, we believe that Providence is a wise choice for families.

“Families who choose Providence commit their children into the hands of teachers and staff who read the current cultural moment, are committed to their faith, are educated in the great traditions of literature and history and math and science, and can serve as wise mentors who want to come alongside students and families through this season,” he said.

“School online through Providence delivers something unique to students in our community. Our students stay on track academically and our faculty leads with compassion and conviction born out of Christian character,” he said.

“Students will learn about the periodic table, the rules of algebra, Spanish irregular verbs, the U.S. Civil War, and the life of the early church, while also being discipled by our faculty and administration as we create a community based in dignity and respect,” Meadth said.

Meadth speaks for a faculty and administration who would prefer to return to school as they knew it, yet are confident Providence teachers and staff will use online platforms to continue to strive for the same level of excellence they offer in person.

For families preparing for a new school year, this has been a season of upheaval and uncertainty. No school has an easy task right now, but as the new school year begins, Providence School said it is is committed to following its motto “Pursuing Truth, Beauty and Excellence,” no matter the format.

To learn more about the academic program offered by Providence, contact Tawny Kilpper, director of admissions, 805-962-3091 or Providence is still welcoming students to enroll for this fall, with openings in select grades.