September 9, 2020
Cascades Academy welcomed back students in grades pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade this week for in-person learning, and there was no shortage of smiles! Staff members at the school have spent the summer reconfiguring classroom spaces to allow for social distancing and other health and safety measures. They have added a large tent on the 39 acre campus, purchased camp chairs for every lower school student so that classes can easily meet outside, and turned rooms like the lunchroom and the library into classroom space.
"We were so excited to welcome our students back to campus," said Julie Amberg, Head of School at Cascades Academy. "Our team has been working tirelessly all summer to reimagine classroom spaces in order to open school safely for in-person classes as soon as the metrics were met. Seeing our pre-kindergarten-3rd grade students arrive on campus was so special, and we are hopeful that our 4th-12th grade students will also be back in person soon," stated Amberg.
Cascades Academy has been holding short, in-person orientation and team building activities for their 4th-12th grade students this week on their campus and at some off-campus locations. "Our school places such a big emphasis on community and relationships, so being able to start the year with short, in-person community building activities felt so important. We were truly grateful that the smoke held off to be able to offer these gatherings," stated Amberg.
The response from families at the school has been overwhelmingly positive. "We could not have been more excited to get in the car and drive to school today," said one middle school parent. "My child didn't even mind me taking the mandatory, first-day-of-school picture," stated another parent.
Pre-kindergarten-3rd grade students are now back in school five full days per week with health and safety guidelines including social distancing, face coverings, hygiene measures, and daily health screenings for all staff and students. When the metrics set by Governor Brown for grades 4-12 are met, 4th-8th graders will also return five full days per week and high school students will adopt a hybrid schedule, where students are on campus 3 days/week and participating in off-campus experiential learning and online classes 2 days/week. With the cases in Deschutes County trending downward, the school is hopeful to bring back 4th and 5th grade next week and 6th-12th grade the week of September 21. If in-person classes are in session, the school looks forward to administering the SAT to high school students as part of its College Counseling Program. In addition, the school plans to offer athletics practices for middle and upper school cross country and volleyball teams this fall, though competitions are still on hold.