By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Teachers at a Yukon Christian school have returned to their classrooms as they prepare to welcome nearly 500 students for the start of a new school year.
The 2020-21 school year will begin – in the traditional setting – on Thursday, Aug. 20 at Southwest Covenant Schools, 2300 S Yukon Parkway.
The school’s 65-member staff is taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe in the wake of COVID-19.
“We are going back in person on the 20th,” said Patti Betts, SWCS’ director of development. “God willing, that’s our plan. We are working and putting things into place.
“We’ve purchased Southwest Covenant-issued neck ‘buffers’ for all our students and staff. When the kids and teachers are passing in the hall and in close contact, they can pull those up.”
Administrators and teachers look forward to welcoming 269 elementary students, 118 middle school students and 103 high school students back into the school buildings next week.
“That has really been our prayer, ever since COVID,” Betts said. “Obviously, we had to do the distance learning through the spring.
“All summer long, our prayer has been that we will be able to all get back together for school.”
About 75 Patriot elementary students did attend an annual fun, educational program two days a week this summer on the SWCS campus.
“That was fine,” Betts said. “We used precautions and it went great. That’s what we’re planning on doing – on a bigger scale.”
For the 2020-21 school year, Southwest Covenant will limit visitors from entering the school buildings and discourage parents from coming to have lunch with their children – and only for special occasions.
“We’re suggesting they either check them out to go to lunch or we are setting up some picnic tables where they can have a private lunch outside – just the two of them,” Betts said.
The school will stagger morning start times for the elementary, junior high and high school. There also will be a limit on how many students are in the lunchroom at a time.
Construction is underway on the Patriots’ new high school building, prompted by a steady enrollment increase.
To reduce crowding this year at Southwest Covenant’s secondary school, eighth and ninth grade classes will meet in Covenant Community Church’s nearby east building.
“Our (eighth and ninth grade) teachers are going to travel,” Betts explained. “They’ll do their lunches over there and they’ll do their classes over there. So that’s going to take those kids out of secondary, so we can social distance even more.”
Sixth, seventh, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students and teachers will be at the secondary site; with pre-kindergarten through fifth graders in the elementary site.
Founded in 1982, Southwest Covenant emphasizes discipleship training for children and families desiring a Christ-centered academic program and offers an accelerated curriculum based on a Biblical worldview. This accelerated curriculum is designed for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Some 26 SWCS seniors are scheduled to graduate next May as the size of graduating classes continues an upward trend.
Christian Schools International accredits SWCS, which is recognized under the auspices of the Oklahoma Private School Accrediting Commission by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.