There is one simple truth. We have strength as a community and when we are deliberate and intentional about our teaching and learning, we will be serving our mission and our students in the best way possible.”

~ Melissa Soderberg, Head of School

As students at Columbus Academy shifted to remote learning in March 2020, our COVID-19 Response Team closely monitored the effects on the health and well-being of the entire school community.

Our educators and administrators worked together over the summer planning for multiple scenarios come fall. Seven initial scenarios were narrowed down to three: 

  1. Have all students on campus every day.
  2. Introduce a hybrid model with middle and upper school students rotating between on-campus and remote learning, while lower-schoolers attended every day in small classroom pods.
  3. Go entirely online, with the possible exception of having our youngest students (Explorer and PreK) be on campus following strict protocols related to COVID

As fall approached, Academy determined that it was feasible to invite all students back to campus using the hybrid model.

Nearly everything about the mechanics of teaching changed. We had to rethink how to make connections with students, how to assess, how to pace curriculum, how to enable students to work collaboratively, and so many other things we used to do in the classroom. At the end of the spring, however, I was encouraged by how resilient we were and how well it has prepared us for this fall.”

Dan Olexio, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs

Listen to Dan Olexio, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, explain the planning process undertaken by Columbus Academy in this recording of a recent Zoom@Noon webcast.

We made numerous modifications to the campus and the daily routine based upon guidance from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Class sizes were reduced and the number of homerooms increased (from 28 to 47) to allow for ample physical distancing. In Kindergarten through Grade 5, class sizes range from 10 to 13 students, with an average class size of 11. And, we significantly increased the amount of outdoor learning we were already conducting across our 231-acre campus. (For more about the benefits of outdoor learning, see our story, How Nature Nurtures Your Child.)

Respecting the comfort levels of each family 

Not every parent was ready to permit their child (or children) to return to in-person learning when the 2020-21 school year opened. Many chose to learn remotely from home, knowing that they could return to campus when they felt personally comfortable doing so. Through it all, our teachers have the freedom to devise teaching practices for both on-campus and remote learning for the students they’ve come to know so well. Daily health screenings and constant communication with parents remains key. 

As the pandemic ebbs and flows throughout Central Ohio, the comfort levels of families will vary dramatically, too. But, as a learning community, Columbus Academy will stay committed to providing the space, tools and support that students and their families need to stay healthy and inspired to learn.


For more details about how the Academy community prepared for the opening of the 2020-21 school year, scroll over the images below.