The Academy is Back to School!
by Jody Steele
After months of planning and due diligence, The Academy at Ocean Reef opened for “face to face” instruction on Tuesday, September 8. Jerome Murphy, Head of School, consulted with the Florida Council of Independent Schools, the Medical Center at Ocean Reef, and over 100 other administrators in the State of Florida to develop protocols to implement a Safety Action Plan.
The 3 W’s
Academy students and families have embraced the 3 W’s: Wear Masks, Wash Hands, and Watch Your Distance to ensure community safety. All students were required to “stay in place” in the two week period before school began or delay their start date. Proper social distancing is practiced daily, cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces is ongoing, temperatures are taken, and foot traffic patterns are clearly marked. Visitors and parents (except for the youngest children) are restricted from entering the campus.
The dedicated faculty, staff, and Jerome Murphy spent countless hours assembling a plan to be able to safely return to an “in person learning format” that all missed so dearly. However, life is full of surprises we do not plan for as was certainly proven in a few weeks before the beginning of classes. On a routine medical visit, Head of School Jerome Murphy was faced with a cardiac condition that necessitated surgery. The Academy was luckily able to connect with Scott Laird, a very respected Florida Headmaster that had recently retired to become an outstanding Interim Director. In no time, Scott and Jerome communicated and formulated a smooth transition. Jerome is now recovering beautifully and is looking forward to returning to the Academy in October. Of course, he will have his famous chocolate chip cookies with him and cannot wait to see the children.
And now…everyday is a celebration at the Academy. Scott Laird shared that the children and teachers are ecstatic to be back together. Smiles (behind masks) are plentiful and Scott says he has now recognized how expressive children are with their eyes.
A new Toddler program was recently approved by the State of Florida and the class of these little ones is not only full, but also a true delight. New students have arrived from afar and have been welcomed to the Academy, while keeping enrollment at a low number for the facilitation of proper social distancing.
The Academy at Ocean Reef is bursting with enthusiasm for learning. “Real school” was sorely missed and now is back with appropriate guidelines and detailed plans for these challenging times.