July 10, 2020

Parents of Gateway Christian Schools,

Two weeks ago we shared with you several models we were considering to operate Gateway Christians Schools this fall. Our leadership team has given careful and prayerful thought to this, and we are pleased to announce that we have committed to Option 1: normal school as we know it: All students in class, 5 days a week, for in-person instruction. 

We feel this model offers the optimal situation for quality learning, and also contains other positive elements like scheduling and family convenience. Because of the need to comply with distancing guidelines, this model will require us to do a few things in new ways, like making changes in student seating within classrooms and establishing other safety practices. To be sure, school will look a bit different this year, but maybe not as much as you might have envisioned. We recognize that operating a school in a COVID environment will be challenging for everyone; some may experience anxiety at first. We will be training our faculty and staff this summer to be sensitive to that and to be ready to provide comfort and counsel to our students. 

Elementary grades will each meet all together in one classroom as usual. Gateway Eagles will meet on the Gateway campus. Crosspoint Elementary is considering a temporary relocation to a nearby church building on Kitsap Way. Mrs. Fraser will be sending a separate letter soon to describe the details of that move. Secondary students will meet on the Crosspoint campus and will follow the familiar A/B block schedule, alternating days with four classes each day. Since teachers this year will be streaming instruction to online students from their classrooms and will be incorporating technology in new ways, we will require all of our students this year to bring a laptop device to school each day. In a separate email later this month we will be providing recommendations to you for a range of laptop options that will meet the student’s needs. Plans to revive athletics this fall are well underway, and more info on sports and secondary course selection will be coming out soon.

Few schools will be able to offer this model this year, and we are anticipating strong interest from new families. The biggest constraint we face with this model is limitations on class sizes. We will do our utmost to make the best use of classroom space in properly distancing students, but clearly we will not be able to put as many students in a classroom as we normally might. This suggests the very real possibility that some grade levels will reach maximum capacity during summer enrollment, and we may need to cap enrollment in some grades and establish waiting lists. A plan is under development to provide online live streaming learning for students who are on waiting lists or are unable to attend school in person for other reasons. Students who attend school in a fulltime online status will be entitled to a tuition discount. The rates are detailed in the “Tuition Discount Policies” attachment. 

We are just now unveiling our plan for fall, and we understand that some of you may have been waiting for this news before making enrollment decisions. We want to give you priority in the enrollment process, so returning family enrollment submissions will be processed first if submitted by the close of business on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. After that date, we will begin processing applications and interviewing students from new families.

COVID-19 has brought us much uncertainty this year, and prudence suggests that we plan for even the small possibility of another school closure at some point. We hope it won’t happen, but in that event, GCS would transition back to the online school learning model we used during the 4th quarter of this year. This was presented earlier as Option 3. It will be held in readiness and we pray we will not need it. In the event of a school closure similar to this past year and a move to online learning, tuition discounts will be applied to all students who had been attending in-person, beginning the month following the closure, and will continue for the duration of the closure. Discounts will not be applied for temporary or limited closures caused by individual COVID cases on campus. Please see the “Tuition Discount Policies” attachment for details. 

You may have questions surrounding the safety precautions that students will need to follow in school this year. Please see the attached document “COVID-19 Safety at Gateway Christian Schools.” 

Next Steps: The purpose of this letter is to provide you the basics of our plan for the fall. We will be bringing you much more detailed information about school over the course of the summer. Thank you for your patience as we continue to work through the details of our plan for the 2020/2021 school year. We are very excited at the prospect of welcoming students back into our buildings. As we make preparations for September, we pledge to keep you informed and answer questions. If you haven’t yet enrolled, we hope to hear from you soon. If we can answer any questions, please email GCSFamilies@gatewaychristianschools.org. Questions received will be compiled and answered in subsequent mailings. 


Tom Duchemin, President

Ken Ebersole, Team Lead

Andy Alford, Secondary Principal

Melissa Fraser, Crosspoint Elementary Principal

Donna Beaver, Poulsbo Gateway Elementary Principal

Jim Owens, Director of Operations (Acting)

Laura Breda, Admissions

COVID-19 Safety at Gateway Christian Schools
Even though our school district is private, we are required to comply with the standards of safety and sanitation established by the Kitsap County Health Department, Washington State OSPI, and the CDC. The expectations of Washington OSPI for reopening schools are described in the “Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide.” They apply equally to public and private schools, and have shaped the GCS Safety Plan described below.

Screening Upon Entry
All who enter the school buildings on a school day will undergo a brief health screening. The screening will include a non-contact temperature check and age-appropriate interview questions. Arriving faculty and staff may accomplish screening in the main office or other designated location. Arriving students must enter the campus via designated screening stations first thing upon arrival. Late arrivals must report to the main office for screening. Individuals with elevated temperatures will be “sidelined” for a few minutes, and retested. A temperature of 38C (101.4F) is considered a mild fever and will likely preclude entry on campus.

Wearing of Face Coverings (Masks)
Face coverings will be required on campus. The wearing of face coverings in public has fostered considerable public discourse and has even been politicized to some extent. We do not know how long this measure will be required, but it is a requirement of all the agencies mentioned above. Exceptions are permitted for those with certain health conditions and for children under age 5. The face covering needs to cover the nose and mouth, and may be a sewn mask of fabric with loops or ties to secure it when worn, or it can be multiple layers of fabric tied around the head, like a bandana. The covering can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, fleece, and knit synthetic. For those uncomfortable with the idea of wearing a cloth covering, clear plastic face shields are an acceptable alternative. If used, face shields should extend below the chin, to the ears, and have no gap at the forehead. A drape may offer more protection.
We should remember that we have long incorporated sensible safety precautions in our school to protect our students: frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, wearing shoes that won’t slip off, no running indoors, and wearing apron and eye protection in the science lab. The wearing of face coverings is one more thing we must do to comply with the requirements of holding in-person instruction. We hope this requirement will last for a limited time, but we must recognize that it is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. That said, we feel it is unrealistic to expect students and adults to wear face coverings continuously for an entire school day. There will be times when coverings are absolutely necessary, like when walking the hallways, coming and going from class, and visiting the office. Some activities, like eating and drinking,
and outdoor activities like breaks, recess, and physical education will afford students the opportunity to remove their face coverings.

Safe Distancing
Observing the optimal six foot separation between students presents a formidable challenge for schools in furnishing a classroom. OSPI is asking us to be true to the goal of a six foot separation to “the greatest extent possible,” and so our classrooms will look a little different this fall as we reimagine the furniture arrangements to optimize the distance between students when seated in the classroom. Additionally, we will undoubtedly be restricted in our ability to gather groups together for chapel, lunch, field trips, and assemblies in the usual way, at least early in the school year. We are exploring new ways to meet and eat that will conform to group size restrictions.

School Buses
School buses will be permitted to operate at normal capacity, but of course facial coverings must be worn by all riders for the duration of the trips.

On a personal level, we will continue to emphasize with our students the importance of frequent hand washing or sanitizing to reduce the chances of infection. On an institution level, our campuses will amplify the usual cleaning routines to focus on the frequent and thorough cleansing of furniture, doors, and other high-contact surfaces. We will follow CDC guidance to ensure we use those cleaning supplies proven most effective in killing the COVID-19 virus.

Confirmed Case Processes and Virus Spread
If a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, their family should notify the school immediately. The local health authority will advise on the next steps, and it is likely that some of the other students or staff who were in close contact with the infected individual will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.

School Closure
Both the GCS President and local health officials have the authority to close school if multiple individuals within the school contract COVID-19. The local health officer has ultimate authority for closure. Such a closure would trigger a shift to total online instruction, similar to what the school did for the 4th quarter of 2020, until school could be safely reopened.

Tuition Discount Policies for Online Learning and COVID Related Closures

1. Students who elect to take the online learning option for school year 2020/2021, or are attending online while on a waiting list for in-person instruction, are entitled to a tuition discount, according to the following schedule, by grade level:
    Kindergarten 35%
    Grades 1-5 15%
    Grades 6-12 10%

2. If eligible, the discounts are applied as follows:
There is a 35% cap on total discounts related to the online tuition discount.

Employees receiving an employee discount are not eligible.

If the family is receiving a multi-student discount then the first student (currently 0%) and second student (currently receiving 25%) will be eligible for the discount capped at 35%.

Military family discounted families are eligible for the discount capped at 35%.

Participating church and Ministry discounted families are not eligible.

Our goal is to prioritize Arrowsmith to “on campus” due to special considerations.

Example: Military with 2 students, one in elementary and one in secondary: each student will receive a 35% discount. The primary will be capped at 35%.