After months of careful and diligent planning by Immaculate Heart Academy’s Reopening Committee and administration, IHA officially reopened campus to students on September 9, 2020. The comprehensive hybrid plan was created to keep with the mission of the school while providing students and staff the safest and healthiest environment possible.
The hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction introduced a three-cohort, rotational schedule that permits two-thirds of the student body to be on campus each day for in-person instruction. Students in the rotating at-home cohort are required to sign into their classes virtually via Zoom, following along in real time. Additionally, families were able to opt-in to an all-remote cohort where students follow their full class schedule via Zoom. This gives students who are working/studying from home the ability to remain engaged with their teachers and classmates and stay current on all schoolwork while reducing their potential exposure to COVID-19.
There have been many upgrades, additions, and changes to the IHA campus to allow staff, students, and families to feel as safe as possible and to reduce the impact of COVID-19 conditions. One of the most impressive upgrades is the installation of a needlepoint Bipolar Needlepoint Ionization Air Purification system in each classroom ventilator unit, as well as in central HVAC units for larger common areas. After extensive research on various systems that can provide a safer environment at IHA, the school installed this system over the summer, which is effective in removing particulate matter from the circulating air. Bipolar ionization kills viruses that are spread through droplets from coughing and sneezing, as well as the germs that live on surfaces where an infected person has made contact.
Additionally, students’ and staff members’ temperatures are checked every morning at all assigned entry points; anyone with a temperature at or above 100.4°F is not permitted into the building. Everyone on IHA’s campus is required to wear face masks at all times; face shields can be worn as additional protection, but not as replacements for masks. Students’ desks are spaced six feet apart in socially distant rows, and all teacher desks are equipped with plexiglass shields. Students travel with personal plexiglass desk shields throughout the day that are then left in their last period class every day for disinfection.
Every classroom and entry point is equipped with a touchless hand sanitizer dispenser. Custodians disinfect high-touch areas numerous times throughout the day and perform a more intense disinfecting routine every afternoon. As students enter the classroom for each class, teachers spray disinfectant on the students’ desks and chairs. Students are required to wipe their desk and chair with a paper towel from a wall dispenser, and then use hand sanitizer before sitting down. Additionally, hallways and stairwells are one-directional; floor markings and signage indicate traffic flow. Homeroom, locker break, and lunch have been eliminated from the schedule, allowing for a shortened school day that concludes at 12:45 p.m. Within the six-day rotating schedule, there is a 10-minute break daily at the end of Period 5 when students and teachers may remove their masks to eat a snack brought in from home. They must remain in their seats and behind their desk shields while eating. Students are not permitted to congregate in hallways, stairwells, or at lockers at any time throughout the day.
All families were required to sign and return Immaculate Heart Academy’s Social Contract before the start of school. Additionally, parents/guardians view a questionnaire every weekday morning and must notify the office and keep their daughter home if there is an affirmative answer to any of the COVID-19 symptom-related questions.
“I am so incredibly grateful for the flexibility, understanding, and adaptability our students and staff have shown as we reopened our campus,” said Mr. Jason Schlereth, principal. “So much hard work went into IHA’s reopening and that hard work continues as we navigate the first few weeks of school. Our students have been very cooperative and compliant with all the new procedures, and I believe it’s because they really wanted to be back at IHA. We are truly blessed to have community members who take seriously the health and safety of themselves and others.”
IHA looks forward to hosting in-person tours during its fall Open Houses on Oct. 25th from 11am - 2pm and Oct. 29th from 6:30pm - 8:30pm. To learn more about Immaculate Heart Academy’s full Reopening Plan, please click here.
Immaculate Heart Academy
500 Van Emburgh Ave
Township of Washington, NJ 07676
FALL OPEN HOUSES
Sunday, October 25, 2020
11am - 2pm
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Immaculate Heart Academy was founded in 1960 as the first regional high school for girls in the Archdiocese of Newark. Its mission both at the time of foundation and today is to provide quality Catholic education to young women in an atmosphere characterized by respect for the individual, Christian community, and a high level of family involvement.
As IHA is a college preparatory high school for young women, a strong theme throughout the curriculum and extracurricular activities is the development of the special gifts that women can bring to society. The interests and needs of women in the areas of academics, spirituality, the arts, athletics, and social interaction drive the programs offered at IHA. As a single-sex school with a rich background of Christian beliefs and values, Immaculate Heart Academy meets the academic, social, and spiritual needs of today’s ambitious and high-achieving young women. Additionally, their emotional and psychological development is fostered by the positive, supportive, and affirming attitudes of the administration, faculty, and staff.
Known for its friendly family atmosphere as well as academic excellence, IHA has been named by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and is also a member of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS).
College Preparatory High School for Young Women
500 Van Emburgh Ave
Township of Washington, NJ 07676