Scintilla reports smooth pandemic opening

Submitted PhotoFirst-grade student Kai Davis learns about the scientific method during a trip to Scintilla’s STEAM Lab. 

VALDOSTA – Scintilla Charter Academy reopened in early August with a plan unlike any adopted by another school system in the area.

Out of Scintilla's 596 students, 102 opted for virtual learning with the rest returning to classes in a staggered start.

Kindergarteners with the last names A-L started back Aug. 6 and M-Z Aug. 7, giving parents the opportunity to walk their children through a relatively empty school for the first day.

“The kindergarteners got to learn the ropes by being the only ones on campus,” said Jennifer Denham, Scintilla director of communications and engagement.

From Aug. 10-21, all grades rotated days of attendance based on last name with Fridays being off days for deep cleaning.

Aug. 24 was the first day back with the full load of students, but Scintilla still has a half day every Friday to accommodate a deep-cleaning routine.

Open houses were held via appointment or virtual meeting, giving parents more one-on-one time with teachers.

“Those were so successful that, regardless of how the pandemic goes, we may carry that over to every school year on a smaller scale,” Denham said.

Face coverings are required for the staff of Scintilla when social distancing is not possible but “strongly encouraged” for students with the final decision ultimately being left to parents.

School officials said Scintilla is ensuring students are not sharing items, having lunch in classrooms and spacing out as much as possible. The school is not allowing volunteers into the school as it has in the past.

“SCA's top priority is the collective health and safety of our scholars, staff and families. We have worked diligently to make decisions that can be sustained by all community members throughout the school year,” Denham said.

Should students show a sign of illness during the school day and need to go home, spaces on campus have been designated for them. The school then works with local health authorities on a course of action.

Students who are potentially sick never have a chance to step in the doors as temperature checks at Scintilla are done in the drop-off line while students are still in their vehicles, school officials said.

Denham said the school is utilizing the “power of small.” 

As a small school, it will continue to adapt to the ever-changing situation to minimize disruption, she said.

So far, the reopening has gone smoothly, according to Denham, and students have been thrilled to be back in class. 

Desiree Carver is a reporter at the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be reached at (229) 244-3400 ext. 1215.

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