Grace Christian School (GCS) has dedicated over 1,000 hours in research, planning, and deliberation to develop a plan for its students. Over the summer, GCS’s leadership has consulted professional organizations, including the Association of Christian Schools International, Virginia Council for Private Education, VA Department of Health (VDH), the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, medical professionals, and others in developing the plan.
On July 23, 2020, the CDC published a paper that addresses the importance of reopening America's schools this fall. Some of its key points entail:
COVID-19's impact on children
According to the CDC's report:
"The United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths. So far in this pandemic, deaths of children are less than in each of the last five flu seasons." The CDC also states that "children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus."
- Negative effects of extended school closures
The CDC reported that:
"Following the wave of school closures in March 2020 due to COVID-19, academic learning slowed for most children and stopped for some," also adding that "school closure disrupts the delivery of in-person instruction and critical services to children and families, which has negative individual and societal ramifications."
- Importance of in-person school environment
The CDC concluded that:
"Schools provide critical services that help meet the needs of children and families . . . through supporting the development of social and emotional skills, creating a safe environment for learning . . . and facilitating physical activity."
Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics is strongly advocating that all policy considerations for the coming school year involve having students physically present in school. GCS stands in agreement with these professional institutions and acknowledges that in-person learning will not only give students the opportunity to thrive academically, but mentally, socially, and spiritually as well. Our holistic educational approach ultimately prepares our students to grow into confident Christian leaders and life-changers. When students are on campus, we have the opportunity to disciple them well.
GCS has invested over $100,000 in training, staffing, acquiring additional technology, new policies and procedures, and additional cleaning supplies/protocols. We look forward to beginning the 2020-21 school year on campus on August 20 in a learning environment that challenges students to reach their full potential. In every circumstance, both planned and unforeseen, our faculty and staff are wholeheartedly devoted to seeing our students succeed.
If you’re like me, anxiety about the future has become an unwanted companion, especially in the middle of the night when I would rather be asleep! As we all adjust to life in a pandemic, we have had our freedoms of relationship, movement, touch, and work/school greatly limited, if not eliminated. They’ve been replaced by fear...fear of death, fear of want, fear of teaching, fear of loneliness. None of us want to be ruled by fear, at least not that kind of fear. What does God’s Word say to us right now in the midst of these “fearful” times?
First, God’s definition of what we should or should not fear is quite different from ours. God tells us to not fear the future or be worried about lacking what we need. Over and over, He reminds us that He will provide all our needs (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:31-32, and many more). The only legitimate fear in God’s eyes is fear of Him alone. Proverbs 9:11 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
My eyes have to turn away from this pandemic and look to the Lord. We are all hungry for wisdom and understanding in such uncertain times. We aren’t going to find this watching the news, where answers change daily with the channel. We will only gain what we need most by looking at God and His Word and seeking Him to ease the anxieties that so quickly overwhelm us, seeking Him for wisdom, understanding, peace, and provision.
As teachers and administrators think about what our next school year will look like, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the uncertainties and changes that may come. But that is not a reason to fear. Quite the opposite; if we turn this angst to fear of the Lord, we will exchange anxieties for wisdom and understanding. God knows what next year should look like. We can trust Him to not only reveal His plan, but also enable us to succeed through it and be better people, a better school for it (Romans 8:28).
In Psalm 91 God assures us, “You will not fear the terror of the night, ...nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday...No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.” The only legitimate fear in the eyes of God is fear of God! Matthew 10:28 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body...”
Fear of God is a blessing, not a curse. God holds all of our destinies in His mighty Hand. We cannot add or subtract a day in this life, because that is God’s role, not ours. Over and over, God tells us to trust Him, to not be anxious about tomorrow, but to live every day in faith. As we seek God and immerse ourselves in His Word, His Spirit comforts us, and we gain wisdom and understanding to make life decisions for our families and our school. Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Lastly, Isaiah 41:10 exhorts us to “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This comfort is for today, right now! No matter what school days look like going forward, we can trust God is leading, in control, and will do His perfect will in us and through us. Like the words of Joseph to his brothers in Genesis 50:19-20, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Be encouraged, GCS family: Our God is with us! Together, in prayer and in obedience to God’s Word, we will persevere through this challenging time and come out the other side with greater faith and fruitfulness. We will gain wisdom and understanding that only our loving God can provide!
We are excited to announce that Grace Christian School has a new high school principal. Mr. Jim Kerr will begin his duties on June 15th.
Jim is married to Terri, and they have three children. Their oldest son is married and has one child, their daughter will begin student teaching at a Title 1 school, and their youngest son will be finishing his homeschooling career next year with a few courses at GCS.
Jim grew up in southern NJ and is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Salt Lake City. He has previously served as a Dean of Students and a Dean of the High School (principal) at two different Christian schools with over twenty years of Christian school administration/teaching experience. He brings a strong Biblical worldview background to school and will teach our Government Dual Enrollment course. Jim is excited about this opportunity to move closer to his roots and back into Christian education.
In anticipation of a smooth transition into the next school year, we will set up opportunities for you to meet him before the beginning of the school year. Please pray for him and his family as they move to Staunton, and he begins his new role as our HS principal.
There is no time so dark that it can prevent a ray of light from bursting forth. The darkness before Creation was shattered by God’s command to let there be light. A darkened and sinful world was healed by the blast of light from the tomb of Jesus as He rose again. There are many lesser examples within human actions that also support the idea of light within darkness. One such example is the reaction of the GCS Class of 2020 to the COVID-19 virus and the lockdown.
The buildup of excitement to the senior year of high school can be overwhelming for a teenager. Students enter high school as freshmen and see the senior class go on trips, receive accolades, lead the school, and graduate in great pomp. It is something most teenagers long for. It is a goal that is tantalizingly close for a new high schooler. GCS students witness the traditions of our school and the long line of graduates that preceded them and want to be a part of that while also making it their own.
This year those traditions have been ripped from the hands of our seniors. They watched as event after event was delayed, modified, and sometimes canceled. Their chance to celebrate their accomplishments and participate in one of their first significant ceremonies was lost. While we should mourn the loss of these rituals for the Class of 2020, take a moment to recognize how they reacted to their loss.They could have wallowed in self-pity and bitterness and could have felt sorry for themselves, but the Class of 2020 did none of these things.
The GCS Class of 2020 responded to their situation with strength, unity, humor, and most importantly, faith. While there were dark days and sad moments along the way, this class held together and supported one another with a unity that sustained them. They took on the challenge of a year of dramatic change and continually worked to take each setback in stride and make the best of it. They stayed focused on the possibilities of what they could do—not what they could not do.
This class is filled with students of great faith, strong character, and leadership abilities. As an example, each year the high school student body and faculty choose a senior to receive the GCS Spirit Award. This is given to the senior who best exemplifies the “ideals of Grace Christian School.” Nine seniors have received votes. That is almost half the class. Their humor was not lost either. A couple of weeks ago, a senior wrote on a white board at the school, “Best senior prank ever! - Class of 2020”
Please congratulate this class on an exceptional year...an exceptionally positive year. They are a brilliant ray of light.