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Thu, 07/23/2020

John de la Howe – School for Agriculture COVID-19 plan for August grand opening

The John de la Howe School administration formed a COVID-19 Task Force to create a plan to protect student and staff health and wellbeing for the school’s first year as a residential high school for agriculture. The task force gathered information through surveys from the parents of accepted students for the upcoming school year. Findings of this survey indicated the following:

  • 92% of parents would send their child to school if plans were to reopen 100% in-person. 
  • 82% of parents do not have concerns about face mask requirements for their child.
  • 87% of parents stated that they hope the school opens completely in-person.
  • Concerning remote virtual learning, parents voiced their concerns that this option would lack the hands-on learning that is needed as an agriculture school.

In addition to surveying the parents of the currently accepted students, the task force distributed surveys to the JDLH teachers and staff. Findings of this survey indicated the following:

  • 68% of staff stated that they hope that the school opens completely in-person. 
  • 62% of staff would prefer the school administration to focus its efforts on making it safe for students and staff to provide traditional learning.
  • The staff’s top three priorities for opening face-to-face would be enhanced cleaning of campus facilities and surfaces, an adequate amount of cleaning supplies, and strict social distancing guidelines in common areas.
  • Concerning remote or hybrid learning, staff voiced concerns that this would not fit with the school’s hands-on learning experience and would increase the risk of exposure and teacher workload.

Based on these findings, the task force and JDLH administration have decided to offer in-person learning this school year, with social distancing enforced in all school facilities. Students will move in their residential housing on August 15, 2020, and classes would begin August 17, 2020. 

To protect the health and safety of students and staff on campus, the JDLH administration will:

  • Require students to self-quarantine and continue strict social distancing two weeks before the designated move-in weekend.
  • Limit residential housing to one student per room, unless the room allows for two students to sleep more than 6-feet apart, in each of the six residence halls currently available on campus. Following these residential guidelines, the school can house a maximum of 54 students. 
  • Allow staff the option to work or teach virtually from home, as need be, if there are health concerns or if they are considered high-risk. 
  • Enforce protocols for frequent hand-washing and sanitizing.
  • Provide and require face coverings for students and staff to be worn throughout the school day and in common areas.
  • Place signs as reminders for students and staff to wear their protective equipment and to keep a safe distance.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning of both the educational and residential spaces on campus.

Students will follow an A/B block schedule throughout the 5-day school week, with general education classes in the morning and agriculture education and other elective classes in the afternoon. This schedule will reduce class sizes during in-class instruction, following recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure. A large portion of student learning will be outside, weather-permitting, utilizing the school’s 1,300-acre campus. 

Visitors will be limited and screened before entering campus facilities. Students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive must return home and quarantine for 14 days. Those who come in contact will be required to quarantine themselves, as well. If affected, students and staff will transition to virtual learning or working from home.  

Questions related to the John de la Howe – School for Agriculture COVID-19 Plan should be directed to