July 20, 2020
To our Students, their Parents, our Teachers and Staff Members:
Under the present Phase 4 re-opening status issued by the State of Illinois, Midwestern Christian Academy is planning to begin classes on campus with the first day of school being scheduled for Monday, August 24, 2020. After closing out the previous school year with online E-learning, we are anxious to get back together as a school community. We are grateful for all of the work our teachers and staff did in preparing for and conducting nine weeks of distance learning, but as Christian educators who place a high value on both the spiritual atmosphere of the school environment and on the quality of the academic program, we know there is no substitute for the order and dynamics of classroom learning.
The security and safety of our staff and students is one of our highest priorities. The process of developing a plan for re-opening school has taken many hours to develop, has involved the input from multiple sources, requiring discernment to make decisions about re-opening that will keep all of the families of students and staff members safe and healthy.
Prayer is the Foundation
With information coming from many different sources, the school’s commitment to being a Christian ministry has led to our dependence on prayer during this time of planning and decision making.
Trust in the Lord with your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, NRSV
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11 NRSV
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 NRSV
We trust God to answer our prayers and give us the wisdom and discernment we need as we gather the information we need and make decisions regarding the measures we will take to keep our students, staff members and parents safe during this pandemic. We believe God answers prayers and encourage every student, parent and staff member to pray for the safety of our campus every day!
Credible and Reliable Information Sources
During the process of developing plans for the re-opening of school, along with contingency plans to address potential situations which may emerge as this pandemic continues, receiving reliable information from credible sources is an issue of major importance. Recognizing that this virus brings with it a whole new set of issues, we have determined that our decisions will be based on credible information that is supported by medical research. Consensus has been reached regarding what is known about the spread of COVID-19 in multiple public and private venues around the world.
This information is provided to us through various public health agencies including the Federal Centers for Disease Control, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health. Information affecting decisions we must make regarding how school will re-open this fall is also confirmed for us by individuals within our own school and church communities who are medical professionals and who keep us up to date on any recent development that have been supported by medical research.
Consultation and Consensus in the Larger Christian School Community
Since we are not a public school, there are many situations and needs that we do not have in common with our local public schools. Our decisions must be made based on the needs of our students and staff members and reflect what is best for them. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is a valuable resource in giving general interpretations and applications of each of the re-opening phases of the state to the schools. It is up to us to interpret and apply this information to our situation.
We have much in common with other Christian schools, especially those who minister and serve in other parts of our own city. Both the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Chicago Christian Urban Educators (CCUE) Bright Promise Foundation have provided us with valuable resources and information that is much more relevant and applicable to us. Through these connections, we are in direct contact with other Christian school leaders and are able to share information and insights which have helped us develop a plan for re-opening that will meet our unique needs.
Christian Community is Necessary for Success
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4, NRSV
Putting together a plan to re-open school during a viral pandemic has been physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting. The responsibility we have for making sure our students are able to learn effectively and grow spiritually is already a daily challenge and the level of responsibility has been greatly increased by the risk, at whatever level it may exist, posed by the uncertainties that still exist surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.
But MCA is a ministry of Christ’s church, and it is made up of people who are Christ’s followers. Our common bond in education is the faith we have placed in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and that is a trust that is powerful enough to bring about spiritual unity that conquers fear and gives us an abundant life. In most cases, parents have placed their children in this Christian school because that is how they want their education to be seasoned, with the salt and light of God’s grace through faith in Jesus. It is why our teachers and staff make the sacrifices they do to work in this ministry.
This is a time which calls for us to come together in a spirit of unity and in the power of the Holy Spirit and be God’s people. Our school can do this successfully by trusting God. We have made a written plan which we hope addresses every possible contingency we may face over the next nine months. But we have a written Bible that addresses the issues we need to overcome to get through these coming days and weeks and give our students what they need to become the people that God is calling them to be. Let’s step out on faith, trust God and see what he does.
R. Lee Saunders