Pinecrest Academy established a COVID-19 Task Force in May to investigate the safe reopening of the private PreK3-12 Catholic school for in-person instruction, beginning in early August.  Based on extensive research and factual data analysis, the Task Force concluded that Pinecrest Academy could safely reopen for in-person classroom instruction, putting numerous safety protocols in place. This recommendation was approved by Pinecrest administration and its Board of Directors.

The 23-member task force represents professionals in the health care, educational, data integration and analytics, business, and cleaning and chemical industries. One member is on the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, one is an infectious disease doctor, and two are pediatricians.  IPC Global leadership joined the Task Force in June and has been providing COVID-19 data as it pertains to trends in our geographic area and our community.  Data concerning opening school during the COVID-19 pandemic and its risk to children have been continuously reviewed.

“We have worked very diligently in keeping the safety of our students and faculty at the center of all of our decisions, and we are confident in our plan and our community’s ability to comply in creating a healthy and safe learning environment,” commented Charlene Dougal, Assistant Head of School and COVID Task Force Coordinator.  “We have the ability to be flexible and change our course of action, as necessary.  We are blessed to be in this position and grateful to be able to provide in-person instruction for our families.”

All Task Force recommendations have complied fully with the CDC, the Georgia Department of Health and Education, State, and Local Forsyth County guidelines as well as the Governor’s Executive Orders. Pinecrest is also putting the school’s own measures in place, to be ready for the return to classes in August. The school will continue to comply with any mandates that come from these entities, including any orders from the Governor.

Because Pinecrest Academy intentionally maintains small class sizes every year to deliver personalized instruction, the ability to provide the standard six feet of social distancing within a classroom is an advantage, as plans are made for in-person instruction.

The Task Force has been participating in a series of information-sharing sessions since May, providing advice and protocol from each member’s respective area of expertise.  The Task Force consists of the following professionals:

  • Mr. Larry Blandford – Task Force Advisor, Former CEO of Green Mountain/Keurig Coffee, and current member of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission
  • Dr. Margaret Bourdreaux – Pediatrician
  • Mrs. Lori Chmura – CEO, Pinecrest Board of Directors member
  • Mrs. Missy Collins – Pinecrest Nurse
  • Mrs. Charlene Dougal – Assistant Head of School
  • Mr. Mark Doxtader – Business Owner, Pinecrest Board of Directors Chairman
  • Mr. Lenny Forti – PreK-8th Grade Principal
  • Mrs. Beth Howard – Interim Head of School and High School Principal
  • Mrs. Laura Kelley – Pinecrest Founding Family, Faculty Member, and Former Healthcare Provider
  • Dr. Patrick Kindregan, DO – Family Physician
  • Mrs. Jamie Kutter – Physician Assistant
  • Mrs. Joan McCabe – Pinecrest CFO
  • Mrs. Donna Marie Mitchell – Physician Assistant
  • Dr. Stephanie O’Rourke – Dentist
  • Mrs. Dianne Patota – Business Owner, Educator, and Pinecrest Board of Directors Member
  • Dr. John Petros – Emory University, Urology
  • Dr. Teresa Petros – Urgent Care Pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Dr. Manuel Rodriguez, DO – Infectious Disease
  • Mr. Tan Tam – Pinecrest Board of Directors Member
  • Mr. Mark Tollett – Pinecrest Facilities and IT Director
  • Mr. Mark Meersman – Owner, IPC Global
  • Mr. Alex Carabello – IPC Global
  • Mr. Juan Cristian Santa Maria – The Coca-Cola Company

While Pinecrest implemented an online learning program in March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the plan has always been to return to face-to-face instruction as soon as possible. The school’s educational philosophy is based on a four-pillar approach, educating the whole child through Intellectual, Human, Spiritual, and Apostolic Formation. This founding principal – and a hallmark of a Pinecrest Academy education – is best realized with in-person interaction and guidance.

“Because we are invested in a ‘whole child’ approach to education, what we deliver is best realized with in-person instruction with a lot of role modeling in place, and opportunities for our students to live their faith through Christian apostleship,” explained Beth Howard, Interim Head of School.  “It’s harder for us to fully deliver our mission, to form Christian leaders who will transform society, from a laptop screen. That’s why we are so blessed to be able to welcome our students back to campus in person in August,” she continued.

The COVID-19 Task Force regularly updates the school community with findings and plans for reopening the school for in-person instruction. In fact, a School Reopening Plan was issued to the community in early July, with details on safety protocol that the school is implementing, and protocol parents and students are expected to follow.  Three courses of action are reviewed in the Plan – Red (online learning), Yellow (in-person, most-restricted), and Green (in-person, least restricted).  Pinecrest Academy will begin school in the Yellow course of action.

Protocols that follow the CDC and Georgia Department of Health guidelines are in place, in the event that an active case of COVID-19 is diagnosed.  Details are included in the School Reopening Plan.  School administrators are preparing videos and other communications to share with families what a day at Pinecrest will look like with new protocols in place.  Here is a video by Mrs. Amy Bowman, High School Dean of Academics, explaining the high school classroom experience upon return for classes:

The Task Force and other school leaders conducted a Question and Answer webinar for all parents on July 15, and followed-up with a document answering questions posed during the webinar presentation.  School leaders are confident in the decision made to move forward with an opening for in-person instruction.  High school students will return on Thursday, August 6, and Lower and Middle School students will return on Monday, August 10 – unless orders come from the Governor to proceed otherwise.

“We are so excited to have our students back on campus and thankful to the Pinecrest community for supporting our efforts and our plans,” commented Dougal.