It has been almost three months since school began on August 7. It seems like such a long time ago because of the amount of energy and hard work put into our re-opening plan as well as the diligence employed to execute our plan daily. I am very proud of our faculty and staff for their selfless service to our students to keep them safe and deliver an excellent education in the midst of extreme circumstances. Being the first school to re-open in our community was challenging to say the least. We had all eyes on SCA, and many had strong opinions on both sides of the issue regarding our commitment to open with in-person instruction. We are praising God for His protection and provision that has allowed us to continue to have in-person instruction without interruption since we started.
All total, we have had only three positive cases of COVID-19 with no spread–two student cases in the secondary school which both were before Labor Day, and one support staff member in mid-September. This astoundingly low number is a testament to God’s hand of blessing on our school and the hard work of His people. Today, we know so much more about this virus and the many protocols that are out there–some heeded and others not necessary. Though we are not out of the woods, we are in a better place than we were in early August and hopefully headed to a much better place as each week goes by.
With great awareness and caution, we have begun to open up more of our student programming which is allowing us to get closer to normal. These include competing interscholastically in basketball this winter, expanding the use of the playground and media center, and planning field trips and small-group community service projects. I am so encouraged as we work hard to open up more opportunities for our students.
During our weekly faculty meetings, I have been having group discussions with our staff about our core values including our mission. It was important during this time for us to address this seemingly obvious question: How effective are we in carrying out our primary mission to lead students to Christ when we have to wear masks and social distance?” The truth is, like many schools, we have spent so much time putting safety protocols in place and being vigilant in enforcing these guidelines continually with our students that we may have lost sight of making meaningful personal connections that position us to share Jesus with our students.
The mission of Sherwood Christian Academy speaks of leading students to Christ as our most essential work. Evangelism at its foundation is the ability to have meaningful, personal interaction. In a school setting, it looks like one-on-one conversations that take place beyond group instruction. I reminded my staff, “We have done an incredible job starting up school and keeping it moving forward. It’s time to press in closer and have individual interactions with students that foster Gospel conversations.” The staff agreed in unison. They recognize that our hyper-focus over safety protocols has created distance between them and their students. You see, our essential mission of evangelism is possible even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic!
In the last few days, I have already heard about two students making personal decisions for Christ, and this news thrills me! With God’s grace and protection, and the courage and awareness of our staff, SCA will continue to be the life-saving mission on the south side of Albany, GA, that we have been for the last 35 years! To God be the glory!
Dr. Brian Dougherty