This is a monthly feature highlighting someone whose good works may otherwise go relatively unnoticed. To submit someone for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head of School Bill Borg will happily tout the merits of Vanguard College Preparatory, from its achievements in academics, arts and athletics, to the incredible success its students have in securing merit scholarships.
But navigating the COVID-19 pandemic this year has been its own special achievement for Vanguard, he said.
“We’ve been very successful with the things we’ve put in place to give our kids the best opportunity to have in-person education,” Borg said.
Vanguard made detailed plans in case there was a need to teach virtually. COVID teams focusing on academics, communications and logistics met and held workshops with staff to offer the best possible virtual platform for teachers, he said.
Zach Seifert, assistant head of school, was instrumental in coordinating much of that, Borg said.
Vanguard didn’t have to move to virtual school until February’s winter storm that shut down nearly everything. Even so, 90 percent of Vanguard’s students were able to do five days of virtual school, he said. Those who couldn’t either had no power or were unable to get online.
Borg said staff and teachers have worked together to make classes work on campus.
“We made a commitment to being in-person,” he said, adding that the small class sizes of Vanguard made it easier to spread students out 6 feet. Like other schools, foam sanitizers were added to the classrooms and hallways; one-way direction in the halls kept students from crossing paths; and tables were routinely wiped down.
Tents were erected on campus and students would eat outside as much as possible. At one point sitting spots were marked on the lawn to promote distancing.
Perhaps just as importantly, he said, the time between classes was expanded from five minutes to 10, with students encouraged to take their masks off while outside and distanced and to breathe in some fresh air before reaching their next class.
“It is so different for the students,” he added, noting seniors can’t have their usual off-campus lunch privileges and all field and class trips are canceled.
“I do think, however, that our kids have appreciated to be here with classes in person,” he said. “Being in person impacts kids in so many ways.”
He’s also thankful for faculty and staff who have worked alongside those safety protocols.
Because of that focus only five of the 30 members of staff and faculty at Vanguard have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year, he said. Borg, unfortunately, was one of those unlucky ones and quickly quarantined. He’s had a cough that’s lingered.
Another outgrowth from the pandemic that has proved beneficial was the creation of a “vision team” made up of the heads of Waco’s private schools. The thought was that the administrators could address similar issues during COVID.
“It was a great sounding board for us,” he said. “We were all bemoaning the same things. We’d ask, ‘Are you having the same problems we are?’ And they were. We helped each other with some good ideas.”
Amazingly, despite the pandemic Vanguard’s growth in enrollment has continued. When Borg arrived in 2007 the school had 105 students. Today it is closing in on 230, approaching the all-time high enrollment figures of the 250s in the 1990s.
“I really feel blessed with how we’re doing,” he said, “and I’m hopeful for when we get beyond this pandemic.”
Waco Today highlights people whose good works may otherwise go relatively unnoticed. To submit someone for consideration, email email@example.com.
This is a monthly feature highlighting someone whose good works may otherwise go relatively unnoticed. To submit someone for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.