Compass Update on COVID-19

Dear Compass Families, Friends, and Instructors:

We want to wish everyone well during the current shut-in. We also wanted to provide a few Compass updates and answer some questions that we have been receiving.

First, you may have heard that some Compass classes have begun to meet online. Last week, a significant effort was launched to get most year-long and semester-long high school classes back in session. Several additional classes will begin online this week for a total of thirty-five. These classes were prioritized since they were in-progress, and many teens are using them to complete high school credits and prepare for year-end exams. They were also more easily moved to an online format because these classes are discussion- and lecture- based rather than hands-on crafting, experimenting, or building- oriented. Our teachers rose to the challenge of reconfiguring their classes for virtual presentations, and families sent many words of gratitude for getting their teens back “in class.”

We have decided not to move the few remaining high school classes and our K-8th grade classes to an online format. That is not because they are unimportant. K-8th grade classes are, in fact, the core that Compass began with in 2012. A key principle for Compass classes is that they are hands-on and interactive. This is even more foundational in our K-8th grade classes. Experiential classes such as cooking, acting, fencing, robotics, sculpture, dioramas, and hands-on science cannot be moved to an online environment without diminishing the experience and losing a significant aspect of what makes Compass classes special.

At this time, we have not made a final decision about our fourth quarter spring classes. We consider them to be postponed but not cancelled. Compass is not classified as a school and does not fall under Governor Northam’s Executive Order issued today for K-12 institutions. Instead, Compass falls under the businesses that must remain closed until April 23.

We plan to hold fourth quarter classes when it is safe to do so. We will consider a delayed start date and possibly a shortened quarter (such as 6 weeks or 7 weeks rather than 8). There is no precedent or protocol for the widespread community shut-downs that we are experiencing and no predefined benchmark or indicator for when it is safe to return to normal activities. Compass will continue to review daily reports and recommendations. We will monitor the current advice from the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, and other authorities for safe practices and recommendations for group activities. When we reach a time that people are advised that it is safe to go about normal routines, such as going to the library, recreation centers, restaurants, service businesses, and work, Compass will consider re-opening for the spring quarter. Our decision must also be made in cooperation with our rented facility, which may be subject to different closure guidelines.

If it becomes evident that Compass will be unable to hold in-person classes this spring, or we cannot finish by June 12, then we will cancel the 4th quarter in its entirety. If that happens, families will have the choice of receiving a refund for cancelled classes or rolling the unused class fees to cover fall classes. Until operations are no longer on-hold, and a decision is made about fourth quarter, we are not able to process requests for class changes or withdrawals.

Homeschool families are uniquely prepared to make the best of the current situation and to continue learning. Stay safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing our Compass friends again soon. In the meantime, please keep up with Compass announcements by liking Compass on Facebook and following Compass on Instagram (compasshomeschoolva).

Original Announcement:

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 7:59 pm

Dear Compass Families and Instructors,

This afternoon we learned that the facility where Compass meets has been ordered to shutter its doors by its governing body, the UUA, because of the anticipated spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax (UUCF) let Compass know that it will be closed for at least two weeks.

After a break this week (because of no missed snow days), Compass classes were scheduled to return next week on March 18 and March 20. At this time, we cannot say with certainty when our classes will resume. When the widespread closures expire, regular activities resume, and UUCF is once again open, Compass will announce a new start date and updated spring quarter schedule. At that time, in-progress year-long and semester-long classes will pick back up, and the new quarter-long spring classes will begin.

Compass administrators will be coordinating with the instructors of a few academic high school classes to transition to online classes in the interim, as several are preparing students for year-end testing and graduation. The vast majority of classes will fall under an adjusted schedule and will not be offered online.

Several Compass-sponsored/associated events have been cancelled outright: The annual Art and Variety Show scheduled for March 24 will not take place. Upcoming competitions for our Mock Trial team, Odyssey of the Mind team, and Academic Bowl Club have been canceled in their entirety by their respective organizations.

April and May Compass events have not been cancelled, but may have to be rescheduled to accommodate an adjusted spring calendar and facility availability. These include: the Towson University Bio-Chem Learning Labs (4/14), High School Teacher Meet & Greet (4/15), Spring Book Fair (4/15), Teen Social (4/17), Used Curriculum Sale (4/22), Spring Marketplace (5/6), Chess Tournament (5/28) and Family Picnic & Park Day (5/28).

To receive updated Compass information, subscribe to our mailing list, like Compass on Facebook, follow Compass on Instagram (compasshomeschoolva), and make sure this e-mail address is among your safe senders!

Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this unprecedented change. Please let me know if you have any questions.