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With public schools trying to plan a way to open safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, non-profit Las Cruces Academy (LCA) is up and running, molding young minds in the era of social distancing and distance learning.
LCA’s board of trustees is chaired by Dr. Vincent P. Gutschick, and the board employs Lou Ellen Kay as its sole employee, whose title is head of school.
In addition to Kay, the academy sports five paid teachers, one custodian and two full-time volunteers. Gutschick, a former NMSU biology professor, is one of the teachers.
Gutschick said the academy’s core function as a private, non-profit school is “early kindergarten through grade eight education.”
Incorporated in March 2007 and beginning operations in August 2009, Las Cruces Academy operated seamlessly for 11 years – and then came the pandemic.
Gutschick said initial social distancing and sanitizing gave way to distance education, “provided by our tech-savvy teachers and small-group access to the school for mathematics testing to assure student progress, book exchanges and science equipment loans.”
When classes resume in August, Gutschick said the school will practice social distancing at all times, wearing masks and temperature and symptom scanning of all people entering the building amid what he calls “a major revision of the academic schedule with full 180 days of instruction, selected Zoom classes and sanitizing.”
Despite the challenges, Gutschick said he remains proud of the product.
“We’re a small school, with enrollment in the 40s in a safe and socially rich environment and a top-ranked academic program,” he said. “We plan to offer 180 full days of teaching to all students, enabled by our spacious building and detailed planning to meet all state mandates.”