COVID-19 Update for Brehm Preparatory School, Inc.

COVID-19 Update for Brehm Preparatory School, Inc.

Brehm’s COVID-19 Update Page

The spread of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) continues to create uncertainty and concern both globally and here in our community. Jeremy Robbins, Head of School and Administration are actively monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are keeping abreast of recommendations from health and education authorities. 

This page is intended to be a central starting point for information and updates about the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our two campuses. We hope these resources and links will answer questions you might have and connect you to the departments and units where you will find more detailed information about any specific concerns you might have.

 

An update from Jeremy Robbin, Head of School:

5/1/20

Dear Brehm Prep and OPTIONS families,

Given the uncertainty of the future associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that parents are pushing for independent schools to rethink tuition, both for the current year, as well as for the summer and next school year.  According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the trend among schools across the country is to veer away from giving families tuition reductions or reimbursements.  The basis for this is that schools use tuition to support an entire ecosystem (employee costs, buildings, and grounds maintenance, etc.) for the entire school year.  Importantly, this ecosystem includes economically vulnerable employees whom the school must consider.  Brehm has not laid off any of its employees.  While many schools have continued to provide remote learning programs, Brehm has stood out by ensuring the integration of our unique and holistic programming within the distance learning environment. 

At the same time, many families are facing financial hardship.  Some colleges and universities have credited students for housing, meal plans, and fees.  Clearly, both the Brehm Preparatory School program and OPTIONS have not provided housing, food, and activities in the time since we closed on campus programs, in keeping with the mandated orders from state officials.  While the contract that all families sign includes a force majeure clause, which specifically lists a pandemic among other acts of God, I am mindful of the message it would send to families if Brehm were unsympathetic to requests.  We speak often of the family-like feel of Brehm, and in order to preserve that crucial element, as the Head of School, I have elected to stand apart from most other independent schools and worked with the administration and the Board to identify fair and equitable ways to give back to families.  It is indeed by giving back that Brehm Prep and OPTIONS will demonstrate a long-term commitment to our families, in hopes that you commit to us for the long-term as well.  We cannot have a continued program without students and young adults, as well as the support from their respective families.

Our goal is to sustain our mission during this global pandemic, while also ensuring the health and safety of our community.  With the expectation that the shelter in place order that has been extended through the end of May in the State of Illinois will be lifted, we continue to evaluate a range of scenarios.  In the near term, this will involve changes to our delivery of programming over the summer.  We will offer increased services remotely, and for the OPTIONS Extension program, begin preparations for having students return to Carbondale.  It is important to note that Extension students have achieved a level of independence that far exceeds students in our Preparatory and Standard and Modified programs, and because they receive more limited services, that resuming such programming is possible.

For us the most important decision is a clear one: Brehm Preparatory School and OPTIONS will be open for fall 2020.  Our goal is to bring our students, young adults, and staff to campus as quickly as possible, however, because most projections suggest that COVID-19 will remain a serious threat during the coming months, we cannot be certain that it will be safe to resume all usual activities on campus by then.  Consequently, we will need to prepare for a scenario in which much or all learning will be conducted remotely, if state officials direct us to do so.  We must do our part to ensure the health and safety of everyone within and beyond the Brehm community, particularly those at elevated risk, and yet, with adequate planning and modifications to policies for safe operations on campus for the fall, we are poised to resume in-person programming when permitted to do so.

In conclusion, I provide below our current updates to tuition, fee, aid, and contract policies, which reflect the values and commitment to fairness and equity we hold at Brehm.  I thank you for your flexibility and patience.  Do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the Administration, if you have further questions or concerns.

  • Families will receive 25% credit for recreation/activity fees paid for the 2019-2020 academic year to reflect activities and programs that were not utilized.
  • Families will receive a tuition credit for 20% of the boarding component of tuition for the prorated portion of the year students were not on campus.  It accounts for funds the school has not spent on foodservice, supplies, and occupancy of facilities.  There will not be credit for days of program missed due to the extension of spring break.
  • Arrowsmith has provided a prorated credit to Brehm for programming that was disrupted.  Brehm is passing on that prorated credit directly to families who have paid for Arrowsmith.
  • Families may apply tuition and fee credit towards the summer program.  The school will work individually with families of students who are graduating or moving on from our program in regards to arrangements for reimbursement.  
  • If families would like to have the credit transferred to the Brehm Foundation, their donation will be 100% tax-deductible.  Please contact Erin Camfield for more information.
  • We encourage families who have experienced economic hardship to complete the Financial Aid Application (FAST) for the 2020-2021 school year.  As a result, we are increasing our financial aid budget for the 2020-2021 school year. 
  • All families will be eligible to pay tuition utilizing a payment plan through Blackbaud.  
  • The school is finalizing and will be mailing to families revised contracts, which include an extension to the policy on parent/guardian cancellation.  
  • Should the coronavirus pandemic impact future in-person programming, Brehm will continue to award prorated rec/activity fee credit to families and award credit of 20% of boarding tuition, which represents 8% of total tuition.

Warmly,

Jeremy Robbins
Head of School

Are any special cleaning procedures needed?

Information provided by Illinois Department of Health

At this time, no special sanitizing processes beyond routine cleaning are necessary or recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illness. An EPA-registered product with an effectiveness claim against human coronaviruses should be used, and schools should follow standard processes for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as bathrooms, water coolers/fountains, faucet handles, doorknobs, desks, computer keyboards and mice, hands‐on learning items, phones and toys. The surface must be cleaned of all organic matter first in order for a disinfectant to be effective. Custodial staff should follow the disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions for use including:

  • Using the proper concentration of disinfectant
  • Allowing the required wet contact time
  • Paying close attention to hazard warnings and instructions for using personal protective items such as gloves and eye protection

School custodial staff are trained to use disinfectants in a safe and effective manner and to clean up potentially infectious materials and body fluid spills, including blood, vomit, feces, and urine. The school custodian or school nurse should be contacted if students are ill and your classroom needs cleaning and disinfection. Schools and districts must have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical used in the school. General infection control guidance is available at www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol.

Archived Newsletters sent to parents via MailChimp:

4/17/20 Brehm Preparatory School, Inc. Update

4/3/20 Brehm Preparatory School Update

3/16/20 Family Weekend, Expectations of students, Medication, Technology

3/12/20 Spring Break Extended

3/10/20 Update – Illinois