See how The Altamont School’s renovations are a game-changer during COVID-19


Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

The Altamont School has a well-earned reputation as a student- and parent-centered independent 5-12 school. Nowhere is that more evident than the recent school renovations on their campus as well as the health and safety measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal has been to provide the exemplary educational experience that parents and students have come to expect from Altamont, while delivering the safest possible facility here at the school,” explained Chris Durst, Head of School.

Read on about the new renovations and safety measures. 

Expanded Space for College Counseling

The new college counseling suite. Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

Since 2015, Altamont graduates have been admitted to more than 100 different universities and colleges. As one of the region’s leading independent college preparatory schools, one of Altamont’s top priorities is preparing students and families for their journey after they graduate. The new college counseling suite reflects this focus.

The new suite features: 

  • Movable tables and chairs for one-on-one help sessions and grade-level workshops
  • Expanded technology capabilities to host virtual visits for college

“Our vision was to help the students work with their two college counselors on a regular basis, from applications to consulting about different colleges,” said Amber McKowen, Director of Finance, who led the renovations. “It also gives the parents a space to sit down one-on-one with the counselors to help them with the college admission process. It is both a student-centered and parent-centered area.” 

For Middle Schoolers: The Knights Den

The Knights Den. Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

Altamont begins at 5th grade. To meet the unique needs of the middle schoolers, the school created a new multi-purpose space, named after the school’s mascot—The Knights.

This new space can be used in between classes, for lunch and for study time. Teachers can also use the Knights Den as a flexible classroom. 

According to McKowen, they are using plexiglass to facilitate a safer dining experience in the Knights Den to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Senior Commons

The Senior Commons. Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

Another new student-centered space is the Senior Commons. This renovation converted two administrative offices into a casual gathering place for Altamont’s seniors. There are comfortable chairs, sofas, work tables and lots of natural light. More importantly, the new space helps with social distancing by taking the students out of the hallways and giving them their own space for socializing.

“Even after social distancing is a thing of the past, we can still use these spaces for seniors to come work within—a space they can gravitate toward,” added McKowen.

Responding to COVID-19

Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

Aside from the new spaces, Altamont has taken numerous additional precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

“We’ve done what most schools have done. Social distancing in classrooms and reducing density. We have implemented a variety of measures in order to keep our kids and faculty safe,” added Durst.

Those measures include:

  • All students and faculty/staff are required to complete a symptom check and temperature check prior to entering the school. 
  • All desks and tables in classrooms and common areas are spaced so that students will be more than six feet apart. 
  • Masks are worn by all students and faculty/staff while on school property. 
  • One-way hallways and stairwells reduce student density in open areas. 
  • Plexiglass barriers are used to reduce exposure to aerosols in all community spaces. 
  • The HVAC system in each classroom is equipped with bipolar ionization units that help cleanse the air. 
  • Disinfecting of classrooms, equipment and materials occurs after each class
Photo courtesy of The Altamont School

You can check out all the guidelines and initiatives at:

“We have seen the community successfully rally together around safety protocols, masking and social distancing. We were more than pleasantly surprised that everybody at the beginning of the school year ‘bought in’ and took personal responsibility for everyone’s safety,” concluded Durst.

Want to learn more about The Altamont School? Visit

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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