November 17, 2020
Dear CLWS Grades Families,
I want to begin by acknowledging our collective accomplishment in completing almost 12 weeks of in person learning during a global pandemic. Gratefully, we have had 0 positive cases among students and staff and no transmission of the virus within our school community since the school year began. In a recent consultation with the Manager of Regional Support Teams for the Minnesota Department of Education in collaboration with MDH, we were commended for the “strong social contract between staff, students and families.”
While we have been successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 at City of Lakes Waldorf School thus far, the case rates in Hennepin County have risen at an alarming rate since our last health and safety communication on November 5. This communication will provide you with an update on our learning scenario for our grades students and inform you of a change to our winter break calendar. We want to acknowledge that there are different perspectives on the available data regarding COVID-19 and schools and differing levels of risk tolerance among our staff and community members. In our careful decision-making process, we have made every effort to balance the educational needs of our students, the challenges of distance learning for all, our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff, and our concern for the greater community.
As we have reiterated many times, our decisions are informed by guidance from federal and state agencies, direct guidance from MDH and MDE, evolving research, and collaboration with our independent school peers. We also have to restate that we may need to adjust the plan outlined below at any time due to changes within our school (increased illness and/or staff absences), MDH guidance, or a state mandate. We ask you to prepare for the possibility of full distance learning for all grades students.
Changes to our Calendar and Learning Scenario
Learning Scenario Update Beginning Monday, November 23
- Grades 7-8 will move to full distance learning
- Last week of Grades Extended Day
Learning Scenario Update Beginning Monday, November 30
- Grades 1-6 will move to three in-person learning days (M-W) and two distance learning days (TH-F)
- No Grades Extended Day beginning Monday, November 30
Winter Break Extension
- Winter Break will begin on Thursday, December 17 for Grades 1-8 and Friday, December 18 for Preschool and Kindergarten. Wednesday, December 16 will be a full school day for Grades 1-8, and Thursday, December 17 will be a full day for Preschool and Kindergarten.
- School will resume on Monday, January 11. We anticipate returning to a hybrid learning model for all students in January but our plan will be confirmed at a later date. The added week of break provides an additional week of respite and preparation time for teachers and allows families to properly quarantine before returning to school if necessary following gatherings or travel.
We are confident that our multi-layered mitigation strategies have been effective in helping us maintain learning on campus. We are hopeful that an adjustment during this high-risk period will allow us to return to more in-person days for all grades students as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued partnership with us to support in-person learning and the health and safety of our school community. We are so grateful to you and to our incredible teachers and staff for the enormous efforts everyone has made to have accomplished 12 weeks of in-person learning for all students under these extraordinary circumstances.
A specific communication regarding school expectations for your child(ren)’s return to campus following holiday travel or gatherings will be forthcoming. As always, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions. We have also included a list of FAQs, below.
Marti Stewart, Administrative Director
On behalf of the College of Teachers and the Board of Trustees
Frequently Asked Questions:
How are you making decisions about the learning model?
Our decision making process has been guided by school administration with the support of our Health and Safety Working Group, the Return to School Task Force, our Board of Trustees, and the College of Teachers. Factors for consideration when determining a shift in our learning model include: recommendations and guidance from MDH and MDE, case counts in Hennepin County and MN, the number of positive cases in our school community, the effectiveness of risk mitigation strategies, winter weather, best practice health habits at school, PPE and testing availability, community commitment to social and physical distancing, the burden of full time distance learning on families, and student and staff absences.
In adding another week of break, will we have less school days this school year than in a typical school year?
No, our 2020-21 calendar included more than 10 extra school days to create a buffer for additional teacher preparation days.
Why are grades seven and eight moving to full distance learning?
The MDH differentiates between lower school and middle school in their recommendations and defines middle school as grades 7 and 8. Our independent school peers are all moving to a full distance learning model for middle school students. Generally, this is based on two things: 1) older students are more likely to contract and transmit the virus and 2) middle school students are generally better able to learn and manage virtual learning than their younger peers.
What is the school doing to reduce risk on campus?
We are further reducing the risk of exposure by having grades seven and eight shift to distance learning, reducing the overall density on campus. All health and safety protocols will continue to be implemented. In addition to the mitigation factors already in place, we will now have all students wear masks during recess and add additional staff members to recess duty to support teachers with student physical distancing.
May I choose to have my child transition to all distance learning (Continuous Distance Learning)?
Yes. Please email Soni Albright, Admissions Director, at email@example.com if you would like to make this change.
Why will the Grades 1-8 Extended Day Program be interrupted?
Suspending the Grades 1-8 Extended Day Program is an extra layer of risk mitigation during a high-risk period and ensures that grade level pods will not mix on our campus. We will resume the program when restrictions around pod-mixing can be relaxed. Early Childhood Extended Day is not impacted and no changes will occur.
What does full distance learning look like for grades seven and eight?
More information about your student’s daily and weekly schedule will be provided by your child’s class teacher and subject teachers.
When and how will my child receive the materials he or she needs to shift to distance learning?
Materials pick-up details will be communicated soon.
How are children enrolled in the preschool and kindergarten programs impacted?
All preschool and kindergarten classrooms will continue five-day a week programming including extended day.
My grades student has a sibling in the preschool or kindergarten who is enrolled in the prorated care model. What do these changes mean for them?
Children in the prorated care model are expected to continue with their normal schedule. If you have safety concerns for your student or your family, please reach out to Admissions Director, Soni Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.