SPECIAL INVITATION: This Wednesday, May 27, from 7- 8 p.m. Maia Poling and I will host a parent forum to provide a few updates and, primarily, to field some questions from our parents. A link to the event has been provided in Roar. The format will be mostly fielding questions, general and on some specific topics, through the chat function. We see this as an opportunity to hear the types of questions parents have and also to provide some color on how we intend to plan for next year.
Progress On Re-Opening In The Fall
This week, the Board and the staff each continued breaking down the immense task of preparing for next year. The Board looked at various financial scenarios and used a brainstorming and decision-making exercise to identify our greatest strengths and biggest potential obstacles heading in to next year. Their primary focus was related to revenue (and enrollment), expense, necessary resources and policies, and strategic ideas. The Board is being proactive in its approach to the fiduciary and strategic oversight of Heilicher and trying to help me and my leadership team anticipate and manage a number of possible scenarios heading into next year.
The staff planning for school operations next year using a team approach.
As mentioned in previous posts, those three teams are:
Familiarization. Exploring what effect this disruption and global phenomenon might have on children, socially, emotionally, physically, and academically, and how we prepare teachers and parents to address those needs. This includes thinking about what adults might need, as well, and how that might differ, even, from what children need.
Integration. This is preparing for the most likely scenario of a return to school with no end in sight for COViD. It will entail a complex integration of state and national and campus-wide recommendations and requirements with our brand of secular and Jewish life and education. The first stage of this is culling a significant amount of current information from CDC recommendations to states’ guidelines for reopening schools to handbooks and protocols other schools are putting into place. We have developed an organized process for gathering and sorting data that will help guide our own school protocols for reopening. As our protocols and practices guide comes together, we will share it with parents and staff and students. This process will be ongoing for at least several weeks.
That data will also provide structure for much of our summer work, which is designing a program that meets the standards, mission, and values of a Heilicher education while adapting to potentially very stringent and, almost certainly, new operational guidelines (such as number of people allowed in a building, ratios in a classroom, PPE needs, nurses, opening and closing protocols, etc)
Continuing to improve the Heilicher@Home program for students, teachers, and parents should it need to continue for some or all of next year. This will require input from teachers, students, and parents, once we have a strong format for gathering and analyzing that information. We must anticipate that some portion of next year may entail distance learning for some or all of our students. We are committed to the strongest program, as always.
Our commitment, as always, is to be proactive, transparent, and put the health and safety of students, staff, and families above all else. Decisions will be made with the best information and visibility at hand. I continue to believe we should not rush to decisions until we have the best and latest information available.
Ending the Year, Report Cards, and Conferences
You should have received information from Maia and her team last week. If you did not receive this information, please reach out to your homeroom teacher or advisor.
Graduation will be held in a very socially-distanced format on June 10 from 6-7 p.m. More information to follow for eighth grade families.
Picking Up Your Children’s Belongings At School
I don’t have much more of an update from last week. A version of a possible pickup schedule has been drafted but still has a number of logistical details that need to be sorted. This effort will require coordinating teachers, administrative staff, and volunteers and will likely unfold over several weeks.
Summer Programming: Early Thoughts
I continue to believe in a cautious approach to decisions for next year. Our staff will need to do a tremendous amount of planning over the summer and, yet, they will also need to rest. Rest for everyone is critical. We are working on how to balance these two needs, not an unfamiliar balance for any small school but one I am paying more attention to this summer than most.
Families have asked about whether we are going to offer any programs in the summer. We completely understand the desire for programming and have been taking steps to understand both what the need and interest might be and also what our capacity is for providing any programming. I will continue to give you updates on any progress we make regarding summer as the weeks go by.
We take the idea of summer programming and connection very seriously. Typically, we plan for something like that months in advance and, as I think you are aware, we believe that any program we offer has to be meaningful, imbued with our Jewish and community values, and well executed. Given all these factors, it will take us time to continue to pursue this thread, but please know, we hear that many of you are asking about summer programming.
Thank you, as always, for your support, patience, and care.