Heilicher@Home Shared Journey: A Weekly Update from Yoni - May 28
Parent Forum Review
Thank you to all the parents who joined last night’s forum. I think it was a good start for keeping the dialogue going about next year and there were many good questions we got to and quite a few we didn’t. I didn’t have time between last night and this morning to work on responses to the questions we didn’t get to, but I will do my best to address some of those in this blog next week. Maia and I will discuss whether there is value in hosting another forum relatively soon. As I mentioned, over the next three weeks, we will work on clarity of timeline for decisions on next year. That said, if you all find it valuable, we are happy to keep the dialogue going, even while some things remain vague and in process. I am completely comfortable saying there are things we know and things we don’t know, but I also understand your time is valuable.
Lastly, I will try to get the recording out to parents who could not attend.
Progress On Re-Opening In The Fall
This week we worked on a timeline for preparations for next year and coalescing teams of teachers and administrators and other staff who will be leading each area of preparation for next year. We have been constantly engaged in research, from CDC guidelines to Independent School recommendations to insights from other schools, Jewish and secular, local and national. As soon as school is done, we will quickly establish our best prediction for the requirements we must and should follow to reopen school and we will begin building a plan around those requirements. There are several pathways that schools are currently considering from an A/B day schedule (essentially shifting from in-school to distance learning throughout the week) to half-days to schedules based on students’ needs.
We will investigate the pros and cons of each pathway and determine what is best for Heilicher, whether it is one of the ones I listed above or our own unique structure or blend of structures. Like all schools, we believe in the importance of in-school learning and will do everything we can to maximize the amount of in-school learning possible. Over the first two weeks after school ends, we will just begin to start to see the picture of how school may look. From there, we will have many details to fill in and we will do so in an organized way, researching best practices, recommendations from various sources, and local and national guidelines.
The staff planning for school operations next year is using a team approach.
As a reminder from previous posts, the three teams that staff have divided into 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. 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
By mid-June, teachers will have more time to sort through their classrooms and the campus will be working on partially reopening. This process could still take quite a bit of time, but we are doing all we can to help you get your child’s belongings back home.
Summer Programming Update
Heilicher will be coordinating some elective offerings which will be made available to families, online, during the weeks of June 22 and June 29. Please keep an eye out for additional information, and an opportunity to sign up, within the next few weeks.
Thank you, as always, for your support, patience, and care.
On Tuesday, October 27th, Maia Poling entered my classroom and informed me that we had our first confirmed Covid-19 case in the 8th grade. A swirl of questions formed in my head, but we first focused on informing the students and getting them ready for distance learning
Over the last 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of travelling to schools across the country, consulting about how to create vibrant and effective school cultures. The foundation of this work is about relationships. Regardless of a student’s innate skills or abilities, if the teacher and student have a strong relationship, that student has a greater likelihood of progressing.
One of the things I admire most about Heilicher is the dedication to supporting students through their development. I am so impressed to see how inspired the students are to grow and learn. The staff have fostered a culture of academic growth that allows each student to truly feel passionate about their learning.