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Following Up

Monday, May 4, 2020

Dear TLS Families,

Welcome to a new week! Thank you to everyone who posted their May Day hats and creations last week. It is wonderful to “see” your children looking happy, healthy and proud. We miss them. We miss you.

If you were at Sing, you heard us say we are excited for May! We are! Our May Day celebration kicked the month off on the right foot. Each week, we’ll be adding different special events or activities to our schedules or FridayCommUNITY gatherings. This week, we are focused on Togetherness and that can only mean one thing….. some time with our Buddies! We’ll have details in Happenings on Wednesday.

As promised, we are following up with information about ways to get and offer asynchronous information during Connected Learning and a calendar of Parent Education Events and Parent Town Hall Meetings for the month of May. The Connected Learning Handbook is under review and will be available shortly. Results from last week’s Connected Learning survey will be shared in Happenings.

Information: Here are new features on the Connected Learning site:

  • The “For Parents” page showcases resources and summaries from Thursday evening Parent Support meetings. It now has functionality to share questions and strategies on the page.
  • The “Suggestion Box” page is live.
  • The “Community Updates” page now has an FAQ section to which we will add periodically.

Calendar for Parent Meetings:

  • Each Thursday from 7-8 p.m., Kary and a rotating co-host will offer Parent Support Meetings. This week’s topic is “Big Feelings During Connected Learning- Handling tantrums and meltdowns.” A full schedule is on the “For Parents” page.
  • Starting next Tuesday, May 12, we will offer weekly Town Hall Meetings from 8-9 p.m. Next week’s meeting will be for early childhood families. Tuesday, May 19 will be for elementary families. Zoom links will be in Happenings.

About the FAQ:

  • The FAQ addresses questions about program decisions, family support, financial support and decisions and preparations for next year. We’d like to share two of the questions and answers here so that everyone feels like they had proactive access to the information:
  • How is TLS supporting families experiencing financial difficulty from COVID 19?
    • Many of our families are experiencing direct or indirect financial pressure due to the pandemic. We have opened an Emergency Financial Aid applications for families who are experiencing hardship during this crisis. We’ve also worked to add flexibility and responsiveness to families who need time to assess their status for the fall during this time of uncertainty. If you feel you need this support at this time, please reach to Regan Wensnahan, reganw@thelittleschool.org and she will forward application information to you.  
  • What will happen next year? What plans do you have?
    • We are all wishing for a clear plan for the fall. Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 requires us to create several different models and hypothesize possible outcomes. Here are some of the possibilities we are discussing and planning for:  
  • Delayed school start: If there is a rise in COVID-19 cases in late August-early September and a stay-at-home order is reinstated, TLS will likely postpone the opening of school and commence classes when we can do so in-person. This would extend the end of the school year to ensure we offer the number of hours required by the state.  
  • New PPE requirements and safety protocols: We anticipate that the CDC and Department of Health will offer new protocols and requirements for ensuring wellness on campus. Just like we designed protocols this year for Turnaround drop-off and pick-up, we are prepared to create thoughtful systems for these new requirements.   
  • Staggered scheduling: It is possible that the State will limit the number of people allowed in a classroom or on campus at a given time. Should that be the case, we may need to look at staggering our arrival and departure schedules to meet those requirements. Our new building will help us think creatively about maximizing the number of students on campus while minimizing risk and adhering to social distancing rules.   
  • Episodic closure next year: At the end of this year, the faculty will synthesize and document the lessons, successes and failures of our Connected Learning Pilot Program. We’ll use this conversation as well as feedback from families and students to design a protocol for at-home learning. This will be documented and shared with families in our Family Handbook.
  • We are also discussing the preparations and training that would best serve us should these scenarios arise again. Once we have clearer guidance, we will communicate with all families about our approach and plans.   

If you need a little boost, here is a video that offers some hope and perspective that I appreciated. It starts off a little somber but gets to a great space. Thank you for being a part of our community.

On behalf of the faculty and staff,

Julie