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Important Message for the TLS Community

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dear TLS Families,

Over the past couple of weeks, we have focused a great deal of energy on the importance of learning in community and to the strength of our civic responsibility for the communities that surround us. Those principles lie at the very heart of modern, progressive education. At TLS, our students have a disposition towards helping others, even inanimate ones like stuffed animals. Just yesterday, one of our early childhood classrooms invented solutions for their stuffy “predators” to “be friends with the other animals and not eat them!” In their imaginary veterinarian's office, they designed safety equipment and cheered on the stuffed animals that made “safe choices.”

Today, Governor Inslee asked schools to prepare for closure and asked each of us to engage active social distancing to quell the spread of the Coronavirus through the end of March. It is clear that, though our students are not at high risk by being at school, the broader community needs us to support the wellness of others by staying home.

Tomorrow will be our last day with students on campus. We will use the day to prepare students for this transition and to empower them to help our community. We will reinforce the idea that they are safe and healthy and so are we. We will remind them of how deeply we care about them. We will also talk about their ability to make the world a better place right now. Every time they wash their hands, they help people stay well. Every time they learn something new, they add to a community of innovation, curiosity and care. On Thursday, we will help our students prepare and think about both the opportunity and the responsibility to continue to engage in learning at home.

The Little School is unique in that our learning is especially relational and experiential. Thus, a distance learning plan will not accomplish learning in the same setting. But we are confident that our existing relationships and curriculum – assisted by technology and caregivers – will continue to sustain and nurture class communities and ensure the continuity of learning. Imagine interesting prompts for investigation, practicing foundational skills and maybe even participating in a digital community Sing! We will share more details about this plan in the coming days. Here is what you can expect for the next few days:

  • Tomorrow school will be open.
  • Friday will be a faculty planning day.
  • Monday will be a faculty planning day.
  • Tuesday, modified distance learning begins.

Our school was founded on a pioneering spirit that uncertain times like this demand. We will channel this spirit in the coming days as we enter new learning territory. As a faculty, we will bring our curiosity, commitment to children, creativity and learning mindset to the design of our modified learning plan. We will use Friday and Monday as faculty planning days for the weeks ahead.

Your partnership will be critical in making our plans work. The relational part of the learning will shift, in some ways, to you. We recognize the burden that this places on families and do not take the decision lightly. However, at The Little School, families are always partners in our students’ growth and discovery. As we get through this together, I expect we will learn new things about how to support each other and how to support our kids. We will communicate actively, share strategies and resources, and hope that you will have new opportunities for shared laughter, learning and discovery in your home.

I will write tomorrow with details of how our conversations with students unfold.

Thank you for your extraordinary partnership and support.

On behalf of the faculty and staff,

Julie