We are continuing to keep a close eye on developments of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States and abroad.
Dear Lower School Parents,
As you may know, Governor DeSantis has issued a decree giving executive authority to the Florida Department of Education and Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, to close all public and private K-12 schools through April 15, 2020.
I know this is a stressful time for many of our families and I appreciate your patience and support as we navigate uncharted territory. Please rest assured that our faculty and staff is working diligently to activate plans for remote instruction to begin on Tuesday, March 24. Our goal is to balance the need for moving instruction forward with the logistical and emotional challenges that this situation brings.
I have asked teachers to provide a weekly communication to families outlining their instructional plans for the week. Instructional plans will include expectations for work to be completed over the course of the week, where to obtain instructional materials (most likely packets sent home before break, onCampus, or Google Drive), and how assignments to be graded should be returned to the teacher. As instructional plans will vary by grade level, please feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) with any questions or concerns.
I have been asked if we will impose a seat time requirement or require real time instruction for Lower School students. At this time, we will NOT be requiring either of these. With logistical concerns over childcare likely, I do not think it would be feasible for some families to meet these requirements. Another concern that has been raised is the amount of screen time that remote instruction may entail. To mitigate this concern, I have requested teachers to focus their instruction on key academic areas and key concepts. Additional resources and enrichment materials are available for those who wish to utilize them, but are not part of the required curriculum for virtual instruction.
I would like to share a few suggestions for families at this time.
- Establish a schedule and do your best to stick to it. In uncertain times, having a set schedule will provide children with a sense of security and normalcy.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of physical activity throughout the day. Our daily schedule includes thirty minutes of Physical Education and fifteen to twenty minutes of recess per day.
- Include breaks between academic tasks. Children need a variety of tasks as well opportunities for movement to maintain focus and attention. Be aware that children will need a change of pace about every 15-20 minutes.
- Offer your child opportunities to be creative each day. Listen to music, work on an art project, or build something out of household items.
- There are a wide variety of educational websites available. Let your child conduct a deep-dive exploration of a topic of interest and present their findings to you. Developing and practicing research and presentation skills is a valuable learning experience.
- Be creative in offering your child ways to connect virtually with classmates and friends. They will be missing social interaction which is critical to social-emotional development.
We realize many of you have questions regarding specific events, field studies or athletics that were previously scheduled for the coming month. All Lower School athletic events as well as the sixth grade Florida Fossil and Springs trip will be cancelled. Our leadership team will be meeting later this week to discuss the remainder of the spring calendar. More information will be shared with you regarding any cancellations or postponements as soon as those decisions have been made.
Finally, please be aware that due to the increased worldwide demand on our emergency notification service, BrightArrow, we will no longer be able to notify you each time we send out new information. Please be diligent in checking your email messages. All new information will also be posted on the website. If you are not receiving email messages from us, please check your junk folder. If you still are not receiving emails, please contact: email@example.com
During this time, we are reminded of the command of Israel found in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
We will hold tight to this promise as we enter this new challenge in teaching and learning. Please know that the HTEA Lower School family is here for you. If you need anything, please reach out so that we can assist you in a timely manner.
I wish you well!