It is my sincere desire to communicate all new information in regards to the closure of K-12 school buildings and Japhet School’s approach to distance learning. Each step of the way, I have felt your support and patience. I appreciate your trust in our teachers and staff, and am humbled by your commitment to Japhet School’s mission. This is a challenging time for all of us and we seek to stay unified and committed to our promise to you – to nurture your children and to integrate character education with a strong academic program. Through the end of this school year, it may be from a distance, but our commitment to you remains constant.
My letter is lengthy, but all information is meant to inform and clarify any questions you may have as we move forward.
Today Governor Whitmer announced, to quote the Executive Order, that “in-person instruction for pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 is suspended for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” and that “school buildings used for the provision of K-12 education must remain closed for the purpose of providing K-12 education in person for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, unless restrictions on public gatherings and use of school buildings are lifted,” and that this order “applies to all public, nonpublic, and boarding schools in the state.” She also ordered each district, to the best of its ability, provide distance learning to students.
Distance Learning Will Continue – Full Steam Ahead!
Character in action! When the mandate was shared by Governor Whitmer to close on Monday, March 16, faculty and staff immediately responded in the following manner: we had a half-day of school, March 13, when we were able to send students home with the most crucial supplies: their textbooks, workbooks, and, for Middle Class and above, their Chromebooks. We also offered to provide any family who does not have a computer the loan of a school computer for their child at home. I must acknowledge, again, how important the grant from The Joseph and Mary Cacioppo Foundation has proven to be. Our Chromebooks were purchased through the grant money that has allowed students to be fully engaged in distance learning.
Education via distance learning is being provided to the BEST of our teachers’ ability. My heart is full of gratitude for these amazing people who are your students’ teachers. They continue to be inspired, to adapt, be courageous, and to learn and grow as well. However, I am not surprised at all at their commitment and response to adapt to a new form of instruction and learning. They are shining as teachers and wonderful role models for our students. Classroom teachers have worked hard to set routines with students, supported by their parents at home — and we know that Japhet parents are an important component in this endeavor. Parents, for all you are doing to balance your work duties, provide your child with a physical space to learn, being mindful of their emotional needs, and — if needed because of your child’s age — supervise your child’s e-classroom experience, I represent all teachers when I say THANK YOU! Your continued support is needed for distance learning to be a success. THANK YOU!
With core subject instruction now in a rhythm, our specialists have been joining the schedules with more frequency. Parents, you will continue to see an increase in specialists’ lessons, with most communication from specialists coming through your child’s classroom teacher. Participation in specialists’ classes is optional but highly recommended, to give students an opportunity to keep learning and growing in all subject areas.
Spring Break Will Be a Break
I have decided to honor our Spring Break to give our teachers and our students a much needed “relax and recharge” time. The break will pause Hangout meetings, required screen time, and required homework time. We encourage all our students to continue reading books for enjoyment, as always. We also recommend that students and parents continue to take advantage of and enjoy the enrichment resources that were vetted by our own teachers. These include field trips, arts and crafts, read-aloud stories, and more enrichment, and the link to them is on our website: https://japhetschool.org/specialists-classes-enrichment-distance-learning/.
Spring Break begins at 3:30 PM tomorrow, Friday, April 3, through Monday, April 13. Distance Learning will resume on Tuesday, April 14, at a start time set by the classroom teacher.
Our first Bowl-a-bration scheduled for May 9 is postponed until summer or fall. If you have already committed funds as a sponsor or as a bowling team, we ask that you consider allowing us to forward this investment to the event when it does take place. If you prefer to have a refund, we will honor it. (If the event Bowl-a-bration is cancelled — which we do not expect — we certainly will refund all sponsorships and payments.) Unless we hear from you, we will keep your payments. If you prefer to have a refund, please contact me. And please continue to promote the event! When it does take place, we want it to be a big success and CELEBRATION!
Spring Sharing will not take place this year as a traditional musical and dramatic performance in front of a live audience, and there will not be a Gala. At this time, all ideas are being considered as to how students may perform a “sharing in spring” digitally of their creative endeavors.
Our three eighth-grade students deserve to be celebrated and their individual efforts and accomplishments recognized! Japhet’s Graduation ceremony, an inspiring tradition, may take on a new look, but there will be a celebration. We will celebrate this year’s three graduates in some way, either live or digitally; stay tuned as plans progress.
Summer Camps are undecided at this time. Our own teachers teach summer camps. Right now, all of our effort is going toward providing quality distance learning. The ability to provide supervised summer camps also relies on our ability to open our building, as governed by the Executive Order. Please stay tuned for more information.
Staying Healthy: Physically and Emotionally
In order to maintain the health of our communities, “stay home, stay safe,” is our national endeavor right now. This has had an emotional toll on all of us, and especially on children who might not understand what is happening. The emotional well being of our students is so very important to us. I stand by and share these strategies, which are provided by the National Association of School Psychologists, and I reprint them directly:
STAY CALM, LISTEN, AND OFFER REASSURANCE.
MONITOR TELEVISION VIEWING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
TAKE TIME TO TALK
BE HONEST AND ACCURATE
KEEP EXPLANATIONS AGE-APPROPRIATE
I realize this is a lot of information to absorb, but I truly hope that you find it helpful and reassuring. We are united in our efforts to bring the very best education to your children during this unprecedented time. Just as a flower is opening to the warm sunshine and it continues to bloom and grow – I promise you that, as partners in education, we will provide the very best education possible – and joy in seeing your children continue to grow. Thank you for your support, your partnership, and your commitment to Japhet School.
Kerri G. Vizena
Head of School
© Japhet School 2020