At Hope School, we recognize that schools are a fundamental part of the infrastructure of communities. Schools play a critical role in supporting the whole child – not just with academics, but also with social/emotional needs, physical development and health, and spiritual development as well. This past spring, the significance of high-quality and well-rounded education was not taken for granted, as schools struggled to adjust to the stunningly quick change to online education. As we have prepared to reopen school, we have had so many important factors to consider.
Please join us tonight, Tuesday, August 11 at 7:00 PM for a parent meeting via Zoom as an opportunity to ask questions about Hope’s reopening plans.
What is Hope’s reopening plan?
Hope Lutheran School plans to begin the school year on September 2nd with an in-class learning model for grades preschool through fourth grade, and a hybrid model for fifth grade through eighth grade. For more information about the in-class learning model please click here. For more information on the hybrid learning model, please click here. In addition, any K-8 student may choose to enroll instead in the virtual learning model. Please note that this reopening plan could change at any point without notice depending on the spread of the virus and/or directives from government authorities or the Department of Health.
Do you have more information about virtual learning?
As mentioned in previous emails, all K-8 families have the option to choose virtual learning. Click here for the link to the virtual learning model information page and click here for the link to the virtual learning enrollment form. As you read through the more detailed information on the different models, please carefully consider the needs of your specific family and how our models fit with your lifestyle. Families who choose to be at school, whether it is the in-class model or the hybrid model, should fully support measures established by health authorities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and abiding by group size limits even while not at school. While we cannot guarantee no one at Hope will come down with COVID-19, we must be able to trust all who are at school to follow these protocols. Families who choose the virtual learning option for this reason or any other reason, including high risk family members, should fill out the virtual learning enrollment form linked above and return it by Monday, August 17, 2020 to Kristen Okabayashi at email@example.com.
How did Hope arrive at this decision of opening the school up for in-person learning?
The summer for us at Hope has been a time of research, preparation, discussion, thought, and prayer, as we determined the path forward for us as a school. We began the summer believing we could definitely open back up in the fall as a fully open, socially distanced school, along with many other schools. We opened summer camp with full enrollment each week, and gained confidence in our ability to manage new safety protocols. However, over the course of late June and July, our local, state and national community saw an enormous shift in the spread of COVID-19, which made us more cautious as individuals and as a school trying to re-open. Protocols and guidelines for reopening have shifted and updated as more information about the virus becomes known.
What about Governor Inslee’s August 6 recommendation on schools opening?
Last week, Governor Jay Inslee shared that he recommends schools in high risk counties such as King County, as measured by COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, begin the school year with online learning. This is a strong recommendation and the importance of it cannot be minimized. Within this guidance, however, he allows individual districts and schools to determine how they can effectively open and meet the needs of their community. We realize many families can and should choose online learning for their child, for a variety of reasons.
Why are younger grades in-person and older grades in the hybrid model?
While we considered opening up with the in-class learning model in all grades, the reason for the difference in models is due to three factors: the ability of older students to manage their work with more independence, parent confidence in leaving older students home without supervision at times, and Hope’s overall higher class sizes in the upper grades. While we have the ability to move upper classrooms around to larger spaces, we feel the current class sizes in upper grades are higher than are safe to be together at one time. On the other hand, educational research tells us again and again of the importance of in-class learning for most students, particularly in younger grades where students’ reading skills are less developed and where students are not able to be as proficient in independent learning. For younger learners, the ability to experience education in a classroom is paramount.
What else did Hope consider for this reopening decision?
The administrative team at Hope has spent much of the summer researching best practices in reopening schools, with Mrs. Okabayashi even attending a comprehensive online pandemic coordinator class through Joffe Emergency Services. With safety protocols in place, smaller class sizes in most grades, and families who are supportive of best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, we feel Hope is in a good position to consider reopening. A recent article in the Seattle Times from August 4 shows that positive test cases in West Seattle proper are trending below the county, state, and national averages, coming in at just 1.6% for the two week period measured prior to the article publishing. In addition, recent data from the Department of Health regarding the spread of the virus has been trending slightly downward (although we aware this could change at any time).
How are the three models different?
Students enrolled in the in-school learning model in grades preschool through grade 4 will participate in the full school day as usual, with safety protocols in place. Students in the virtual learning model will join in all classes via live streaming during the school day. Under the hybrid model, students in grades 5-8 will be assigned to either Group A, which will meet in class Mondays and Tuesdays, or Group B, which will meet in class Thursdays and Fridays. On the opposite days, each group will participate in learning via live streaming on their Hope-issued iPad. Students will be able to follow instruction and ask questions. On Wednesdays, students in hybrid learning will follow chapel services in the morning and then join in short instructional sessions with specialists throughout the day, in addition to completing homework assignments in core classes.
Under the hybrid model, how will I know if my child is in Group A or Group B?
Hope will send out group assignments shortly. Administration at Hope will try to balance the groups alphabetically according to last name, by gender, and by families who carpool. If you are in grades 5-8 and carpool with another family and have not shared that information with us yet, please send an email to Mrs. Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible and no later than this Friday, August 14, 2020, as we prepare to finalize group assignments. Please kindly refrain from making specific friend group requests.
Can we plan for the same model to be offered for the whole school year?
We fully realize that Hope School can and most likely will switch models between in-class learning, hybrid learning, and virtual learning throughout the school year. Regardless of which learning model Hope School follows, however, our incredible educators here will do our very best to teach our students to the best of our ability.
If I choose to enroll my child in the in-class/hybrid model for trimester 1 and then want to switch to the virtual model or vice versa, can I do that?
The short answer is “no”. Hope is not easily able to move students back and forth between models due to physical space limitations and protocols. However, exceptions will be considered for extreme situations such as illness on a case by case basis.
When will the school day begin and end?
The school day for students in each class will start and end at the same time, regardless of which model students are enrolled in. Students in Kindergarten through grade 3 will arrive for COVID-19 screening between 8:00-8:15 AM, with school beginning at 8:15 AM; the school day ends for K-3 at 2:45 PM. Students in K-3 will end their day at 11:45 on the days previously listed as a “noon dismiss”.
Students in grades 4-8 will arrive for COVID-19 screening between 8:15-8:30 AM, with school beginning at 8:30 AM; they should be picked up at 3:00 PM.
Families with multiple students arriving at different times may choose to arrive just prior to 8:15 AM, or drop-off younger students first and then return with older students. They may also want to arrive for pickup around 3:00 PM.
Half-day preschool students will arrive between 8:30-8:45 AM and be picked up at 11:45 AM. Full day preschool students can arrive as early as 7:30 AM and be picked up no later than 5:30 PM.
Speaking of full day preschool, will Hope offer extended school care (ESC) this year?
Hope will reduce extended care hours slightly to be open from 7:30 AM until school begins at 8:00 or 8:15, and again in the afternoon when school ends until 5:30 PM. ESC will also be offered on noon dismiss days and the usual “no school” days for students who would normally be at school.
Will there be a back to school event this year?
Yes! The socially distanced back to school day for preschool will be August 28; the back to school day for K-8 students will be August 31. More information will come out shortly about these two days.
Will Hope be able to offer sports, clubs or other extracurriculars?
For the fall trimester, all sports and clubs and other extracurricular events will be cancelled. We hope this might change for subsequent trimesters.
Thank you for joining us at Hope Lutheran School this year, and please join us in lifting up our school year in prayer! Our theme this year is “United in Christ” based on the verse from Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)” As much as we may learn in varied methods and locations as we begin school, we are all still one with Christ! We are all looking forward to our school year and can’t wait to see everyone.