As you may be aware, Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference today at 10:15 a.m. In addition to announcing a ban on large gatherings and events of 250 people or more, direct guidance was also given that all schools should be preparing to move to online education, should a closure be mandated by the government. Additionally, Lake Washington School District has just announced they will be closing for two weeks, through March 27th, 2020, and that other school districts and private schools are also following suit. With these updates in mind, the World Health Organization declaring this a pandemic, and in light of rapidly changing conditions, we believe the best decision is to extend our school closure through March 27th, 2020.
We did not come to this decision easily, we understand the complexities we face in serving such a diverse population from infancy through seventh grade, and we know that many of you rely on our school for childcare. At this moment, our leadership team is planning for an alternative model for how to help provide childcare during school hours, for families who are not able to remain at home with their children. We will be sending out a survey to all of you shortly asking you to share with us your childcare needs. Please respond to this as soon as you can, so we know what your individual needs are as related to childcare.
Program directors and teachers in our Upper School have already been working hard to prepare for distance learning during an extended closure. Detailed communication from your child’s teaching team will be sent to you in the coming days.
Please note that the communication sent earlier this week related to your child working from home these past three days will not count towards state mandated instructional hours, and that long-term distance learning plans will be more thoroughly representative of the high-quality education your child is used to receiving.
This means that the three closed school days this week will not be counting towards our mandated 1000 hours of instruction for our Upper School Programming and will be treated similarly to snow days. However, we are well ahead of the 1000 hours required for grades 1st to 7th, as well as the 450 hours required for Kindergartners. Therefore, we will not currently have any hours to make up due to this week’s closure.
As we enter into this extended break, we will continue to be vigilant in monitoring new announcements that affect our community, especially related to school closures. One final note: I believe that a community is defined by the strength of the connections among the members. I want to thank you for your supportive responses, grace and understanding as our community continues to navigate through this unprecedented experience; these decisions are not being made lightly and are always considered through the lens of continuing to offer the best possible education and childcare to your children.