Seattle Christian School is closely monitoring news and information related to conditions of COVID-19 as it impacts our school reopening in the fall. Please check back regularly for updates on our reopening plan.
SCS COVID-19 Communications
Hello SCS Families,
Our commitment to be prepared for a safe, fall reopening continues so that every student can engage in-person all day, every day on campus. As a leadership team, in concert with the Board of Trustees, we are doing so with care for our community and a desire to lead with wisdom and courage as we prayerfully collaborate around plans and details. The plan to reopen in-person with health and safety measures in place includes having a remote learning platform (Canvas) running concurrently in case we must shift to a virtual environment due to a COVID concern on campus or state mandate. This planning also includes a remote learning only option for those families that may wish to utilize this for either temporary or extended situations. These details, as well as many others in process, will be ready to share next week.
Please take a moment to fill out the family survey (below), which will be open until Tuesday evening at 9pm. Your feedback will help refine our planning and decision-making to make sure our strategies are both comprehensive and tailored for our community.
Reopening & CDC Update
As we observe this ever-changing COVID landscape, we are making informed decisions in step with the latest research and guidance. Although many public schools in our area have determined it is best for them to begin the year with remote learning, Seattle Christian, along with other local private schools, is able to plan for on-campus learning.
There are a number of reasons why it is possible for private schools to reopen, with the primary one being our class sizes are deliberately smaller with a generous amount of classroom space for the majority of our classes. Specifically for SCS, our current enrollment is below the capacity of our building. Thus, honoring social distancing and health protocol is realistic for our campus. Additionally, although COVID-19 is still active, the latest guidance in favor of the CDC takes a clear stance for schools reopening in-person in the fall. I have offered their conclusion below with the link if you would like to read more:
“Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our communities, as they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work. Schools also provide critical services that help meet the needs of children and families, especially those who are disadvantaged, through supporting the development of social and emotional skills, creating a safe environment for learning, identifying and addressing neglect and abuse, fulfilling nutritional needs, and facilitating physical activity. School closure disrupts the delivery of in-person instruction and critical services to children and families, which has negative individual and societal ramifications. The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus. Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets—our children—while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families.” - CDC
With all that is in the mix, it is so easy to get caught up and lose our eternal perspective at times. Are the challenges big? Yes. It's just that God is bigger. We will stay current on research, remain attentive to the guidelines, continue meeting with other school leaders and state officials, and be diligent in the details, but…we must also hold tightly to the Lord and remember that He’s with us. May this passage encourage and remind us of where to set our sights. From II Corinthians 4:7-18…
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
As we prepare to share another round of details in next week’s communication, we want to pause and check-in with you as to where you are in terms of your perspectives for the fall. We are situating SCS to be able to effectively handle a variety of scenarios with a lens of stewardship, caring for everyone and everything God has given us for His purposes.
Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Hello, SCS Families -
Since school ended in June, a workgroup of secondary and elementary faculty and administration has been exploring what remote learning platform would be the best fit for our community. One platform clearly rose to the top, fulfilling all of the criteria we were searching for. The name of this platform is Canvas.
Highlights for this platform include usability, organization, consistency of accounts (student, teacher, and parent), the calendar feature, tech support, training, aesthetics and credibility, integration with PlusPortals, scalability from K-12, an easy-to-use app, and much more. It truly offers an experience for teachers, students, and parents in the most comprehensive, streamlined, and user-friendly way. Thus, we are ready to begin the contract conversation and initial setup process.
We are confident that this platform and investment will serve students, families and SCS faculty well, both in-person and remotely. We are committed to providing substantial training for faculty, students, and families in the fall to be sure everyone is fully equipped to use the platform and ready to go for 2020-21. Feel free to peruse the site if you would like an initial look at the basics of Canvas.
As we continue planning for reopening this fall, and in light of a number of public school districts moving to full remote learning, I want to assure families that the SCS administration is diligently taking steps to consider multiple perspectives, honor health and safety protocol, and engage at local, state, and national levels, to thoughtfully make plans and decisions in an informed and wise manner.
One of the major topics of dialogue currently in process is scenario planning. SCS is preparing to not only navigate in-person learning and remote learning, in case of a potential campus closure, but also effectively accommodate for a variety of scenarios in between. This approach is taking time to thoroughly evaluate these scenarios in terms of scalability and sustainability, ultimately seeking what is best for the safety and learning experience for each student and family. I know there are questions yet to be answered. By the first week of August, be watching for more communication on these important decisions as we plan for a safe and successful fall reopening.
It could be said that community is the heartbeat of the body of Christ. We will do everything we can to step into the fall in a way that offers safety, unity, and learning together to the fullest extent possible. Thank you, stay safe, and please continue praying for our community, nation, and world.
Hello, SCS families!
I pray this email finds you and your family well. Our hearts continue to go out to our community, our nation, and our world as the pandemic persists. Our trust is in the Lord, and I hope we are all finding some rest and joy this summer amidst the lingering concerns of this season. With so many voices and perspectives in the mix, I have found a great deal of comfort and centeredness in being reminded of who God is, as in Proverbs 3, where the writer says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (vs. 5-6). As much as any other time in our history, we must count on the Lord for the strength and wisdom we need, placing our full confidence in Him.
As COVID guidelines continue to evolve and uncertainties remain, it is still our intent to be open in the fall for in-person learning with every student on campus all day every day. As I am in weekly Zoom calls with leaders and decision-makers from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the State Board of Education, the Washington Federation of Independent Schools, and Heads of School in private schools across the state, it is clear that SCS is poised for re-opening with care and intentionality to keep everyone safe and learning moving forward. We are also utilizing the OSPI Template for reopening as guidance for our planning. The SCS faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees are committed to taking every measure for a safe start to the 2020-21 school year. The reopening document messaged on June 26 is attached below in case you didn’t have the opportunity to read it. Here are the latest updates:
The First Two Weeks
September 2 is the first day of school and is being designed to serve primarily as a health and safety orientation rather than a traditional first day. It is paramount that faculty, staff, and students have the time and focus to fully understand the protocol to ensure that we are well situated for each person doing his/her part to maintain a healthy environment. The schedule for the day is still being finalized, but we are planning a staggered start that affords us an appropriate volume of students throughout the day to effectively familiarize each one to health and safety protocol. Although our procedures will be clear and determined prior to the first day, we believe that a staggered start is wise. Thank you for your flexibility, and more details will be coming soon.
The first two weeks will be centered on connection. As we look to the fall and consider the isolation and tension many have experienced during this season, connection becomes vitally important on multiple levels, all rooted in connecting with God and His love and purpose for each student.
• Students must connect with one another. We are preparing to engage students safely and meaningfully with each another to have rich conversations and establish connections as we restart school.
• Students must connect with their teachers. Much of the significance of learning in a school derives from the teacher, including his/her connectedness with each student. The intentionality around this is a vital component as we reopen in the fall.
• Students must connect with the remote learning platform. There will be significant training on the new platform as we reopen school to confirm that every student is equipped to use their devices and tools effectively, not only in case of a campus closure, but also for in-person instruction that will be used as a powerful set of tools and opportunities for learning.
Regarding high school fall sports, the WIAA has initially announced that sports can begin on September 7 with contests beginning as early as September 18. WIAA is meeting again on July 21 to continue evaluating options for fall sports and assess if further delays are appropriate. As decisions are made, we will share those with the SCS community. Athletics is a rich aspect of our school experience, and we remain hopeful that fall sports can begin.
One of the key ingredients for the coming school year and the future is the remote learning platform. We are so thankful for your patience in the spring as we pivoted quickly from in-person to remote learning, utilizing tools that were already within our reach to finish the school year. We learned a lot from that quarter and over the past several weeks, have been dedicating time in workgroups and as an entire faculty, exploring and assessing the best remote learning platform for our community. I am pleased to share that we are in the final decision-making stage and have been evaluating platform options based on various critical components, including the capability to house documents and video links, host video conferencing, provide for collaboration and feedback, assessment capabilities, post and collect assignments, offer calendar features, provide an intuitive, adaptable, age-appropriate user experience, interact well with Rediker/PlusPortals (and other tech tools that we currently use such as Microsoft 365), and ultimately…serve as an all-in-one platform with the best experience for teachers, students, and parents in the most comprehensive and user-friendly way. The final review process should be complete next week, and we are excited to share this with you as a giant leap forward in remote learning at SCS.
As you know, students having individual access to a device at home will be a vital aspect of learning as we go forward. If it is financially feasible, it is advised that you secure a device for each child this summer to be prepared for the fall. In chatting with parents, I know many have already begun this process. The learning platform across all grade levels will be web-based as is the Microsoft Office Suite that we use, thus opening up a wide range of device options for students. The idea is for K-2 students to have access to a tablet and grades 3-12 students have access to a laptop. Thanks to the generosity of the SCS community during the first ever virtual auction, we have been able to more fully equip each teacher with the technology needed to serve students effectively both at school and at home as well as have additional devices on hand at school.
As mentioned before, the first two weeks of school will include significant orientation to the platform, necessitating that students have a device accessible to learn and practice with the tools on their own devices. Beyond those two weeks, the expectation for students to have their devices on campus will vary by grade level and by teacher depending on the work they are engaging in. The intent is to be able to utilize technology as an effective tool for teaching and learning, but specifically to be ready on a moment’s notice to pivot to remote learning should there be a campus closure. For those who anticipate the purchasing of devices as being a financial hardship, a form can be submitted to notify our technology department of your needs so that accommodations can be made for your child. The link will be sent home in an upcoming communication. It is essential that every student and family be prepared for remote learning.
Health, Safety, & Security
In planning for the 2020-21 school year, the health and safety of each student, each employee, and each family is our highest priority as well as the overall security of the campus. As school leaders continue efforts to solidify our school safety, here are some recent updates...
• Security Upgrade: Out of the generous donations for the Auction “Fund-a-Need“ came the opportunity to increase both our technology and our security needs. The work on enhancing the security system at the main entrances to our building has begun, and we will share more as we near the start of school.
• Air Purification: This summer, our HVAC system will be assessed (a normal annual facilities process), to ensure smooth operation, to evaluate the purity of the air in classrooms, offices, and common areas, and to make recommendations for potential enhancements in air filtration and circulation.
• Classroom Overhaul: As social distancing is of critical importance for schools to reopen, we are doing an assessment and re-design of each classroom in partnership with a professional consultant from within the SCS parent community. This process will ensure SCS is taking every measure to maximize space and minimize risk.
• Masks and Face Shields: It is clear from the guidelines that the wearing of masks aids in protecting against the virus. So, although we are still finalizing exactly how that will play out in our classrooms and campus in the fall, it is clear that every student will need either a cloth face mask or a face shield. We will have some available for purchase in the fall and will have some one-time use masks available in case a student’s mask has an issue during the school day. For now, please take the time with your children to select a face mask or face shield that suits them and have them not only try it on, but practice talking in it to confirm that it is comfortable and breathable enough for them for various periods of time.
• Parent/Student Handbook: As decisions are finalized on our health and safety protocol, the handbook will be updated accordingly with an insert to be sure everyone is clear on the procedures and expectations for 2020-21.
• Scenario Planning: As a leadership team in partnership with the Board, we are preparing for an array of learning scenarios that we might face in the fall to ensure we are sufficiently prepared at all levels. This includes positioning ourselves to navigate situations not only as an entire school, but for individual students and families as needs and concerns emerge.
The mission of SCS is, “To proclaim Jesus Christ in all aspects of our program, emphasizing academic excellence and biblical Christian values, partnering with parents and the church to prepare godly young men and women so they may impact their world for Christ.” While school leaders continue to carefully plan for the protocol and procedures for a safe and healthy re-opening, let us do so in a way that keeps our mission centerstage. We are together raising up a generation of young people to make an impact. God has been so good and faithful to this community since the dream of a non-sectarian Christian school in the Seattle area emerged and became a reality in 1946. Let us be healthy and safe, and let us continue to live into God’s mission in this place and in this point in history...together.
Please stay tuned for continued communication each week with the next major wave of details coming the first week of August once administration and office staff from elementary and secondary are back on campus and able to finalize details about our reopening.
Dear SCS Families –
I hope you are having a great start to summer break. There’s a lot to navigate during this season, and I pray that this summer, we can all find space to pause and reflect. In Scripture, the Psalms often include the term, Selah, to note a pause in the music. May Selah be a sweet reminder for all of us as we take some deep breaths, look again to the Lord for his provision and peace, and renew our trust in him for the next chapter.
The goal of this communication is to share the overarching plan for reopening in the fall at SCS. With the guidance from OSPI and the Department of Health being released two weeks ago, we have been hard at work determining what steps we can take to provide a safe and healthy learning environment so that all students can be present every day all day on campus in the fall. This involves prayer, collaboration with faculty, staff, administration, the SCS Board, and parents, as well as gleaning perspective from the survey results. Thank you to those of you who took the time to complete our Fall Opening Survey. We value your insights, and it is with your feedback in mind that we are moving forward with a plan for fall.
There are also numerous ongoing conversations with other Heads of School, the State Board of Education, OSPI, and WIAA, whose guidance document was just released this week. The fall planning will continue to unfold throughout the summer as this season remains fluid, so please stay tuned. For now, we are ready to share the major aspects of the plan based on our collective insights. Before you read the document below, I invite you to view my brief video introduction at the top of the page.