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BVWS Coronavirus Information

Updated: March 22, 2020  This page contains important information and resources with respect to the COVID-19 outbreak (due to the coronavirus) for the BVWS school community. All information that we receive will be posted here with the exception of emergency communication relayed through the school emergency phone alert system.

BVWS school closed preventatively due to Coronavirus outbreak in Boulder County Effective: Fri March 13th, 2020

Last Thursday Governor Polis announced that Colorado schools are closed until April 17th, and offered guidance that he would likely extend the closure to June. This is not what we were hoping for, but we have been preparing for this possibility. 

Updates on Distance Learning During Social Distancing 

The events of the past week have dramatically changed nearly everything about our daily lives here and around the country. At BVWS we are working diligently to adapt and adjust to these new times. Our every striving is to remain true to our philosophical principles and our commitment to the Waldorf education in order to best meed the needs of our community. This means creating a Distance Learning program and learning communities with developmentally-appropriate activities that maintain human connection while creating opportunities for meaningful and purposeful activities. We recognize that whatever we come up with will not convey the same experience as our regular school day, but our goal is to come as close as possible given recent limitations.

This week we have been scrambling to put together Phase One of our distance learning. It has relied heavily on packets, with individual teachers taking initiative. We are also working diligently towards common standards so that we can launch Phase Two on March 30th, after Spring Break. 

We are committed to educating our students through a BVWS Distance Learning for as long as the campus remains closed by the Health Department. Distance learning can take many forms, and as we develop ours we will be incorporating limited use of technology, including email, recorded audio and video, teleconferencing, and an online platform for organizing things. How much this will be a part of a student’s life will depend on the age of the child. We would like to offer the following thoughts on this change.

Technology is a helpful tool to support learning at a distance. The key is to deploy it consciously, and for its intended purpose. Screens in support of specific learning goals can be very effective. But like all powerful tools, our digital devices can also be misused, just as the most potent medicines can also be abused. As we begin to incorporate these powerful tools into daily learning rhythms, it will be important to guard against their misuse. 

Our guidance for parents around screen time is to maintain boundaries and limits. Each family will, of course, come up with their own approach. We recommend that devices should be used intentionally and in a dedicated space for defined periods of time. The kitchen, living room, or a common area of the house is preferred. We are not recommending students be allowed to use internet-connected devices unsupervised in their bedrooms. In fact it is perfectly reasonable for parents to collect and store the devices, when they are not being used for learning purpose, in order to avoid students exploring unsupervised online. 

As BVWS develops our Distance Learning Plan we are committed to creating Waldorf learning activities that are as close as possible to what we would do with children in school. As many activities as possible will involve student work that is not device-driven. We will also strive to maintain the close human connection between teachers and students, even as we are prohibited from meeting in person. 

In support of distance learning we recommend setting up and maintaining:

  • a dedicated uncluttered learning space, 
  • a structured rhythmic daily and weekly schedule
  • limits around using technology as an interface to coordinate and organize distance learning but not as a endless stream of entertainment

Some technological platforms that we will employ in a developmentally-appropriate way for phase 2 learning will include:

  • Audio/video conference calls (real-time lessons with the teacher) rather than sending links to external animated educational videos. 
  • Recorded instructional audio/video lessons with your child’s trusted teacher to help introduce new content and allow for different timing of schedules.

This will be complemented by off-line book work, practice sheets, projects, physical activity and reading. Assessments will be available in a variety of formats.

Distance Learning in Early Childhood will include regular contact by the teacher with stories, activities, projects, and sharing opportunities.

The exact details of our best-practice recommendations are currently being finalized by the College of Teachers and our Response Task Force. Expect to hear more soon.

A note about Waldorf Education and it’s origins in troubling times…

Waldorf education was revolutionary 100 years ago in its purpose and pedagogy, so it is today. 100 years ago, Rudolf Steiner hoped to remedy the ravages of World War I on education and society through a pedagogy that was designed to meet the developing child. The decisions of what to teach, when to teach, and how to teach were grounded in that purpose.

Today we are also faced with a crisis. 100 years ago, the first Waldorf teachers had to engage actively and creatively in order to educate the specific children who sat before them. In a similar way BVWS teachers (and teachers world-wide) now need to use their creative efforts and teaching insights in this uncertain time. Over this last week, our teachers have been dedicated to this task for our BVWS families. In addition to discussing how to best teach their lessons, the teachers have considered the social needs of their students – the impact of isolation – and how to address those needs in the coming weeks. They have also considered the challenges you as parents will face, and how they can partner with you effectively…. 

Thank you, parents, for your flexibility, partnership, and resilience as we enter this new educational experience.

RESOURCE: From AWSNA 

Aiyana Masla, social emotional learning teacher at the Brooklyn Waldorf School, shares ideas for stress reduction and emotional well being for families during this challenging time. 

“The root of the word emotion comes from Middle French, and is translated as ‘energy in motion.’ To promote wellness and health, emotions such as grief or anger require movement, release and expression.”

Read Ms. Masla’s Suggestions for Building Resiliency in Families during the COVID-19 pandemic and temporary school closure 

Updates on the Temporary School Closure and Distance Learning during Social Distancing 

Dear BVWS Families,

The last couple days have been unsettling as we were required to close school by the Boulder County Department of Public Health in order to implement community-wide social distancing measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Boulder County and Colorado. While we had begun some preliminary planning, the closure came much sooner than we had anticipated. Since Friday we have formed a crisis response task force to coordinate our response across the school. We are planning  comprehensively for the possibility of an extended closure. Our biggest focus is to support our students and families in order to keep the learning going during the closure.

In order to continue your child’s education at BVWS, we are in the process of developing a Waldorf approach to distance learning. It will be rolled out in two phases. Phase one will happen this coming week (March 16-20th). Phase two will begin after Spring Break on March 30th if the school is unable to reopen.

The first phase will begin no later than this Tuesday, March 17th. Several teachers have already assigned work. If your teacher has not already distributed assignments, expect them by Tuesday. During this pioneering week you will receive packets from your class teacher that include assignments and activities. Rest assured, it is being designed to keep a healthy, developmentally appropriate Waldorf rhythm in place for children of each age group, including Early Childhood.  It may require you to stop by school to pick up learning materials for your child. The times you can do that this week are: Monday 8:30-5:30 or Tuesday 8:30-12:30 This first phase will look different from class to class and from teacher to teacher as we have not fully coordinated Phase One on such short notice.

During the next two weeks (including through the spring break) the school and all lead teachers will be developing Phase Two, a coordinated school-wide, Waldorf-appropriate approach to extended distance education. Our faculty are working collaboratively with Waldorf schools around the country to share ideas and evolve best practices. This will be ready to go on March 30th in case the health authorities determine that schools need to remain closed. We sincerely hope to be back to our regular routines by then, but we will be fully prepared in case we are not.

Timeline for Distance Learning during Social Distancing:

March 13th- 17th  

  • You will receive an email from your class teacher with a BVWS Distance Learning Plan for your child for this week. Stop by school Monday 8:30-5:30 or Tuesday 8:30-12:30  to pick up materials, as needed. Begin to implement the learning plan. 
  • Please continue to practice social distancing during this time to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • Teachers and our BVWS Covid Response Task Force will meet online to make plans for implementing Phase Two of our BVWS Distance Learning Plan beginning March 30th.  

March 18-20th

  • Support your child in continuing to implement this week’s learning plan.  
  • Check for emails for further updates about plans for distance learning starting March 30th. 

  March 21-29th Spring Break 

  • Continue to practice social distancing during this spring break time.  Get outside, play a board game with your family, bake something delicious or do something fun, while maintaining a safe 6-foot distance from everyone outside of your family, and practicing diligent hand-washing and other hygiene practices.
  • Enjoy Spring Break!

What You Can Do: Stay Safe & Protect the Most Vulnerable

In the meantime, we urge you all to join the effort to flatten the curve. Limit your contacts with others, work from home if possible, and adopt all practical social distancing measures. Limiting social contact, however seemingly uncomfortable, is in fact a great luxury that we can leverage to make a real difference in the lives of the most vulnerable citizens. Thought of in this way, this virus presents a tremendous opportunity for us to meditate on the vast interconnectedness of all human beings. China is not separate from Italy, is not separate from Niwot. Our own individual choices have a direct impact on the ability of a frontline hospital nurse to adequately care for someone’s grandmother, a child with cancer, or a homeless veteran.

Please take care in the coming days. This is an opportunity for our community to shine in a new way, using the bonds we have forged in person to sustain each other in our separate homes.

We’ll be in touch again this week.

Sincerely,

The BVWS Covid-19 Response Task Force 

AWSNA is our National Waldorf Umbrella Organization. We expect to share more with you from AWSNA in the coming week:

The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is a non­profit membership organization of independent Waldorf schools and institutes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Association was founded in 1968 to support Waldorf schools and institutes. The vision is to strengthen and nurture Waldorf education and to advance Waldorf principles worldwide. Today, there are more than 1,090 recognized Waldorf Steiner schools in 64 countries, and 1,857 Waldorf kindergartens in more than 70 countries, plus Waldorf associations and teacher-training centers for Waldorf educators and Waldorf teachers around the world. In North America there are more than 160 member schools and 14 teacher education institutes. BVWS is an Associate Member of AWSNA.

AWSNA’s mission is to support schools through collaborative regional work, professional and resource development, accreditation, community outreach, and advocacy. The Association’s work is based on four core values. These values are:

  • Evoke and develop Quality and Integrity in everything we attempt and achieve
  • Promote Strength and Resourcefulness in every school community
  • Foster, encourage, and support inspired Leadership and Colleagueship
  • Work towards conscious and collaborative human Community and Relationships

 

–RESOURCES: A notes from “Simplicity Parenting” (our Ms. Rachel Nielsen is a local representative)

Dear friends,
We have been fielding an unprecedented number of calls, emails, and posts from parents looking for support in how to handle the current coronavirus situation with their children and teens. 
In response, we recorded a special five-part audio series, “Troubling Times: Anxiety Rising, Schools Closing, and Way More Time at Home With The Kids.” 
You can listen on our home page (http://www.simplicityparenting.com) or via our podcast.
In this challenging time, we feel it’s more important than ever for each of us to do what we can to support each other, so we wanted to put this together and make it available right away. If you find the series helpful, please think of any other parent, organization, or school community who might benefit from this kind of support and forward this email to them or send them a link to our home page.
Thank you. Be safe. And our very best wishes to you and your family. 
Warmly,
The Simplicity Parenting Team


Updates on the School Closing – Today and Next Week

Parent-Teacher Conferences will happen by phone unless you hear otherwise from your teacher. Expect a call from your teacher at your scheduled paret-teacher conference time.
Spring Break Camps are cancelled. We will be issuing refunds early next week.
Distance Learning is being set up. We are still figuring out what that means. Expect messages during the week next week from your teacher about what that means for you and your student. Some teachers have already handed out assignments. We are working with our colleagues in the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) to develop best practices for age-appropriate Waldorf distance instruction. 
Spring Break is still a break; we encourage you to check CDC recommendations on travel and consider social distancing options (see below). During the break teachers will not be expected to communicate or hold classes.
After Spring Break we sincerely hope it will be possible to resume school at our campus. At the same time we are planning for the very real possibility that school will remain closed, and may remain closed for an extended period. Expect distance learning to begin in earnest at that point, with a full range of classes and assignments. We will reopen school as soon as the Boulder County Health Department allows, which will probably be the same time that the school districts reopen. 

Social distancing and closing schools The reason the Boulder County Department of Public Health took the extraordinary step of closing all the schools in the County was to slow the spread of the virus by removing opportunities for groups of people to get together. The fewer social contacts a person has, the less likely one of those will be with someone who is infectious. And the slower the virus spreads.

BVWS does not sanction any class gatherings during the time when the Department of Public Health has closed schools, and BVWS staff will not participate in any such gatherings. We encourage all members of our community to uphold the spirit of social distancing and limit the spread of the virus. BVWS recognizes that individual families have the right to make decisions about whom they associate with.
The school is working diligently to come up with ways to continue the school year through distance education until we are allowed to reopen.

“Flattening the curve” as described below helps keep our communities going without overwhelming society!

An infographic showing two possible outcomes for the coronavirus pandemic — one dire, one less so — has quickly become a defining image of the crisis. “This graph is changing minds, and by changing minds, it is saving lives,” tweeted Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington. This graph is a combination of the work by by Rosamund Pearce, a visual-data journalist for The Economist, drawing from a C.D.C. paper titled “Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza” and Drew Harris, a population health analyst at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

It shows two curves for the epidemic over time: A steep peak, if no protective measures are taken, and a flatter slope if people wash their hands, limit travel and practice “social distancing” techniques. The dotted line indicates the capacity of the health care system to care for people with the virus. Flattening the curve with mitigation “reduces the number of cases that are active at any given time, which in turn gives doctors, hospitals, police, schools and vaccine manufacturers time to prepare and respond, without becoming overwhelmed,” he said, “Slowing and spreading out the tidal wave of cases will save lives. Flattening the curve keeps society going.”


BVWS school closed preventatively due to Coronavirus outbreak in Boulder County Effective: Fri March 13th, 2020  – Late this afternoon, the Boulder County Health Department received word that a person in Boulder County has tested positive for COVID-19 and came in contact with others in the broader community while sick. The County Health Department and our two local school districts (Boulder Valley School District, and St. Vrain Valley School District) conferred, and this evening both districts announced that they would close all schools immediately and through at least the end of spring break (March 27th).

At this time we are not aware of any cases in the BVWS community.

However, at the recommendation of the Boulder County Public Health Department, we will be closing Boulder Valley Waldorf School, beginning tomorrow, March 13, 2020.

Student and faculty safety is always our highest priority. This was a difficult decision and we understand the challenges this may cause for some families in our community, but this was the strong recommendation of Boulder County Public Health that local schools received late this afternoon to protect communities.

Tomorrow, classes will not be in session but the office will be open during normal school hours for families and staff to pick-up student medication, devices, or other learning materials they may need in the event of an extended closure beyond the end of Spring Break.

We will have further announcements about Parent-Teacher Conferences and other details by mid morning tomorrow. 

See CDPHE Website for updated presumptive positive cases in Colorado.

 

LOCAL RESOURCES