Welcome Back to School Information
It’s that exciting time of year again! Teachers are returning to classrooms, custodial staff is completing the final details to make the schools sparkle, and the executive assistants are finalizing all the records, student data, and such for another smooth start back to school. New ideas like “To Go Bags” that students can take from class to class, outdoor learning spaces, new items such as water bottle stations, playground balls, and supplies have been thought of and purchased over the summer months ready to be implemented at South Side and Pine Ridge. It is good to be coming back to school and planning for another year of Christian Education. God is faithful.
The purpose of this letter is to communicate what a typical school day will hold for your child this year. If you are comfortable and confident with your child’s school day, we’re well on our way to each child returning to school with confidence as well. We want school to be your child’s home-away-from-home where they are known, loved, celebrated, challenged and will flourish.
Currently, we are in Phase 4 of our MI Safe Start Road Map. Our teaching faculty have been and continue to engage in ongoing training, to move forward and to step back into Phase 3, if our state is mandated to move back to Phase 3. Some parents have asked if Holland Christian is exempt from an executive order calling for a move to Phase 3. We are not exempt even though we are a non-public school. Yes, we are required to comply with the executive order as detailed by our governor just as all citizens and organizations in our state are required to do so.
Mr. Howell ~ Principal
Teachers are working to create an official welcome video providing you with helpful information for the school year from their classroom perspective. You will receive this video on or about Tuesday, August 18.
Classroom Visit Day!
We are offering parents and students the opportunity to meet the teacher in person and see their child’s classroom! Please mark your calendar for the evening of August 20. You will receive an email to sign up for a time slot to visit the classroom and meet your teacher! Parents can choose to sign up for a 15 minute time slot from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on the evening of August 20. We are excited to meet you and your child and welcome you into our classrooms!
Drop Off on Week 1
August 24 is a date we’re looking forward to with much excitement and anticipation. We have missed your children. The first day of school brings with it a flurry of emotions for parents, staff, and students. We want the first day of school this year to be celebratory and relational, as possible, while complying with the state mandates such as limitation of people gathered in small areas and parents/adults not coming into school when dropping off your child at school. Teachers will be on the front lawn ready to welcome you to the new school year. Each class will have a designated area to gather for this first week of school. Early elementary teachers and aides will be dressed up in a theme like astronauts, zoo animals, cowboy/cowgirls, African safaris, etc. Your child’s teacher will let you know which theme so you can locate your child’s class. Our later elementary classroom teachers will welcome each student and stay together as a group, in the grass areas in front of the schools, until each child has arrived. When the classroom is all present, our 2nd-5th grade students will walk to their classroom. They will unpack their supplies at their lockers, fill their desks with items they brought, and prepare for the day. Kindergarten and 1st grade students will line up like a parade showcasing their classroom theme in fun, creative ways. Shaking maracas and waving ribbons, they’ll walk into the building much like they’re the stars of a parade! They too will walk to their lockers to unpack their supplies. Next is exploring their brand new classroom prepared JUST for them by their very happy teacher! They will then embark on their day of learning and laughing together. Our preschool friends will also find their teacher by theme in the front yard. They too will gather together in a circle while each of their new friends arrive. When the classroom community is complete and present, our preschool friends will hold onto a handle on a special walking rope.
Once students are comfortable finding their classroom and locker independently or with the help of staff at the front door and in the hallways, we won’t gather in the front yard to start the day. Your child’s teacher will communicate this with you. Early elementary students will practice walking together into the building to find their locker and classroom. We will continue to gather as a class in the front yard until all students are comfortable and confident to find their way to the locker and classroom. We’ll scaffold them gently through this experience. Teachers will communicate these steps with you very clearly.
We must follow the MI Safe Schools Road Map when it comes to masks. Having processed this for a while, we believe we have some comfortable solutions to the initial problems they posed. Our children in Preschool through Fifth Grade must only wear masks when they are in “common spaces”. These spaces are defined for us this year at South Side and Pine Ridge as hallways, entrances and exits. Our children will need to wear a mask as they enter the building, walk in the hallway to their locker and until they reach the classroom door. If you choose, however, you may tell your child’s teacher that you would like your child to remain in a mask for the duration of the day. However, the requirement for masks is only in the hallways. Once in the classroom, it is permissible for them not to their mask. We do ask that masks are laundered each night or disposable masks are replaced regularly. Teachers and staff will be wearing masks the whole day.
We will explicitly teach children good hand washing techniques at school. We’ll have plenty of soap and water in the classrooms for the children. We will engage our children in good learning both indoors and outdoors this year. Students will wash regularly after each recess, before eating and at other points in the school day.
When you visit your child’s classroom, you will notice that the room arrangement is a bit different. Students’ desks will face in one direction rather than in small group settings. Children will still have the opportunity to work together in partnerships and small groups. Learning from and with peers is foundational in these early years! Student desks and tables, however, will allow for a bit more spacing between the children.
Children will keep their supplies in their desks and a school-provided to-go bag. These bags will keep their supplies that would otherwise be shared in art class, music, FLES, etc. Children will move about the classroom very similarly to the way classroom life has always been. Children will engage in balanced literacy mini-lessons, math lessons, and other curricular areas as in past years. We’ll maximize the space in our workshop areas. Children will receive personalized instruction with their teachers as well as small group instruction, again, with an eye for maximizing spacing between them. Children will participate in partnership projects, again, being mindful of spacing. We’ll all help each other respect spacing while learning together.
Common touch points (desks, bathrooms, light switches, door knobs) will be cleaned at the minimum every four hours throughout the day with thorough cleaning at the end of each day . Teachers will clean their classrooms between each class.
More details are yet to be designed before we are able to communicate exactly who and when outdoor play will take place. What we do know is children need to move and be active in order to learn. We will commit to a morning and afternoon recess as well as a lunch recess break. More details will be communicated in this regard soon.
We will eat in our classrooms. Weather permitting classes will enjoy picnics outdoors! Hot lunch will be delivered to each classroom. Home lunch is always an option for families as well. https://www.hollandchristian.org/hot-lunch/
We’re viewing outdoor learning with renewed optimism this year. When connected to content or supportive of our learning experiences, we will extend classes to the outdoors.
The second Friday of the month I will hold open office hours at South Side from 8:30-9:15. The third Friday of the month I will hold open office hours at Pine Ridge from 8:30-9:15. Come and grab a cup of coffee, wear a mask and pull up a chair. Let’s talk through your thoughts, wonderings, questions and ideas. I look forward to serving you again this year.