As we embark upon the approaching school year, my thoughts turn to Scripture and the story of Daniel and also of Moses. Stories of faithfulness lived out. Daniel was provided knowledge and understanding by God (Daniel 1:17) and through all the challenges of the day, Daniel chose to remain and be faithful (Daniel 1:21). Genesis 6:9 shares that Noah walked faithfully with God. I want to request that, together, we continue to live like Daniel and Noah. I want to personally thank you for your commitment, partnership, and patience in these unprecedented times. I want to also thank you for your faithfulness and your commitment to Christian education. With these stories of faithfulness in mind we now want to ask you to “stay centered” in your Christian education commitment to move forward with Holland Christian, in partnership with your family, on the school’s opening plans.

Without hesitation, I can say wholeheartedly that our school family has been in prayer on moving forward with a predominantly in-person return to school. The instructional team of Director of Learning, Erin Wyma, and the principals have been meeting frequently and diligently to iron out the details for a high-quality COVID response plan and phasing in conjunction with the Michigan Safe Start Roadmap.

We have created six working committees that include primary and secondary instructional teams, a communications work group, chapel/student programming, wellness, and a PPE/Safety work group.

As we’ve been planning for the 20-21 school year over the summer, and in talking to parents these past few weeks, we realize that everyone’s situation is unique. What works for some families for schooling might not work for others during COVID-19. However, one of the many positive hallmarks of a Holland Christian education is our partnership with parents. Our desire is to partner with you in providing an academically excellent, Christ-centered, relational education for your children and this is as true now as any previous school year. We also believe that all students should be given an equitable opportunity to access solid Holland Christian learning regardless of their situations. Although we anticipate that a predominant in-person return to school is what most families desire, we believe that providing parent choice is one of the ways we can partner best with families for the 20-21 school year.

As a result, we will be providing two different options to our families for learning experiences this fall: fully in-person and remote/online guided by a remote learning coordinator. Both options allow for Holland Christian teachers to deliver quality and personal instruction of state-aligned grade level standards through a distinctive Biblical lens. You can see in more detail below what each type of learning will look like.

LEARNING OPTION 1: IN-PERSON LEARNING

In-person instruction will take place full-time, 5 days a week, in our school buildings as long as Michigan is in Phase 4-6 of the reopening plan. Michigan is currently in Phase 4 of the reopening plan and the following safety protocols need to be followed:

Face Coverings:

•Face coverings are not required for PreK-5th grade in the classroom setting as long as students are staying in their designated classrooms while preventing close sustained contact with students from other classes.
•Face coverings are used for 6th-12th graders while in the school building, except for eating and drinking.
•All staff and students will use face coverings when on a school bus, in hallways and indoor common areas.
•Face coverings will be waived for medical purposes. We are waiting to hear from the Ottawa County Health Department on how to obtain a waiver and will communicate guidance to parents once details are finalized.
•We are asking that students please provide their own face covering.

Classroom Cohorting:

•Elementary students will spend the majority of the day with the kids in their classroom, or “cohort,” as opposed to mixing with all the students and grades in the school.
•K-12th grade students will eat lunch in their classrooms. Hot lunch will be available via a delivery process or students may bring a lunch from home.
•Classroom cohorts will remain separated from other cohorts during outside recess.
•Outside visitors and volunteers will be limited in school buildings this fall in order to minimize concerns regarding the number of people entering the buildings.
•Chapels and assemblies will continue to happen with classroom cohorts whenever possible. We will also present chapel and other assemblies with live streaming options.

Social Distancing

•Classroom spaces will be designed a little differently this year to space students out in the classroom.
•Students will initially face the same direction in the classroom.
•Students will be guided in social distancing in places like hallways, bathrooms, and school offices.

Cleaning Protocols

•Each building is utilizing more custodial staff to ensure more frequent cleaning.
•There will be an increased availability and usage of hand sanitizer and hand washing.
•Student resources/supplies will be used with limited sharing. Certain supplies will be cleaned between use.
•Secondary classrooms will be cleaned between classes.

Screening, Testing, Contact Tracing and Positive Cases

•We know this is one of the most common questions parents have! We will follow the guidance requirements from the Ottawa County Health Department and are awaiting additional details from them regarding this topic. Once we hear from them, we will work on a decision tree process in the days ahead, and pass that updated information to you as soon as we are able. We will continue to be as transparent as possible with you in our planning.

Response to State Phase Changes

Once Michigan enters Phase 5 of the reopening plan, the implemented safety procedures move from processes that are required to most items being strongly recommended. At that point, Holland Christian will have the flexibility to modify our requirements to further accommodate the needs of our students. If and when new phasing adaptations are introduced, additional details will be communicated.

If Michigan returns to Phases 1-3, and in-person learning transitions to full-time remote learning as required by the State, Holland Christian will be in solid shape to transition your child’s learning to meet the new requirements. Please note, this will NOT be the learning experience your child had this spring when we needed to go to remote learning with no notice. Holland Christian Administration and staff have received additional training and used parent survey feedback to make necessary advancements to the remote learning experience that was in place during the spring.

If we are required to go remote, Holland Christian would be ready to provide:
•iPads for all K-4th grade students and laptops for all 5th-12th grade students
•WiFi service for all parents to support remote learning
•Faith-based robust instruction in Bible, Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Languages/Spanish, Art, PE, Band, Orchestra and Choir
•Instructional minutes that will allow for all students to receive access to instruction on all the essential state standards
•Instruction via pre-recorded videos for flexible timing to best accommodate parents’ and students’ schedules.
•PreK-2nd grade teachers will all use SeeSaw and 3rd-12th grade teachers will all use Google Classroom
•Assessments and grading practices similar to in-person practices
•Attendance will be required
•Tangible resources and school supplies necessary for learning
•Access to chapels
•RTI and ESS student support to the extent possible
•Weekly Zoom meetings (at a minimum) for students to continue to build relationships with teachers and fellow students
•Access to school counseling services for students and parents

OPTION 2: HC•SYNC (REMOTE LEARNING)

For those students enrolled in HC•Sync, we will provide details very soon around what your student’s school day will look like. We are looking to have the week of August 24 as an orientation week where you will receive information on the institutional delivery, classroom connection opportunities, and meet your HC•Sync teacher who will serve as your remote learning coordinator. To help clarify things, this chart explains the difference between the two programs of in-person learning and HC•Sync:

In-Person Learning

Student Expectations

  • Follow Phase 4 required safety protocols
  • Engagement with Holland Christian Schools standards aligned curriculum and academic task requirements
  • Receive instructional delivery by HC teachers

Parent Expectations

  • Commit to a partnership between home, school, and church

Remote Learning Coordinator

  • Provide support for students who may need academic support at home due to extended COVID absences

School Counseling Services

  • Access all school counseling services as determined through screening assessments

Education Support Services (ESS)

  • ESS services provided for all students who receive a Personalized Education Plan
  • All accommodations followed as stated in a 504 plan

Tuition

  • Tuition rates are the same for in-person and at-home learning

HC•Sync

Student Expectations

  • Five full days of instruction
  • Requires increased motivation to meet learning objectives
  • Ability to self pace and work independently
  • Engagement with Holland Christian School standards aligned curriculum
  • Completion of academic task and assessment requirements
  • Receive instructional delivery by HC teachers through pre-recorded videos in all content areas including some extra curriculars
  • Consistent attendance expectations
  • Receive support from the Remote Learning Coordinator
  • Participation in co-curriculars and sports

Parent Expectations

  • Monitoring and guidance of students progress
  • Work in a partnership with the Remote Learning Coordinator
  • Communication when support needs arise

Remote Learning Coordinator

  • Monitor online student learning and academic progress
  • Provide learning support when necessary
  • Provide student accountability for task completion
  • Proctor student assessments when necessary
  • Provide students with their necessary learning materials

School Counseling Services

  • In-home school counseling services provided as determined through screening assessments

Education Support Services (ESS)

  • ESS services provided for all students who receive a Personalized Education Plan
  • All accommodations followed as stated in a 504 plan

Tuition

  • Tuition rates are the same for in-person and at-home learning

So that we can best prepare for your family, we are asking you to make a decision for your child’s learning experience by Tuesday, August 4. We realize this timing is short, but want as much time as possible to best prepare to meet the needs of all our students this fall.

If your child will be returning for in-school instruction, you do not need to do anything at this time.

If you are interested in HC•Sync for your child, please respond by completing The HC•Sync Enrollment form linked here by Tuesday, August 4.

Thank you for your prayers on behalf of Holland Christian Schools. We trust in God’s plan for our community and are so grateful for your partnership.

In Christ,

Dr. Eric A. Forseth
Head of Schools
eforseth@hollandchristian.org
616-820-2805

/ Town Hall

On July 29th we held a back-to-school town hall meeting where we reviewed the two parallel learning platforms Holland Christian will be offering for the 20-21 school year: in-person and HC•Sync remote instruction. These options are research-based and were developed based on best practices for student learning. We also incorporated parent survey feedback on which platforms would best meet our student needs in a variety of different scenarios for the 20-21 school year. This FAQ was developed to answer questions that parents had as part of the town hall meeting. We are answering questions with the information that we have as of this timewith the understanding that our current situation is complex and dynamic. We will continue to be flexible and adaptable in our return to school preparation.

/ FAQ’s

If we choose in-person learning, how would a student keep up with schoolwork if put under a 14 day quarantine? Can they utilize the services of HC•Sync?

HC students learning in person will have access to HC•Sync if they are quarantined; our goal would be to provide support from the Remote Learning Coordinator or other HC personnel.

Who are the teachers for HC•Sync? Will it be videos recorded by current grade level teachers?

The unique aspect of this offering is that HC teachers will be identified as teachers in remote learning courses based on enrollment.

Will students participating in HC•Sync receive a device from the school to use at home?

Yes, this is our plan at this time.

If we return to Phase 3, will all students move to HC•Sync?

All students will move to remote learning in Phase 3 and learning will be based on the HC•Sync platform with some differences because all students and staff would be learning remotely.

Will HC•Sync include Spanish?

Yes, this is our plan at this time!

Will Middle School students be in ‘cohorts’ or go through their day changing classrooms?

Middle school students will be in grade-level cohorts as much as possible. There are some classes at the middle school that have students from multiple grades such as band, choir, and orchestra and we are working on a plan for section arrangements for those classes. In the days ahead, additional music program details will be sent out from the middle school.

Cohorting students at the high school level is difficult because students move in and out of advanced classes with other groups to best accommodate their individual learning needs.

Will HS and MS students have access to their teachers for questions they may have during HC•Sync?

Yes! That’s one of the huge benefits of this program.

Will classes such as band/orchestra/choir be available for students enrolled in HC•Sync?

Our goal is yes; we are working with the teachers to solidify this plan as the logistics are considered for these unique arrangements.

How is HC•Sync distinguished from the HC2 home school program?

HC•Sync students will receive HC curricular content daily while HC2 has their own curricular content and they do not meet daily at the elementary or middle school level. For more information about HC2, please contact Krista Seabolt or Diane Suigussaar.

Can you switch back and forth between in-person learning and HC•Sync?

If you choose to enroll in HC•Sync, you are committing to the duration of the first semester without moving back and forth between learning environments. At the semester break, there will be a time-frame for declaring an intent for moving back into the in-person learning program or remaining in HC•Sync.

When is the decision tree from the Ottawa County Health Department due to be released that will provide guidance about what to do if a teacher or student tests positive?

We are waiting for guidance from the Ottawa County Health Department led by the lead medical personnel, who will advise schools on this. We are looking forward to receiving this information to guide decision processes! We hope to hear from them in the near future and will post information on the web as soon as we have it.

Is the HC•Sync learning timing flexible or is there a set-schedule during the school day?

The schedule details will be provided once the enrollment intentions are received and we have finalized the instructional scenarios based on those numbers.

Considering the emphasis on community at Holland Christian, is there a parent forum or way for us to connect? In the event we revert to phase 3, a pre-existing relationship would be helpful in order for us to help strengthen the bonds between children and provide the emotional/social education they need. This might also be an opportunity for parents to support one another.

This is a great suggestion. We will look at how to potentially add a parent forum for connections and support.

Do face shields qualify as an acceptable face covering?

At the present time, this matter is still under review. We are of the recent understanding that certain face shields are not able to be used but the Ottawa County Health Department is still reviewing this matter with State of Michigan personnel.

My children are enrolled in preschool. What will their day look like?

We are actively working on what a day in the life of a preschooler will look like. Preschool is unique and falls under child care licensing so there are not as many limitations.

Will teachers continue to have outside support coming in on a regular basis? For example: reading specialists?

In-person learning will facilitate reading support and HC•Sync will provide support to the extent possible (based on allowable contact with COVID restrictions).

What will the lunch period look like? Will the cafeteria be open in the high school? Will food service be available?

Food service will be available and a draft plan is currently out to the appropriate staff. We hope to deliver to primary rooms and are considering pick-up stations for the middle school and high school. We will have additional information in 1-2 weeks and will send out details as soon as possible.

How will Spanish Immersion education be available through HC•Sync?

This will be provided by the SI teacher through pre-recorded videos as well as possible Zoom sessions for monitoring language acquisition.

For HC•Sync, what does “five full days of instruction” mean? What does “attendance” mean? Will remote learning allow for flexibility in “attendance” times or check-ins?

Attendance means that they are working through the learning during a given day. Further details on the design of the day will come out once enrollment numbers are confirmed.

If a child who is at school needs to take time away due to a COVID exposure, is the HC•Sync Remote Learning Coordinator able to step in and assist these kids as well?

Our goal would be able to provide at-home support from the Remote Learning Coordinator or other HC personnel for students who may have to be moved home to learn due to COVID.

What if parents choose HC•Sync for their child but may not want the Remote Learning Coordinator inside their home?

The Remote Learning Coordinator can also be available by Zoom.

Will art classes/electives be available via HC•Sync?

Yes, to the best extent possible depending on enrollment numbers.

I have a question not listed here

Please reach out to your building principal or our Director of Learning Erin Wyma.

Building Principal Email
South Side Tim Howell thowell@hollandchristian.org
Forest School Miska Rynsburger mrynsburger@hollandchristian.org
Pine Ridge Tim Howell thowell@hollandchristian.org
Rose Park Miska Rynsburger mrynsburger@hollandchristian.org
Middle School Tom Strikwerda tstrikwerda@hollandchristian.org
High School Deb Feenstra dfeenstra@hollandchristian.org
Director of Learning Erin Wyma ewyma@hollandchristian.org