March 15, 2020 Coronavirus Update

March 15, 2020 Coronavirus Update

I pray that you have found some rest this weekend, given the inundation of updates from our local, state, and federal government and health agencies. Certainly, the ground under us does seem to be shifting hour by hour, and you, along with the entire Messiah community, remain in the front of my mind. I already miss seeing our students and families, and your Messiah school staff will continue to connect with you, serve you, and pray for you during this closure. 

First, regarding the closure’s impact on our school calendar:


Updates are published multiple times per day. Our governor has indicated that the school closure may extend well past the three week closure initially imposed. I do not know, at this time, exactly when we return to school, or exactly how many days we will allocate to calamity, remote instruction, Spring Break, etc. Our own state government has not yet had time to issue statements of position on things like calendar, required days/hours, testing, etc. I will be discussing this with the board tomorrow night.  If you have insights you’d like me to consider, beyond those of the CDC (linked here and here), please share them with me here

We will adapt; we must. If we want our children to learn for a lifetime, we need to keep them, their families, and their teachers as healthy as possible for a lifetime.

Second, regarding your continued well-being:

  1.  Survey: Many of you have completed the Distance Learning Survey. Thank you! If you haven’t done so, please take a moment to do so now. It covers academic topics, such as access to supplies and devices, as well as other impacts the public health response may have on your family (such as employment impact, financial impact, and possible food insecurity). If you need to, as things change, you can edit your response.
  2.  Lunch Program: The Cleveland Metro Schools are providing bagged lunch (plus bagged breakfast for the following day) each day at designated sites throughout the city. Shuttles from other schools will be provided. Designated sites, shuttle sites, shuttle times, and more are in the flyer linked here
  3.  Health: In light of the medical findings that continue to be published, I urge you to increase isolation/distancing measures wherever you can. This closure is unlike others we have previously experienced, and is not a good time for extra family outings, playdates, or social events. If you or a family member is diagnosed with COVID-19, please inform me at [email protected]  so that your child’s contacts may also receive the necessary health supervision.
  4. Community of Care: If you have a need, and you don't know where ot start, please contact [email protected] If you learn of a friend or neighbor's need, and you're not sure how to help meet it, contact [email protected]. We'll do our best to help directly where we can or connect you with resources.  

Third, regarding learning supports:

  1.  Delivery of Chromebooks and other materials: Several families indicated in the survey (again, thank you!) that you’re in need of a Chromebook to borrow for the closure. Chromebooks, along with other necessary materials that didn’t go home on Friday, will be delivered by Messiah staff this week. [This is instead of a previously discussed pick-up day or mailing option.]
  2.  Internet Access: If your family does not currently have internet access at home, free internet access service may be available to your family. Offers are available from Comcast, Charter-Spectrum (1-844-488-8395), & AT&T.  
  3.  Communicating with Teachers: 
    1. We’re preparing teachers for this shift in instructional methods. We’ll be setting up each class with a central page, and providing some introduction to the platform for parents and students as well. Many students already use some of the many great tools in our Google suite. We’ll even be able to have class meetings and offer instruction through the web conferencing tools available.  Of course, some of these features will take time to implement, but we’re looking forward to finding new ways to connect with our students. 
    2. As always, you’ll be able to email teachers, and through Google, you’ll be able to use messaging tools also.
  4.  Teaching, Learning, and Assignments: 
    1.  We know that the process of teaching and learning is going to look different in the coming weeks. Your students likely came home with some of their materials for the closure on Friday. This doesn’t mean that they’ll be working entirely on their own. You can count on your child’s teacher to offer instruction and communication daily, and we’ll do our best to offer recordings of instructional sessions that you can view if you miss the live session.
    2. We’ll find ways to connect students with tutors and our counselor. Watch for updates on those services. 
    3. We’re learning of some great tools for distance learning, and we aim to provide those resources to your students without overloading them. 
    4. Students, parents, and teachers alike are feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, not only by the change in school setting, but by the circumstances in the world around us. We know this affects how we think and how productive we’re able to be. That’s true for adults, and even more so for kids. We’re aware of that, and we aim to offer a work load that provides an opportunity for growth, but doesn’t overwhelm. This is new for us too, and we’ll do our best. Your caring feedback will be much appreciated along the way. 
    5. This closure gives us an opportunity to devote more time to some of the things that our brains love best: quality time and conversations with our loved ones, playtime outside, reading books, playing games, doing puzzles. Enjoy those times too. We’ll offer some sample schedules for your day to help kids feel the security that structure provides, especially during this time of uncertainty. 

Lastly, regarding our community connections:

  1.  You’ll likely see my ramping up the use of our school Facebook page, including some live read-aloud times and community prayer times. Please visit it, like it, follow it. Share your read-aloud requests as facebook messages @MessiahSchoolFP.
  2.  We’re considering how to offer chapel for our students. We’ll keep you posted. Ideas for that? Share them with me at [email protected].
  3.  Interested in an online group Bible study? Check out https://my.bible.com/ and watch for an invite to join a Bible study.
  4.  Send prayer requests to [email protected]
  5.  This is an opportunity for us to be creative about connecting. I can’t wait to see what we all come up with together! 

These are now the COVID-19 days, and anything I say and write comes with a FOR NOW tag implied. I rely on the expertise of doctors, health agencies, and officials to guide decisions.  I’ll continue to communicate with you, and do my best to respond to you. I remain, as ever, thankful to God for you and your children.  The total suspension of life as we know it is at once uneasy and beautiful. The questions outnumber the answers. The front end may feel hectic as we scramble to adjust. However, the truth that we, as a state, and perhaps a nation, are putting daily life on hold to protect our vulnerable citizens and health care system, is an astounding act of collective compassion. God grant us the creativity and desire to find new ways to love each other and contribute to our communities. 

Yours in Christ,

Helen Casselberry

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