Dear Parents and Caregivers,

At the advent of this COVID-19 crisis, author Andy Crouch provided an analogy for leaders to consider in their organizational responses. He spoke of blizzards, winter seasons, and ice ages.

  • In a blizzard scenario, we acknowledge that things are very difficult, provide care and support for immediate needs, and urge people to take extraordinary measures that would be unthinkable in ordinary times. Our posture is “wait it out”.
  • In a winter scenario, lasting several months, we are not responding to a single event; rather setting things in place for a longer haul. Our posture is “planning and preparation”.
  • And, in an ice age scenario, we need to consider how the whole landscape may be reshaped. Our posture is “adapt for flourishing”.

Over the past several weeks, our leadership team has considered and taken action based on all three postures. Mindful of the blizzard, we have suspended in-class instruction, initiated physical distancing and cleaning protocols on-site, established work-at-home protocols, and focused on care and connection across our Cedars community. Mindful of the longer season of winter, we have established and implemented an at-home Continuity of Learning plan, reshaped learner/family supports, opened up tuition assistance, and watched for “signs of spring” in the planning of important community events such as graduation. And, mindful of potential ice age impacts, we are identifying key learning standards and assessments to focus on, building additional tuition assistance into our 2020/21 budget, curtailing current year spending, assessing new construction timelines, evaluating current staffing needs, and considering tuition rebates and/or vouchers.

This is a big undertaking…for all of us. By the grace of God, and the trust we have built in our work together over the past 42 years, we have a good start. This was borne out in our strong, positive Week 1 survey feedback. Let’s keep working together!

We are encouraged by recent media releases by Minister Rob Fleming and Public Health Officer Henry that offer hope for a return to in-class instruction as early as June, and are pivoting some of our leadership focus back into planning for September 2020.

However, we recognize that our families have several immediate concerns. I want to address two in my communication this week.

First, as we move into our fifth week of isolation at home with our families, we recognize the increased need for parenting and health and wellness resources. Many of our staff are equipped to address mental health concerns. If your child does not have a previous connection with one of these staff members, please reach out to me and we can help them make contact. The Ministry and our Christian School Societies have also highlighted several new resources that can be accessed remotely, including: the Ministry’s Keep Learning resource, SCSBC’s Home Learning Wellness video series, and Open Parachute’s Wellbeing video series. A list of 24/7 hotlines and local help centers was also shared in our newsletter last week. And finally, our contracted school counselor continues to meet virtually with students she was working with, and is open to new referrals upon request through the school.

Second, we recognize that many of our families have questions about tuition. In light of COVID-related work stoppages and layoffs, some families are struggling to pay tuition. To date, we have released $35,000 in new tuition assistance funding to address immediate needs. Please contact the Business Office (businessoffice@cedars.bc.ca) if you need to access our tuition assistance program. We are also providing care for essential service worker children (PreK-7) and some of our children with diverse needs on site, at no charge.

In light of new roles for parents in at-home learning, some families have questions about paying for “reduced” service. None of us signed up for this in September; however, in less than 3 weeks, our staff have completely redesigned and implemented an at-home teaching and learning model to support our students and families in this unprecedented series of global events. Let me assure you that our staff are working harder than ever to fulfill their commitment to provide a quality, Christian education for your children. Although the amount of time with students has changed, our staff continue to take their responsibility for your child’s educational program seriously. We are soliciting feedback early and often, and adapting our plans to ensure we are supporting your family’s needs. We are monitoring our staffing levels and have had a number of staff agree to temporary unpaid layoff. And, as we get a better picture of the overall financial impact for our school, we will continue to demonstrate good stewardship – considering tuition rebates for 2019/20 and/or vouchers toward 2020/21 tuition with any “surplus” we experience in this season.

This blizzard will cease, this winter will come to an end, and we will likely bear the marks of some ice-age effects of this present crisis. It is my sincere hope and desire that this time will have the fingerprints of God all over it, and that we will come together again soon with a renewed appreciation for family and Christian community.

May the Lord continue to provide daily bread to meet our needs in these days.

Shalom.

Shane Nelson
Principal