Educating and equipping discerning disciples of Jesus Christ for restorative work in His kingdom
COVID-19: Cedars Updates
This page holds a repository of all communiques from Cedars Christian School regarding the COVID-19 situation. The most recent message will be listed at the top of the page. Other helpful links are listed just below.
August 27, 2020: Please see our updated documentation below (green buttons) regarding the fall restart.
Off-Site COVID-19 Resources:
Today, we are sharing several pieces of important information regarding our return to school plan. Thank you for your patience! We have organized this week’s Shake e-newsletter into two sections to help you process information and action items. Please take time to review this information as a family.
All families are encouraged to participate in our virtual Town Hall meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, September 2. In this meeting, we will provide an overview of our Restart, Health and Safety, and Communication Plans; and give space to address questions and concerns from our community.
This year’s school theme comes from Psalm 121: “Our Help Comes from the LORD”. As we head into this school year, there continues to be uncertainty around what school, work, and family life will look like. May Psalm 121 be our “travelling” song in these times. Let us declare that our “help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth”. He is the One who keeps us. He protects us. He guards us. He does not sleep/slumber. His protection is day and night, in our coming and going, now and forever. He watches over us – body and soul. Amen – so be it.
As always, know that our doors (and phone lines and email inboxes) are open, and that we need your feedback as we establish new routines in our work together. We look forward to in-person experiences with you and your children in the coming weeks and months.
Mr. Shane Nelson
Email Communication August 19, 2020
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
Our staff and leadership team are continuing to work on our 2020/21 Restart Plan in response to the most recent guidance from the Ministry of Education, Public Health Office, and WorkSafeBC. The province continues to refine its Back to School Plan, but we are pleased to announce that Grade 1-12 students will be welcomed back to in-class instruction on Tuesday, September 8th. We are excited to start the year with many new families, a full Preschool program, and 370 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students! Preschool and Kindergarten gradual entry instructions for the first week have been emailed to parents/caregivers in a separate communication.
Independent schools traditionally have started the year with a solid week of collaborative planning ahead of the first week with students. Our office and administrative staff will return on Monday, August 24th, and all staff will return on Monday, August 31st to ensure a safe return for students following the Labour Day weekend.
In next week’s Shake e-newsletter, we will share specific details regarding our Restart Plan, including: a revised Health and Safety Plan, elementary and high school cohort groupings, and schedules for student instructional/break times and drop-off/pick-up times.
A virtual Town Hall meeting will take place at 7pm on Wednesday, September 2 to review our Restart Plan and address any questions and/or concerns from parents/caregivers.
The schedule for the first week of classes will be as follows:
Tuesday, Sept 8 (8:30-11:30am; half-day for all Grade 1-12 students)
Wednesday, Sept 9 (8:30am-1:30pm; as per our weekly early dismissal)
Thursday/Friday, Sept 10/11 (8:30am-2:55pm)
Thank you for your patience with respect to the communication of our return to school planning. Documents released by the province as recent as Tuesday evening continue to impact the shape of our Restart Plan, and we want to ensure our plan reflects the most current guidance. As in the Spring, we are committed to sharing accurate and timely information with you as we navigate the 2020/21 school year.
More details will be shared next week, but you are encouraged to mark your calendars for an on-site, evening dessert walkthrough event at the school on Friday, September 11th that will include an opportunity to stand inside our new gymnasium expansion project! If you haven’t driven by the school in the last month or so, it is worth coming by to check out the most recent developments.
Mr. Shane Nelson
Letter to the Community
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
Yesterday, Dr. Henry and Minister Fleming made an announcement regarding BC’s Return to School Plan for September. The Ministry of Education has gathered details around this announcement on their COVID-19: Return to School webpage.
All public and independent schools will be reopening in a revised Stage 2 scenario. For Cedars, this means a full-time return to in-class instruction for all K-12 students. The most significant change in approach and language is the introduction of learning groups, called “cohorts”. You can read more about cohorts on the Ministry website.
Over the next few weeks, our leadership team and staff will be identifying cohorts that align with Ministry guidelines. Given the size of our school, we are able to group students in cohorts of 60 (elementary) and 120 (high school) students in ways that allow all students to return to full-time, in-class instruction.
We will be submitting our plan to our school Board and the Ministry of Education toward the end of August, and will share our completed Stage 2 Continuity of Learning and revised Health and Safety Plan with parents and caregivers on or before Wednesday, August 26th. We will also update our FAQ page to reflect our Stage 2 Reopening at this time.
We hope that you are having a restful summer and are well in body, soul, and spirit. We look forward to a full return of staff and students in September!
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7
In a recent word of encouragement from a colleague, I was reminded of the classic family game, “Perfection”. If you haven’t played this game, it centers around a pile of little yellow shapes that you have to position into a spring-loaded platform before time runs out. If you don’t get all the pieces in the right holes in time, a spring releases below the board and the pieces explode off the platform and onto the floor. The buzz of the timer (intentionally calibrated to induce stress) is a constant reminder that time is running out and that all the pieces need to be in place soon!
This is a pretty good picture of how we have felt, at times, over the past 12 weeks. The pieces have tumbled out of their previously “set” places, and we have scrambled to put them back in time before the next “disrupt”.
But, in all of this, we rejoice in answered prayers regarding the return of students and staff to the school, the delivery of steel for our new building, and the grace-filled gentleness demonstrated to us by our parent community. Not everything has been “perfect”, but we have truly known the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” in this season. We hope and pray that you have and will experience the same as we continue to bring our concerns to the Lord.
It has been great to see many of our families on campus, face-to-face this week. Thank you for following our on-campus protocols – “Giving Space, and Cleaning with Care”. We have set up a picnic table and canopy area in the staff parking lot for student and staff use after 9:30am. If you wish to visit with other parents and watch some of the construction activity after drop-off, we welcome you to use this area until 9:30am. Visiting in the gravel parking lot works too.
If you haven’t signed up for the in-class instruction/support option yet, but wish to do so – please correspond with me directly via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We need some time to communicate with teachers, and arrange spaces so that your child(ren) feel welcome upon their arrival.
If you have had your child(ren) here this week, I would love to hear about your experience of “Stage 3” on our campus. Please email your feedback directly to me. We continue to meet daily with our staff to tweak our protocols and make your child(ren)’s experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.
We are looking forward to the celebrations we have planned to close out the year. Keep an eye on your class emails and school calendar for dates, times and details.
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
We are looking forward to the return of staff and many of our K-12 students on Monday! It will be good to be together after many weeks of virtual interaction. As of today, we are expecting over 100 K-7 students and close to 50 high school students participate in a return to in-class instruction, beginning on Monday, June 1st. Staff are already at school arranging classroom furniture to “Give Space” for the learners returning to class next week.
We have closed the Return to In-Class Instruction Sign-up Form; however, if you are interested in having your child(ren) return to school in June, it is required that you contact the school ahead of time so we can prepare accordingly. Our Continuity of Learning Plan (PDF) and schedule can be found on our website, along with our Health and Safety Plan (PDF).
Please take some time to review these important reminders for our return to school in June:
- Part-time return for K-7 students is 8:30am-12:30pm, Monday to Thursday
- Part-time return for High School students is 8:30am-12:30pm, Tuesday and Thursday ONLY
- Drop-off (AM) is between 8:30-9am; Pick-up is between 12-12:30pm.
- There will be no before or after school supervision/care – unless formally requested. Students will not be allowed to use the playground before 8:30am or after 12:30pm.
- Parents are encouraged to respect drop-off and pick-up windows so that staff can take a lunch break and transition to supporting at-home learners.
- Primary students are to be dropped off and picked up at exterior classroom doors
- Intermediate students are to report immediately to their cabins
- High school students are to enter the building and report immediately to their home rooms – which will be listed on the main entry doors
- Please note that staff will be focussed on supporting in-class learners on Monday-Thursday mornings, but are committed to continued support of at-home learners in the afternoons and on Fridays.
This week, elementary teachers will be providing a return to school letter that outlines instructions and a list of school supplies for in-class instruction time. High school students are asked to bring one bag/backpack with a snack, water bottle, binders, textbooks, and basic personal school supplies (pencils, pens, calculator, etc.). To manage technology needs, if intermediate or high school students have a school or personal laptop they are using at home, it would be helpful if they brought it with them for their in-class learning.
Next week, staff in high-vis vests will be present in front of the school to welcome and direct students and staff to their classrooms and address any questions or concerns. The office will be open from 8am-4pm, but parents are encouraged to conduct business virtually (email, website) or by phone. Signage will be posted on the main doors and throughout the building to reinforce our key health and safety message: “Give SPACE, CLEAN with Care”.
A few final notes. Planning is underway for Kindergarten, Grade 7, and Grade 12 graduation events. We are planning a drive-in style Grade 12 “Roast and Toast” evening on June 18th, and Kindergarten (AM) and Grade 7 (PM) drive-thru style graduation ceremonies for Friday, June 19th. Details will be shared with students and parents in the coming days. There will be no year-end BBQ event, but we are working on sharing a slideshow of pictures for families to enjoy in their homes.
As always, your feedback is important to us. Thank you to those who completed our 2020/21 Tuition Survey. If you haven’t done so, please take a few minutes this week. We are heading into elementary class composition/class list discussions and making final adjustments to our high school schedule, and finalizing our 2020/21 budget for our virtual Spring Society AGM at 7pm on Wednesday, June 17th. Next week, we will share an agenda with links to attend and participate in this meeting.
Will see many of you next week, but blessings to all as we finish out this most memorable, 2019/20 school year!
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
In her book, Pursuing the Will of God Together, author Ruth Haley Barton notes that one of the beliefs that form a foundation for a sound discernment practice is that love is our ultimate calling. What love is calling us to do in a given situation is, perhaps, the greatest filter for selecting a way forward. Paul calls us to “let love be [our] highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1), and John reminds us that when we love one another, “God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” (1 John 4:12)
This season has provided many opportunities for our staff and leadership team to discern and pursue God’s will together, and we have endeavored to keep love at the center of each move. Some of these moves have arisen from desires that God has put on our hearts, internally (building expansion project, for example); some of these moves have been required by external events not of our choosing (at-home/in-class learning plan transitions resulting from COVID-19 responses). In all of these moves, we have and continue to ask: “What would love do?”.
On March 17th, under the direction of BC’s Public Health Officer (PHO), in-class instruction was suspended and a state of emergency was declared by the Premier. On April 6th, Cedars launched our at-home Continuity of Learning Plan with K-12 learners, with a strong commitment to “care and connection” with our families. With your support and the hard work of staff, we have made the most of these 7 weeks. In fact, many of our students are thriving! For those who have struggled with at-home learning, we have provided in-school care and support. For 5 weeks, we have provided care for over 20 children of essential service workers, and learning support for 15 vulnerable K-12 learners at the school.
On May 6th, the Premier unveiled our province’s Restart Plan, and the Ministry of Education subsequently announced a gradual, staged, optional return to in-class instruction for K-12 students. Over the past two weeks our leadership team has been processing information from the Ministry and feedback from our staff and families in order to prepare our school’s Stage 3 Continuity of Learning Plan (PDF)
Love is at the center of our planning.
As many of you have shared in your survey feedback, we are concerned for the well-being of our staff as they prepare another significant teaching and learning model transition. Our survey of families and conversations with staff also reveal significant concerns regarding health and safety in a return to school at this time. Our Stage 3 Plan outlines a return to school that provides margin for our staff to manage in-class instruction and at-home learning support for the month of June, and includes a Health and Safety Plan (PDF) that addresses many of the concerns that staff and families have expressed regarding exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.
Some of you have asked, “Why now?”, when we are nearing the end of the year and PHO messaging continues to highlight the need for physical distancing. There are many ways to answer this question, but some key reasons that we are pleased to provide more at-school opportunities for students, beginning on June 1st:
- It is safe to do so. Public health authorities have been vigilant with respect to the health and safety of all British Columbians, including our school aged children. The most recent guidance for K-12 school settings is that school-aged children have very low infection rates, are not the primary drives of spread, have milder symptoms, and pose low risk to other children or adults who work with them. We are confidently opening our doors, with health and safety measures in place, to work with children in our building.
- It is good for students. Although the majority of our students continue to thrive in this season, many of our students are falling behind academically and/or have socioemotional or mental health challenges that are exacerbated by this present crisis. For many of our students, school is an important, safe space for growth and development. All of our students have experienced some level of trauma in this season, and face-to-face interaction is needed (if not greatly desired!) on the heels of 7 weeks of various levels of isolation and physical distancing.
- It contributes to the common good. With the restart of our economy, many businesses are opening up. Return-to-school means that many of our parents/caregivers can return to work and/or can take some needed respite from the front-line responsibilities of supporting at-home learning.
Once again, we thank you for your feedback, support, and engagement over these past two months.
Before the end of this week, we ask all parents and caregivers to take some time to review the details of our Stage 3 Continuity of Learning Plan (PDF) and Health and Safety Plan (PDF). If, after reviewing these plans, you wish to sign-up your child(ren) for in-class instruction/support on June 1st, please complete this form before 10pm on Monday, May 25th. This will allow our staff and leadership team to prepare for working with your children on site.
Please note that return to school in June is optional for families. We will continue to support learners at home and at school through the end of June. However, if you choose to have your children participate in learning at the school in June, it will need to be arranged in advance. This opportunity is not being offered as a drop-in service.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding our Stage 3 plan, please contact me directly by email (email@example.com). We continue to keep your family in our prayers, and look forward to many glad reunions on our campus in June!
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
Last week, Premier John Horgan made a series of announcements regarding BC’s Restart Plan. A “coordinated, measured”, five-stage return to in-class instruction, with an “eventual safe and full return in September” was part of this announcement. The Deputy Minister of Education followed up these announcements with a bulletin to school authorities, stating:
“Schools…must begin planning a move to Stage 3 by June 1. This planning must include your local partners and Indigenous rights holders and take into consideration the latest information from the Provincial Health Officer…. Each school district and independent school authority will be required to prepare a Return to In-Class Instruction Plan prior to initiating Stage 3 in your schools.”
Cedars is committed to continuity of learning at-home and/or at-school for the remainder of this school year. Any return to school will be optional for families.
In a survey linked below, we are asking for your feedback on a number of aspects of a Cedars-based, “Return to In-Class Instruction” plan. Your feedback has been instrumental in the success of our at-home learning plan, and it would be beneficial for all if we could have your input before 10pm on Friday, May 15th.
For some, news of a return to school will bring a sigh of relief; for others, this news brings up a host of new questions and concerns. Our surveys of students, parents and families have indicated that at-home learning has been a good experience overall for a large portion of our families. Many may be content to finish out the year with at-home learning plans and support. Depending on the number and ages of children returning, our return to in-school instruction and support will look different. Again, your feedback is important for our planning.
Overall, a return to school before September allows us to “work out the kinks” and contribute to the common good in our provincial restart plan. We will know more from the Ministry of Education this coming Friday around timelines and guidelines for implementing a “stage 3” return. When we have put this together with survey results from our families, we will share our school plan with you.
Some immediate questions have been addressed by the Ministry of Education on their updated FAQ for K-12 Continuity of Learning website. Public Health advice for work with children in K-12 school settings have also been updated (see links below), and send a clear message to parents and staff that for school-aged children and the adults who work with them in a K-12 context, risk is low, and can be further reduced by school-based protocols. These documents and links are primary sources and provide more accurate information regarding government planning than what you may find from media outlets.
We are excited to see more of our students enter the building in the coming weeks! And, this return to school aligns nicely with a construction kick-off on our building expansion project. Work on the foundation begins this week, and our prefabricated steel frame structure will arrive at the beginning of June. We will start to see a new building rise up from the gravel platform over the next three months! I encourage you to read the Board update in this week’s Shake, and stay tuned to new developments on our Growing Together Expansion Project.
May the Lord continue to give you “daily bread” and demonstrate His faithfulness to our community as we put our trust in Him.
Important Parent/Caregiver Survey:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
– Isaiah 40:28-31
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
In a recent interview, best-selling author, Brene Brown, names how many of us are feeling about the COVID-19 pandemic when she says: “we are weary in our bones”. As human beings, we have been created with a capacity for dealing with crises. Our fight, flight, and freeze responses serve us well in survival; however, adrenaline alone cannot support us through the uncertain timeline and long-term consequences of this present crisis. We need the strength of an “everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of earth”; the strength of the One who does “not grow tired or weary”; the renewed strength of those who put their “hope in the Lord”.
We are all eagerly awaiting provincial and global announcements regarding the return to “normal” life. Some of this news may be heartening (opening of businesses, return to in-class instruction), some of this news may be disheartening (ongoing restrictions, longer-than-anticipated timelines). Regardless, let us be mindful that it is only by putting our hope in the Lord that we will “soar on wings like eagles…run and not grow weary…walk and not be faint”.
Alongside our trust in the Lord for now and what may come, we seek to serve one another in love – being His hands and feet for those in our community. Our in-school support for essential service worker children and vulnerable learners continues to grow. We are currently providing care and/or educational support for close to 20 PreK-7 children and 8 high school students in different spaces across our main building. We are pleased to be able to serve families within and outside our Cedars community in this way. Planning is also underway for a June Service Day for our high school students and/or families, with a variety of outdoor opportunities to bless our community.
With at-home learning and in-school support programs in full swing, our leadership team has begun to refocus on year-end celebrations and 2020/21 school year planning. We are exploring PreK-7 celebrations in the last week of June that respect physical distancing regulations; and have selected dates for Grade 12 virtual and “live” graduation events in early June and late August. Stay tuned for dates and details.
We continue to receive new applications for the Fall and are following up with new student registrations. Our enrolment projections for 2020/21 continue to look strong, even in the face of this present crisis! Class compositions (elementary) and high school schedules are set, and we are finalizing our 2020/21 budget in preparation for our Society AGM at 7pm on Wednesday, June 17th. Details for this virtual meeting and remote participation instructions will be shared later in May. Next week, we will be surveying all new and current families around tuition to make final adjustments to our budget.
Please pray for wisdom for our leadership team as we interview teacher candidates for open Primary teaching positions, support families impacted by this crisis, and adapt our educational program to meet student needs in an ever-evolving landscape of provincial regulations. May the Lord give all of us strength in these times.
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” – Psalm 103:8
Last Friday, our staff gathered with our Northern Christian School colleagues to reflect on the overarching narrative of scripture and contrast it with the various “stories” in our culture. At the center of the Biblical story is our Lord – who is routinely described as “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”. In the course of life (pre- or post-COVID), keynote speaker Rod Wilson reminded us that it is easy to forget God, define goodness on our own terms, and pursue independence.
In a world of entitlement, culture messages “you deserve it”; the Lord calls us to gratitude and saying “thank you”. In a world of victimization, culture messages “it’s not your fault”; the Lord calls us to remorse, repentance, and saying “I’m sorry”. And, in a world of individualism, culture messages “your story matters most”; the Lord calls us to care and compassionate inquiry, saying “tell me more”. Our Lord calls us to a better story.
This season provides a unique opportunity for families to consider our calling and practice gratitude, restoration, and care. I would encourage you to take time within your family to name those things and people you are thankful for. I would especially encourage you to say “thank you” to the teachers and support staff that are working hard to support at-home learning for your children. I encourage you to show grace to one another, to be slow to anger, and abound in love. If your family is anything like mine, living in close quarters for long periods of time is challenging! Say sorry, offer forgiveness, and seek restoration with the help of our Lord. And finally, care for others. Ask questions and really listen. Let us truly be God’s image-bearers in our various spheres of influence. May the world know whose we are by our love.
On behalf of our staff, I want to thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Your feedback on this at-home learning journey has been very valuable to our leadership and staff. This week, our educational support services coordinators will be specifically soliciting feedback around some of our diverse and/or vulnerable learners. However, if you wish to provide general feedback to our leadership or educational support team this week, please follow the link below to a Google Form survey for Week 4. We have also updated our FAQ page with new information regarding assessments and Spring events.
Although we are scanning the horizon for dates and discussing possible return to in-class instruction scenarios, there is no clear messaging from the Ministry of Education on this front to share at this time. We continue to pray and prepare for the time when we can continue living out His story on campus.
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
Three weeks in, one thing is clear: at-home learning is a lot of work!
It takes time to figure out new rhythms and spaces for doing school at home. There is a new kind of “tired” at the end of the day in our increased work with screens and virtual conversations, and new considerations about boundaries as we determine what is, exactly, “the end of the day”.
But, this is good work; it is meaningful work. My hope is that the new level of transparency and collaborative work between teachers, support staff, students, and parents/caregivers has given you a renewed appreciation for the “educating and equipping” work of discipleship.
We don’t have it all figured out yet, but we are doing well! Our check-in surveys and conversations with students and parents reveal that most of our families feel cared for, are connecting, and engaged in meaningful learning.
Our staff continues to connect and adapt learning plans to meet the needs of individual students and families, and we have added a new tier of at-school support for some of our vulnerable learners. Thank you for your feedback! In the coming weeks, we will be reducing the frequency of our home teacher calls and surveys, but we encourage you to keep connecting with your family “home” teacher, your child(ren)’s classroom teachers and EAs, and/or me if you have any questions or concerns.
It seems that we are finding our “sweet spot” in the frequency of meetings, contact time, and overall workload for individual students and families. As we head into our fourth week, we will continue to provide learning plans that are primarily implemented over four days, and use Fridays as our learning “turnaround” day.
On this turnaround day, students may finish up and submit weekly assignments, connect with teachers and/or EAs in 1-on-1 meetings, tackle extension activities, get outdoors, and/or engage in service/family activities.
Staff will use this turnaround day to perform a number of duties, including: providing feedback and assessment, connecting with students 1-on-1, collaborating with colleagues, responding to feedback, and creating responsive learning plans for the following week.
It is our hope that this turnaround day provides margin for staff and families to enjoy Sabbath rest and restorative weekend activities in this season.
This Friday, our staff will be participating in a Northern Christian Educators (virtual) conference with the theme of “Invitation to A Better Story”. We are looking forward to taking a step back from the intense redesign of our school learning plans to remember and reflect on the larger Kingdom story in the midst of this pandemic.
I would encourage families to also use this day to step back and reflect on the big picture story of our faith. Apart from faith, our days can be consumed with the story of a virus, economic crisis, sickness, fear, grief and loss.
As people of faith, we can choose to infuse our days with intentional, formational Christian practices. The Society of Christian Schools of BC (SCSBC) recently created a resource for families that “invites us to a better story” and provides practical suggestions in five areas of discipleship, including:
- Fostering Genuine Relationships with each of your children through affirmation, celebrations of growth, and listening
- Cultivating Spiritual Disciplines – personally and as a family, through reflective Bible reading, worship, silence and prayer
- Creating Leadership Capacity through service
- Developing Empathy, a heart for others, through acts of kindness, gratitude journals, and encouragement notes
- Engaging One Another in the Journey of Faith through the sharing of personal testimony and stories, and a cycle of watching and praying
We miss our interaction with you on our campus, and long for this suspension of in-class instruction and gatherings to be lifted! However, let us continue to make the most of every opportunity and be grateful for all that we have – including our Cedars Christian School community.