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 (shanen@cedars.bc.ca). We continue to keep your family in our prayers, and look forward to many glad reunions on our campus in June!

Shalom.

Shane Nelson,
Principal

Other Resources:
In-Class Instruction Sign-Up Form
Cedars’ FAQ Page
Ministry of Education FAQ on Continuity of Learning