March 25 2020
Dear GLM Community,
I hope you are all staying healthy and settling into your new rhythms together at home. We miss you!
I am writing today to let you know that GLM received notice this morning from the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) announcing that “Bay Area county health officers, in collaboration with their county superintendents have made a unified, regional decision to extend school closures and student dismissals from regular school attendance through May 1, 2020 to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the maximum extent. The safety and wellness of students, school personnel, and the community are the highest priorities of all schools and districts in these six counties.” The press release is attached to this email. [read it here]
This signaling from the ACOE means that GLM will comply and join with all public and East Bay Independent Schools (EBISA) in the Bay Area extending our closure and Distance Learning Program through to May 1st.
We understand that contemplating having your children at home, and not at school, for another 5 weeks is very hard. We know that you have a lot on your plates! It has been hard on GLM staff too, as we miss being with our students in person, as well as being with our GLM community daily. However, I think we can all agree that at this crucial time we must all work together to take care of one another and keep our community healthy. This is our first priority and we can all do this by staying home.
The GLM leadership team together with the Board is currently working hard on our plan moving forward and the immediate next steps we will need to take around keeping GLM operational and supporting our families and staff through this uncertain time. We will have an update about this for you very soon.
Our Distance Learning Program (DLP) is up and running and we continue to refine it as we go. We thank you for collaborating with us on this! We are interested in receiving feedback about how the DLP is feeling for our families so far and will be sending out a survey, so you can all weigh in. Our teaching teams are working hard to support our students in their learning from home and we are all finding more rhythm and ease in using technology to do so. Please look out for the survey along with an update about the DLP on Friday from Mariana Bissonette, our Director of Instruction.
As we move through our second week of living and learning from home, I have been amazed at all of our resilience as humans, how we have all managed to take on what feels like a completely different life in a week or two and adapt to it, even finding some humor and silver linings in there too! There is something so powerful about this collective experience that both overwhelms and enlightens us to new ways of thinking and being with each other.
We are so grateful for you being on this strange and uncertain journey with us, one that ultimately reminds us all of the most important things: family, community, love and above all else, our health! Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need us.
March 20 2020
Dear GLM Community,
We miss all of our GLM families terribly and hope you are holding up and finding at least some rhythm in this strange and uncertain time.
Everything surely feels different since this time last Friday, when the school made its decision to close our campus. I am writing to you today to let you know about things happening on our side this past week, as well to share the school’s next steps moving forward.
First off, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge all of our incredible GLM families. You have adapted so quickly to the new normal of distance learning from home, while at the same time juggling all of your own work commitments. We have heard from many of you about your efforts to do Montessori from home and have been so inspired and impressed by your diligence around setting up family agreements and routines, as well as beautiful learning environments for your children. You have continued to build and support our amazing community by finding new and creative ways to connect and hang out with one another online. In addition, we admire your ability to let go of some of your typical expectations around productivity, and just breathe, snuggle, take neighborhood walks and be home bodies together.
School operations this week:
At GLM, we’ve been working hard at finding a balance between moving forward with our Distance Learning program and giving our community the time and space to adapt to all of the new. Mariana Bissonnette, our Director of Instruction, together with our teachers, hit the ground running last weekend, adapting their very hands-on educational approach with children to one that now relies on technology and screens. We admire our teachers ability to shift their mindset and pretty much invent a whole new way of being a Montessori educator in just a week or two. Their daily inspiration, the real life work they do with children to build connection and relationship in learning, is no longer and they miss their students dearly. They are also aware of how important it is to continue to support their students and families at home. Being that they are Montessori educators, they are all equipped with a growth mindset and have been very creative and great problem solvers! We are grateful to them for all of their hard work this week.
As you are aware, our campus is closed to our families, except for the Rosemary House which is being used as a pick-up location for learning material packets. Our facilities team is on the ground daily maintaining our school and keeping it safe. After disinfecting the campus this past week, we made a decision to close all of the classrooms and office environments for seven days, with no access by staff or the church community. We are hoping that this will help to ensure that all of the spaces are given a sufficient break from any lingering germs. Out of an abundance of caution, Hines, our Facilities Management Company, will then spend the following week deep cleaning our entire campus. In the meantime, the facilities team will continue to do daily work on outdoor maintenance projects at our school.
Our administrative and office staff continue to work from home daily, as all of our business operations must continue.
Next steps: looking beyond our April 3rd closure:
Now that our Distance Learning Program is for the most part up and running — this was our school’s first priority, our leadership team will move to focusing on the school’s programming beyond our April 3rd closure. The GLM Board will be meeting early next week to discuss future financial scenarios and other contingency plans such as the possibility of providing financial hardship support for our families in need. We will also be looking at ways the school might be able to provide care for our families with essential work professions who need support with childcare. At this time, Community Care Licensing is allowing a version of childcare during the shelter-in-place Order, but it has many restrictions. Given that we are a large school (and not a daycare) we have a lot to consider, so we appreciate your patience around this. We plan to have more information about our next steps for our community soon.
There has been much learning for us all this week, as our brains have desperately tried to keep up with all of the change and impact this unprecedented global crisis is having on our families, friends, societies and planet. It’s literally been mind boggling, and so taking our time (and some big, deep breaths) to figure out new ways of staying connected and being gentle and kind with one another and ourselves, have all been a big focus for us these past days.
It’s a “both/and” time in which we are both overwhelmed and extremely grateful and amazed by all of the extensions of kindness, love and caring in our communities. We have never needed each other more in our lifetimes, and so we thank you, our precious community for all of your support and understanding as we navigate this new journey day-by-day until we can all be back together again.
With hope and gratitude,
March 13 2020
Dear GLM Families,
This has been an unprecedented and extraordinary week in so many ways. We are grateful for the strength and support of our GLM community, and hope that you are all holding up and doing as well as can be expected. At GLM, the health and safety of all of our students, staff, families and greater community continues to be our very first priority. While we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our school community, the GLM leadership team has decided to be proactive in what feels like a critical time of community spread of the virus.
GLM Campus Closed 3/16/20 – 4/3/20
For now, we are planning to close our school campus from Monday, March 16th until Friday, April 3rd. This was a very hard decision for us to make, but one that feels like it will contribute to the health and safety of our community and the community at large. While our campus is closed, we are not closed to our community and will continue to support families through email, zoom meetings, etc. In addition, we plan to stay in close communication with families with any updates.
GLM Distance Learning Plan 3/16 – 4/3/20
GLM has been working diligently for the possibility of a school closure for the past weeks and we are finalizing our “Distance Learning Handbook” this weekend. This handbook will give families guidance on how to support a school-like environment at home during the closure so as to maintain instruction and learning opportunities while at home. We aim to give this to families by the latest Sunday evening. In addition, we will be sending packets of learning materials home weekly during the closure as well as having opportunities for students and families to connect with classroom teachers through email and zoom meetings. Weekly packets will be available for a drive-through pick up Wednesdays starting Wednesday, 3/18/20. More information to come with specifics on these pickups. In preparation for closure, GLM has been planning for ways we will continue to support all of our staff in extra sick days should they need them, as well as work-from-home opportunities to develop learning materials and individualized instruction for students at home. In addition, we plan to do a thorough and deep cleaning of our campus next week.
Request for Support to Track Illness Trends at GLM
We would very much appreciate your support in helping GLM to have a clear picture of illness in our community by filling out this anonymous form for any recent illness and any illness that comes up during the campus closure. We hope this data – being filled out by staff and parents alike – will help us better understand trends in our own school community.
Today: 3/13 Student Communication & Preparation for At-Home Learning
Today, teachers will spend part of their day gathering as a classroom community to have adult-led, developmentally appropriate discussions about why we will be spending time away from school and each other. Today will be a time for students to gather belongings, brainstorm some favorite activities to do at home and say “so long for now” to classmates. Please see below this email for some developmentally appropriate talking points for a discussion with children about this.
This is such a poignant time for us all, one in which we are reminded of the preciousness and importance of all in our community and how despite not being together for a while, we will continue to be connected by the joy of learning and loving and caring for each other.
We hope you all take much care.
The GLM Leadership Team — Administration and Board