MCS Mission Prevails through COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 12, MCS announced a proactive school closure in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In the weeks leading up to this decision, teachers and students were being prepared and trained to transition our TK-8th grade students to a full-scale remote learning program, which put us in a strong position for the closure. Within 72 hours, our administration, teachers, and IT team successfully launched the plan. Rooted in our Core Values, our remote learning program allows all MCS students to continue progressing through the 2019-20 school year in spite of present circumstances, connecting our MCS Community in Spirit and purpose as we walk this unprecedented journey together.
The MCS Mission is now more important than ever. Whether remote or in person, our staff is “building a firm foundation through Christ-centered education” in the hearts and minds of students. We are harnessing the power of Next Generation technology to ensure that each child’s academic and spiritual growth continues uninterrupted during this season.
Parent Preparation Key for Remote Learning
Preparation of MCS parents was paramount to a successful transition to home learning. Through a dedicated webpage, we provided parents with a central place to locate all necessary resources, including Daily Schedules, Community Updates, Enrichment Class Board, and 14 Helpful Tips for Supporting Remote Learning. Our parents have expressed their gratitude for the level of prayerful, intentional care provided by our staff during this sudden shift to home learning.
Foundation of Next Generation Technology is Springboard
Because of our historically strong integration of technology within academic programming, the vast majority of our students were well-equipped to make the transition. Middle School in particular had a solid foundation of student-ownership in learning via Schoology and a 1:1 iPad program, allowing for the switch from on campus to off to transition more smoothly. We quickly integrated the Zoom video-conferencing platform to support our instructional needs in all grades, while elementary teachers walked students through the process with loads of patience and TLC.
Continuation of MCS Exemplary Academic Program
To-date, every student has been equipped with the necessary technology and resources to continue learning pathways in all subjects, including enrichment classes for Whole Child instruction. Our specialist teachers created a phenomenal Enrichment Learning Board with videos, lessons, and options for students to supplement their core curriculum each day.
Students have been provided with daily schedules that require them to login to a video conferencing platform for lectures, group discussions/activities, and more. Their daily school schedule is supported by teachers who are dedicated to building relationships with each student, including 1:1 facetime and small group instruction with students who need extra support. In fact, our Student Support Program, which provides vital academic support for many students, is in full swing with study sessions and individual check-ins scheduled throughout the school day.
Parent feedback to our Remote Learning Program has been tremendously positive! Social media comments, emails, and texts have poured in with supportive feedback on the homefront. Passionate about their students, our teachers have been burning the midnight oil to build a program that is engaging and comprehensive as well as fluid and responsive to the present quarantine.
Prioritizing Spiritual Enrichment
MCS teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond to partner with parents and ensure students are including time to pray, worship, and study God’s word.
Our Bible teachers are producing a video curriculum for TK – 5th grade, as well as teaching two interactive middle school Bible classes every week. In addition to studying God’s word in the classroom, teachers are continuing to start each class with prayer, and incorporating times of worship when possible.
Daily Devotionals are being offered to students and parents. Each day, a new morning devotional is posted so that families can begin their day with encouragement and teaching from God’s Word.
Maintaining Connection as an MCS Community
MCS will not be deterred in our efforts to build community during this challenging time. In addition to providing daily devotionals, we’re leveraging our social media to maintain a connected community. We recently launched MCS Community Challenges which encourage families to share short videos of themselves participating in challenges like sharing something they’re thankful for or showing off their best dance moves. To read up and join the challenge, click here.
Even our Parents in Prayer committee has embraced the remote concept, and they are continuing to meet online weekly, lifting up prayer needs within our school community as well as requests for our nation and our world.
Coming soon will be “Acts of Service,” an opportunity for MCS students to be the hands and feet of Jesus, salt and light, to the hurting community around us. Our staff will provide practical ways for them to serve and encourage their neighbors and the world, even while social distancing.
Without question, this has been the biggest global crisis of the Century — yet as a Christian community, in all communications, we encourage each other to continue looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. We may not know what will happen next, but we know that HE knows, and we can find comfort and peace in that simple yet irrefutable fact.
Dear MCS Parents,
We can all agree that we are not just living in uncertain and unprecedented times, but these times are a bit crazy too. Yet, even in these times, we can also agree that God is still sovereign, He is still in control, and He is still good. As a community of believers, these times bring a unique opportunity to live out the command Jesus gave to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). The opportunity to love as Jesus called us to love is for us within the MCS community, and to the world who desperately needs to know the love of Jesus. If we ask God to give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand, He will show us exactly how to love one another through these difficult times. On behalf of the staff, I want to thank you for how you have already loved, supported, and encouraged the school team. Know that we desire to do the same for each of you.
As we head into a new educational world of remote learning, we continue to be committed to the success of each student and close partnership with parents. It is with this in mind that I share the following important information.
Updated Length of School Closure
Over the past couple of days, it has become clear that it is best and wise to extend the length of our school closure from two weeks to three weeks. Therefore, the school will remain closed as remote learning will continue Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, April 3. Easter Break will be observed as originally planned April 6-13. The situation will be closely monitored which will determine whether further extension of the school closure is necessary or if school will reopen following Easter Break. It is our commitment to provide as much advance notice as possible.
Launch of Remote Learning
Today: By the end of the day today, you should receive a communication from your child’s teacher(s) with a link inviting you and your student to their first live Zoom session tomorrow. The purpose of this Zoom session is to give students and parents the opportunity to practice “Zooming In” before remote learning begins. We encourage all to attend this session, however, it will be recorded and shared by the teacher in the event it is missed.
Tuesday: Join the first Zoom session hosted by your teacher(s) at the designated time provided by your teacher. This will be a great opportunity for your teacher(s) to welcome you to remote learning. Also on this day, teachers will email a written summary of class expectations, daily schedule, and other important information specific to their class/grade.
Wednesday: Remote learning begins! Follow the instructions that were provided by your teacher(s) on Tuesday to kick off our first day of remote learning. It is going to be an adventure and one we will take one day at a time. There will be some bumps along the way but your teachers will be with you every step and we will be successful together! We are learning together and that is the best way to learn!
Daily Schedules by Grade Level
As we all adjust to not only remote learning but to learning at home, it will be important to establish a daily routine with defined structure. We believe this will help all adjust more quickly and successfully. Grade level teachers have worked hard to develop a daily schedule for all students to follow. To see the daily schedule for each grade level, click here.
While a daily schedule has been provided, we do understand that families are developing new routines. As a result, please know there is flexibility within the schedule based on individual needs. It will be important to prioritize all live instruction and support provided through Zoom though all sessions will be recorded and shared.
Enrichment Resource Board
In addition to the academic learning and support, we are excited to announce Enrichment Resources for Remote Learning. To explore these enrichment opportunities, visit https://sites.google.com/marinerscs.org/enrichment-resources/home, or access the board through our MCS website.
The Enrichment Resource Board is full of activities including MakerSpace, Music, Art, Theatre, PE, Gardening, Pen Pals, and more! If you check out the MakerSpace section, you will also find fun family activities you can enjoy together. In addition, each day, a new morning devotional will be provided so that students can begin their day with encouragement and teaching from God’s word. The first devotion will begin on Wednesday which will be a wonderful opportunity for our community to still worship together, even from afar. Enrichment resources will be updated regularly and there is no shortage of activities to keep students busy!
On the daily schedules provided by each grade level, you will note teachers have included enrichment time blocks. It is our hope that, during those times each day, parents and students will utilize these optional opportunities and we are confident they will bring fun and excitement to the day.
Remote Learning: Recommendations for Parents
The school closure and remote learning presents new challenges for all parents as you seek to find the best way to support your child’s learning at home. We are in this with you so please do not hesitate to work closely with your child’s teacher. We will find a groove and settle in but it will take some time and adjustment. By the end of the day Tuesday, check out the Enrichment Resource Board (link above) for helpful tips and recommendations on how to best transition to and support remote learning.
Through these times, no matter how long they may be, I pray that our students, staff, and parents feel His presence in tangible ways. That you are comforted with His peace, filled with His goodness, and strengthened by His power. I pray that, as you draw near to Him, you experience His nearness in new ways, because His mercies are new each morning. That you are enveloped in and covered by His Spirit. I ask that God surprise you with unique gifts and joys, even in the midst of uncertainty. That your family is strengthened and renewed during this unexpected season. That God’s protection surrounds and shields you, mind, body, and spirit. And I pray that we embrace His grace for ourselves and for each other as we navigate these new waters together.
With prayers and blessings,
Interim Head of School
Dear MCS Families,
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, presents our world and the MCS community with an unprecedented public health challenge that can be intensified by uncertainties associated with its spread.
The first, and most important, piece to share is a reminder of God’s constant truth no matter the situation or circumstance. We can find comfort and peace through scriptural promises. And, as a Christian community, now is the time to now only hold to these truths as individuals, but to display them to the world. We are Kingdom citizens and our response can and should reflect the Kingdom. What does that mean? God’s word has plenty to say about this but here are just a few promises to hold on to: 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Matthew 6:25-34, and Philippians 4:6-7.
As we hold on to these truths, knowing God is still in control and He is with us, we also must be aware, informed, and wise. We must consider all factors to make decisions that are in the best interest of not only our community, but beyond. Though there are no documented “community transmissions” in Orange County, and the risk remains low, expert analyses of proactive vs reactive school closures have been reviewed and feel it is prudent and responsible to join efforts to help reduce the spread.
It is with this in mind that I share today’s update to the MCS community. Based on multiple factors, it is the belief that proactive community cooperation is needed to stem the spread of this virus. As always, the objective to carry out our educational mission, while ensuring the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and families remains. Rest assured, all decisions have been made through great prayer, discernment, research, and discussion.
Monday, March 16th, the MCS campus will be closed to students and families.
Tuesday, March 17th, MCS will migrate to remote learning with teachers providing the initial launch including all necessary details of daily schedule and expectations.
Wednesday, March 18th full implementation of remote learning will begin.
In these ever-changing and uncertain conditions, this is the best decision. Transitioning to online learning will bring about some challenges and bumps along the way. We recognize this will bring significant disruption to normal routines. We also recognize the hardship and impact this will present to many families, particularly to households with two working parents. We desire to work closely with all families not only to continue the education of our students with minimal disruption, but to provide flexibility to support the new routines families will have to implement to support online learning.
Friday March 13 teachers will be training our students on how to use the online tools for classwork all students will be sent home with a Home Learning Kit with necessary supplies, curriculum, workbooks, etc.
3rd – 8th grade students will also bring home their school-issued iPad.
TK – 2nd grade students will need their own device with internet access and a camera. If you are in need of a home device, a Google form will be sent shortly for you to let us know.
Students will be taught virtually through Zoom Video Conferencing, Google Classroom, and Schoology depending on grade level. All platforms are compatible with any device (iPad, laptops, Mac, Windows) and are both web and app-based. Teachers will provide more specific information Tuesday, March 17th.
Tuesday March 17, online training tutorials for parents will be available
Divisional Principals will communicate additional details specific to grade levels tomorrow.
At this time, all field trips and large gathering events through April have been cancelled. We will continue to monitor the situation making decisions regarding May events as we arrive closer to that time.
We are not sure how long our campus will remain closed, but anticipate a minimum of 2 week closure. Information will be provided to ensure all families are updated accordingly. Of course, we understand that there are families for which this unforeseen closure presents challenges and we will do our best to accommodate and provide support to those families. We appreciate your prayers and patience as we roll out this program.
Let us all be in fervent prayer together, trusting God is in control.
Interim Head of School
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/
World Health Organization FAQ: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
Communication with several administrators from local public and private schools, district personnel, and the OCDE to align to best practices and decision making protocols
Consultation with Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) and participation in an update call offered to k-12 schools with continued participation in their weekly update calls to ensure most current guidance is followed
Consulted with health care professionals including pediatric specialists
Continual research monitoring guidance from reputable sources including CDC, WHO, and OCHCA to ensure we are as informed as possible during these rapidly changing circumstances
Update of MCS Emergency Preparedness Plan with a newly established School Closure Response Plan to ensure we are as prepared as possible with a flexible response
Multiple school team meetings to ensure all staff are informed, appropriately trained, and equipped to implement procedures and plans as necessary
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Click here for handwashing tips from the CDC
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Cover cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
As always, remain home if symptoms of fever, body aches, chills, respiratory issues are present
Remain home until symptom free for 24 hours
Students or staff with an absence longer than three consecutive days are asked to provide a note from a physician releasing the student back to school
If symptoms present during the school day, the student or staff member will be sent home
All illness-related absences are excused and attendance monitoring procedures have been adjusted accordingly