Community Health Update

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Community Health Updates

This post contains all of the school-wide communications that have been sent concerning our response to the COVID-19 virus.

 

 

 


Remote Learning Update – Thursday, March 19

Dear MCS Parents, 

Two days of remote learning are in the books and we are continually working to improve, refine, and adjust as necessary. Thank you for the extension of patience and grace as we learn and grow together. Even with this learning curve, we can be proud of what has been accomplished! This week is evidence of a loving community unified in action together and I am grateful for how everyone has stepped up and stepped in to conquer remote learning! 

The purpose of this update is to address common questions, concerns, and confusions that have been brought to our attention. As we endeavor to resolve all encountered issues, we are also committed to providing consistent and timely communication to ensure you remain informed. Feedback from parents and students is helpful in this process so please do not hesitate to share thoughtful and constructive feedback. Next week, after a full week of remote learning and a little more settling in, a Parent-Student Survey will be conducted to gather general feedback from our community. Look for that to come your way toward the end of next week. For today, the following information may answer some of the pressing thoughts and questions: 

Location of Daily Zoom Session Links

For the first couple of days of remote learning, teachers provided emails that included the links to Zoom sessions. Moving forward, parents and students will be able to locate daily Zoom sessions following these steps: 

TK-3rd Grade: Each teacher will post the daily links in Google Classroom. To access the most recent link, log into Google Classroom, click on “Classwork”, click on “Zoom Meetings” and the day’s link will be at the top. 

4th-8th Grade: Each teacher has created a folder that can be found at the top of each Schoology Course Page titled “Zoom Sessions”. Simply open the folder at the beginning of each day/class and click on the day’s Zoom link. 

Zoom Privacy  

While Zoom is a public platform, we have taken the following steps to ensure the safety and privacy of our students and teachers: 

  • Enabled the highest privacy settings possible 
  • Teachers will only post Zoom sessions in password protected school platforms (Schoology and Google Classroom) 
  • We ask that provided Zoom links (live or recorded) are never shared outside the students and parents within a class 
  • Only the host (teacher) can record and download sessions 
  • Only Zoom sessions including instruction will be recorded and all recordings will be automatically deleted after 2 weeks
  • If parents have continued privacy concerns, the video can be turned off only allowing a student’s voice to be heard 

We are confident that the safety and privacy of our students is well protected and will continue to prioritize and update all safety features. 

Video Access and Delays

You may have noticed some hiccups with posted videos including our daily devotion, videos posted on the Enrichment Resource page, or videos teachers have shared. We have had to make some changes to our filters to alleviate the issues. During the hours of 7am-8pm, filter restrictions have been modified to allow for greater access. However, from 8pm-7am, our full filter will be in place. Because of the lessened restrictions, it is important that parents monitor student use. School issued devices should only be used for learning and personal devices for personal use. We are continuing to resolve the issues and hope to change the lessened restrictions soon. In the meantime, it is important parents are aware and monitoring use. 

Enrichments and Daily Devotions 

We encourage every student to begin the day with the devotion posted on the Enrichment Resource Board. In addition, each student’s daily schedule, TK-8, intentionally includes enrichment time. During these times, we hope all students will take advantage of the many opportunities provided on the enrichment board. 

Staying Connected 

We value community and relationship at MCS. It is one of our distinct core values and the launch of remote learning has proven that to be true! During this time, we want to remain connected and find creative ways to do so. With that in mind, today, we kicked off our first MCS Community Challenge. To learn more, visit Instagram, the Enrichment Resource Page under the MCS Challenges tile, or  click here. 

Need Help? 

Do not hesitate to contact any of our admin team or our tech team. We are here to help! 

 

In all things and at all times, rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). 

 

In Him, 

Heather Harrison

Interim Head of School  


Community Update: Preparing for Remote Learning – Monday, March 16

 

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,
Heather Harrison
Interim Head of School

How To Prepare Your Middle School Student For Remote Learning – Friday, March 13

Dear Middle School Parents,
What an adventure we are on together! I am so thankful for the outpouring of love and support from the community. In uncharted territory that is rapidly changing, it is comforting to know many things remain constant. One constant is a community that rallies, supports, and prays for one another. Another constant is an amazing faculty and staff that are committed above and beyond because they love their students. And yet another constant is students who are willing to take on the uncertainty with faith, determination, and positivity. In the words of one of our middle schoolers today, “God’s got this, so we’ve got this!” Out of the mouths of babes! For me, the most important constant is God. I find particular strength in Jesus’ words found in John 14:27 which says, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Amen and thank you Jesus!
As shared with the entire community yesterday, this decision for a school closure is strictly proactive. We are not fearful, we are not panicked. For a few weeks now our staff has been preparing in the event we would find ourselves here. I am so thankful we took those proactive steps because we are ready! Though we are ready, it is important to recognize this is uncharted territory and we are all entering this uncharted territory together. With this in mind, I think it is important to share expectations and helpful tips that will support a more successful launch into remote learning.
Expectations: What Parents Need to Know and How Parents Can Help
  • We are learning and figuring it out together. There will be some bumps along the way. Teachers are ready but there will be a learning curve for all. Patience, grace, and flexibility are key as we launch remote learning! Staff is committed to providing these and we are asking students and parents to join us in the same posture.
  • We ask that parents provide a designated learning space at home that is as distraction free as possible. Consider creating a “home classroom” space intentionally set aside as a learning environment.
  • Speaking of creating a learning environment, we HIGHLY recommend parents eliminate technology distractions. Consider implementing the school’s rule of “bell to bell no cell” at home. When students are completing their school work or Zooming in, do not allow cell phones, TV, or personal devices to be used. Preserve and protect instructional time just as we do at school.
  • We ask all parents to monitor students closely particularly in the initial days of the launch. Ensure students are joining the live Zoom sessions, taking advantage of office hours, completing the assigned work, and submitting work based on established due dates. Typically, one of the benefits of middle schoolers is their ability to self-manage resulting in less of a need for parents to monitor grades and assignments. This will NOT be the case as we adjust to remote learning. Parents will need to monitor students closely. The need for students to be monitored should hopefully diminish as they settle in but it is extremely important parents provide accountability. Attendance will be monitored and teachers will reach out to parents if a student misses two or more days of online instruction but we are hoping to avoid “absences” as much as possible. We appreciate your support!
  • It is also important to understand remote learning cannot and will not be able to fully replace the classroom experience and teacher guided learning. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality education possible but there will be differences. Our teachers will focus on the essential grade level standards to ensure learning continues and that students gain proficiency across the content areas based on what they need to know and understand this year and next.
What to Expect Next:
  • Monday: An all school communication will be provided with high level details to successfully launch remote learning. This will include information on parent resources and tutorials as well as additional home enrichment offerings.
  • Tuesday: Parents and students will receive direct communication from teachers including their daily remote learning schedule and individual classroom expectations. Grade level teachers will host their first live Zoom Session together to give parents and students a little practice “Zooming In” before learning begins.
  • Wednesday: Remote learning begins!
The MCS staff is by far the BEST team in the world! I am more and more convinced of this! Your students are in great hands. You are in great hands. We are in this together! God does have this so we do too!
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you are in need of anything at all. I am here to support and serve. Thank you in advance for being with us and for us during this time.
Blessings,
Heather Harrison
Middle School Principal (and proud of it!)

How To Prepare Your Elementary Student For Remote Learning – Friday, March 13

Dear MCS Families,
In light of this week’s rapidly changing events, we are blessed beyond words to be in the arms of the most loving God. Blessed to be in a community that has banded together and supported each other. Blessed to be part of the MSC family and followers of Christ. This is why my family chose this place to call home.
This week I saw our students handle disappointment, and parents and teachers come together at the 13th hour to plan the most amazing experience for our fourth graders. I witnessed students continuing to support each other, show up, be present, and excited. I saw student’s praying and worshipping together. I saw the joy this place brings us all. Shifting gears, we move to our remote learning plan next week.
As remote learning is new to us, there will be a learning curve for teachers, students, and parents. I ask that we continue to work together as a team. There will be some bumps on the road but I am confident we are going to do this well. Remote learning will never replace the experience and instruction in the classroom, but is the best solution for us today. Our teachers will preserve and reserve the most essential learning that will prepare our students during this time.
I want you to know that we didn’t enter into this decision lightly. Through prayer and reverence our proactive decision keeps our core values at the center. Next week we will be sending out more communication about our remote learning experience. Right now our plan for Monday – Wednesday is as follows:
  • Monday: The entire MCS staff will be having a staff development meeting and prepping the launch plan for each grade level. Upper and lower elementary plans may look a little different.
  • Tuesday: “Our Soft Launch” You should hear from your child’s teacher and receive a resource guide from our Head of School. During this launch you will practice a Zoom meeting, and get tutorials and information about your child’s online schedule.
  • Wednesday: Remote learning begins!
God is in all things. We are ready to do this. I have the confidence in the staff and our community and we will continue to look up and find comfort in the scriptures.
Warm Regards,
Brandy Sick, Elementary Principal

 


Community Health Update #3 – Thursday, March 12

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.

Next Steps

  • 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.

In prayer,

Heather Harrison
Interim Head of School

Additional resources:

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


Community Health Update #2 – Friday, March 6

Dear MCS Community,

As communicated last week, we continue to closely monitor guidance from local, state, and federal health authorities regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact within the community. Since this last communication, the following steps have been taken to ensure MCS is as informed and prepared as possible:

  • 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

According to guidance from the CDC, which can be reviewed here, we continue to follow the direction of local health agencies. Currently, the Orange County Health Care Agency states the risk to the public is low and there is no recommendation to cancel schools, business, or social events. Rather, OCHCA is recommending no change in daily activity. Be assured we remain vigilant and committed to prioritizing the health and safety of the entire MCS community.

Proactive and Preventative Measures 

Increased deep cleaning and sanitizing of the school will continue indefinitely. As a reminder, the following measures are recommended to help prevent the spread of viruses, including the coronavirus:

  • 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

We continue to advise the following to all students, staff, and parents:

  • 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

We would also like to remind you to please take all necessary precautions to protect yourselves and our community from this and any illness. MCS can not and will not monitor travel of families but we do ask that all travel advisories and guidelines from the CDC and US State Department are followed.

School Preparedness

At this time, there are no plans to alter daily school routines. Any future changes, if necessary, would be made in consultation with CDC and OCHCA. In an effort to be prepared, we have established a sound School Closure Plan and all faculty and staff are being actively trained for implementation. This plan includes virtual, or remote, learning alternatives so that we are prepared should the situation change. Just as the safety and health of our community is paramount, we are dedicated to preserving high-quality education and support. We will always remain fervently committed to the academic success of each student despite any challenge posed.

We will continue to closely monitor this situation and work with appropriate agencies. Additional updates will be provided as necessary. In regards to the upcoming Sacramento trip, 4th grade parents can expect a seperate communication later today.

In times of uncertainty, we are thankful that we can rely on God’s sovereignty and peace. We pray for protection and health for our community and for the world. We pray for Divine intervention as we trust in God’s mighty power. We also pray for God’s peace to rule and reign over our hearts and minds casting out all fear.

We are grateful for a community that joins together in these prayers and grateful for a community that is willing to be flexible and supportive of our efforts in an unpredictable time. Thank you for your continued support and confidence.

In Him,
Heather Harrison

Additional Resources for Educating Children on the Coronavirus:
https://www.kqed.org/arts/13875678/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus
https://www.brainpop.com/health/diseasesinjuriesandconditions/coronavirus/


Community Health Update #1 – Thursday, February 27

Dear MCS Community,

As you are likely aware, on Tuesday, February 25th, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave a press conference updating the country on the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and what steps should be taken moving forward.

As the CDC emphasized, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States. A pandemic occurs when a disease is spreading from a variety of sources across a large region, and the number of cases across the US is still small. Additionally, the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) has noted that there is “no evidence of person to person transmission occurring in Orange County and the risk to the public remains low at this time.”

However, given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we are monitoring new developments and will follow directives from public health organizations. We will continue to evaluate steps and actions daily. MCS is prepared to alter procedures should the situation change. Any changes will be effectively communicated as necessary.

In the meantime, MCS will continue the increased weekly deep cleaning and additional sanitizing that was implemented during the height of the flu season. As previously communicated in December and January, we also ask that all staff and students who are feeling ill remain home until they are symptom free for 24 hours.
We also encourage every member of our community to follow these best health practices as the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease:
Enforcing great hygiene including regular and thorough washing of hands and covering up coughs/sneezes
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer where possible
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Rest assured, the well-being, safety, and health of the entire MCS community remains our top priority. Together, we pray for God’s healing, protection, and intervention.

In prayer,
Heather Harrison