Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 Update: 3/18/20

Dear Friends,

As we are all aware, the precautions announced by national, state, and local officials have resulted in the closing of schools in the greater Kansas City metro area. Mayor Lucas has updated his State of Emergency proclamation to disallow any “gathering of 10 or more people where people are not separated by physical space of at least six feet” [and regarding Kansas City] “… all schools, public, private, charter and parochial, will close no later than Wednesday, March 18, until the end of the emergency notice.”

Consequently, our Board has determined that Whitefield Academy will suspend face-to-face classes, and pivot to the “Whitefield-at-Home” model for which we have made initial preparations. The Board will confer again on March 31 to evaluate the ongoing situation. Going forward, I will provide email updates every Thursday by 5pm where we will announce our plans for the following week.

To ensure that we get off to as smooth a start as possible, and to permit coordination and training, our Whitefield-at-Home “classes” will commence on Wednesday, March 25 and will continue through Friday, April 3 and thereafter, until we have permission to resume classes as normal.

Teachers will be meeting for training on Monday, March 23 to discuss how we may deliver the best experience for you and your family. I am conscious, however, that the plans we initially implement will likely be adjusted with experience. 

While information specific to each class and subject will be sent out by teachers by 5pm Tuesday, please be assured that our overriding goal is for our students to continue their classical Christian education as effectively as possible. Inevitably, we must rely on parents and other family members to help us. The intention is that students will continue to use the “analog” methods we currently employ. While there may be some electronic delivery of content in the Upper School, it is not intended that students will be sitting in front of a computer all day.

Lower School teachers will personally speak with each student every two to three days, the frequency depending on class size and length of calls needed. Upper School students will be logging in to each of their classes every day for around 10-15 minutes using a smartphone or computer. I expect that teachers will also have work-packets covering the next two weeks for each student to be picked up on Wednesday morning. More information to follow.

Notwithstanding the challenges that this national and international crisis presents us, I pray that this will be a providential opportunity for families to connect in a way they had not otherwise expected. Where possible I encourage you to plan trips to parks, go cycling or walking, work on chores or projects together, etc. Please share your own ideas or thoughts on our Parent Connect Facebook page or send them to Rachel Hutson. 

During this hiatus of regular schooling all previously scheduled activities between today and April 3 are cancelled. We will be updating RenWeb as soon as we can—meanwhile, here is a list of upcoming events and their current status. Those that are cancelled may be rescheduled, but at this time if seems prudent to cancel rather than postpone. Events listed as “Postponed” will hopefully be rescheduled as our plans for the remainder of the semester become clearer. 

  1. Grandparents Day: Cancelled. 
  2. Art Show: Postponed
  3. Workday / Shakespeare Prep Day: Postponed
  4. Shakespeare Performances: Postponed
  5. Daddy / Daughter Dance: Cancelled
  6. Upper School Mission and Cultural Trips: Cancelled.
     In addition to the concerns regarding traveling by plane or rail, Bermuda now requires a 2-week quarantine for all visitors, NY is a hot-spot, and it is likely that most places we would visit will be closed. Cancelling the trips allows us more academic time that we are confident will be well used. We have begun to work out issues like cancellation of flights, tickets, etc., and I expect that we will have an announcement by April 6.

If you need to call the school, beginning Monday, the phone will be answered as usual by our much-loved Rachel Obenhaus or Heidi Skinner. Our new phone system allows us to divert the school number to their cell phones, so they will be able to field questions or have the relevant person contact you.

Please be in regular prayer regarding the national and international situation. While the purposes of God are inscrutable, yet we know that He is not capricious. Let’s pray that God in His mercy will halt this plague, heal the afflicted, comfort the grieving, and provide for those who have been impacted by it. Surely, as Christians, we have much to learn not only about our own hearts, but God’s heart for our own community and the nations? I believe Matthew 6 is instructive at this time, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, praying, fasting, concern for the needy. 

A number have asked how, as a community, we may help those for whom this temporary change will be particularly difficult—families with two working parents, single parents, etc. As you are able, please do reach out to those in our community who may need assistance.

Lastly, I will host a Q&A session on Zoom on this coming Friday at 6:30pm (details below). If you have any questions that likely relate to others too, please email them to me in advance and I will seek to address them. In the subject line please write “Your Name, Update Meeting Question.” If you have any questions regarding the specifics of the Whitefield-at-Home program related to your family, please contact your teacher(s) after you have received their plans next week.

Every Blessing,

Quentin Johnston
 
Headmaster

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