COVID-19 School News & Resources - Spring 2020
A Message from the Head of School
The Meadows School continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic after successfully implementing distance learning during the spring of 2020 to protect the most vulnerable members of our community and to align with the mandated school closure given by Governor Steve Sisolak. We will continue to share updates with our parent body via a variety of mediums, including this page, as we prepare to reopen our campus for the 2020-21 school year. Please take care of yourselves and one another during this unpredictable time.
- 6/17: Opening in the Fall: Our Pandemic Response Plan
- 4/21: School Closure Update and Our Path Forward
- 4/10: Tuition Relief & the Meadows Community Fund from Mr. Gregersen
- 4/1: TMS School Closure Extension from Mr. Gregersen
- 3/26: Spring Break at The Meadows from Mr. Gregersen
- 3/22: Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning From Mr. Gregersen
- 3/16: School Closure Update from Mr. Gregersen
- 3/14: Helping Your Children Understand COVID-19 from Ms. Hersh
- 3/13: Upper School Update for Parents from Ms. Larson
- 3/12: Middle School Notes Regarding School Closure from Mr. Siegel
- 3/12: TMS School Closure from Mr. Gregersen
- 3/11: Beginning School & COVID-19 Update from Mrs. Carlson
- 3/11: TMS and COVID-19 Update from Mr. Gregersen
- 3/5: Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Mr. Gregersen
- 2/26: Information on COVID-19 Precautions from Mr. Gregersen
First off, I would like to apologize for the delay in giving you clarity regarding the end of the school year. Like you, I was waiting for confirmation from our elected officials regarding a plan for the near future in the fight against the coronavirus, and while I assumed that The Meadows School campus was unlikely to reopen this school year, I felt I needed all the information available in order to communicate our path forward. Now, with Governor Sisolak’s message regarding school closures for the remainder of the school year, I want to take a moment to let you know that The Meadows School’s administrative team is setting its sights not only on improving our remote learning experiences for the next four weeks but also on how we might best reopen campus safely and effectively in the fall.
I have been in ongoing conversations with my fellow independent school heads in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, and Europe. Together, we have been closely monitoring various scenarios as they unfold in different locales. For example, a school leader friend in Lithuania has been sending me updates from her colleagues in Denmark and Germany as they begin the process of reopening, and my fellow heads in Seattle have been living with the pandemic for some two weeks longer than us and can provide unique perspectives on how things might unfold in Nevada.
Closer to home, my strategic planning process has centered around the development of three distinct task forces:
Class of 2020 Task Force
Medical Advisory Task Force
Pandemic Response Task Force
Of course, even as we plan for the future, the ongoing work of teaching and learning remotely is not finished, and I want you to know that the administrative team and I are committed to the ongoing pursuit of excellence as we finish this year. I know we have improved in our ability to remotely deliver a top-flight educational experience though we still have room for growth, and I want to thank you for your patience and support. As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly with questions and concerns.
Head of School
We hope this message finds you and yours healthy and safe. In the midst of the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, being a part of our Meadows community has been one of our greatest sources of solace. We have been amazed and humbled by the ways in which we have seen families, educators, and school leaders rise to the occasion in support of one another and of the school and its mission.
In that vein, members of The Meadows School Board of Trustees have been meeting regularly since campus was closed in order to discuss how best to support families in the current environment. We understand that the pandemic has brought about more than uncertainty; families’ incomes are threatened, and the economic climate is truly concerning. Therefore, we are pleased to announce two initiatives aimed at providing families with support both immediately and into next year.
First, the final tuition collection of the year for families on the 10-payment plan, previously scheduled for April 15, will be moved back to April 20. This five-day delay is designed to allow families concerned about their ability to make their final tuition payment to reach out to Ric Anderson in the business office via email to make appropriate arrangements. The school is dedicated to working with families in this difficult time to develop alternate payment schedules and, where appropriate, to expand this year’s financial aid budget to provide need-based relief to families experiencing profound hardship.
Secondly, The Meadows School has set a goal of retaining every eligible family for the 2020-21 school year. To this end, the Board has approved employing part of the school’s strategic reserves to provide an emergency $2,500 tuition grant for every returning student for the next academic year. Half-Day Beginning School Students would receive a $1,250 tuition grant. Those already receiving financial assistance would receive a pro-rata portion of the $2,500 grant.
In addition to the above, we will be creating a special Meadows Community Relief Fund where families who would like to further support those deeply impacted by this crisis can donate. We strongly encourage families who are capable of doing so to generously donate their tuition credit back to the school as a tax-deductible donation. These vital funds will be used to support children whose families have been affected by the pandemic and to continue to support the work of faculty and staff. 100% of the Board of Trustees has already committed to doing so. While our strategic reserve accounts have been impacted by the financial markets’ turmoil, our School is in a strong fiscal position to provide the tuition relief outlined here because of our long tradition of conservative budgeting and successful fundraising and your donation would help expand the reach of these efforts.
Finally, please bear in mind that we know these initiatives are no miracle cure for what the world is facing today. The Board continues to discuss how we can continue to support faculty and staff, how we might further support families, and how we continue to help The Meadows School thrive for years to come.
For now, please take care of yourselves and each other, and do not hesitate to reach out to the school’s administration with questions or concerns. We wish everyone who celebrates a very happy Passover Holiday and Easter.
Jeremy Gregersen, Head of School
Matthew Becker, Board Chair
As you have likely heard, Governor Sisolak has extended the state of emergency, closing schools and non-essential businesses through April 30th. The Meadows School will be abiding by the emergency directive and will begin working immediately to plan for the extended closure.
Please know that I am very much aware of the difficulty that this shutdown has caused many families in our community. I have been in constant talks with the Board of Trustees about how we might cut costs for our community in this trying time, and also how we might support families who are having financial difficulties. We are working on a plan to support the entire Meadows community while continuing to pay teachers, administrators, and support staff.
Thank you for your continued support of The Meadows School.
Head of School
Dear Meadows Family,
I hope this email finds you and yours healthy and safe, and that you are finding new routines and joys amid the uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has brought to all of us. I know it’s hard to believe, but spring break will be upon us shortly, as it is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 4th, and run through Sunday, April 12th. I wanted to touch base regarding that break and give you the latest information on when our campus might reopen.
Like you and your family, our faculty and staff and their families are weathering this crisis while trying to do their best to serve the students of The Meadows School. For this reason, I have asked the faculty to please take spring break off to recharge and regroup. I know that many of them, like you, had their plans canceled for the break, but I still think it’s of vital importance for all of us to take some time off from school and work and prepare for the remainder of the school year. So, please do not plan for students to receive remote lessons or turn in work during that week. Please also note that the state has indicated that they will accept our remote learning days as days of instruction, so there are no plans to hold classes into the summer.
As regards the reopening of our campus, I look forward to doing so as soon as I can do so safely. On March 20th, Governor Sisolak issued Emergency Declaration Directives that closed all nonessential businesses in the state until April 16th, which will be the Thursday after spring break ends. Therefore, our campus will continue to be closed after spring break, at least until that time.
Obviously, these are uncertain times, and as circumstances change I will continue to update you.
Head of School
Dear Meadows Family,
Welcome to the start of week two of remote learning! By and large, the feedback about our efforts has been very positive, and the positive feedback speaks to two things. First, our parent community is incredibly supportive of the work we’re doing and has been wonderfully patient as we move forward. Second, our faculty has been working nonstop to make sure that students learn what they need to learn. In a recent email to the staff, I compared them to test pilots who were being tasked with designing, building, and piloting a 747 while it’s flying through a thunderstorm. They’re doing beautifully and I am confident they will only improve.
Some questions about our work have arisen, however. A number of parents have asked why we aren’t keeping our regular schedule and just meeting online instead of in-person. This question is defined by the difference between synchronous (online but in real-time) learning and asynchronous (online and done at different times and paces according to the needs of students) learning. Studies have shown that asynchronous learning is far more effective because it allows teachers to give individual feedback and allows students to work at a pace that is comfortable for them. In addition, schedules, technology glitches, and classroom management are more of an issue in synchronous learning environments. Please see Stanford Teach Anywhere - Best Practices or Synchronous Learning vs. Asynchronous Learning in Online Education for more information.
We are extremely mindful that children of all ages need routines. And while asynchronous learning does not create a routine schedule for students to follow, it does provide students with a chance to develop executive functioning skills. Please feel free to reach out to teachers, division directors, and the counseling staff for help in this process. Meadows professionals have a wealth of knowledge about how best to teach your children organizational practices and can provide suggestions about how to build schedules at home.
We are confident an asynchronous model will help students learn more in the long run and that the flexibility will serve more families, but we also understand that social isolation is a real problem and that our Meadows School Family needs to connect! That need will only increase over time. We are working now to add more opportunities for real-time connection. To start with, I have asked that faculty observe the following minimal guidelines for face-to-face connections with students at their developmentally appropriate ages. My hope is that these will prove to be preliminary guidelines and that the “face time” your students get will increase steadily:
- Beginning and Lower School: Faculty will have face-to-face contact with students in small groups once a week. Specialists are encouraged to do as much as is feasible, considering the numbers of students they have.
- Middle School: Every academic teacher will have face-to-face contact with their students at least once a week, students will have advisory check-ins once a week, and elective teachers are encouraged to offer as much as is feasible.
- Upper School: Advisors will hold a check-in once a week, all teachers are encouraged to arrange face-to-face check-ins. Clubs, student groups, and student leadership will take the lead on arranging further connections.
Once again, thank you for your continued support and patience. While it’s hard to be away from school and from all of you, I have been truly inspired by the way our community has pulled together to meet the challenges we face.
Head of School
I wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy Founders' Day and to update you on a few items.
First, you likely heard that Governor Sisolak has ordered Nevada Schools closed until April 6th, which for us is the start of spring break. Please note that this means that the earliest school will be back in regular session will be Monday, April 13th.
Tomorrow, you will begin hearing from teachers and division directors about how we will be delivering educational experiences remotely. Please know that while I have complete confidence in our faculty and staff, there will be some wrinkles to iron out in the early days. Please remember that we are doing the best we can in extraordinary circumstances, and please treat staff with an understanding that this is uncharted territory for all of us.
Finally, in an attempt to protect all staff members who are most susceptible to complications from COVID-19 contraction, I have ordered our campus closed until after spring break. While there will be someone answering the phone and delivering messages during the closure, this means that since faculty and administration will be on campus at various, unreliable times, parents and students will need to make an appointment if they need access to campus buildings. This system will also help us keep tabs on which areas need to be repeatedly cleaned and sanitized.
Thank you for your continued support for our school, and please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.
Head of School
The situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus brings with it many unknowns and concerns, and I want to acknowledge that we are currently in new territory for problem-solving as a community.
Children and young adults look to us for guidance on how to think, feel, and behave during stressful events and changes in our daily lives. Our responses will be mirrored by our children. That said, kids need fact-based, age-appropriate information about the reality of the virus, as well as concrete behavioral steps for prevention. Additionally, providing time to talk, to address fears and disappointments, as well as establishing routines for home-based learning and support systems will help our community foster a sense of control and reduce anxiety.
Gathered from a number of resources, including the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of School Nurses, and the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), the following information may be helpful in the coming weeks.
Establish a routine and structure at home:
- Stay on your regular bedtime and wake up schedule.
- Help make a schedule for online school work, checking in with teachers, exercise, creative endeavors, and relaxation.
Keep explanations age-appropriate:
- Beginning School and early elementary students need to be reminded that their school and home are safe. Use language such as, “adults are doing everything we can to keep you safe.” They need clear information about handwashing, covering their mouth and nose, and other hygiene behaviors in order to have a sense of control. Strategies like distracting, soothing, and reframing are important for their questions and comments.
- Upper elementary and Middle School students need access to fact-based news updates with limits on social media and news consumption. They will need reminders about not spreading false or harmful information and boundaries on their time online.
- Upper School students need honest, accurate information and conversations, as well as space to vent and express disappointment about the school milestones, athletics, and defining moments that might be missed or impacted during this time.
Remain calm and assuring:
- Be available to talk about feelings and reframe concerns with facts and logic.
- If true, emphasize that your kids and family are fine.
- Remind them that parents and their school are there to make sure everyone is safe and healthy.
Establish emotional and social supports as needed:
- You know your children best–evaluate their needs on an ongoing basis.
- Help them write a list of activities and projects for their time at home.
- Stay connected with others.
- Look for updated resources and links online. We will be providing more resources for you as well next week.
- Sign up for a counseling check-in (parents, family, or individual students) with Ms. Hersh as needed. 30 minute appointments for phone or video can be made using this link.
The range of emotions we may experience during this time will require us to flex our resilience and empathy muscles. This time offers a chance for self-discovery, mindfulness, and understanding that may increase our appreciation for school, our relationships, and our community. Let’s stay positive and connected. Please reach out with any thoughts or concerns.
Director of Counseling Services
As Mr. Gregersen mentioned in his email from yesterday, I am communicating with you to update you on the likelihood that we will need to close school to students in the near future due to COVID-19 communicability concerns and what is being termed "social isolation." At this time, we cannot predict for how long we could be closed, but know that we are (and have been) preparing for that inevitability on our end, and plan to deliver as much teaching and content online as best we can.
I will ask teachers to begin discussing with their students what will need to be at home and to happen at home, and I wanted to inform you so that you may be thinking along the same lines. Students will need to have their laptops, of course, and any books, notes, etc. as they would need to have for class and for homework.
It makes sense to also think of what might be the proper space at home for the completion of work; often, a workspace out in the common areas of the home are most appropriate, specifically a desk or even the dining room table. It may go without saying, but internet access/wifi will also need to be available.
Students in the Upper School are already using many online platforms in their classes and are quite familiar with what will happen moving forward. We do this as part of our preparation for their college experience, so we are (coincidentally) pretty well-equipped for this type of situation.
Most teachers will continue to be on campus to prepare and to deliver content and skills through a number of online platforms, and can best be reached via email, if you have any specific concerns. And, as always, grades and assignments can be accessed through your parent portal on MyMeadows.
Thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding in this matter. We will keep you updated as we go.
Upper School Director
By now you have received a letter from Mr. Gregersen indicating that the campus will be closed beginning Monday, March 16. We will be teaching our classes remotely beginning on Wednesday, March 18. The plan at this moment is to teach our classes this way through March 27. Of course, the school will continually monitor and evaluate the situation.
Our faculty has been and will continue to prepare daily lessons for our students. All faculty will continue to use myMeadows as well as Google Classroom. Google Classroom will allow us to deliver lessons in many different ways and please understand that the work is required, not optional. We are in unprecedented times and while this cannot replace the excellence our teachers provide in the classroom, this is the solution needed to continue your child’s education. You may email me with any questions and concerns, but if your issues regard individual classes, please email the teacher directly.
Tomorrow will be an important day as we will be instructing the students as to how they will receive their lessons. Please make sure that your children fully charge and bring their computer. We expect students to take home all of their books, calculators, and computers. If your child is not in school tomorrow, call the Middle School Office to schedule a time to gather your child’s materials.
Please note that we are concerned about both the physical and emotional well being of our students. Reach out to any of us if your child is showing any signs of distress during this difficult time. The Meadows is a family, and we want to look out for each other.
Dear Meadows Family,
Given the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19/Coronavirus, we have decided to close our campus to students at least through Friday, March 27th. I met with senior administrators and consulted with the Board of Trustees today, and we unanimously agreed that closing our campus is in the best interests of our community as we work together to limit the spread of the virus.
We will work with children tomorrow to prep for the move to online learning, and we will take the next two weeks to assess the situation as it evolves, to deep-clean the campus, and will be in constant communication with you throughout. During our move to online learning, all sports and after school extracurricular activities, meetings, and assemblies will be canceled. However, if your child is signed up for MAPS or aftercare on Friday, March 13th, they are welcome to attend.
As a reminder, all students already have Monday, March 16th, off for Founders' Day and Tuesday, March 17th, off for a planned faculty and staff in-service day.
Therefore, effective Wednesday, March 18th, all on-campus classes and activities will be canceled until March 27th. Faculty and staff will be on campus Tuesday, March 17th, to collaborate and finalize our plan for distance learning, and we will implement that plan beginning on Wednesday, March 18th. You will receive a follow-up message with more details about how you and your families can prepare for, and adapt to, our campus closure. Moreover, we will soon send you a link to a webpage that will operate as a one-stop clearinghouse for information regarding COVID-19 as it relates to TMS. In the meantime, please address academic questions to the appropriate division director.
Please know that we do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at The Meadows School and have made this decision in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our community and to support local and global efforts to confront the pandemic. This was not an easy decision, and we are mindful that closing our campus will likely create childcare challenges for many of you. For this reason, we will communicate with you regarding a forum where parents can communicate and collaborate on addressing any childcare challenges.
Thank you in advance for your flexibility, patience, and cooperation. Please take care of yourselves and one another during this unpredictable time.
Head of School
Good afternoon. I hope this message finds all of you well. Please refer to Mr. Gregersen’s email sent this afternoon regarding the possibility of school shut down due to COVID-19. My purpose in writing today is to provide information specific to Beginning School. In the event of a school shut down, we ask that Beginning School families have the following basic supplies on hand for students to complete school work at home:
- Pencils and erasers
- Colored pencils
- Scissors and glue sticks
- Plain white paper
- Construction paper (variety of colors)
- Collage materials (optional) Water color or tempera paints and brushes (optional)
- “Head line, belt line, foot line” paper (Teachers will be uploading this as a printable document. If you would like us to send home a small supply of this paper with your child please email Mrs. Gismondi at email@example.com and write Handwriting Paper in the subject line.)
A computer or other electronic device with internet capability will be necessary for communication from the Beginning School. Printing capability at home is ideal, as teachers will need to send documents with student assignments. More information will follow regarding the delivery of school work during a shut down as it becomes necessary. In the meantime, please check to see that we have the current and correct email addresses for your family so you do not miss our communication.
Thank you for your understanding.
Director of Beginning School
As you can imagine, I have been monitoring updates regarding the local and national responses to what the CDC is now calling a pandemic. You have likely heard that there have been three more possible cases identified in Las Vegas, that many, many universities and schools across the country are closing, that the NCAA has announced that the 2020 basketball tournament will be played without fans in attendance. All of these events are informing my thinking.
For our part, we continue to plan for the possibility of a school shut down. All of the planned programming for this Tuesday's teacher in-service has been canceled, and we will instead spend the entire day preparing to deliver our curriculum remotely. In the event of a school shutdown, faculty and staff not in an at-risk group will report to campus as usual and will spend their time working to deliver their classes online.
I am asking you to prepare similarly. Please have a plan in place for childcare, and please plan to do what you can to aid in your students' learning from home. You will soon receive communications from your division director(s) regarding the minimum necessities for your child to be able to profitably continue the school year.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and thank you for your ongoing support of one another and of our school.
Head of School
As you may have learned already, the first COVID-19 (coronavirus) case has been confirmed in Southern Nevada. (News story here.) Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to express to you the steps we have taken and continue to take to safeguard the health and safety of our students.
The initial steps are as follows:
- I have asked our custodial staff to pay extra attention to sanitizing high-touch areas, including doorknobs, exit door “panic” bars, light switches, etc. Custodians are also more diligent than ever in making sure that soap dispensers are full and operational.
- We have placed orders for back-up soap dispensers and hand sanitizer.
- We have approached travel on a case-by-case basis, taking into account whether or not the travel is curricular in nature. (So for example, we have canceled the middle school trip to Universal Studios over Founder’s Day weekend but have continued with the college visits and service learning trip to Puerto Rico in the upper school this week.)
- We are closely monitoring members of our community and asking that children and adults who have a fever, an uncontrollable cough, and/or shortness of breath stay at home.
- We have reminded students from beginning school to high school on proper handwashing, and we are monitoring our youngest students’ efforts in washing their hands.
- We will closely monitor absenteeism and address missed school on a case-by-case basis until such time as more comprehensive measures are deemed necessary.
- We are currently working on a comprehensive plan to be able to deliver our curriculum remotely in the unlikely event of a shutdown. We will update you on those plans as they solidify.
- We continue to monitor the advice provided by the CDC and, as of this writing, await information from the Southern Nevada Health District.
- If you are a physician or healthcare worker who has come into contact with a patient with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, please consider self-quarantining your children for three weeks. At a minimum, please reach out to the school so that we are aware and can provide appropriate oversight and support. The school will work to provide materials and homework for anyone having to stay home.
- If anyone in your household is suspected of contracting COVID-19, please notify the school and plan to self-quarantine children for three weeks, or until a physician has cleared the individual in question. Please know that your privacy will be protected and the identity of infected individuals will not be disclosed.
- Remind your children of the importance of handwashing, for a minimum of 20 seconds, multiple times a day.
- Know the symptoms and be aware: shortness of breath, cough, and/or fever are the primary symptoms. If you or your child exhibit these symptoms, please do not come to school.
- Make sure you have age-appropriate school supplies available in the event of a shutdown. If CCSD closes, it may be difficult to find printer toner, school glue, pencils, etc. in stores.
Head of School
The health of our students and staff is of the utmost importance to The Meadows School. With that in mind, and in light of ongoing news regarding the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in different parts of the world, I wanted to update you on the school’s response.
I met yesterday with the school’s leadership team and discussed at length how we might respond to an outbreak in the Las Vegas area. Currently, there are no cases or suspected cases of COVID-19 at The Meadows School, in Las Vegas, or in Nevada. However, our city is an international destination, and we feel it is best to be as prepared as possible.
To that end, we are closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and sites like coronaviruslivestats.com for the most up-to-date information. Moreover, we are relying on information from local and national organizations that provide resources to educational institutions. One such resource, from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, can be found here.
More specifically, we have developed plans to address extended absences on a case-by-case basis and have begun discussions on how to finish the school year in the unlikely event that schools are ordered closed.
In the interim, we are continuing life as usual on Scholar Lane. Ms. Larson, Upper School Director, just sent a message to parents of sophomores and juniors indicating that we will be going ahead with our class trips to Puerto Rico, Boston, and Los Angeles next week. In addition, we recommend that all community members follow the CDC guidelines to help stop the spread of illness by following everyday preventive actions such as:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. (Note that our custodial staff has stepped up its efforts in sanitizing surfaces regularly.)
Thank you so much for your vigilance and your attention to this matter. Please feel free to reach out with any concerns or questions.
Head of School