Dear Sequoyah Families,
 
I hope you and your loved ones are in good health and practicing the social distancing that is critical to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. The last several weeks have brought unprecedented challenges to our global community, families, and friends. I have certainly not experienced anything like this in my lifetime. In confronting these challenges my spirits have been lifted by the response of our Sequoyah community. I'm grateful for the flexibility, patience, and understanding everyone has shown as we navigate this difficult time. And I want to say here, again, how proud I am of Sequoyah's faculty and staff. It has been evident to me, in ways big and small, how much the adults in this community care about your children.
 
Plan for Spring Break (which will occur as scheduled this coming week)  
The development and implementation of our Distance Learning Program, which honors Sequoyah's emphasis on relationships, connections, critical thinking, and community, was and is a massive undertaking for our faculty and staff. We thank all of our students and parents who have filled out surveys at the K-8 and high school. Your feedback on our Distance Learning Program is valuable to us and we will be incorporating your thoughts as we continue to refine the program to best meet the needs of our students. This, of course, will require ongoing time and effort. Many of us will be using time during spring break to work on our programs. To allow faculty and staff additional time to strengthen our Distance Learning Programs, there will be no regular classes April 6th and April 7th. Instead, we will run optional programming led by Mason and the Daycare staff for the K-8 and at the high school students will work on projects assigned to them by their teachers. You will receive details regarding programming for April 6th and April 7th in the coming days. 

Plan for April into May
Distance learning will continue after spring break as no definitive decision has been reached as to when campus will reopen. Local, regional and national authorities are telling us that social distancing practices will likely need to continue into the beginning of May and perhaps longer. Sequoyah parent and advisor Dr. Neha Nanda, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship at Keck Medical Center, believes we may have a clearer idea as to when we can return to campus by mid April. We want to resume having students and faculty on campus as soon as possible and we recognize the strain that distance learning puts on all involved. At the moment, however, all guidance points to the need for ongoing social distancing. We will continuously revisit the need for distance learning, and as soon as it is determined that it is appropriate to return to campus, we will. We have put together an FAQ that may be helpful to you as we navigate this together. You can find the FAQ here.

Resources for Parents  
After spring break, you will have opportunities to connect with administrators during grade level parent meetings at both the high school and K-8. We will also be continuing our virtual parent education. You will be receiving more information on this in the coming days, but below is an overview of the types of events we have planned. Also, the Coronavirus Resource page on our website is being updated regularly with both parenting and health related articles. You can find that here .
  • Parent Education will be offered weekly on topics related to parenting and supporting students on a range of issues.
  • Weekly Parent Discussion Groups led by social emotional learning specialists Ann Liashkov and Anais Plasketes. These groups will create a space for parents to share strategies with each other and offer support. Ann will be working with parents of kids K-6th and Anais will be working parents of kids 7th-12th.
  • Coffee/or Tea with Administrators will be an opportunity to chat and ask questions about distance learning and other programming. 
Supporting our Community
The coming months will take everyone's C ollaboration, Communication, and Stewardship as we develop ways to best offer each other support. In an effort to meet this goal, we are in the process of forming a Sequoyah Stewardship Task Force  to support our community during this unprecedented time.  The task force will include both parents and students. Eileen Lee, Director of Events and Parent Engagement and Ryan McDaniel, Director of Advancement will have more information about this in the coming days. 

Finally, even with the stresses and uncertainty we are all being asked to confront daily, I remain inspired by the open heartedness and imagination I'm witnessing across our Sequoyah community. Here are just a few examples:
  • Team Sequoyah raised close to $20,000 for St. Baldrick's Day, even though the live event was cancelled and our "Shavees" had to shave remotely. St. Baldrick's is a charity dedicated to funding children's cancer research. Please enjoy this video made by Nest lead teacher Jeff Radt.
St Baldrick's, 2020
St Baldrick's, 2020

  • A Pond parent posted a request on social media for an N-95 mask for a friend who is a nurse and had been intubating patients without one. An Over There parent answered the call and within an hour, the husband of the nurse was able to collect not one but two masks for his wife.
  • KAWW (Sequoyah High School's radio station) is helping the Sequoyah community stay connected by posting sign ups for lunchtime and after-school broadcast slots. You can listen to KAWW here.
  • Student governments from both campuses have already been meeting to think about how to support the student community during this time. 
  • 10th grade representatives are planning an after school Zoom movie viewing party for their class. 
  • We heard from a 12th grader during the Steering Committee that many students across grade levels have been eating lunch together virtually.
  • Junior high students led cooking and yoga classes.
  • Group singing is happening during morning meetings.
  • Reading buddies are having virtual play dates. 
  • Families are out in the garden, taking nature walks, doing yoga, making art, playing with their pets, cooking, etc, and sharing images of themselves on our Sequoyah's Instagram for the entire community to enjoy.

This is a hard time we are experiencing as a Sequoyah community and as a larger society. To say anything different would be dishonest. As spring break begins many of the things we are accustomed to enjoying will not be available to us. There won't be travel, or going to restaurants, or gatherings of friends, or going out to movies, and concerts. There won't be going to the local playground or even your favorite hiking trails. But, some things continue on. For most of us there will still be dinners with family and bedtime stories, and (virtual) chats with friends and reading good books. And, spring is still here. Not only that, we have been blessed with rain so that plants are green, flowers are blooming, and birds are happily singing. Most of us are still able to get outside in some way shape or form. Drawing inspiration from a Sequoyah favorite, artist Andy Goldsworthy, Backyard students have been asked to create their own natural design like the one pictured below. If you and your family are looking for something to do over break, get outside and make your own! I'd love to see what you come up with!
Whether it's a natural design or something else entirely, if you have stories or pictures to share, please send them to Interim Director of Communications, Sarah Gossage at sgossage@sequoyahschool.org or post them on social media with the hashtag #sequoyahtogether. We want to know how you are doing so we can remain connected. 

Sincerely,
Josh






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