Good Morning VBS ECC:

I hope this email finds you and your family in good health and in good spirits.
 
As promised, today I write to you with an important school update . Many of you may have tuned into Governor Newsom’s State Address yesterday, where his team unveiled new modified stay at-home orders and a pathway to reopen schools and childcare centers (stage 2 of a 4 stage plan). Information and guidelines remains incomplete, uncertain and in-flux. But we are optimistic this announcement marks a new phase of specific planning and preparation for our return to campus. 

Here is what we do know: a return to school life will not be a light switched back on, but rather a gradual and incremental process based on best practices and established guidelines. The safety and health of your children will drive all our decisions as we cautiously move forward. This may be an unsettling proposition, but thankfully, none of us is alone. 

So, let’s forge ahead together.

2019-2020 SCHOOL YEAR
We realize that a return to school campus this year is unlikely . We will, however, continue to make decisions and share updates with you in two-week increments with the guidance of the Governor’s and Mayor’s offices, the Department of Health, the CDC and our local school licensing office. I will continue to communicate additional information in the upcoming weeks regarding any possible on-campus access and the collection of childrens’ personal belongings and school work. 

We know just how important it is to mark the conclusion of any school year (or preschool journey!) in meaningful ways. Our staff is already engaged in conversations regarding end-of-year celebrations, and of course, Pre-K/TK Graduation. We will wait a week or so longer to learn more about updated city-wide social distancing recommendations and requirements before making final plans. Thank you for your patience as we work through the particulars.
 
IMMEDIATE REFUND TO FAMILIES
As the school year continues and our off-campus learning extends, we become more and more aware of the on-going challenges this model presents to families. We know that, despite our teacher’s best efforts and many beautiful moments , Learning @Home is not an optimal long-term proposition for our young learners. Therefore, our Board of Directors has just approved an immediate refund to all families . It is our hope that this refund will provide your family with some relief and peace of mind.

The following table indicates the refund dollar amount per age group. Please note that these refunds are in addition to the VBS ECC Cares Credit authorized in early April.
An additional note: like many businesses, and in particular most non-profit organizations, our school will face significant and difficult financial months ahead. To date, lost revenue, credits and refunds total a loss of more than half a million dollars to our school budget. I share this information with you openly, not to evoke guilt, sympathy or anger, but to provide you with a clear picture of the real and immediate financial impact on this school year and the year ahead.

Beyond the budget deficit, we also know that many families will continue to need additional tuition relief in the upcoming school year. The Board of Directors and our ECC Staff are planning for this reality, and we are committed to doing what we can to support families with expanded tuition relief assistance this upcoming school year. 

And so we respectfully ask, if you are in the position to donate some or all of your refund back to our school, please email Allison Truscheit in our Finance Department ( atruscheit@vbsds.org ) for the details.  

We thank all of you for your understanding as we aim to responsibly navigate our school’s and families’ futures.

What’s Next?
Unless you indicate otherwise, our finance department will prepare a refund check and mail it directly to you. Please allow 10-14 business days for this transaction to be completed.

FALL TUITION & PAYMENT FOR 2020-2021 POSTPONED
Typically, May 15 marks the due date for the upcoming school year’s first tuition payment. This date is strategically set so that our office can plan appropriately for the school year ahead. We must know how many children are enrolled so that we can confidently extend employment agreements to teachers, finalize calendars, begin purchasing materials, and confirm the vendor and specialist contracts we rely on to support children’s and families' school experience.  

Yet, we are extremely sensitive to the fact that these times have created financial uncertainty for so many. Therefore, we will defer ALL 2020-2021 tuition payments until July 15, 2020. With this change, a ten month payment plan will run July 2020 - April 2021, and a two month payment plan will be set for July and December 2020. This deferral will provide all of us with the benefit of time and, hopefully, more definitive information as we inch closer to our anticipated September school start date. 

Beginning your payments on May 15 is still an option. If you prefer this arrangement (May 15, 2020 - February 15, 2021), please email Allison Truscheit in our Finance Department ( atruscheit@vbsds.org ). For any additional financial questions or concerns, please email me ( amars@vbs.org ) and Karin Mendel, our Director of Finance ( kmendel@vbsds.org ). We are here to help.

SUMMER PROGRAM
There is nothing we want more than to celebrate this summer with your little ones on campus! Molly Mills, Camp Director, and our Administrative Team continue to plan with an eye towards a late June/early July camp start date . We will provide you with details just as soon as possible. 

CONTINUED SUPPORT
As part of our core mission and anchored by our Jewish values, the VBS Synagogue and Schools continue to provide a wide range of support services for children and adults. Counseling, chat and support groups, parent education, clergy counsel, community worship, events and programs continue uninterrupted. Refer to our website HERE for contact information and an updated schedule of events and programs. Please reach out to us so we can be of service. 

We are delighted that so many of you have already inquired and offered your support. If you'd like to volunteer in service to others (the elderly, the food insecure, the isolated) please contact Nitzan Barlev ( nbarlev@vbs.org ), VBS Volunteer Engagement & Community Organizing Coordinator. There are many opportunities to care for our extended community and we thank you.

What has always sustained this community is our ability to care for one another. Though we are all in need at this moment, it is evermore important to remain tethered - to laugh together, to worry together, but most of all, to imagine what and who we will be together when we are reunited physically some day very soon.

With gratitude and hope,
Abby Andiman Mars
ECC Director
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