Dear CES Family,

We have had an amazing three days of online learning. It has not been perfect. There has been frustration when technology did not work as we wanted it to. However, there has been a whole lot more success than there have been glitches. How are we defining success this week?

  • Every child has seen his/her teacher live and/or via video conference.
  • Curriculum has continued to be delivered.
  • Students are completing assignments and posting completed work to the teachers.
  • Technology support has been quickly available.
  • Though exhausted and sometimes anxious or overwhelmed, teachers are feeling proud of their accomplishments.
  • Parents are grateful that their children are continuing to learn and see their friends and teachers.

Now that we see how school is going to look under the current international crisis, and because we do not know how long this is going to last, I want to share a letter that has been posted on Facebook. It is written by Erin Atwell DeMartini who works for the Mount Diablo Unified School District in Dublin, California.

Perspective is really important during these challenging times.

Dear parents with school aged children who are about to start day one of remote learning from an educator and mom:

You might be inclined to create a minute by minute schedule for your kids. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, and book reports. You’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing...

Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off of school for 4 weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behavior issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally - it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behavior in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those 4 weeks is long gone. So keep that in mind, every day.

My CES Family, please keep these wise words in mind. We will continue making adjustments to the program after Spring Break. At this moment, I am not optimistic that we will be back on campus. In fact, I think it is most likely that we will be away for at least 8 weeks, which would put us at mid-May. As soon as I know this with certainty, I will let you know. All of us will continue to work on your behalf. Right now our plan for after Spring Break is to maintain office hours with minimal staffing. I will keep you informed regarding that, too.

Take care of yourself. Next week, take a break!

With love and gratitude for each and every one of you,