Update on School Closing

March 18, 2020
Dear BWS Community ,
As we reach the end of our first week of distance learning, I am grateful to emerge with the feeling that this community – even in its changed and sheltered form – is alive and strong and humming with the joy of learning. As a community we are working together to bring a vibrant Waldorf classroom into each of your homes. Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and caretakers are partnering with teachers to educate our children together. As we take a breath and prepare to move forward, let us take a moment to reflect with gratitude on the creative, committed and energetic BWS teachers who have built a customized distance learning and support platform for our families in record time. Their efforts have been nothing short of heroic. And your partnership has been inspiring and speaks to the strength of our community. We will continue to draw on this spirit of collaboration and perseverance in the weeks ahead. 

While distance learning is well underway, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly. The BWS Board of Trustees and school administration have been monitoring developments in close consultation with our Medical Advisory Panel.  Shortly after my last communication, the Governor ordered all Massachusetts schools closed through April 7th. However, it is now clear that schools located in geographic areas with confirmed community-wide spread should remain closed beyond April 7th. Schools in New York City and Boston are now closed through April 20th and April 27th, respectively. With this in mind, and given the current medical outlook in Berkshire County, BWS has determined that our school will remain closed through Monday, April 20th. This decision has been made in an effort to stem the increasing rate of infection in Berkshire County. Given the continued limited availability of testing and the resulting strain that has been placed on local healthcare providers and resources, this is the most responsible course of action.  The need for social distancing has become even more imperative and the broader community needs all of us to support the wellness of others by staying home.

BWS faculty are prepared for this extended period of distance learning. Next week, thanks to the committed work of teachers, parents and students, we will continue our distance learning at BWS. Look for a weekly update on this subject from me in our Friday newsletter. 

One of the most difficult aspects of this situation is the unknown. I cannot give you a date when we will come together again. That is unsettling for all of us – and I can only imagine how it might feel for our children. But I do know this: community is one of our core values. It is at the core of our identity and our 50-year history as a school. I know it is what will guide us and help us meet this challenge with courage and grace. This moment asks us to think differently, to understand our own interconnectedness. While we have had to close our physical doors, as a community we are simultaneously opening our hearts. My hope for all of us is that despite these extraordinary circumstances, we do not lose sight of the abundance of love and joy that surrounds us daily, and that we find ways to share that with one another from afar. 

 In partnership,
Lynn Arches
School Director
Berkshire Waldorf School
35 West Plain Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
(413) 528-4015