March 21, 2020
I trust you are all isolating and feeling well; it is a challenging time, for sure! My staff and I all miss you and especially your children IMMENSELY!
Of course, we want this crisis to end quickly, but it seems highly unlikely that South Hills will be able to open March 31 as originally expected. We are not permitted to open until Governor Wolfe announces that Nonpublic schools and child care centers are permitted to reopen.
Our major concern, besides the health of our families and staff, is the ongoing academic progress of your children. As you have been informed through our website, Twitter and Dropbox communication, the teachers have been working tirelessly to adapt their lesson plans and add them to your Dropbox folder under March/Preschool Lessons and Activities. We hope your children have been engaged this week with these activities that your child’s teacher has offered! The Kindergarten students have their work packets, or they will soon be arriving in the mail.
I am writing primarily to announce to you that South Hills will be teaching your children live in a virtual classroom through Zoom beginning Monday, March 31. There is still so much for the teachers to present to your child this year to ensure we can properly assess them, and that they have met all the required standards for PreK, Kindergarten and First grade. We do NOT want them to lose any progress they have already made!
Later this week, you will receive instructions for loading Zoom and accessing your virtual classroom via email from my son, Dylan (firstname.lastname@example.org), so please watch for that. This will be a one time email. All further communications regarding these updates will come to you through Dropbox and the South Hills website.
If you do not have an iPad or computer that your child can access for our virtual school, please contact Beth at email@example.com. Beth will be talking with Apple and Best Buy regarding help in that area, if needed.
Teachers are currently being trained on Zoom and will spend the week of March 23 preparing their online lessons. Each child will attend a virtual classroom with their usual teacher and will continue to participate in Sign Language and Spanish with Ms Pam, Technology with Ms Karlee or Ms Maria, Science with Ms Mary and Music/Movement with me! Full day PreK students will move to another pm classroom on their regularly assigned days with Ms Kelsee.
Please remember that we are human, and there will be glitches and issues to work out as we jump into this. Be patient with us, don’t give up on us, and we will work through issues as they arise.
The full day classrooms will open from 8:45-3:00 Monday through Friday. There will be breaks for bathroom and snacks for full day students. Lunchtime will be 11:30-12:00 for full day students. Half day will attend either 9:00-11:30 or 12:30-3:10. We will be closed Friday, April 10 for Good Friday as originally scheduled.
Ms Beth will be our central support, and will be contacting you by phone at least twice a week to ensure all questions are answered and concerns resolved. You will be able to call the school between 8:30-3:00 and talk directly to her as well.
Further details will be provided regarding material lists (Don’t panic—these are items you have in your home already, I guarantee,) and a “pick up” system for materials we will be loaning your child for their home classroom use. We are still working out final details.
I know many of you will be asking the cost, and what the financial arrangements are to date. There currently is no mandate that school tuitions must be returned to families, BUT I am sensitive to your own personal hardships during this time. As a small business, South Hills has limited funds as my only income for our budget is your tuition. Yes, I have fears for my business, but also strong faith, and I refuse to simply give up my life’s work these past 45 years. Victim mentality is not my way... Taking care of my South Hills’ Family is my priority. I want to continue my teacher’s salaries, even foregoing my own, but the reality is I have only a few weeks worth of funds available to cover salaries, rent, utilities and other essential expenses. I will be meeting with the SBA regarding the CARE help available, and will take advantage of all that apply to South Hills, if any.
The fact that so many of you have written me such beautiful supportive letters and refused reimbursement of your tuition, along with determination to continue payments, has been overwhelming to me—each one bringing me to tears of gratitude. You cannot possibly know what this means to me and to my staff.
Therefore, my decision is that we will continue billing all families throughout this crisis. HOWEVER, I have instructed Dylan to accept whatever payments come in, and to ignore any non-payments from March 17 when the closure began, until this ends. Each family has their own financial burden, and their own feelings about the fairness of payment/reimbursement. If someone wants their prior payment for these weeks of closure credited to later weeks when we return, or reimbursed, please just relay that to Dylan. I will accept whatever decision you feel is right for you and your family.
We do not know yet if scholarship payments will still be offered through Future Funds for the time we are closed, but please do not be concerned. Families on scholarship will be taken care of, and will not be billed.
I have also instructed Dylan not to inform me of any non payments, unless a family decides to withdraw. He will keep this information confidential, so your relationship with me is not in any way compromised. I don’t want anyone feeling guilty or embarrassed by their decision, as I do truly understand that these are difficult economic times...
Whether you pay or not, you are part of our South Hills’ family and we want your child to return to school through our virtual classrooms!
Please watch for information and directions from Dylan, and check your Dropbox folder regularly (Please reach out to Beth if you are having difficulty accessing your child’s personal or classroom Dropbox folder). I rely on you to reach out to other South Hills’ families you know to ensure everyone is aware of our plans. My staff and I look forward to seeing your child next week in our Zoom classrooms!!
With Many Blessings and Much Gratitude to each and every one of you,