Dear NSCS Families,
I trust that you have all stayed healthy and safe during the first part of summer break. It has on many levels been a different kind of summer with the many restrictions we have had to work around. If you are anything like me you are feeling like you have had enough COVID-19 focus. It dominates almost every conversation and dictates almost every decision, and at times there seems to be no end in sight. It can in deed be wearisome.
In spite of the Coronavirus, the Senior Administrative Leadership Team (S.A.L.T.) at NSCS, along with our Reopen School Doors Task Force, have been busy preparing for the fall, and the reopening of school, and in doing so, I was reminded of a verse from Isaiah 40:31. I am certain that it is a familiar verse for many, in fact, I’d bet many of you have it memorized. It reads, …but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint (New International Version). According to other Bible translations, the word hope can be interchanged in this verse with the word wait. Consider the translation from the English Standard Version (ESV). Ok, so why does it matter if one translation uses the word hope and another uses the word wait? We can conclude that earlier translations of the Bible used these two words interchangeably or, that these two words were so closely interdependent on one anther that they were viewed as having a connected activity. In other words – waiting in Isaiah 40:31 wasn’t merely a mindless activity, sort of how you might feel waiting in the Dunkin’ Donut drive-thru lane. This sort of waiting was a hope-filled waiting, one that was infused by a realistic sense of anticipation that carried an inward sensation that something was pending, and that one needed to begin preparations.
To put Isaiah 40 into historical context, for several decades the Israelites were under Babylonian captivity and rulership. Life was hard. The Israelites were restricted in their daily living and were hard pressed on all sides. Life wasn’t normal, nor did there appear to be an end in sight. Remind you of anything? Then one day it is told to the Israelites that their waiting was over and it was now time to get moving…literally! To put this announcement into perspective, it would be a 700-mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem…remember there were no cars, and so this walk would be the equivalent to walking from New York City to Atlanta, Georgia, with your kids in toe! A whole lot of preparations had to happen to make this trip a reality!
The same is true for NSCS! We recognize that while we might feel that we are being held captive to the Coronavirus as we wait for restrictions to ease, we also know that a day is coming when restrictions will ease and life will return to near-normal. As difficult as it may be to imagine that this time is coming, we must begin to prepare for this day, and we must do so with a good measure of hope.
After careful evaluation of the information we have to date from both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) NSCS has made the decision to begin preparations to reopen our school doors to receive students on-campus this September. This decision was made with a sincere sense of hope and with a level of great anticipation that the same faithful God who led the Israelites out of captivity many, many years ago, will prove faithful to His people today.
Our Reopen School Doors Task Force has been meeting over the summer, with another meeting scheduled for the end of the month. I could not be more appreciative of our volunteers. It is an assembly of highly gifted and dedicated individuals who are invested in helping our school’s S.A.L.T. (Senior Administrative Leadership Team) make the most informed decisions that are in the very best interest of our students, families, and teachers, as we seek to reopen our school doors to educate our students on-campus, and in-person during the Academic Year 2020-21.
Our Task Force hopes to have a Town Hall Meeting of sorts later this month, at which time you will have the opportunity to ask questions of our Task Force members, as well as share your concerns or desires for the start of the new school year. Please be on the lookout for a date of this Zoom Town Meeting. Additionally, please also be on the lookout for Parent and Student surveys that our Reopen School Doors Task Force has created to better understand and gage our continuants feelings around reopening school in the fall. Your feedback is hugely important in this process.
Please use the link below to learn more about our reopening of school doors for the Academic Year 2020-21. https://drive.google.com/file/d/13ytFbhA_IOB9zT2f-TcOePn87yYsycSq/view?usp=sharing. This model was communicated with our families on June 8th. Also included in this attachment is our Hybrid Model, which was also communicated to our families at the same time. A hybrid model will be considered as a viable option should the CDC and DESE deem it necessary to begin the school year in this manner, or initiate this model at any point during the school year should it be deemed necessary to do so for a variety of COVID-19 related reasons.
Please take note of the two sections, one entitled, Additional Health & Safety Precautions, and the other one entitled, Additional Information, on the Reopening attachment. As is the case with all information that we will share throughout the summer, it is subject to change as we receive additional guidance from the State. We anticipate adding to these two lists of important information as we continue to shape our reopening of school.
I hope that you will be encouraged as you read through both the Press Release from DESE, https://mailchi.mp/doe.mass.edu/press-release-dese-releases-initial-back-to-school-guidance, and the Near-Normal Model for the fall, as they paint a very realistic, and doable model for safely reopening our school doors in September. We of course recognize that there are a fair amount of hurdles to jump, and that we as a community, are all at varying degrees of comfort-levels as we live in a world of COVID-19, and so all the more I urge you to send your comments along to me directly, and I will be sure to share them with our Task Force. I also want to encourage all of us to be patient with one another as we navigate a time in history that has no script. While we cannot control the fluid nature of this Virus, we can control how we respond and interact with one another, and it is my sincerest desire that we would do so with a measure of grace and understanding, remembering that ultimately we all have one shared goal in mind, and that goal is to educate our students in the safest manner possible.
As always. I cannot express to you enough my deepest gratitude and appreciation for being an amazing community of parents and caregivers. Your devotion to and care of our learning environment is a source of deep blessing.
With Love and on Behalf of the Reopen School Doors Task Force,
Pam Heintz, Head of School
Reopen School Doors Task Force Committee Members Renee Southard, Director of Development; Patti Cook, Business ManagerChristine; Saia, Director of Admissions and Community Outreach; Kathy Ely, NSCS Chaplain & Teacher; Jenna Joseph, NSCS Teacher; Nicole and Elias Pearson, Parents; Melissa Reaume, Parent; Chapin Jacob, Parent; Navid Mahooti, Parent/MD; Sandi Hickey, Parent/RN, MSN, ANP-BC; Chuck Downing, School Counselor