Bear Creek Adopts Step Start Plan - August 2020

  • Headmaster
Patrick Carruth, President and Headmaster

Dear Parents,

It is my hope that your summer is peacefully winding down and that this letter finds you well. It has indeed been a unique year, and the Lord has shown His faithfulness to our community throughout this pandemic. In an effort to return safely to school this fall, the faculty and staff have spent hundreds of hours this spring and summer, studying data and receiving input from you and local health officials, to develop our Learning Together 2020 plan to meet the guidelines put forward by the Centers for Disease Control, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, American Association of Pediatricians, and the Washington State and King County Departments of Health. That plan was shared in July. 

Since then, we have been given additional guidance by the Governor which “doesn’t mandate school closures or other measures—based on local incidence of the novel coronavirus” and by the Washington State Department of Health which is “designed to assist local health officials and school administrators in determining the degree of in-person learning that is advisable in their school and ensuring that the school is able to implement comprehensive health and safety measures and is ready to respond swiftly if a person with confirmed COVID-19 is identified in the school environment. The Department of Health favors a slow, cautious, phased-in approach to resuming in-person instruction beginning with staff, small groups of our youngest learners, and students who are unable to learn or receive critical services asynchronously. Over time, schools can add additional students to in-person models.” As I mentioned in my most recent video, we have sought to balance this new guidance with our original plan. As such, The Board of Trustees and the administration have decided to proceed with Learning Together Fall 2020, and, specifically, to continue forward with the Bear Creek Choice options for instruction, but to do so in a stepped on-campus progression in the fall. To accomplish this, we have created a progressive five-step Step Start Plan for reaching the full five days per week Bear Creek Choice model, articulated in Learning Together Fall 2020. We will begin the school year in Step One

Bear Creek Step Start Plan*

STEP ONE

Preschool: Regular half-day on campus except one day per week remote learning (e.g., 3-day P3 class will have two days on campus and one day remote learning; 4-day P4 class will have three days on campus and one day remote learning)

K – 4: One full-day per week on campus, four full days per week remote learning (modified on-campus schedule during week of September 8)

5 – 12: Remote learning five days per week

STEP TWO

Preschool: Regular half-days on campus

K – 4: Two full days per week on campus, three full days per week remote learning

5 – 12: One full day per week on campus, four full days per week remote learning

STEP THREE

Preschool: Regular half-days on campus

K – 4: Two full days per week on campus, three full days remote learning

5 – 12: Two full days per week on campus, three full days remote learning

STEP FOUR

Preschool: Regular half-days on campus

K – 4: Five full days per week on campus  

5 – 12: Three full days per week on campus, two full days remote learning

STEP FIVE

Preschool: Regular half-days on campus

K – 4: Five full days per week on campus  

5 – 12: Five full days per week on campus

* Synchronous remote learning is an option available in all Steps 1 – 5.

We will determine the progression of steps based in part on analysis of multiple data sets from both King County and local Health Reporting Areas (cities), as measured by the number of positive COVID-19 cases/100,000/14-day period, hospitalization trends, and test positivity rates. The school will also consider other relevant metrics and data, including the rate of spread within The Bear Creek School community, and make decisions about moving between steps in consultation with medical experts and judgement about the best way in which to deliver our mission. This plan also gives our community the ability to predictably return to campus and respond quickly to rising or falling case rates.

In light of this stepped approach to returning to fully on-campus instruction, we are interested in how many students plan to attend on campus this fall. Would you please take a minute to complete this additional Back-to-School Registration requirement on your child’s Student Health Tracker To-Do List? Please log in to the health portal to indicate your preference.

Bear Creek Choice Preference 

As we prepare to begin school in the next few weeks, here are a few reminders and updates on our preparations for school:

  • All students, faculty, and staff will be physically distanced and wear masks throughout the day while on campus.
  • All members of the community (faculty, staff, and families) will use the Magnus Health mobile app to answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms each day they are expected to be on campus. As part of this screening, we will ask all parents and guardians to take their child's temperature each morning and report the result through the app. We will also take temperatures at school if a member of the community shows symptoms while on campus.
  • We have purchased new and redistributed current furniture in classrooms to allow physical distancing.
  • We have installed technology in each of the classrooms so remote students can attend their classes synchronously.
  • Front desk locations have been outfitted with plexiglass shields in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be in effect throughout the school year.
  • Signage will mark directional flow in the buildings including hallways and restrooms and remind students and employees about physical distancing, wearing masks, and proper hygiene. 
  • The health and safety of our entire school community is our top priority. With that in mind, please closely follow the Washington State guidelines for Phase 2.0 regarding social distancing, face coverings, and gathering with no more than five people outside your household in the next few weeks, so we may restart school with confidence. These regulations may seem burdensome but following them is another way of showing our care and love for one another.

Next week will be a busy week. We have much information to share with you about beginning school. Please check your email for updates from Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Blankenbeckler regarding schedules, curriculum, and instruction, from Health Services Manager Lea Hysom regarding health and safety policies and protocols, and from your Division Head regarding division specific details.

Many people have been working hard this summer to get school ready for the fall, and I know I speak for them when I say we are excited to see you again, to steward the mission of The Bear Creek School, to provide a high-quality, Christian liberal arts education in a nurturing environment that will enable each student to become the individual God intends. Toward the end of The Hobbit, Bilbo and Gandalf return from the Battle of the Five Armies. Tolkien writes,

"So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!” said Bilbo, and he turned his back on his adventure. The Tookish part was getting very tired, and the Baggins was daily getting stronger. “I wish now only to be in my own arm-chair!” he said.

Perhaps throughout these many months you have had a similar thought, to be in your own arm-chair and rest. I know I have. But I also know when that happens that I have forgotten a significant truth that Bilbo utters, “even dragons have their ending.” As a community you have been faithful and resilient. Stay steadfast, even this pandemic dragon will have its ending. Enjoy the next few weeks of summer!

Grace and peace,

Patrick Carruth

  • Headmaster
  • Learning Together
  • Remote HM