Lower School Update: Entering Step Two - September 2020

  • Lower School
Kristen Gephart, Lower School Division Head

Dear Parents,

As we welcome Lower School students back on campus, there is such a sense of excitement and a taste of “normal” as students walk into the building dressed in crisp uniforms with backpacks and bright eyes. I know this school year isn’t “normal” and am so grateful for a community of students, parents, teachers, and leadership which is willing to do hard new things as we partner in the mission the Lord has given our school. #GrizzliesTogether!

When I popped into classrooms during our first week of school, I immediately noticed our remote students projected on the whiteboard; from the hallways, I could hear student voices engaged in the important work of learning. As part of building the classroom learning community, Ms. Loo’s grade 3 class used an outdoor learning space to arrange themselves by birthdate using only body language while practicing what a six-foot distance looks and feels like. Smiles and giggles emerged throughout the lesson. In a random sample end-of-day thumb-meter survey I asked students to rate their day as they walked out to waiting parents and received thumbs up from happy students.

We know we will need to make tweaks as we integrate the new layers necessary for teaching in this blended environment. Our teachers are working hard to discover new and better ways to engage student learning in all modalities.

Step Two

As Headmaster Patrick Carruth shared in his email yesterday, we are moving to Step Two of our Step Start Plan, which means that beginning Monday, September 21, students in grades K – 4 will be on campus two days each week (and learning remotely three days each week), with two grade levels on campus at the same time. We have carefully planned the daily schedule so that students in different grade levels will have different traffic patterns in the building and continue to remain in their class cohorts. Of course, students may also attend in the remote modality as you deem appropriate for your family situation.

On-Campus Schedules

  • Kindergarten (Full-Day): Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Kindergarten (2/3-Day)): Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
  • Grade 1: Monday and Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Grade 2: Wednesday, 9:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Grade 3: Monday and Thursday, 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Grade 4: Tuesday and Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

See Lower School Weekly Schedule by Step (also available on MyBC/Parents under Daily Schedules).

Uniform Expectations

Students learning on campus should wear casual uniform. Typically, Lower School students wear dress uniform (school logo sweater with DENNIS pants or plaid) on Tuesdays for Chapel. We will start requiring dress uniform when all Lower School students are on campus five days a week; however, if your child is on campus on Tuesday, he/she may want to start getting in the weekly habit.


As we transition to full days on campus, we have begun offering students the option to purchase lunch from the school cafeteria. Please follow these guidelines when considering lunch options for your child.

  • Students will usually eat lunch in their classrooms. There may be days classes are able to eat outside. 
  • Students may bring lunch from home or order a hot or deli sack lunch from the cafeteria. Lunch orders will be delivered to classrooms.
  • The lunch menu is posted weekly on the Food Services page.
  • To care for our students with allergies, we are temporarily shifting to a no-nut policy. Please be sure that any food sent to school with your child does not contain nuts. 
  • Students may remove their masks while eating and drinking.


Lower School students will go outside twice a day for some fresh air and recreation. We are mindful of air quality hazards with the recent wildfire smoke and may choose to keep students indoors if conditions warrant. The playground has been zoned so that students can enjoy recess with their class cohorts without risk of mixing with other cohorts. Students may remove their masks when they are outside and six feet away from other students.

We recommend that students learning remotely use scheduled recess periods to take a break from the screen, have a snack, and get some fresh air in order to keep their brains and bodies healthy. 

Drop-off and Pick-up Reminders

Thank you for the partnership with our staggered drop-off and pick-up times and procedures. We will work to keep these drop-off and pick-up windows to 15 minutes before the scheduled start time for each grade level and 15 minutes after the scheduled end time for each grade level. You can help us run this process smoothly by having the date- and name-stamped green GO page from the Student Daily Screening questionnaire on the Magnus Health app ready to show our staff in the morning and yellow pick-up signs on your dashboard in the afternoons. We acknowledge the timing and logistics involved are challenging for families, and we thank you for your partnership.

Digital Citizenship

Lower School student Office 365 accounts are to be used for educational purposes that serve the mission of The Bear Creek School. All members of the Bear Creek community are expected to contribute positively to our digital environment and to uphold the mission and values of The Bear Creek School. Student safety is a primary concern for all of us. As students use these accounts while working remotely from home:

  • Parents are responsible for their child’s online safety, behavior, and usage.
  • Parents and students agree not to record images or video of Bear Creek teachers, other students, or class materials or share such items with those outside our school community. 
  • Parents and students agree to use these accounts only for school-related purposes.

Parent Supervision in Teams

We recently disabled the ability for students to create their own Teams. We are also currently looking into solutions for limiting Teams Chat outside of classroom activity monitored by teachers.

Here are some important recommendations for parents:

  • Lower School students should not use chat/call/video features of Teams with other students during scheduled classes or Teams activities. 
  • Outside these times, it is up to parents to determine family chat rules. Please talk to your child and ask him/her not to reach out to other students to initiate chats during class meetings. 
  • Within Teams, students currently have the capability to set up their own chats and chat groups, and since teachers are unable to monitor these spaces, parents are responsible for setting the boundaries and guidelines for their child(ren) as with all media usage at home.
  • Monitor your child’s Teams:
    • On the left of the screen, click on Activity (bell icon) to see all the notifications your child has received.
    • Below that, click on Chat (speech bubble icon) to see all the chats your child has been a part of. Some may be associated with a Team or a class meeting, others may be named group chats, and others could be private one-on-one chats with other students. Only chats within a school Team or a class meeting are monitored by Bear Creek employees.
  • We recommend that you silence your child’s Chat notifications during the school day:
    • From Teams, select your child’s profile picture (or initials) in the title bar.
    • From the drop down menu, change your child’s presence to "Do not disturb." You may want to change it back after the class meeting. 
Teams Do Not Disturb

Curriculum Night

We have postponed Curriculum Night to Thursday, October 1. Look for an email next week from Karen Blankenbeckler, Vice President for Academic Affairs, with more information about this important event.

Contact Information

Our Lower School Dean of Students is Tressa Parker. You can reach her at tparker@tbcs.org and 425-898-1720 ext. 113. Mrs. Parker works to support our specialist teachers and the student experience outside the classroom.

Our Division Assistant is Cady Reimer. You can reach her at creimer@tbcs.org and 425-898-1720 ext. 116. Mrs. Reimer helps support our Lower School with administrative support and coordinates appointments for Mrs. Parker and me.

We are grateful for the privilege to partner with you in community. In this season, I am reminded that the Lord has given us a community, not an institution. #GrizzliesTogether!

Those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak. 
Isaiah 40:31

Kristen Gephart