Over the course of the past few weeks, our crisis management team has been daily monitoring and responding to the quickly evolving information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in the Pacific Northwest. We have consulted CDC, King County Health Department, and NAIS to review recommendations and have daily reassessed those recommendations in light of our threat matrices. We have also been in regular contact with members of our community and administrators at other local private schools.
I want to share an important update with you regarding our response to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
While The Bear Creek School does not have a current confirmed case of COVID-19, our senior leadership team has decided to proactively transition instruction to remote learning through Friday, March 20. All events and activities in all three locations (Valley Campus and the Main building and Upper School at Redmond Campus), as well as athletics practices, are cancelled through Sunday, March 22.
Why we are making this decision now?
We are making this decision out of an abundance of caution and care for the entire community. This decision was not made lightly nor was it made in haste. It was informed by multiple priorities, including:
- protecting the health and safety of our students
- protecting higher risk employees, parents, and grandparents
- a desire to love our neighbors in the broader community by slowing the spread of COVID-19 through reducing social contact.
Additionally, our schedule for the next two weeks includes several non-instructional conference days, so, effectively, we will be creating a social distancing window of approximately 14 days, at the cost of 7 – 8 on-campus instructional days.
Many employers, including Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook have instituted a similar work-from-home policy. Although children are considered at lower risk for the virus, a school of our size inherently involves gatherings of both students and adults on a regular basis, and we believe the next few weeks may prove to be a critical moment in the outbreak when social distancing measures can potentially impact the further spread of the disease.
In our judgement, moving to remote learning is currently the best course of action for our students, our faculty and staff, our families, and the broader community. We will evaluate the situation regularly and consult with public health officials to determine if we will need to remain in the remote learning environment beyond March 20.
I realize this decision will cause inconvenience to everyone. Please know this is a difficult and complex decision, and not one we have made lightly, and I thank you for your patience and grace as we work through this together as a community.
How this will work?
We are committed to providing the best possible continuity of education in this challenging circumstance and request your support and partnership in this endeavor. We are using the two in-service days (March 6 and 9) to work with our teachers to train them and further refine their use of digital student learning management and delivery tools.
- The building closure will begin on Tuesday, March 10 at 11:00 a.m.; we hope to resume normal operations on Monday, March 23.
- Students and parents may pick up textbooks and necessary classroom resources on Tuesday, March 10, from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. in the Main building and Upper School at Redmond Campus.
- All preschool classes are cancelled from Monday, March 9 through Friday, March 20.
- From Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 20, The Bear Creek School will function under our remote learning plan.
- All school buildings and outdoor facilities will be closed. Students, parents, and guardians should not be on campus.
- The Bear Creek School administrators, faculty, and staff will be accessible through email; you can find their contact information in the online directory on the Parent Portal.
- All athletics (practices and games), arts (rehearsals and performances), and club activities are canceled through Sunday, March 22. We recognize these cancellations will be deeply disappointing to students who have been working hard to prepare for their seasons and performances, but we need to prioritize their long-term health and safety. We will update everyone about the reopening of the athletics and arts programs as soon as we can, and more information will be shared in the coming weeks.
- During the closure, our facilities team will continue cleaning the campus.
Look for additional emails in the next several days, outlining the specific remote learning details and expectations for students and parents and other important updates. Middle School and Upper School students and parents should also check the Student Portal and Parent Portal. In addition, we will update our COVID-19 Information page regularly.
Some Final Thoughts
During this time of social distancing, it is important to remember we all have a part to play. Local and state officials, including Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and the Director of Public Health Seattle & King County Dr. Jeff Duchin have all urged people to consider avoiding large events or gatherings of more than 10 people to reduce the risk of catching the virus. We have undertaken this decision with that in mind. Please remember, school closures will not be effective unless they are accompanied by family and individual social distancing strategies. We respectfully request that you manage social interactions with that in mind. Christ told us in the Scriptures that the greatest commandments are to love the Lord and to love our neighbor in Matthew 22:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This break presents us with the opportunity to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Finally, as I have mentioned in prior emails, our hope is indeed in the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12 encourages us that He is our strength and His grace is sufficient for all things, especially in times of hardship, difficulties, and weakness.
But he [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
His grace is sufficient for this time as well.
Grace and peace,
President and Headmaster