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Updates and Messages

July 6, 2020


Dear CHS Family,

It is my honor to join the CHS community to partner with you in the supernatural work that God is doing on this campus. I pray you are enjoying a time of refreshment this summer, particularly as we have all been navigating some uncertainty over the past few months. How comforting it is to be part of a place where the Lord reigns, and where we can literally partner with Him in all we do.

While recommendations for reopening schools at the local, state, and federal levels will continue to be updated throughout the summer, CHS is preparing to begin in-person classes on September 2, 2020. Although some aspects of school will look a bit different, our enduring mission of providing “students with an education of spiritual and academic excellence with which to serve God” remains central to all that we do.

Given the changing nature of this pandemic and its impact on communities, the Return to Learn team has been developing multi-leveled plans in the seven target areas outlined below. While we acknowledge that we will need to be innovative and flexible as situations arise, the following areas highlight some updates at this time.

Health and safety

We are establishing protocols for social distancing and safety practices (e.g. wearing masks, washing hands, personal hygiene), implementing procedures for monitoring illnesses, and reporting and responding to potential COVID-19 infections within our school community. Our school nurse, Ms. Watkins, has been working with the Health Department and other local health officials to update our COVID-19 response plan and will implement new state and town guidelines once they have been established. We will then communicate this plan to the school community.

Operations and facility

We have been evaluating the most effective use of classroom and work spaces, as well as high-traffic areas (lobby, hallways, cafeteria, café) to comply with safety guidelines regarding maximum occupancy, traffic flow, and maintaining appropriate distancing. Classrooms will be arranged according to the most recent guidelines from the CT State Department of Education, including configuration of desks, minimizing high touch areas and sharing of materials, and access to sanitizing supplies. We are planning some additional space for the nurse’s office to provide more area for distancing. Additionally, the facilities staff is enhancing cleaning and disinfecting practices throughout campus and implementing visitor and other security procedures to minimize risk of the spread of disease.

Schedule

In both the US and LS, we are creating the most optimal framework for all students to learn in person, while being intentional about minimizing crowding and reducing the risk of the spread of disease. We will be implementing some modified arrival/dismissal procedures that will streamline student travel to and from their classrooms each day. More specifics about students’ schedules (US) and arrival and dismissal procedures (US and LS) will come from divisional principals.

Academic program

We continue to prioritize providing robust, meaningful learning experiences that are adaptive for and accessible to all of our students. We are working to comply with recommendations to keep students as cohorted as possible throughout the day without losing rich opportunities to learn. For LS this means that students will remain together as a class unit more so than in the past. Some traditionally large group activities such as lunch and chapel will be held in smaller settings, and recess will occur by class. Additionally, LS classes will begin orientation to online learning platforms such as Google Classroom through school-purchased Chromebooks. This addition to the curriculum will not only enhance classroom learning experiences, but also facilitate continuity of learning should there be times when students have to move to distance learning. We are also purchasing technology for live streaming of some classes in the event that a student has to remain at home temporarily. In the US, we are committed to providing as many course options as possible for students; as a result, in some grades a strict cohort model is not always feasible. However, we will be implementing a schedule that minimizes the frequency of hallway crowding, emphasizes more teacher movement to classrooms where possible, and reduces congestion of restroom use. For larger class settings such as choir and band, we are looking at creative use of spaces on campus.

Activities and events

As we assess all-school, divisional, and grade-specific extra-curricular activities and events, we are making modifications that reinforce the purpose of the activity as much as possible. For example, at the outset of the year, it is likely that chapel will be held in smaller group settings or in spaces that provide more distancing options. Other after school activities such as sports and clubs will be updated as the various athletic associations and state leaders provide recommendations. Currently, our student ministry team is planning an alternative to the US overnight fall retreats so that students can have the opportunity to fellowship, worship, and grow together. We know that student life and community are so integral to CHS, so we want to provide as many of those experiences as possible, even if the format is modified.

Communications

We were encouraged to hear some of the recent announcements from the state regarding school reopening in the fall. That information confirmed the direction in which we were heading, and we want to provide updates on CHS’s preparations as they continue to form.

In addition to emails, we will also be posting updates on our website on a Return2Learn link. We look forward to the opportunity to share plans and hear your questions. To that end, the following parent meetings have been scheduled:
  •  LS Parent Meeting: Wednesday, July 15, at 7:30 pm.
  •  US Parent Meeting: Tuesday, July 14, at 7:30 pm.
     (Zoom links will be emailed 2-3 days prior to each of these meetings.)
 

You will also receive a survey the week of July 20 to provide feedback about the fall.

Wellbeing and support

It is our desire to assist students and parents as we all make the transition to return in the fall. We know that some are eager to be back on campus, and for others, there may be concerns about being back on campus. Our wellbeing and support team is working to help students feel as prepared, successful, and as healthy as possible. One way is for families to familiarize themselves with some of the changes as they are implemented during the summer. Second, we are planning a Return to Learn Day in August to help walk students through what it will be like to come back to campus and what they can expect; our hope is that some of these things will help alleviate any fear or anxiety of the unknowns and help students get excited to be back on campus.  More information about the Return to Learn Day will be provided later in the summer.

We have been so blessed to see how this community has come together during a difficult time. Our RTL team has worked tirelessly to plan, even as things changed, and continue to change. Our faculty and staff worked to adapt to learning environments that required many changes to normal routines and structures, all while continuing to challenge our students academically and spiritually as they loved, prayed for, and supported students and families in a way that simply does not happen in any other school. Our parents have been patient and understanding, knowing that we have all been thrust into a situation that has never happened before. Our students have been amazing, keeping attitudes that show why we are so proud of who they are as CHS students.  And most importantly, God continues to show Himself to be faithful, as He always is!

Sincerely in Christ,

Michael W.M. Dube, EdD
Head of School

 

 
May 26, 2020
 
Return to Learn 2020-21 video: Mrs. Baylis introduces our Return to Learn team and outlines the work being done to prepare for a return to on-campus classes in the fall.
 

Dear CHS Community,

In response to the Covid-19 health crisis, CHS has formed a task force named Return to Learn whose goal is to prepare for the anticipated 2020-21 school year. We are actively preparing for the reopening of campus in the fall and planning for various scenarios that will allow us to hold classes in-person. As guidelines from the CDC, the state, and local health officials continue to unfold, CHS will develop appropriate learning models to be implemented at different levels of impact of Covid-19. The work of careful preparation to provide a safe, healthy, and engaging learning environment is already underway, and we remain committed to providing a top-quality Christian education for our students.  In the process, we are drawing upon the best expertise available, both within the CHS community and the community-at-large.

Having gathered information from a range of sources – local, national, and international – the task force has created seven committees to focus on specific areas of planning: (1) health and safety; (2) operations and facility; (3) schedule; (4) academic program; (5) activities and events; (6) communications; and (7) wellbeing and support. Because the implications of social distancing and health protocols are far-reaching within a school community, these committees will coordinate with others as well as make recommendations particular to their area. Through these efforts, we will employ every practical measure to safeguard the health of our students, families, and staff.

At the end of this school year, the Return to Learn team will be sending a short survey for parents and older students to provide feedback on this year’s distance learning. Your input is valuable as we look toward next year. Additionally, we plan to hold some live (Zoom) meetings during the summer to give updates, receive feedback, and answer questions. Those dates will be communicated via email. 

CHS will continue to uphold our mission by offering a program that is academically and spiritually robust in all learning contexts. As always, that mission represents a partnership between the school and our families, and we are deeply grateful for your support, confidence, and prayer, now and in the weeks and months ahead. We on the Return to Learn team are grateful for the opportunity to serve the students, families, and staff at CHS through this work, and we prayerfully anticipate the ways the Lord will work all things together for His glory at CHS.

Gratefully, on behalf of the Return to Learn team,

Kim Baylis

May 22, 2020
 

CHS will not be hosting a summer camp this year.  We regret not being able to provide this service for our families.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact John Naeher, Director of Operations at jnaeher@kingsmen.org. If you had already registered our business office will be sending you a full refund. Thank you for your understanding,

John Naeher

Director of Operations and Student Life

May 18, 2020


Weekly Upper School Distance Learning Update.  Latest notes: last parent meeting will be combined for both MS and US
parents at 8:00 PM on Wednesday, May 27; locker clean-out schedule; parent resources.

May 11, 2020
 
Weekly Upper School Distance Learning Update.  Latest notes: upper school parent meeting this Thursday, May 14 at 8:00 PM; locker clean-out schedule; parent resources.
 
May 6, 2020
 

Dear CHS Community:

Earlier yesterday, I envisioned different points in this school year and truly enjoyed the memories of the “senior tunnel” that welcomed students to campus on August 28, the visions of parents with their children enjoying a Kingsmen Café breakfast before the morning bell rings, the drop-in classroom visits where I watched skilled teachers mentoring eager students, and so many other fantastically wonderful snapshots of the school year. I am still in process of crystalizing the memory of March 12, the day we held our last campus-based classes, and the evening our The Little Mermaid cast and crew wowed the audience in our gym with an exemplary performance of the spring musical.

On March 13, caution regarding the spread of COVID-19 led us to quickly shift our learning delivery to a distance format and we have all been living in the center of tension between our desire for safety for our community and our desire to reopen our community. Yesterday, Governor Lamont declared that all Connecticut public school buildings would not reopen for the remainder of the spring semester. Before yesterday’s announcement, school buildings in our state had been closed through May 20. CHS will align with the governor’s decision and will continue with distance learning throughout our final day of classes, on June 10.

I know this news is unwelcome to most, and I am truly sorry that this course of action is necessary. I am particularly feeling for the Class of 2020 and their parents, many of whom have been part of the CHS community for 13 years. I want to be clear that this new announcement about campuses being closed for regular classes does not necessarily mean that some form of live graduation will not occur. Dr. Parrish is determined to offer the very best commencement allowable by the social distancing expectations of that day to the Class of 2020. Several options for our graduation exercises are on the table, and CHS will continue to work with the families of our senior class to craft plans for all possible scenarios.

More information about the final several weeks of school will be coming to you through Mrs. Smith and Dr. Parrish. I want to thank both of our principals for their steadfastness during this unusual time. As you know, Mrs. Smith will be retiring at the end of this school year after forty years of service at CHS. While our attention has been fixed on honoring the seniors in the Class of 2020, we will remain patient for the right opportunity to fittingly and wholeheartedly share our gratitude and love for Mrs. Smith. Please look for information about a forthcoming event.

It is also important to recognize the wonderful job the CHS faculty has done through this pandemic. These superb teachers continually share new ideas with each other and clearly have the needs of your children in mind as they enthusiastically enter each new school day. I want to also thank all CHS parents for the significant extra effort you have invested in the education of your children – particularly the parents of our younger students. Quarantine days will soon be behind us, and I pray we re-embrace the good habits of old, while also incorporating some of the new and helpful routines we have learned through this family-centered season.

Finally, I want to share with you that our Senior Staff spends significant amounts of time and energy on our preparations for the fall of 2020. Different medical experts and different news organizations paint somewhat divergent pictures of future days in this battle against COVID-19. While we cannot predict with any certainty what social restrictions, if any, will remain in place by August, I can assure you that CHS will start the fall with the very best plan in place to educate your child. The school had three days to shift to distance learning in March. We now have months to plan for different scenarios. Kim Baylis is leading our Return to Learn committee – which is eager to open with live classes in the fall, but is also preparing for a streamlined, parent-friendly delivery system for any or all students who cannot attend live classes. Ms. Baylis and her team of eight administrators, teachers and parents are peering through different lenses (instructional, social, physical, and safety) as they create a vision and plan for the fall.

Thank you for your perseverance through these extraordinary days. Throughout all the change, please know that the love of our Father and the joy of Christian community remain eternal and unchangeable forces.

Grace and Peace to you,

Brian J. Modarelli Head of School

 
May 4, 2020
 
Weekly Upper School Distance Learning Update.  Latest notes: seniors and end-of-school-year events; student engagement and assessments; middle school and high school parent meeting this Thursday, May 14 at 8:00 PM.
 
April 27, 2020
 

Weekly Upper School Distance Learning Update.  Latest notes: sharing prayer requests; student workload relative to Thursday schedule; middle school and high school parent meeting this Thursday, April 30 at 8:00 PM.

April 20, 2020
 
In response to student and parent feedback, the Upper School distance learning weekly schedule is being modified to accommodate later start times and regular opportunities for reflection, creativity, worship, exercise, and service.
 
April 9, 2020
 

Dear CHS Community,

Governor Lamont is expected to announce an extension of the closure of Connecticut’s public schools today, with a date of May 20, 2020 as the newly proposed day when campuses will reopen to students and teachers.  Of course, federal and state health officials will continually monitor COVID-19 to inform the governor on possible extensions to the May 20 date.  

CHS has shifted to a distance learning paradigm for an indefinite period of time.  We will reopen our physical campus when the federal, state and local health experts inform us it is safe to do so.  The CHS return date will not be before May 20.   Our academic year is slated to finish on June 10, 2020, the originally scheduled calendar date for the last day of classes.

The school realizes that a safe return date for one family might not coincide with a safe return date for another school family.  Our Senior Staff is currently designing plans for families who live with higher levels of medical risk to be able to continue with distance learning once physical classes resume.  We are also evaluating our time-honored, end-of-year events to craft the best strategy for each of them.  

Please have a blessed Easter and a wonderful spring break.  

Grace and Peace,

Brian

April 8, 2020
 

Dear CHS Families,

Greetings to you as we approach Easter Sunday and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus two millennia ago and the reality of that event in today’s world.  

In just a few hours, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is expected to address the residents of the state with a COVID-19 update.  It is likely today’s speech will include new information on public school campus closures for this semester.  As of today, Connecticut public schools have been closed by Governor Lamont through April 20, 2020.  

Assuming Gov. Lamont provides an update to the issue of school campus closures, the CHS Senior Staff will judiciously assess the contents of today’s speech and communicate our intentions for CHS classes and CHS end-of-year events with you as soon as possible.  The Senior Staff has been developing contingency plans for certain end-of-year activities, dependent upon the date that our campus will reopen.  

The Senior Staff at CHS is committed to providing a strong distance learning program for our students while the congregating of students and adults on campus is deemed unsafe.   However, we genuinely look forward to the date when our students are back in the classroom and joyfully learning in a community of physical presence.  

Please let me take this opportunity to highlight two forthcoming parent meetings.  Dr. Parrish will be hosting a meeting for parents of middle school students tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., followed by a meeting for parents of high school students at 8:30 p.m.  Links to the meetings were sent to parent emails on April 7.  

Please enjoy the God-designed colors of spring, the warmer weather, and the week-long gift of spring break!

Grace and Peace,

Brian Modarelli

Head of School

 
March 31, 2020
 
Latest update letter from Head of School, Dr. Brian Modarelli.  Highlights: spring break is still on; no return date set yet; virtual social events for students; moms in prayer still going strong; webinar this Thursday.
 
March 29, 2020
 
Weekly Upper School Distance Learning Update.  Latest notes: spring break; teacher expectations and communication; tech readiness for middle schoolers; student workload; virtual parent meeting 4/9; great online resources.
 
March 23, 2020
 
Weekly Upper School Distance Learning Update.  Latest notes: streamlining and simplifying our distance learning processes; weekly virtual meetings with Dr. Parrish for parents of middle school and high school students; and additional resources.
 
March 17, 2020

Top of the morning to you, CHS Community,
 

The CHS faculty and staff are currently crafting the final touches of our e-learning launch, scheduled to begin at 8:00 tomorrow morning. The life-on-life educational model we typically enjoy will be temporarily replaced with a distance learning platform. Please expect a significant amount of communication from the school over the next several days.

While the plans in place are very good, we certainly anticipate hiccups inherent within the technology-based learning paradigm. Please be quick to contact the school’s newly created help line (techhelp@kingsmen.org) with any software or connectivity issues. We will collect data on these calls and on the solutions to the issues, and incorporate that information into a FAQ list for the school community. High school students are asked to contact AppleCare for any hardware issues with their iPads.

Flexibility, persistence and grace are overarching themes that we, as a Christian community, will anticipate of each other. When future generations look back at this moment in time and reflect on our responses, I pray they see a spirit of unity and a strong sense of trust in God’s providence.

Grace and Peace,

Brian Modarelli
 
 
March 13, 2020
 
Dear CHS Families:
 
Over the last few days, different people have commented to me that it must be difficult to be theHead of School in today’s coronavirus mania. With a smile I let them know that I would muchrather have my job in today’s climate than that of a financial planner.
 
The CHS faculty and staff met this morning to collaborate and refine our plans to move from a traditional classroom setting to a distance learning platform. While nobody would choose to enter this temporary pedagogical paradigm, I can assure you that the overarching spirit of the CHS team is to gracefully embrace the new realities and expertly offer the very best to your children.
 
You will receive information from the principal of your division regarding the details of implementation of our distance learning plans. Please look for this communication in your inbox in the late afternoon on Monday, March 16.
 
In the meantime, I want to respond to some frequently asked questions:
 
Will Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17, be considered Snow Days?

Yes. No assignments will be sent home on the 16th or 17th. Teachers will be on campus those days in further preparation for the distance learning launch on Wednesday, March 18. All student activities are cancelled until further notice. The campus will only be open to faculty and staff.
 
When will CHS shift back to traditional on-campus classes?
 
Health care specialist and political leaders are both driving components of the decisions informing our return to normalcy. At this point, neither the health professionals nor the political leaders can offer a reliable prediction of future action. Hence, it is most expedient to say that CHS will utilize distance learning methodologies for an indefinite period of time. CHS will promise to give parents as much notice as possible once a return-to-school date is determined.
 
Is school canceled?
 
No. Our approach is to continue delivering lessons through a distance learning format. Teachers will still be working full-time throughout the remainder of the year.
 
Will the school year be extended into the summer?
 
No. Our last day of school will still be June 10.
 
Please look for frequent communication from the school over the next several days. Also, please be encouraged to bring your questions to me or to any of our administrative team. It is a joy to serve you and a privilege to equip your children for the future God has designed for them.
 
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Brian Modarelli
Head of School