Important BES Update from Jennifer Ketchum

Dear BES Families,

As we come to the end of March, I pray that you and your loved ones continue to be safe and healthy. I also pray that in these times of change, uncertainty, financial upheaval, and isolation from our friends and family, you are able to find joy in all of the many ways that our community has come together to support one another. The strength of the commitment, the faith, and the love of our BES family has never been more apparent than in these last few weeks. I could not be prouder of how our remote learning program has been implemented and embraced, and we have all of you to thank for that. The success of our remote learning program has allowed us to continue to be together as a community, to learn and to teach, even as we are separated physically from each other.

Yesterday, following our Governor’s guidance, the Florida Department of Education has extended school campus closures through Friday, May 1. For the health and safety of our community, BES will follow that guidance and continue with our remote learning program through that date. It is our hope and our prayer that we will be able to return safely to campus on Monday, May 4, to finish out the rest of the regularly scheduled school year together, in person.

As we anticipate our return to campus at a future date, we are planning to go ahead with as many of our traditional year-end events as we possibly can. This includes Awards Chapel, Challenge Day, and Sixth Grade Graduation. Also, as of right now, BES Summer Camp will begin June 1.

Please know that we will do everything in our power to make the end of the sixth grade year as joyful as we possibly can for the Class of 2020. As hard as this time is for all members of our community, we know it is especially hard for our sixth graders to potentially finish their BES career under these circumstances. Keep the faith, and know that we will do all that we can to celebrate the sixth graders’ accomplishments.

Please note that we will observe Easter weekend as planned. There will be no class on Friday, April 10 and Monday, April 13.

As we look ahead at the next thirty days, we can imagine a difficult time for our country. However, as we look ahead, we also see a month filled with possibilities for continued learning in new ways, as well as time with family, time for reflection, and time for worship and gratitude. BES community, know that we will get through this season of uncertainty together, and be an even stronger body for what we have endured.

Sincerely,

K. Jennifer Ketchum
Interim Head of School
Beaches Episcopal School

BES Remote Learning Update: March 28

Dear BES Parents,

As we complete the first week of our remote learning program, I want to thank you very much for your patience and perseverance!  I am extremely proud of the way our entire community has come together in support of this remote educational experience, and I am amazed at how well our teachers have embraced it and made preparations within a very short amount of time.  Just as our teachers have quickly learned how to begin implementing remote learning, your children and you have responded with enthusiasm and a shared sense of responsibility.  Though our physical campus is currently closed, the BES learning experience continues!  We cannot replicate our program remotely, but we can seek ways to best replace it during this unique time.  Cheers all around for a job well done!

Looking toward next week, we have made some adjustments to the program.  We are using constructive feedback from all of our constituents to continue to build the most effective remote learning experience possible.  To that end: 

  • We have streamlined the Zoom conference schedule a bit.  Starting next week, all enrichment teachers’ Zoom check-ins will be optional, excluding sixth grade Christian Education with Mr. Skornia, which will operate as a class time. Otherwise, these will be treated as “office hours.”  The enrichment teachers will provide pre-recorded videos, they will post assignments and projects to be completed by students in a week’s time, and they will use their original Zoom conference schedules as “office hours.”  Students must complete the work – it will be graded just as work done for other classes will be graded.  All assignments and Zoom links will be found in each enrichment teacher’s Google Classroom (Movement, PE, Art, Music, Spanish, CE).

Mrs. Novak may hold additional Zoom office hours, as may other enrichment teachers.  Please be on the lookout for instructions from individual enrichment teachers.

  • Our classroom and academic subject teachers will begin to create more videos to help with instruction.  This way, students are able to view the videos at any time (as long as it is within the timeframe stated and required by the teacher) and they may review the videos as often as needed.  The teacher will therefore provide a mix of pre-recorded and live instruction/discussion along with a variety of assignments.
  • Some of our classroom teachers have been in touch with class parents regarding adjustments to their own Zoom conferencing schedule to fit the needs of individual classes and individual students.
  • We continue to work out the kinks and glitches with posting and uploading in Google Classroom.  Melissa Devers, Media Specialist/Computer Science Instructor, has been working tirelessly to provide teachers, students, and parents with instructions for fixing issues and she continues to provide us with new applications and ideas.  She is committed to ensuring the remote learning program runs as smoothly as possible.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to her if you need help, tech-wise.

Please refer to the updated Zoom conference schedule for classroom and academic subject teachers and the enrichment teachers’ Zoom conference and office hours scheduleYou should also be able to find them in your classroom teacher’s Google Classroom.

I have also been very happy with attendance so far.  By law, we are required to keep track of attendance, and one way classroom teachers are doing this is via the Zoom check-ins.  We are also required to document our remote learning program, so in addition to the overall plan for the school, teachers will be collecting and keeping copies of class work, just as they would during “regular” school.  Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation.

Assessment may look different, but students will be assessed on a regular basis.  Now that we have finished the first four days of remote learning, teachers will be going into deeper explanations regarding the assessment of student mastery and the ways in which they will be grading assignments.

One thing that needs addressing is what we call “Zoom Etiquette.”  As stated in my communication last week, students are expected to follow the BES code of conduct.  In order to avoid distractions and to provide students with the most productive and fair learning environment, students are to refrain from the following during Zoom:

  • Chatting/texting within the app (and outside of the app during Zoom time)
  • Making signs and holding them up to the camera
  • Changing the background
  • Creating pictures on the screen
  •  Jumping and making wild gestures
  • Bringing other family members into the picture (this includes furry family members)
  • Snacking or eating a meal
  • Playing with toys
  • Other types of silly behavior and negative attention seeking that could be distracting to classmates

Below are a few general tips for successful remote learning at home (during Zoom and during work time):

  • Provide a quiet space for your child(ren) that is conducive to learning, away from high traffic areas within the house.
  • Your child(ren) should not be working from the bed, the floor, or other furniture made for resting or leisure. 
  • The workspace should be away from a television and cleared of toys.
  • Materials such as a tech device, pencils/pens, paper/notebooks should be readily available at the desk or table within the workspace.
  • Your child(ren) should be dressed appropriately for school during the “school day” timeframe.
  • Depending on age, parents should be on hand to help, but should allow students to determine answers and complete independent work on their own.

It is also a good idea to ensure your child(ren) have time to be social with friends and classmates outside of work time.  This can be done through Zoom, FaceTime, text messaging, (appropriate) gaming, or an old-fashioned phone call.  Remember, this is a stressful time for them as well, and a social outlet will encourage good mental health! 

As a last note, in terms of additional support, Ms. Emma Newton continues to serve on our team.  If you feel your child needs support or enrichment, please speak with both the classroom teacher and Ms. Newton.  If you are in need of a tutor, please let us know.  We may be able to provide a list of tutors from which you can choose.  

Finally, we have put together a quick remote learning survey for you to complete based on our first week’s experiences.  We welcome your feedback!

Stay healthy and well!

Sincerely,

K. Jennifer Ketchum
Interim Head of School
Beaches Episcopal School

BES Closure Update from Jennifer Ketchum

Dear Beaches Episcopal Community,

I hope all of you are well and that you have been able spend some quality time with family this week. As the current health crisis related to Covid-19 continues to develop, the Governor of Florida has recommended all public and private K-12 schools remain closed through April 15. Therefore, our campus will remain closed through April 15.

As previously stated, we will begin remote learning lessons and activities next Monday, Mach 23. We will continue to implement remote learning during the proceeding weeks, as schools remain closed due to the health crisis. Our teachers will continue to seek ways to enhance the remote learning experience, and they will be in communication with you regarding lessons, plans, activities, and specific online platforms.

All extracurricular activities and previously scheduled school events are canceled through April 15. We will review all school events scheduled to take place after April 15 on a case-by-case basis as we have more information regarding the re-opening of school.

I understand there may be some anxiety regarding the current crisis and several questions regarding the remote learning experience. Please know the teachers are dedicated to providing our students with the best educational experience possible. Let us continue to partner together and support one another on behalf of our students and remain strong as a school community during this difficult time.

Below is a letter sent from The Reverend Adam Greene to the Episcopal School of Jacksonville community this afternoon. We are in collaboration with ESJ, and I echo The Reverend Greene’s sentiments. Let us continue to pray for the stemming of this virus, the healing of those directly affected, and a strong recovery for our nation and local communities.

Sincerely,

K. Jennifer Ketchum
Interim Head of School
Beaches Episcopal School

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Dear Members of the Episcopal Community,

I hope and pray that this note finds you and your family safe and healthy, and that you have had some rest and family time over this spring break week. As we look ahead to beginning our remote learning on Monday morning, we want to provide you with a few key updates:

  • Per the Governor of Florida’s guidance, Episcopal will be employing remote learning instead of on-campus school through April 15.
  • All extracurricular activities, events, and gatherings are canceled through April 15 as well. Our coaches and directors will provide our students with athletic and arts guidance while we are off campus. 
  • We will continue to review Prom and other school sponsored events currently scheduled for or after April 15. If we are forced to cancel any of these events, we will do our best to reschedule them or provide alternatives as we are able.
  • At this time, we will continue to plan for our traditional Commencement ceremony on the Acosta House porch – one of Episcopal’s great traditions. We will update the community immediately if we are forced to amend anything that is currently scheduled as we remain mindful of how disappointing any changes would be for our Senior Class. 
  • At this time, because of our remote learning planning, we do not anticipate having to extend the school year beyond our current schedule.

I know that there are many other questions that you may have as we begin remote learning. Please know that our incredible team of educators, our faculty and staff, are here for our community. Together, we will learn and grow in the coming weeks. Together, our Episcopal family – our students, parents, teachers – will continue to support one another and come through this trying time even stronger.

This week, I was reminded of St. Paul’s wonderful words from his letter to the Romans:  “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Please let us know if you need any additional individual support at this time.

Blessings,

The Rev. Adam Greene
Head of School  
Episcopal School of Jacksonville

BES March 23-27 Plans from Jennifer Ketchum

Dear Parents,

After extensive deliberations with Episcopal School of Jacksonville and peer independent schools and careful consideration of guidance from health authorities regarding the potential impact of the current pandemic, and in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19, we have come to the decision to close the BES campus after spring break from Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27. 

The teachers have prepared for remote learning to take place the week of March 23-27.  Though the format may vary by grade level, all students, Kindergarten through Grade 6, will have access to materials for on-going learning.  Plans may include online resources, hard copy materials, and other activities.  Please look for email communications from each teacher regarding specific expectations, plans, and access to materials.  Students are expected to check in with teachers and participate fully in the remote learning experience.  The teachers and I have spoken to individual classes regarding these expectations.

We hope this decision helps to alleviate some of the anxiety and uncertainty related to the weeks ahead.  Our plan at this time is to resume class on campus beginning Monday, March 30. We will keep parents and students informed should there be a change to this plan.  Please stay posted and look for further communication from the School and the teachers. 

I am very proud of how our teachers have stepped up to the plate the last several days to begin the process of preparing for a remote learning scenario while at the same time continuing to provide our students with a top quality learning experience here at school.

Let us continue to pray for the health and well being of our community and especially for those most vulnerable.  Let us also keep health professionals and our government leaders in prayer as they navigate us through this pandemic.

Please see the message below sent from The Reverend Adam Greene to the Episcopal School of Jacksonville this morning.

Sincerely,

K. Jennifer Ketchum
Interim Head of School
Beaches Episcopal School

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Important Spring Break Information from Jennifer Ketchum

Dear Beaches Episcopal School Parents:

As spring break approaches, I know we are all looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation. Whether you will stay close to home or have plans to travel, I hope you will be spending quality time with family and friends.

At BES, we care deeply about the health, safety, and well-being of our students and entire school community. Therefore, if you are planning to travel, we ask that you consider the breadth and scope of international and domestic events caused by COVID-19 and the potential impact of COVID-19’s on our community.

A State of Emergency has been declared in Florida and several countries are now on the CDC’s “avoid nonessential travel” list. As the health and safety of our students are top priorities, we strongly encourage you to follow the CDC’s recommendations in relation to your travel plans.

In order to provide the highest level of protection for our school community, we ask that families who have plans to travel internationally or to an area in the United States that has declared a State of Emergency self report their travel plans to the school no later than tomorrow, Thursday, March 12. We have asked the same of our faculty and staff. With restrictions on travel and mandatory quarantines changing daily, depending on your destination, your return home could be affected by unforeseen factors and may result in your child unexpectedly missing school.

Beaches Episcopal School is a close-knit community, and we ask that before embarking on your trip you carefully consider whether your plans may put our BES family at risk. We trust you to weigh the risks but also ask you to keep the health of our community in mind.

In addition to the regular cleaning practices recommended by the Department of Health, we have asked our facilities personnel to give an especially thorough, deep cleaning of high-touch areas using disinfectant during spring break.

If your child exhibits signs of illness at any time, such as fever, cough, or other symptoms, please keep them at home as outlined under the Student-Parent Handbook. We will continue to follow CDC, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) updates relating to COVID-19. We will keep you posted on any new developments or changes to protocols that affect our school as the situation unfolds.

Sincerely,

K. Jennifer Ketchum
Interim Head of School
Beaches Episcopal School

COVID-19 Information Preparedness Plan

Beaches Episcopal School has developed a plan to prepare for and respond to a threat of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), influenza, or other pandemic viruses that may cause serious widespread illnesses. Our main priority is to keep the students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe in the event of a pandemic illness outbreak, and to assure the community that we have taken the necessary precautions so that our students are protected. 

The first step in our preparedness plan is prevention. BES faculty and staff members promote the daily practice of everyday prevention strategies at all times. Our recommendations are based on the CDC guidelines.

The CDC recommends practicing good health habits or everyday preventive actions that include the following:

● Students, faculty, and staff must stay home for at least 24 hours after fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

● Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue with immediate disposal into a trash can.

● Frequent hand-washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before eating or after coughing and sneezing. If soap and water are unavailable, using at least 60% alcohol-based sanitizer is acceptable.

● Refraining from touching eyes, nose, and mouth as they are gateways to infection.

● Cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Along with following their physician’s recommendations, parents are required to follow the BES sick policy found in the Student-Parent Handbook.

If public health officials declare a pandemic, the second step in our preparedness plan is reaction. A pandemic occurs when a new (novel) virus that is different from the seasonal flu emerges and spreads quickly and worldwide. Because there is no vaccination available for a novel virus right away, the use of non-  pharmaceutical interventions are the best way to help slow the spread of the novel virus. The following actions may take place if a public pandemic emergency is announced:

● Continue the everyday preventive actions listed previously.

● Environmental cleaning of surfaces that remove germs from frequently touched objects such as desks, chairs, computers and bathrooms.

● Limiting face-to-face contact during the school day by increasing space between students in the classrooms, making attendance and sick leave policies more flexible, cancelling or postponing large school events, or temporarily dismissing school while implementing remote learning.

If public health officials declare a pandemic, BES Administrators may also take the following actions:

● Allow students and staff to stay home if someone in the household is sick with the virus.

● Preemptively dismiss school before the virus becomes widespread to help slow the spread of the disease in the community.

Other strategies that will take place if a pandemic emergency happens in our community:

1. All classrooms will be provided with flu-prevention supplies: soap, sanitizer, tissues, trashcans, and disposable facemasks.

2. Planning alternative coverage for faculty and staff absences if necessary.

3. BES Administrators will collaborate to track virus-related student, staff and faculty absences. If absenteeism increases to disruptive levels, administrators may consider temporarily dismissing school.

4. Sick students, faculty, and staff who do not have an immediate ride home will be isolated to the room behind the McCormick Hall receptionist’s office and will be required to wear a disposable face mask.

5. Administrators may consider limiting access to campus by non-essential visitors.

6. Administrators will update the community efficiently before, during, and upon reopening of the school if temporarily dismissed.

Thank you for your understanding as we strive to keep our students, families, and faculty safe.

Jennifer Ketchum
Interim Head of School
Beaches Episcopal School