March 26, 2020

Dear NWS School Community,

We hope this finds you well and enjoying family, close by or far away, amid the challenges of these unprecedented times. It has been heartening to hear from many of you with well wishes, emails of support and the sharing of resources and ideas that you have come across that inspire you. Thank you! Thanks also to those who have been able to fill out the Educational Survey that is currently underway, as this helps us immensely in meeting the learning needs and expectations of your family for this next period of undetermined length of time.

This letter is to bring you updates in several areas. We will end this email with an exciting opportunity that is being planned to help us stay in community with each other, so please be sure to read to the very end!

Tuition and Registration Update:
In recognition of the financial repercussions for families and community members as a result of the current unprecedented situation, the Nelson Waldorf School and Board of Trustees is offering to waive Registration ($200) and Supply ($300) fees for the 2020/21 school year for all returning students. In addition, Payment Plan families who have contributed towards their 2020/21 Tuition Deposit as part of the 2019/20 Payment Plan contract will have the option of waiving their April 15, 2020 payment.

Re-Registration contracts for returning students will be released on April 3, 2020 and will be due on or before May 15, 2020. As the result of the decision to waive Registration and Supply fees, there will be no 2020/21 deposit payment due on May 15, 2020 for returning students. The initial payment for 2020/21 Tuition (either full payment, or first Payment Plan payment) will be due on July 15, 2020. Tuition Modification applications for the 2020/21 school year will also be available on April 3, 2020, with an extended application deadline of May 1, 2020.

Childcare Centre:
Our childcare centre will remain closed until further notice as the school gathers more information. For questions please contact diana.finley@nelsonwaldorf.org.

Essential Service Workers:
Essential Service Workers (ESWs) are those individuals considered critical to preserving life, health and societal functioning – including emergency responders, front-line health care workers, and critical infrastructure and supply chain (e.g. food, medicine) workers. If you are an ESW, without childcare, please contact diana.finley@nelsonwaldorf.org.

Educational Update: Distance Learning plan:
For the past two weeks, your children’s teachers and our Education Director have been meeting over Zoom and discussing how to apply a range of distance learning approaches and tools to the unique aspects of Waldorf education. These unique aspects include:

  • relationships, based on trust, security and an objective love for the other;
  • teaching, guided with intention, enthusiasm and a developmental understanding of the child; and,
  • learning, imbued with joy, creativity and wonder.

With such a high bar, this re-envisioning of Waldorf education is a most challenging task, but one that the faculty is undertaking with a spirit of optimism and eagerness as they bridge this period of extraordinary circumstances and continue meeting your children’s social and educational needs.

To this end, we have been working from a common framework, or set of ideas, including (but not limited to):

  • maintaining regular connection with students and their families;
  • keeping communications to you streamlined and easy to follow;
  • not expecting parents or guardians to be the teachers;
  • acknowledging that each family’s degree of involvement with distance learning will vary, and that there is no “mandatory” expectation; and, designing lessons and using online tools for the purpose of meaningful, real-world learning.

Please note that our Kindergarten programs will reflect a developmentally-appropriate curriculum delivery that would not include typical online tools or platforms. Our kindergarten teachers will be in direct contact with their families to address the unique context of early childhood education.

Distance Learning Timeline: K-7:
Based on the extension granted to all BC schools for planning purposes, here are key dates for our distance learning timeline:

Week One: Monday, March 30 – Friday, April 3:

Monday, March 30
Class/kindergarten teachers will begin addressing questions, constraints and individual circumstances that have come out of the class surveys. Class teachers of gr 1-7 will be including subject teachers in their planning. During the week, they will be in touch with families, make arrangements to ensure that children will be able to have their essential school materials, and finalize their distance learning plans.

Thursday, April 2
By this date, class teachers will communicate to families their plan involving online curriculum delivery and arrange for families to receive physical packages of supplies. Technology set-up (i.e., Zoom or other tools/platforms) will take place, as needed. This will also apply to Kindergarten teachers, with the exception of online curriculum delivery.

Friday, April 3
Class/kindergarten teachers will have a date set for their first online Parent Class Meeting.

Week Two Monday, April 6 – Friday, April 10:

Monday, April 6
Class, kindergarten and subject teachers will begin NWS distance learning curriculum and lesson delivery. All communication and information will be coming from your child’s class/kindergarten teacher, who will be your main point of contact.

Week Three and beyond:

All communication and information will continue to come from your child’s class/kindergarten teacher.

As teachers rejoin their students and parents after spring break in this new way, there will be a natural learning curve. We are grateful for your ongoing patience and support as we make necessary adjustments over the coming weeks.

We hope you will join us in taking the long-range view, and remain in solidarity with the same attitude of hope and dedication with which this re-envisioned education is offered, to keep our students engaged and thriving in their learning.

By this time next year, we will then be able to say that, collectively, we modeled for our children and ourselves how to persevere and meet life’s inevitable difficulties with courage, resolve and unexpected joy. That may be the greatest lesson of all.

On-going Communication from Administration:
We will keep you informed of ongoing updates from the school administration through the weekly Wednesday bulletin. You are always welcome to address your specific concerns to anyone on the administration team through a phone call or email to set up a time.

An invitation!
In closing, we are looking forward to hosting on Sunday, April 5 at 10:30 am our first school-wide, all-family Virtual Community Café on Zoom, featuring live offerings from our school community: songs, music, poetry and more. If you would like to offer a 3 minute contribution, please contact phil.fertey@nelsonwaldorf.org or kathryn.loveday@nelsonwaldorf.org, who are helping plan this event. (Depending on the amount of responses, some offerings may have to be scheduled for our next virtual community café.) Stay tuned for details.

Wishing you and your family good health and well-being for this last term of school!

Sincerely,
Diana Finley, Principal
Phil Fertey, Education Director
Corey Friesen, Business Director
Julius Halaschek-Wiener, Board Chair