We hope and trust you and your loved ones are hale and finding new opportunities for joy as we shelter in our respective places. We are as appreciative of the ways you are taking care of each other as we are of the many parents in the Greenhills community who, like our staff, all the while continue to lean into their work in productive, albeit different, ways.
Although we are on break, we wanted to briefly check in with you. We are writing from home with our own parent hats on and want you to know how much we miss all of you and deeply empathize with the challenges you all are facing. It is with you in mind that we continue, with our talented colleagues, to spend most of each day preparing for a continued period of remote school through these unprecedented times.
From this point forward we will plan to communicate weekly, rather than more frequently, so each week we have time to review and respond to the feedback we receive from students, faculty, and families. We are in the early days of this remote plan and we will continue to make adjustments as we go. We know that remote learning requires more from our students, and added support and time from families. Each day we are working to create a daily and weekly schedule to promote sustainability for adults’ and students’ work/life responsibilities in anticipation of an extended period of remote learning. Our previous emails to students and families can be found on our website here.
We are lucky to be part of a vast independent school community and each day we participate in calls and video conferences where independent schools share ideas, resources, and solutions. We find the experiences shared by our international peer schools and independent schools in Seattle to be particularly valuable. At a minimum, they are three to four weeks ahead of us in this remote effort and they can be specific about the challenges they have encountered and the creative modifications they made to their remote programs along the way. We particularly appreciate that schools are sharing their collective concern about how to minimize anxiety for students (and employees) during this time. Any modifications to our own schedule or program will be shared before we resume our distance learning on April 7th.
Of all the multiple Zoom meetings we join every day full of planning and resource sharing, one of the most heartfelt was with Greenhills colleagues this week regarding our seniors, our class of 2020. We are thinking about our seniors and will send a separate communication to you and your families soon, hopefully providing answers to your questions about all of the cultural habits that typically occur this Spring: senior release, senior projects, prom, and commencement. We don’t want to leave your questions about these important events unanswered and we know how meaningful these events are in students' and families' lives and in the life of the School.
Although we are a little less communicative during this spring break window, we are still thinking about you all, every day. Students, we can’t wait to see you on our screens again on April 7th. You are smart and innovative, curious and creative. You know better than anyone how to connect on virtual platforms, and if there is a generation ready to make this all work, it is yours. We’re confident this will be a meaningful experience for all of us and we welcome your feedback and your ideas as we tackle this historical moment together.
Until the 7th, take care of yourselves, each other, and your families. Practice social distancing, keep abreast of and follow current and future guidelines surrounding your and others’ health and well-being. And as our school anthem directs us “to serve the world in churning times. . . play heartily, sing merrily.”
Peter B. Fayroian, Head of School; E. Quincy McLaughlin, Associate Head/Head of Upper School; and Jonathan Schwartz, Head of Middle School
ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are we going to be remote for the remainder of the fourth marking period?
At this time, we know many schools around the country that have been forced to close their schools through the remainder of the school year due to state mandates. NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) recommends all schools at least consider this in their planning. We will follow the guidance from local and state officials. We will continue to hope we are allowed to be together again at school this Spring, while we plan to continue remote learning well beyond April 7th.
Will you tell us if there is a positive COVID-19 case in the GH community?
If we receive a report in the near future about a student, household member, or school employee, we will notify our local public health officials and communicate to the community. At a certain point, due to our building closure and two week spring break, we have been advised that there may be little benefit to be gained from sharing information about positive cases, but be assured we will follow the guidance from our local public health officials. When and if we do receive a report that we share with the community, we will not name positive or ill individuals in these communications. It is highly anticipated, given the widespread nature of the virus in the country, that we, like all communities, will have positive cases at some point.
What if I need a textbook I left behind in my locker? Or some other item?
Do not worry. Your teachers will be happy to provide you with what you will need electronically, and they will work with you if you don’t have a textbook or course item at home. The Governor's most recent Executive Order means the school building must remain closed now and even faculty are unable to enter it at this time. If you or your student believe they left something really essential in a locker, please contact John Nickel (firstname.lastname@example.org). Lockers and cubbies that were emptied were cleaned, but the school did not empty all lockers and students' belongings are safe. When and if we are able to access the school building and identify another time for students to retrieve essential items, we will let everyone know. In the meantime, John Nickel will try to help.
What about the Michigan Department of Education announcement about public school students not earning credit for online courses?
That doesn't apply to private and independent schools, and Greenhills students will all be able to complete their courses and they will receive credit for this academic year, even though we are continuing classes remotely when we resume on April 7.
What about the yearbook?
Thanks to the yearbook team and Gary Lehman the yearbook has been completed and submitted to the publisher. Our annual goal is to ensure that yearbooks are at school prior to Greenstock, so we still expect them to be delivered before May 20th. We are exploring ways to receive orders from students and families remotely.
Is the school considering a tuition refund?
School continues remotely after the break and we do not currently have a plan to return tuition for this remainder of this fourth marking period. The majority of our budget supports our staff, who continue to work and most schools are eager to support all of their employees, many of whom are economically vulnerable during this turbulent time. We are doing our best to keep all of our employees whole and the retention of tuition helps the school support all of them. If you have a question or concern about tuition payments, John Nickel is happy to talk with you.