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April 2, 2020

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Parents,

In these weeks, my morning habit has been to walk or run the two miles to school, place my hand on the bell out front, and pray for our students, parents, and staff. I often then sit on one of the benches out front and let the sadness wash over me. I sometimes cry then, just as I'm crying now as I type this. Our community is hurting - from the virus, from the economy, from lack of connection - and it grieves me not to be able to be physically together during this time. We love and miss you all so much.

This morning, Governor Whitmer extended the closure of K-12 schools through the end of the school year. So, as we extend our transition to a distance learning environment to the end of the school year, I want to express how proud I am of our students and parents for embracing this complex challenge during this unique season. The strength of the ZCS community is perhaps most evident in times such as these, and your response has been remarkable. I want you to know that our faculty and staff have been praying for you daily and remain committed to providing the best Christian school experience possible.

I also want you to know how hard your child(ren)'s teachers have been working on converting their physical classrooms into digital ones. They have been putting in long hours adapting their curriculum and instruction to a new platform to stay connected while we're apart and advance student learning. While we will never fully replace the in-person education our students usually receive, I pray that you are experiencing all of this hard work coming to fruition.

As we head into Phase 2 of Distance Learning after Spring Break here is an overview of the vision and design. On Wednesday of next week, you will receive more communication and instruction as we streamline and increase the ease of use for parents.

We understand the hardships many in our community are experiencing. We would love to come alongside your family in any way. For many, school is an anchor for the day, and the connection our students experience with their teachers and friends is vital to helping them through this time. However, we know there will be days when school isn't as important, as other needs will take greater priority. During this time, I assure you you'll find our school treating your child and family with the same "one size fits one" mentality you've come to love about ZCS. We will help make this work for you. 

Tuition collected during this time will ensure that your child's academic experience is uninterrupted. We are committed to supporting our teachers who are working many and irregular hours to serve all of our students. Our Finance Committee and Board are aware of the financial opportunities available to schools in the recently passed CARES Act and are determining the best path forward. Please expect communication around this topic in the coming months.

Additionally, in times like these, the body of Christ rises up to bear one another's burdens and come to the rescue of those in need. If you need assistance in paying tuition during this time, please reach out. You can email Mike Arendsen, Dir. of Finance. If you are in a position to give to the ZCS Tuition Assistance Fund for families in crisis, please pray about how generous you can be so more families can be helped through this time.

God will carry us through this season. He is not surprised by this, and He is ready and able to provide for us all through this time.

Burn Bright,

Tim McAboy
Head Of School

March 16, 2020

Parents, 

Today each grade level team (Young 5s-8th grade) is sending an email to students regarding work over the coming weeks. This is work that is expected to be completed, not simply suggestions on things to do to stay busy. Teachers will be flexible, so if you have any concerns, please reach out to your child’s teacher.

Here is a recap of information along with new updates to share with you.

Recap

  • MI schools must remain closed until at least April 6, 2020 
  • Spring Break will remain the same April 3-10
  • If your child benefits from a daily routine, please read this article from Barb Newman and our Support Services Department.​
 

For Today

  • ​“Flexible” is the word of the day. We are in uncharted waters and appreciate your partnership in this process. We are looking forward to new methods of discovery and learning.
  • Y5 - 8th teachers met virtually to discuss a distance learning plan. You will receive a grade-level email today with instruction beginning Wednesday. We do not expect your child to be completing a full day of school at home. We are aiming for a few hours per day to help them further their learning.


Going Forward

  • As mentioned, distance learning plans will begin on Wednesday.
  • We seem to be living in 24hr periods, as situations and recommendations change, we will adjust as needed and communicate to parents primarily via EMAIL.
  • Preschool parents look for an email today or tomorrow regarding distance learning for your child(ren).


Other House Keeping

  • We are encouraging our teachers and staff to cancel any out-of-state travel. Parents, please consider doing the same.  
  • Building open Tuesday from 11-2 ONLY for parents whose child forgot something or whose child was absent last Friday. Enter through front doors, sign-in on the clipboard in the front entryway, and proceed to the classroom. Teachers will not be present, and we prefer only parents, not children, to be in the building. Please be in the building for as short of time as possible.  
  • Middle school teachers will end the 3rd quarter a week early and record grades in Infinite Campus. Elementary teachers will include the 3rd quarter into the 4th quarter and report student progress on the 4th quarter report card. 
  • We will be mailing One-Page Tuition Sheets (OPTS) this week. There will be a return envelope included. You can either mail your signed OPTS form back or upload it to this google form by April 2.


​Misc. Questions

  • Is there a chance these closures will be shorter or longer?
    • At this time, the Ottawa Area Department of Public Health has stated the length of the closures will be determined by “what is happening in the rest of our communities.”
  • Will there be any childcare at school?
    • At this time, we are not able to provide any childcare options.
  • Will preschool be open?
    • As long as our Y5-8th grade classrooms are closed, so will our preschool.


We are praying for you and we are here to help. Please reach out to your child's teacher or any of us on leadership as we transition to these new routines.


Tim McAboy
Head of School

Parents, 

We are encouraged by your patience and support today. It has allowed us time to gather and think through decisions going forward without distractions. Thank you.

Here is a recap of information along with new updates to share with you.

Recap

  • To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered all K-12 buildings to close starting Monday, March 16 until April 6, 2020.
  • Along with our Y5-8th grade classes and services, preschool and extended care will also be closed during this time. 

For Today

  • Thank you for your help in limiting the number of people in the building. Your cooperation was noticed and greatly appreciated.
  • There is no PM busing, but please pick up your child as you normally would. We do ask though that you leave quickly as the goal of the Governor’s mandate is to limit large gatherings. 

Going Forward

  • All events, in-person instruction, field trips, and rentals held at or associated with Zeeland Christian School are canceled until April 6.
  • ZCS teachers will be emailing their classrooms Monday afternoon with a distance learning plan that will begin on Wednesday of next week. We do not expect your child to be completing a full day of school at home. We are aiming for a few hours per day to help them further their learning. More information will be communicated by EMAIL on Monday, March 16.
  • If your child benefits from a daily routine, please read this article from Barb Newman and our Support Services Department.
  • Chromebooks
    • Middle school students will be bringing home their Chromebooks. Elementary students will not be taking home any devices. Distance learning plans will account for these two realities.
  • Front Office
    • The front office will not be open during this closure, but essential staff will be on-site and teachers are allowed in the building. If you need to meet with someone, email them directly to set up a time.
  • Cleaning
    • Mr. Huffman will have his whole cleaning team in the building doing a deep clean next week.
  • Spring Break
    • We are not planning to move or cancel Spring Break at this time.

Misc. Questions

  • Is there a chance these closures will be shorter or longer?
    • At this time, the Ottawa Area Department of Public Health has stated the length of the closures will be determined by “what is happening in the rest of our communities.”
  • Will there be any childcare at school?
    • At this time, we are not able to provide any childcare options.
  • Will preschool be open?
    • As long as our Y5-8th grade classrooms are closed so will our preschool.

Other House Keeping

  • We will be mailing One-Page Tuition Sheets (OPTS) early next week. There will be a return envelope included. You can either mail your signed OPTS form back or upload it to this google form by April 2.
  • TRIP Participants:
    • Due to school closing TRIP. is being moved to Deb Vanden Heuvel's house at 519 Huizenga Ave. in Zeeland.  
    • TRIP will be on Tuesday as usual. Pick up for TRIP orders will be on Tuesday from 10:00 am-7:00 pm. 
    • Instant TRIP will be available on Tuesday from 11:00 am-1:00 pm.
      You are all encouraged to continue ordering Scrip Now! and Reload cards.
      Sincerely,
      Deb Vanden Heuvel
      TRIP Coordinator  

We will work to keep you informed throughout this process. Thank you again for your encouragement and patience. We are thankful for such a supportive community.

 

Tim McAboy

Head of School

March 12, 2020

ZEELAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: COVID-19 UPDATE

This morning, I was on another conference call with local school superintendents and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH). Please read the update below as details regarding specific school events are included.

We are incredibly appreciative of our staff's hard work and commitment to students and families. Additionally, we are thankful for the support being provided as we endeavor to keep you safe and informed. We continue to partner with the OCDPH to make decisions based on the safety, health, and well-being of all our students and staff. Your continued patience and flexibility is appreciated.

Ottawa Area ISD has assembled a COVID-19 Response Team, which is frequently meeting with OCDPH officials, other ISDs across the state, and leaders from local public school districts and non-public schools to collaborate on processes and decision-making to limit the spread of the virus. We are discussing how to implement the recommendations put forth by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services during last night's press conference with Governor Whitmer.

Our immediate plan for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is based on three factors:

  1. Avoiding unnecessary exposure of our staff and students to illness.
  2. Working to the best of our ability to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning.
  3. Protecting the health and well-being of our multigenerational community, especially those who are most vulnerable to illness.

The recommendations put forth by MDHHS for community groups and organizations include canceling or postponing large gatherings or athletic events with more than 100 people in attendance. Along with other schools in our region, Zeeland Christian School will be canceling, postponing, or modifying large gatherings through Friday, March 20. Specifically:

  • The 2nd - 5th-grade music program on Tuesday, March 17, is postponed.
  • 8th-grade Persecution Project - We are working on a modification to this event. Look for more information from the 8th-grade team.
  • 1st-grade field trip to Grand Rapids Symphony: Lollipops is canceled.
  • School/Home Collaborative field trip on Wednesday, March 18, to the Holland Museum/SPARk Lab, is postponed.

Late next week, we will decide on events leading up to Spring Break.

Please understand we do not make these decisions lightly. We recognize extracurricular activities and events are a vibrant part of the school experience for most students. These decisions are being made in consultation with the Ottawa County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Education, and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control.

Recommendations Around Student Travel

We will continue to monitor the situation, but through Friday, March 20, all field trips will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Your child's teacher will communicate with you about any changes to the schedule.

Timing of Decisions

The spread of COVID-19 is a fast-evolving situation that changes hour by hour. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health recommends schools operate as usual until directed otherwise. Ottawa Area ISD remains in close and regular communication with the OCDPH and other partners to monitor the situation and will send updates as necessary.

Sporting Events

We will follow the recommendations of MHSAA. Any changes will be communicated by the school or your child's coach.

Parent/Guardians Decisions on Student Attendance

OCDPH encourages parents of students with high-risk conditions or fragile immune systems to have a conversation with their pediatrician and school staff regarding school attendance and preventative measures.

High-Risk Visitors

If you are in a category of people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, please consider staying away from school during this time.

How ZCS Parents/Guardians Will Stay Informed

As we make decisions and modify those previously made, we will notify you by email.

Basic Needs

As we prepare for all possible scenarios, we are asking you to develop a plan for your family in the event schools were to close for an extended period of time. We are taking COVID-19 seriously and hope that with your help, we can mitigate the spread of this virus in our region. Please follow the recommendations to wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, and practice good hygiene.

Finally, for those of us who are Christians, we are standing at a crossroads. The actions, words, and attitudes we will express in the coming days remind me of a frequently quoted verse.

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

The verse before this one also stirred up a spirit-filled response.

"For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."

We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit from our Heavenly Father. We, us, you and me, have the power to fan that gift into something useful or quench it by trusting in ourselves and our perspectives. Whatever lies ahead for our community in regards to COVID-19, I hope our actions and words will be helpful, motivated by love, steered by self-control, and burning bright with the Holy Spirit.

Burn Bright,

 

Tim McAboy

Head of School