Dear Jackson Walnut Park families:
You must know by now that you are part of an extraordinary community. From the moment we transitioned to distance learning on March 16 to our socially distanced sixth grade “tailgate” graduation on June 10, and beyond, JWP has proven in many ways its resilience, its capacity for innovation and evolution, and its caring nature. It cannot be said enough how much we appreciate and value the sacrifices that our parents have made, the extra efforts that our teachers have put forth, and the perseverance of our students.
The partnership between home and school has shined brightly during this time, and we have been so grateful for those of you who have continued to demonstrate your faith in and commitment to the school. You entrust in us your children’s education, you volunteer to help, you support teachers and their work, you contribute to the Annual Fund (in many cases more than once!), and you provide us with valuable feedback on how we are doing.
Enrolling your children in a school is always an act of faith, perhaps now more than ever. It’s an act of faith that the school will provide the quality of education and values that it aspires to. It’s an act of faith when tuition payments begin months before doors open in September so that the school can employ teachers and stock up on books and supplies for the coming year. And in the time of COVID, it’s a particular act of faith that the school will provide safety in a time of vulnerability, stability in a time of disruption, and flexibility and creativity to address the changing landscape we all confront. We are grateful for your continuing acts of faith, and have striven to live up to them since the beginning of this crisis.
Acts of faith like these are not rewarded through miracles. They happen because of hard work and planning, principled and informed decision-making, and a shared sense that we all must pursue the common good. To this end, JWP has convened task forces to plan for providing a safe environment for the resumption of school on campus in the fall, and to provide for the best possible distance learning programming should circumstances require us once again to make that transition. The Distance Learning Task Forces will share their plans in early to mid-August.
Originally we had anticipated the Health & Wellness Task Force would share its plan in late July, but we know that the desire for information is understandably strong. We also have finally seen the first re-opening guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and have been able to compare state requirements with the plans that we have been developing. We are sufficiently satisfied that the JWP plan generally meets or exceeds state requirements that we are ready to begin sharing information with the community earlier than expected.
With this letter you will find the draft of four of the twelve areas of planning that we have identified for our Fall Opening Procedures. Beginning today, and then on each of the following Mondays in July, you will receive additional installments of the plan. At the end of the final week in July, we will host opportunities for parents to ask questions and gain clarity about anything related to the resumption of campus operations for the start of the 2020-21 school year. We invite you to begin compiling your questions, but please wait until these parent forums in late July to ask them—many of them may very well be answered in as-yet unreleased installments of the plan.
We want to emphasize that while these shared plans are in fairly final form, we are calling them drafts because our knowledge about COVID and its effects is constantly evolving. At this point, we expect to open school on our Newton campus in September. The public health markers in Massachusetts continue to move in encouraging directions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a statement saying that it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” We miss our students and when we talk with you we hear that they miss being in school. While nobody can reliably promise that the 2020-21 school year will be uninterrupted, we can and will take all reasonable precautions to make our classrooms and programs as safe as possible.
We hope you find the information attached informative and reassuring, and look forward to future conversations with the community about how we will move forward with plans to open school in September.
Megan Polli Stephanie Marcucci Stephen Duffy
JWP School Counselor Head of Walnut Park Head of Jackson School
Task Force Coordinator Montessori