It is our intention to deliver an in-person experience for the 2020-21 school year. We can't wait to be together again. We all miss each other and miss the vibrancy of everything that happens every day on the Walker campus.
At the same time, it's important that we prepare for different scenarios. We have three task forces preparing for:
1. Summer Programming
2. The return to campus from a health and safety standpoint
3. Continuing to sharpen the delivery of online learning and enhance our distance learning model.
We've planned well thus far, and given the strength of those three teams, we're going to plan well going forward. We will continue to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Health in formulating our plans, and we will make the most of valuable input from faculty, staff, students and parents as we strive to make the best educational program possible.
Of course, we will lead with grace, empathy and understanding. We are going to communicate proactively and frequently.
Walker will offer remote Summer Camp sessions during June. We remain hopeful that some on-campus offerings will be available in addition to remote sessions during July.
A task force has been assembled to look for creative opportunities to provide robust virtual academic and enrichment programming to families. We recognize families already enrolled in camp during June and July may have changes to summer plans based on the pandemic.
Walker will automatically refund all fees paid for May and June summer camps. If you signed up for July sessions and would like to request a refund, please contact Dave Harding, Director of Summer Camps at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be sharing information about our updated summer offerings very soon!
We are looking at two dates: one in June and one later in the Summer. We will provide additional information in the coming weeks to senior parents about the potential dates.
We want to ensure that we are thoughtful about when we can have a ceremony and the logistics involved (location, social distancing guidelines, etc.) that we need to take into account. We want to provide plenty of notice, but we also want to avoid setting additional dates only to have to postpone or cancel.
We are working on plans that will have safety as a priority but allow for students to get everything they may still have at school. We are going to wait a bit to ensure we put safety first, and any plan will ensure we maintain social distance. If there is something timely you need from the locker, communicate with your division head.
Walker is taking a multi-faceted approach to supporting faculty.
First, we are engaging in regular and targeted professional development regarding best practices, online assessment and a wide variety of tech tools and apps. Cristi Lebron, Director of Educational Technology and Emily Adams, Innovative Teaching Chair, are working closely with the division heads and department chairs to make sure that our teachers have what they need to be successful in the online classroom.
We are leading weekly teacher brainstorming and support sessions and lean on each other. Our tech team is available every day to help us as we navigate these tech tools with our students.
Administrators have been checking in on teachers just as teachers have been checking on our students, asking how they are doing as people, not just as teachers.
We have been working hard to learn in our weekly division meetings what we can do better and continue to grow this online experience. During these meetings, our division heads share some of the affirmations from our families about how we are doing, and it feels wonderful because your kids are our kids, and we feel so valued and treasured here at Walker.
Every year we have a nice celebration where we invite people to come and write in the yearbooks of each of our retirees. Obviously, we can't do that right now, so we're going to do something virtually with a plan similar to graduation to be able to have a time in the Summer where we can gather together and thank them in person. We have six terrific people who have given over 150 years to the school and we certainly want to make sure we take time to thank them.
We are very confident that our students will not be at any disadvantage through our grading policies. In the Upper School, we have instituted policies to ensure student grades are not hurt by remote learning, such as accepting late work with no grade penalty, including more completion grades, and providing more opportunities for second chances on assignments.
The leadership team and the Board of Trustees are fully aware of all of the economic impacts that many of our families have already experienced and have had many discussions about ways the school can support families. We also are aware that there is continued economic uncertainty that affects many of our families. This is such an important question, and we are working hard to answer it. For the 2019-2020 school year,
The school provided prorated refunds for the Extended Day Program and the bus program and full refunds for activities and trips that did not occur.
School staff have been working with outside vendors to secure refunds for families whose children participate in enrichment programs on our campus.
Late fees were suspended from April through June.
For the 2020-2021 school year, the Board of Trustees approved,
The due date extension for tuition payment plans and the deposit.
The reduction in the interest rate for families who are paying on a monthly basis.
The Contract Commitment date was also extended from June 1 to July 1.
The Board of Trustees and the leadership team are collaborating to examine the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on our financial policies. These are challenging questions, and we feel that it is necessary to complete a thorough analysis and to make thoughtful decisions rooted in the equity and fairness that we strive to use in all of our decision-making.
Our school is both a caring community and a nonprofit organization. If additional changes are made in regard to tuition and fees, the information will be shared with families as soon as possible.
We encourage families who are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 to reach out to Patti Logan in the business office to discuss financial aid. You can find more information about Financial Aid and a link to the application on the Tuition & Financial Aid page on our website.
Give thanks: Now is a good time for parents to model thankfulness to our children. Write letters to Healthcare professionals you know, thank them for all they are doing on the front lines of this healthcare challenge. Put signs in your yard, like one Walker family on Church Street, to thank our courageous healthcare and front line workers. Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week - have your children express their thanks to their teacher in a letter, or phone call, or video.
Give talent: Take one of your talents and help others. One senior is using her ability to sew to make face masks for healthcare workers. Others are using 3D printers to make face shields. These ideas just scratch the surface, but think of ways you can encourage and help others.
Give treasure: Give canned goods to your local food bank. Our Wolverine Club gave all the concession food that wasn’t used this spring to MUST MINISTRIES; our SAGE dining partners gave the food we didn’t use to Marietta City Schools. And if possible, give to Walker to help those families who are going through financial struggles right now and will need a one year bridge of financial aid. You can redirect your Georgia tax liability to the Goal Scholarship Program and designate your gift to Walker and that will provide financial aid funds, at no cost to you, for a student with need. Or, you can give a charitable gift directly to the school for financial aid.
(i.e no lunches, no extracurricular activities, reduction in facility utilization)? If so, how will funds from 2019-2020 resulting from COVID-19 be used?
The Leadership Team, Board Finance Committee and full Board have engaged in conversations about this and will continue that conversation at the May board meeting. We are considering refunds to families, credit toward next year's tuition and funding an emergency financial aid fund for families with unexpected need, among other options.
We have worked to adjust quite a bit along the way, as most divisions have. What we have found to be most beneficial is breaking our children into smaller groups. We're offering individual sessions. Some are ongoing and some are on topic. Our teachers are making sure everyone is covered. We also are working with families on executive functioning tips and all of the challenges that come with online learning.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the school engaged in a self-study as part of our on-going accreditation process. Four stewardship groups made up of parents, board members, faculty, staff and alumni engaged in many meetings and a thorough process to create long-range goals for our school.
Community life was a key topic in many of the discussions within the four stewardship groups because community is such an important aspect of our school. The resulting self-study, which was completed during the 2018-2019 school year, includes a vision, a goal and action items for Community Life at Walker.
Having a full-time Director of Community Life to focus on this important work, would allow the Director and the school to begin working on implementing the self-study goals while he/she works to build relationships within our community and ask the key questions of our parents, students and employees.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a virus strain that has only spread in people since December 2019. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
It’s important that everyone take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially to protect those who are more vulnerable. Steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent coronavirus:
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday or a similarly lengthed song twice). If not available, use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid contact with people who are sick
Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others
Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and throw away the tissue immediately and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.