Helpful COVID-19 Information for Parents
Mackintosh Academy’s highest priority is the health and safety of its students. One of the most important ways we can do this is by providing accurate and timely information about the COVID-19 outbreak. See below for related school announcements, links to previous HOS emails to parents, and links to a collection of important resources and up-to-date advisories and information.
School Reopening plan as of August 10, 2020
Back to School Tips for COVID-19
Messages from the Head of School
January 15, 2021
Dear Mack Parents:
At the start of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend, we have good news to share. Our first cohort quarantine was successfully implemented, and our sick Mack student and family are recovering. Thank you to parents and teachers who all cooperated completely. The PreK – K faculty and students are slated to return to campus next Tuesday, and, so far, it appears that our safety protocols prevailed in preventing any on-campus spread of COVID.
I thought you’d like to know that when we talked with our Children’s Hospital Nurse Consultant about the situation, she told us we were the only school in her practice that had gone this long without a cohort quarantine. Bravo for a job well done by everyone, and we will continue to be vigilant.
COVID numbers have improved in Colorado, but we are certainly not anywhere close to being out of the woods, so we must continue to be resolved in adhering to safety practices and reporting any illness/symptoms to us in a timely manner. And, we so appreciate your discipline (and memory) in completing health screening before coming to school; we enjoyed three days this week at 100%. Congratulations!
Best wishes for a fun, relaxing, and safe three-day weekend, and I encourage you take the time to reflect upon the reason we celebrate during this weekend in January. I will leave you with timely and inspirational words from Martin Luther King Jr.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
January 11, 2011
Mackintosh has been incredibly fortunate this year in keeping COVID at bay on our campus. Unfortunately, the time has come when we have joined many other schools in having to share the sad news that one of our students has recently become ill and is presumed to have COVID. The child had direct exposure to COVID outside of school and became ill this weekend. This child was on campus last week attending classes. While we are still awaiting official results, we have been advised that the child is presumed positive, and we have immediately taken the necessary actions. Please be advised that we have implemented a ten-day quarantine for our PreK/K cohort. PreK and Kindergarten students who do not develop any symptoms will be permitted to return to school on January 19th. Siblings are not impacted by this quarantine and will be permitted to attend in-person classes unless the quarantined child develops symptoms.
We know that this news can be upsetting. At the same time we are so appreciative in the hard work of our teachers, parents and students in following safety protocols so that when the inevitable happens, as it did this weekend, we can be comforted that we have done our best to minimize spread. An immediate quarantine is part of this effort. You can continue to do your part by maintaining safe practices at home, filling in your health screen daily and informing the school of any illnesses, both for your child and within your household.
Mackintosh will continue, with its strong safety protocols in place, to provide on-campus learning for our students for as long as possible. Will will proceed with our planned welcome back for our 3rd through 8th grade students tomorrow, as well as continued in-person learning for our 1st and 2nd grade students. The quarantine does impact some of our staff members, so your child may see some minor schedule changes. If you need more information regarding quarantines or current state statistics, we encourage you to explore the CDPHE website which has a wealth of information.
We wish a speedy recovery to our Mack student and appreciate your continued community support.
Diane Dunne and Beth Steklac
January 8, 2021
Dear Mack Parents:
I am still reeling from the news reports and images of violence at our nation’s Capitol earlier in the week. I imagine you feel the same, but I hope you also join me in taking comfort in the respectful, responsible and cooperative community we enjoy at Mackintosh Academy. While differences of opinion and sometimes conflict are part and parcel of the human experience, we are committed to following the values and principles of the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile with attributes such as principled, caring, and open minded. The way we as a community are supporting each other during this very stressful year beautifully manifests those ideals and reassures us that we can continue to thrive, not just survive this year of COVID.
There is relief in sight as vaccinations begin to spread more widely into the population. Nevertheless, the situation continues to be very serious. So far, the Denver metro area has been spared the nightmare experience of cities like Los Angeles and New York, but our positivity rates have moved upward in the past two weeks and the more contagious variant of the virus is here. Mackintosh is committed to a return to in-person classes for all grades on Monday, January 11 as announced on December 30, but I can tell you that my concern and the anxiety of our teachers have increased. We will enhance our compliance to safety protocols, and we need you to do the same. We have been tremendously heartened by your open and honest communication about possible exposure to the virus and your adherence to our subsequent guidelines. We are depending on you to continue doing so.
Here are some specifics we need from you:
- Report to the school any symptoms within your family and follow our recommendations.
- Wear masks, social distance, and avoid large gatherings in your personal lives
- Self-quarantine for ten days if you may have been exposed. We are particularly concerned with holiday celebrations. As requested before, if you traveled out of state, socialized in large groups (especially inside,) or hosted guests in your home, we ask you to arrange for your child to remote into classes until that ten-day self-quarantine is completed; then they can attend in-person classes. Inform your child’s homeroom teacher asap and copy Sarah Schultz in the front office.
- Complete health screening via Parent Square every school day before 7:45 am. We urge you to make this part of your daily routine; it is very time and personnel consuming for us to do this during morning car line.
- Dress your child for the weather; we will open windows, go outside for lunch, and increase outdoor activity.
- Check the fit of your child’s mask. If your child is frequently touching the outside of the mask to pull it up over their nose…it doesn’t fit properly.
- Get vaccinated when that becomes available to you and your family.
We are looking forward to seeing most of our Mack students on Monday Morning. Have a great (and safe) weekend.
December 30, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
I hope you are staying well and enjoying family time during the holidays. Thank you again for your wonderful generosity to faculty and staff, and to Mackintosh, over the past month and thank you also for your cooperation in completing the recent survey we sent out. Taking into consideration your and faculty responses as well as current data about the state of the pandemic in Colorado, we will continue with a prudent and judicious course and stagger our return to on-campus learning. This means the following:
- January 5 – 8: Grades Pre-K – 2 on-campus half-day, dismissal schedule same as prior to winter break.
- January 5 – 8: Grades 3 – 8 MackFLEX, similar to schedule prior to winter break; teachers will communicate details.
- January 11: All grades return for full-day on-campus learning; regular car line schedule.
- January 11: Before and After Care program available to those enrolled; Beth will communicate with parents.
Here are the reasons behind our decision:
- Colorado data have been improving since Thanksgiving. Positivity rates in counties surrounding our school range from 5.4% – 9.6% as opposed to 13% and over, and there are currently estimated to be one in 53 persons contagious with Covid as opposed to one in 40. This is still serious and worse than in August, but it does indicate that safe behavior in the wider community prevented an anticipated spike after Thanksgiving.
- Consistent with the Governor’s task force on returning to in-person learning, we still have experienced no cases of community spread at school even though we have had a few confirmed cases among Mack families.
- Research continues to indicate that transmission rates are low in young children.
- A full 82% of our community supported (preferred or expressed comfort with) the above option we have chosen.
- Our school safety protocols are firmly in place and stringently followed, supported by highly-motivated personnel and parents, school investment in mitigation, and a conducive physical environment (small class sizes, windows, outside doors, use of outdoor spaces, etc.)
- The survey also indicated significant community adherence to safety protocols outside of school (100% wearing masks, social distancing, etc.)
Here are areas of concern:
- Some Mack families indicate planned participation in gatherings and/or inviting guests into their home during the remainder of the holidays.
- Some Mack families plan to travel during the remainder of the holidays. Depending on the details, this could be a minor or major concern in terms of possible exposure risk.
Here is what we ask:
- All families practice equivalent of 10-day quarantine behavior (no gatherings (especially inside), no guests) before returning to campus if they have significant exposure risk as indicated in concerns above. This means starting December 27 for PreK – 2 and January 2 for Grades 3-8.
- If you are not able to do this, contact your child’s teacher and arrange for your child to “remote in” to class until 10 days after the holiday gathering, guest visits, and high-risk travel are completed. Remember that teachers need a minimum of 48 hours notice in order to prepare.
- If you think anyone in your family has been exposed, self-quarantine, get tested five – seven days after possible exposure, and continue to quarantine until you get results.
- Continue daily screening of your child before arriving at school
- Continue sharing with us about any symptoms or exposure in your household.
- Continue your adherence to safety protocols like mask wearing and social distancing.
- Contact Beth or me if you have any questions.
One Final and Important Word:
We all want January 11 to signal the permanent return to on-campus teaching and learning that runs until graduation of the 20/21 school year; however, be prepared that changes in on-campus learning might become necessary again for some or all students due to
- Cohort quarantine
- School transmission outbreak
- Worsening wider-community public health situation
There is a light at the end of this dark and terrible tunnel, and we will reach it. I have absolutely no doubt that our Mackintosh community possesses the patience, wisdom and generosity of spirit to find our way there together.
Warm regards and Happy New Year,
December 18, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
As this final week of the school calendar for 2020 comes to a close, my heart is full of appreciation for your support, kindness, and for our school/home partnership that feels stronger than ever. Now we can move onto enjoying winter break, knowing we are working together to keep our community safe. While there were the first few COVID cases reported among our families during and after Thanksgiving, there still has been no community transmission at school. That is consistent with the recently issued report of the Governor’s Back to In-Person Task Force and the Governor’s letter to parents.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) confirms that our state and county numbers, while much higher than in the fall and even last spring and still at the highest risk level of red, seem to have leveled off and not suffered the Thanksgiving spike we all feared. Bravo to us. I know that our small but mighty Mackintosh community did its part through responsible holiday behavior and ongoing adherence to safety protocols. I am sure, like me, you are tremendously heartened to watch the news reports about vaccinations and to know that some of our health care professional parents have or will receive the vaccine shortly. This will be a lengthy process, but we are looking forward to the day when we can put this pandemic behind us. But we are not there yet and won’t be for a while, so we must remain vigilant and committed to doing the right thing to take care of ourselves and each other.
I want, we all want, our children and teachers to return to campus on January 5. I don’t know yet if we can get what we want. What I can tell you is that we will be studying the public health data and recommendations. We will continue to communicate with our Children’s Hospital Nurse Consultant and our own Mack health care professionals, and we will make a thoughtful and intentional decision for a plan aimed at providing the best and safest education we can. Our state and county COVID numbers have improved but are still much too high, hospital capacity is doing better but the stresses on our health care system and personnel are significant, and now we are entering the second and longer phase of our holiday season. Pandemic fatigue is growing. In ways for which we are very grateful, Mackintosh is this little island of comfort and safety, but we are not immune to what is happening in the wider community, both in Colorado and beyond. In reality, if we all want to be back on campus on January 5, holiday travel and gatherings should be avoided or, at the very least, completed by December 27, in essence, maintaining a voluntary quarantine for at least 10 days before returning to school. Realistic? Enforceable? So much to consider. I am giving you an unsolicited glimpse into the variables we are juggling all the time in order to make the most prudent decisions for Mack.
Some schools and school districts have already announced the specifics of their reopening plans for January; others are waiting for more data. Some ACIS school Heads tell me that their metro-area county health departments have recommended they go remote for that first week (or even two) after the holiday to allow COVID cases to reveal themselves. Our nurse consultant from Children’s Hospital suggests Mackintosh think about doing the same to provide, as she puts it, another mitigation layer. We will pay attention to all of that as well as feedback from our parent and faculty community and will make a decision no later than December 30, a little less than a week before the end of the break. Here are the scenarios we are considering:
- All grades return to on-campus classes on January 5
- A continuation of current post Thanksgiving schedule (PreK-2 on campus half days; 3-8 in MackFLEX) for one to two weeks
- All grades in MackFLEX for one to two weeks
As always, we are balancing safety, educational best practices, consistency and certainty, with an eye to what is least disruptive for everyone. And we are also looking to the long view—what is most likely to ensure that we will enjoy sustained on-campus experiences for our students and teachers when we do return. Please help us understand your thoughts and plans at this time by completing a survey to be sent to you by this Monday–we always review your concerns, questions and ideas as part of our decision-making process.
Thank you for your faith in us, for your commitment to partnering with us, your adherence to safety protocols in your daily lives, and for understanding that we are doing our very best for your children.
Enjoy a safe and happy holiday,
November 25, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
It is with great sadness but also a sense of calm and an informed hope for the future, that I announce that starting Tuesday, December 1 until the start of Winter Break on December 18, Mackintosh Littleton will move classes for grades 3-8 to full-time MackFLEX remote teaching and learning, and grades PreK – 2 will switch to a half-day schedule for in-person, on-campus learning. Faculty and staff will utilize Monday, November 30 to prepare for this transition; there will be no classes held that day. This decision resulted from a thoughtful, extended collaborative process with administrative staff; consultation with faculty, Board of Trustees leadership, health professionals in our community; and an ongoing review of public health and governmental communication. Please scroll down to understand the Why and the How: the factors we weighed in making these changes as well as some specific implementation details.
- Governor Polis announced yesterday that 1 out of every 41 people in Colorado are currently contagious with the virus.
- On November 5, that number was 1 in 100. On November 20, it was 1 in 49. This is an alarming trend. As the Governor said in his press conference, “It’s not a time to be fearful, but a time to be very cautious.” Mackintosh is increasing its level of caution.
- While our Mack parents have overwhelmingly committed to holiday plans that adhere to safety guidelines, we are not immune from what others are doing. Airports and stores are crowded, and large social gatherings are still taking place.
- In general, faculty, particularly those who are exposed across many grades, are at higher risk than our students; older students are at higher risk than younger students. Our youngest students are at low risk.
- Governor Polis recommends that schools continue to provide in-person classes for younger students for whom remote teaching and learning is so difficult. His recommendations for older students are to do what the school deems appropriate.
- When students or faculty need to quarantine because of possible Covid exposure, even when those resolve in a positive way, it creates stress, anxiety and disruption in the classroom and the school community.
- Given the increasing level of contagion in the population cited above, those instances of precautionary quarantine will surely happen with greater frequency over the next few weeks, and the potential of positive cases rises significantly.
- During such a tumultuous time, ensuring a level of certainty and predictability is a relief and critical to our emotional wellbeing
- Our goal is that we will return to a full on-campus program on Tuesday, January 5; however, we know enough to know that is not an absolute certainty.
- To provide even more continuity and stability in our Pre-K – 2 in-person classes, we will not be offering remote teaching and learning to these students unless they are already participating in that program or are required by the school to quarantine for Covid-related reasons.
- We all agree that the best education for young people is in person, on campus.
- Up until now, the need for students/teachers remoting in has been relatively low, and we have been able to address that need while maintaining our high Mack standards.
- That level of quality will erode and the strain on teachers will rise when the number of students and faculty who may need to quarantine increases as is anticipated over the next few weeks.
- Our full MackFLEX is a gold standard program, particularly for students who are old enough to have developed the necessary technology and self-management skills.
- Teachers have been working to enhance those skills in the classroom since August.
- Faculty and administration have been working to improve upon last spring’s MackFLEX throughout the summer and fall.
Pre-K through 2nd Grades
- Monday, November 30: teachers will prepare for their switch to half-day on- campus classes; no classes for students will be held.
- Tuesday, December 1: In-person classes will resume, 8:30 – noon. AM car line will start at 8:15; PM car line is at noon.
- No Before Care or After Care will be offered.
- This revised schedule will provide full in-person programming in community meetings, language arts, math, units of inquiry and, depending on grade, some performing arts and physical education.
- Additional activities for physical education and performing arts will be provided via Seesaw for students to complete at their own pace in the afternoons.
- Daily health screening via Parent Square will continue to be required.
- All safety protocols and practices will remain in place.
3rd through 8th Grades
- Monday, November 30: Teachers will prepare for a pivot to MackFLEX; there will be no classes for students.
- Monday, November 30: Regular car line schedule for parents to pick up any materials needed for MackFLEX classes.
- Monday, November 30: MackFLEX schedules available after 2:00.
- Tuesday, December 1 through Friday, December 18: full MackFLEX classes; schedules posted weekly.
- Tuesday, December 1, 8:30 – 9:15: there will be an extended community meeting for each homeroom. This is required for students and highly recommended for parents, particularly parents who are new to Mackintosh and MackFLEX this year.
- We urge parents to continue to inform us of possible Covid exposures and confirmed cases, so we can continue to track this important data within our community.
I know this is not what we wanted. I know this will be difficult for many of our families and a deep disappointment for our students as well as our teachers. It is not a perfect solution; believe me we tried to develop one. We can only do our best, something you and we tell our Mack children all the time, and we are offering your children our very best.
We have enjoyed a beautiful and lucky 13 weeks of in-person, on-campus, and Covid-free school. Let us take the next three weeks to enhance our common safety, enjoy some certainty, hone our MackFLEX skills, and build upon our autumn successes so that we are in a position to face both the challenges and opportunities that 2021 will bring to us all.
With thankfulness for all of you and your children,
November 20, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
These emails have now become weekly as the circumstances surrounding this pandemic worsen and change so rapidly. I would much rather be writing about more positive things, but this is what is uppermost in our minds right now, and it is important that we all maintain open and honest communication. I believe communication and our shared mission and good will toward each other is what is seeing us through this difficult time.
This is where we stand as of today:
- Our current plan is still to return to on-campus teaching and learning, as scheduled on Monday, November 30.
- However, rising cases throughout the state, questions over the impact of the Thanksgiving holiday, complicated logistics in responding to rapidly changing scenarios, as well as health concerns among parents, faculty, and staff demand that we reconsider the feasibility of this plan. I will confirm by the end of the day on Wednesday, November 25, whether we are continuing as planned or need to adjust temporarily to MackFLEX remote teaching and learning.
- Metro area counties have now moved to Severe Risk Level (now Red). If the Governor determines that we are in Stay at Home (now Purple), we will most likely change to full MackFLEX, even if that happens after Wednesday, November 25.
- The response rate to our Thanksgiving Survey was very high (thank you) and responses indicate our families’ significant adherence to safe behaviors and recommended protocols. I am following up personally with families for whom I still have questions.
- Our Mack community Covid statistics are quite promising, significantly so in relation to other schools at this time:
- No confirmed COVID cases—students, faculty, parents
- No cohort quarantines; cautionary one-day quarantine of aftercare cohort.
- Direct contact with infected persons for Mack faculty and students: two additional from the week before
- Indirect contact with infected persons for Mack faculty and students (this means a Mack student or staff member had contact with someone who has had contact with a Covid-positive individual): none that we know of.
Despite, or maybe due to, these troubling times, I want to end on a note of gratitude. Thank you for partnering with us, thank you for trusting us with your children, thank you for sharing your own parents with us for the Grand Event, and thank you for being the respectful and responsible parents that you are.
November 13, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
The news reports about the spread of coronavirus are upsetting and head spinning for all of us. My goal in this and all the Friday Connections communications is to be open, honest, and caring, to let you know where Mackintosh stands, provide access to relevant information and opinions, make recommendations to you, and request your feedback and support.
Please scroll all the way down this email.
Where Mackintosh stands is with all of you and your children. We are sparing no effort to address the academic, social/emotional, and physical health needs of your children. Meeting the last two of these requires a continual balancing act right now. All the research shows that children’s social/emotional needs are best served by in-person learning, but there are times that being in school, in person, is at odds with keeping them and their teachers safe. We are walking that tightrope every day as the daily case count of Covid-19 in Colorado surpasses March levels.
Here is where we are:
- For now, Mackintosh is continuing with in-person teaching and learning.
- Please understand, that could change with very short notice. Teachers are preparing for the possibility of going MackFLEX remote, and so should you. We must and will pay attention to our own situation and public health directives.
- We do take note of what public school districts are doing. As you know, we mostly follow their lead for snow days, when we all have to travel those same icy roads. But this is not the same; our internal statistics and our physical environment are very different and much more advantageous in this situation.
- Our internal data is good but showing some signs for concern:
- No confirmed cases of COVID among Mack students, staff, parents.
- No cohort quarantines.
- Still low but Increasing frequency (1 in October; 2 in the last two weeks) of close direct contact with infected persons, reported for Mack faculty and students.
- Increasing frequency (5 in October; 9, so far, in November) of indirect contacts with infected persons for Mack faculty and students. This means a Mack student or staff member has contact with someone, such as a parent, who has had contact with a Covid-positive individual
- No doubt, this increase is a reflection of what is happening in the Denver Metro area. Counties are at the orange level of Safer at Home, the most severe. The next level is Stay at Home or red. If transmission rates and other metrics don’t improve and continue to worsen, it is only a matter of time before the Governor and public health entities will move us to that red, Stay at Home level. We monitor daily. Here are some resources for you.
- Helpful way to stay up to date on real time Colorado Coronavirus data: https://covid19.colorado.gov/data/covid-19-dial/covid-19-dial-dashboard
- CDPHE report on in-person learning: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tQ2mlVokJrVr42121MALc9JDBN3s1I8B/view
Here is what we recommend:
‘Tis not love’s going hurts my days, But that it went in little ways. Edna St. Vincent Millay
Why is that woman quoting poetry to me again?
Aside from the fact that Ms. St. Vincent Millay is one of my all-time favorite poets, there is much relevant wisdom here, and I want to share it. Of course, we all know the drill about wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, but what some research is showing now is that it is the “little ways,” engaging in some of the smaller joys of life, that is helping to fuel this latest outbreak–children’s sleepovers, soccer practice, birthday parties, etc. Here is an article to read and ponder and carefully consider in planning your daily lives. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/11/12/covid-social-gatherings/
Here is what we need to know from you:
We are asking that you complete another survey to help us with our planning for after Thanksgiving. We asked you a few weeks ago to give us a sense of what your plans were. Now we are asking you to be very specific with us and to take a hard look at the corresponding risk factor, as well as our related recommendations. We have done our best to assess the level of risk for certain activities. It is very important that you take the time to complete this short, confidential, but critical survey by Monday, November 16.
Thank you. Have a wonderful weekend.
We will make it.
November 6, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
As you all know, the pandemic is hard upon us right now with rising cases and some schools moving to fully remote teaching and learning. We are committed to the safety of our students, our teachers and staff, and you; however, we are also committed to providing the best education for your children, so, for now, we are continuing with on-campus, in-person classes. While we must and do pay attention to county and metro statistics, we are currently basing our decision making on our own school data—absenteeism, quarantines, confirmed cases (zero so far), any signs of community spread, and the level of compliance with safety protocols as well as public health guidelines and requirements.
We know we are in good shape with most of those to the extent that we can control them at school; we will review safety practices and heighten our level of vigilance on Monday.
We know you are a responsible, respectful, and cooperative parent community.
But it is time to move to the next level in order to maximize our chances of continuing with in-person classes.
It may be a cliché, but it is still true—we are in this together. So please:
- Without fail, wear masks and practice social distancing
- Do not gather in groups outside your immediate family
- Refrain from social and sports activities that bring you and your children into contact with too many people.
- Avoid travel
- Continue to communicate with us about ANY illness, no matter how minor; we will talk you through what you should do re: school attendance for your child (and siblings.)
- Remember to screen your child every morning
Websites for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and Tri-County Health Department go into greater detail, but we have all heard the details. Now is the time for no exceptions…as hard as this is. And it will get harder with the holiday season fast approaching. But then, if we still have to move into full remote learning, we will do it wholeheartedly, knowing we have done our very best.
I hear the children outside my window. I see them at lunch and during recess. Their enthusiasm for learning is palpable in the classrooms. Their smiles and laughter fill all of our hearts. Let us do what we must to keep that going at 7018 Prince St. in Littleton.
October 30, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
I hope you enjoyed your conferences this week, a week that began with a cold, cold snow day and ended with the opportunity to have those warm and important conversations about your child.
Please scroll down for important information:
Remote Learning Scenarios
I have been reaching out to new families to check in with them about how things are going at Mack. One of the questions that comes up often is what would trigger Mackintosh going to full MackFLEX remote learning. Given the changing nature of the pandemic, this is something of a moving target, but I can identify several scenarios that would result in our temporarily suspending in-person classes:
- Quarantine of several (most likely two or more) cohorts at the same or overlapping times. In effect, this would reduce the number of teachers remaining on campus to a level that would not allow us to maintain teaching in-person classes
- A determination by Tri-County Health Department that our school is experiencing an outbreak, typically five cases of unrelated students and teachers
- A governmental (Governor Polis, CDPHE, Tri-County Health Department) dictate that schools must go to remote teaching and learning.
We have also indicated that, for now, we are planning to continue with in-person teaching throughout and beyond the holiday season; however, we are constantly monitoring what other independent schools are doing (and why) and carefully evaluating the advisability of going temporarily into full MackFLEX as a proactive measure or requiring families who travel out of state to quarantine upon their return. We are committed to continuing with in-person teaching and learning, something we all agree is best for our children, but circumstances may demand different responses, and we are committed, first and foremost, to the safety of our school community.
Thank you so much; we enjoyed a very high response rate (75 – 80%) to our recent parent survey. Overwhelmingly, you told us that your children are doing well, and you support and are cooperating with our safety protocols. We also appreciate your sharing your thinking about holiday plans and urge you to continue to do so. Your full partnership with us during this time is absolutely critical and much, much appreciated.
Please note: Because of the amount of time and effort required of teachers to incorporate students remoting into their in-person classes, we limit MackFLEX to students whose health situation requires isolation and/or quarantining. We cannot offer MackFLEX to families for extended trips or vacations.
Exposure Notification Service
I am sure, like me, you have been receiving notices on your phone about the new Exposure Notification Service offered by the state of Colorado. In both Thursday webinars I attended, with Tri-County Health Department and Children’s Hospital, school officials were urged to encourage their families to participate in this new service. Estimates indicate that if a county had 15% participation, it could potentially lower the number of COVID cases by 8% and the number of deaths by 6%. Very impressive! You can go to https://www.addyourphone.com/ to access more information and learn how to sign up. Also I listened to a very helpful segment about this on Colorado Public Radio this morning. I urge you to check it out. https://www.cpr.org/2020/10/22/new-phone-app-to-track-colorado-coronavirus-exposure-will-arrive-this-weekend/
KEEPING YOUR CALM
As we keep saying and are probably tired of hearing, we are living through unprecedented and tumultuous times—a pandemic, a terrible wildfire (and hurricane) season, and a contentious political environment. Regarding the latter, our approach is to adhere firmly to our mission and our International Baccalaureate values to be respectful, listen to different viewpoints with empathy, and recognize that we are joined by commonalities more than we are separated by differences. We invite all of you to join us in intentionally practicing those IB Learner Profile attributes, much needed right now—open minded, principled, knowledgeable, caring, and resilient.
Be safe, have a happy Halloween and a lovely weekend.
Dear Mack Parents:
Even though the weather has turned cold, the sun has been smiling on Mackintosh. In addition to opening our new arts spaces, we continued with no confirmed cases of COVID in our school community. This is the result of much hard work, diligence, strong community spirit, and no small amount of luck. But, as you surely know from watching the news, cases are increasing almost everywhere in the country, including Colorado and the Tri-County area. We must not allow ourselves to become complacent or tired with our efforts; this will require the ongoing best of all of us. We must be more careful than ever: travel, inside gatherings, children’s sleepovers, sporting events, birthday parties, etc., so many of the joyful activities of our regular lives, contain a dark side that can cast a shadow upon us all.
We are quickly approaching the holiday season, which promises to be a particularly tricky one this year. Our first piece of guidance is to refer to CDC guidance regarding travel: Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html
Celebrating holidays, including Halloween, in a different way is strongly recommended. Take a look at some CDC suggestions. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html
We have increased the urgency of our recent recommendations:
- If you and your family travel by plane, please notify Sarah Schultz in the front office, so we can be more vigilant in our observations for any possible symptoms. Seriously consider quarantining for two weeks upon your return.
- If, during those travels, you end up visiting a hot spot for virus transmissions, we urge you to quarantine for two weeks upon your return.
- If you and your family travel out of the country, we urge you to quarantine for two weeks upon your return.
- During quarantine and/or isolation for symptoms, your child will be able to remote into the classroom via MackFLEX after the required 24-hour turnaround, which allows teachers time to get everything organized.
- Take the time, now, to get flu shots for you and your children.
In addition to monitoring communications from Children’s Hospital, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Tri-County Health Department, we are in constant contact with other ACIS schools. One of the areas of serious discussion among these schools, throughout the state, is whether we should alter our school calendars to address concerns regarding exposure during the holiday season. A few of the schools have changed their schedules to go remote between and/or after breaks. Along with the vast majority of these independent schools, we are choosing, for now, to adhere to our published master schedule and to continue with in-person teaching and learning; however, this requires that all of us maintain vigilance and make choices with others in mind. This is also dependent on evolving conditions in the country, the state, and within our own community as well as government and health department advice and/or dictate. We will keep you informed in a timely manner of any changes.
Ending on a happy note
Our virtual ribbon cutting this morning was great fun and well attended. We were happy to see so many of your faces and delighted that Andrew Mackintosh, Eve Mackintosh’s youngest child, participated in the celebration. Afterward, he told me that his mother would have been pleased with what we have and continue to accomplish as a school. He remarked that she always used to say, The impossible just always take longer. These are wise and hopeful words whether we were wondering how long it would take to open our new arts spaces or, most importantly, how we will ever get through this “impossible” time we are having to endure. But endure, and survive, and thrive, we will.
Here is one final link, a recording of our virtual ribbon-cutting celebration. https://youtu.be/P5c5c_Haz1k
Enjoy with your children and have a safe and wonderful weekend,
October 9, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
It has been a few weeks since my last Friday Connections, not because I didn’t want to connect but because I kept waiting for one piece of very important but elusive good news that I wanted to share, one that connects us all. We are now cleared to occupy our beautiful new arts expansion!!! This represents the combined power of our vision, generosity, persistence, and patience. What a fabulous step forward for Mackintosh. We will cut a ceremonial ribbon with your children on Monday and will be inviting all of you to celebrate with us virtually in a few weeks. Stay tuned for details.
Fall Break is almost upon us. This mid-October respite is always a welcome time to slow down, sleep in, maybe enjoy the colors of our beautiful mountains before winter descends upon us. As I mentioned in an earlier communication, what this break is not is a break from the need for vigilance and safety. With colder weather coming, we absolutely must double down on our efforts to keep this virus away from our school community, as much as possible, by wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel. In addition to what you are already doing (which includes being so cooperative in letting us know of health concerns) we ask the following for the foreseeable future:
- If you and your family travel by plane, please notify Sarah Schultz in the front office, so we can be more vigilant in our observations for any possible symptoms.
- If during those travels, you end up visiting a hot spot for virus transmissions, please quarantine for two weeks upon your return. Your children will be able to remote into classes through MackFLEX.
- If you and your family travel out of the country, please quarantine for two weeks upon your return. Your children will be able to remote into classes through MackFLEX.
- And, take the time, now, to get flu shots for you and your children.
All of us must maintain our focus and stamina for meeting the challenges we face together this year. We are truly responsible for each other’s safety.
At an ACIS (Association of Colorado Independent Schools) Heads of School meeting earlier this week, we were discussing how thriving during this time required a strong and ongoing interdependent effort—children, parents, faculty and staff. And your Mack teachers echoed this sentiment when they chose Survive and Thrive as their theme for this year. Together, we will do both.
Warm regards and have a wonderful weekend,
August 19, 2020
We are just one short week away from the beginning of school. As we move from an unusual summer into an exciting but still unusual fall, we are looking forward to reconnecting with our Mack students on a daily basis, whether in person or online. Every year at this time I send home a few procedural details and reminders about the return to school. This year the list is much longer to include many necessary new procedures. Please be sure to read through this entire communication; we have a lot to share!
Now more than ever, we are all in this together. Please help us have a healthy on-campus start to the school year by carefully following Safer at Home guidelines and communicating any health issues with the school. We ask parents to please share known exposures immediately with staff and to abide by quarantine guidelines (see below.)
While we have made every effort to clearly communicate plans, we know that the landscape has continued to shift over the summer. We will be providing a link to the new 2020-2021 Student-Parent Handbook this Friday. It includes our regular school policies and procedures, plus many new procedures specifically related to the Pandemic. These have been written in blue for easy reference. If after reading the Handbook and reviewing the Back to Mack Plan you still have burning questions, we are happy to answer them during our upcoming Town Hall meetings scheduled Monday, August 24th at 6:00 pm Zoom and Tuesday, August 25th at 9:00 am Zoom. You are also invited to email us directly with any questions. Please allow us 24 hours to respond to written requests – it is a rather busy time!
Mark Your Calendar: Please be sure to note the following important Back-to School Events
August 24 & 25: Back to School Conferences (Sign up via ParentSquare)
August 24 (6:00pm) Zoom & 25 (9:00am) Zoom: Town Hall Meetings
August 25: Mandatory New Parent Orientation 7:00 – 8:30 pm Zoom
August 26: First Day of School 5th through 8th Grades
August 27: First Day of School 2nd through 4th Grades
August 28: First Day of School PreK – 2nd Grades
August 31: First Day of School for Hybrid Learners (5th – 8th grade students may be invited to select classes earlier; please watch for separate communications.)
September 2: Mandatory Back to School Night 6:00 – 8:00 pm (Zoom link will be forwarded separately)
September 7: Labor Day NO SCHOOL
If you have not already signed up for conferences Monday, August 24th or Tuesday, August 25th, please do so by signing up through ParentSquare. This is an important time to meet with your child’s teacher. Students in third grade and higher should attend with their parents. All conferences will be held virtually.
School start and end times:
All 1st through 8th grade classes begin promptly at 8:30. We ask that students arrive between 8:00 and 8:20. Early drop-off is not permitted. PreK and Kindergarten classes will start at 8:45. PreK and Kindergarten drop-off starts at 8:15. Classes dismiss according to the schedule on your school calendar. The calendar can be found on our website and on ParentSquare.
Before and After Care:
Before and After Care will be available starting Monday August 31st. No drop-in child care is available. Families needing child care are required to pre-enroll and pay a fixed fee. If you have not yet enrolled and anticipate needing child care, please contact the Front Office email@example.com. Spaces are limited.
Students must formally be enrolled if they are to participate in hybrid learning. A commitment of three weeks is required for the beginning of the school year (unless a child is in a quarantine period.) If you have not registered, but are planning on having your child participate in MackFLEX Hybrid, please notify me immediately. firstname.lastname@example.org
Students who have been outside the US are required to quarantine for 14 days prior to attending school. Students with a known exposure to someone diagnosed with or reasonably assumed to have had COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days. Students who have spent time in another state with high COVID-19 transmission are requested to self-quarantine for 14 days. Quarantined students may participate in Hybrid learning until the end of the quarantine period. This applies both to the beginning of school and any possible travel during the school year.
Families are required to complete and submit a daily health screen prior to bringing their child on campus. The health screen is available on ParentSquare and is shown in red on the upper right corner of the ParentSquare home screen. Screening must be completed between 8:00 pm the night before and 8:00 am on the school day. If a health screen form has not been completed, the parent will be asked to park their vehicle and wait for a staff member to complete the screening. Late submissions (after 8:00 am) will not be accepted, as screening requires a temperature check. A member of the Mackintosh staff will screen the child as soon as they are able. Until that time, both parent and child must remain in their vehicle. Mackintosh staff will also complete random health screens upon arrival and at other times during the school day.
When to Stay Home:
A known COVID-19 exposure or new symptoms of COVID-19 (listed on the screening form and also available in the Handbook) either observed by a parent or staff member will necessitate a 10 day isolation period (at home) plus a minimum of 24 hours fever free prior to returning to school unless:
• Symptoms resolve in 24 hours (without medication) OR
• A medical professional has ruled out COVID-19 (e.g. positive strep test)
In these cases the child may return to school when healthy. A doctor’s note will be required for B.
Please note that guidelines and procedures may change based on Health Department updates. We have specific procedures related to individual, cohort and whole-school quarantine. The school will contact parents if any of these need to be enacted.
We are attaching for your reference a wonderful tool provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment entitled “Can I go to school today?” It provides clear and helpful guidelines for parents.
All students are required to wear masks during the school day. Students must arrive wearing their mask and must bring a second clean mask every day. We will be helping the students create proper storage containers for masks to be used during mask breaks such as lunchtime. Mackintosh will have masks available should a child’s masks break or become unwearable during the school day.
Parents will not be allowed to enter any buildings on campus until further notice. Parents of children in PreK must walk their child to the PreK playground upon arrival at school, where they will be greeted by a teacher. Parents of students entering Kindergarten may walk their child to the door of the Kindergarten classroom. Parents of children in grades one through eight are asked to remain in their vehicle at all times unless they need to assist a student in exiting a vehicle safely.
Should a parent need to drop off an item or drop off or pick up a child early, they are required to phone or email the Front office for assistance.
Parking on campus is only permitted for parents of PreK and Kindergarten students during morning drop-off. If a parent intends to park their vehicle, we ask that they arrive between 8:30 and 8:45am. These parents may use the spots on the east side of the lot only (east side of the island, or spots adjacent to the playing field.) These spots may not be used by any parent after 8:45am as they will be used for outdoor classroom activities. West parking spots and spots by the PreK/K building are reserved for teaching staff.
Car line Procedures:
It is critical that parents abide by drop off and pick-up times. We cannot offer drop-in childcare at this time, and the need to minimize contact between cohorts severely limits staff availability. We ask that you pay careful attention to your child’s time slot.
1st-8th grades 8:00 – 8:25 am (We recommend older children be dropped off in the earlier part of this time frame.)
PreK – K 8:15 – 8:45am. If you will be parking, please do not arrive prior to 8:30.
Parents with more than one child, may come at the oldest child’s pick-up time. If your children have significantly different pick-up times, you are welcome to pick up one sibling and return to campus later to pick up the other(s).
Carline drop-off and pick-up will be contactless to protect our staff. Staff will not be available to assist with backpacks, seatbelts or other items. Staff will also not open or shut car doors and trunks. Please work at home with your child on safe procedures for entering and exiting a vehicle. We ask that parents remain in the vehicle at all times. If a child must have parent assistance, please turn off the engine, quickly exit the vehicle to assist the child, and return immediately. Parents exiting a vehicle are required to wear a mask.
Parents of children in PreK and Kindergarten may park their vehicle and escort the child. Parking for PreK and Kindergarten parents is restricted to the period between 8:30 and 8:45 am.
Drop-off and Pick-up Locations:
Drop-off for all students (unless being walked by a parent) is at the main sidewalk entrance in front of the north building.
Pick-up for PreK and Kindergarten students will be at the lower entranceway to the kindergarten classroom.
Pick-up for all other students is in front of the north building. To maintain social distancing and minimize contact between cohorts, students may be staged in different waiting areas for pick-up, including a section of the parking lot. Please do not stop to pick up a child in a waiting area, rather pull your vehicle to the approved loading area and we will bring the child to the car.
We ask for extra patience as we fine tune pick-up procedures – these may change!
Please also take careful note of our regular carline procedures from our Parent Handbook.
- Drivers will enter and exit the parking lot slowly and with caution. Note that there is a one-way flow of traffic counter-clockwise around the entry loop.
- Parents/Guardians will not leave children unattended in their car.
- Car engines will not be kept running if a driver is not in the vehicle and in the driver’s seat.
- The sidewalk/walkway leading to the Administration Building will be kept open and free of cars at all times (with the exception of carline when parents are dropping students off or picking them up at this location).
- Parents/visitors that park behind another car are required to leave their keys in the car or with the main office. Alternately they may place a note on their window with their name and location on campus in case the vehicle needs to be moved.
- The carline procedure at drop-off in the morning and pick-up in the afternoon involves:
- Entering the parking lot and circling until the driver reaches the entrance to the North Building where a staff member will be standing to assist with helping the student from or into the vehicle.
- The driver will come to a complete stop and stay within the vehicle while the staff member assists the student(s) in entering or leaving the vehicle.
- The driver will make sure that the student is ready to leave the car (in the morning) with his/her lunch, backpack, etc. in easily accessible locations so that the line may move forward as effectively and efficiently as possible.
- If a student is not ready to unload from or load into his/her car, the driver will be kindly asked by the staff to circle the lot again to keep the carline moving.
- Parents/guardians will not use the carline time to discuss issues with their student’s teachers. A telephone message or e-mail may be sent to the teacher to determine an appropriate time for discussion.
- If a parent/guardian/driver needs to park during carline, he/she will be expected to leave the vehicle parked until a break in the carline traffic or the end of carline to allow the process to move forward without interruption. Vehicles backing into the carline create hazardous situations for other drivers and students; therefore, staff will strictly maintain this policy.
Snacks/Lunches and Trash:
Snacks and lunches will be consumed outdoors. We will be using a broad variety of spaces for lunch, which may include eating on the grass or a patio area. Students may bring a small cloth napkin for food items. There will be absolutely no sharing of food. Students will be asked to place all uneaten items and food trash back into their lunchbox for disposal at home. You may wish to include a container or bag for messy items like half-eaten yogurts. We will not be providing outdoor trash containers; this avoids having children exposed to food waste from other students.
The posted speed limit on Prince Street is 30 mph. Spots near the school are closely monitored by the Littleton police.
You made it to the end. Thank you for reading through carefully and following these procedures diligently. Please review the attached CDPHE document Can I go to school today? And stay tuned for the updated Student/Parent Handbook coming your way on Friday.
Assistant Head of School
August 10, 2020
We are now just a few short weeks from the start of the 20/21school year and the re-opening of our campus. Below you will find information on two specific programs, MackFLEX Hybrid Learning and Before and After Care, requiring enrollment decisions this week.
We thank you for your recent survey responses. As expected, our community has a wide variety of needs and preferences. The majority of our families (72%) continue to prefer on-campus learning. Just over one-third of this group currently consider remote learning to be challenging at this time. The remaining 28% of families prefer remote learning with just over half of those families finding on-campus learning to be challenging at this time.
Our teachers and administration are committed and working hard to best meet the needs of all Mackintosh students this fall. Our unique set-up – 110 students, not 1100 students; small class sizes; windows that open; exterior doors; large outdoor spaces; and, most importantly, a motivated and responsible parent community – positions us well for on-campus learning. We continue to move forward with our re-opening plan and look forward to seeing many of our children once again in-person. It is essential that parents support our re-opening plans by taking extra precautions during this time of travel and family vacations. Please, please follow CDC, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Governor Polis’ safety guidelines—wear masks in public, avoid large gatherings, socially distance. Your well-being is intricately connected to everyone else’s. We are all responsible for each other and want to come back together as a school community in late August, strong, healthy and ready to learn.
As part of our fall planning we require some important decisions and commitments from our families this week. Below, you will see details regarding enrollment in the MackFLEX Hybrid learning program and enrollment in before and aftercare. Enrollment in any of these programs is required by August 14th.
As part of our MackFLEX learning, Mackintosh is providing a hybrid learning option for families needing to keep their child home due to COVID-19 health concerns. The goal of MackFLEX Hybrid is to give students access to the planned on-campus learning. MackFLEX Hybrid will look different in each grade level. In general, children may expect periods of the day where they have direct video access to regular in-class teaching and group work. Students participating in MackFLEX Hybrid will also have some independent work times and assignments. MackFLEX Hybrid is not the same as the independent, stand-alone MackFLEX Learning Program (fully remote) we offered last spring. That program was based on a defined schedule of Zoom classes and all students working from home. Teaching and learning in the Hybrid option will be based on the planned on-campus programming with the majority of students physically in the classroom. As much as possible, students at home will be provided access to the classroom through video and other electronic means. There will be necessary screen breaks and independent work times throughout the day for students learning from home. We are working on ways to assist with the social aspects of school through virtual buddies and some group activities with both virtual and on-campus students.
To assist our teachers in planning, families must formally register for hybrid learning. Consistency and predictability, while scarce in this unusual time, are key for success of both our teachers and children. We ask that students who enroll for hybrid learning commit initially to a minimum of three weeks at home. Please note that our hybrid learning option begins on Monday, August 31, allowing teachers the necessary time to initiate in-class teaching and learning that will also support our hybrid students. This means the initial commitment for the Hybrid option is Monday, August 31 through Friday, September 18. Prior to September 18, we will contact families to determine if they wish to continue with hybrid learning through the remainder of the Unit of Inquiry period, approximately three more weeks, or choose to switch to on campus learning. Subsequently, all enrollment periods for Hybrid (or any change from on-campus to Hybrid or from Hybrid to on-campus) will be based on the Unit of Inquiry cycles, requiring an approximately six-week commitment.
- Isolated or quarantined children may join the MackFLEX Hybrid program at any time
- In the case of an entire cohort in quarantine, the cohort will move to the MackFLEX Learning Program (fully remote); this will include students already in the Hybrid program.
To enroll your children in MackFLEX Hybrid, please send an email
to email@example.com no later that Friday August 14th.
This fall Mackintosh will be offering both Before and After Care. We are restricting enrollment to 20 students in each of these programs. We ask that spaces be reserved for families needing childcare to support employment. Families wishing to enroll in Before or After Care must reserve and pay for a spot in advance. These children may then use as little or as much time as needed in the regularly scheduled hours. No drop-in childcare will be available. Families must register for the entire term. Should we have openings after the initial enrollment period, partial registrations may be considered. Children in Before and After Care will be considered to be in defined cohorts for COVID-19 possible tracing needs. Please note that all safety protocols in place during the regular school day will also be enforced during Before and After Care. In addition, our plan is for students to be outside as much as possible during these times.
Before Care Hours: 7:00 – 8:15 am. Childcare provided by Mrs. Mindy Lambert
After Care Hours: 3:00 – 6:00 pm. Childcare provided by Mrs. Clara Butler
Childcare costs are outlined below. Fees cover the period from August 31st** to December 17. Childcare will be billed through FACTS on September 1st. Prorated refunds will be available to parents for any periods of MackFLEX fully remote learning.
After Care: 1st child $600, each additional sibling $540
Before Care:1st child $240, each additional sibling $225
To enroll your child(ren) in Before or After Care (or both) please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your child’s full name and your chosen program(s) no later than Friday August 14th.
**Due to construction delays, it is possible that childcare may not be available the first or even second week of school. We need to be sure the gym and art room (the new home of childcare) are safe and ready for occupancy before we can commence childcare programming. Should the start of care be delayed, fees will be prorated.
July 31, 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
Approaching the beginning of August, our thoughts always turn more and more to the start of school. This year, those thoughts are fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. We all want to embrace the exciting promise of the new school year but, at the same time, we all want to remain safe. The teaching and administrative staff at Mack are totally aligned with you, our parents, in working diligently to make the best decisions for the benefit of your children. Hopefully, you have had a chance to review our Back-to-Mack Reopening Plan. If you haven’t, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. https://mackintoshacademy.com/covid-19/
As I sat down to write this message to you, I saw the email from our School Health Policy and Prevention Coordinator at Tri-County Health Department announcing new reopening guidance from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), developed in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Initial review indicates that our plan adheres to and quite often exceeds the major requirements. Our Admin team will be working next week to drill down into the details of this document. We will update our reopening plan accordingly, incorporate protocols into our Student and Parent Handbook, and communicate with you.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you to gain a better understanding of your thoughts and feelings right now. Please take the time to respond to this short survey by Wednesday, so we can include your input into the next stage of our planning.
One final note – we urge our entire community to take extra precautions during this time of travel and family vacations. Please, please follow CDC and Governor Polis’ safety guidelines—wear masks in public, avoid large gatherings, socially distance. Your well-being is intricately connected to everyone else’s. We are all responsible for each other and want to come back together as a school community in late August, strong, healthy and ready to learn.
July 17, 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
I hope you and your family are staying healthy and are able to enjoy summer amid all the anxiety and fatigue surrounding this pandemic. What a time we are living through!
As promised, we are sending out our Back-to-Mack Reopening Plan, attached below. Please know that we will continue to update as additional health guidelines are established. This plan and all updates will be posted on our website along with a wealth of other COVID-19-related information and communications. https://mackintoshacademy.com/covid-19/
You are invited to attend one of our two office-hour Zoom meetings scheduled for next week during which Beth Steklac, Sharon Muench and I will address your questions about this Back-to-Mack Reopening Plan.
- Monday, July 20 at 6:30pm
- Tuesday, July 21 at 8:00am.
- Join Zoom Meeting (Please check your email inboxes for the meeting information)
If those times do not work for you, you may email me directly.
We are at a particularly difficult stage in this pandemic, with an upsurge across the nation and increasing cases in Colorado. Schools’ ability to reopen campuses and remain open are dependent on the prudent choices we all make over the next few weeks and months. Here are some links for you to review: Governor Polis’ new mask mandate and information about travel concerns.
We have asked our faculty and staff, and we ask you, our Mack families, to join together in adhering to these guidelines and making those sometimes tough personal choices to benefit our entire community. These times require tremendous flexibility, resilience, and generosity on all our parts.
July 3, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
Celebrating a national holiday, during this troubled and uncertain time, demands that we rededicate ourselves to our shared positive values, nurture our deep respect for each other, and find direction from the lessons of our communal history. At the same time we must dig deep to find the will and strength to address the problems that beset us. Those imperatives are equally valid for our small gem of a school. We take joy in knowing that we give the best to and bring out the best in our children, but, at the same time, we cannot be impervious to the struggles we must face in order to stay true to our mission during this coming school year.
Over this Fourth of July weekend, I wanted to update you on where we are and will be with our plans for reopening in August, and with the latest news of ongoing work and progress in many other areas.
Status of Progress on Reopening Plans
Intentional and determined work continues unabated in this area. Our achievable goal is to mitigate, not eliminate, risk, and we recognize we must be flexible and prepared to adjust, as needed, on short notice.
- We are still planning on a five-day, on-campus program with incorporation of virtual aspects to meet needs of students whose health profile temporarily precludes their attendance.
- Work on improving our Mack Flex Learning plan continues in order for us to transition into off-campus, temporary virtual teaching and learning should circumstances and government mandates require.
- The expanded 2020/2021 School Year Calendar and Supply List, sent to you earlier this week, incorporate strategies (staggered start to beginning of school year, virtual conferences and gatherings, tech/supply fees) to accommodate this evolving situation.
- The Back to Mack Task Force is developing recommendations in specific areas and will convene next Thursday.
- More details on the reopening plan will be announced to parents on July 17 with the caveat that this is not the final word—things are changing rapidly, and we must be responsive to realities.
- Administration is currently updating and revising the Student/Parent Handbook to delineate specific COVID protocols and procedures. This will be forwarded to families in August.
Physical Improvements on Campus
Much work has already been achieved and continues on our arts expansion and existing classrooms.
- Expansion: drywalling is completed, temporary wall between gym and stage has been removed, floor finishes will be installed within the next two weeks, stage curtains and sound system have been ordered. The plan remains for us to be able to occupy this new space at the start of school.
- Existing classrooms: carpet has been removed and new easy-to-clean floor surfaces have been installed in our two-section 3/4 classrooms, connected not combined first and second grades classrooms, and kindergarten classroom.
Teachers, Teachers, Teachers
- We are fully staffed for the start of the 20/21 school year with two new-to-Mackintosh teachers: Sarah Fishman (second section of 3/4) and Delaney Monroe (first grade.)
- With guidance from Curriculum Coordinator, Sharon Muench, faculty are engaging in professional development around IB, virtual and hybrid teaching strategies, as well as specific tech skills.
- The upgrades and changes in location of classrooms mean teachers have been busy cleaning out materials, moving supplies and furniture, painting walls, rethinking and redesigning their teaching spaces to accommodate social distancing.
- Teachers are busily putting together individual student caddies with classroom and art supplies to reduce significantly use of communal materials.
- Teachers will have their classrooms ready for the first day of school before the start of our August 12 meetings. We know that this year, we will need all those days of faculty meetings and trainings to provide the safe and smooth transition back to campus your children deserve.
Keeping ourselves and others safe
The following is adapted from a long message I sent to teachers earlier this week and wanted to share with you, urging you to follow. This is more important now than ever in light of the recent upsurge in Coronavirus cases.
It is essential that we all follow CDC, health department and state-recommended and -required safety guidelines this summer and into the school year, whether we are on or off campus. Social distancing and appropriate mask wearing are essential for our health and the health of others. Be extremely mindful of your travel plans and generally limiting the cohort of folks you interact with. Be aware of state regulations about quarantining when you return from travel to other states. I will be urging our parent community to do the same. The data show that transmission is much more likely to come through adults and not children. We, as educators, are responsible for providing a safe school environment by restricting and monitoring our own behavior. This becomes increasingly important as we move closer to the start of the school year. We are a dedicated and professional group of educators, and I know you take your responsibilities seriously and will act accordingly.
Enjoy this holiday weekend with your family.
With affection and great regard for you and your children,
May 29, 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
This last week of school contained a wealth of celebrations:
- Class Closure Meetings
- 6th grade Exhibition Group Presentations
- Field Day
- Fun Day
- Closing Ceremonies
- World Premier of Middle School Zoom Romeo and Juliet
- Graduation (On demand version available soon)
- Tomorrow’s Final Car Line Parade!
These were all opportunities for us to acknowledge what we have accomplished together this school year and, especially, these last two-and-a-half months. As I told the eighth graders and their parents at graduation this morning, this was not the closing we would have wished for our students, but this virtual and distanced reality is our truth right now, rooted in our caring for each other, our consideration for our community, as well as our determination to persist and make the best of a difficult situation. There is no doubt that we succeeded. Our Mack Flex Learning Plan (engaging teachers, students and parents) provided a gold standard in distance learning, and our closing ceremonies symbolized the deep connection we enjoy with one another.
Your children’s teachers are busy at work finalizing grades and writing their personal and thoughtful narratives. After proofing and final editing by administrative staff next week, these grade reports will be sent digitally to you the following weekend.
Now begins the next phase of our work to design what next school year will look like. As I mentioned in an earlier Friday Connections, our goal is to open on time (August 26) back on campus. But in order to provide a safe environment and to adhere to public health mandates, we know it will look different from last August. And what it will look like will evolve throughout the summer and into the school year. It will require the best of all of us—our patience, flexibility and good will—but we have demonstrated we are up to the challenge and we recognize the rewards are worth it. Thank you for the time you took to complete our parent survey this past week. We are analyzing your responses and will be working with our Back to Mack Task Force while staying on top of developing CDC and Department of Education guidelines and public health requirements. More details will be forthcoming within the next two weeks, including a schedule for ongoing communication and conversations with you via small group virtual meetings and Summer Friday Connections emails.
I hope to see you all (at a distance) during our Final Car Line Parade tomorrow.
Congratulations to all our graduates and best wishes for a healthy and joyful summer,
April 24, 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
Pursuant to Governor Polis’ executive order issued last Wednesday, April 22, all public school campuses, from Pre-K through high school, will remain closed through the end of the current school year. Mackintosh, along with other ACIS schools, will adhere to that order. The safety of our families, faculty and your children must be our highest priority. We will follow our 2019-2020 school calendar by offering a continuation of our extensive Mack Flex Learning Plan through Friday, May 22. After the Memorial Day holiday, we will offer end-of-school year activities remotely, including Field Day and Graduation. Of necessity, they will look very different, but we will do our best to provide those fun and celebratory moments in order to conclude this school year on a positive note, and we will continue to offer MACKs enrichment suggestions into the summer. Of course, this was not what any of us wanted, and I know it is a tremendous hardship for all of you, but it is heartening to know that our efforts and sacrifices are working to decrease the transmission of COVID-19, keeping us safer and paving the way to a healthy future together.
Based on our analysis and your feedback, we continue to hone our Mack Flex Learning Plan. We are listening. One of the areas we will be looking at more deeply is how to address the social needs of our students, who have been cut off from the very important more informal interactions with their peers. We spent a long time in our recent faculty meeting brainstorming ways we could support those social relationships. Teachers will be incorporating more social interaction time into and around their classes. And even though we ask that you continue to adhere to our tech policy of utilizing student Mackintosh Academy email addresses only for school, we do encourage you to explore ways, using Facetime, Zoom, Skype and other platforms to extend the time that your children connect with each other. Parents all have access to FACTS /Renweb as a way of locating Mack parent emails in your child’s grade, so you can set up these important opportunities for your children. While we will start sending our Mack Flex Learning Plan parent surveys on an every-other-week basis, we are always open to your questions, ideas and concerns.
All my good wishes for a happy weekend with your family,
April 1, 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
You may have watched Governor Polis’ press conference earlier today declaring that all Colorado schools, public and private, will remain closed through April 30. Mackintosh Academy Littleton will adhere to that order, and we will continue to provide the Mack Flex Learning Plan for all our students. While this is not what anyone wanted and is tremendously disruptive to all of our lives, I concur that it is essential for responding to this current public health crisis. We are past the middle of our first full week of remote teaching and learning. There have been glitches, questions, suggestions, and changes (totally expected), but we have been pleased at the level and quality of student (and parent) engagement. Teaching and learning is happening at Mack, if not yet back on our campus. I know you join me in being thankful to all our teachers, parent volunteers, and support staff, especially Curriculum Coordinator Sharon Muench, for their ongoing work in designing and providing high quality remote education through our Mack Flex Learning Plan. And we are very grateful to all of you for your patience and continued support and partnership, and particularly appreciative of the sacrifices of our parents who serve as health care professionals during this pandemic.
We miss seeing you and your children in person, but we are, nonetheless, together in facing this crisis.
Have a good evening and stay healthy and safe.
Continue to practice social distancing,
March 19. 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
I sincerely wish that we had a chance to catch our collective breath before circumstances demand that another one of these communications be sent to you, but that is not the case. Pursuant to Governor Polis’ declaration yesterday, with full support of our Board of Trustees, and in partnership with other ACIS schools, Mackintosh Academy Littleton will continue its suspension of on-campus classes through Friday, April 17.
We will begin remote/blended learning with a modified schedule on Monday, March 30 and then a full schedule on Tuesday, March 31, modeled after the examples we sent in our earlier COVID-19 email. This will continue through April 17 and will be extended further if necessary. A clear, detailed schedule for your child’s remote learning experience will be sent to you by Friday, March 27 by your child’s homeroom teacher, via ParentSquare and as an email.
As I have communicated earlier, faculty and staff have been working steadfastly for many weeks now in order to ramp up our remote learning skills and technical capacity, and to develop plans. There have been many joyful as well as productive interactions between teachers and students this week, culminating in conferences today and tomorrow. I do ask your patience as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters together.
As far as I know, there have been no confirmed positives for cases of COVID-19 in our community (parents, students, faculty/staff, family members residing with them); however, the Nurse Consultant has asked that I request that parents inform the school if that changes. The reasoning is that it will help us to get a pulse on how many of our Mack families and staff are affected and to consult with the Tri-County health department for guidance on when our school might resume on-campus classes. Please send any such updates, with pertinent dates, to email@example.com All personal information will remain confidential.
It is a tremendously disruptive and stressful time for all of us. It seems like this crisis has flung us so fast and so far away from each other and what we know and can trust. Nevertheless, I also know that we are a strong community and that together we are building a temporary bridge that will protect our children from this tumultuous time and will eventually lead us back together .
Stay strong and healthy,
March 16, 2020
Dear Mackintosh Parents:
This is a long email with lots of information about our educational planning moving forward. While we are not on campus, we are still in school and preparing to offer your child excellent academic experiences, resources, and support. Before I get into all the details, I first want to say that speaking for all our faculty and staff, we miss your children already and are keeping all of you in our hearts. We are particularly mindful of the sacrifices that our parents who are health care professionals are making daily on our behalf. It is clear from following the news developments that we will not return to campus, as planned, on Monday, March 30th after Spring Break. We all wish this were otherwise, and if something happened to change that assumption, we would celebrate welcoming back your children. Being realistic, I don’t see that happening; no one knows how long this crisis will last. I do know that we will be with you all the way until it is resolved.
You were sent an email earlier today by your child’s homeroom teacher, detailing what this current week looks like, with some activities and assignments. That email also explains how this Thursday and Friday portfolio conferences will work. While these are optional, we strongly encourage you to participate with your child. The students have worked so hard in preparation, and it also gives us all a chance to practice using the Zoom video conferencing platform we hope to utilize after the break. The remainder of this email focuses on the status of plans for after Spring Break; this is still a work in progress, but we wanted to share with you our thinking, so far. Please read all the way down this email.
After Spring Break, we will provide a rich remote learning environment that offers meaningful educational experiences with a routine and social interactions so valuable to young people. Our daily schedule will include a class meeting, along with lessons that support the intended core concepts within each classroom. Additional time will be offered for teachers to connect with parents or support individual or small group learning. Independent work will be assigned for all students. We are still refining our schedule as we learn about our families’ remote working and learning needs. We are attempting to meet the greatest number of our families’ needs, although we expect for there to be “bumps in the road” as we venture on this journey. Please be patient; this is uncharted territory for all of us. Just to give you an idea, see below possibilities of what a schedule might look like for your child. These are NOT finalized and will be refined in the coming week with our staff.
Each K-8th grade class will have:
- Google Website that will provide parents and students with easy access to upcoming due dates, links to independent work assignments, and optional teacher-vetted enrichment activities
- Google Classrooms for Core Classes for tasks and assignments
- Zoom Conferencing for Live Remote Classes
- Ms. Logan is providing a weekly routine of activities for your child to use. It is optional to maintain this schedule, but the routine may be helpful for you and your child.
- There are “assignments” for each child to share pictures of their work via the Parent’s ParentSquare account.
- Pre-K students will not need technology devices to complete their routine.
Grade K Classroom Schedule Possibility
|9:00-10:00am||Independent Work Routine- Schedule as provided by Mrs. Conner.||This time is provided for open office hours for teachers to connect with parents or have individual or small focus learning groups with students. There will be a schedule of independent projects, activities, and reading for your child to select from.|
|10:00-10:55am||Community Meeting via Zoom Conference|
|12:00-12:25pm||Optional Language Arts or Unit of Inquiry Lesson|
Grades 1st – 6th Classroom Schedule Possibility
(The exact subject in each time period will vary by grade level)
|8:30-9:55am||Community Meeting||Independent Work Routine-Schedule as provided by Homeroom Teacher.|
|9:00-9:25am||Unit of Inquiry||Math Lesson via Zoom Conference by Math Group||Unit of Inquiry||Math Lesson via Zoom Conference by Math Group|
|9:45-10:20am||Language Arts||Unit of Inquiry||Language Arts||Unit of Inquiry|
|10:30-11:30am||Independent Work Schedule as provided by Homeroom Teacher.|
|12:00-2:00pm||This time is provided for open office hours for teachers to connect with parents or have individual or small focus learning groups with students.|
Grades 7th – 8th Classroom Schedule Possibility
|9:00-9:30am||Independent Work Schedule- Routine as provided by All Teachers.||Community Meeting.|
|9:55-10:30am||Language and Literature 8th (Virtual Session)
Spanish 7th (Virtual Session)
|Language and Literature 7th (Virtual Session)
Spanish 8th (Virtual Session)
|Language and Literature 8th (Virtual Session)
Spanish 7th (Virtual Session)
|Language and Literature 7th (Virtual Session)
Spanish 8th (Virtual Session)
|10:45-11:30am||Individuals and Society (Virtual Session)||Performing Arts (Virtual Session)||Individuals and Society (Virtual Session)||Performing Arts (Virtual Session)|
|12:00-12:35pm||Math (Virtual Session)||Science (Virtual Session)||Math (Virtual Session)||Science (Virtual Session)|
|12:00-2:00pm||This time is provided for open office hours for teachers to connect with parents or have individual or small focus learning groups with students.|
Supporting Your Child At Home
- Maintain a positive attitude. What we say and do in our daily talk supports students in their new learning environment.
- Establish a daily routine–children feel comforted by a routine and explicit expectations. Maintain a schedule for waking up, preparing for the school day, learning opportunities, meal time, and bedtime.
- For our younger students, parents may want to sit with their child initially as the teachers establish the routines and expectations for the lessons.
- Organize the learning space to designate a home base for the video lessons and storage of materials.
- Reach out and communicate with your child’s teacher, learning specialist Stacey Anderson, Beth Steklac, Sharon Muench, or myself if you are concerned about your child. We are here to support each child and each family to the best of our ability.
Breaks between classes and in the schedule
We have created breaks between classes and an independent work day each week. There will be a lot of screen time, and we want kids to be able to regroup and unplug between lessons. That said, we encourage students to use an alarm of some sort to remind themselves of the start time for the subsequent class. Our goal is to continue learning.
Extra Help and Differentiation
Every day, teachers will have office hours that will allow any student to drop in, ask questions, get help.
Receiving tasks, assignments, and grades/marks
For our 3rd-8th Grade Students this will be the same as they have done all year. We have used Google Classroom routinely to receive and turn in assignments. Teachers then grade the work and return it to the student electronically. This will be new to our K-2nd grade students, but our staff will walk them through how to do this.
Arts, Spanish, PE
Specials will provide weekly tasks and activities for our students to do. They also will have a log or journal to complete. Our specialist teachers are investigating how to use this opportunity to enhance your child’s music, drama, visual arts, PE, and Spanish learning with a multitude of strategies and opportunities that are available.
Should students miss a day or days, just as in “regular” school, they are responsible for completing homework and checking in with their teachers. Teachers will work with students to create individualized plans to catch up on missed work.
Lillian Hendricks will be available for consultation and support for students and their parents. You can send her an email, and she will set up a Zoom session with your child or you to problem solve whatever may arise. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What will be different
Working and learning from home is likely to present novel difficulties and distractions. Some teachers will be juggling their own children who are home from school and their teaching responsibilities. While each teacher will manage their particular situation as professionally as possible, there may be times that a teacher may be ill or have to meet the needs of his/her family. There is so much, personally, going on during this COVID-19 crisis, and we ask that parents and students be understanding of teachers’ at-home situations, just as teachers will be understanding of what may be occurring for a student.
This is new for all of us. We have never tried to “run school” completely online. It has been a steep learning curve that changes hourly. Please know that we are going to do our best to address whatever may arise on the first day and each day that follows.
Virtual Conferencing Classrooms (Zoom) at home
You will see first-hand how Zoom works during your Parent-Teacher-Student conferences this week. Before each session, students (and/or parents) will receive an email link with the session information.
We are creating tutorials on how to access Zoom which will be on our website.
If you encounter any issue, please reach out to our Parent Run Technology Department at email@example.com or call the school atand leave a message for Tech Support. If you require a school device (K-8th), please contact us as soon as possible. We will make arrangements for you to pick up a device.
Mackintosh staff, ably led by our Curriculum Coordinator Sharon Muench, have been working non-stop to develop engaging and thoughtful experiences that will propel your child’s learning ahead. While nothing will perfectly replicate the learning community we are able to create at school, we will do our best to communicate with you and continue to present effective learning opportunities for your child. It is our primary goal to continue to support the keen minds and compassionate hearts of our students during this very real global crisis. We appreciate your support and partnership during this new adventure. The administrative staff will be attending classes each day and connecting with families in the coming days and weeks. If you have questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact any one of the administrative staff.
March 13, 2020
Dear Mack Parents;
This is formal notification that Mackintosh Academy Littleton has made the decision to join with surrounding public school districts and ACIS schools by cancelling on-campus classes for students next week, March 16 through 20. Governor Polis just confirmed that Colorado has moved into the community phase of the transmission of the Coronavirus and that we all have a responsibility to help limit the severity of this public health crisis. Mackintosh is committed to doing its part to help “flatten the curve” and spread out the transmission of the virus by practicing social distancing. School closures are an important part of that strategy. While there are no known cases in our immediate population, we know it is only a matter of time before that happens. The Board of Trustees fully supports this decision as does our nurse consultant from Children’s Hospital.
Students will be coming home this afternoon with materials for completing school work next week and participating, virtually, in their conferences next Thursday and Friday. Sharon Muench and Beth Steklac and, ultimately, individual classroom teachers will be reaching out to you with specific details about how this will look. The following week, March 23 through 27 is our regularly scheduled Spring Break. As I indicated in my email to you last night, while we would like to resume on-campus classes, as planned, on Monday, March 30, that will depend upon the public health situation. If students remain off campus for the week after Spring Break, we will address educational needs through remote learning. Faculty have already been working on this with training and planning and will continue those efforts next week.
We know this is very difficult for all of you and your children, but we also know Mackintosh can depend on your understanding and support. We have a strong, resilient and socially responsible community.
Diane Dunne, Head of School
Stephanie Gill-Kelly, Co-Chair Board of Trustees
Keely Bostock, Co-Chair Board of Trustees
March 12, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
Governor Polis’ declaration of a State of Emergency anticipates that we have or may soon have community spread of the virus in Colorado. While this was expected, it is not welcome news, and requires all of us to be vigilant about minimizing our exposure to infection. In general, this is less severe for children, but it is tremendously serious for older and immune-compromised populations.
In order to protect the health of our entire Mack community, we respectfully require that you immediately notify the school if any of the following occur:
- A member of your household has tested positive for COVID-19
- A member of your household is experiencing symptoms for COVID-19 and has not yet been tested
- A member of your household has had close contact with an individual who has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.
That member of your household (adult or child) will be asked to remain off campus until we have consulted with Tri-County Department of Health to determine what actions are needed, including remaining off campus for the requisite 14-day quarantine period and possible school closure. Please know that we are sending the same guidelines to faculty and staff.
Regarding the issue of school closure. I know there is much anxiety about this. Be assured that any decision around this will not be taken lightly; we completely understand that closure has serious ramifications for parents as well as children. Nevertheless, this is something we must all be prepared to face. As indicated above, our plan is to consult with Tri-County Health Department before we would make a decision to close and for how long. As a matter of course, Mackintosh will follow any governmental, general public health directives that involve closures of all schools. We just received new guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding school closures. They are in line with what I indicated above. Please see the entire notice attached. Any decision of school closure at Mack will be communicated to you using FACTS/RenWeb.
We continue to monitor communications from the CDC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and maintain contact with other ACIS schools around Colorado to keep abreast of developments, recommendations, and best practices. As well, I am consulting with several parents who are health care professionals, whose reading-between-the-lines advice is invaluable. This help us makes sense of the news and how it impacts us at Mackintosh and also informs our decision-making about school protocols and cancellation or postponement of events.
We are currently working diligently with faculty to develop online and blended strategies to address the educational needs of our students remotely. Stay tuned for more specific details. As discussed in previous emails, we continue to promote healthy practices for hand washing, sneezing and coughing; to prohibit food/utensil sharing, and to implement extensive cleaning and sanitizing practices daily.
We ask your help in a number of specific ways:
- Reinforce hand washing, coughing/sneezing hygiene practices at home.
- Avoid travel to any areas identified by the State Department and the CDC as a 2 or 3 level of concern. This is particularly important as Spring Break approaches.
- Seriously consider changing travel plans and other social/business situations that increase your exposure to the virus.
- Keep sick children home even, in some cases, without a fever.
- Determine child care plans in order to be prepared in case of a school closure.
- Read all school emails, newsletters and ParentSquare posts
- Keep well informed by consulting reputable news sources. Be careful of being misled by rumors or fake news posts on social media. We have set up a Coronavirus information section on our website that includes a compilation of my Covid-19 communications and some links to excellent sources of information and advice. https://mackintoshacademy.com/covid-19/
Dear parents, most importantly, we ask for your patience, trust and flexibility as we navigate this very fluid situation. Even the guidelines communicated above may have to change in response to a changing circumstances and information; we will continue to keep you apprised and send updates in a timely manner. I speak for all the Mackintosh faculty and staff when I say that we care deeply for your children. This goes above and beyond our commitment to providing them with an excellent education and extends to keeping them safe and strong and secure. We are privileged to partner with you in this important endeavor, especially during a very difficult time.
March 7, 2020
Dear Mack Parents:
While the confirmation, earlier this week, that there are cases of Coronavirus in Colorado is not surprising, it certainly added to our stress level and feelings of helplessness. Please be assured that we continue to work with our nurse consultant from Children’s Hospital and Tri-County Health Department to make sure that we are doing all we can to provide a safe environment at school. As I mentioned in my previous email, I have asked our counselor Dr. Lillian Henricks to lead us in addressing the social emotional aspects of this current crisis. Scroll down to read her advice to you on talking to and being with your children. Take comfort from her message that we are not helpless.
My wish for you and your families is that you will get outside, breathe in the healing powers of nature, and enjoy this beautiful Colorado weekend.
What Can We Do to Stay Healthy?
In our efforts to prepare for potential implications of the Coronavirus here at Mackintosh we are keeping in mind the emotional impact on the children of facing something that is to a large degree out of their control. With this in mind, here are a few ideas for reflection that you can communicate to your children to the degree that you see fit.
One idea is to use this as a teachable moment to reiterate the many things that are in our control relative to our health. In addition to building the habits of the big three – hand washing, sneezing/coughing into the elbow, and not touching mouth, nose or eyes without a tissue, what a good opportunity to discuss and to make healthy choices more generally as a family. You can talk about good nutrition, water intake, sufficient sleep, and ample exercise/time spent outside, and how these practices enhance immunity. In addition, you can reflect as a family on goals of positive thinking and acting (including practicing gratitude, forgiveness, and kindness) which undoubtedly strengthen each one of us as persons. To the degree that we can increase our children’s sense of agency we are equipping them with a life skill that will serve them far beyond coping with the current reality of this spreading virus.
Mindfulness is another practice well worth considering at this time. Being mindful is a simple and accessible way to step away from the barrage of internal and external thoughts that may not serve our overall health. Taking time to slow down and concentrate on your breath, on different feelings in your body, and on what the senses perceive can lead to increased focus and calmness in which the prefrontal cortex is more engaged and we are less at the mercy of our primal brains. Where am I feeling tight or constricted? Why? Take a few deep, slow breaths to release that tension and become more grounded. Gain perspective. What if you did this at the table before dinner: let’s take a few slow deep breaths and reflect silently on those things for which we are grateful. Here is just one of many excellent websites with mindfulness resources geared toward families: https://www.susankaisergreenland.com/.
Stay tuned for a few more ideas, and in the meantime let us strive to keep calm and carry on with what is in our power to do.
P.S. Keep your eyes open for a little comic book intended for kids that we are sending home soon with basic information about the virus.
March 3, 2020
The health, wellbeing and safety of our students is always Mackintosh’s highest priority. With the Coronavirus spreading around the world and within this country, that firm commitment, as well as our vigilance to best hygiene practices, has increased according. We are closely monitoring developments as they occur. As reported previously, we are in contact with our nurse consultant from Children’s Hospital, medical professionals in our parent community. We follow health alerts and related developments from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the CDC. Currently, there are still no confirmed cases in Colorado, but we are actively engaged in pre-pandemic response planning should that situation change.
In addition to ensuring safety and wellbeing, our goal as a school is to provide the highest quality and most responsive educational environment. We are making every effort to continue in that Mack tradition. Currently, all classes are running as scheduled and upcoming all-school activities will continue as planned. The latter includes our Annual Meeting this Thursday night (March 5), Portfolio Conferences (the afternoon of March 19 and March 20), and Spring Break, (March 23 through March 27.) Our intent is to continue with school as usual as long as we have teachers to teach and students to learn; however, should health concerns require a different decision, we will communicate with you as soon as possible. As indicated, we are involved in discussions with other administration officials at ACIS schools and will be monitoring decisions in nearby public school districts.
This is a stressful time for all of us. As much as we have heightened our efforts and attention, we also don’t want to create unnecessary anxiety. Our mantra is to be prudent, not panic. Continue to scroll down to read what Mack is doing to ensure health, safety, wellness and the delivery of our program. And then read further, to read what you, as parents, can do to help. We are all in this together.
What Mack is doing:
- Promoting frequent and effective handwashing by teachers, staff and students.
- Promoting effective protocols around sneezing, coughing, etc.
- Remind students not to share food, eating utensils, and plates.
- Discourage students from touching their eyes, noses, mouths, etc.
- Disinfecting all tables/desks, counters, doorknobs at the end of each school day.
- Monitoring developments with public health officials, nurse consultant, other independent schools, public school officials.
- Seeking specific advise from medical professionals in our parent community.
- Urging parents to keep sick children home.
- Requiring sick faculty to stay home.
- Sending sick children (and faculty) home
- Working with a current parent who owns a video conferencing business about developing contingency plans for virtual classrooms, if needed
- Working with our counselor and teachers to allay concerns among our students
What Mack Parents can do:
- Reinforce and practice with your children above top four practices. For more information – https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
- Keep sick children home. Even if they don’t have a fever, if they are too sick to learn, they are too sick to be at school.
- Avoid traveling to areas of Level 2, 3, or 4 risk as determined by the CDC and U.S. State Department. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
- Please let us know if you do travel to these areas. Depending on warning levels, the school may follow suit with local health officials and request 14-day quarantines in order to protect health and safety of all students and faculty.
- Stay calm.
February 24, 2020
Dear Mackintosh community,
We wanted to let you know that we have been monitoring the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus closely and have been following information and advice from the Centers for Disease Control, the Colorado Health Department, our colleagues at other independent schools, as well as our school nurse consultant from Children’s Hospital. Based on these sources, we believe the risk the virus presents to our students at this time is quite low. To minimize risk for any virus, including coronavirus, it is important to practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing with soap and water, sneezing into a tissue or inner elbows, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and to keep sick children and adults at home. We continue to implement these practices at school and encourage you to support them at home, as well.
We are totally committed to the health and safety of our students and will update families if conditions change about this virus. We have also attached an information sheet that was recently released from the Colorado Department of Health.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Fact Sheet for Corona Virus from CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment)
First Item to be hidden
Guidelines about school closure planning
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment: Planning for Schools and Child Care Closure
Other resources for parents
Answering Kids’ Questions About the Coronavirus, in Free Picture Books https://nyti.ms/3cfPdLC
Colorado State Emergency Operations Center: https://covid19.colorado.gov/
U.S. State Department website. This site will list all the international travel advisories and rank locations as to level of concern.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. This is probably the best U.S. site on the virus. It covers symptoms and diagnosis, transmission, and prevention and treatment. It also has travel updates.
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE): https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus
New York Times Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Spread of the Outbreak
March 13th News Conference: Governor Polis announced coronavirus cases in Colorado
Compassionate Hearts Corner
by Lillian Henrick, PsyD, Mackintosh School Counselor
Weeks ago eighth graders Grace and Ember designed a fun book “How the Germs Didn’t Take Over the World“. This little story book educates students about the spread of germs and the increasing power that kids have over them when they wash their hands with soap! If our initial push for frequent and effective hand-washing has subsided, maybe it is time for a booster. One detail that has changed since the book was put together is the new recommendation for mask use across the board, whereas previously this recommendation targeted health care workers and the sick; apart from this change the message is one that will endure. Please share it with your kids as a clever reminder even if they already heard the book in class, which is a possibility. For our younger students or young siblings the Social Story Book For Children about COVID-19: “Something Strange Happened in my City” is another relevant resource. It aims to empower young children to do their part while also trusting caregivers to protect them; it also foments appreciation for the sacrifices of health care workers. There is both a PDF version and one where the book is read aloud.
Craig Knippenberg, LCSW, M.Div began hosting Facebook Live sessions for parents on Tuesdays from 9:30-10:30 am, beginning March 24th. Craig touched on some great ideas in his first episode of “Surviving the Coronavirus at Home: Managing the Side Effects by Thriving During this Time Together.” Highlights include overall practical advice for families and relatable personal anecdotes; how enacting boundaries/schedules for the family both respects children’s needs and meets your own need for personal time; how the practice of forgiveness in family relationships is a priority now more than ever; how lowering expectations of parenting consistency can preserve your sanity and that of your children; and how service to others is a vital way to flourish as a family even now when the gravitational pull is toward self-preservation. Craig also touches upon managing screen time for both ourselves and our children, the importance of validating our kids’ emotions, and the advantage of an adventure
mindset, among other nuggets of wisdom gleaned from his 35 years of experience. Overall, you will find principles for a healthy and balanced approach to living so close to one another at home for an extended time.
Visit www.craigknippenberg.com or his Facebook page @coloradomentalhealth to learn more or to tune in on Tuesdays at 9:30 am. You can go to http://craigknippenberg.com/covid-19/ to sign up for updates and event notifications.
An article briefly summarizing Craig’s tips on coping with the current crisis can be found here (https://bcparent.ca/2020/03/21/12-survival-tips/) .
More Resources for Talking with Kids:
NPR: Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus
Child Mind: Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
New York Times: How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
USA Today: How Do You Talk to Your Children About Coronavirus?
American Psychological Association: How to Talk to Kids About Difficult News
Common Sense Media: Explaining the News to Our Kids