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 July 17th, 2020
Messages from the Head of School
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