Hi HCA Family, this is Susan Hayward. I want you to know that we all miss you all so much. I know that this is not an easy time for any of you. It is so important for us to stay connected with one another through this challenging time.
While we cannot meet together in our classrooms until May 4th, per Governor Baker’s announcement, we are committed to doing everything we can to provide you with an education with is both highly personal and interactive. I think you've all connected in some way to your teacher and that's only going to continue.
During our time apart, our learning dynamic has had to change in many ways. We are ready to use our creativity and all our available resources with virtual technology so that your family receives the support and the educational schedule that works best for everyone. We're still experimenting.
This weekend you can expect your teacher to call you, to contact you to connect and hear of any challenges you may be facing – whether that is educational, technological or personal. We want you to know that we care about you and we want to hear from you so we can support you in this challenging time in a personal way.
We have formed a special taskforce of highly qualified leaders who are currently working together to creatively find solutions based on the wisdom God provides. Very soon we plan on hosting some online informational financial meetings that will provide you with many answers to the financial questions you have at this time. You'll be hearing more about this next week.
Thank you for working with us, for hanging with us. Thank you for your encouragement and prayer. Your support is so greatly appreciated, as your adorable photos, emails, kids' pictures and sweet messages. We can't tell you how much we appreciate and are sharing those things. We won’t stop working for you, and we just pray that we can all be back together soon, healthy and strong. We love you and look forward to seeing you.
This is Ms. Graham. This afternoon, Governor Baker announced his decision to close all elementary and secondary schools in Massachusetts until at least May 4th. We miss you all so much, and we are sad to remain apart for this next 5.5 weeks; however we are confident God remains in control and that He is good. We are continually working as a staff to develop and improve our transition to distance learning, and we thank you for your prayers and patience. We are committed to continue to provide an excellent education for your students, and we look forward to updating you once we know more. Have a good night.
Just a quick note that the next drop-off/pick-up day, which had been tentatively scheduled for this Friday, has been canceled due to the Stay-At-Home-Advisory issued by the Governor. Please watch for communications from your child's teacher, especially Team A, regarding anything that would have been dropped off or picked up. :-). Thanks.....and enjoy the snow!!
Email March 20, 8:07 p.m.
Good Evening from Mrs. Hayward
Dear HCA Families,
I miss you all so much! I thank God that we are able to communicate online as well as on the phone, but I miss seeing your faces! Things are changing so fast that I’ve had to amend almost every communication (and there are legion!) going out to the school committee, teachers, staff and administration. I pray this can go out soon. I’ve wanted to reach out to you with helpful resources and then this beautiful, and timely, message came to me from Emily Paharik. Many of you know Emily, because she has been an HCA parent for over a decade, as well as a therapist at Charis Counseling at Holden Chapel. Emily has worked with many HCA students over the years, either individually or in small groups. Her husband Mark served on our school committee for many years. We are including this letter, which was originally written for Whitinsville Christian School, where Emily currently serves as the WCS Health and Wellness Counselor. It is just as applicable for our school family, and Emily has given us her blessing to share her words with you. Bless her!
"We are all adjusting to a ‘new normal’, which includes major changes in our work, school, social and daily routines. For children, in particular, this can ignite not only some realistic fears, but also imagined fears, especially since the pandemic is now really impacting our lives in a very real way.
One truth we can focus on: despite all of the rapid and unprecedented changes going on, our God remains an anchor amidst this storm; unchanging and faithful. A level of fear and anxiety would be expected during this time of uncertainty, and acknowledging these concerns is appropriate. We can help our children focus on resting in God’s promises for us, seeking His counsel through Scripture, engaging in prayer, and as Christians, it is an opportunity to minister to and support others, even remotely.
Often, when we experience feelings of unrest or anxiety, stepping outside of ourselves to serve others helps us to feel better. Most children and teens will step up to the challenge to help and feel more useful, whether it is helping at home or serving others. Under these circumstances this can include: focusing on age appropriate life skills training to increase responsibilities; offering to help a neighbor (yard work, grocery shopping, helping the needy); making cards or sending notes of encouragement (yes, snail mail) to reach out to those who may feel more isolated. Be sure to connect meaningfully with others!"
(Below is a list of topics and helpful resources Emily suggested. Remember too that we can reach out to friends, neighbors, your pastoral staff, and even chat with the few strangers you see at the store or on a walk. Your teachers have LOVED hearing from you as well! We really are all in this together and human (6 ft) communication is important. We share the same dilemmas, challenges and fears. Talking helps.)
Coping with Stress; Talking with your Children about COVID-19:
Not all children or teens respond to stress in the same way. You may or may not notice some of the following changes in your child’s behavior or emotions as they adjust to the changes taking place related to COVID-19:
● Excessive crying and irritation
● Returning to behaviors they have outgrown
● Excessive worry or sadness
● Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
● Irritability and “acting out” behaviors, including low frustration tolerance / anger
● Difficulty with attention and concentration
● Unexplained headaches or body pain
● Irritability, anger, impulsive or acting out behaviors
● Seeking unhealthy coping strategies
General tips from the CDC and (other publications) to help facilitate healthy conversations with your children and teens, to support their health and well-being:
● Remain calm and reassuring!
● Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.
● Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you. Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well.
● Acknowledge that feeling upset, sad, unsettled, fearful or anxious are all expected feelings for this kind of situation. However, there are many ways that we can decrease those feelings and cope with them together.
● Follow your child's lead. Some children or teens may want to spend time talking. But if they don't seem interested or don't ask a lot of questions, that's OK. Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
● Find out what your child already knows and what he/she is talking about with siblings and peers.
● Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
● Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand. Provide information that is honest, accurate and age appropriate.
● Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
● If your child asks you something and you do not know the answer, just say so.
● Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way your child can understand. Develop daily structure and a consistent, predictable routine.
● Make expectations and daily responsibilities clear. As much as possible, have routines for meals, home-schooling, chores, play and leisure.
● Connect with friends and family members, rely on your social support system.
● Use this time to teach your children life skills and to develop resiliency!
● Reinforce a sense of control by empowering your children to take actions that reduce the spread of germs (and the virus).
● Remind children that we are proactively remaining home to slow the spread of the virus so it will go away!
● Discuss any new actions that increase health (e.g., increased handwashing, cancellation of events or activities, staying home).
Following are 3 links to helpful articles by topic (click for link):
Please do not hesitate to contact me or any HCA teachers for any reason. We are here to support your family and your children.
In Him who is able,
I wanted to clarify the procedure for tomorrow, Friday, 3/20, during which we will have the vestibule open to receive completed assignments between 9:30-11:30am. We will gladly accept any completed assignments from any grade/subject, but below is a grade-by-grade summary of what teachers would like:
K - No need to come!
1 - No need to come! Plan to turn in 2 weeks worth of work next Friday!
2, 3, & 4 - Please come drop off completed assignments for teachers to grade, but there is nothing new to pick up!
5 & 6 History/Geography/Bible/LA -Any assignments that haven’t been turned in already by scanning/emailing must be turned in for grading; nothing new to pick up!
5 & 6 Science/Math - Any assignments that haven’t been turned in already by scanning/emailing must be turned in for grading; any work that Mrs. Cleveland has already corrected (from work submitted online this week) will be available to pick up. :-)
7 & 8 - Any completed L.A. assignments may be dropped off, but there is nothing to pickup!
All 2nd -8th grade students should make sure to log into their new @holdenchristianacademy.org email address and accept the invitations for all of their Google Classroom invitations for new assignments for next week!Peace to you in Jesus,
P.S. We have tentatively scheduled another drop-off/pickup time next Friday, 3/27 from 9:30-11:30am for all grade levels and all assignments thusfar. Please plan accordingly, and we will confirm closer to the time.
Hello HCA Parents,
First, I want to thank each one of you who has extended such grace and patience to us while we navigate some uncharted territory. Just like you, we’ve never done this before! We recognize the reality we find ourselves in is not easy, or ideal, but as believers, we can fully rely on the Lord Jesus Christ to meet us in our place of weakness and show us His strength. We pray that God uses this season to bring each of us into a deeper relationship with Himself.
As we begin this unexpected journey, we’ve been busy trying to prepare instructional opportunities for your student(s), as well as work out the kinks on how best to communicate what our “new normal” will look like! So far, it’s been an evolving process...a few steps forward, a few steps back. Overall, however, we see forward momentum, and we are thankful for your partnership.
I want to address a few ‘housekeeping items’ for us to all be aware of going forward:
Our faculty should generally be available, via email, between 8am-3pm daily, Monday through Friday. If you need help from a homeroom teacher, or someone in administration, please email them. We will do our very best to reply to you as soon as possible during regular business hours.
Any emails sent after the business day closes at 3pm may not be returned until the following day. This is the same policy we use when school is in session. Please refrain from calling or texting teachers who have chosen to share their personal # with you after school hours. Many of our teachers have families and may be trying to homeschool their own children while managing their own households. Thank you for your consideration.
Students in Grades 2-8 will be using Google Classroom. A permission slip and instructions were given out on Monday, and Mr. Shea is diligently working to get everything set up. This is a process, and we do not expect to have everything up-and-running for our students until at least Friday of this week. Please wait for passwords and further instructions. Until then, every teacher has provided a week’s worth of lessons already which do not relate to the establishment/use of Google Classroom. Any “tech” related questions, or Google Classroom permission slips, should be emailed to Mr. Shea using jshea@holdenchristianacademy.
Family Portal (formerly known as ParentsWeb) on factsmgt.com will be regularly updated with announcements and calendar items. You may typically log in to the Family Portal to see your child’s grades; however it will also be a source of school updates - so please check it out! As always, school closure/re-opening info will be sent out via the ParentAlert system (a phone call, and posted on Channel 5).
Please know that you are being prayed for by our staff, and we appreciate each and every prayer you offer on our behalf as well. It is not a coincidence that this year’s theme is an Unchanging God in a Changing World. As everything around us changes, may your hope be in Jesus Christ alone. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
P.S. Please email me photos of your student doing their Online Instructional Days, or any outdoor play/exploration while we are apart! I hope to keep a stream of photos going for HCA on Instagram and Facebook while we are closed! Send photos to agraham@
Alison Graham, Secretary
Good Evening HCA Families,
As you may have heard, Governor Baker announced this evening that all public and private schools are to remain closed until April 8th. We will be in compliance with this, of course, so we will not plan to hold classes in our building until at least Wed, April 8th. As previously planned, pick up of books and supplies will still be tomorrow [Monday, March 16] between 11:30am and 3pm. Parents, we will meet you at your car to ask you a couple of quick questions regarding best ways to contact you and your student with assignments, devices available for schoolwork, and wifi access. We are thankful for the opportunity to continue education and communication with our students. Have a blessed evening!
Hello HCA Families,
Thank you so much for your love, support, and prayers for our faculty as we navigate these uncertain times. Our loving and dedicated teachers & staff have been working tirelessly this weekend to recalibrate lesson plans, formulate a plan for remote instruction, and prepare materials to help your children thrive over the coming weeks. It is our goal to continually provide an excellent education for your children while balancing the reality of this set of unexpected circumstances. Below is a very important article written by Dr. Bitton, of Brigham and Women's & Harvard's School of Public Health, that we hope you will take the time to read and find very helpful.
Asaf Bitton MD, MPH | Executive Director | Ariadne Labs
Brigham and Women's Hospital | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
I know there is some confusion about what to do next in the midst of this unprecedented time of a pandemic, school closures, and widespread social disruption. I have been asked by a lot of people for my opinion, and I will provide it below based on the best information available to me today. This is my personal and well-informed opinion, and my take on the necessary steps ahead.
What I can say as a physician and public health leader, is that what we do, or don't do, over the next week will have a massive impact on the local and perhaps national trajectory of coronavirus. We are only about 11 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is unfortunately happening there, as well as much of the rest of Europe very soon. At this point, containment through contact tracing and testing is only part of the necessary strategy. We must move to pandemic mitigation through widespread, uncomfortable, and comprehensive social distancing. That means not only shutting down schools, work (as much as possible), group gatherings, and public events. It also means making daily choices to stay away from each other as much as possible to Flatten The Curve (see below).
Our health system will not be able to cope with the projected numbers of people who will need acute care should we not muster the fortitude and will to socially distance each other starting now. On a regular day, we have about 45k ICU beds nationally, which can be ramped up in a crisis to about 93k. Even moderate projections suggest that if current infectious trends hold, our capacity (locally and nationally) may be overwhelmed as early as mid-late April. Thus, the only set of interlinked strategies that can get us off this concerning trajectory is to work together as a community to maintain public health by staying apart.
So what does this enhanced form of social distancing mean on a daily basis, when schools are cancelled?
I can suggest the following:
1. No playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families visiting each other's houses. This sounds extreme because it is. We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals across those family units. It is uncomfortable, especially for families with small children or for kids who love to play with their friends. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent. The symptoms of coronavirus take 4-5 days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes over looking well can transmit the virus. Sharing food is particularly risky - I definitely do not recommend that people do so outside of their family. We have already taken extreme social measures to address this serious disease - let's not actively co-opt our efforts by having high levels of social interaction at people's houses instead of the schools. Again - the wisdom of early and aggressive social distancing is that it can flatten the curve above, give our health system a chance to not be overwhlemed, and eventually may reduce the length and need for longer periods of extreme social distancing later (see what has transpired in Italy and Wuhan). We need to all do our part during these times, even if it means some discomfort.
2. Take walks/runs outside, but maintain distance (ideally 6 feet between people outside your family). Try not to use public facilities like playground structures as coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to 3 days, and these structures aren't getting regularly cleaned. Try not to have physical contact with people outside of your family. Going outside will be important during these strange times, and the weather is improving. Go outside every day if you can but stay physically away from others. Try not to have kids play with each other (even outside) if that means direct physical contact. Even basketball or soccer involve direct contact and cannot be recommended. If people wish to go outside and have a picnic with other families, I strongly recommend keeping distance of at least 6 feet, not sharing any food at all, and not having direct physical contact. Invariably, that is hard with kids, so these shared, "distant" picnics may be tricky. Do not visit nursing homes or other areas where large numbers of the elderly reside, as they are at highest risk for complications and mortality from coronavirus. We need to find alternate ways to reduce social isolation in these communities through virtual means instead of physical in-person visits.
3. Reduce the frequency of going to stores/restaurants/coffee shops for the time being. Of course trips to the grocery store will be necessary, but try to limit them and go at times when less busy. Consider wearing gloves (not medical - but perhaps washable) and of course washing hands before and after really well. Leave the medical masks and gloves for the medical professionals - we need them. Maintain social distance from folks. Take-out meals and food are riskier than making food at home given the links between the people who prepare food, transport the food, and you. It is hard to know how much that risk is, but it is is certainly higher than making it at home.
4. If you are sick, definitely stay home and contact a medical professional. If you are sick, you should try isolate yourself from the rest of your family within your house as best as you can. If you have questions about whether you qualify or should get a coronavirus test, you can call you primary care team and/or consider calling the Partners Health Care hotline staffed 8AM-8PM every day - 617 724 7000, or the Massachusettes department of public health at 617 983 6800. Don't just walk in to an ambulatory clinic - call first. Obviously if it is an emergency call 911.
5. We need to push our local, state, and national leaders to close ALL schools, events, gatherings, and public spaces now. A local, town by town response won't have the needed effect. We need a statewide, nationwide approach in these trying times. Contact your representative and the governor to urge them to enact statewide closures. As of today, 6 states had already done so. We should be one of them. Also urge them to fund emergency preparedness and make increasing coronavirus testing capacity an immediate and top priority.
I realize there is a lot built into these suggestions, and that they represent a real burden for many people, businesses, and communities. Social distancing is hard and may negatively impact others, especially those who face vulnerablities in our society. I recognize that there is structural and social inequity built in and around social distancing recommendations. We can and must take steps to bolster our community response to people who face food insecurity, domestic violence, and housing challenges, along with the many other social inequities.
I also realize that not everyone can do everything. But we have to try our absolute best as a community, starting today. It is a public health imperative. If we don't do this now voluntarily, it will become necessary later involuntarily, when the potential benefits will be much less than doing so right now.
We hope this article will help shape your thinking and decisions in these unprecedented times. If you would like to read the original article, you can find it here.
We look forward to seeing all of our K-8 student's faces (briefly!) during our "drive through pickup" for materials/books/assignments tomorrow from 11:30am-3:00pm. Thank you for your continued support and prayer.
Hello HCA Families,
Please read this urgent and important information from HCA regarding COVID-19.
As you know, we have been monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and are actively planning a variety of contingencies as the virus spreads. Our highest priority is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the Holden Christian Academy community. We are in daily communication with a group of physicians, as well as receiving regular updates from the Department of Public Health and Dept. of Education. Our staff has participated in several webinars as well as multiple phone calls with the DPH/DOE.
At this point the following precautions have been taken for the benefit of HCA:
- ACSI canceled the Early Ed conference we were supposed to host tomorrow, 3/13
- The Preschool will still be closed tomorrow, 3/13, for professional development of the staff
- There will be no field trips at this time, including the Middle School NYC trip and the one previously mentioned to the American Heritage Museum.
- There will be no open house next Thursday, March 19th.
- The Read-A-Thon reward trip will be postponed.
- We are washing surfaces frequently, and having students wash their hands properly upon entry to school in the morning and throughout the day.
Please continue to practice proven, common sense habits to limit the spread of any virus:
- Wash hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve (not with your hands)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick
Please be in prayer for everyone around the world during these challenging times. For more information, you may visit https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19 and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
We hope you understand, along with us, that this is unprecedented. Please join us in praying for wisdom for our decision-makers, and that in this time of uncertainty that our trust and hope would be firmly rooted in our God who never changes.
Mrs. Kristin Pollitt, on behalf of the HCA School Committee