*Emergency Closing Updates

Families will be contacted via phone call, text, or email when new information is available, and all updates will be posted here on this page. 
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Here is an important message from Mrs. Hayward, which I am passing on to all of you!

Dear Friends,

Well, this will certainly be a year that no one will easily forget! Someday our students will be telling their grandchildren all about it for their genealogy books! “Really Grandma…face masks? No play dates? You couldn’t even hug your friends? What torture!” We’ve all been stretched and pushed beyond what we thought possible and yet, here we are…at the finish line of the 2019-2020 school year.  I am so proud of you all! You parents, students, faculty and staff have demonstrated resilience, perseverance, and creativity! I don’t think a single computer was thrown out the window! Although we’ve all had our moments of frustration, grief and lament, we are still moving on, following Jesus…step by step, day by day. That’s what counts.

We are seeking Him for His plans for His school for next year and we are getting encouraged and a bit excited!! We are going to tell you all about it very soon in a video we are in the midst of creating. You will receive an email link on Friday. Stay tuned…we think you will like it!

In the meantime, we hope to provide you with details needed to make this last week happy and streamlined for all! Here is a brief overview followed by the details. 

Monday:

  • 9:30 Chapel

  • 1:00-3:00 End of the Year Pick Up/Drop Off -Details below

Tuesday:

  • End of year social/party via ZOOM -teachers will announce times

  • 7:00 PM Graduation: all invited! Details below.

Wednesday:

  • 9:30 Thankfulness Chapel Zoom 

  • Summer break! 

End of the Year Pick Up/Drop Off: Monday June 8, 2020

This Monday, June 8th, we will be holding an outdoor drop off/pick up day from 1PM to 3PM for K-8 students.  This is your best opportunity to drop off school supplies, library books, and text books, as well as pick up student belongings, projects, assignments, and Art portfolios.  If you miss it, you may not be able to pick up belongings until the fall.

In addition to returning any borrowed texts, material, and technology back to HCA, we would also ask that families communicate with their student’s homeroom teachers about any belongings or materials their student has left at the school.  Faculty and staff have been able to gather belongings that students kept in their school cubbies and desks, but may not know about other belongings, like sports balls or lunch boxes, that could have been kept in common spaces.

Please be on the lookout for messages or emails from your student’s teachers as well. They will be in touch to let you know what specific items they are expecting to be returned.

On the Pick up/Drop Off Day, faculty and staff will be stationed at different points in the parking lot to direct families where to go, and when it is ok to head to those locations.

Families can expect:

    -To stop at a check in station for specific directions.

    -Stop at a Drop Off location in the parking lot to deposit school materials.

    -Stop at a separate Pick Up location to receive student belongings

        AND (if applicable)

    -Stop at the Main Office Medication Table if they need to sign out student medications.

During Pick Up/Drop Off: parents and students will not be allowed to leave their vehicles.  Our playground and property remains closed, so please do not plan to congregate.  

While this is not the norm, or what we were expecting, for the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we remember that God is eternally in control of our ever changing world.  And, even when we cannot see each other or interact significantly in person during this difficult time, God is still providing us a way to connect!  Please feel free to say “Hello,” tell us how you are doing, ask us how we are doing, and let your students do the same!  We love and miss you all!

Please follow this link to see what we have in the Lost and Found at HCA.

https://youtu.be/d3bcfUPGE2U 

If you recognize anything in the lineup, email the number next to your child’s item to their homeroom teacher so we can add it to their belongings.  Anything that is not claimed, or is claimed by more than one family, at the end of Monday will remain in the school’s lost and found until it can be physically looked at in the fall.

Graduation

You are cordially invited to attend the Eight Grade "Drive In" Graduation Ceremony in the parking lot of Holden Chapel on Tuesday, June 9th at 7:00pm.  Everyone will be able to watch and hear the ceremony from their car.  However, no one should exit their vehicles except for the speakers....and then the graduates when they walk across the stage.   We are unable to allow anyone to enter the building.  However, there will be portable facilities that can be used if necessary.  Indoor restrooms will be for emergencies only.  To reduce the need to use facilities, the graduation ceremony will be kept to an hour. We would like to encourage you to decorate your car for the occasion if you feel so inclined. There is a reception tentatively planned for Tuesday, August 11th at 7pm.  More details to follow.  

**The ceremony will take place rain or shine, with the exception of lightning.  In case of thunder/lightning, the ceremony will revert to a Zoom format at the same time.** 

We hope you will be able to attend this occasion as we celebrate God's blessings and the hard work and perseverance of our graduates.

If we don’t get to speak with you in person, please know that there is a big smile behind every mask and love in our hearts for all of you!  We pray that each and every one of you will have a safe and blessed summer and we pray we will see you all back AT SCHOOL in September.

In His love,

Susan Hayward

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Email May 28, 1:39 p.m.

Dear HCA Family,

These past few months have been quite a journey.  We acknowledge the challenges, stress, and disappointments that have come along with it.  We are thankful for your support, partnership and positive feedback as we have persevered together.   What a blessing to see God at work in both students and staff as we have successfully adjusted to a remote learning experience and excelled in the field of Christian education.  We have gained wisdom and knowledge, and we look forward with optimism, confidence and anticipation.  

As Massachusetts begins the re-opening process and provides guidelines and recommendations, HCA is actively evaluating and prayerfully envisioning what school can look like and how to effectively optimize our facility.  We have a team that is already studying CDC guidelines and will continue to strategize for the 2020-21 academic year as state and local information is updated.  This team will continue to work through the summer and will give updates on their progress.  Be assured that we highly prioritize the health and safety of our staff and students as if they are our own family.  We are confident that HCA will continue to provide an unparalleled spiritual, educational, social, and emotional foundation for the students God has entrusted to our care.  Our mission, philosophy and core values remain constant and will not change with circumstances.  We look forward to an exciting 2020-21 academic year, as we continue to provide creative learning opportunities and strong academics which are the trademark of an HCA education.  

This continues to be a journey through uncharted territory, but we have a Sovereign God who guides us.  We look ahead with anticipation and excitement as we journey together.  We will continue to pray for all of you!

Many Blessings,

The HCA School Committee

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Email April 30, 1:00 p.m.

Hello HCA Families,

We would like to share a list of health and wellness resources with you, which we hope you find helpful as your family navigates such an uncertain, and potentially stressful, time in history.  You can check out this list of resources from our website HERE. This list was carefully curated by Emily Paharik, and is endorsed by HCA as well.  Emily is an HCA parent and former HCA Preschool teacher, has also worked 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. She currently serves as the Health and Wellness Counselor at Whitinsville Christian School, and has given us her blessing to share this list with our HCA community. If you or a member of your family are struggling and in need of help, please do not hesitate to reply to this email.  We are praying for all of your families. 

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Email April 24, 6:30 p.m.

Hello HCA Families!

Please view the important "State of the School" message from Mrs. Hayward and members of the Covid Task Force.  You can find the video of their message right here!  

For your convenience, typed notes are included below. These notes are referenced in the video as the "email to be sent after video":

HCA State of the School Update
April 24, 2020
Hello HCA families,
We’d like to begin by thanking God for His guidance, presence and provision for His school during this time. Here are just a few things for which we give thanks:

a. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020 Governor Baker announced that schools will remain closed for the rest of this school year. While other schools are scrambling to put together new programs and instruction, HCA is already five weeks into a seamless continuation of our program. By the grace of God, we only missed one day of school! Our teachers are conducting online classes for the core subjects.

b. Each week our teachers & students are doing new and creative things to engage, connect, and learn together. This week:
i. Our students went on a virtual field trip to Ellis Island & the 911 Memorial museum.
ii. All Students are creating Science projects, State projects, Science challenges, STEM
activities, art activities and a host of other hands-on activities.
iii. Our preschoolers are able to engage in circle time lessons, Bible time, literacy and
numeracy challenge activities, read aloud, and teacher created puppet shows, all
designed to teach core content. Mrs. Younger and Mrs. Vardis just won 1st place in the ACSI National Early Education video contest for their Food for Life lesson!
iv. Some teachers provide office hours for questions and extra help, others have daily
devotions, and even ZOOM recess!
v. On Monday, May 4th we are attempting a Zoom chapel! Mark your calendars!

c. The teachers have been able to use many on-line resources. Some are actually the same books and print materials that we own and use for this term. Because each August the teachers plan together for the year, we know exactly where we are going and how to get there together.

d. You, our families, have remained positive, in touch with the teachers, and are doing a great job of enabling your kids’ learning at home. THANK YOU!

e. We are now conducting Zoom interviews and tours for new students. We are blessed by the enthusiasm from new families and their strong desires to have their children part of a Christian school.

f. Plans for our school garden are underway. We are calling it “A Beautiful, Healthy Surprise Garden” because we will all be surprised to see what comes in to plant! Please remember to donate something from your family like seeds, young plants, and/or perennial divisions. We are working on a plan to safely coordinate planting the garden. We will keep you updated!

2. Challenges
a. Sadly, we had to lay off our staff who were not personally responsible to teach on-line classes. When this decision was made we thought it would be for a very short amount of time. We fully anticipate welcoming everyone back in September!! These beloved staff people are not being paid and are not expected to provide anything for HCA. Some, who are able, have chosen to function only as volunteers, to provide information and projects for no remuneration. While certainly not required or expected, we appreciate and thank them!

b. Unfortunately, we have not been able to maintain our budget and have had to make painful cuts due to these facts:
i. No fund-raising that we had planned for the Spring. No Open House, church visits, 5K, posters in businesses etc.
ii. We heard that we are going to receive a long-time generous grant but it will not come in the spring as usual but in the fall this year.
iii. While thankful that the majority of our families have at least one employed member,
the pandemic has caused employment issues for others who are now unable to
continue with tuition. Of course, we are working with them individually in order to keep
their kids at HCA and we need everyone’s prayer and help.

The Plan
The School Committee and the Covid Task Force are seeking the Lord’s will as to how to best serve the needs of all constituents including families, educators, and HCA as a business operation. After surveying and listening to the needs and concerns of our families, staff, and School Committee, we have found the bottom line to be that we all share many of the same challenges and concerns. These include relationships, health, jobs, finances, the economy, remote learning, and especially hearing and obeying God in this uncharted territory.
We believe that God started HCA as a sanctuary to guide and protect the hearts and minds of His children. He wants our kids to feel safe, wanted and loved. He made it clear that He wants the little children to come to Him to learn, to see, and interpret the world through the lens of a Biblical world-view. His desire is for Christian families to stand firm in this world and pass along the precious good news to future generations.
Now, more than ever we must stand firm together so His Vision for His school will continue for generations to come. Everything in our lives feels precarious right now unless we are standing on the rock, willing to do whatever He calls us to do in trusting obedience to Him. It’s thrilling and scary to actually step out of our false securities onto the water with Jesus, but let’s go! What’s the plan?
Together we can help one another:
1. We need our families to stay current with tuition so we’ll all be able to bring back our whole staff and return next year in a positive place. Those who can pay, do pay.
2. Help one another. Out of the kindness of their hearts an HCA family recently sent a sizable donation from their stimulus check in order to help other HCA families who are struggling to keep up tuition payments. Knowing the generosity of our families, we are starting a fund called the HCA COVID Relief Fund.

If you can and are led to do so, please make a donation to alleviate the pressure placed on the families and school due to Covid 19. Visit holdenchristianacademy.org/support to donate.

Some may ask why HCA doesn’t just cover these tuition payments?
Honestly: We can’t! We’ve already had to lay off 13 employees and in order to continue to pay salaries, keep the school running, and prepare for the Fall, we need these funds on which our budget was based.

We know that your children are not getting everything that they would by actually coming to school, so why should you continue to pay? Like all schools, we are working hard to provide all that we can. We’ve been in touch with dozens of Christian
schools in Massachusetts and across the country. Not one is offering a discount or reimbursement.

If we stop tuition payments now, without a miracle, HCA will most likely not be here for you next year. It’s that simple. Tuition is an investment in the immediate future.

However, speaking of next Fall, we have reasons for hope! As we said before, applications for next year are coming in on a regular basis. We are blessed by the positivity and enthusiasm of these new families and their strong desires to have their children be a lasting part of HCA.

We want to make sure you have secured your child’s place as well. This year, more than ever before, it is imperative that you secure your child(rens) places by updating your information on ParentsWeb as soon as possible. We need to have an accurate projection of next year’s enrollment in order to provide the best program for your children, plan a budget, and proceed with plans for the Fall. We have even provided an incentive to help you take ten minutes right now to update your information.
By updating your current information, you will confirm your child’s place for the 2020-2021 school year. By updating now, you save money and help us plan. Go to ParentsWeb to update demographic information, indicate your agreement to policies, and choose next year’s tuition plan. Here’s how...
In Parents Web:
click on “Apply/Enroll”
click on “Enrollment/Re-enrollment”
click on “Click here to open enrollment”
next to each child’s name, click on “Start Enrollment Packet” or “Will not Enroll”

If you go to FACTS and update now, we will pay your yearly per student FACTS enrollment fee. You have from today through April 30th to do so.

After April 30th you will have to pay the enrollment fees as part of the re-enrollment process. After May 17th you will have to pay the enrollment and late fee of $25.

Those who have applied for financial aid will hear from us by the week of May 4th. You will have until May 17th to have HCA cover the enrollment fee.

After May 17th a late charge is added in addition to the enrollment fee.

There you have it all! We are sending this information to you via email because it’s full of details we know you’ll want to remember.

We are so thankful for all of you, your loving prayers, support and passion for Christian Education. May God bless us all and keep us all safe in this storm, as together we keep our eyes on Jesus and step out of the boat with the confidence that only He can provide!
In Him who IS able,
Susan Hayward, Principal
on behalf of the COVID Taskforce

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Phone call April 21, 1:45 p.m.
Governor Baker announced today that all schools in Massachusetts will stay closed for the remainder of this school year.  We will continue to provide remote learning for students at HCA through the end of the school year. We expect to finish the school year strong in the grace God provides. We miss you all so much, and we will communicate more in the coming days. We love you! 
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Email April 7, 7:41 p.m. 

Dear HCA Families,

We would like to invite you to watch an informative presentation from the school committee regarding HCA’s tuition and budgeting process.  This is the first of several presentations discussing topics such as enrollment, tuition, and financial aid.  We want to share this with you to bring understanding to a process that may seem, at times, to be mysterious and confusing.

This information is especially pertinent in our current situation, as we educate students remotely and receive tuition that allows our school to continue operating.  Although the video does not address specific tuition questions that may have arisen due to the COVID-19 situation, we want to let you know that at the end of the video there will be an address for you to email questions.  Answers will be provided in a follow up presentation.

We recognize that for some families this is a particularly difficult time with unemployment and many new challenges at home.  If you have financial questions that are not addressed in this video and are specific to your current situation, we want to hear from you.  Please feel free to contact Judy Bleau at jbleau@holdenchristianacademy.org

We hope that you find the video helpful and we look forward to answering any questions you may have.

You may access the video by clicking here.

To Him who is able,

Kristin Pollitt on behalf of the HCA School Committee

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Email April 7, 12:48 p.m.

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are doing well and getting in the groove of our 'new normal'.  It has been a huge blessing to receive photos and be able to share them on social media.  It really is a way to remain connected to our school family during these challenging times.  I've got a few previously-submitted pictures in the queue, but I need more!  :-)...... would you capture the moments of your day and email me good, clear photos?  

Do you know that YOU are our best advertising?  At a time when the whole world feels like it is on hold, even our tours/admissions have come to a halt.  We trust the Lord that things will pick up soon, but at this time of physical distancing people have the opportunity to see the best of our school community through social media.  In addition to supplying photos to be considered for upcoming social media posts, please consider telling people about HCA....Your testimony to the people in your spheres of influence can positively impact next year's enrollment.....!!  

Thank you so much....hope to "see" your students & family soon!

~Ali

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Email April 6, 8:28 p.m.

Good Evening, HCA!  

Mrs. Hayward has prepared her first of several "state of the state" addresses which can be found right here.  For your convenience, typed notes are included below.  Please note the information about a financial meeting tomorrow, 4/7/20 (more details coming about that tomorrow).  Please enjoy her video message, and know you are in our prayers daily.

~Ali

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This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! 

This is Susan Hayward, reporting to you from my living room on April 6, 2020

Before I begin my State of the School report, I feel the need to connect with you personally and reflect on some of the things I’ve been thinking and praying about. I’d love to hear what you have been thinking and praying about as well!

God knows all about this virus and unlike the experts…He knows the truth about it. The Bible says: 

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God workfor the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

So, we must ask what possible good can come from these uncertain times? These are the things I believe God just might be doing and how He wants us, the HCA family to be- 

  1. God is refining His church. When this time is over, we will be of more use to Him once we are refined.
  2. We need to pray that people will come to Him once stripped of false securities, and faced with isolation in this global stand still.
  3. I believe He wants us PESERVERE.
  4. To be connected-to Him and each other.
  5. To be willing to search our hearts and be refined.
  6. This is a time of listening to God.
  7. I believe that God is not at all done with HCA but in fact that He is making us stronger as we all return to the passion for God’s purposes for bringing HCA into existence.

The passion: 

  • To be able to raise our kids in the context of Biblical faith, where home, church and school are unified and consistent in their messages
  • We want our kids taught by godly, humble, qualified educators who do their best to live out their lives in a genuine relationship with God and one another
  • We want our children to learn through a Biblical worldview. As they learn and grow to interpret what they see, hear, experience and feel through the TRUTH of God’s Word
  • Then the world makes sense and they can live and grow up with, for and through the loving God we serve and they too can bring up the next generation for Him!

So, you ask, what is the state of the school at this point, right now.

Honestly, I am encouraged! We didn’t know what we would find out as we phoned every member of the HCA family. What we learned from you the parents is 

  • that most of you have someone in the family still working (we are praying for those who don’t and asking God how to support you!)
  • you are trying your best to follow along with our attempts to provide grade appropriate instruction for your kids
  • that the kids absolutely love seeing their classmates in ZOOM classes
  • that you appreciate the way our teachers jumped right into keeping school rolling along
  • that we are all in this together and it’s not easy!
  • That you love the Instagram daily feeds (Thanks to Mrs. Graham)
  • Everyone is healthy-praise God!

We are thankful for your responses and ask that you PLEASE keep in touch with/through your child’s teacher for any updates. We too are very thankful for your photos on Instagram and love seeing what you are doing at home.

As soon as school was interrupted a leadership team of both HCA & Holden Chapel leaders was formed to take quick action where needed and be unified in our messages. One area that needs clarification is the roles we are playing while apart which are very much like the roles we play at school.   

Who to contact for what:

  • Big Picture: State of the School, curriculum, philosophy- relevant to all. Susan Hayward
  • Classroom questions-teachers
  • School Committee- Kristin Pollitt
  • Finances & Website-Judy Bleau
  • Spiritual-Pastoral Team
  • Reenrollment, details & social media-Ali Graham
  • Pre-K screening & virtual tours-Eileen Cunsolo

This week we have a special presentation on HCA Finances that was planned way back at the beginning of February. It was meant to be informational and helpful in bringing understanding to our budget process with full transparency. This is not intended to address our unforeseen current situation. Watch for connection email ... April 7th HCA finances and tuition- the Big Picture ...

Other areas of focus ...

  • Regular HCA ZOOM teachers’ meetings
  • Team schedule of zoom classes, learning opportunities and suggested schedules are being coordinated and will be available later this week
  • Pick-ups of materials at HCA-discontinued due to escalation of the virus
  • We are sticking to our posted Calendar for the year
  • Presently the teachers are primarily using ZOOM, Google Classroom and our secure YouTube site for instruction
  • All students need to participate and complete assignments
  • Each team is determining appropriate expectations and grading system for their age groups
  • Naturally, our teachers cannot deliver or expect what they can in a classroom however we do want to serve our students to the best of our abilities and do what is best for them
  • Our goal right now is to move forward in our curriculum realizing that it is not reasonable to move at the same pace or cover all the material that we can in school.  We want to avoid regression, and allow kids to be creative and have some fun with their assignments
  • It is a learning curve for us all. Each week we are improving our delivery and we thank you for your continued patience!
  • We have more fun, creative and OPTIONAL projects, resources and experiences coming so stay tuned as we continue to learn together!

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Email April 4, 9:15 a.m.

Hello HCA Parents, Students, and Staff!  

I hope this email finds you well.  The staff has contributed to a very special & encouraging video slideshow we would like to share with you!  Please click right here to watch the video ....

Please know how much we miss you and are praying for your family during this season!  Enjoy the video message!  

In peace,

Ms. Graham  

P.S. Don't forget in this time of uncertainty: God is good and faithful, and remains unchanging in his sovereignty and character. Psalm 118:1    

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Email April 1, 8:50 a.m.

Hello HCA Parents, Students, and Staff!  

I am happy to announce a socially-distant version of FUN FRIDAY for this Friday, April 3rd!  Friday will be CrAzY hAiR dAy!  Please email me a photo of yourself, your kids, or even your whole family, with cRaZy HaIr between now and Friday morning, and I will post a series of CrAzY hAiR photos throughout the day on Friday!!!  Parents - please make sure to follow us on Instagram, and if you're not on Instagram, it's simple to sign up for an account and follow @holdenchristianacademy!  It's an excellent way to stay connected during this time apart!  

We love and miss you....and I can't wait to see your cRaZy HaIr.  :-). 

~Ms. Graham

P.S.Make sure to check out Instagram right now for a CrAzY hAiR dAy teaser of me and my daughter, Emma :-) 

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Email March 27, 12:35 p.m.

Hello HCA!

I miss you all so much, but have been delighted by the photos I've already received showing students/families/staff learning, exploring, creating, working, and playing during this time apart.  One way we can continue to connect as a school family is to share photos, so I want to encourage you to email me photos to put up on Instagram and Facebook. This is also an opportunity for us to show off the best parts of what makes us an amazing school through the use of social media.  

Please send in photos that show an HCA student/family/staff learning, exploring, creating, working, and playing during our time away from school.  Please email photos to me at agraham@holdenchristianacademy.org if you would like them to be considered for a social media post over the next several weeks.  I will assume I have your permission to post when you send me photos :-).  I appreciate your help in spotlighting how our community is carrying on and continuing to do things "the HCA way".  

In peace,
~Ali  

P.S. Another way to help HCA extend its online visibility is to "like" and "share" posts with people you know!  Feel free to tag us or give us a shout out (@holdenchristianacademy #holdenchristianacademy) us in your own personal posts, too!

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Phone call March 26, 8:15 p.m.

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. 

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Phone call March 25, 7:55 p.m.
Hello HCA Families,
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.
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Email March 23, 1:44 p.m.
HCA response to the Stay-At-Home-Advisory
Hi HCA Families!

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!!

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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

● Withdrawal

● 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):

1) Talking through all ages and stages: toddlers through high-schoolers

2) Teens

3) Mental health and coping: parents, children and teens

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,

Susan Hayward

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Email March 19, 4:08 p.m. 

Hello Parents!

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,
~Ali

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.    

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Email March 17, 4:06 p.m. 

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:

  1. 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.  

  2. 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.    

  3. 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.org.   

  4. 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.

~Ali 

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@holdenchristianacademy.org!  

Alison Graham, Secretary

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Phone Call March 15, 7:30 p.m.

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!   

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Email March 15, 4:19 p.m.

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