Raintree Summer 2020 Letter and Enrollment for our Toddler and Primary Programs
We are excited that we will be opening our doors to your children this summer! It has been too long since we have heard the sound of children’s voices in our building!
Because of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, we are all living through some trying times. Please be assured that we at Raintree take the safety and health of our students, including your child, and our staff very seriously. Because of this, we have implemented protocols and practices in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, while continuing to have a rich and fun-filled summer experience.
In this preparation we have been in close contact with our local health department surveyors to brainstorm best practice procedures that take into account our unique program and our large campus. From their guidance, we have been preparing the physical environments (classrooms and common areas), modifying our daily routines to encourage more open space, researching and purchasing the best cleaning materials for our environments, and collaborating with and training staff on best practices with respect to minimizing exposure to Covid-19.
It certainly has felt like riding a roller coaster. The planning process has been a challenge to say the least, and we certainly know we are not alone! All businesses are trying to determine what they can do and when, and then are finding creative solutions to move forward. And as working parents, we know you are trying to determine your options with regard to returning to work.
In the attachment are the necessary modifications we are making to our summer program including new health and hygiene protocols we must follow from the KDHE, as well as a way to enroll for the summer. Please read the attachment carefully.
The Raintree Administration
We are working hard to prepare for our summer opening and are so excited to hear children’s voices once again in our buildings and on the playground! We are committed to having all details about our summer plans on Monday, May 18. This will include our summer hours as well as our new health protocols and policies that we are putting in place. (We will be able to provide an 8-hour Raintree day.) The health and safety of our child and staff population is absolutely critical, but we are also committed to maintaining a nurturing and fun summer day for your child. In Monday’s announcement you will have the opportunity to enroll your child for the summer or reserve your child’s spot for the fall.
Thank you for your patience.
The Raintree Administration
Toddler and Primary Communities
Thank you for completing the parent survey and sharing with us your wishes for the summer as well as your concerns. We will open our toddler and primary classrooms in June UNLESS the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department recommends or requires us not to do so. That said, we will not be having full classrooms this summer. Our goal is to make sure that our environment and our procedures create the most optimum conditions for a safe and healthy school population. Some of these protocols include small, stable groupings, initial greeting outside the building (rather that the hallway), health checks before entering the classroom, more frequent and thorough handwashing, disinfecting materials and surfaces, as well as strict policies around illness that we all must follow. We are lucky to have a large campus for the kids to spread out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors including swimming.
From the survey, it looks like the number of families interested is about the number we will be able to enroll in each classroom. If, however, KDHE only allows groupings of 10 in June, we will have to give priority to those who are essential employees and those in the healthcare field.
In the next few weeks, we have a lot of work to do to plan an efficient process of families coming and going. We feel quite confident with handling the increased health and safety guidelines. Our challenge is primarily arrival and departure, making sure there is adequate spacing to allow for safe distancing. We appreciate your patience as we take time to make a cohesive plan incorporating our classroom communities as well as Camp Raintree.
We are planning to open in June unless Phase 3 of the Governor’s plan is delayed. As we plan for this unusual time, we are creating protocols from the KDHE and CDC guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy campus. Some of those include smaller and stable groupings, limited rotations, health checks before day begins and at midday, more frequent handwashing, disinfection of materials, and strict policies around illness, to name a few. There may be a possibility that camp hours will need to be shortened slightly but we are hopeful that that will not be the case. Rather than having a rotating schedule as in summers’ past, the activities (such as drama, art and construction) will be brought to the camp room. We are still planning on swimming and having outdoor adventures such as fishing, boating and outdoor games. We are lucky to have a large campus for the kids to spread out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
Details will soon be on the web site and emailed to camp families. One of our biggest challenges is creating safe and efficient protocols around the greeting/drop-off process. We appreciate your patience as we take time to make a cohesive plan incorporating camp as well as our toddler and primary communities.
Wishing you well,
The Raintree Administration
4/26/2020 Survey for Parents of Toddler and Primary Children Regarding the Raintree Summer Program
If you have ventured out of the house to work or to collect essential items, you can see the adaptations and behaviors people and businesses have made to create a safer environment during this crisis. The summary of the health regulations for child care centers to re-open, which was included in the last update, gave you a few examples of what changes and additions will most likely need to be made at Raintree. As we consider our summer enrollment, it is important for us to understand our the concerns and needs of our Raintree parents in anticipating their children resuming school and care at Raintree. Please answer the following questions based on the information you currently have. There is space at the end of the survey to make additional comments if you feel the questions were not enough.
Thank you for your help in planning Raintree’s next steps forward.
The Raintree Administration
We hope this update finds your family healthy and finding opportunities to enjoy the nice weather. We know that parents are curious about upcoming Raintree plans and we recognize that parents would appreciate more frequent updates regarding those plans. Please understand there is still much we do not know at this time. It becomes difficult to provide updates because not only are they almost immediately out-of-date once published but also for fear that we might make promises that we cannot keep.
We find ourselves busier than when our campus was open! We are meeting with staff at each level several times a week discussing the lessons they are sharing remotely. We problem-solve with staff and create new strategies, collaborating with each other. We discuss the newest KDHE and CDC guidelines around re-opening, which you will read below. We discuss ideas on how to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our 8th-years, 6th-years, 3rd-years, and kindergarteners at this unusual time and how to provide closure for the end of the school year. We discuss concerns we receive from parents and how those can be addressed. We visit with our bankers and accountants on best plans moving forward. We participate in webinars and read resources from Montessori colleagues and other experts about how to deal with this crisis as it pertains to our school. And we plan, we make plan A, plan B, plan C, and so forth.
In this time of uncertainty, we can only make the best plans with the information we have before us. The following is a summary of what we can share today.
Month of May –
When we first contemplated how we would finish the school year and what that meant in regard to collecting tuition for the remainder of the semester, the government assistance programs were not in place. Since that time we have applied for and been accepted for a PPP loan. Although this assistance and the tuition amounts we received in April will not cover all of our operational expenses for the coming months, we want to do what we can to ease hardships that our families are also enduring. We have reassessed tuition obligations and should you need additional assistance, we will not be requiring the last tuition payment (May) for this semester. Please complete this quick form if you would like to take advantage of this reassessment or you would like to alter your May payment from what was assessed in April.
Rest assured that our staff will be paid and will continue to provide the same level of commitment to families through the end of the semester. With the ever-changing global crisis we know that you may be experiencing uncertainty with regard to your finances. We want to do what we can for the families that are struggling. However, if you are able to support Raintree financially without interruption and would like to contribute tuition, we would be very grateful.
Note: No matter your level of support during this time, your child’s enrollment for the summer or the fall will not be in jeopardy. We will not tie your level of commitment or support of Raintree to your financial contribution during this time.
It is because of our strong Raintree community that we have endured the many challenges of our 42 year history. Many of our families were able to take advantage of the funds that the Friends of Raintree provided and some gave additional funds to increase the amount available. This connection as well as the connection that is being created virtually within each classroom community is the silver lining in this crisis and will get us through this challenging time.
While we feel confident that this is the right decision to finish the semester, we are making plans for the summer and the coming school year anticipating either a second round of the virus or short periods of time where we may need to close the school or limit access to classrooms. These plans include improving the distance learning option by combining feedback from our parents and using the summer to collaborate and solidify a stronger curriculum. We are also discussing a tuition scale that accounts for these possible restrictions so that parents know ahead of time expectations and options.
Required Paperwork –
Every year in April we send out paperwork for the following year. This is not the re-enrollment questionnaire but medical forms, permission form, KDHE forms, etc. that must be returned before the summer session. Those pdfs will be emailed next week and will be due Friday, May 22nd. Please reach out to Kelli Koberlein should you have trouble getting your form notarized. After the stay-at-home mandate has been lifted she can be available for individual notary appointments.
Elementary and Erdkinder Families
Chicago Trip 2020 –
It hurts to even write that it will be impossible for our 6th-years to travel to Chicago for their end-of-tenure trip. Money that was paid in January for Chicago will be either credited to student accounts or refunded. Any money raised through fundraising will be used towards an alternative celebration for our 6th-year students. If you have ideas, please forward those!
6th-year Recognition and 8th-year Graduation –
At this time, our hope is that we can postpone these two special events. If that is too challenging, we have been discussing alternatives that while not part of our tradition, certainly could be memorable! If you have ideas, we would love to hear those as well!
Elementary Camp Raintree –
As we await news about any possible restrictions on summer camp for elementary-aged children, we are planning for Camp Raintree to move forward. That said, we recognize that two general plans need to be created. Plan A, the camp experience of the past and Plan B, a modified camp or a camp with a delayed start. No matter the plan, there will be a strict policy regarding health of staff and children in attendance and an increase of sanitation and hygiene protocols. If we must modify hours or limit camp in other ways, we will alert parents and make adjustments accordingly. If we must cancel camp, all monies paid will be refunded.
Elementary and Erdkinder School Year 2020-21 –
We have finalized placements of our lower and upper elementary students over Zoom with our teachers. Placement letters for lower and upper elementary are being mailed this week! Acceptance letters for erdkinder will be mailed as well. Because of the strong interest in the erdkinder and the limited number of available spots, some students will be placed on a waiting list.
Toddler and Primary Families
Toddler and Primary Summer Session –
As we contemplate an end of the stay-at-home mandate in May, providing care for students whose parents are working outside the home, and supporting those families and staff who do not wish to expose themselves or their children too early, we are forming a plan to open our doors (hopefully!) June 1 to those staff and families who are ready to return to campus. Recognizing that parents’ needs may look very different than their original plans, we would like to offer a number of different options. A survey will be sent to parents to guide us in creating these plans.
In Preparation –
In planning for the opening of our campus, we have been poring over the very strict guidelines the CDC and KDHE have been updating in order to provide a safe environment for children and staff in this crisis. This is what we know so far – that it most likely will look very different – at least for a time.
If the child care guidelines remain the same at the time of our reopening, there will be a number of regulations in place for us to maintain a safe environment for our children (and their families) and for our staff (and their families). The most important of which is strict health screening prior to entry and throughout the day. Other regulations may include limited number of students in each grouping (perhaps initially to only children of essential workers), stand alone classroom units of children and teachers that will not share common areas such as the playground, vigilant hand washing and cleaning of surfaces, to name a few.
In preparation for our campus opening, we are gathering the necessary hygiene equipment to open our campus in a safe manner and the staff are discussing optional schedules, potential new protocols around arriving and leaving the campus. In making best decisions around safety as well as designing an interim format that meets the needs of our families, please take the time to complete the survey. It will be sent later this week.
While it has been difficult to come to work to dark, empty classrooms, we greatly appreciate getting tiny glimpses of joyful children enjoying activities in their homes. Thank you for sharing. Thank you also for your patience with us in this time and reading this tome of an update!
Wishing you and your family continued good health,
The Raintree Administration
This is my humble attempt at writing the April Newsletter. As you know the April and May newsletters are filled with end-of-the-year activities—work fairs, musical performances, the 6th-years’ play, the 3rd-years’ Tall Oaks trip, the 6th-years’ Chicago Trip, Erdkinder Spring trip, Erdkinder Spring Market, graduation ceremonies and bridging ceremonies not to mention all the behind-the-scenes preparations for students moving to the next level with meetings and open houses. This year is different.
We are aware that our greater Lawrence community is strained and the uncertainty of the length of this crisis is adding to the stress of this situation for everyone. We have heard from many parents stranded from their loved ones and worried about their parents and grandparents who are especially at risk. We have heard from parents who fear losing their businesses, their life’s work and others who are uncertain about their own jobs. And then we are humbled and thankful to all in our community who are working long days caring for those that are sick and are on the front lines and will be for some time. This is truly a time like no other.
We want Raintree to be able to open its doors when this is over. It is only through the children that one can see the hope for tomorrow. We miss them so much. Please know that Raintree has always worked with families who experience unusual financial situations and we are continuing to do so now. For Raintree we are currently filing the necessary financial papers to take advantage of government programs for small businesses that were made active April 3. Like other local small businesses we have received guidance from our banker. Ryan Wedel from Landmark National Bank has always been supportive and sensitive to our mission, as have all of our past bankers though our many challenges we have faced (see Parent Handbook, History of School).
We are striving to stay connected during this period of mass quarantine and to make sure he information we share is accurate. The virus and our country’s effort to combat its spread has changed almost daily which speaks to the difficulty of updated communication. Some of the information in this newsletter may change and require different policies, but I wanted to share as much as I can right now. It seems that every update we send is almost out-of-date by the time it is read.
We are reminded of the hardships that Montessori herself faced, who as you know was one of the first women to become a doctor in Italy, survived two world wars, and was thrown into a concentration camp in India during WWII after Mussolini burned all of her books. But she never gave up. In India she simply began training Montessori teachers. In fact, India became a hub of Montessori which continued long after the war. From her example, we view challenges as opportunities to learn!
“Not in the service of any political or social creed should the teacher work, but in the service of the complete human being, able to exercise in freedom a self-disciplined will and judgment, not perverted by prejudice nor distorted by fear.”
“Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future.”
“Our care of the children should be governed not by the desire to ‘make them learn things’, but by the endeavoralways to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence.”
Most importantly, we are committed to continue the educational experience for your child. We are learning a lot about how this digital connection can support our efforts. Getting a glimpse of our students, whom we miss terribly, in their homes preparing their work lists and doing so many wonderful activities has been a godsend in this emergency. Included in our April newsletter is a tiny fraction of our shared interactions and communications.
Stay safe and healthy,
Dear Raintree Community and Fellow Parents,
It seems the words have been overused these last few weeks, but we are living in completely unprecedented times. Every single one of us is facing some level of loss, worry, fear and uncertainty, and we’re all doing our best to support our families the best way that we can during this pandemic. I also know that many of us benefit greatly from the community that Raintree provides both for our children, but for us as parents as well.
On behalf of the Friends of Raintree, we want to reach out and let you know that we are partnering with Raintree to figure out how we can be most helpful to families during this time.
Our mission is to support and improve the educational experience of current and prospective Raintree students by ensuring all students have necessary resources and support to be successful. Our discussions around how to use our limited resources have often been about maintaining stability for children when their parents unexpectedly face financial hardship by keeping them in their Raintree classrooms.
In all honesty, we are a young organization with just a couple of years of fundraising under our belt, but we do have some limited resources that we hope may be helpful to families experiencing financial hardship. We are particularly interested in supporting families that are facing the difficult decision of withdrawing their children from Raintree as a result of the current situation. If you need assistance to pay your Raintree tuition, please complete the attached application and send by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 10, 2020. After we have received all applications, we will assess the demand and our available funds. Please know that we will treat your information with the utmost respect and will not share it beyond the Friends of Raintree Board and Raintree Administration.
We note that one of the bright spots in times of crisis, is the willingness of our community to help others. Local folks have been creative in suggesting the purchase of gift cards, carryout meals, tips to laid-off wait staff and so on, as we want to make sure our local institutions and people get through this crisis. We obviously feel the same about Raintree.
We want to ensure Raintree remains as fiscally strong as we know it will academically. There are two ways you can help:
• Many of us are blessed with the opportunity to continue to work from home and are still receiving a full salary. If you are blessed in this way, we would like to encourage you to continue to pay your full tuition.
• If you have the means, please consider making a donation to Friends of Raintree. We plan to use funds raised during the next 90 days to specifically help Raintree families affected by this crisis. You can make a donation by either using this link http://www.friendsofraintree.org/donate.html or by mailing a check to Friends of Raintree, 1004 Stone Meadows Dr., Lawrence, KS 66049. Your contributions to Friends of Raintree are tax deductible.
Thank you so much for your consideration, and please take care of yourselves and your families. We hope to see you all soon!
Friends of Raintree Board of Directors
Teresa Schwab, President
Ramona Eason, Vice President
Prasanth Duvvur, Treasurer
For a direct link to the letter and application: https://raintree.hubbli.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/115/_mediavault/2020/04/FORCOVID19-LettertoParents_2020FINAL.pdf
March 30, 2020
Dear Parents of Primary and Toddler Children,
First thank you. Thank you for the overwhelming number of emails and messages of encouragement and support of Raintree and our teachers during this unprecedented time in our history. As Lleanna shared, these times are reminiscent of some of the challenges we have faced over our 42-year history,,,closing of the road to our school to build Clinton Parkway, the fire of 2000, and the tornado of 2003. But this is different. We all are being affected by this situation. We must do what we can to support one another.
This invisible threat that is changing our way of life and pushing us to isolation, is a very confusing concept for young children. Finding ways to explain and reassure children is paramount. Please reach out to your child’s teacher for guidance. Being mindful of the effect this crisis has on our well being and our children’s mental health should be our number one priority.
As you know our teachers have been connecting with each of their families and beginning the process of supporting a virtual learning experience. Of course, one cannot escape the irony of the situation – Montessori teachers singing songs and playing math games virtually! What a learning curve this has been and continues to be!
There exists no authentic online standard curriculum for Montessori for children in the toddler and primary programs. Montessori schools and the international community are struggling to come up with an approach which honors the pedagogy and spirit of Montessori while guiding children around the world during this pandemic.
At Raintree the staff have been trying a variety of ways to do this. They have spent hours brainstorming what type of activities could be shared in a written explanation or through a video, experimenting with videoing themselves, connecting with each family, creating social virtual platforms where children can see familiar faces of their classroom teachers or students from their class. Many of our teachers are also balancing guiding their own children’s educational experience while working from home.
What we have learned in this time, is that the needs and resources of every family are different. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Some of you are working from home and sharing a computer or the WiFi might be a challenge. Some of you are working for an Essential Business and are struggling to manage the care of your children, let alone support them with home Montessori lessons. Some of you have the time to work with your children but could use more structure regarding their academic needs. Some of you wish to limit or maintain a no-screen environment in the home. Some of you are so overwhelmed with work stresses that you haven’t had the time to even look at the correspondence our teachers have sent.
Our teachers want to meet and support your family where you are. This will require open communication between you and your child’s teacher. The teachers are very creative and are working collaboratively to make use of each other’s strengths. The feedback that you can give your child’s teacher will help them know what resources to find and the communication arrangement that best suits your family.
This time of quarantine will allow your child to demonstrate what they are capable of as Montessori children! Montessori children find joy in the work they choose. In this first plane of development, they delight in the work of practical life. Encouraging tasks such as dusting, sweeping, weeding, setting up lunch, cleaning up lunch, loading and emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, composting, separating recycle, handwashing dishes, and doing laundry (sorting, folding, and putting away), helps them realize their importance to the family, as a contributing member.
While what our teachers are providing you are suggestions, we encourage you to take advantage of what you can. What activities or resources you can’t put to use now, save for another day. If you have any questions regarding your child’s virtual learning experience, remember your child’s teacher is your first point of contact.
In closing and for perspective, we would like to share these words by Emily W. King, Ph.D.
“Parents: What we are being asked to do is not humanly possible. There is a reason we are either a working parent, a stay-at-home parent, or a part-time parent.
Working, parenting, and teaching are three different jobs that cannot be done at the same time.
It’s not hard because you are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much. Do the best you can.
When you have to pick, because at some point you will, choose connection. Pick playing a game over arguing about an academic assignment. Pick teaching your child to do laundry rather than feeling frustrated that they aren’t helping. Pick laughing, and snuggling, and reminding them that they are safe.
If you are stressed, lower your expectations where you can and virtually reach out for social connection. We are in this together to stay well. That means mentally well, too.”
Wishing you continued health and peace,
The Raintree Administration
March 29, 2020
Dear Elementary and Erdkinder Parents,
First thank you. Thank you for the overwhelming number of emails and messages of encouragement and support of Raintree and our teachers during this unprecedented time in our history. As Lleanna shared, these times are reminiscent of some of the challenges we have faced over our 42-year history…closing of the road to our school to build Clinton Parkway, the fire of 2000, and the tornado of 2003. But this is different. We all are being affected by this situation. We must do what we can to support one another.
Schools nationwide are trying to grasp how best to provide for their students and families in this time of uncertainty. Lisa Ryan, whose cousin witnessed Hurricane Katrina and its devastating effects on the community, shared this with our staff:
“Hurricane Katrina taught the teachers on the Gulf Coast that an interrupted year is not the end of the world. It’s okay if you don’t get to cover all of the content. It’s okay if your grades are inflated because you can’t test as normal. It’s okay if your students are not able to complete the coursework as assigned. We worried that missing part of the year would have lasting effects, but it didn’t. Our Katrina kids are doctors, lawyers, teachers, hairdressers, nurses, business owners, engineers, you manage it they are doing it all over the world. Don’t sweat what is probably ultimately insignificant, but embrace the opportunity to stay connected with your students in order to build relationships and to reinforce a sense of normalcy for them. Developing skills for the next level of success takes many forms, so don’t worry you’ve got this!
Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate two hours of learning time if they are resisting it.
If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those weeks is long gone. So, keep that in mind, every single day.”
This is relevant to keep in mind as we move to complete the academic year without children being physically present at Raintree. Being mindful of our children’s mental health and our own should be the number one priority.
As you know our teachers have been connecting with each of their families and beginning the process of supporting a virtual learning experience. Of course, one cannot escape the irony of the situation – Montessori teachers relaying lessons and assignments virtually! What a learning curve this has been and continues to be! During the last week and a half, our staff have been learning about new software, experimenting with teleconferencing/televisiting with students (and each other), sending emails to parents with assignments (and tweaking the timing as a result of feedback), brainstorming what type of lessons could be taught in a written explanation or through a video, experimenting with videoing themselves, connecting with each family, creating social virtual platforms where students can check-in with each other, determining alternative resources for families whose children do not have access to a computer device or who choose not to. Many of our teachers are also balancing guiding their own children’s educational experience while working from home.
What we have learned from the last week and a half, is that the needs and resources of every family are different. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Some of you are working from home and sharing a computer or the WiFi might be a challenge. Some of you are working for an Essential Business and are struggling to manage the care of your children, let alone support them with academics. Some of you have the time to work with your children but could use more structure regarding their academic needs. Some of you wish to limit or maintain a no-screen environment in the home. Some of you are so overwhelmed with work stresses that you haven’t had the time to even look at the correspondence our teachers have sent.
Our teachers want to meet and support your family where you are. This will require open communication between you and your child’s teacher. As your child works from home and you need school supplies, wish to borrow books, need an example schedule, need to use the phrase “[insert teacher’s name] says you need to _____,” paper copies of materials, please let your child’s teacher know. The teachers are very creative and are working collaboratively to make use of each other’s strengths.
Each teacher has developed a plan of delivery for materials and assignments, a way to accept or see the work the children have done at home, and a way to provide feedback and to connect. Please find or be looking for that information in the correspondence from your child’s teacher.
Recognizing that many parents are working from home in addition to providing guidance to their child(ren), we will send a weekly plan/summary of the upcoming week’s work before the start of the week, allowing your family time to process the assignment and gather the materials needed.
This time of quarantine will allow your child to demonstrate what they are capable of as Montessori children! In the classroom every child plans their work, schedules their time, works with purpose, finds joy in the work they choose, is creative, and discovers happiness in learning.
While what our teachers are providing you are suggestions, we encourage you to take advantage of what you can. What lessons or resources you can’t put to use now, save for another day. If you have any questions regarding your child’s virtual learning experience, remember your child’s teacher is your first point of contact.
Wishing you continued health and peace,
The Raintree Administration
This letter has been re-written about seventeen times in the past four days as we have grappled with how best to support our families during these uncertain times. On Sunday we had a seven hour meeting, where our goal was to create a plan of providing a discount to parents for these remaining months of the school year while being mindful of our finances.
At 4:30 just as we were making headway, we received a forwarded notice from KDHE encouraging child care centers to open to support families where parents need to work. In this memo, there were no restrictions made regarding size of group, how to ensure the safety of staff and children except to follow basic protocol around hygiene. “We know this is a stressful time, and especially for families who rely on child care and those whose work circumstances are changing,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “There are a number of child care resources available to help you meet the needs of your family. We’re all in this together and will help families access the support they need.”
Needless to say, we were at a loss on how to proceed with little energy left. At 7:00 we left exhausted. We were confused and frustrated that little had been accomplished. Then on the way home, we received word that Douglas County Health Department was to put the county in lockdown beginning Tuesday morning. Once again, everything had changed!
Being able to create a plan has been a real struggle and we know we are not alone. There is uncertainty amongst all of us. We know you are struggling with finding consistency in these strange times. Hearing the news this morning of government support provides some reassurance but still there are questions.
We are creating two plans for families. One for families of students in the elementary and erdkinder programs and one for families of the toddler and primary programs. The first thing everyone should know is that financial statements will be sent out next week but tuition will not be due or withdrawn from Tuition Express until April 15th for everyone.
As you know we are committed to paying our staff, both salaried and hourly because they are continuing to work in a number of different capacities, and they are the backbone of our school. Our ability to retain and compensate teachers and support staff is vital to our ability to effectively carry out our mission and be ready to successfully resume normal operations once the pandemic containment period is over. With that in mind, we must address the financial side of how to make this possible. What we are proposing does not cover all our expenses. In addition to staff salaries, our expenses include significant property taxes, insurance premiums, and current bank loans. Our only savings at this time are food and a slight amount on utilities. Our hope is that most of our families who are not as affected financially will be able to pay their full monthly payment.
The Raintree Administration
As we look back on our school’s history, we have met every challenge we have faced over our 42-year history, whether it was dealing with the road being closed to our school as Clinton Parkway was being converted from an old two-lane road to a four-lane traffic way, or the year we lost our school in a fire. But this is different.
Luckily we have the most amazing staff any school could have! Even before the directive to close schools, we had realized the incubator Raintree could become if we didn’t extend the break. Instantly our staff began planning how to proceed. The education of our students is our highest priority. Our staff began connecting with families and collected resources to share for the impending week. As you know Montessori is not a one-size fits all system, but the opposite.
A big thank you to you, our Raintree parents. We have received many, many emails and messages of support and offers to help. Thank you everyone for your understanding and encouragement. It is our goal for our staff to stay connected to you and your child through a virtual experience, and for the administration to keep you informed of pertinent updates. Below is a summary of what is happening behind the scenes at Virtual Raintree on day three of the mandated closure:
The Administration: Know that Raintree is committed to paying all staff (salaried and hourly) for the rest of the academic year. All of our staff will be working together to connect and provide support to our families. Each of our staff members, as well as our out-of-classroom employees is a highly valued member of our Raintree community.
We have made a commitment to families to support you, connect with you, and provide the best online academic experience we can during this closure. That said, we recognize that an online Montessori experience is not a true Montessori experience. For that reason and because there are many families who must use additional funds for child care during these weeks, we are exploring ways to lessen the financial burden to our families. It is a delicate balance considering the health and well-being of our families, our staff, and the school – specifically the financial health, which we do not discuss often. We are exploring ideas such as partial tuition discounts, credits, and/or calendar modifications.
The Toddler and Primary Staff: Staff have been working diligently connecting with families through emails, phone calls, videos, Facetime, and providing resources to support their children during this challenging time. With news of the additional weeks of closure, they are also preparing to create additional virtual experiences for the weeks ahead including scheduled times for connecting with the children as well as new ideas of what you can do at home. More details to come in the following week.
The Elementary and Erdkinder Staff: The work and resources that were sent on Monday morning was with only a temporary school closure in mind. Now the real work begins of creating a rich, online-learning environment. Again, the plan will be in place by March 30th. In the meantime, staff are creating a schedule where students can safely pick up their personal items as well as their academic materials from their classroom. That schedule will be sent out this week for the following week.
We are hopeful the virus will run its course faster than expected, but we want to be prepared. Raintree exists because of the creative people who work with us. We turn disasters into challenges. All will be well.
While it may be difficult to imagine right now, we believe that we will come through this more connected and grateful for the community we all have created.
Wishing you good health and peace,
Keith, Lleanna, Heather and Saasha
March 17, 2020
With the news of the Governor’s order to close all of the state’s K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year, Raintree administration wants to assure all parents that we are working hard to implement our distance-learning program for Raintree students.
We will be sharing more details in the coming days regarding what this program will look like, but know that we are committed to having a plan in place by March 30th.
We are also exploring options to lessen the financial burden to our families. We expect to have information to you early next week.
Developments over the recent days have been difficult for everyone to process. As the world situation continues to unfold, we will rely on our staff, support parents through open communication and continue to put the best interest of our Raintree students first.
Wishing you health and peace,
The Raintree Community
March 14, 2020
As you know, on Thursday we sent a letter to all Raintree staff and families stating that we had made the very difficult decision to close next week (March 16-20). We felt it was important to slow the spread of the Coronavirus especially with families who traveled abroad and across the United States for Spring Break.
Since our decision, KDHE has mandated that schools remain closed through March 29th. We recognize this disruption is a hardship for our staff and families. If at any point it is determined that we can resume classes earlier than the 29th, you will be the first to know!
Wishing you good health and peace!
March 12, 2020
It is with much concern that we write this email. Spring break has always been a time of rest and relaxation, and I hope that you have done some of that. Our family canceled the trips we were going to take as the Coronavirus issue expanded, and we realized how much this issue would affect our students’ return to Raintree. Therefore, we have made the very difficult decision to close school next week.
Our situation is a unique one. Half of our population of students are under the age of six, which is different from the public school system. With 12 classrooms of young children who touch, taste, smell and feel everything in their classroom, the likelihood a virus will spread easily and quickly is great. We normally follow the lead of the public schools when it comes to school closings, but this time, we must make a different decision.
We have been in touch with many people regarding this decision, some in the health care system, some in public office and, most recently, Raintree parents who are microbiologists and doctors. We feel that it is our responsibility to do what we can to slow the spread of the virus.
This is our plan:
• We will close March 16-20 and reassess on the 20th.
• On Monday, March 16th we will send out information and materials for children in the elementary and erdkinder to work on during the week.
• We will continue to update our staff on current policies regarding this pandemic and guidelines when we reopen.
• We ask that families follow the CDC travel guidance if they have traveled.
Resources and reasons for our decision:
• Interim Guidance for Child Care Facilities Licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE)
• Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
• When Should Schools Close for Coronavirus
• What’s your risk of dying of COVID-19 – or inadvertently allowing the death of someone in your community?
This is an ongoing issue. We are still making decisions around future events and gatherings. It is our hope that life turns to normal sooner than later! Thank you for your understanding.