I hope that this message finds you well and safe and able to enjoy your summer. My family has been very grateful for time and space outside, our garden, our favorite books and movies, and the beach.
Since the end of school, with a little more space and time during the summer, I find myself with a persistent sense of being overwhelmed. Perhaps you do too. While we all continue with many unanswered questions, still things are moving ahead at Fiddleheads and we seem positioned to remain a thriving institution next year. Even with all of the uncertainty, I wanted to reach out to the school community and let you know what we are doing and the plans that we are working on for the fall.
For the past two weeks Arielle and I have been interviewing candidates to replace Ginger for next year. It continues to be gratifying to see how many skilled, talented and insightful people show interest in working at our school. We will hire someone this week and I will let everyone know once everything is final.
I have been in touch with the Oregon ELD and we are preparing to apply for our emergency certification to be able to open in the fall. So far it looks like we will be able to fairly easily meet all requirements.
We will still be providing aftercare next year. We will be sending out signup info for that at the end of this month.
Some things will be different this year due to the state's early childhood regulations for programming during a pandemic. We will not be able to keep all of the kids together and function as a large group, but instead we will be breaking into two smaller "stable groups". This is the current accepted early childhood method for providing care to young children during the pandemic. Social distancing and mask use are not possible to effectively or safely achieve with young children, so instead the strategy is to limit exposure. This means that we will have two stable groups of 8-10 kids, each with a designated teacher, and these groups will not fluctuate members and will not share space with each other. Your child will be in contact with only the other members of their small group. At Fiddleheads we are taking the added precaution of bringing the program entirely outside as much as possible, including putting cubby spaces outside and creating sheltered spaces outside for the children to eat lunch in inclement weather. Also, we are going to skip cooking day for the time being and keep to our normal forest schedule on Fridays.
Because we cannot socially distance with young children, we will all be reliant on our small groups, our outside time, our sanitary practices, and each other and our own personal responsibility to stay safe and healthy. The health of Arielle and I and our new teacher are statistically the most at risk from any infection at the school, and we must all recognize and remember there are people of vulnerable health in our immediate school community. As we get closer to opening, I will send out some guidelines for personal safety that we will be requesting that all families follow to the closest of their ability to respect each other and keep each other safe.
Some pandemic inspired new initiatives that we are moving ahead with at Fiddleheads are our online program and a new kindergarten program. We are finalizing plans to launch our online program to new families, and we will offer the option of attending school online to any current families who do not feel safe having their child attend in person school. We are also planning a small, low key kindergarten program 3-4 afternoons a week. We are working on the details of this program soon. Let me know if you might be interested in sending a child. This will not be aftercare, it will be designed to get some socialization and outside play for the kids while also working on the basic reading, writing and math skills addressed in a more traditional kindergarten.
I usually base our school calendar on the pps calendar, but I am not sure if that will work this year. I'm waiting to see what pps decides, and I will try to get a Fiddleheads start date and school calendar out as soon as I can. While we are putting a tremendous amount of work and care into preparing school next year to be as safe, healthy and resilient as we can, I am also reading all of the time, watching numbers rise, following the rt factor, and waiting to hear what the state leadership and the public schools decide to do for the fall. As with everything these days, we just need to take things one step at a time.
Some really great news is that while my family left our house in Oregon and have been renting it out since late March, our last tenants left and a new Fiddleheads family moved in for the summer. Kristin and Dave Prukop and their sons Nathaniel and Sebastian are currently renting the house while they are having some renovations done on their nearby home. Their youngest son, Sebastian, will attend Fiddleheads next year! Kristin has volunteered to plant the garden for us, so that we will be able to have a garden to come back to for school in the fall. I am so grateful!
And last news, I had special posters and t-shirts made for the kids moving on from Fiddleheads this year in lieu of a graduation ceremony. I'm sorry they have been so slow to arrive, but the t-shirts should come next week and then I will get them out in the mail to everyone. I still hope for an in-person meetup sometime if we can.
Best wishes for a great July to you all and I will be in touch soon!
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with joy.