Statement on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
The Joy School is closely following the progression of COVID-19 in the Houston area. Our first priority is keeping our students, families and The Joy School community safe. With that in mind, our goal is to provide timely updates on this page in regard to this evolving situation.
2020 Summer Programs have been cancelled.
Joy School Updates
- Email Communication to Parents 2/27/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 3/4/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 3/10/2020
- Email Communication to Parents and Faculty & Staff 3/11/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 3/16/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 3/24/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 4/7/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 4/18/2020
- Email Communication to Parents 4/28/2020
Subject: Following Up to My Video Message
I know there is tremendous stress in our community at this moment. Please bear with us as we continue to gather as much information as possible and communicate that to you as appropriate.
We still have several unanswered questions about timing of exposure, etc. I will continue working on that data collection and will share with you what I can as soon as I can.
The only thing I am 100% confident about at this moment is that closing school is the most prudent action we can take given the information we have.
As a non medical professional, I am not nearly as confident about the appropriate course of action for individual members of our community. While self quarantining is the clear advice for someone with direct exposure to a confirmed case, advice for people with potential exposure or second and third hand removed exposure is very unclear. In my video, I used the term self quarantining as one possible step your family can take. However, self monitoring may be a more appropriate course of action.
Again, as I learn more, I will share with you. The best I can do for the moment is to let you know what we know and make decisions that protect our whole school community until we know more.
Please make decisions for your family based on your own research and your own doctor recommendations. We will continue to share with you what we know and any direct guidance we receive.
In the mean time, I’m sorry for the stress and limited information. I know this is not easy!
Subject line: Q&A Joy School Coronavirus Exposure
Dear Joy School Community,
Thank you for your patience as we continue our work around coronavirus.
I appreciate the many questions that have come my way, as they have helped craft today’s response.
I am going to list the most common questions for ease of reading.
- Has someone in The Joy School community been diagnosed with COVID-19/coronavirus?
NO. Someone in our community has been exposed to someone outside of our community with a presumed positive case.
- Has my child/ have I been exposed to the coronavirus?
We can’t know for sure. No one in our community currently has symptoms or a diagnosis of coronavirus, but someone in our community has been exposed, so there is some level of risk.
- What is the timeline regarding exposure?
The person with direct exposure happened over the weekend. The direct exposure was confirmed and reported to us on Tuesday afternoon.
- Is the person who was exposed going to be tested?
The person directly exposed is currently self-quarantining, exhibiting no symptoms, and is waiting on guidance regarding testing. The person whose family member was exposed is only self-monitoring per CDC recommendations. Unfortunately, testing is not available simply on request. Protocols will likely change as the virus spreads, but this is the current status.
- Will the school share test results when/if they become available?
- Should we have our child/family tested?
It is unlikely that your child or family will be able to be tested if they are not having symptoms, but you certainly can check with your doctor.
- Should our family be self-quarantining or self-monitoring?
Because we do not have a suspected or confirmed case, and especially because the person with direct exposure has not had symptoms on or off campus, the risk for everyone in The Joy School community is considered low. The CDC has great information regarding what to do as a “contact of a contact,” which is simply self-monitor. Yes, this is more definitive guidance than we had last night at the time of our video. Self-quarantining has only been recommended for the person with direct exposure.
- Should we inform our friends, colleagues, work, teams, etc. about our potential exposure?
We cannot make recommendations in this area, but we ask that you use your best judgment. We can simply offer the facts as we know them and encourage you to do the same. A member of The Joy Community had a direct exposure over the weekend that was reported to us on Tuesday afternoon. Please also refer folks wanting more official information to our website where we are posting all updates.
- Should we inform TJS if a child or family member develops symptoms?
It is not necessary to report symptoms. However, if anyone in your family is suspected of having coronavirus, and/or is tested, please do report that information to us as soon as possible. Requirements for reporting, staying home, etc. are likely to change as the extent of community spread becomes more evident. Please continue to check emails over spring break for updates. Reports should be made to Shara Bumgarner, Lara Leigh Bergoon, or Mary Feak.
- Are we going to have online instruction after spring break?
We are continuing to plan for that possibility, but we will make that decision as more information becomes available. The earliest online instruction would begin is March 25th.
As promised, we will continue to update as we have more information. At this point, I do not anticipate having an update tomorrow, but that could change. Please continue to check emails over the break, and stay informed about the community spread to make informed decisions for your family.
Head of School
Subject: TJS Update March 16
I hope everyone in our school community has remained healthy!
There are hundreds of questions flying around, and while we don’t have answers to many of them, I want to share what I have.
For ease of reading and timely dissemination of information, I am going to be as brief as possible, but will be working on a more explanatory email for later in the week.
- The Joy School campus will be closed until at least April 13th.
- Online instruction will begin Monday, March 30th. Students are not required to do anything school related until this date.
- We are still actively working on teacher training and support, as well as determining appropriate schedules, expectations, and delivery methods for online instruction. We will send details for each class/grade level during the week of March 23rd.
- In order for us to help ensure all students have equitable access to instruction, please let your child’s homeroom or ELA teacher know ASAP of any of the following:
- Any students who do not have internet access at home
- 4th-8th graders who do not have their school issued laptop and charger at home
- K-3rd graders who do not have access to an ipad or computer (with camera and sound) at home.
- IMPORTANT POLICY CHANGE REGARDING TUTORING AND OTHER SERVICES:
- Until further notice, all TJS employees are expected to conduct all professional business only if possible to do so without person to person contact. This includes teaching, tutoring, and any other services that may evolve due to relationships formed from contacts within The Joy School community.
- To simplify, TJS employees may not meet up in person with families or students for tutoring, teaching, socializing, babysitting, etc. Any services such as teaching, tutoring, speech therapy, counseling, or coaching may only be conducted online or over the phone.
- Additionally, TJS employees may not charge or receive payment from any current families for any services conducted during this period of school closure. This does not apply to current or future tutoring clients who are not currently enrolled at The Joy School.
- This policy is put in place to not only protect the health of faculty, staff, parents, and students, but also due to our moral duty to engage in social distancing for the greater good. It is also put in place to avoid potential liability for both individuals and the institution as this situation evolves.
To say these are challenging, confusing times would be an understatement. However, I am incredibly proud of our teachers and administrative staff who have shifted their focus from a week of sleeping in or traveling for spring break to two weeks of research, collaborating, creativity, and problem solving. I can’t imagine a more dedicated team to ensuring we are doing our absolute best for students and families under extraordinary circumstances. I know we are sure to have a bumpy road ahead, but I am confident our teachers will shine in ways we don’t yet expect. And I know our kids will as well.
For now, enjoy your kids—I know the days are long, but the years really are short! Ultimately, our kids will not remember how many days schools were closed or what events were cancelled. They will remember how all of a sudden our families were given the unexpected gift of time and how we were able to rest, and stay in pjs for days on end, and play games, and get creative because of boredom. They will remember how it felt to not be rushed, to not be overscheduled, to not be busy all the time. They will remember how it felt to be “hunkered down” with the people who love them most. And hopefully, they will remember how the community (and maybe the country!) came together to protect our most vulnerable and that by staying home, they got to be part of saving lives.
Hugs and love to all of you!
Subject: Joy from Afar
Subject: Joy From Afar #2
We survived the first week of online learning! Congratulations to all of you, and to our amazing students and teachers!
REFLECTIONS ON THE WEEK
Like so many schools that started this journey before us, this first week was one of much trial and error. One of the analogies I heard another school leader use last week was the idea of building a plane while we’re flying it. That is a great descriptor of how things feel to teachers! We are trying to continue a school year while simultaneously building a completely new model of instruction. We are learning on the fly and adjusting as we go, all the while trying to stay as true to our mission as possible. As you know, each class and grouping at TJS is based on the unique instructional needs of the students in that particular grouping. Unlike traditional schools, we can't just pull generic grade level activities and post them for all students. We are committed to being as intentional with our online instruction as we are with decisions for on campus learning. One way parents can help our online learning go smoothly is by encouraging students to log on to their classes at the beginning of the posted time, especially those middle school students who are more self-sufficient. Late arrivals to online class miss important information which disrupts learning for all.
As we continue down this unmapped journey, we depend on and welcome your feedback about how things are working for your child and your family. However, please remember that your child’s experience is unique to your child. What may be too much work for your child may be too little for another. Our teachers are masterful at dealing with that level of variability, but continuing group instruction and providing individual support takes significantly more time remotely than it does in the classroom. Please allow teachers the extra time needed to process your feedback and determine how to meet your family’s needs. And, please remember that while you ask for one thing, another parent may be requesting the exact opposite.
A related challenge that teachers are facing during these unusual times is that our students who might normally be a wonderfully cohesive group in the classroom are suddenly having wildly different experiences via online learning. Some families are bored and anxious for kids to have more things to keep them busy. Other families are busier than ever before because the parents are working in the medical field. Some families have lost jobs and are under extreme stress. Some families are ill with the virus. Some families have devices for everyone in the family and fast enough internet that everyone can be online at the same time. Some families have one device to share among four children. I share this perspective because teachers are no longer just trying to accommodate different skillsets of their students; they are now trying to accommodate an infinite number of variables that our students may be facing because they are trying to learn from home - not in the classroom together.
I want to sincerely thank the many people who have reached out to express their appreciation for what our teachers are doing, whether that has been directly to them or to me. There have been many tears shed in the last couple of weeks, as these are extraordinarily stressful times for teachers. They don’t have all of their materials; they can’t accurately assess how students are comprehending; they are trying to teach with their own families at home vying for their attention; they are running into technology difficulties; they may be having to homeschool their own children; they may be living alone and feeling particularly isolated; they may be worried about aging parents; they may be having to work around nap times to find time to work; they are tasked with determining not only what is most important but also how best to deliver that remotely. Most difficult, however, is the incredible emotional load that teachers are carrying. Not only are teachers facing their own rollercoaster of emotions related to the isolation, dangers of the virus, economic stressors, and future of our country, but they also carry the burden of worrying about their students, the families of their students, and their colleagues. When people ask me what I look for when hiring, my answer is two important qualities: compassion and analytical ability. Right now The Joy School team is putting these two qualities to work like never before, and the encouragement that has come their way is truly appreciated!
I also want to give a huge shout out to parents for what you are doing at home. My own children started online learning last week, and I am very grateful that my children are older and relatively independent because I cannot imagine how I would work from home with young children. Whatever it looks like at your house right now as it relates to school, I want you to know IT IS PERFECTLY FINE. There will be no awards for super star homeschooler moms and dads when this is over, so if there are days that you confiscate all devices because the kids are driving you crazy and they can’t do school at all, I support you! We are all in survival mode. None of what we are doing is normal. We are continuing schooling to provide a critical sense of normalcy for students, but nothing is normal right now! In the end, the most important things are everyone’s physical and mental health. On that note, if you are trying to work with your child and yelling or crying is involved (yours or theirs), it is actually BETTER to stop. There is a ton of research about anxiety and learning which I can sum up in one sentence. NO ONE CAN LEARN WHILE THEY ARE UPSET. Not kids, not adults. Another sentence to hammer it home: WHEN PEOPLE ARE YELLING, NO ONE CAN HEAR ANYTHING. Your relationship with your child, and most importantly, your child’s sense of security and comfort during these uncertain times, is more important than any academic skill. REALLY. I was on a zoom meeting with K-8 Heads from all over Texas this morning and we ALL feel the same way. We are all much more concerned about our kids’ mental health than we are about their academic progress. We can catch up on academic progress later if we have to, but it’s much harder to fix anxiety issues. Grace is the word of the year…for yourselves, and for your kids!
MORE JOY FROM AFAR OPPORTUNITIES
Now that our first week is behind us, we are continuing to build our online programs and opportunities for students that go beyond the basic academics. Our Program Director, Mrs. Trusell, has been hard at work with a team of people who have come up with creative offerings for students to be able to connect socially outside of their instructional time. Check out this video* to learn how to access these programs and look forward to new additions coming soon!
GENERAL UPDATES AND REMINDERS
As students spend more time online and have more free time, we want to remind everyone that the stringent firewall protections we have for students on campus do not work for computers off campus. For parents who need help with setting up appropriate controls at home, Mr. Stites is a great resource. firstname.lastname@example.org
Per our previously published calendar, we will not be having online school on Friday, April 10 and Monday, April 13. Please use this time to enjoy some non-school activities with your family. Our new hope for returning to campus is May 4, as mandated by the state. We will let you know if anything changes. For now, we are planning to run summer programs as normal.
Some of our kids have expressed concern about missing out on the traditional spring activities that make school fun. While many things will not be able to be rescheduled, one of things we want to promise is that we WILL celebrate our kiddos who are graduating and moving on this year. We may not be able to do it on the original date planned, but we won’t let our kids leave without an appropriate celebration and goodbye!
I hope everyone has a great week. Please continue to reach out if you need support in any way. We are all in this together!
Head of School
*Video link has been removed due to security reasons.
Subject: Joy From Afar #3
Subject: Joy From Afar #4
Resources for Families
- Resources to Use When Talking with Children About COVID-19
- Public Health Resources
- Health Best Practices
Following the best practices below, you can help prevent the spread of germs.
- Regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid unnecessarily touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Covering your sneeze or cough with a tissue or sleeve, not your hand
- Keeping your child at home if she/he has a fever, until she/he no longer has a fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications)
- Staying home when you are sick