Early Childhood Return to School Plan

tree VThe faculty and staff of the Highland Hall Early Childhood Center are committed to offering a quality Waldorf curriculum that serves children and families in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. As we prepare for our return to on-site classes this fall, we want to share with you new measures we will be implementing based on the requirements and guidelines from federal, state, and local authorities.  The health and safety of our wider community are paramount in our planning, as is the healthy development of the children in our care.  Therefore, we will be emphasizing measures like hand hygiene, outdoor time, covering coughs and sneezes, and common sense mitigation practices by adults on campus, while supporting children in healthy play and social interaction at school.

 

We understand that, like us, you are hoping to return to life as we knew it, and we want to support this as much as possible.  Parents are eager for answers, and so, we will do our best to give you as clear a picture as possible. 

Please note that these plans are based upon the LA County Department of Health's Guidance for Early Childhood Education providers, published on August 5, 2020, and their associated COVID-19 Exposure Management Plan.  The LA County Department of Health has confirmed that these guidelines apply to our Kindergarten program as it is part of our early childhood license.  Altogether, it is important to know that the status of guidelines and requirements could change and that we will adjust our protocols accordingly. While the regulations for schools might look different by September, below is what we are planning, based on the rules that are in place as of today.

Drop-off and Pickup

While social distancing orders remain in place, we are required by licensing to minimize the number of people who enter the school. Drop-off and pick up will take place at the gate. We ask that parents follow all current guidelines and adhere to any local or state health requirements, such as wearing masks or face coverings and maintaining physical distance in public spaces, when coming to campus. Please remain in your vehicle until a teacher lets you know it is your turn to come to the gate. Parents will be asked to say their goodbyes, and a teacher will shepherd each child onto the play yard. At pick-up, we ask that you please wait at the gate, keeping safe physical distance, and a teacher will bring your child to you.

Class Size, Available Spaces, and Aftercare

Class size will be limited to 12 children per class, with teachers and assistants dedicated to each specific class. Spaces are limited and will be filled on a first come, first served basis.  We are offering a Mornings Only program and a Full Day program.  There will not be any After-School Care offered at this time.

Nature Based Waldorf Education

Our school days will be spent primarily outdoors following the wisdom and knowledge of Waldorf education’s tradition of forest and farm kindergartens. Our lead teachers are currently enrolled in additional training to support and expand our already well-founded Waldorf outdoor education curriculum. We will continue to provide the same rich opportunities for arts, crafts, and purposeful work.  Daily offerings of artistic activities like painting, finger knitting, beeswax modelling, sewing, crafting, nature crafts, and woodworking will remain cornerstones of our program, as will story-time and movement journeys. Our curriculum will be further enriched by purposeful work such as raking, sweeping, gardening, planting, and more. All of this will be rooted in a robust outdoor experience which is proven to increase, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.

(https://www.waldorfearlyeducation.org/2016/05/18/outdoor-education-beyond-environmentalism/ )

Face Coverings

Teachers will wear face coverings, as required by state and local orders. Currently the regulations state "Children who are 2 through 8 years old should use face coverings with adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation. Children with breathing problems should not wear cloth face coverings." Highland Hall faculty will make best efforts, in a nurturing and supportive manner, to encourage children to wear face coverings.

Health Checks

Daily health checks at home and upon arrival will help us to ensure that anyone with possible symptoms does not enter the school. We are required to screen for any signs of illness by both state and local guidelines and will conduct temperature checks (with a no-contact forehead thermometer) and ask parents to affirm the health of their child and family members at drop-off. All faculty and staff will also undergo daily health checks.

Social Distancing in Early Childhood Education

Children in early childhood facilities are not required to keep 6 feet apart from each other or their teachers. They are permitted to play and interact. Instead, social distancing measures for this age group include strategies like limiting interaction between classes, spreading out as much as possible for activities such as mealtimes, painting, and nap, and maintaining physical distance between adults, when possible.

School Closures

We are maintaining flexibility in our school calendar and tuition structure to mitigate the impact of mandatory school closures. We are committed to maximizing our time together, and, in event we are required to close, we will attempt to schedule make-up days during school breaks and/or add days at the end of the school year. We have designated 10 make up days during vacation time and 10 make up days at the end of the school year.  In the event that we are mandated to close for more than 30 consecutive days, 70% of ECC tuition will be credited your account at a prorated amount.

Hygiene

We will follow a robust, thorough cleaning regimen. Classrooms, restrooms, and high touch areas will be thoroughly disinfected each day, or more frequently as needed, using EPA approved and non-toxic cleaners, whenever possible. Harsh chemical and cleaning products will not be used near the children. Nap bedding will be sent home weekly, for laundering. Teachers will model and support correct hand-washing hygiene and provide frequent opportunities for children to wash their hands. Teachers will model and support correct hygiene around coughs and sneezes.

Snack and Lunch

At this time, parents should plan to pack both a snack and a lunch for school. This is to eliminate the sharing of dishes, utensils, and the need for the required disinfection of these items. We will return to a shared snack if and when it becomes feasible.

FINANCIAL VIABILITY

 
  • We recognize that parents necessarily increase their involvement in their child’s education when we shift to a distance learning format, especially in the younger years.

  • We also recognize that almost all of our faculty and staff are fully employed when delivering a remote program, in order to support parents, to provide learning continuity and/or to meet course credit and graduation requirements (in the high school).

  • In an effort to maintain the financial viability of the school and recognize the burden of remote learning on parents, we are offering the following Tuition Credit Program for extended, County Department of Health mandated remote learning. While we have calculated floating days to make up for short term school closures, Tuition Credits will be offered after 30 consecutive days of closure. These are not cash refunds, but credits for current or future costs, granted at the end of the school year.

    • ECC families: 70% tuition credit.

  • We are offering a Limited Enrollment option at 10% of a full day tuition ($2,400) to enable families to hold their enrollment spot for when the enrollment cap is lifted, and to receive up to one hour per week parenting support from an experienced Highland Hall Waldorf School early childhood teacher.

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Extension of re-enrollment commitments

The contractual enrollment date has been extended from June 1 to August 1 to avoid tuition obligations as set forth in your contract. Therefore, if you elect to cancel re/enrollment by August 1, your re/enrollment deposit and fees will be credited towards future re/enrollment in 2021-22.

After August 1, we will be finalizing hiring and staffing decisions based upon our enrollment commitments. For withdrawal notices from August 1 though September 14, 2020, our contractual terms will apply, which state that your tuition obligation will be a 25%of the Tuition Total of the school year.  After September 14, parents who have enrolled in the Tuition Refund Plan may participate in that program according to the contract.

 

Our school will continue to make our best effort to meet our current families’ tuition assistance needs which for many are especially acute at this time.  Families have two weeks after receiving their tuition assistance grant notification to withdraw their enrollment without penalty. 

 

From time to time we may be forced to make a significant faculty or programming change to accommodate our COVID-19 situation.  If we are required to make a significant faculty or programming change, such as to a lead or class teacher, you will have two weeks after that adjustment has been made to withdraw your enrollment without tuition obligation penalty.

While some of this school year might look different than what we have grown accustomed to, the teachers are working hard to bring the same warmth, creativity, and magic that families have come to expect from our program. Each day we will continue to offer artistic activities, such as painting, sewing, beeswax modelling, finger knitting, and crafting. We will continue to enjoy story time, movement journeys, and games. We will strive to deliver to the very best of Waldorf education, while carefully following all required health and safety regulations. Children thrive when their emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development are supported, and in such a time as this the Waldorf education we offer is uniquely situated provide the rhythm, security, freedom, and high-quality care that every child deserves. 

We look forward to welcoming you and your children to the new school year.

Warmly,

The ECC Faculty

 

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Questions and concerns:

 

Pedagogical, curriculum, school schedule:
Angelica Lelan,
alelan@highlandhall.org,
Ken Lavner, klavner@highlandhall.org

School Operations and Hygiene Protocol:
Cara Lisco, clisco@highlandhall.org

Financial matters:
Rebecca Lirette, rlirette@highlandhall.org

 

This publication represents the work of the Board of Trustees, and almost all faculty and staff at Highland Hall.  We are especially grateful for everyone's extra care and effort to help us meet the demands of this pandemic.