Family Resources During COVID-19

School is now closed March 12 until futher notice with Distance Learning.

 

The team at WNS is constantly monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it relates to our location and beyond. This webpage serves as a gathering place for all communications sent within our school community, as well as additional resources for parents and community members. This is a quickly evolving situation so please check back often for updates.

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WNS Updates

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April 29: WNS Updates

“Confront the brutal facts, but never lose hope.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great 
Jim Collins wrote this in 2001, but it could have been yesterday. This has been a very challenging time for everyone, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to acknowledge what a heroic job all of you, as parents and caregivers, are doing for and with your children at this time. There is so much to juggle, manage, and support that none of us anticipated being the case just three months ago. I know our teachers, like you, have never worked harder and cannot wait to see your beautiful children back in our classrooms again.
Many parents ask me what we expect for school come fall 2020. Will there be a summer program? Will there be distance learning again, and if so, when and for how long? What steps will we be taking to keep children and adults healthy when on campus? These are all great questions, and while we are still aggregating information and monitoring reports from the state, city, and the LA County Department of Health, we are starting to make contingency plans for the summer and fall. The truth is that no one knows for sure what the fall of 2020 will bring, at least just “not yet.”  What I do know is that we will be well prepared for what comes and wholeheartedly believe that there are very good days ahead for all of us at WNS.
“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky
 
Wayne Gretzky is one of the greatest hockey players of all time, and he achieved his greatness by out-preparing and out-thinking his opponents. One of the important things I believe about this global experience is that there will be those who hope to just get back to where they were before the pandemic and those who will look for opportunities and land in an even better place than before. The latter is how WNS is approaching this. This is a journey, and we are in it together.
School Health and Hygiene 
While there will be more information about what to do and expect with this topic over the coming months, we already know some things that will be required when school reopens, and we are starting to prepare our campus for that now. There will need to be new protocols and a need for additional tools and janitorial services at school to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. First, frequent handwashing by all students will be a must, so we are installing many more sinks throughout the campus to allow more students to move through washing stations as efficiently and quickly as possible. Second, we are also modifying our Health Centers in both the West Campus and ECC to provide for a separate space so we can isolate sick children waiting to be picked up by their grownup. Third, sanitization stations will be set up at entrances of all three campus buildings. Fourth, we are adding new and upgraded filters to our internal HVAC system. We may also have some initial requirements for social distancing that could require some creative scheduling, which we will be working on this spring and into the summer. Additional new health protocols will be developed based on information from the LA County Department of Health that will also guide parents in terms of when to keep their children out of school.
Summer 2020 
As you know, it is our plan to offer at least a two-week K-8 summer program and as much as a four-week ECC program this Summer. The timing of this will be better understood once we get clearer guidance from the LA County Health Department and other local and state agencies. Our priority is to find a pathway for as much time on campus as possible, and we will also be prepared to offer a remote version of this if necessary. The Summer 2020 program will be offered at no cost to all returning and newly enrolled WNS students. Registration information will be emailed to parents once we have a better understanding of what we can do and when we can do it.
Preparing for the 2020-21 School Year
As you know we have moved up our school start date to August 20 to give us nearly two additional weeks of school in the 2020-21 school year than we had originally scheduled. We are preparing for as much time with our students on campus as possible, and we are also making contingency plans in the event we need to spend some time out of school and in distance learning again. We rolled out our Distance Learning 1.0 in a moment’s notice in mid-March and are constantly reviewing and altering it based on parent, student, and our own internal feedback and monitoring. I believe we all have done very well given that our teachers, parents and students had no notice nor advanced preparation, and we have received many compliments and notes of appreciation from many of you. I’m very proud and appreciative of the efforts everyone has made and the outcomes we have achieved under the circumstances. That said, we also know we can do even better with the benefit of time, planning, and strategic investment in distance learning tools and protocols, should it be necessary anytime during the 2020-21 school year.
We are making thoughtful investments in our Distance Learning program, including the creation of a new position, Director of Online Learning, for 2020-21. I am very happy to introduce Lori Getz who will be working with WNS in this position starting in May. Lori, who has her M.A. in Educational Technology, has worked with the Preschool-12th grade community in the classroom, as an online educator, facilitator, strategic consultant, and guest speaker to parents and teachers on a myriad of issues around educational technology, cyber safety, and remote learning. Lori has presented at many schools throughout California, including multiple visits to WNS, is an author of several books, and has also taught and developed online education programs up through the college level.
Lori will work directly with our PS-8 faculty in evaluating our Distance Learning program and platforms we have used this year and collaborate with them in developing new and more efficient and engaging strategies. As a parent of two school-aged children, she also understands firsthand the challenges parents face with distance learning and will help us better address this as well. Lori’s expertise will not only enable WNS to navigate whatever aspects of Distance Learning we may need in the coming school year but will also help us capture and refine online education in a way that will benefit all our students for years to come. 
I also want to take this moment to introduce you to Martinique Starnes, Ed.D., our first full-time Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. While DEI has long been a priority at WNS, it has never been more important to have this leadership now during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to continue to keep DEI front and center of our focus, particularly as we come to understand that the impact of this pandemic has brought a disproportionate level of impact to communities of color. Martinique earned her Doctorate in Education for Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University. She has worked in a variety of educational settings, PS-college, consulting and helping institutions to develop and implement inclusion strategies. Martinique has already begun work at WNS, albeit virtually, as a member of the Senior Staff. She will continue to work with our faculty/staff, families, and students for the remainder of this school year and into 2020-21. Dr. Starnes will be leading our parent community in a workshop on “Covid in Color: A Community Discussion about the Disparate Impact of Covid-19” on May 11 from 5-6 pm – save the date. More information about this virtual workshop will be emailed to you soon.
As I close, I want to remind everyone to visit our COVID-19 and DISTANCE LEARNING pages on our school website. There are many resources aggregated there, and we have also added a link to a list of WNS family-operated food service-related businesses that may be helpful to you during this Stay at Home time. I continue to be reminded of what a special community we have here at WNS and I cannot wait to see all of you, and particularly your children, again!
Please stay safe and stay well,
Brad Zacuto
Head of School

April 2: Important Financial Information 20-21 School Year

Dear WNS Families,
I wrote to you yesterday about important news regarding the 2019-20 school year and the reality that we could be in our Distance Learning mode through the end of the school year pending a miraculous turn of events. I explained how we are working to ensure that we deliver a top tier online Distance Learning program while also creatively planning for the fun, joyful, and playful events and activities that make the WNS experience as special as it is. We will have more details about all of this after Spring Break.
Today I am writing to you about the 2020-21 school year. We are already working to create a magical and wonderful return to our conventional on-site PS-8th grade program next fall. As we navigate our way through the coming months, we also need to address the issues of financial uncertainty many are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.  
 
We are on the cusp of initiating 20-21 tuition payments later this month. I recognize that some of our families are facing serious financial challenges as a result of job loss or work reduction with little or no financial resources to cushion them during this time, and may need some emergency financial assistance. Others may be facing some short term disruption and have financial resources for the long run but would benefit from a one- or two-month delay in the start of tuition payments. We also have families that remain in a relatively secure financial condition.
As a community, we can support one another. In the spirit of this, we have assembled a Family Resources During COVID-19 webpage with links to financial resources as well as physical and emotional health resources.
IF YOU NEED HELP WITH TUITION: 
If you are in financial distress at this time, please contact me at bzacuto@wns-la.org as soon as possible. If you have exhausted all resources, including your own, as well as remedies through any of the government vehicles, you can request emergency financial assistance through FAST (the system we use for Financial Assistance) to document your current situation and explain the changes occurring now as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
If you are in a situation where delaying tuition charges a month or two would be the help you need at this time, please contact Tanya Paxton, Business Manager at tpaxton@wns-la.orgShe will explain options and work out a plan that can ease some of your stress.
IF YOU ARE ABLE TO HELP: 
If you are in a position to pay your tuition in full on or before May 1, doing so would help the school manage some of the families who need a delay. Please email Joon Lee, Director of Finance, at jlee@wns-la.org to let him know that you are able and willing to do so. We greatly appreciate your doing this to enable us to help other families in our school community!
Additionally, we are establishing a Financial Assistance Emergency Fund to help WNS families affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis with Financial Assistance so they can keep their children at WNS. We have been given a significant matching gift that will essentially double your tax-deductible contributions to this fund. Please use this online link to make your gift to this fund or contact Cathy Gemgnani, Director of Development, at cgemgnani@wns-la.org.
While the trigger of this financial challenge is a health crisis caused by COVID-19, I have been through daunting times like this before as Head of School at WNS. In 2008-09 we faced a devastating economic crisis. During this previous crisis, our community rallied together and we supported families. We helped many families then and can do the same now. Together we will get through this!
I am grateful for your commitment to WNS and to our school community!
Appreciatively,
Brad Zacuto
Head of School

April 1: Important Updates

Dear WNS Families,
The timing of writing to you about important school updates on April 1 is not ideal, but please be assured that this is not an April Fools’ Day communication.
Many of you likely heard Governor Newsom’s announcement today that all California Public Schools will remain closed and continue with their distance learning through the end of the school year. While we have been holding out hope for a different plan for late spring, given all of the information we have and what we are hearing from local, state and national medical experts, there is just no sound reason for rushing thousands of school children back into schools and classrooms. So the hard news for all of us is that we need to realistically plan on not resuming on-campus classes through the end of the school year and continue on with our Distance Learning program when we return on April 14 and through May as well.  
I know this news brings a measure of disappointment for many of you. I am very sorry for our 8th graders and some of the events they will miss out on, for our Spring athletes and the games that won’t be played, for the performing arts showcases that we can’t hold, and for many of the amazing grade level capstone projects that will need to be put on hold or re-envisioned. But at the end of the day, if we all take “Safer at Home” seriously, follow all of the health protocols, and navigate through this time that will be a chapter in history books, we will all come out the other side healthy and whole, resume our sports, performances, education, and we will be ok. COVID-19 may be capable of delaying things, but it is not going to stop things. We will come out on top of this. Those that know me know I am a glass-half-full person and am always looking for the silver lining. While this kind of news brings disappointment about amazing events and experiences we were all looking forward to, it does not mean we can’t find great fun, joy, and a unique way to experience many school events in a new and exciting way. It also provides a great opportunity for innovation by our faculty as well as students.
I also know that there are families that are struggling with aspects of the near term impact of COVID-19. Please visit our two newly reformatted pages on our website – one that details our Distance Learning program including great new Tier Two content, and the other offers a myriad of resources for families navigating the time of COVID-19 including financial and physical/mental health resources. These pages have been intentionally placed on the public side of our website so they can be shared beyond our WNS community.
In addition to our outstanding and continually evolving PS-8th Grade Distance Learning program, we will be tirelessly working to transform on-site events into exciting virtual events and to create new opportunities we may not have considered possible before. While more details on all of this will be coming to you and your students after Spring Break, let me share a sampling of our plans with you here: 
  • Our Lower and Middle School Student Councils are holding ZOOM meetings and planning fun events for our students, including a Middle School Virtual Dance.
  • We are moving forward with our Film Festival, albeit virtually (but that’s what film is in the first place), and we have some other special student fun virtual events in the works (particularly for our 8th graders!) that we can share more about after Spring Break.
  • It is now our plan to hold a Virtual Gala and Celebration of our wonderful community on Saturday, May 16.
  • We are also looking at holding some Zoom coffees with our parents at different grade levels, as we did very successfully today with the ECC.
  • And I, the optimist, still hold out hope that come June, while we may not be able to have school, we can hopefully hold Graduation for our 8th grade students and their parents, and livestream it to the rest of our school community.
Looking ahead, here are some important dates to note:
As I explained in my email last week, Distance Learning school is in session tomorrow and Friday. We lost four days of school in mid-March with the transition from on-site to distance learning, and we are using these days to make up for that.
Spring Break will run from Monday, April 6 through Monday, April 13, with our online learning resuming on Tuesday, April 14. Our remarkable ACE staff has put together an array of optional activities as a Spring Break camp available April 6th-10th to all of our K-8 students. Some special offerings will be created for our ECC students, as well. More details about this will be emailed out by the end of this week.
Parent-Student-Teacher conferences have been rescheduled for May 6-8. We will hold these through Zoom, and Kelly Massey (ECC), Stacey Koff (K-4), and Heidi Reimann (6-8) will be sharing details about this after Spring Break. Lauren Fischer will be sending out new information to schedule your conference appointment after Spring Break as well.
In closing, both Passover and Easter occur during our Spring Break and I want to wish all of you who celebrate these holidays a meaningful and wonderful time with family. It is worth noting, for ourselves and our children, that both holidays are remembrances of times in the past when things weren’t going very well and may have even felt hopeless at the time; both holidays shine a bright light on times when resilience and adaptability were essential. Regardless of our faith, these are valuable lessons to remember at this time. This is hard and there may be very hard times ahead for some of us. But we, as a community, will get through it together and be stronger from this experience.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your family at this time.
Stay well!

March 23: Message to WNS Students

Dear Friends,
Click here to view my Monday morning message to students.

March 22: Update from the Head of School

Dear WNS Community,
As we close out our first week of Distance Learning, I again want to reiterate my appreciation for all of our families, faculty, and staff! I know there are still things to do and learn as we progress through the challenges of these days, but the work that has already begun is incredible. We now know from Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti’s recent declarations that we will be in this virtual space through approximately April 19. California is under a “safer at home” order, which is vital in helping slow the spread of COVID-19. I recognize that this new order may seem scary or stressful for you and your families, and there is confusion as to what can and can’t be done. Click here for full details and clarification from the state. Taking neighborhood walks and hikes (while maintaining distance from other people) is not restricted, and I fully encourage this as much as possible! We all need to get out and get fresh air to help with our physical and mental health. That said, please take the “safer at home” order seriously. We are learning a lot about the COVID-19 virus, and one of the things we now know is that spreads more easily person-to-person than once believed. We now also know that the virus can live on metal and other surfaces longer than once thought, so cleaning surfaces, washing hands frequently, and changing clothing and showering after venturing out into the public have become useful strategies. Please stay safe and stay healthy.
CAIS Schools Supporting Front-Line Medical Teams
In addition to the teachers at WNS and across our State who are delivering educational programming to their students, the heroes right now are teams of doctors, nurses, and medical technicians who are on the front-line fighting this pandemic; some of them are parents in our WNS community and spouses of our teachers. Inexplicably, the government can’t seem to marshal the resources for PPE gear to sufficiently equip hospitals and clinics to ensure their safety as they take care of us. Many of us, including a large group of CAIS schools, are banding together to look for solutions and funnel supplies that we may have or can muster. We will communicate more details soon about plans we are developing at WNS, including donating our eye shields from our woodworking/maker court to local hospitals and researching how to use our 3D printers to produce more eye shields. We will look for ways to include families and our students in helping with solutions. Click here for a chart of needs from hospitals nationally, and in California specifically.
Staying healthy includes our emotional health. As I mentioned before, we continue to update our Distance Learning webpage with resources to help families manage these unprecedented times. You can also reach out to either of our two wonderful School Psychologists for help or referrals (efisher@wns-la.org, kbielkevicius@wns-la.org).
 
Educating our Children and Managing Life 
We now know that we will be engaged in a Distance Learning experience at least through April 17, and very likely until the end of April, and we are planning for that. In addition to an updated calendar to help you plan and manage your time for the next few weeks, I also want to share that we are continuing to evolve and improve our online distance learning strategies and schedules based on what we learned last week and will learn this week. Our teachers are doing a remarkable job, and while delivering live and virtual learning programs to your children, they are also engaging in professional development on best practices in online education. They are also, like you, managing their lives, children, elderly parents, and all of what comes with life in the time of COVID-19. I know they appreciate your kind words of support and appreciation.
We also want to maintain many of the traditions at WNS, even while operating online. We are developing recorded virtual and/or live virtual opportunities for:
  • Community Gathering
  • Family Group meetings
  • Student Council meetings
  • ACE classes and lunchtime play-dates hosted by ACE staff
  • Tutoring support for students who need a little more help
  • Parent support and connections
March 23-April 3: WNS Distance Learning Tier One
  • This is what you have been doing the last three days. Top-notch WNS instruction will be provided on a daily basis, with an increasing emphasis on synchronous instruction for our elementary and middle school students. Continue to look for emails from your teachers and division heads for more details on the instructional plans for these next two weeks.
  • April 2: Second Trimester Progress Reports will be posted in OnCampus. Check your email for access details.
  • We will resume normal weekly communications, including a Monday Video Message from the Head of School and the Friday E-News.
March 23-April 3: WNS Distance Learning Tier Two
  • Our Tier Two program is optional and provides additional online activities for our students in their “non-school” hours. Think of it as similar to ACE and ACE Plus, just virtual and available for everyone!
  • Virtual “Play Dates” – WNS ACE Staff will be hosting Virtual Play Dates for Kindergarten-5th Grade students starting Wednesday, March 25. Virtual Play Dates are a supervised time for students to “hang out,” interact and each lunch/snack with their friends with one of the ACE staff. Please look for an email from your Division Head for the links to join the Zoom meetings!
  • Asynchronous activities recorded by the ACE team for students to engage in after their school day will be provided.
  • Look for the Distance ACE Program e-blast coming soon with lots of resources for families! This will include the Virtual Play Date sign-ups, links to the asynchronous activities, and more!
  • More information regarding the ACE Plus Spring session is coming this week.
April 6-10: WNS – Spring Break &ACE Online Spring Camp
  • This is spring break week and we know we are all not traveling. While academic studies may be on pause, students may still be looking for optional fun and engaging activities. WNS is putting together some incredible extra programming options (Tier Two) for those families. Your ACE/TA Staff is working on some fun stuff – be on the lookout for more details about this next week. PS-8 attendance and regular participation is not required during this week…it’s all about the fun!
April 13-17: Resume Distance Learning Programs: Tier One and Tier Two
  • April 13: No Tier One or Tier Two Programs. Our faculty will use this day to finalize preparations for the continued Distance Learning ahead. I encourage our families to do the same. Start to shift from spring break mentality to back-to-school distance learning work time.
  • April 14-17: Resume Tier One and Tier Two Programs
Conferences: They will be virtual at some point after spring break. The team wants to spend time thinking through all options and possibilities before making a final decision. I thank you for your patience and understanding while we work through this plan.
Finally, I know the restrictions from the State, County, and City directives in “safer at home” have impacted all of us, some of our families more seriously than others. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you or your family need any particular help or support at this time, (bzacuto@wns-la.org). We are a community and we will get through this together. 
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. I will be back in touch on Monday morning with a video message for the community.

March 18: Distance Learning Day One

Dear WNS Families,
First of all, I want to congratulate our faculty, students, and all of you for the very successful launch of our Distance Learning program! I saw wonderful photos and heard many accounts from teachers. It was an endearing day. Clearly the teachers and students missed each other and one another. This adorable note from one of our Snowy Egrets to her teachers captures so much of what we value in our school and the experience the children have at WNS. It may look and feel a little different now, but the heart and the substance remains.
I have watched the communications among the teachers, their Division Heads, and our tech specialists all afternoon as they collectively shared what worked well, what needed tweaking, and ideas for tomorrow and going forward.
Many sources are now indicating that schools may be educating children remotely over the next several months, and we are prepared to do this at the highest level if the situation presents itself. We appreciate all of the notes of support and offers of help by some of our “high-tech parents.” We will be happily incorporating some new and even more engaging ideas along the way as we all evolve with this new education platform. We also recognize that many of our parents are now juggling having children engaged with learning activities at home while also juggling their own remote work responsibilities. We will continue to share and post suggestions on how to best manage this as we all move forward. Please continue to consult our Distance Learning Resource page which will also provide updates on information regarding staying healthy in this time of the coronavirus. You can also follow the WNS social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) to see what the WNS community is up to.
While Los Angeles County has not yet mandated shelter in place (as is the case in many parts of Northern California), I strongly urge all of you to do so as much as possible at this time. Currently, there have been 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in LA County, and we know there are many more than this given the lag in obtaining test results. Among these confirmed cases is a WNS parent of one of our 8th grade students who notified us of his diagnosis yesterday. While the likelihood of any direct exposure at school is minimal given our closure, I want you to have this information. Please notify me and/or our school nurse, Chelsea Magdaleno (cmagdaleno@wns-la.org), if you believe you have had direct exposure, or have in fact tested positive for COVID-19, so we can notify others. As we have learned, children and teens tend to have very mild symptoms to COVID-19, yet can still spread the virus to others. We want to do all we can to protect those among us who may be more vulnerable.
I also want to urge all of you to take seriously the recommendations that we have been given from the Mayor and County. Avoiding close contact in public areas, washing hands frequently, and maintaining high levels of hygiene in your home will go a long way in keeping all of us safe and helping our local medical staffs manage this successfully. I look forward to hearing about the wonderful learning that will happen in Distance Learning Day Two.
Take care and be well.

March 17: Message to Students

Dear Friends,
I arrived at school today to find this beautiful rainbow literally coming out of our ECC. It is already feeling like a magical day. Please click here for my first video message! I am learning how to do new things just like everyone else.
Take care!

March 16: Distance Learning Update

WNS Community,
School has been abuzz today with faculty and staff preparing for tomorrow’s pick-up and Wednesday’s Distance Learning launch, wearing blue gloves and all. The teachers went to great lengths to prepare essentially a “care package” to support their students’ learning during this time, all of which was handled with gloves on hands and placed into large plastic bags that have been sealed up, waiting for distribution tomorrow.
Faculty also spent time receiving training from our tech staff on virtual as well as live (synchronous) learning systems appropriate for their grade level. We will be back in the daily routine of teaching and learning as of Wednesday. You will hear more from Kelly, Stacey, and Heidi tonight and tomorrow about the rollout and the daily schedule for the remainder of this week.
K-8 learning “Care Packages” ready to go out tomorrow!
 
REMINDERS FOR TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 17:
ECC Families: Please drive into the ECC back parking lot. A bag with your child’s cubby materials and special things will be waiting for you lined up along the fence, weather permitting. If you want someone to bring it to your car, just ask.
K-8 Families: Please drive into the 5401 backlot like morning drop-off (entering off Coral Tree), but one lane only. There will be cones with staff and volunteers to greet you as you drive in. Please give them the name and grade level of your child(ren) AND the name and grade level of any other student for whom you might be picking up. We will have others who will deliver the bag(s) of learning supplies for your child(ren) with gloves and a smile. Please follow the pickup schedule below to help manage this situation. If you have an impossible conflict, please call our front desk and let them know so they can alter our distribution plan.
8:00am-9:30am
A-E
9:30am-10:30am
F-J
10:30am-12:00pm
K-O
12:30pm-2:00pm
P-T
2:00pm-3:30pm
U-Z
If you are unable or would prefer not to come to campus, we will accommodate you as well. The best option is for you to arrange with another family to pick up your child’s supplies. If you can’t do that and will need them delivered, please email Dena Kaplan (dkaplan@wns-la.org and Joanne Nakawatase (jnakawatase@wns-la.org) Tuesday morning, and we will arrange to have them delivered to your home tomorrow afternoon.
PREPARING FOR DISTANCE LEARNING on Wednesday, March 18:
WNS Distance Learning begins on Wednesday! Students will receive a welcoming email from their advisor or cubby side teacher by tomorrow. Kelly, Stacey, and Heidi will be emailing all parents with details about the rollout of our Distance Learning plan for their divisions by tonight. In anticipation of this, please take some time to set up spaces for successful Distance Learning on Tuesday. This is going to be new for all of us, and the purpose of this week’s abbreviated schedule is to give everyone, our teachers, students, and parents, a chance to give it all a try, learn from the experience, and prepare for our first full week beginning next Monday, March 23. Here are some reminders and tips:
  1. Create a discrete online learning center for live (synchronous) learning that is in a common space in the house, not in bedrooms.
  2. Parents who are also working at home should set up a clear area where you’re doing your work so it is clear as possible to young children that you are “at work.”
  3. Create a home schedule in concert with the school’s schedule that includes time for play, exercise, and stress relief. Common Sense Media has provided some wonderful resources for these ideas.
I’ll keep things brief tonight so that you can continue to prep your homes and focus on your families. Please continue to check in to our Coronavirus Resource Webpage which is the landing place for all prior Head of School communications, as well as abundant resources related to Distance Learning and Coronavirus. You’ll hear from division heads and teachers soon.

March 15: Coronavirus Update

“There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Alice in Wonderland
Dear WNS Families,
We are in an unusual moment in time. None of us has seen anything quite like this, and while many of us may be feeling more like the mad hatter these days, alas, we will all come through this together. What I am learning is that moving at light speed wasn’t quite fast enough, so I’ve picked up my pace, and have some important updates and information for all of you here. I have been collaborating with an amazing Senior Administrative Staff all weekend, and they have been collaborating with incredible teachers in all three divisions. We are all capable of working on more than six impossible things before breakfast!
Most importantly, we all need to stay well and maintain a measure of calm. Our children need this from all of us right now. Everyone is moving toward increasing levels of social distancing and hyper hygiene protocols with the belief that this will help “flatten the curve” and help us all manage the coronavirus. I know many of our families have been self-quarantining, and most all are significantly limiting their social contacts and those of their children, which brings its own challenges, I know. I also know you are anxiously awaiting the launching of our Distance Learning. We are in final preparations, and you will hear more from Kelly, Stacey, and Heidi tonight and tomorrow about the rollout and the daily schedule for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week.
FACULTY/STAFF WORK MONDAY
Faculty and staff will be working Monday, some remotely, to prepare and ready learning supply packages for all of our ECC-8 students. Plans for distribution have slightly changed since I last wrote. Supplies will be carefully assembled (staff will be wearing gloves) and placed into large plastic bags and labeled with each student’s name. For all K-5 students, these bags will include books and learning packets teachings have assembled. Each 3rd-5th grade student will also receive a chromebook and charger. ECC-2 students will need access to an iPad or similar device, and if you do not have one in your home, please notify Brad Wright tonight so the school can loan you one (bwright@wns-la.org). We ask that no parents or students come by campus on Monday. We have a very busy and relatively sterile working environment for our employees that we need to maintain.
TUESDAY SUPPLY DELIVERY: NEW PLAN
Given the evolving situation and efforts to provide social distancing, we will provide “curbside” pick-up for those able and willing to drive to school on Tuesday. All of our staff handling these supplies will be wearing gloves. Please follow the schedule below to help us manage the flow. Here’s the new plan:
ECC Families: Please drive into the ECC back parking lot. A bag with your child’s cubby materials and special things will be waiting for you lined up along the fence. If you want someone to bring it out to you, just ask.

K-8 Families: Please drive into the 5401 backlot like morning drop-off, but one lane only. There will be cones with staff attendants lined up. Please give them the name and grade level of your child(ren) AND the name and grade level of any other student for whom you might be picking up. These bags will include books, learning materials and Chromebooks with chargers for 3rd – 5th students. All books, folders and learning materials in middle school students’ lockers will be gathered and bagged as well. The bag of supplies will be brought out to your car by a staff member wearing gloves and a smile! We still ask that you stagger your pickup time by student last name to help with the flow of traffic:

8:00am-9:30am
A-E
9:30am-10:30am
F-J
10:30am-12:00pm
K-0
12:30pm-2:00pm
P-T
2:00pm-3:30pm
U-Z
If you are unable or would prefer not to come to campus, we will accommodate you as well. Either arrange with another family to pick up your child’s supplies, or email Kelly Massey (kmassey@wns-la.org), Stacey Koff (skoff@wns-la.org), or Heidi Reimann (hreimann@wns-la.org) by Tuesday morning, and we will arrange to have them delivered to your home.
LAUNCHING DISTANCE LEARNING: TIER ONE
Tier One is the delivery of our PS-8 curriculum using Distance Learning tools and strategies. This is school as we know it now, and it is likely going to be with us for a while. Students are expected to engage and take it seriously in a developmentally appropriate way. For our K-8 students, there will be a daily check-in and accountability for engaging in our Distance Learning program. Teachers are all preparing very thoughtful lessons and working collaboratively to develop schedules for our students and families to follow. Strategies for progress monitoring, assessment, and feedback to students will be a part of our Distance Learning program, just as we would during a regular school session.
Roll Out: 
Students will receive a welcoming email from their advisor or cubby side teacher by Tuesday. Kelly, Stacey, and Heidi will be emailing all parents with details about the rollout of our Distance Learning plan for their divisions by Monday, and we will be launching our PS-8 Distance Learning program on Wednesday. We will be using a combination of asynchronous (virtual) and synchronous (live online) learning approaches this week. Tutorials will be posted to help parents and students use our distance learning platforms effectively and efficiently. All content will be archived on our OnCampus platform for parents and students to access.
Managing the Home Environment:
We recognize that this new normal presents challenges for parents as well as students. Many parents are also juggling their own work requirements and expectations, and in some cases this now means working from home while your children are also learning from home. Helping students maintain social connections is very important, albeit digital.  Remind them to maintain all the lessons we have been learning about digital citizenship and civility – all of those rules and guidelines still apply. Please refer to the guidelines from Common Sense Media and our WNS Technology Agreement and guidelines.
We can learn a lot from some of the international schools that have been engaged in online learning for months now. Please take some time over the next two days to do the following:
  1. Create a discrete online learning center for live (synchronous) learning that is in a common space in the house, not in bedrooms.
  2. Parents who are also working at home should set up a clear area where you’re doing your work so it is clear to young children that you are “at work.” The recommendation was also made that parents “dress” in a way that makes it clear to their young children that mommy or daddy is “at work,” and not ignoring them.
  3. Create a home schedule in concert with the school’s schedule that includes time for play, exercise, and stress relief. Common Sense Media has provided some wonderful resources for these ideas.
TIER TWO LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
I know many families are concerned about what happens beyond the hours each day their children are engaged in our Tier One Distance Learning program. There are now more hours in the day, and evening, to fill than there ever were. We have the capacity to help families here as well with grade-level specific and general resources for family fun, explorations, investigations, games, and constructive and productive ways for children to use unstructured time they now need to fill. Many of these resources can already be found on our Coronavirus Webpage, and we will be posting more in the coming weeks.
LOOKING AHEAD
I know many of you are also wondering what our calendar will look like over the next several weeks.
  • March 15-April 3: Distance Learning program
    • 2nd Trimester Progress Reports will be posted on March 27
    • Conferences will be postponed until after Spring Break
  • April 4-13: Spring Break (Tier Two programs will be supplied as options for students at all grade levels).
  • April 14 and going forward: We all hope we will be back in session and resuming normal, everyday school activities. No one can predict right now what the near future will hold. We will be prepared for either resuming classes on campus or Distance Learning after Spring Break.
SUPPORTING WNS FAMILIES
I want all of you to know that we are here to help and support all of you in all the ways we can. Reach out (digitally) to other families to check in and help support one another – the WNS community is a strong one! If you need help or assistance in any of these areas, please reach out to us:
  • Internet Access & Tech Support- email Brad Wright (bwright@wns-la.org)
  • Canceling Freshlunches: You need to go to the Freshlunches website tonight and cancel!
  • Some of our parents must go to work and need child care support and may have difficulty finding it. Please contact me if this is the case (bzacuto@wns-la.org).
  • I know that these can be trying times financially for some of our families. Email me directly and let me know if there is something we can do to help with financial distress from temporary loss of income (bzacuto@wns-la.org).
  • Some families and/or children may be dealing with stress or worry at a significant level. Please know you can reach out to either of our two wonderful School Psychologists for help or referrals (efisher@wns-la.orgkbielkevicius@wns-la.org).
In closing, please remember how the great capacity of our school community has seen us through challenges before. If we can all assume best intent, all do our part to reduce the threat of community spread of Coronavirus and remember to do at least six magical things every day before breakfast, we will be even better than ok!
We’re all in this together!

March 13: Coronavirus Update

Dear WNS Community,
I hope all of you are settling into some kind of family routine; this is a big change for all of us and by all accounts, this will be our new normal for a while. What is most important now is to maintain calm, particularly around our children, and find safe ways to maintain connections for your children. This is a challenging time for adults as well. The news about financial markets, challenges with our own work, and maintaining as much normalcy with our family’s schedule and life can feel daunting. Self-care is very important for all of us right now.
As you know, most LA schools have now closed (including LAUSD), and the purpose of this is to keep all of us within our school communities healthy and safe but to also help the common good by social distancing and limiting community spread of the coronavirus. I think it is appropriate and positive to have conversations with your children on how we are all part of the solution to this and have a part to play. Let me remind all of us of basic guidelines that we all should be practicing: 
  1. Enhanced Hygiene: Washing hands frequently, avoiding hand to hand contact with others, sneezing/coughing into a facial tissue (or elbow), and using hand sanitizer after being in a public place. I would also remind parents to be mindful of using hand sanitizer after handling money and credit cards, and do not share your cell phone with others.

  2. Social Distancing & Social Gathering Guidance: Based on guidance from the LA County and California State Health Departments, WHO, and the CDC, we know more now about how COVID-19 spreads, and it is mostly by close contact with people expelling droplets through coughing/sneezing, or by hands that have been to the mouth or nose and then to surfaces, or another person’s hand or face. The capacity to manage social distancing and social hygiene is highest in adults and lowest in young children. This fact coupled with the fact that children can carry COVID-19 and have very mild symptoms is why schools and after school activities are closing. Some parents are choosing to keep their families close during these first few days, which is fine. Everyone should avoid large groups and big social gatherings. The State of California has mandated no gatherings over 250 people; that’s still a very large group of people we don’t know. Common sense guidance for adults is to keep social clusters to a reasonable number where you can maintain social distancing and avoid contact with people who may be sick. The number of children who should gather for activities or play dates should get smaller with age. We don’t recommend older children gathering in groups larger than 4-8, and our young children, who have the least capacity for managing personal space and hygiene, in groups larger than 2-4 for play or babysitting. Use the outdoors as much as possible for social gatherings. Please monitor any gatherings with young kids carefully with enough adults to ensure that all involved are feeling well and maintaining appropriate social spacing. Wash hands often! Things can change in a moment these days and we will update when they do.

  3. Health Care: Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and shore up your immune system. If you have a persistent cough and fever, see your doctor. COVID-19 testing is more readily available now, and we should all advocate to our doctors if we are concerned about symptoms or a clear exposure. If you are going into a doctor or for testing, let them know in advance your purpose for the visit so the health care providers can be properly protected.

  4. Maintaining our Mental Health: Anytime there is a significant event like this it can be particularly daunting to children. Many have had nearly all of their social connections ripped away: school, sports teams, after school activities, hanging out with friends. They are likely reading stress in their parents’ eyes and in the faces other adults who are significant in their lives. And they also may be watching/listening to too much news. We have posted several links that offer suggestions for parents on how to talk with your kids about coronavirus on our Coronavirus Resource Page. It is important to focus on the joyful things in your lives and find ways to play as a family together. Board games may make a big comeback! Perhaps use facetime to have kids and families link up for a game day. Watch some funny movies; read some good books; take a nature hike; plant a family garden. This is an opportunity to rediscover some of those things in life we may be moving too fast to enjoy. Finally, here is a link to a resource for managing stress from the LA County Department of Mental Health.
BACK TO “SCHOOL”…with DISTANCE LEARNING 
The Administrative Staff has been hard at work these past two days, albeit remotely, preparing for our transition into Distance Learning next week. During these two days of closure, we have had the entire campus hospital-grade cleaned and sanitized. ECC-8th grade teachers have been working remotely preparing for resuming teaching and learning next Wednesday. Below is the schedule and plans for next week:
  • Monday: Faculty and staff working to organize Distance Learning supplies for students. Parents can use this time helping their student(s) prep their work/learning spaces. No parents or students will be allowed on campus on Monday! Please look for a video message from me to you and your children Monday morning. 
  • Tuesday: All families are invited to campus to pick-up of student supplies (and books in lockers) between 8am-4pm by student last name:
8-10am
A-G
10am-12pm
H-M
12-2pm
N-S
2-4pm
T-Z
  • Parking will be available in the 5401 back and front lot for K-8; ECC parents can enter into the ECC parking lot.
    • ECC: Parents will gather their child’s things at the ECC.
    • K-5: Parents (and students if they are with you) will go to your child’s homeroom (cubby side). Your child’s materials will be on a desk labeled with their name.
    • 6-8: Parents (and students if they are with you) will get your materials organized and labeled for you on tables in the MLC, and you may also get books and other items out of your locker.
    • Additional details and instructions will be emailed to you by Kelly (ECC), Stacey (K-4) and Heidi (5-8) by Monday.

    • If you are uneasy, unwell, unable to physically enter the buildings to pick up materials, you have the option to pick up via carline and have staff bring your child(ren)’s materials out to you. Please enter the carline in the back lot of 5401, and there will be someone there to get the name(s) of the student(s) for whom you are picking up supplies.
    • If you are unable to physically come to campus on Tuesday, please email me (bzacuto@wns-la.org)  and we will coordinate a plan to get you what you need.

    • Families will need to have a computer, tablet, or other internet-connected device to use with their child. ECC-2 children will be best served by an iPad, for ECC students this is optional. 3rd-5th grade students will be assigned a chromebook and charger that can be picked up on Tuesday. 6th-8th grade students will be using their current chromebook. You will also need to have a home internet connection. The device should have a camera and built-in microphone for video conferencing and recording. If you do not have access to a suitable device or internet connection please contact WNS Technology Director Brad Wright: bwright@wns-la.org.

    • Take some time Tuesday afternoon and evening to get acquainted with your materials, make sure devices are charged up, etc. Let Kelly, Stacey, or Heidi know if there are any issues or questions.
    • Kelly, Stacey, and Heidi will send specific schedule information to their divisions and additional resources to guide you and your student.
  • Wednesday: Distance Learning officially begins. Initial online connection and learning will take place. You will receive more details from your classroom teacher and division head. We will be delivering Distance Learning in two tiers: tier one is the academic program all students are expected to engage in daily. Tier two will be optional activities through links, suggestions, ideas, prompts and fun challenges that we encourage students to dabble in based on their interests.
  • Thursday: Ongoing Distance Learning activities.
  • Friday: Livestream message to all families/students at 9:00am from the Head of School & ongoing Distance Learning activities.
With the combination of no school and rain with limited indoor activities, I have a great appreciation for all of you, and the new normal will kick in soon. I know others may still need to go into work and need childcare support. I know some of you may be looking for ways to connect with each other in your classes, creating digital buddy groups and parent support resources. You can use the grade level distribution email lists for this purpose, just keep in mind that it’s best to offer an “opt-in” option when reaching out, and make a smaller email thread with those who choose to be a part of this. I ask that you directly reach out to me with any questions or concerns about anything related to the school closure or managing information about the coronavirus. If you have any questions about reaching out to your fellow families, please contact Amy Woropay, Director of Communications, aworopay@wns-la.org.
I also know we have some families that may be significantly impacted by the complication of having to work and manage childcare. Please reach out to me (bzacuto@wns-la.org) if help is needed. We have connections and resources in our WNS community that can help you!
If you have ordered Freshlunches, please log into your account and cancel any upcoming meals. Per their policy, you will receive 100% credit for all meals canceled starting Tuesday, March 17. Please be sure to review your account and contact Freshluches with any questions.
As mentioned before, if you need additional resources and information, please visit our Coronavirus webpage. I encourage you to take this weekend at home with your families to reconnect and get ready for the week ahead. I will be back in touch with a message on Monday unless any situations change prior to then.

March 12: Coronavirus Update

Dear WNS Community,
It is times like these that test the strength of a community and challenge us all to remain calm and centered. I appreciate the many notes of support for what was clearly a difficult decision, and I also have seen communications among and between parents that acknowledge the stress and worry many of you are feeling. I ask that you take a deep breath, and with calm, read this email all the way through.
CLARIFYING OUR REASONING FOR CLOSURE
I want to provide some transparency to the abrupt decision to close the school as of today. I clearly saw school closure before spring break as likely, and communicated that in my email earlier this week. Like you, we thought we had more time to prepare, but the Board, Senior Administrative Staff, and I determined that closing now was the prudent and right thing to do for a myriad of reasons. Let me share these with you now. One, despite rumors I have heard being shared, there has been absolutely no case of COVID-19 among any WNS student, parent, or staff member as of this time. What is true is that there were three different and completely unrelated stories of albeit very remote WNS connections to possible COVID-19 exposure that all came to my attention throughout the day yesterday. While we did not believe our school community was at immediate risk, this information along with the growing tide of local news reports and information that a number of other LA area independent schools were closing as of today tipped the scale for WNS to do so as well. This decision was done out of an abundance of caution. I am asking all of you to please not advance theories or conjecture at this time. Email me if you have a question or concern so I can give you accurate information.
DOING OUR PART TO LIMIT COMMUNITY SPREAD
What is true is that current information makes it clear that all of us need to take the potential for community spread of COVID-19 seriously. We closed our school, the NBA just shut down their season, and other large gatherings throughout LA are being canceled. We all want to do our part in stemming the tide of community spread in LA, and we can be a part of supporting our friends in the WNS community as well as contributing to the greater community good.
Right now keeping children home and in very small groups (3-4 children max) is strongly advised. If you are helping a friend with childcare, always confirm the household is healthy and try to use outdoor spaces as much as possible. Adults and children are encouraged to stay out of any large group, public gatherings. We should all be consistently using all of the heightened hygiene practices including frequent hand washing, use disinfecting hand sanitizers before entering and when leaving any public area, wiping down surfaces with sanitizers frequently, cover our mouths whenever sneezing or coughing, keep a “social distance of 6 feet” if you can in public areas, and DO NOT SHAKE HANDS. Hand to mouth is considered one of the most active means of transferring COVID-19 from one person to another. I know these circumstances will present some significant hardship to some of our families, and many members of our community have reached out with offers to help. If you must work and need help with childcare, let us know. As a community, we are here to support one another and so if you yourself or you know of anyone who is now in a difficult situation due to the closure, please reach out to me. I want to help facilitate ways to support you.
LAUNCHING DISTANCE LEARNING
We are preparing to resume school-led instruction for your children as of next Wednesday, March 18. As you have seen this morning from your division head, we are working on rolling out our developmentally appropriate Distance Learning plans. Our faculty and staff are currently working to get all systems up and running. You will hear a lot more about all of this in the coming days. Please know that we will have active digital instruction for your children. We are not asking parents to lead a homeschooling effort. We are asking for your partnership in helping to guide your children through the lessons and materials that our faculty provide.
I will write you tomorrow with more details, but here is the general timeline of our rollout:
  • Monday: Faculty and staff working to organize Distance Learning supplies for students.
  • Tuesday: System for pick-up of student supplies (and books in lockers) between 8am-4pm. This will be organized alphabetically so to manage the number of people on campus. We will also have strategies in place to support all families with this process which I will explain in tomorrow’s email.
  • Wednesday: Initial online connection and learning will begin. Kelly, Stacey, and Heidi will send specific information to their divisions to guide you and your student.
  • Thursday: Ongoing Distance Learning activities.
  • Friday: Livestream message to all families/students from Head of School & ongoing Distance Learning activities.
Families will need to have a computer, tablet, or other internet-connected device to use with their child. ECC-2 children will be best served by an iPad, for ECC students this is optional. 3rd-5th grade students will be assigned a chromebook and charger that can be picked up on Tuesday. 6th-8th grade students will be using their current chromebook. You will also need to have a home internet connection. The device should have a camera and built-in microphone for video conferencing and recording. If you do not have access to a suitable device or internet connection please contact WNS Technology Director Brad Wright: bwright@wns-la.org.
OUR CAMPUS
The campus is currently undergoing hospital-grade sanitizing of all three buildings as an added precaution. We expect to have the work completed through the weekend and open the campus to faculty/staff Monday, March 16. As stated earlier, we will begin coordinated visits to pick up the needed technology and materials in alphabetical groupings from 8am-4pm on Tuesday, March 17. More details will come tomorrow regarding specific instructions.
What I ask of all of you is to remain calm, and maintain this level of calm around your children. Many of us have been through challenging times like this before and come through it stronger than ever. We are entering a time that is a new normal, and I believe challenging times like these present opportunities as well. We will be stronger together.
Look for my next email tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, take some time with your family and know that we are all working here at WNS to provide support and continuity for you and your children.

March 11: School Closed Tomorrow, March 12

Dear WNS Community,
As you know, we have been closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and taking steps to protect our community while maintaining the continuity and normalcy of school for our children and families.
We are monitoring the recent increase in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in the greater LA area, issues around community spread, and information about possible exposure by siblings of WNS students and a WNS student. While there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in our community, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the difficult decision to close WNS as of tonight, Wednesday, March 11. There is no school tomorrow, March 12, through the end of Spring Break (April 14). We have also decided to close the campus to all faculty and staff as well on Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13, as we deep clean all three campus buildings. This decision was made by me with the full support of the Board of Trustees and Senior Administrative Staff.
We did not come to this decision easily and recognize that this will create challenges for many of our families, particularly working families. I am genuinely sorry about this and wish circumstances were different. I also know there will be disappointment by many of our students who have exciting school activities, presentations, field trips, ACE/ACE Plus classes, and athletic events during March. The Senior Staff will be meeting over the coming week to reschedule as many of these events as possible, and the Spring sports season will resume after Spring Break.
Even more importantly, there will be continuity of instruction during this time of school closure. The faculty has already been preparing for an age-appropriate approach to Distance Learning for all of our PS-8th grade students. Information on how this will look and work for each of our three divisions will be emailed over the next few days by Kelly Massey (ECC), Stacey Koff (K-4), and Heidi Reimann (5-8). Teachers will be communicating directly with their students about Distance Learning activities and lessons beginning Tuesday, March 17. We take the continuing education of your children very seriously. Please use these next several days to get your own plans in order and help your student(s) prepare their home learning space. We know students may need to pick up supplies at school, and we will provide information on how we can manage this starting Monday, March 16.
We are also closing the school at this time to do our part to reduce the rate of community spread by limiting large gatherings. Please do your part to support this outside of school by avoiding large venues and group gatherings.
I understand this is late notice, and more information will be forthcoming tomorrow. You can also check the WNS Coronavirus Webpage. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at bzacuto@wns-la.org.
Respectfully,
Brad Zacuto

Event Changes & Cancelations

AS OF THE SCHOOL CLOSURE ON MARCH 12, ALL EVENTS HAVE BEEN CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Some events will be made virtual, and some rescheduled at a later date and you will be notified when that happens. If cirumstances change, we will update the dates here.