Have there been confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Wellan community?
Yes. Two parents in our school community have voluntarily reported to me that they and one or more members of their households tested positive but are doing fine. It’s very possible other people in the Wellan community have tested positive and not informed me, have had symptoms but were not able to get tested, or had symptoms that turned out to be related to a different virus. This shouldn’t be surprising, as the geographic extent of the viral spread is wide and it’s possible that any of us may have been exposed in our daily lives prior to self-quarantining.
According to the Newton Health & Human Services Department (NHHSD), every confirmed case of COVID-19 must be reported to them and they take action to determine who among that person’s contacts needs to be contacted about exposure risk. NHHSD has informed us that their office will contact the school and any potential close contacts if a confirmed case required notifying some or all of the school community.
Out of respect for personal privacy and in line with federal laws relating to health information, we will not be disseminating any information without such guidance from the NHHSD.
On Friday I was on a call with Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Dr. Madoff began the call by expressing sorrow for the ten deaths that occurred on Thursday, which was sobering. He said that brought the number of deaths in the state to 25. He reported that, as of Thursday at 4 pm, there were 2,417 confirmed cases and 22,000 people had been tested. Dr. Madoff noted that the virus is not contained within communities so anyone who tests positive could have been infected almost anywhere: “If you haven't already heard it, you will be hearing that people you know and have interacted with tested positive.” He stressed the need for continued physical distancing and thorough handwashing in order to protect everyone, but especially the most vulnerable—people over 60 and those with underlying medical conditions. He closed with a positive message of hope, stressing that the solution is in how we and those around us choose to behave: “The most important part of a public health response is public.”
Will changes be made to Wellan Wired now that this remote learning model is extended through May 4?
Wellan Wired was developed as a remote learning strategy for 2-3 weeks. We opted to deliver primarily asynchronous videos and emailed activity suggestions so families would be able to use the learning resources at times that fit their own schedules. We intentionally limited “live” synchronous sessions with teachers and/or peers. We also chose to use familiar Google technology tools. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, but we know that there are improvements we can make. Now that the timeline has been extended, we are in the process of determining what changes we believe will enhance our efforts to support student learning and maintain community ties.
Starting this week, Primary students can expect a “live” session to “Show and Share” with the class. PY3 students will receive video instructions on how to make progress on their Writers’ Workshop “Me Books” and be asked to share their newest book pages or ideas for them during their 1:1 calls with teachers. Other PY3 workshops will come online soon. Elementary students can expect to participate in piloting new software designed to facilitate better group discussion. We anticipate rolling out additional features of the 2.0 version of Wellan Wired in phases by division as needed.
We recognize that Wellan families who have generally limited screen time may be concerned about the amount of video or video-conferencing being offered and may still prefer to engage in suggested activities asynchronously. Others have indicated that scheduled “live” synchronous sessions help to structure time in the day and limit use of devices to specific time blocks. Many have let us know that seeing teachers and classmates online is easing the social-emotional strain of social distancing for their kids. As I suggested last week, this whole experience is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Use what works!
Will the 2020 Spring Gala be rescheduled?
No. The Celebrate! event that was scheduled for March 28 (and then postponed) has now been cancelled. If you purchased tickets, you should have received an email regarding your tickets. We are all looking forward to being able to celebrate our Wellan community—including what we’ve been through together during this pandemic—in 2021. Fun is in our future! If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the last day of school changing?
No. The last day of school for students will remain unchanged whether we are holding school at 80 Crescent Avenue or via Wellan Wired. The school year will close for students with early dismissal on Friday, June 12. If we are back in the school building by then and are allowed to congregate as a community, the End of Year Ceremony will take place as scheduled at 10 AM and the End of Year Wellan Family Picnic will be held from 12-2 PM. If we have to end the school year virtually, we will strive to do so in a way that provides an appropriate sense of closure as well as celebration of accomplishments.
What will happen with field trips scheduled for May and June?
All field trips planned for this Spring have been cancelled, with the exception of the 6th grade trip (decision on that is pending). This includes all Primary outings that require buses, Elementary overnight trips to Nature’s Classroom, and Voyager students’ planned stay on Cape Cod. I am as disappointed as the students will be once they hear this, as I am a big believer in experiential learning, but cancellation for this year was the only prudent option.
Is Wellan issuing tuition refunds?
No. School is still in session, albeit virtually. Tuition payments cover the annual costs of operating the school, which have not changed. We are still paying all employees and incurring routine costs such as rent and utilities. Families who are experiencing an extreme hardship due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic should contact Joe Jolly about the possibility of financial aid for next year.
Is Wellan issuing refunds for After School Programs, Enrichment Classes, or the April Vacation Program?
After School Programs: At the end of the school year, Wellan plans to offer families a credit for a pro-rated portion of After School Program fees related to weeks that the school building was closed. Families will have the option to apply the credit toward the 2020 Summer Program or the 2020-2021 After School Program. Families with questions about the issuance and/or use of this credit should contact Joe Jolly.
Enrichment Classes: Wellan will be conducting the majority of Enrichment Classes remotely beginning this week. Some enrichment classes will be cancelled. Maria Gionfriddo will be reaching out to all participants to provide information about the timing and format of classes occurring remotely, as well as which classes have been cancelled. If you have questions about your enrichment classes, please reach out to Maria Gionfriddo.
April Vacation Program: If you signed up for the April Vacation Program, Wellan will be refunding the full amount paid for those days. Refunds will be processed in the next two weeks. Please contact Maria Gionfriddo with any questions regarding your refund.
Will students move up as usual for 2020-2021?
All students will be moved to the next level for the 2020-2021 school year, whether that means becoming a second- or third-year in their current division or moving up to the next division. Though Spring Progress Reports are likely to be abbreviated given the context we are working in, an advantage of the multi-age Montessori classroom is that learning progress is not tied to grade levels. Next year, teachers will assess where students are at in their progress and support their individual journeys for the 2020-2021 school year.
How are Wellan employees holding up under the “stay at home” order?
Thank you for asking! The answer varies as much as it likely does among Wellan families. Each of us is facing unique personal and family challenges, just as you all are. Feel free to reach out individually to your children’s teachers to offer encouragement. They are also eager to support you.
I personally want to acknowledge with gratitude and praise the amazing pivot Wellan teachers have made to deliver an educational experience to students via
Wellan Wired. Working virtually is not something any of them expected or “signed up for.” This global pandemic is requiring teachers to learn and implement new skills at an astonishing pace. They are also trying to do so on their own in the very public forum of video and video-conferencing, often with their own kids at home. The challenge and the stress is real. I am very impressed by the flexibility, collaboration, and commitment teachers have shown in this crisis and how dedicated they are to students.
If you are feeling appreciative of what Wellan teachers do, I invite you to participate in the PA-sponsored Staff Appreciation activity, which you’ll be hearing about soon. Please also consider voting for Wellan as a Boston Family Favorite, as being listed there year after year is a guaranteed teacher morale-booster:
On what date is enrollment final for 2020–2021?
All enrollment contracts become final as of June 1, 2020. This means that full tuition is due unless the Admissions Office receives written email notification of an intent to withdraw on or before that date. [Note: Enrollment contracts in TADS indicate that the last day to withdraw for 2020-2021 without incurring an obligation for full tuition was May 1. In this COVID-19 context, we have extended the date to June 1, 2020.] If you have special circumstances and wish to request an extension beyond June 1 for your decision-making, email Deanna.Griffiths@wellan.org. Exceptions are rare, as the school needs to have a final enrollment count in order to determine staffing and space needs for fall. Enrollment deposits are non-refundable.