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Message from the Superintendent: Learning Thrives at Grand Rapids Christian — Finishing Strong and Preparing for the Future

May 14, 2020

Dear Grand Rapids Christian Parents and Friends:

The global pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives and has changed how we interact with family members, friends, and neighbors as well as how we address responsibilities at work and even how we worship within the context of our faith.

COVID-19 Has Not Stopped Us

COVID-19 has not stopped us from connecting, learning, and worshipping.

Providing an excellent Christian education to nearly 2,300 Preschool — 12th grade students from five campuses during the current health crisis has required flexibility from students and parents, and their response has clearly reflected everyone having risen to the challenge!

As a system, Grand Rapids Christian’s ability to be nimble and the talents and commitment of our staff in the launch of off-campus learning on March 17 has reflected our resolve to continue to educate, inspire, and nurture our students.

Finishing Strong

Finishing 2019-2020 Strong

Throughout the pandemic, our staff have engaged with students and parents in meaningful ways, improvised and adjusted, and responded with amazing swiftness in order to enable students to finish the current school year strong and progress on essential learning standards necessary for their own particular level of learning.

This spring we found ourselves having to rethink how to ensure the many important facets of a student’s experience would continue to be accomplished. Student learning has remained strong and further advanced through unique ways to interact with teachers. 

Through a variety of digital platforms, our staff have provided LIVE (synchronous) instruction to our students, delivered academic learning without interruption, conducted thorough ongoing monitoring and assessment of student progress, and created opportunities for social interaction for our students over the last two months. Recorded videos, blogs, emails, and a variety of other resources have augmented live instruction to further support our students.

As a community, we have used social media channels to stay connected and support faith formation through devotionals, chapels, story-times, and other encouraging activities. 

Through hard work and God's grace, together we have survived and thrived through an end of a school year that no one could have possibly imagined last fall.

Congratulations to the class of 2020

 Congratulations to the Class of 2020

As the Class of 2020 finishes their final weeks at Grand Rapids Christian, I want to personally congratulate and thank our students and parents. This is certainly not the senior year that anyone would have expected or have chosen. Though the virus dramatically changed students’ senior year and the graduation they anticipated, it cannot diminish their accomplishments and will not steal their futures.

This experience and their education at Grand Rapids Christian have prepared them, with God’s direction, to find, live and share their purpose. And to impact the world for Jesus Christ. Thank you to the 212 members of the Class of 2020 for their leadership, adaptability, and resilience.

They have left an indelible mark on Grand Rapids Christian. May they go forth with God’s blessing.

Preparing

 Preparing for 2020-2021

As the end of this school year approaches, what school will look like this fall is of critical importance. We intend to reopen school on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, and it is our hope and prayer to personally greet and re-engage students in their education on our campuses this fall.

In order to do that, a reopening task force, composed of representative administrators and operations staff, has been charged to consider multiple options with respect to federal and/or state-mandated restrictions that may likely be in place in August. The task force is working diligently to develop a reopening plan that allows for flexibility, transparency, and prioritizes the health and safety of our community.

Scenario A On Campus Learning

Scenario A: On-Campus Learning

In the event schools are allowed to reopen, students will re-engage in on-campus learning. While specific decisions and plans will be finalized over the next several weeks, we will remain focused on current health department information and updated public health guidelines as they are issued.

In order to return to on-campus learning safely, we will consider implementing strategies in each of the following areas, including but not limited to:

  • Testing: Ensuring the health and safety of students and staff through screening procedures.
  • Sanitation and cleaning equipment and processes: Strengthening ongoing procedures, purchasing new cleaning tools, and instituting daily and scheduled disinfecting regimens.
  • PPE: Using masks during classes and in public gathering spaces.
  • Limiting visitors on campus: Limiting access to campus for visitors and parents.
  • Capacity limits in classrooms to allow for social distancing: Utilizing unused classrooms at our campuses that have availability and where space allows, developing strategic classroom seating configurations, and repurposing spaces such as gyms, auditoriums, and common areas.
  • Enhanced technology platforms: Enhancing technology tools in order to support instruction both on- and off-campus learning in ways that are relevant and appropriate to students’ ages and developmental levels.
Scenario B Preparing for Interruptions

Scenario B: Preparing for Interruptions

We do not know how the crisis will continue to unfold, and, as a result, we are actively formulating a reopening plan with multiple contingencies so that we will be prepared to seamlessly deliver cutting-edge instruction to our students.

Building on what we have learned over the last few months, the task force is preparing for waves of interruption to on-campus learning. In the event, our local community experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases and an interruption of on-campus learning occurs, we will be prepared to shift to off-campus learning immediately and effectively.

No matter what happens, we will be ready to deliver an excellent level of education to our students.

The considerations found above are shared as preliminary and as a reassurance to our community that Grand Rapids Christian’s planning is well underway and that the challenges we face will be managed aggressively and in ways that keep students and staff safe and demonstrate our commitment to providing an excellent education. We recognize in order to do that we must approach the current reality with the same level of conviction we have always embraced in our daily instructional delivery.

Commitment

Preparing Students to be Effective Servants of Christ

For 100 years, God has faithfully blessed our students, families, and schools. Change is no stranger to our schools and, as we have done in the past, we confidently move forward to plan for and ensure all our students will continue to thrive.

Our commitment to achieving our mission has been built on our strong foundation of faith. Grand Rapids Christian Schools has responded and will confidently continue to respond to this challenge through our utilization of the tools, resources, and human capital with which we have been blessed in ways that enable students to excel, honor the mission for which this institution stands, and bring glory to God.

Thank You

Thank you for your prayers, ongoing support, and entrusting your children to our care.

It is a privilege to partner with you in your children’s education, an honor which we humbly embrace. We will continue to update you as our plans for 2020-2021 take shape and as we receive clarification from local, state, and federal authorities.

God’s blessings to you for health and safety throughout the summer season. Personally, and on behalf of the Board of Trustees and our nearly 300 faculty and staff, we look forward to our students’ and parents’ return in the fall.

Tom DeJonge

Tom DeJonge
Superintendent, Grand Rapids Christian Schools