2020-2021 Planning Updates for the LCS Community

SEE THE LATEST UPDATES BELOW ABOUT OUR 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR AT LCS. 

July 9, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #8

Dear LCS Families,

 

I hope this communication finds you well and that you are creating fun ways to stay cool during this long wave of heat and humidity.  The PSL Team continues its work and is making good progress.  We are nearing a final draft of a plan and schedule for Scenario 1 and 2 for all levels of the school that does well in meeting our goals for safety and learning environments that support the holistic development (social, emotional, cognitive, etc) needs of children and adolescents. 

 

Even though our plans for the structure and schedule for onsite learning have dominated the last month of our work, there are always people on the PSL Team that continue to work on the details for safety, logistics, distance learning, technology, and much more every week.  This work in the background will help us be ready to finalize decisions and plans for each area in a timely manner. 

 

Listening to You

This week we are holding listening sessions with parents and guardians from each level of the school to learn more about your concerns, questions, and suggestions.  At this point most of the sessions are full, but please do check the sign up for a session you are interested in attending though this link.  If the session is full, please email PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org and let us know of your interest and which session you would like to attend.  If there is enough demand we will open up other sessions next week.

After the scheduled listening sessions have concluded, all families for a level will have the opportunity to share information about their families specific needs and situations related to school next year. Look for an email from LCS in the next week with a link to the survey to share your specific needs.

 

Junior High Odyssey Update

We continue to communicate with Crow Canyon about whether they will be open for participants this year.  We cannot finalize our plans for the JH Odyssey until we have a definite answer from Crow Canyon.  We are scheduled to hear from Crow Canyon next week about their decision.  As we wait for Crow Canyon’s answer, we continue our work to plan for an alternate Odyssey that would include multiple days at the Land School with the same focus on Native American history and culture.

 

Area / Decision

Communication 

to Families

Notes & Details

Summer Program

  • CH Summer Camp
  • JH Apprenticeship
  • E2 Farm Camp

June 18

Completed

(see more information in Update #5)

Start of School

July 1

Completed - maintain the same annual calendar and start date 

Junior High

Odyssey

July 15

JH staff working on a few different plans to meet increased safety requirements 

Detailed Structure and Plan for School

August 1

(Guidance from MDE & MDH by July 31)

PSL Executive Team will be working on this plan and communicating and seeking feedback when needed

Tuition Reduction for specific situations

August 7

The Board Finance Committee is meeting this summer to discuss this question

Community Events

August 15

Events will be planned after full detailed plan of year is completed


If you would like to send a question or comment for the PSL Team to consider, you can send a message to PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org.


Ben Moudry
Head of School

 

---------------

July 2, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #7 

Dear LCS Families,

Thank you for continuing to read these updates to stay informed about our planning for safety and learning in 2020-2021. We are making good progress on planning for the three different scenarios outlined by the MN Department of Health and MN Department of Education (see last week's update for more information).

Currently, we are planning to start with Scenario #1 and are constructing our plans so that we can seamlessly change to the structure for Scenario #2 where we would only be allowed to have 50% of the children and adolescents on site. The basic structure for both Scenario #1 and #2 is to have children and adolescents in cohorts throughout the day while on site. We will share more details about the plans for Scenario #1 and #2 each week over the month of July as we finalize our plans.

In all scenarios, we continue to work towards the ability for children and adolescents who meet specific criteria to be able to be on site full days five days a week. The main criteria at this time relate to critical workers, children who need a higher level of learning support, and families who do not have flexible work schedules and must work outside of the house.

Through all of our planning we continue to use reliable scientific sources to guide our decisions and keep current on the most up to date information. Our main sources of scientific and child/adolescent development information related to COVID-19 come from:

If there is another scientific or human development resource that you believe would be helpful to our planning, please send it to the PSL Team email listed below.

As part of this planning process, we want to stay in touch with you and continue to include you as partners. The next opportunity to share your ideas, thoughts, and feelings about our plans for the school year next year will be to sign up for a small group listening session. These are sessions where Ben Moudry and one or two members of the PSL Executive Team will facilitate a conversation with up to eight people from a level to hear from you. Use the link below to sign up for a listening session.

Click HERE to sign up for a listening session by level (Children's House, Elementary 1, Elementary 2, or Junior High). 
*If more than one parent/guardian from your household is attending, please sign up separately to keep the listening sessions to eight people maximum. 
*If slots are full, please email PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org to request another session be added. 

If you would like to send a question or comment for the PSL Team to consider, you can send a message to PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org.

Ben Moudry
Head of School

---------------------

 

June 25, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #6

Dear LCS Families,

Last Thursday the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Education (MDE) published the 2020-2021 Planning Guide for Schools.  In this guide the MDH and MDE directs schools to plan for three scenarios for school in the fall.  The basic information for each scenario is listed below.  The planning guide states:

 

Governor Walz’s Office, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), will determine and announce the scenario model under which schools may reopen for the 2020-21 school year based on state COVID-19 metrics by the week of July 27

 
Future decisions to increase or loosen restrictions will be made if COVID-19 metrics at the local, regional, or state level worsen or improve. Schools may choose to implement strategies that are more restrictive than the scenario established by the state, but may not choose to implement plans for a scenario that is less restrictive. 

Basic Overview of Scenarios from MDH & MDE Planning Guide

Scenarios

Cause / Factor

Effect / Result for LCS

#1

COVID-19 numbers are stable and/or improving in local, region, or state

  • Create as much space between people as feasible, but will not be required to maintain 6 ft distance in the classroom

  • Number of students onsite will be decided by the school

#2

COVID-19 numbers worsen at local, regional, or state level OR if the school has clusters of cases in a classroom, level, or school

  • Limit of 50% occupancy onsite

  • Must maintain 6ft of distance

  • Implement child care for critical workers

#3

COVID-19 numbers worsen significantly and reach critical levels

  • Distance learning only and onsite emergency child care

 
The scenarios are designed for the state and schools to use throughout the year next year.  For example, schools could be told to start with Scenario 1 at the beginning of the school year.  If the number of COVID-19 cases rise, then schools would shift to Scenario 2.  If the number of COVID-19 cases fall, then schools can shift back to Scenario 1. 

What do these scenarios look like for LCS in our current state of planning?

Scenarios

Goal for LCS

Notes

#1

Having as many children/adolescents as possible onsite for full days of school

Considering how to use all of our spaces at the urban and rural campuses to create as much physical distance as possible between people; allows us to easily shift to Scenario #2 if needed

#2

Clear structure for 50% of children/adolescents onsite for half the week that works seamlessly with Scenario #1

Seeking feedback from MDH about our plans for Scenario #2, specifically regarding the weekly schedule of half days OR two days a week

#3

Distance learning that is more user friendly, more clear to adults and children, and includes more connections between children/adolescents and teachers 

Planning for a different approach to distance learning for next year based on analysis and feedback from families


It was clear from the responses to the family survey we sent out a few weeks ago that consistency is very important for families, so I want to make sure that we all understand that shifting between scenarios will be somewhat out of our control.  The only numbers that we have some level of control over are the number of cases we have at LCS and I believe that the safety strategies we are creating will be a major factor in keeping LCS children and staff safe throughout the school year. You will receive many details about these safety strategies prior to the start of school.

LCS is creating its plans for each scenario and will be ready to share the full plan for each scenario by August1.  We will continue to let you know of decisions every week from now until then, so that you will have most of the information before August 1.  It is just that we need to wait for Governor Walz’s office to announce which scenario we will be in to start the year.

 

 

Survey from MDE for All Families
MDE asked schools to send out their survey so they can hear from as many families as possible.  Please complete the survey linked below by June 30.  Thanks. 
MN Department of Education 2020 Fall Planning Survey

Other Questions and Topics

When will the school calendar be published? 

The full school calendar will be published before school begins once our detailed plan is completed in early August. Today, we have published the important dates (no school days and breaks). You can access the calendar here or subscribe via the instructions in the Parent Portal. Watch for more information in future PSL Team emails. Please keep in mind that all dates may be subject to change due to ongoing safety needs. 


What will distance learning / learning from home look like next year?
It will look different from this spring.  We know there were issues with our approach using mostly or entirely Google Classroom alone as a structure and tool for communication.  We are planning for a different approach and using some different tools or applications to support a more effective method of distance learning.

What did the family survey results reveal about preferences of families?
The family survey results clearly showed that a small percentage of families are uncomfortable with their children/adolescents returning onsite for school (10% are not comfortable returning due to health concerns or other specific issues, many just need more detailed information about safety procedures). The survey results also showed that it would be good for LCS to host some listening sessions with small groups of families to hear from people directly.  We will be holding these in July-invitations to come.

How will LCS make the building safer and reduce the transmission of COVID-19?

LCS has identified many different ways to make the building safer and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.  Here are just a few of the strategies that LCS will have in place next year:

-Fresh Air - All LCS classrooms have access to fresh air with large windows or doors that can allow for direct fresh air regularly throughout the day and year (yes, we might need to wear some extra layers and maybe even get to wear hats :) )

-Fresh Air through HVAC System - each classroom has fresh air pushed into it throughout the day with our HVAC system, this air can be heated.

-New Air Filters - LCS now has new air filters that meet CDC guidelines (rated Merv 13, instead of Merv 10) and will be changed monthly instead of quarterly

-Ample Cubic Feet - the height of LCS elementary classroom ceilings are taller than standard ceiling heights, allowing for more cubic feet of air to help with air flow and more space

-New No Touch Faucets and Soap Dispensers - LCS will have no touch faucets and soap dispensers in all bathrooms and already has no touch air dryers in bathrooms

*Please note, these are not all of the tactics for increasing safety and these are only for the facility and do not include personal hygiene or physical distancing practices.  All of our new practices will be shared by August 1.

Is there a possibility of reducing tuition if there are many days of distance learning or with only having children/adolescents onsite half days or half weeks?

The LCS Board Finance Committee will be discussing this question and will have a decision by August 7.  The committee might include some questions for feedback in a future survey, please make sure to look for your next opportunity to give feedback.


Is the PSL Team still meeting over the summer?
The PSL Team has been reduced to a smaller group that is the PSL Executive Team.  The members of this team are: Ben Moudry, Robyn Bruggeman, Brooks Cavin, Angela Mullin, Katie Haag, Dave Zdenek, Mindy Holte, April Zoll Close, Peggy McKenna, Sarah Richardson, Aimee Horstman Olson, and Kate Thulin.

Below is the timeline for the decisions about main topics related to planning for 2020-2021 with an update for each topic.  

Area / Decision

Communication 

to Families

Notes / Details

Summer Program

  • -CH Summer Camp

  • -JH Apprenticeship

  • -E2 Farm Camp

June 18

Completed

(see more information in Update #5)

Junior High

Odyssey

July 15

JH staff working on a few different plans to meet increased safety requirements (see more information in Update #5)

Start of School

July 15

(or 30 days notice)

Completed - maintain the same annual calendar and start date 

Detailed Structure and Plan for School

August 1

(Guidance from MDE & MDH by July 31)

PSL Executive Team will be working on this plan and communicating and seeking feedback when needed

Tuition Reduction for specific situations

August 7

The Board Finance Committee is meeting this summer to discuss this question

Community Events

August 15

Events will be planned after full detailed plan of year is completed

 
If you would like to send a question or comment for the PSL Team to consider, you can send a message to PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org.

Ben Moudry
Head of School 

------------------------------------

June 18, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #5

 

 

 

Dear LCS Families,

The Planning for Safety and Learning Team has worked very hard over the past six weeks and has reached some final decisions and some preliminary decisions that I want to share with you.

When will school start?
The PSL Team recommended keeping the same start date for 2020-2021 of September 8, 2020 for Children’s House, Elementary 1, and Elementary 2; and September 1, 2020 for the Junior High for the Odyssey. The LCS Staff will return to work on August 20, 2020.

I agree with the recommendation because:

  • Consistency is important.  We will change only what we absolutely have to change and will put our energy towards making those changes.
  • We need time to plan and prepare.  The staff needs additional time for training on new protocols and time to set up environments, and time to prepare for online learning.  The administration needs to prepare the office space.  This also relates to July 27 being the date set by the state for when it will make final recommendations for schools for the fall.
  • The importance of regularity in our annual calendar and giving us more time to plan and prepare, outweighed the increased days for fresh air in the building and having extra days in case we need to close.  
  • If LCS needs to close our onsite school next year for a period of time due to COVID-19, then we will offer a new and improved Learning from Home during that time so we will not have to completely cancel school.  

What are the plans for the JH Odyssey?
We are moving forward with planning for the Odyssey and we know it will need to be different in order to meet increased safety requirements. We recognize the Odyssey is a critical experience for our Junior High students and want to be able to offer this experience. Some aspects are out of our control (whether Crow Canyon will be open) and once we have all the information, we will make a decision about what is safest for our JH community. We will notify families by July 15. 

Will LCS offer summer programs this year?
LCS is offering the following programming this summer.

  • Children’s House camp for up to 16 children using two classrooms.
  • Junior High Apprenticeships at the Land School: July 6-10 and July 20-24
  • E2 Farm Camp: Dates to be determined; we will communicate directly with E2 families.

What is the timeline for receiving decisions about dates and structure for next year?
Below is the timeline for the decisions about main topics related to planning for 2020-2021 with an update for each topic.  

Area / Decision

Communication 

to Families

Notes / Details

Summer Program

  • CH Summer Camp
  • JH Apprenticeship
  • E2 Farm Camp

June 18

Completed

(see more information above)

Junior High

Odyssey

July 15

JH staff working on a few different plans to meet increased safety requirements (see more information above)

Start of School

July 15

(or 30 days notice)

Completed - maintain the same annual calendar and start date 

Detailed Structure and Plan for School

August 1

(Guidance from MDE & MDH by July 27)

PSL Executive Team will be working on this plan and communicating and seeking feedback when needed

Community Events

August 15

Events will be planned after full detailed plan of year is completed

*We will receive guidance from MDE and MDH by July 27, so we need to be ready to adjust. See KARE 11 Article for more information.

*Decisions about Land School visits, Lac du Bois, Widji, Farmstays, and other planned classroom and level trips will be made on an ongoing basis

Survey Results
Thank you to the 155 people who completed the LCS Family Feedback Form for Planning for 2020-2021. Your responses were very helpful to the PSL Team; they helped give guidance to the team and provided many different ideas, questions, and perspectives. We also had teaching and administrative staff complete surveys.  

Ben Moudry
Head of School

If you would like to send a question or comment for the PSL Team to consider, you can send a message to PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org. 

 

 

-----------------------

 

June 11, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #4

 
Dear LCS Families,

The PSL Team is narrowing in on plans for children and adolescents on site led by our goals for safety, optimal Montessori educational practices, families’ needs, and effective logistics.

After gathering information from health experts, educational organizations, and other schools we have drafted a few different plans and are working on refining them to see what will work best to meet our goals.  At this point, we are interested in getting some feedback from families.  Your input is important and the PSL Team and LCS school leadership will take it into account as we make final decisions about the structure for onsite learning next year.  Please complete the feedback form for families linked in today's email.


This survey is the first of a few different ways the PSL Team will be gathering feedback, ideas, questions, and concerns from families before we finalize our plans.

We also wanted to share some exciting news related to summer programming:

 

  • LCS will be offering summer camp for Children’s House age children this summer and an email was sent out this afternoon to Children’s House families
  • LCS is finalizing plans for summer opportunities at the Land School; look for an email next week with more detailed information

Ben Moudry

Head of School

 
----------------------------

June 4, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #3

Dear LCS Families,

Although we are in the midst of a national crisis, we want to continue to provide you information regarding our planning for the next school year.  Since Update #2, we have clarified the key Montessori principles to guide our decisions and continued to identify and answer main questions about next year. Below are answers to three key questions and each week we will provide answers to another set of questions. If you would like to send an additional question or comment for the PSL Team to consider, you can send a message to PSLTeam@lakecountryschool.org

Key Montessori Principles

  • A well prepared learning environment that supports natural development
  • Time and space for concentrated work
  • Balance of practical and intellectual work, support work of the hand
  • Multi-age communities
  • Adult role to connect child to learning environment, inspire, and support curiosity
  • Connect child/adolescent to the natural world and human story
  • Support key human developments at different stages of life
  • Lessons about peace and justice, working through conflict, living in community
  • Provide multi-sensory experiences and move from concrete to abstract, whole to parts

Key Questions & Answers

Is the school fully enrolled for 20-21?

A:       Currently, LCS is fully enrolled at 306 students for the 20-21 school year (with a wait list). This is great news and underscores the value that LCS provides to current and prospective families.

Are some of (my child’s) teachers or staff choosing not to return because of COVID-19?

A:       Currently, no faculty or staff are choosing not to return to LCS in the fall due to COVID-19. We remain in close communication with all faculty and staff to ensure that we understand individuals’ questions/concerns, and that the school’s expectations for returning in the fall are as clear as possible.

What is the timeline for receiving information about next year?

A:       JH Odyssey: The school will communicate a decision about the JH Odyssey as soon as possible, no later than July 15

Start of School: We will notify families if the school start date is changed as soon as possible, no later than July 15 (or 30 days prior to the planned start date).

School Year: We will also notify families of our new safety protocols by August 1.
We are forecasting a few basic scenarios for which to plan: all onsite full time, rotating groups onsite part time, or all learning from home full time. Whatever school looks like next year, it will be carefully planned and thoughtfully implemented. It will also meet the requirements of state and local public health officials and take into account the recommendations of the CDC.

Current Topics and Work of the PSL Team

  • Finalizing a timeline for all key decisions
  • Summer camps at urban and rural campuses
  • Survey to all staff about working onsite
  • Annual calendar
  • Health and Safety protocols at the urban and rural campuses
    • Movement of people
    • Facilities 
    • Cleaning
  • Onsite learning environments and weekly schedules
  • Learning from Home and Technology
  • Overnight experiences
  • Community events 
  • Admissions

Ben Moudry
Head of School

---------------------------

May 21, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Update #2

Dear LCS Families,

The special committee that was created a couple weeks ago now has a name: the Planning for Safety and Learning Team (PSL Team).  The PSL Team had a good week of research, goal setting, staff engagement, and much more.  This update will inform you of the principles and values guiding the committee, the main goals and vision of success, the structure, its membership, and next steps.

Guiding Principles and Values
The team started its work by reviewing LCS’s mission and values (see below).  At the center of our mission and values is supporting the development of children and adolescents and supporting families.  

LCS Mission
Lake Country School is a Montessori learning environment that fosters independence, critical thinking, and creativity within each child. We are a community that promotes diversity and inclusion, as well as respect and responsibility to self, to others, and to the earth.

LCS Values - Montessori Pedagogy, Love of Work, Peaceful Community, and Stewardship

Goals and Vision for Success
After reaffirming the principles and values, the team set the following goals and vision for planning the 2020-2021 school year

  1. Safety and Well-Being
  2. Montessori Education (hands-on, self-paced, collaborative, joyful, social/emotional)
  3. Clarity, Simplicity, Order, and Beauty
  4. Proactive Work and Plans to React
  5. A Collaborative, Connected, and Interdependent Community
  6. Stable and Secure


Structure of PSL Team

The PSL Team has five committees.  The committees will gather resources and information, identify concerns, and suggest solutions for their specific area of focus.  

The committees are: 

  • Safety, Protocols, and Logistics
  • Onsite Learning Environment
  • Learning from Home & Technology
  • Communications
  • Calendar and Events

PSL Team Members
The PSL Team is composed of 21 people with representation of administrative staff, teaching staff, and parents/guardians (some of whom are board members), as well as a school nurse. 

Administrative Staff

Teaching Staff

Parents / Guardians

Board Members

Lucinda Anderson (Admissions)
Brooks Cavin (Asst. Principal)
Katie Haag (Development)
Sarah Holden (nurse)
Ben Moudry (HoS)
Angela Mullin (Office Admin)
Andrea Paulet (Comm)

Mindy Holte (E2)
Peggy McKenna (CH)
Rachel Morris (CH)
Sarah Richardson (E1,E2, JH)
Courtney Semke (CH, E1)
Kirstin Seterdahl (E2 & JH)
April Zoll Close (E1)
Land School staff 

Aimee Horstman Olson (JH)
Gretchen Pick (E1, E2)
Kate Thulin (CH)

Minna Brooks (CH, E1)
Robyn Bruggeman
Eli Kramer (E1, E2)
Anne Nickel Hage (E2, JH)
Kyra Schmitt (E2)

Next Steps
The team will continue to get guidance from strategic local, national, and international resources about opening school safely and with optimal learning practices. Along with our mission and values, we will be guided by information from these outside sources. The PSL Team will continue to communicate weekly with the LCS community to share updates about its work, timelines, and decisions.

Our objectives for next week are to: 

  • Review the key Montessori principles identified by staff and use those for planning  
  • Get feedback from staff about possible scenarios for onsite learning practices
  • Begin to draft policies, procedures, and solutions to issues

In the next few weeks, the PSL Team will ask for feedback from families about possible scenarios to help us understand your ideas, opinions, and concerns.  Look for more information about ways to give feedback in future updates.

Ben Moudry
Head of School

-------------------------- 

May 14, 2020
Subject: 2020-2021 Planning Updates

Dear LCS Families,

Although we are in an unusual situation with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are getting back into the usual rhythm of life within our school community. We are finalizing plans for end of year events, welcoming in new families, and preparing for the summer. 

Something that is different though is how we are planning for next year. Last week, LCS created a special committee to support the school in planning for how to implement different possible scenarios for school next year, specifically how and when children and adolescents can return to having school onsite. This committee is composed of 21 people with equal representation of administrative staff, teaching staff, and parents/guardians (some of whom are board members), as well as a school nurse. This committee will meet weekly and has subcommittees for safety protocols, onsite learning environments, communication, calendar & events, and the learning from home approach.

The committee’s work is informed by local, national, and international experts in the fields of health and safety, Montessori education, independent schools, and distance learning (including technology). These connections will help LCS chart a deliberate and well informed course for next year.  Plotting this course will be based on broad experience with an in-depth knowledge of all factors related to living in a world with COVID-19, primarily safety and Montessori education.  Our plan for next year will also be informed by feedback from LCS families, specifically your feelings, thoughts, and needs.  Look for a survey in our next weekly update to give your feedback so we can create a plan that meets our community’s needs.

We all want to know definitively how children and adolescents will go to school at LCS next year and we want it now or very soon.  However, we also logically know it does not make sense to make a final decision now, months before the start of school when there is new information every week about managing safety with COVID-19. Although there is an ever changing landscape, we can forecast a few basic scenarios for which to plan: all onsite full time,  rotating groups onsite part time, or all learning from home full time. Whatever school looks like next year, it will be carefully planned and thoughtfully implemented.  It will also meet the requirements of state and local public health officials and take into account the recommendations of the CDC.   

We do know and you can rely upon our decisions to be aligned with LCS’s mission, vision, and values. We will continue to be the school we all love.  A special place that families seek and are grateful to join because of our support and respect the natural development of children and adolescents. 

When you chose LCS you chose a place that values problem solving, facing difficulties, and growth through challenge; all within a community context. We are built for this situation and will get through it together; stronger, more capable, and more connected.

Ben Moudry
Head of School

Mission Statement

Lake Country School is a Montessori learning environment that fosters independence, critical thinking, and creativity within each child. We are a community that promotes diversity and inclusion, as well as respect and responsibility to self, to others, and to the earth.

Contact Us

3755 Pleasant Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Phone 612.827.3707
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