March 27, 2020
Dear Larchmont Charter School Families,
We hope you are staying healthy and safe. As we finish the second week of adjusting to remote learning, we’re mindful of how much our world has changed in such a short time and how much we miss being able to be on campus with your students and all those warm moments in class, and at morning sing and assembly.
We have a lot to update you on as we head into this week of “full shutdown” for students so our staff can catch their breath, reflect on how things have gone to date, and refine our plans to provide high-quality instruction remotely for potentially the remainder of the year. We know there have been ups and downs to date, but I’m confident that the work our school leaders have done this week and will be doing with their teachers next week, will ensure all of our kids are engaged and learning at a high level upon return from break. We envision sharing a website with you that has academic info in one place with a clear daily schedule, links to and tutorials on the tech involved, streamlined protocols for attending live class meetings, completing and submitting work and getting feedback on it, etc.
As a mom of 3 kids in 2nd, 5th and 6th grade, with two working parents at home, I know how challenging this juggling act is. I also know that for our youngest students, in particular, the transition has been really tough. Our elementary team is factoring that into their planning to ensure that the daily structure has routines and assignments students can complete with minimal parent support knowing you’re trying to work, too. We’re designing distance learning at Larchmont to ensure both high expectations and flexibility/compassion, recognizing that students won’t always be able to attend every live session or submit every assignment on time due to lots of circumstances beyond their control. Again thank you so much for your support and patience during such a challenging time for us all.
I want to update you on several specific things:
Let us know if you need help – Please CLICK HERE to let us know if you need help (with technology/wifi/programs, food, housing, employment, etc. – we’ve learned of tons of resources and are happy to guide you and connect you).
Congratulations to our amazing seniors! – Our seniors are getting accepted to all kinds of great schools across the country including our first acceptance to the Ivy League Columbia University, UCs all over the state and many more phenomenal schools. Congratulations!!
Help for our community – Thank you so much to all of you who stepped forward to help your fellow Larchmont families in need – collectively you donated so generously and we were able to distribute over $2,000 in gift cards and home-cooked meals made by our ESY team to families this week. Thank you! Click here if you’d like to support this effort.
What’s the impact of the closure on budget and fundraising? – Many have asked what this closure has meant for Larchmont’s budget since we were already facing a shortfall before this. Thankfully the Governor fully funded public schools during closure so we’re able to pay our staff, rent, and bills. Many of our expenses are being reduced from not being in session, however, some costs have increased.
We also know we won’t be able to have our annual Gala & Silent Auction, which is one of our major fundraisers and will leave a substantial gap in our budget. We will be reaching out next week to share the vision for an alternative fundraiser and we hope that families will generously support as they’re able.
We are planning for multiple scenarios next year since we won’t know until mid-May what the projected impact is on the 2020-21 state funding for schools given the economic impact of COVID-19. We anticipate the coming year will be tough financially (as it will be for so many throughout CA and the world) but we will get through it – we’re a strong community and school and one that pulls together when times are tough.
Welcome new Larchmont families – this is the time of year when we’re usually touring newly accepted families and welcoming them to Larchmont. Since we can’t do that in person, we’d love to collect testimonials from you all, our currently enrolled families, to share with prospective families on why you’d encourage them to send their child to Larchmont. Please let us if you’d be willing to share a story and reach out to warmly welcome new families either with an email or phone call HERE. Thank you!
I’m including some helpful resources HERE for families struggling right now and great advice on how to help keep your kids learning until we’re back from break and to talk to them about COVID-19 HERE.
Thank you so much for all you do to make Larchmont great.
Stay healthy and well.
March 16, 2020
Dear Larchmont Charter School Community,
We hope you are staying healthy and safe amidst this unprecedented new reality we all find ourselves in. We’ve been hard at work preparing, planning and coordinating today to get you more clarity and support with our way forward.
Thank you for the care and concern you all have expressed toward our Larchmont family with siblings at Hollygrove and Selma who has a relative with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. The Kindergarten student tested negative for Influenza, but a fever attributed to an unresolved infection resulted in pneumonia in his lungs. The student is being treated with antibiotics. In an abundance of caution, the physicians tested the student for COVID-19 and we just received word that the student has tested negative!! We’re so relieved for the family and our community.
Following CDC guidelines and in accordance with physician recommendations, the other family members including the 5th-grade student at Selma and the parents were not tested based on the absence of symptoms and low-risk levels. The entire family is in a 14-day quarantine.
LACDPH was in contact with Esmeralda Sandoval, Larchmont’s Director of Compliance & Operations, late in the day Friday and took down all of the information, forwarded it to their Acute Communicable Disease Division and committed to circle back to us soon with further information and direction. We have not heard back yet but will notify the community with any new directives or information. We are resharing this link that provides guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health about how to proceed in the event of possible exposure http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/FAQ-Exposure.pdf. This is additional guidance from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#symptoms.
We’re also very fortunate to have access to an Infectious Disease expert in our community who is willing to answer the community’s questions. Please click HERE to ask any questions you have and we’ll collect them, compile them and get them to him for answers as he’s able.
We’re writing now with the updates we’re able to provide at this point in time:
1) CLOSURE LENGTH & SPRING BREAK - We closed on Friday, 3/13 both due to the case associated with our community and the county-wide call to close LA schools. Spring break is still scheduled for 4/6-4/17. We have not moved spring break. This initial closure is slated for 2 weeks following the timeline of the rest of LA schools as we all track how this pandemic unfolds. We do anticipate and are hearing that it will likely extend beyond that time and likely at least through spring break given the CDC’s call to avoid gatherings larger than 10 people for the next 15 days and the aggressive push on social distancing. We will keep you posted on that as we have more information.
2) LEARNING REMOTELY - Given how long this could last we are working hard to map out solid instructional plans to ensure students keep learning remotely while not able to attend school physically. Teachers will be using video conferencing. Families, please click here only if you wish to opt-out of video conferencing https://forms.gle/YyDB4kp2ZjJsh2s86. School Leaders are working with teachers to detail these plans and will be reaching out to you with more specific information. The overview is as follows:
At the elementary level teachers will do a morning meeting each day with their class via Zoom or Google Hangouts or Google Meet where they’ll review the daily set of assignments (these will be staggered by grade level to accommodate siblings); teachers will then check in with each student/family at least once per week to check on progress, questions, etc.
At the 5-12 level, teachers are posting daily assignments on Google Classroom (or the equivalent), offering office hours to answer questions and provide support to students, and updating grades on PowerSchool weekly.
At all levels, the teachers and school leaders are working on longer-term plans should this closure extend beyond two weeks. They’re also focused on ensuring that virtual parent-teacher conferences happen (albeit on an extended timeline) and that IEP services and meetings continue to the extent possible (for students with IEPs, your education specialist will be in contact with you if they haven’t already).
3) RESOURCES - There are a lot of resources for families throughout Los Angeles we want to share with you (we will post many more resources on our website within the next couple of days). HERE is a long list of resources covering food, employment, tech, education, housing, utilities, mental health services & more.
4) FREE/REDUCED MEALS FOR PICK UP - For families wishing to have their students continue to receive lunch while we’re closed, we are in the process of assessing and planning a daily pickup system. In the meantime, LAUSD will be opening Grab and Go Food Centers beginning 3/18 between the hours of 7am - 10am. To find the nearest location go to: https://achieve.lausd.net/resources.
If Larchmont is able to provide a grab and go style lunch for your student, or if you need other assistance, please click here to let us know. We are assessing the most effective means of support our staff - and our community - can offer during this closure.
5) HELPING OUR COMMUNITY – Click here https://forms.gle/QXJapaoVXQw3osjp6 if you’re interested in helping families in need in our community or if you have resources to share. We’ve had offers of tutoring, of technology and more. Thank you!! We’re trying to do our part as a school. With the waiver and ability to continue to receive state funding we’ve committed to pay all of our staff during this closure (even those who are funded by the lunch and ASP programs).
6) SPECIAL EDUCATION - Larchmont is committed to providing support to our students with special needs. While the global community’s goal is keeping everyone healthy and safe through social distancing, we have to balance that with Larchmont’s goal of providing support for our continuity of education plan. All education specialists are reaching out to students with a disability regarding options on how to receive support while they are accessing their distance learning. Related services will be offered virtually, and providers are also reaching out to families. If you have questions, please reach out to Myra Salinas at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tracy Erland-Zehnder at email@example.com.
Thanks so much for your understanding, flexibility and patience during this turbulent time. We’ll get through this – working together.
Larchmont Charter School Leadership & Network Team