COVID-19 Resources & Updates for Our Community

 

Portland Waldorf School is actively monitoring information from local and state public health officials. This page contains updates about the school related to COVID-19 as they evolve. Decisions of when and how to reopen school buildings need to be rooted in health and safety and reflect available staffing and resources.

Given the complex and changing situation, we encourage families to keep abreast of the latest information from health agencies and the bodies with jurisdiction over public and private schools in Oregon. You can find additional education and school resources here as well. Current families can access the school calendar, students’ daily schedules and other resources and materials via PWSConnect.

 

HOW WE ARE NAVIGATING THE 2020 – 2021 SCHOOL YEAR 

 

Distance Learning & Emergency Childcare

In response to the pandemic and with guidance from ODE, ELD and OHA, Portland Waldorf School will begin the school year for High School and Grades 4-12 in Distance Learning. Early Childhood classes will operate under Emergency Childcare Guidelines with classes primarily outdoors 5 days a week. Grades 1-3, with reduced class sizes, will operate under Emergency Childcare Guidelines on campus Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with at-home Distance Learning on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

When county and state metrics allow, PWS will transition into a Hybrid Learning Model with different classes and cohorts on campus on different days. 

Modified Remote Option

We realize that some families may prefer their students remain home even when metrics are met. For those in Grades 1-8 we are offering a Modified Remote Option with online Main Lesson curriculum only and reduced cost. Students in the high school will be able to observe campus based lessons from home using a laptop computer to watch live-stream or recorded videos of the classroom.

 

COUNTY & STATE METRICS

We are fortunate to live in Oregon where guidance for reopening schools is data and science driven. ODE, OHA and the Governor’s Office have created specific metrics for re-opening that apply to all private and public schools. PWS will monitor the metrics and prepare for the hybrid return to campus when we are able.

The metrics include state and county test positivity rates of 5% or less as well as fewer than 30 reported new cases in the county per 100,000 residents. All metrics must be met for three consecutive weeks for in-person learning to occur. Teachers will take an additional two weeks to prepare before classes transition to the hybrid schedule on-site at PWS.

During Distance Learning some Limited On-site Instruction is also permitted in order to support the social, emotional, relational and educational health of our students. Groups of fewer than 10 students meeting for less than 2 hours with health and safety precautions in place may meet on campus. Teachers will communicate about these opportunities as they arise. Students will not be required to attend.

Metric Resources

 

EVENTS & FESTIVALS

PWS is making decisions about holding or canceling events and festivals with an abundance of caution, based on the most current information from the Oregon Health Authority and the Clackamas County Public Health Division. Unfortunately most gatherings or festivals that would include large numbers of students or adults from multiple cohorts gathering together will not be possible. We are working to maintain a lively and meaningful festival life in alternative ways. Be sure to check emails for communications regarding festival and event updates.

 

HEALTH SCREENINGS & DAILY CHECK-INS

We ask that parents and students use the Daily Health Screening Checklist to self-check before arriving on campus. If you find that your student has any symptom described on the screening checklist, please have them remain home. This checklist will be used each day by the teacher to allow student entry to the classroom. The teacher will also take each child’s temperature upon arrival with a no-touch thermometer. This process is needed for the health and safety of students, teachers, and families.

Once your child has been checked in, please avoid congregating on campus. Please remember that parents may not enter the school building or the school store. Spring Creek Store items are available online. If a student becomes sick during the day, they need to be picked up within forty minutes of receiving a call.

 

SUPPORTING THE HEALTH OF OUR WHOLE COMMUNITY

At Portland Waldorf School…

  • We have a Pandemic Response Team tasked with monitoring the news, state and county guidance, delegating tasks, and developing communications for parents and staff.
  • We are augmenting our standard practices around cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Teachers have additional supplies in classrooms to clean and disinfect their spaces each day; common areas like railings, door handles, faucets and light switches will be addressed daily by facilities/admin staff.
  • You will hear from us when there is urgent or breaking news. Because of the volume of questions and concerns we are receiving, please understand if we cannot respond immediately to emails and voicemails around what the school is doing. Please look for weekly emails, and allow us to focus our time and attention on the work itself.
  • We will be extra vigilant around enforcing our sickness policy. While parents may elect to keep their child home at any time as a precautionary measure, teachers and staff are being asked to send any child home who is not feeling well enough to participate in class or who exhibits any symptom on the Daily Health Screening.
  • We are asking teachers and staff to stay or work from home if they are feeling unwell. Thank you for your patience and understanding if your child has more substitutes than expected, or if class plans need to be altered.
  • Our teachers are overseeing and reinforcing proper hand-washing protocols in the classroom and as bathroom reminders. 

 

We ask our parents…

  • To consider the various trips, gatherings, and events on their calendars and follow the guidelines of the OHA and CDC in order to help keep our whole community safe and healthy.
  • To be extra mindful when talking to their children about this coronavirus, especially in regard to age-appropriate levels of information and anxiety. See the Resources section below for articles that may help.
  • To please oversee and reinforce proper hand washing protocols with their children. Please emphasize with your children that they should cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbows, and refrain from touching their faces as much as possible.
  • To also focus on factors that support human health and well-being. Eating a nutritious diet, dressing warmly, getting enough restorative sleep and outdoor time, and taking care of underlying health conditions all strengthen our immune systems. In our busy schedules, these things can often fall to the side, even with our little ones. Taking the extra time to slow down and attend to our bodies’ needs is one of the best things we can do, with benefits no amount of bleach can match.

 

FACE COVERINGS

We wear face coverings as a gesture of caring and mutual respect. We want to keep our families and our staff healthy. All students 5 years and older are required to wear a face covering on campus. The face covering can be a cloth covering from nose to chin, a clear face shield, or a face covering from nose to chin with a clear covering over the mouth. It is expected that re-usable face coverings be washed daily.

When students are sitting for an extended period of time, outside, at least six feet apart, teachers are permitted to invite students to remove their face coverings for a period of seated time. This is at the discretion of the teacher. Students will not be required to remove their face coverings. Students will be required to put their face covering on again before standing and/or moving around. Children will not wear face coverings while eating or napping. Please review face covering use with your student/s.

To keep everyone safe, we ask our community to wear a face covering anywhere on campus, including the grounds around the school. Face coverings are not required for adults remaining in their cars or at curbside drop-off if you are able to maintain 6 foot distancing from other families.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Health Organizations/Information

 

Local Authorities

 

PWS Operations

 

Family Resources

(Current parents can find additional information on the PWSConnect Resource tab on the PWS Educational Resource page)

 

PREVIOUS COMMUNICATIONS TO OUR COMMUNITY

 

In addition to our Operation Blueprint below, we have gathered together all of our communications from our Leadership Team, School Chair and Board.

7/28/20 Letter from the Leadership Team
Dear Parents,
If the past several months have taught us anything, it is vigilance. With information about the virus changing at such a rapid place, we are becoming used to a rhythm of research, reassessment and revision.
Members of the Leadership Team and COVID-19 Response Team have spent hours over the past weeks walking through the many scenarios of a school day on campus. We’ve consulted sister schools about their creative solutions, and spoken with faculty and families in our community who have raised new questions. Most significant, we have met with folks from the ODE and OHA, including state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, to discuss the top predictions for this virus come fall.
It is in light of all of these things that PWS will be requiring face coverings for all faculty and staff, and all students age 5 and older, both inside our buildings and on our grounds. To be clear, the wearing of masks indoors is a state requirement; the decision to wear them outdoors regardless of distancing is ours. With every bit of data we have at our disposal today, we cannot in good conscience reach any other conclusion. The risk to our adult community members, in addition to our students, is too great.
Below is a graphic from page 24 of Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners plan. Both face coverings and face shields will be allowed at PWS, and barriers will be installed in offices as appropriate. A limited number of disposable masks will be available at school, and everyone in attendance will be asked to launder or change their masks at least daily. In choosing face coverings for your student, please remember the spirit of our learning environment and our dress code policy, and choose fabrics without distracting images, logos, or text.
Please know we make this decision in confidence, out of responsibility to our entire community. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support, and look forward to a time when such precautions will not be necessary.
Sincerely,
Jamie Quirk
on behalf of the Leadership Team
7/24/20 Letter from the Leadership Team

 

Dear Parents,
We appreciate your patience as we continue working on the many decisions and preparations that must be made in advance of September 1. We hope you are eager to join us for another year; however if you need to make another decision, please note that all withdrawals must be received by midnight on July 31 in order for deposits to be refunded. Please understand that the details in this letter represent the best of our knowledge at the time of writing; as you know, guidelines are subject to change, and additional information will be shared as it becomes available.
We are planning to host an online forum for clarifying questions as part of our back-to-school agenda. However, if you would like to request a personal conversation before making your enrollment commitment, please contact the Leadership Team as soon as possible.
General Updates
  • We are well into the process of approving, sourcing, and implementing upgrades to our indoor facilities that will allow us to maximize safe onsite learning. This includes replacing windows (starting with the first floor) and screens as part of a plan to enhance indoor ventilation in the lower school.
  • Classroom locations are being assigned according to class size, square footage and proximity to restrooms, and may not be the same as they would in a typical year. Students will not change classrooms during the day, with all lessons occurring within the same indoor space or outdoors.
  • We are also upgrading our outdoor facilities to accommodate increased time outside. We are planning for covered structures that can house students on our basketball court as well as at Walnut Hill and elsewhere. Please note that we consider the primary advantage of our 7-acre campus to be the ability to space out individual groups of children; not all 7 acres are usable for lessons depending on the season/weather, ground condition, proximity to road or rail, and other factors.
  • Health screenings will need to happen each day that students come to campus, and this necessity will affect our dropoff protocol as well as late arrival policy and sickness policy. We are still mapping this out, but please expect that punctuality and communication will be more important than ever.
  • Regarding masks, we are keeping up with state guidelines and staying mindful of our social responsibility to the community at large. At this time all teachers and staff will be required to wear masks indoors when they are interacting with others; students in grades 5-12 must wear masks indoors (and outdoors if appropriate distance cannot be ensured). Although the governor’s recent orders included masks indoors for children age 5 and older, this does not apply to schools operating under an Early Learning Division license.
  • In part because of our survey results (thank you, everyone!) and in part because of our limited resources this year, we will not be able to offer an extended day program (3-5:30pm) for the foreseeable future. We know this will be an inconvenience for parents who must still work outside the home but hope we can restore this service when we can ensure its quality and safety.
  • Only essential staff will be permitted in the buildings for the foreseeable future. No visitors will be admitted unless absolutely necessary, and those individuals will need to adhere to a strict protocol involving hand sanitizing, face covering, and sign-in for tracing purposes. This includes parents, volunteers, and tutors. Please consider making arrangements now for your child to have their tutoring offsite, or for your volunteer contributions to be made outdoors or remotely.
Phase 1 & Phase 2
To reiterate, PWS is opting to follow Clackamas County’s plans for reopening businesses and civic centers in terms of returning all classes to campus. Please consult the table below for planned days on campus.
Early Childhood
In a government shutdown, we will continue operating in 10-student cohorts under our Emergency Childcare License; however, the Clackamas County Public Health Division does have the authority to shut us down at any time due to an outbreak in the local community.
Grades
Outdoor learning will focus on social and movement activities, such as recess, Living Lab, etc. We wish to keep as many families as possible connected to the school this year. To accommodate these families who do not feel safe coming to campus, a modified remote option will be offered for grades 1-8, with details to be shared as soon as they are finalized. Please email leadershipteam@portlandwaldorf.org with your questions!
High School
Please refer to the previous emails sent by the high school for specific information about our reopening plans. If you have questions regarding your high school student, please contact Shanti McCarter.
Through our ongoing dialogue with parents, teachers and staff, we are reminded how diverse a community we are, with varied backgrounds and perspectives. Although PWS must follow ODE and OHA regulations concerning health and safety, as a Waldorf school the decisions we make are with that diversity in mind—they must take into account our responsibilities to one another, the children and the community at large. We plan to include an agreement with our back-to-school communications next month for parents to sign; in this way we can be assured that each family understands this year’s policies and is choosing to uphold them out of this shared responsibility.
Warm regards,
Jamie Quirk, Connie Stokes and Elizabeth Webber
PWS Leadership Team
7/17/20 Letter from the Leadership Team

 

Dear Parents,
What’s the plan? This is the question on everyone’s minds, and the focus of much work this summer here at PWS—our Covid Response Team and Leadership Team have been meeting with teachers and staff each week to work through the state’s blueprint and translate the latest guidelines for our unique community. Our main goal: to offer the safest, most socially responsible program possible, upholding the essential principles of Waldorf education as well as the health and safety guidelines from the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority. Out of consideration for each other and the community at large, PWS has chosen to align its hybrid model with Clackamas County’s phases for reopening businesses and civic services.
Phase 1: If Clackamas County is in Phase 1 on August 25, the school year will begin as follows:
  • Early Childhood: On campus as an Emergency Child Care center with a mostly outdoor program (stable cohorts of 10 students or fewer). No remote program offered.
  • Grades 1-5: A hybrid model combining on-campus/home, indoor/outdoor, and instruction/projects at home (details and schedule TBA).
  • Grades 6-12: Remote learning with occasional scheduled times on campus for small social and movement activities.
Phase 2: When Clackamas County is in Phase 2, we will proceed with an all-school hybrid model:
  • Early Childhood: On campus with a mostly outdoor program.
  • Grades 1-5: A hybrid model combining on-campus/home, indoor/outdoor, and instruction/projects at home (details and schedule TBA).
  • Grades 6-12: On campus 2-3 days a week; option for high school students to continue remote learning for remainder of year, possibly extended to grades 7-8.
In all sections, and for all phases, teachers will maximize outdoor opportunities. We are currently planning options for semi-permanent structures, such as tents and canopies, that can provide a lower risk environment for subjects such as movement and games, applied arts, and Living Lab.
At this moment, we are requiring that teachers and staff wear face coverings indoors and out. Students in grades 6-12 will be required to wear face coverings as well; these could be transparent face shields or masks, and are important for helping everyone feel protected and respected.
 
We are still discussing many other details, including whether we can provide an extended day/aftercare option through 5:30pm. You can help our team by taking this two-question survey by Monday, July 20. We plan to share written updates and additional resources by July 27, and again in early August. We’re also considering an additional community meeting before September (via Zoom) to address clarifying questions. In the meantime, please contact one of us at leadershipteam@portlandwaldorf.org if you have an urgent concern.
Warm regards,
Jamie Quirk, Director of Advancement
Connie Stokes, Pedagogical Support and Operations Supervisor
Elizabeth Webber, College Chair

 

Letter from the College Chair

April 30, 2020
Dear Friends,

As we enter the final stretch of our 2019-2020 academic year, we look forward to and plan for the bright light at the end of a tunnel. While we cannot predict what the future looks like, there is one thing of which we are certain: our commitment to the children and families of Portland Waldorf School.

Teachers in all sections of our school are in continual conversation with one another and with Waldorf schools across North America and around the world. In these conversations, we are asking ourselves and each other how we can adapt to our new circumstances—by adjusting our practices and offerings to meet individual student needs and the needs of the whole class, all while accepting the invitation to question and recommit to the essential principles of Waldorf Education.

Though we cannot predict what awaits us in the summer or fall, we carefully consider and plan for options. These options include opening our doors in September as usual (we are, of course, holding this as our intention), being forced to delay opening the school in the fall, or opening our doors in the fall and having to close them again. The two latter options would require a focused and deliberate plan for continuing learning beyond the classroom. And, we are dedicated to this task.

Again and again, we have heard from parents that what is needed at this time is connection. We, too, feel that need. We now realize that it is necessary for us to use the tools and technology at our disposal to remain connected with our students during this time. Educators in every section of our school have been reflecting upon what is best for the children of their classes and have adjusted accordingly, sometimes incrementally—offering a curriculum that is authentic, heartfelt and meaningful.

Naturally, this looks different depending on the developmental stage of the child. In early childhood classrooms, teachers create handmade items to deliver at student homes, share audio stories and offer support to parents. In the grades, depending again upon age, teachers share audio and video lessons and meet with whole classes and small groups on Zoom, in addition to offering traditional assignments. Our high school teachers were the first to take up this new way of teaching, and they continue to strive toward engaging and challenging their students using live Zoom classes and the online PWSConnect platform.

Please know that while not in the same physical space with the students, we as teachers persist in taking up our work through our own study, meditations on the children in our classes, preparation of content, review of assignments and collaboration with colleagues. When the faculty and staff of our school meet every Thursday, we recite the following verse from Rudolf Steiner: “Imbue thyself with the power of imagination. Have courage for the truth. Sharpen thy feeling for responsibility of soul.”

Indeed, imagination is needed to envision Waldorf education in a new way, courage is needed to acknowledge each other’s truths and compromise as needed, and our responsibility of soul is to meet the heart connection with our children and families with empathy, compassion and grace during this uncertain time.

Our teachers and administrative staff send you warm wishes for your health and well-being.

Elizabeth Webber
Chair, College of Teachers

Our educational plans for the remainder of the school year:

Early Childhood

  • Communications will vary using emails, PWSConnect, audio recorded stories, video-recorded activities, phone calls, podcasts, and video conferencing.
  • Craft and coffee morning will be offered by Ms. Jenny at 10:00am on Thursdays.
  • Woodworking tutorial (video-recorded) will be offered by Mr. Shay for the rising first graders.
  • Video-recorded circle time will be offered by Ms. Jessica.
  • Teachers will continue to be available Monday through Friday between 8:30am and1:30pm and by appointment to answer questions and have individual conversations by phone or email. Please reach out to your individual teachers.
  • Age-appropriate materials for end of year projects will be hand-delivered some time during the month of May.
  • Adult education gatherings by video conferencing will be offered and led by Ms. Kristin and Ms. Lisa on Mondays from 8:15 to 9:15pm through May.
  • Seasonal festival projects will be prepared with details communicated by individual teachers.
  • Parents of rising first graders will receive a written report as a follow up to your individual parent-teacher conference. The younger children’s reports will be done through verbal communication in a parent-teacher conference.

Grades 1-8

  • Communications with students will vary depending on the student’s grade level and the teacher’s approach. They will include email, phone calls, PWSConnect, audio stories, video lessons, live lessons using Zoom, and podcasts.
  • Communication with parents will be mainly by email, phone, video conferencing and PWSConnect.
  • Subject teachers will work closely with each morning lesson teacher to coordinate the most effective approach in teaching their subject, whether it is world language, handwork, woodwork, math in grades 6-8, music, or LivingLab.
  • The educational support staff will work with parents and teachers in offering additional services for students in need of support.
  • Delivery of materials will be through packets picked up or delivered, audio, video, or PDF files.
  • Teachers are available during their regular office hours or by appointment. Please reach out to your teacher if you need to have a discussion. They are there to offer support.
  • End-of-year reports will be written as usual with some adjustments for mid-March to the end of the school year.
  • An all section calendar of live time meetings and lessons will be available for teachers to be aware of other teacher’s assignments.

Grades 9-12

  • Students will continue with their main lessons in humanities, math, world language and life skills courses, and will be required to work on a teacher supervised art project each week.
  • Lesson instruction will vary depending on the subject and the teacher’s approach. They will include audio and video recorded lessons, in print or digital, live lessons using Zoom, online research and hands-on projects. All assignments will be posted and submitted using PWSConnect.
  • Students will meet with their personal advisor and class sponsor each once per week.
  • Teachers will be available for more personalized help during office hours twice per week. Communication with parents will be mainly by email and PWSConnect, with phone and video conferencing as needed.
  • The educational support staff will offer weekly supported study halls for students needing extra support with online learning.
  • Tech support staff are on-call to offer support for technical difficulties.
  • Delivery of materials will be through packets picked up or mailed, audio files, video files, PDF files or via Google Docs.
  • End of year reports will be written as usual with some adjustments for mid-March to the end of the school year.

The last two weeks of school and end of year activities.

  • In lieu of class trips and field trips, the educational program will continue as described above and individual communications with your student’s teacher.
  • We are still working on plans for 12th grade graduation, 8th grade promotion, rainbow bridge and closing ceremony. More information will be sent at the end of May.
Message to EC Parents, April 2020

April 1, 2020

Dear Early Childhood Families,

We miss seeing the joyous spirits of the children and your shining faces each day. While apart, we have created a plan to continue your Waldorf education at home. The form for the plan will be shared individually by your teacher. We encourage you to use the information as you see fit for your family and daily home schedule. Choose what works best and leave the rest.

Among the most important aspects for the young child are predictability (rhythm), play and presence. In these uncertain times we are hopeful that we can partner with you to offer support.

Until we are together again your family is in our hearts and minds.

Warmly,

Jessica Banks, Lisa Kimball, Kristin Luce, Jenny Nielson, and Shay Roselip
PWS Early Childhood Teachers

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Early Childhood
Continuation of Early Childhood School Experiences at Home
Teachers will continue to offer weekly emails, weekly activities with a list of materials, seasonal songs, rhymes, seasonal stories, and seasonal activities (cooking, crafts, nature ideas). Keep in mind that the young child learns best through lots of play time so you might want to prepare your space for creative use of your furniture and other household items. It may seem chaotic but there can be great joy and satisfaction as your child transforms your home for a short period of time. We also suggest that you incorporate the daily task of home life and including your child in these tasks can be helpful.

Communicating with the Children and Parents
During the time away from our classroom environments, we are offering a weekly class evening for all early childhood parents which will offer some inspirational themes such as child development topics supporting early childhood education, resources, some conversation on parenting themes, and how we keep our community alive and thriving during this challenging time. Other topics and question and answer sessions will also be available. The teachers will alternate facilitating the evening conversations.

Other communication vehicles may include individual phone calls, video conferencing with families and individual children, audio-taped stories, songs and poems. This will be implemented at the discretion of each teacher in communication with their individual classes.

Hopes for the Children
Our hope during this time away from each other is for the children to participate in the daily life of the family supported by the rhythm and activities provided by your teacher.

Hopes for the Parents
We hope that our offerings will support you during your 24/7 time as a family. Please review all offerings and do what works best for you as a family. The early childhood teachers will be available to support you using the various communication vehicles described above.

Commitment of Our Teachers
Teachers will be available Monday through Friday between 8:30am until 1 pm and by appointment to answer questions and have individual conversations by phone or email.

Since we are in uncharted territory, we are continuously reviewing our approaches and will be ready to revise and renew as needed. The plan is intended to be effective through April 30.

Message to Grades 1-5 Parents, April 2020

April 1, 2020

Dear Families in Grades 1-5,

For some of our students, Grounds keeping with Gardener Brendan is the highlight of each week. Brendan has no rival for getting kids to shovel bark chips. I think often of Brendan, continuing to care for our beautiful campus grounds, now a much lonelier task without the children’s help. For all of us, our routines have abruptly changed, and though, like Brendan, our tasks may be fundamentally the same, the way in which we go about them has changed.

Just as Brendan steadfastly continues to look after our campus, so too, the faculty and staff of PWS continue to look after the learning needs of the students. We have talked with other Waldorf schools around North America to find the best way to continue the PWS education at home. We adapt. We offer the PWS curriculum with love (and a little time on PWSConnect). Though I dearly wish I could send Gardener Brendan to all of our houses, to get us to shovel that metaphorical pile of bark chips (to finish that page of math, to write that spelling list), we will have to find our inner Brendan, the voice that gives us strength to do what needs to be done.

You will find attached to this letter a summary of our plans for continuation of Waldorf Education at home for Grades 1-5. You will continue to receive regular communications from your individual class and subject teachers as well.

Be well. Celebrate each accomplishment, big or small. We are here to support you and your children.

Thank you for all that you do and all the ways that you contribute to our PWS community.

Johanna Hibbard, MFA
For Grades 1-8 Teachers

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Grades 1-5 

Continuation of Waldorf Education at Home
In this new situation the teachers hold the students and the developmental needs of each age as our highest priority. Our experience tells us that the children in Grades one through five will learn best during this time with a combination of audio lessons, paper assignments, short video clips and regular contact with their teachers. Screen time might be used for personal interactions with family and friends and occasionally with your teacher to communicate a greeting. The purpose of this work is to advance skills with new material review and practice to keep their skills sharp and enriched.

When progressing through the grades, the students are capable of greater levels of independent work. For this reason, the way each teacher approaches the educational offerings will look slightly different. In grade one, for example, the teacher will offer daily audio lessons. In grades 2-5, teachers will provide some audio content, but also augment that with daily independent work on paper.

Our education support staff will work with parents and teachers in offering additional services for students in need of support.

Communication with Students and Parents
Teachers will communicate with parents using various platforms including PWS Connect, Zoom, email, or phone calls. Teachers may have individual calls with students, and this will be arranged with parents at the teacher’s discretion. Delivery of materials may be through packets picked up or delivered, audio files, video files, or PDF files.

Expectations of Students and Parents
There will be regular communication between teacher and parent regarding how the teachers will receive and correct student work.

Students should expect to do 1-3 hours of school related work each day, 1 hour of academic work and 1-2 hours of subject classes or project-based work.

Ideally, academic work should be completed by 11am and families have the flexibility in how they create the learning environment at home.

Make an appointment with your teacher for an individual conversation.

Class and subject teachers will work together to create a balanced daily and weekly schedule.

Students should have a dedicated place and time to work at home. Following the school day schedule including snack break, lunch break and recess with be helpful when possible.

Since we are in uncharted territory, we are continuously reviewing our approaches and will be ready to revise and renew as needed. The plan is intended to be effective through April 30.

Message to Grades 6-8 Parents, April 2020

April 1, 2020

Dear Families in Grades 6-8,

For some of our students, Grounds keeping with Gardener Brendan is the highlight of each week. Brendan has no rival for getting kids to shovel bark chips. I think often of Brendan, continuing to care for our beautiful campus grounds, now a much lonelier task without the children’s help. For all of us, our routines have abruptly changed, and though, like Brendan, our tasks may be fundamentally the same, the way in which we go about them has changed.

Just as Brendan steadfastly continues to look after our campus, so too, the faculty and staff of PWS continue to look after the learning needs of the students. We have talked with other Waldorf schools around North America to find the best way to continue the PWS education at home. We adapt. We offer the PWS curriculum with love (and a little time on PWSConnect). Though I dearly wish I could send Gardener Brendan to all of our houses, to get us to shovel that metaphorical pile of bark chips (to finish that page of math, to write that spelling list), we will have to find our inner Brendan, the voice that gives us strength to do what needs to be done.

You will find attached to this letter a summary of our plans for continuation of Waldorf Education at home for Grades 6-8. You will continue to receive regular communications from your individual class and subject teachers as well.

Be well. Celebrate each accomplishment, big or small. We are here to support you and your children.

Thank you for all that you do and all the ways that you contribute to our PWS community.

Johanna Hibbard, MFA
For Grades 1-8 Teachers
Learning Beyond the Classroom: Grades 6-8

Continuation of Waldorf Education at Home
In this new situation the teachers hold the students and the developmental needs of each age as our highest priority. Our experience tells us that the students in grades 6-8 will learn best during this time with a combination of audio lessons, paper assignments, short video clips and regular contact with their teachers. Screen time might be used for personal interactions with family and friends and occasionally with your teacher to communicate a greeting. The purpose of this work is to advance skills with new material review and practice to keep their skills sharp and enriched. Our education support staff will work with parents and teachers in offering additional services for students in need of support.

Communication with Students and Parents
Teachers will communicate with parents using various platforms including PWSConnect, Zoom, email, or phone calls. Teachers may have individual calls with students, and this will be arranged with parents at the teacher’s discretion. Delivery of materials will be through packets picked up or delivered, audio files, video files, or PDF files.

Expectations of Students
Students should understand that this time away from our normal classroom experience is an important part of the school experience for this year. Students will strive to work independently and know that their parents can contact teachers with questions. Students will have opportunities speak with their teachers and a time between teacher and student will be arranged. Assignments will be submitted as assigned by the teacher.

Expectations of Parents
Provide a dedicated place and time for students to work at home. Following the school day schedule including snack break, lunch break and recess is ideal. Provide assistance as needed knowing that the intention is for your student to work independently. There will be communication between parent and educational support coordinators if your student needs tutoring or special assignments. Class teachers and subject teachers will work together to create a balanced daily and weekly schedule.

Since we are in uncharted territory, we are continuously reviewing our approaches and will be ready to revise and renew as needed. The plan is intended to be effective through April 30.

Message from the Board and School Chair, April 2020

April 2020

Dear Parents,

What a few weeks this has been! All of us have had to absorb vast changes in an exceedingly short period of time: changes for parents juggling work–or facing the loss of a job–and having children home 24/7; changes for teachers asked to transform teaching methods within just a week or two. The world is changing, too, and while no one has a crystal ball, parents, teachers and schools need to continue planning and working toward the future. The school’s leadership bodies are working to secure our financial stability. Re-enrollment is the foundation of our planning and we want to do everything we can to welcome you back when our doors reopen.

What We’ve Done
This year we expect a loss of revenue of around $200,000 (mostly from camps, aftercare, and diminished returns from our spring gala and Annual Support Campaign), but we have taken immediate actions to cut costs and keep the operating deficit as small as possible. Tightening our belts now is our best chance at being able to start next year strong. Administration has gone through our budget with a fine-toothed comb, cutting or deferring expenses throughout the school, and revisiting the terms of our contracts with vendors. The Board and Finance Committee are meeting weekly, researching the various loans, relief programs, and stimulus options, as well as what we can renegotiate, such as our mortgage on the facilities and the rent we pay to use the land next to the tracks. It is too early yet to know what these measures will yield. Finally, and most reluctantly, we’ve furloughed most of our part-time hourly faculty and staff. Depending on how enrollment numbers for the fall progress, additional cuts may be necessary.

While we are still discussing how best to get through spring, the Board of Trustees is also busy developing strategies for navigating an uncertain fall. Most significantly, we don’t know when our campus will reopen and we don’t know how many families will rejoin us when it does. Most of our trustees are also parents and we understand the hardship and anxiety you may be experiencing. We want to offer all the support we can, while working to ensure the school’s financial and physical stability. We expect that the campus will remain closed through June, and that summer programs will be canceled. We will confirm these dates as soon as we can. We will also wait a bit to make decisions about end of the year events such as promotions and graduations, holding out for better news. The end of April will likely bring more clarity. It is next year that poses the greatest challenge.

How You Can Help
The Finance Committee, chaired by trustee Oliver Schramm and consisting of administration, trustees, faculty and parents, is examining what accommodations we can offer in light of parents’ shifting finances; our goal is to maintain our community and find ways to allow families to return who need greater flexibility. To this end, we are waiving both the re-enrollment deadline and any associated fees. If you are able to make a commitment to next year, we would be grateful to know. In the next week, we also plan to survey families on the factors that may impact their school choice for next year. Please, if you have any questions or concerns you need to resolve before you can consider re-enrolling, contact our Admissions Office or the Business OfficeWe want to understand your circumstances and will consider any reasonable request. You will shortly hear about a special Resilience Fund we are creating for emergency relief, aimed at supporting parents and retaining staff.

These are hard times, but we are a strong community. We know classes are finding ways to stay in touch and support each other, and teachers and families are finding new ways to be creative together. Trustees, teachers, and administrative staff remain committed to providing an outstanding Waldorf education to our community well into the future. We will keep you apprised of changes as we clarify them, but more than anything, we look forward to the time when this crisis is past, and we can all watch the children dance around the maypole, carry their lanterns through the dark, and sing their hearts out together. That day will come!

Sincerely,

Maya Muir, Board Chair
Jamie Quirk, School Chair

Message from the College Chair - March 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

As a Waldorf community, we strive for truth, goodness, and beauty, and we seek to create meaning so that, as free human beings, we can work together to uplift humanity.

The first Waldorf school was founded in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919, at a time of great social upheaval. In the wake of World War I and the deadly Spanish Flu Pandemic, there was considerable fear and unrest.  Rudolf Steiner cautioned against the heightened materialism of the time and, in light of this, advocated for social renewal.

Today we face similarly troubling issues and events. Our current political climate, environmental crises, and COVID-19 can create a sense of overwhelm and hopelessness. It is safe to say that we have become progressively more materialistic since Steiner’s time, and one can’t help but wonder about the spiritual forces behind recent events and reflect on our current task as human beings. What is being asked of us in this next stage of human development? What can we do, as spiritual human beings, to answer the call?

Many of us feel increasingly isolated from one another in spite of technology that allows for constant communication. Perhaps, as we are asked to isolate ourselves physically, we will renew our commitment to meaningful human interaction. Perhaps we are being called upon to focus on what really matters—our relationships with one another and the planet.

At this time, we can set the intention to remember our values and match our actions with them. It can be a time to slow down and become truly attentive, to care for our families, ourselves, and our physical spaces. We can think of this time as a gift, as we have the chance to cultivate what Gordon Neufeld speaks of as “being known” to one another. In these moments of physical togetherness with our families, we have more opportunities to be present.

It is a time to connect with the spiritual, create art and music, and engage with the natural world. It is a time to reach out to our community to provide support to those who are ill or struggling financially. By closing schools and working from home, we act collectively to protect our fellow human beings.

There are benefits to the earth at this time as well. We are burning fewer fossil fuels, as travel is restricted. Many of us now have time to bike or walk to our destinations, as the pace of life has slowed. We also may be adjusting consumption habits and noticing that our relationships (to the planet, animals, humans) are not transactional, but that we may have been treating them as such.

What will support our children at this time? It is important to comfort them and give them a sense of security, even when we are uncertain ourselves. A healthy rhythm with plenty of time outdoors, opportunities for movement, adequate sleep in a dark room, health-supporting nutrition with unprocessed foods and limited sugar, lots of water, warmth, limited exposure to media, laughter, connection and artistic opportunities will help to support your child. As always, your children’s teachers will continue to hold them in their daily meditations.

As children are always learning, they simply will be learning in a different way. They will be learning about how the world works when in crisis or uncertain times. And they will be watching us closely. How will the adults around them behave, think and speak? The children will adapt to seeing fewer friends and they will have more time to unwrap the gift of boredom. Rather than worrying that the children might “fall behind,” we can rest in knowing that they will gain a new perspective of the world which may lead to interests and action in their adult lives. Our hope is that we help to create in them a love of learning, an interest and engagement with the world, and the desire to make the world a better place. As always, our aim is to educate children to become free human beings who seek and uphold the truth.

Lower school teachers will not be using video conferencing to deliver lessons to students at this time. There are many reasons for this, including varied access to technology, individual family differences in time and availability, and pedagogical considerations. Individual teachers may choose to share an audio file or something similar, however. At the high school level, students are more capable of managing assignments and technology independently, so high school faculty will strive to provide the same amount of learning, reflection and academic progress as students would have at school, albeit in a modified format. That said, movement, nature, creativity, and rest are equally important for high school students and teachers will do their best to incorporate these elements and/or limit homework to allow for these activities. The details will be shared with high school families after teachers have had time to coordinate. Please ask your child’s teachers for more specific information.

A Verse for Our Time

We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards man out of the future.
We must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity
To everything that may come.
And we must think only that whatever comes
Is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age,
namely, to live out of pure trust,
Without any security in existence.
Trust in the ever present help
Of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do
If our courage is not to fail us.
And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves
Every morning and every evening.
—Rudolf Steiner

With love and blessings on our community and our world,

Elizabeth Webber
for Portland Waldorf School College of Teachers:

Nina Churchill
Jill DeSantis
Victor Garza
Johanna Hibbard
Mariama Loos-Diallo
Shanti McCarter
Jenny Nielson
Jamie Quirk
Shay Roselip
Lukas Schneider

Message from the School Chair - March 12, 2020

Dear Parents,

In light of breaking news, Governor Brown’s latest announcements, and a great many conversations among trustees, teachers, and other school administrators, we are electing to close PWS effective Monday, March 16. We will remain closed through April 19 at least, and will be in regular communications with you throughout that time as we reassess and adjust our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Tomorrow will be a day for students to take home their things, and for the teachers to wrap up a final day of in-person instruction. Class events that are calendared for Friday or Saturday will either be canceled or will take place with additional restrictions around attendance and location; please look for a direct communication from your child’s teacher.

After Saturday, March 14, all nonessential school gatherings through Spring Break will be canceled or rescheduled, or converted to an online platform. This includes field trips, athletic events, parent meetings, and unfortunately our Uplift celebration. More on that later.

Monday and Tuesday will be in-service days for all faculty and staff as we meet, plan, and prepare for work to continue over the coming weeks. For high school students, we will be able to offer content online. For the lower school, teachers will be utilizing resources such as audio lessons, work packets, class projects, and written assignments to keep up with the year’s curriculum.

This month’s parent-teacher conferences will be held remotely or rescheduled at the teachers’ discretion.
While there are many logistics yet to nail down, I want to affirm that this decision has been a beautiful example of collaboration. Out of a shared desire to live our values and uplift humanity, we choose to embrace this opportunity to protect, support, and care for our entire community–including our elders, those with underlying health conditions, and the many health care providers working diligently to meet an overwhelming need that shows no sign of abating.

This is not an act of fear. Rather, it is an act of love. We will weather this together.

Wishing everyone health and courage,

Jamie Quirk
School Chair

Message from the School Chair - March 6, 2020

Dear Parents,

As promised, below is an update on the school’s ongoing response to COVID-19, what administration and faculty are doing, and what parents can do to support the overall health of our community. In order to be as prepared as possible to address potential coronavirus scenarios, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency on March 2. This declaration enables the county to streamline resources and staffing and establish emergency policies and protocols.

In addition to this and various communications received from the county and local school districts, on Tuesday I participated in a conference call with 60 Waldorf school administrators around the country. From this information, and in consultation with members of our parent body who work in the healthcare field, we have assembled a plan.

1. We have an administrative response team, which also includes a medical doctor from the community. This team is tasked with monitoring the news, delegating tasks, and developing communications for parents and employees.

2. We are augmenting our standard practices around cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting the spaces in the lower school and high school. Kits with additional cleaning supplies will be stored in classrooms so that teachers can tackle their spaces each day; common areas such as railings, door knobs, and light switches will be addressed daily by administrative staff.

3. You can expect a weekly email from me unless there is urgent breaking news. Because of the volume of questions and concerns we are receiving, please understand if I or other members of the administration cannot respond immediately to emails and voicemails around what the school is doing. I ask that you look for these weekly emails, and allow us to focus our time and attention on the work itself.

4. Know that we will be extra vigilant around enforcing our sickness policy. While parents may elect to keep their child home at any time as a precautionary measure, teachers and staff are being asked to send any child home who is not feeling well enough to participate in class or who exhibits symptoms beyond the occasional cough or sneeze.

5. Likewise, we are asking teachers and staff to stay or work from home if they are feeling unwell. Thank you for your patience and understanding if your child has more substitutes in the coming weeks than expected, or if class plans are altered.

6. In regard to families’ upcoming travel plans, we are asking parents to consider the various trips, gatherings, and events on their calendar now through spring break, and follow the guidelines of the CDC in firming up plans. At this time we are not canceling any school trips or events, but that could change.

7. We ask parents to be extra mindful when talking to their children about this coronavirus, especially in regard to age appropriate levels of information and anxiety. There are several good articles online that address talking about COVID-19 with children; this one is my favorite.

8. Every authoritative resource asserts how crucial proper and regular hand washing can be. Administration has created extra signage in the bathrooms as guidance, and extra paper towels and soap will be made available. While teachers are overseeing and reinforcing proper hand washing protocol to the extent that they can, it is important that parents are also taking these steps at home. Please emphasize with your children that they should cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbows, and refrain from touching their faces as much as possible.

9. The teachers have been asked to temporarily suspend their daily handshakes with students. While we do not believe this act will drastically impact the spread of this coronavirus, it is one more precaution we can take, and one that many other Waldorf schools are taking in the short term.

10. Next steps: The response team is formulating plans to weather any possible closures, considering the addition of a work party for deeper spring cleaning, and weighing the options for altering programming schedules should classes be suspended for a significant period.

Last but certainly not least, I want to stress the value of focusing on factors that support human health and well-being. Most of us know that eating a nutritious diet, dressing warmly, getting enough restorative sleep and outdoor time, and taking care of underlying health conditions strengthen our immune systems. Yet, in our busy schedules, these things can often fall to the side, even with our little ones. Taking the extra time to slow down and attend to our bodies’ needs is one of the best things we can do, with benefits no amount of bleach can match.

I recognize that this is a lot of information to take in, and that being proactive involves a measure of inconvenience for everyone. As always, I am appreciative of the cooperative and collaborative environment I have found here at PWS.

Warmest regards,

Jamie Quirk, School Chair

A Verse for Our Time

We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards man out of the future.
We must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity
To everything that may come.
And we must think only that whatever comes
Is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age,
namely, to live out of pure trust,
Without any security in existence.
Trust in the ever present help
Of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do
If our courage is not to fail us.
And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves
Every morning and every evening.

—Rudolf Steiner