Additional Details for Fall 2020

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Elementary families:

Here are some additional IMPORTANT UPDATES for fall 2020 (please also see last week's email)

Report Cards - Next Week
End of year report cards will be going home electronically next week. Please watch for the email.

Enrollment Contracts - Due NO LATER THAN July 1
You will receive an email from 1Core (our online family management system) next week with your enrollment contract for fall. Please review and ensure this is completed by July 1 to guarantee your child’s space.

Looking Ahead to Fall - Remember to review FAQs
I have received a couple questions about Class Family Groups and want to make a clarification in case this wasn’t clear. The Class Family Group structure simply means we are reducing class-size even further and your child will be assigned to one teacher with a smaller group of children instead of two teachers with a larger group. The group will remain static as explained in the FAQs.

Reduced Hours & Drop Off/Pick Up - Currently scheduled for 7:45-8:15
Because we cannot mix children from different Class Family Groups, we have had to temporarily reduce the extended care hours. For your convenience, we are now offering rolling drop off for 30 minutes before school starts and continuing to offer rolling pick up from 3:00-3:15 each day.  

  • If your child uses a car seat/booster please ensure that it’s on the passenger side and then they can get in and out on their own quickly and efficiently (practice now).
  • Until the health/safety guidance changes, elementary parents are asked to use rolling drop off/pick up and remain in their vehicles (unless also dropping off/picking up a preschooler).
  • Our staff cannot reach in to buckle and unbuckle children.
  • If children are not able to do this yet, you will be able to park and walk your child to the entrance gate.
  • With these temporary changes to school hours, we expect heavier than normal traffic. Please note the carpool lane will close promptly at 8:15 (regardless of weather or traffic conditions) to maintain a predictable traffic flow in the main lot.

Some parents are asking if they will be able to see the classroom before school starts. Currently, there are restrictions on campus visitors. Until the health/safety guidance changes, you cannot come on campus to visit the classroom, but we will post and share photos so you and your child can get acclimated to the new classroom the week before school starts. Because of the reduced group sizes, we are adding additional portable classrooms for some of our upper grade classes. These will be climate controlled spaces that will allow some flexibility for indoor and outdoor learning.

Remember that teachers will be hosting individual Intake Conferences with each family August 12-14.

What if there is a temporary closure next year?
We reopened for the summer program beginning on June 1 with many of the same guidelines that will be in place for fall. So far, the kids and teachers have been excited to be back, and we feel prepared to safely weather the remainder of this pandemic. Even with the Class Family Group structure, there is always a chance we will have another temporary closure, even if it only involves one classroom.

We hope there will not be another closure, and if there is a closure in the future it may only impact one Class Family Group and/or may be for a much shorter time frame. We are prepared so that if a closure happens, the learning will be more seamless and will include live instruction in the morning for literacy and math, as well as specialist classes in the afternoon.

What if you have questions now?
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call me in the school office. I will also be hosting two live Zoom sessions for any elementary parents who have questions on the dates below. You’re welcome to join even if you don’t currently have questions and would just like to hear what other families are wondering about.

Class Placements
While we are trying to make school as normal and pleasant for the children as possible, we adults have to remember this is still an extreme situation. If you have a hope or preference as to certain friends you might wish to see in your child’s class, please email me and let me know. We will do everything within our power to honor your preferences.

WHPS is running at just about full capacity for fall. As soon as registration contracts are all in by July 1, we will have final enrollment numbers for each grade. By the end of July, all teachers will be contracted, and we can announce Class Family Groups and the teacher you will have for fall. 

Throughout this process we are striving to give you a great deal of transparency, which means we will continue to communicate as official health/safety guidance continues to come out. Thank you for your continued support and please feel free to join one of our Zoom sessions.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable summer!
Seth Pozzi
Head of School

Semi-Virtual Graduation

Written by Seth Pozzi on .

If you have never been to graduation at WHPS, you are missing out. I have not seen an elementary school experience quite like it. We feel very strongly that every student's voice matters and that they have something important to say that we all need to hear. If we don’t give students that opportunity now (in elementary school), how can we expect them to speak out as they get older? As we reminded our graduates last night, the older they get, the more serious the consequences can be if they don’t speak up when something doesn’t seem right. 

It's impossible not to think about the world these young people are going into and the current local and global events we are all facing together. What I do know about this outstanding group of students is that they fill us with hope for a brighter future. These students: Are passionate in many different areas, they know that their voice matters, they are goal oriented, and they speak up for other people when something isn’t right. We love and admire these graduates, and we are honored to have been an integral part of their development

Meet the Graduates

If you have ever wondered what a WHPS student is all about, I encourage you to check out this year's speeches. 

The Drone

We hosted this year's event semi-virtually.  We were all live in the school parking lot, but due to physical distancing requirements, students each gave their speeches on the big video screen (see speeches above). For non-touch diploma delivery, we flew each student their diploma on a drone. Check out one of the diplomas taking off, en route to a graduate.

Teaching Kids to Confront Racism

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

This has been a heavy-hearted and difficult time in our city and across the country. We stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters and the fight for equality, and we unequivocally denounce the senseless killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others as a result of the persistent structural racism against African Americans in our country. It is a gut-wrenching but important time to be talking with children about racism (anti-racism), bias and advocacy.

Some tips for talking to children about the recent events:

  • First and foremost, a rule of thumb for parents and teachers when discussing any mature topic, whether it has to do with racism, school safety or puberty, is to follow the child’s lead.

  • Don’t avoid talking to your child about what happened. If you avoid the topic, your child may find the event even more threatening or think it is simply too horrible to speak about (and even if it is, we NEED to talk about it in order to confront it).

  • Invite your child to tell you how s/he feels, but avoid leading questions, such as “Are you worried about ______________?”

  • Answer the questions they’re asking honestly but reassuringly, but don’t delve deeper into the topic than they take it. Give children the facts they need to know now, but avoid discussing your fears or anxiety.

  • Correct any inaccurate information: If your child has misconceptions or inaccurate information, correct them in a simple age-appropriate way.

  • Reinforcing safety is important with very young children.

  • Stay calm and use “emotional self-control” when talking about this topic. The emotions you express will influence your child’s feelings.

  • Focus on ways your child/family can take positive social action.

Below are just a few resources parents may find helpful. Let us be clear, we are not sharing these links and resources to point out how much we have already done, but rather to acknowledge the amount of work that likely won’t be finished in our own lifetime. We are committed to advancing anti-bias education and working with our community to address inequities that have persisted in our country for far too long.

What to Expect for Fall 2020 (FAQ)

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Elementary Division FAQ

We have heard from families with a variety of questions about what to expect when school resumes in fall. While of course we are subject to any orders from government and health officials, here are some FAQs based on what we know at this time.

Q. Will WHPS resume in-person classes on August 17?

We plan to be back to regular school at that time.

Q. What if LAUSD doesn’t reopen in August or only offers staggered schedules where students don’t attend school every day?

We expect to be on our normal schedule of 5 full days/week.

Q. Normally the afternoon includes specialist classes: Spanish, Music, Art, PE, Science/Social Studies, Barnyard, Computers. Will these classes still happen?

Yes. The current health/safety guidelines state that it is okay for specialist teachers to come to the classroom. This means that students will still get all specialist classes, but they may not go to the Art Studio, Computer Lab, etc. This is to avoid having multiple Class Family Groups cycle through a shared learning space.  

Q. What about after school classes like Mandarin, Team Sports, Robotics, Art, Drama, Cooking, Speech & Debate, etc.?

We are less certain about these classes. Because the current guidelines and best practices suggest keeping students in static groups and not mixing, after school classes may be temporarily suspended until we are able to mix or combine groups. We plan to bring these classes back as soon as it's safe.  

Q. What should parents and students expect this fall?

This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some changes we anticipate:

    • Class Family Groups - A static group of students with one teacher. The children in each group will learn, eat, play and have specialist classes together but may not physically mingle with others on campus. With the current restrictions on group size, the average class size will be limited to approximately 16 students. 
    • Outdoor Learning Spaces - We know that COVID-19 is much less likely to spread outdoors. In preparation for fall, we are adding additional sheltered outdoor learning spaces so we can comfortably host classes outdoors as much as possible. 
    • Visitor Restrictions - Health officials currently recommend that parents use rolling drop off and do not get out of their vehicles at school. 
    • Physical Distancing
    • Face Coverings
      • Required when indoors (for all children who can wear them)
      • Recommended at other times
    • Scheduled Hand Washing (and of course as needed)
    • Temperature & Symptom Screening - Anyone coming on campus will be screened for a fever or symptoms. 
    • Sick Policy - Anyone coming on campus must be symptom free (fever, diarrhea, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose) for 72 hours. Out of an abundance of caution, staff/students will need to go home immediately if symptoms occur at school. 
    • COVID-19 Testing - We strongly encourage all families, students and staff to get tested before returning to school and to follow all public health guidelines. When we come back to school, it is important to protect the health and safety of everyone in our Class Family Group.  

Q. I saw that when WHPS reopens in June the hours are 8am-5pm. Will you go back to 7am-6pm in the fall?

We hope to be back to regular hours as soon as possible. We know families rely on us for childcare, and will will do everything we can to get back to 7-6 as soon as possible.   

Q. Who will my child’s teacher(s) be? Can I meet the teacher(s)?

  • We will be looking at each child’s learning profile, social-emotional strengths and peer group and placing children where we believe they will find the greatest success and enjoyment. 
  • Because of this, families may not have as much choice in which class their child enters. If you have a special request or certain peers you hope can be in your child's Class Family Group, please let us know.
  • In July, we will share class placement information with families, and we will do our best to be sensitive to your preferences
  • Your child's teacher will hold Virtual Intake Conferences with every family August 12-14. Sign ups will be sent out two weeks prior. 

Q. What if there is another temporary closure next year?

  • The Class Family Group structure and preventative measures we are putting in place should help us prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the school community. The procedures we now have in place are based on the guidelines for childcare centers that stayed open during April-May
  • However, if we do have a temporary closure next year, we are currently working toward building a Distance Learning school day that will closely resemble the regular school day. Even more of the classes will be hosted live and will be archived in the cloud in case a child is not able to attend that day.

Q. What else should I know?

Here is our current COVID-19 Protection Plan.

No Quid Pro Quo (Kids)!

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

Intrinsic Motivation
When Rewards Can be a Bad Thing

Experiences from age 0-8 influence how kids will think for the rest of their life. No one wants to raise an adult who will always think: “What’s in it for me?” when confronted with a task or responsibility. But you might be surprised to know that some commonly used discipline and “positive reinforcement” strategies can actually contribute to this kind of mindset. 

Here are a few suggestions that can help ensure we are building up intrinsic motivation and not a “What’s in it for me?” mindset in our children. 

Avoid Rewards, Incentives & Bribes
One strategy to keep in mind is to avoid giving children a reward for doing something that is a basic expectation: going to school, separating without tears in the morning, putting dishes in the sink, getting a good grade, doing homework, reading, etc. These kinds of rewards often influence a child’s behavior in the short term but don’t promote intrinsic motivation. 

Rather than giving rewards, we strive to give children words to tell them exactly what behavior is working and why. 

  • You put your toys back in their spots so they won't get broken or lost. 
  • You put your book back in the right bin so we can find it next time. 
  • You put your blanket in your nap bag so it will be there when you need it tomorrow.
  • I saw you get out your homework and get started so you will have time to play later. 

Emphasize how they might feel over your own approval. 

  • You worked really hard on the art project. 
    • Instead of: I am so proud of you.
    • Try: I bet you feel proud.
  • You remembered to put your dishes in the sink without being asked today. 
    • Instead of: I love that you did that. 
    • Try: That’s really responsible. 

Please & Thank You
While important aspects of politeness, the words "please" and "thank you" suggest that an action was optional. Responsive Classroom reminds teachers to avoid thanking children when they do something that is a basic expectation: Lining up quietly, putting our supplies away, cleaning up the lunch tables. Just like the prior examples, the ideal response reinforces the behavior that is working and why. 

  • Instead of: Thank you for pushing in your chairs.
  • We might say:
    • You remembered to push in chairs so no one will trip.
    • Let’s go back and try that, remembering to push in chairs so no one will trip.

Similarly, at home, you can try "noticing" and remarking about the desired behavior without the "please" or "thank you," if the behavior is an expectation, as opposed to a personal favor. 

That's not to say you can never say "please" or "thank you."  They still very much have a place in the lexicon, but they can be used more appropriately if the child does you a favor or a gesture of kindness. For example, "Thank you for grabbing me a tissue when I sneezed" or "thank you for holding the door".

Finally: I noticed you read through the entire article and learned a bit more on how to help build intrinsic motivation.

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