Heads of Schools Conversations: Notes from May 1, 2020

By: Debra Shaffer Seeman
KC Topics: 
Coronavirus, Professional Leadership

What’s on your mind?

  • Camp
  • Faculty creativity
  • Faculty growth
  • Community - value outside of academic. We’re struggling with what’s beyond academics. Drive by’s, lawn signs. Don’t encourage going out of the house. How do we do beyond academic without leaving the building?
    • Classroom communities are being maintained and that does a LOT to solidify community. 
    • The extent to which we are making individual phone calls has a direct impact on the health of the community. We’re in a much more organized effort to maintain the connections
  • Pressure to do what others are doing,
    • Convening locally was very helpful

Angry pre-school parents want money back. 

  • SAR is refunding 50% post-Pesach
  • Long Island credit for 2-3 year olds
  • Bergen Country considering for 2 year olds
  • Mazel 2 & 3 year olds - local day cares offering full or 50% discount. Needed to refund meals, security. For all others, offered tax receipts for donations. Made personal phone calls. Called every family. Most chose to pay 50-75%. 
  • MDS doesn’t want to open for 2 year olds in the fall. 
  • Looking ahead, early childhood families won’t make that tuition commitment long-term. Seed of an idea: they are early childhood specialists, not a daycare. Can we employ our teachers part-time and offer the teachers as consultants to the families?
  • Kadimah - Tuition was $3200 for this period. First offered emergency need-based aid.Asked what the nature of the income loss/interruption was for a family (temporary, long-term, reduction, total loss,  Then decided to offer a $1200 credit to every early childhood family who did not qualify for need-based aid. Offering a deferred payment plan. 

Scenario Planning

Online school in September
Re-open building in September, close building in winter
Re-open building 
What’s going well for you?
Staff collaborations - child and families represented core goals of the school,
Community partnerships

Planning for maximum flexibility. A few days away from announcing an extended school calendar. Not due to lost learning, but hoping to add 3 weeks to the school year as flex-time. Open one week early, end one week later in 2021, cut winter break by one week. If they go into remote learning, it’s a pop-up vacation. 

Netherlands and Australia research on children as carriers/transmitters. 
Immuno-compromised and older faculty - might be working virtually in older classrooms. 

Staff/faculty planning. 

  • Center-based model in the gym (larger room) with assistants monitoring them. Depends on blended-learning, therefore easier on the secular side. Like HeAtid and WTA. Do this in classes with teachers who can’t come into the buliding. 

Town Hall

  • Opened to whole school community. Seeing me and hearing my voice about major decisions was much more effective than communicating in writing. Questions pre-submitted. 

Running virtually
Literacy bootcamp

Comments - closure/building closure, camps, trends doc, 

What do you need from Prizmah?

  • Guidance in how to structure scenario planning
  • Trends in scenario planning
  • Hearing what other schools are doing with tuition refunds/credits would be very helpful, as we engage with parents following our communication
  • Recruiting in this environment
  • Scenario planning- thank you!
  • Language for contracts that allows for flexibility

What data would you like Prizmah to collect?

  • If Prizmah has the resources to stay on top of the research coming out on transmissibility in children, that would be helpful. Thanks!
  • How are schools keeping flexibility with regard to staffing. How will we both hold on to our staff and cut back on our payroll? 

Trends in Enrollment and Finance: https://prizmah.org/knowledge/resource/top-trends-finance-and-enrollment-during-covid-19