April 19, 2020
Good Afternoon Cornerstone Family,
Governor DeSantis announced yesterday that Florida schools will remain online for the remainder of the school season. This doesn't change but only reinforces our decision to remain online until the last day of school, May 15th. However, the Administration and I would like make ourselves available to communicate with all of our families the plan for remainder of the school season and our end of the year events, and especially make ourselves available for questions. This is not mandatory, but rather an optional meeting for those who may have questions. Please join us for a short Zoom Town Hall Meeting this evening at 7:00 PM.
We are looking forward to seeing all of you.
Thursday, March 21, 2020
Good Day Cornerstone Family,
Based on some communication from several families and questions they have brought to me, I feel it is necessary to clear up possible confusion. I'm sure you have questions, so I will seek to answer some below.
Does school closure until April 15th mean there is no school until April 15th?
No way! We still have classes running and education happening. It only means our physical building is closed until April 15th or until events change and we need to adjust again. We are, however, still operating the classes by switching to Home-Based Online Schooling. We have lesson plans geared to work from you own homes. Teachers are learning how and creating online lessons as we speak! It will be easier for some and not for others. Patience is key. We will get it done!
This is turning out to be chaotic and difficult in my house, will the lesson plans get easier?
Principal Erin Cook and myself are looking into simplifying as much as possible in the weeks to come. We are mandated by the State to provide certain standards in education. But the FDOE (FL Dept of Education) and gov Desantis announced they are looking into lessening the restrictions and standards to provide societal flexibility during this time. We cannot move just yet or it will jeopardize our accreditation. But once this is official, Erin and I will get with the teaching staff and streamline the curriculum to the most easily manageable curriculum as possible but still providing a great education to move successfully into next year. Believe me, we know teaching at home can be like herding cats sometimes, especially if you have other work duties yourself. That's why we are working to make this as simple as possible when we come back from Spring Break. The teachers, admin and I are committed to you. Please don't give up on Cornerstone and we will see you through to the beautiful summer coming in just 8 more weeks.
What happens next week?
You should view next week as a regular spring break and enjoy the time with your family. Do not concern yourself about school until we are scheduled to return to Online Study on March 30.
Is it possible we will not return on April 15?
Early reports show that the CDC anticipates school closures to last 4-8 weeks. Therefore, we must be prepared for the closure to extend past April 15. We will know more in the next two weeks and will stay in regular communication with you all. As a rule of thumb, we will follow the lead of Alachua County Schools regarding closure.
What will instruction look like once Spring Break is over on March 30?
This week and next, our staff will be making preparations for online lesson plans and instruction to begin on March 30. Cornerstone Academy believes deeply in the value of direct instruction from a highly qualified teacher, and we will try to replicate that experience in the best way possible given an online platform. Online instruction will not simply be worksheets and writing assignments. We want to continue to offer an excellent learning experience, focusing primarily on core subjects.
Our online instruction will have four main features:
1. Clear, easy to follow lesson plans provided at the beginning of every week. From March 30th and onward, you will have a week's worth of lessons available. Every Monday after that, for as long as we are out, there will be a new set of plans.
2. Classroom notes (if necessary) for each lesson.
3. Where possible and needed, video lessons from your child's teacher to provide clear instruction and directions.
4. Easy access to teachers through email or phone calls.
How will assignments and test be graded?
Just like day school, teachers will be grading assignments and tests. Assignments and tests will be available online. Teachers will provide instructions and return deadlines. You will have the responsibility of returning completed assignments electronically to the teacher or submitted in our FACTS LMS system as the teacher directs. Don't worry, the teacher's will show you how to use the LMS system on FACTS as they roll it out.
Will we have to make up missed days?
State law requires schools to be in session for 170 days; the Cornerstone's calendar provides for 175 days of instruction to account for special days and hurricanes and unforeseen events such as now. Once we begin online instruction, those days count as instructional days, so we will likely not have to make up any time. I anticipate school ending as scheduled on May 19, just as it is in our calendar. Of course, all this is uncharted territory, so circumstances could change.
Will someone be there if I need to contact the school?
No one will be at the physical building. But all Administration, Staff, and Faculty will be available during office hours Monday - Friday 8am to 3pm.
Teachers will be working from home but will always be accessible via email.
If you have trouble getting contact information, please text to my cell phone (David Leino (352)226-9678), and I will get it to you.
What about extra-curricular activities and planned field trips?
As long as the day school is closed, consider all extra-curricular activities, practices, and field trips cancelled. Once school is back in session, events will be reviewed on an individual basis.
Society desires for things to return to normal, so I don’t believe closures will unnecessarily linger. Let us all pray this four-week closure will be sufficient to halt the spread of the pandemic. If not, our God is still sovereign, and we will make it through. We love your children and are highly committed, especially at a time like this, to providing the best educational experience possible.
We are all under the mercy of God!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Greetings Cornerstone Family,
There have been many reports sent out from the CDC and local health departments. Our Governor Desantis and staff has made a public announcement last night and will most likely make several more in the coming week or two. We are also following very closely with Florida Department of Education and Alachua County School Board regarding issues and changes that may be coming. Please know that we are monitoring these daily and working through the information to ensure that your student's education is uninterrupted as much as possible.
What We Know: As of last night and today, Gov Desantis and the FDOE have announced school closures and to remain online in home school capacity through April 15th, with a chance to continue through the remainder of this school year. Scholarship Checks are still being processed and sent. We have to be prepared for a longer season of Home school/Online School.
What We Are Working On: The Cornerstone Staff and Faculty have and are carrying out workshops and participating in tutorials in order to learn about new tools to help aide a possible long term Home School operation. We already have a great plan in place for this week. And next week is Spring Break (I'm sure many can use the time to unwind from all of these circumstances). So, there is no immediate need to change directions, and this gives us plenty of time to make plans for the weeks after Spring Break and through to April 15th. We are establishing teacher and administration office hours from 8am to 3pm. We will stay available by phone and email and give you every possible channel to contact us for help while navigating through the lessons.
Please stay in constant communication with your teachers and lesson plans. And for those families that are new to home schooling, creating a strong schedule is key to academic success. Yes, students AND parents AND teachers need that extra motivation to get the day started when staying at home. Create a daily unshakable routine. Wake up and make that bed, get those teeth brushed and shower, start with a hearty breakfast with OJ or coffee. Read and pray through a passage from the Bible. Take a morning walk around the block... Then attack those lesson plans. :-)
Special Plea from the Headmaster: As many around the state are doing, people, including some of our own Cornerstone families, are still flocking to the beaches and taking trips. I've seen pictures of people in very tight crowds and in large numbers of the public. Given the research of how this Covid 19 spreads, this is a very unwise decision to make and also very inconsiderate for the people around you. Please, please, please, take heed of our health department's direction to stay away from people and to stay home. As ambassadors for Christ, we should be even more eager to help out of love. Even if you feel fine and are a strong individual, it is very socially irresponsible and unkind to others around you to be unmoved by all of the scientific and governmental directions given to make this situation a much more manageable event. Remember, the Lord appoints our leaders and we should do everything as much as possible to help and not hurt. As I heard it put, our Grandparents' generation was asked to go to war. We are being asked to stay on a couch for their sake. We can certainly do this. Let's walk with compassion. Let's walk with honor.
We will keep you posted on every change. Blessings and Stay Well.