April 2020 - Bernal Intermediate
Dear parents and guardians,
What an unprecedented and world-changing time we are in right now! We are with you all in spirit and in our thoughts as all of our greater community deals with the COVID-19 crisis in their lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to all that are dealing with a variety of financial, health, educational, and other important matters. That our campus will not re-open for the remainder of the year, adds to the challenge and stress of this all. Please know how much your student’s teachers and support staff miss your students. As a staff we are still wrapping our minds around the new online and digital educational world we are in. However, one thing is clear, never has Bernal been more committed to their students than right now.
Bernal Intermediate School and the Oak Grove School District remain committed to continuing teaching and learning through a distance learning model. As a district, we have implemented our distance learning in phases. Phase 1 consisted of providing flexible work options both online and in person. It also included providing daily meals—in a grab and go fashion—to those students and families that benefited from this service. In all, we passed out over 3,000 printed work packets and probably handed out just as many meals.
Phase 2, beginning this week, means your student will be experiencing more direct contact and interaction with their teachers on a weekly basis. So, it is extremely important that you and your student are aware that you will be receiving communication from your child’s teachers about digital distance learning opportunities. These enrichment activities will help ensure continuity of your child’s education, helping to prepare them for success in their next grade level. To this end, inform your students to please check Google Classroom, school loop and other online portals for their teacher’s activities, projects and/or assignments as well as the days and times of office hours and/or virtual class times.
- If you have a student with an IEP, please be sure to check for and respond to email from your student’s Case Manager
- Reminder that all IEP meetings that are due during this school closure WILL be scheduled and held, so be sure to communicate with Case Managers for scheduling
We look forward to your partnership in making sure all students continue to progress down their learning paths in all subjects.
As always, take care of yourselves, and each other!
Jamal D. Splane
Principal, Bernal Intermediate School
Assistant Principal's Message
Prior to Covid-19, it has been a phenomenal year for Bernal Intermediate. And rather than focus on the current life-changing historical moment that we are experiencing, I would like to focus on what motivates all of us to do our essential job, the students.
Lunchtime is one of the best times to be a Bernal student. From my lens, I can see a large number of students actively engaged with one another. Playing sports at lunch has been a big attraction for this year at Bernal. On any given day you will see hundreds of students playing either basketball, football, or even volleyball. What many of our student-athletes enjoy is to play three on three basketball, hand touch football on the grass, or practice to get their volleyball serve over the net. So students, while you’re at home waiting for school to return, practice as many eye-hand coordination skills at your home. Maybe you can play catch, learn to juggle, learn to knit, or even put together a puzzle.
I would like to thank our parents of the Bernal community for all of the hard work that they’re currently doing. Continuing to educate your child is essential in preparing them for the next grade level. As we move forward with distance learning, we need to remember that we are here to develop, grow, and shine as students and adults. To do this, it is very valuable to adopt a growth mindset. Remind yourself to teach kids during this time that the brain is a muscle that can be strengthened with practice. This sends the message that kids can directly affect their intelligence by learning the things that interest them the most. Now more than ever is the best time to have a growth mindset. Yes, Covid-19 is real and yes it is changing the world, however, what doesn’t change is the expectations and requirements at all grade levels. So use this time to learn at your best convenience. The Oak Grove School District will continue supporting you with your needs to help you to keep the learning to occur. Our teachers are also very excited to share creative lessons for online learning that will transpire over the next weeks to come. Both of our counselors have continued working with their caseloads and are doing check-ins either online or through the phone. This is a new era for all of us and I’m very proud of the way our district and Bernal have responded.
A very big thank you goes to our maintenance and operations staff. The coordination, teamwork, and execution of the cleaning plan is at the highest level. Our custodians have worked relentlessly to wipe down every handle, desk, etc. to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the campus remains. I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and collaborative time with their families.
Supporting Kids During the Coronavirus Crisis - Counselor's Corner
Tips for nurturing and protecting children at home
As schools close and workplaces go remote to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, parents everywhere are struggling to keep children healthy and occupied. If you’re anxious about how to protect and nurture kids through this crisis — often juggling work obligations at the same time — you’re in good (virtual) company. I know, as I write this from home, with my 2-year-old hovering, that we have a lot to figure out.
Here are tips from the Child Mind Institute’s clinicians to help calm fears, manage stress and keep the peace.
Keep routines in place
The experts all agree that setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key, even when you’re all at home all day. Kids should get up, eat and go to bed at their normal times. Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. Kids, especially younger ones or those who are anxious, benefit from knowing what’s going to happen and when.
The schedule can mimic a school or day camp schedule, changing activities at predictable intervals, and alternating periods of study and play.
It may help to print out a schedule and go over it as a family each morning. Setting a timer will help kids know when activities are about to begin or end. Having regular reminders will help head off meltdowns when it’s time to transition from one thing to the next.
Be creative about new activities — and exercise
Incorporate new activities into your routine, like doing a puzzle or having family game time in the evening. For example, my family is baking our way through a favorite dessert cookbook together with my daughter as sous chef.
Build in activities that help everyone get some exercise (without contact with other kids or things touched by other kids, like playground equipment). Take a daily family walk or bike ride or do yoga — great ways to let kids burn off energy and make sure everyone is staying active.
David Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, recommends brainstorming ways to go “back to the 80s,” before the time of screen prevalence. “I’ve been asking parents to think about their favorite activities at summer camp or at home before screens,” he says. “They often then generate lists of arts and crafts activities, science projects, imaginary games, musical activities, board games, household projects, etc.”
Manage your own anxiety
It’s completely understandable to be anxious right now (how could we not be?) but how we manage that anxiety has a big impact on our kids. Keeping your worries in check will help your whole family navigate this uncertain situation as easily as possible.
“Watch out for catastrophic thinking,” says Mark Reinecke, PhD, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute. For example, assuming every cough is a sign you’ve been infected, or reading news stories that dwell on worst-case scenarios. “Keep a sense of perspective, engage in solution-focused thinking and balance this with mindful acceptance.”
For those moments when you do catch yourself feeling anxious, try to avoid talking about your concerns within earshot of children. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and take a break. That could look like taking a shower or going outside or into another room and taking a few deep breaths.
Limit consumption of news
Staying informed is important, but it’s a good idea to limit consumption of news and social media that has the potential to feed your anxiety, and that of your kids. Turn the TV off and mute or unfollow friends or co-workers who are prone to sharing panic-inducing posts.
Take a social media hiatus or make a point of following accounts that share content that take your mind off the crisis, whether it’s about nature, art, baking or crafts.
Stay in touch virtually
Keep your support network strong, even when you’re only able to call or text friends and family. Socializing plays an important role in regulating your mood and helping you stay grounded. And the same is true for your children.
Let kids use social media (within reason) and Skype or FaceTime to stay connected to peers even if they aren’t usually allowed to do so. Communication can help kids feel less alone and mitigate some of the stress that comes from being away from friends.
Technology can also help younger kids feel closer to relatives or friends they can’t see at the moment. My parents video chat with their granddaughter every night and read her a (digital) bedtime story. It’s not perfect, but it helps us all feel closer and less stressed.
In the face of events that are scary and largely out of our control, it’s important to be proactive about what you can control. Making plans helps you visualize the near future. How can your kids have virtual play dates? What can your family do that would be fun outside? What are favorite foods you can cook during this time? Make lists that kids can add to. Seeing you problem solve in response to this crisis can be instructive and reassuring for kids.
Even better, assign kids tasks that will help them feel that they are part of the plan and making a valuable contribution to the family.
Keep it positive
Though adults are feeling apprehensive, to most children the words “School’s closed” are cause for celebration. “My kid was thrilled when he found out school would be closing,” says Rachel Busman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. Parents, she says, should validate that feeling of excitement and use it as a springboard to help kids stay calm and happy.
Let kids know that you’re glad they’re excited, but make sure they understand that though it may feel like vacations they’ve had in the past, things will be different this time. For example, Dr. Busman suggests, “It’s so cool to have everyone home together. We’re going to have good time! Remember, though, we’ll still be doing work and sticking to a regular schedule.”
Keep kids in the loop — but keep it simple
“Talking to children in a clear, reasonable way about what’s going on is the best way to help them understand,” says Dr. Busman. “But remember kids don’t need to know every little thing.” Unless kids ask specifically, there’s no reason to volunteer information that might worry them.
For example, our two-year-old daughter Alice is used to seeing her grandparents regularly, but right now we’re keeping our distance to make sure everyone stays safe. When she asks about them we say: “We won’t see Grandma and Grandpa this week but we will see them soon!” We don’t say: “We’re staying away from Grandma and Grandpa because we could get them sick.” Older kids can handle — and expect — more detail, but you should still be thoughtful about what kinds of information you share with them.
Check in with little kids
Young children may be oblivious to the facts of the situation, but they may still feel unsettled by the changes in routine, or pick up on the fact that people around them are worried and upset. Plan to check in with younger children periodically and give them the chance to process any worries they may be having. Children who are tantruming more than usual, being defiant or acting out may actually be feeling anxious. Pick a calm, undistracted time and gently ask how they’re feeling and make sure to respond to outbursts in a calm, consistent, comforting way.
Sometimes the path of least resistance is the right path
Remember to be reasonable and kind to yourself. We all want to be our best parenting selves as much as we can, but sometimes that best self is the one that says, “Go for it,” when a kid asks for more time on the iPad. My daughter is watching Elmo’s World — and possibly drawing on the wall — as I write this. That shrill red Muppet is the only reason I’m able to write at all.
“We should forgive ourselves the image of perfection that we normally aspire to as parents,” says Dr. Anderson. “Maybe your kids don’t have TV or screens on the weeknights during the school year, but now that school is cancelled or online, we can give ourselves license to relax these boundaries a bit. We can explain to our kids that this is a unique situation and re-institute boundaries once more when life returns to normal.”
Accept and ask for help
If you have a partner at home, agree that you’ll trade off when it comes to childcare. Especially if one or both of you are working from home and have younger children. That way everyone gets a break and some breathing room.
Everyone who can pitch in, should. Give kids age appropriate jobs. For example, teens might be able to help mind younger siblings when both parents have to work. Most children can set the table, help keep communal spaces clean, do dishes or take out the trash. Even toddlers can learn to pick up their own toys. Working as a team will help your whole family stay busy and make sure no one person (Mom) is overwhelmed.
“Be creative and be flexible,” says Dr. Busman, “and try not to be hard on yourself. You have to find a balance that works for your family. The goal should be to stay sane and stay safe.”
~ Rae JacobsonLink to above article
ATTENTION ALL WASHINGTON, D.C. STUDENT TRAVELERS: POSTPONED TRIP
(Originally sent 3/13/20; Updated 4/2/20)
Dear Families of Bernal Intermediate School,
We are writing to let you know that in response to the growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our 2020 Washington, D.C. and New York City trip.
New Travel Dates
After working closely with my WorldStrides Account Manager to finalize new travel dates, we are officially rebooked to travel Wednesday, June 24th – Tuesday, June 30th, 2020.
We want to thank you for your tremendous patience as we’ve navigated this situation with our partners at WorldStrides. We’ve just spoken with our contact there, and we hope you’ll be pleased with how they’ve cleared a path forward that will better suit our families!
Updated Cancelation Policy
We are excited to travel with those of you who can join us on our new travel dates of June 24th – June 30th, 2020. You have worked so hard, and we all know how much we are all missing out on right now. This trip is going to be a great reward after getting through this difficult period. For the few students who are unable to join on the new travel dates, WorldStrides will honor the Full Refund Program, as we’ve already discussed. Here's the update! For those who did not purchase FRP, you will also get a similar cash refund, with an adjustment of $279 for just a small portion of WorldStrides’ unrecoverable costs including deposit paid. ($279 was the cost of the original FRP.) Your exact refund amount will vary depending on what you paid out of pocket. As per our agreement, fundraising money will be retained to benefit students who travel.
Due to the high volume of refunds being processed, WorldStrides has asked for your understanding on timing. Families can expect to receive refunds in June. If you have already canceled, you do not need to do anything. WorldStrides will send checks to everyone who has canceled or who may cancel. There is no deadline to cancel if you have not already done so.
We are still hoping that Bernal will be able to travel in June. We want students to have something to look forward to, and the educational experiences of this trip are invaluable especially in light of how much students will have missed. However, we would also be willing, if necessary, to postpone the trip again until mid or late July if there are still students who want to participate. We will not travel until it is safe, but that is a WorldStrides call.
Steps to take if you need to cancel your trip:
Please let us know if you wish to cancel by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact WorldStrides for you. We can send you your luggage fees refund through Venmo or mail you a check. Please let us know your Venmo name OR the address you'd like us to mail the check.
Thank you for your patience in dealing with this evolving situation.
Mrs. Phelps & Ms. Crawford