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St. John’s Lutheran School Waiver Application Process and Safety Protocols

On Friday, July 17, Governor Gavin Newsom put forth the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California. St. John’s Lutheran School is an elementary school located in Old Towne Orange, California. St. John’s Lutheran School has continuously operated in Orange since 1883, serving families with a high-quality education.

St. John’s Lutheran School has nearly 700 students. These families serve our community in a wide variety of ways from doctors and nurses to firefighters, law enforcement, and many other “essential worker” positions. The school is a critical piece of all family’s life, not only educating their child, but caring for the children while they are working, working even during the pandemic.

Waiver Application (p. 6)

School Waiver St. John’s Lutheran School August 4 2020

Background Information

St. John’s Lutheran School – private school

Number of schools – 1

Enrollment – 511

Superintendent (or equivalent name) – Dr. Jacob D. Hollatz

Grades/Number of Students Proposed to Reopen:

Kindergarten: 73 – 3 classes

1st grade: 62 – 3 classes

2nd grade: 75 – 3 classes

3rd grade: 65 – 3 classes

4th grade: 73 – 3 classes

5th grade: 79 – 3 classes

6th grade: 84 – 3 classes

Date of proposed reopening: August 18, 2020

Name of person completing application: Dr. Jacob D. Hollatz

Phone number: (714) 288-4406

Date: August 4, 2020

I. Consultation

Labor:

The teachers, instructional assistants, and office staff at St. John’s deeply desire to be back at work and have students physically in classrooms. The staff was presented with the health, safety and re-opening protocols on July 20 and have agreed that they overwhelmingly prefer to teach in person than online. The teaching, support, and administrative staff were surveyed about their desire for teaching modality. 90% of them want to come back.

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Parent and Community Organizations

School Age Care (on side day care) – July 20, 2020 consultation – the day care staff results are included in the staff results above and are overwhelmingly ready to start school face-to-face.

St. John’s also has a parent Auxiliary or PTA. The executive board of this organization was surveyed and they unanimously want to come back to school. They were consulted on July 30, 2020. Parents were also surveyed on July 14. 73% of parents desired the school to open face-to-face and that survey had a 95% response rate. See the survey results below.

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Since St. John’s is a private school, we have no official labor organization. Our teachers were provided with an anonymous survey to express their interest in returning to campus and the results are in the above graphs.

II. Elementary School Reopening Plans

The information below in the documents confirms that St. John’s Lutheran School reopening plan(s) address the following, consistent with guidance from the California Department of Public Health and the local health department, have been published on the website of the local educational agency (on this site and on http://www.sjls.org):

Cleaning and Disinfection

See the Infectious Disease Prevention Plan below.

Cohorting

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan below.

Entrances, Egresses, and Movement Within the School

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan below as well as the entrance/exit maps below.

CAMPUS_MAP_StJohnsOrange AM DROP OFF AREAS

CAMPUS_MAP_StJohnsOrange PM Drop off areas

Face Coverings and Other Essential Protective Gear

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan below.

Health Screenings for Students and Staff

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan and the Infectious Disease Prevention Plan below.

Healthy Hygiene Practices

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan below.

Identification and Contact Tracing

Staff and student protocols are in place to identify where staff and children have been to help in contact tracing. Weekly guidelines for staff include: Weekly Guidelines for Covid-19 8.3.20, postings on every door to identify where staff and children are at all times and a comprehensive attendance monitoring system (LMS/Learning Management System).

See the Infectious Disease Prevention Plan below as well.

Physical Distancing

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan below as well as the Campus Maps above.

Staff Training and Family Education

All staff are trained on COVID identification using an HR approved online course. See the St. John’s Waiver and Infectious Disease Prevention Plan below. Families will receive training through parent orientations scheduled for the beginning of the year.

Testing of Students and Staff

See the Health, Safety and Reopening Plan below, the Infectious Disease Prevention Plan and the Waiver Re-Opening below. Additionally, the school has isolation areas set up for students, published protocols for staff and community partners for testing. Our insurance fully covers COVID testing for staff. Community testing locations and partnerships are provided to all staff and families. St. John’s follows all OCHCA, CDPH, and CDC guidelines as published in St. John’s attestation that is on file on our campus. Teachers and school staff will also be able to utilize the Orange County teacher COVID testing site.

Triggers for Distance Learning

St. John’s will follow the CDPH guidelines when it becomes necessary to close down and return to all distance learning.

Communication Plans

St. John’s will follow all CDPH, CDC and HIIPA guidelines when it comes to communicating to families about regular COVID protocols and when a COVID incident happens on campus. Additionally, we have a COVID certified HR staff member to liaison between our organization and the proper health departments.

School Website

Content are published here on our school learning and communication blog as well as on https://sjls.org/admissions/welcome-visit.us.

Additional Resources:

St. John’s Waiver for Re-Opening

Health, Safety and Reopening Plan

Infectious Disease Prevention Plan [1]

CDPH and Cal/OSHA Guidance for Schools and School-Based Programs

Click to access guidance-schools.pdf

California Department of Education Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools

https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/strongertogether.asp

CDPH COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID -19/Schools%20Reopening%20Recommendations.pdf

Pumpkins Everywhere in Kindergarten!

It’s October! In kindergarten we are diving into all things Fall. This week in Mrs. Nelson’s class we are focusing on pumpkins. Some of our favorite pumpkin books so far are Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington, From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer, and It’s Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall.

It’s Pumpkin Time begins with two children preparing for one of their favorite holidays. Of course, they have to plant pumpkin seeds to get ready for Halloween!  As the story, unfolds we learn all about the life cycle of a pumpkin… 

As a class we explored some cool videos of a pumpkins life cycle and created a flow chart together. Each student then demonstrated their knowledge by creating their own pumpkin sequencing activity.

We even planted our own pumpkin seeds a couple of weeks ago when we were studying plants. We were able to watch them sprout and begin to grow bigger by the day! The plant was getting too big to keep in the small pot in our classroom, so it was transported to, our wonderful aid, Mrs. Pietras’s garden. She is taking pictures of it for us and we are hoping to see a pumpkin flower soon.

Up next this week, pumpkin anatomy! We will be exploring the insides of a real pumpkin and learning all of its specific parts and their functions.

By: Laura Nelson, K Teacher

A.S.P.I.R.E. to be Christ-like

Seventh and eighth grade students began the school year exploring and learning St. John’s Lutheran School’s behavior mindset traits of “accountability”, “safety”, “patience”, “integrity”, “respect”, and “empathy” in 7th grade Christian faith and life and 8th grade science.  They did this by examining God’s Word and participating in Nearpod lessons.  The culmination activity was to create an infographic of the six traits by including each trait, a Bible verse about each trait, ways they can show each trait in class and in life and an additional fact they learned.  The purpose of the activity was for students to start the year grounded in the foundation of God’s Word and know that it is through the Holy Spirit’s work in each of us that we can A.S.P.I.R.E. to show these Christ-like character traits all year long.

By Mrs. Kruse

Spanish Language Proficiency at St. John’s

By: Senor Stone, 7/8th Grade Spanish Teacher

I’m excited to share results from last year’s benchmark Spanish proficiency testing.  A group of 8th graders (25 total) self-selected to take the Avant STAMP4s test.  (STAMP stands for Standards-Based Measure of Proficiency).  This test is a recognized reliable and valid tool which measures language proficiency based on our World Standards and the ACTFL guidelines.  The test measures proficiency in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.  It gives results which compare our students to thousands of students across the country and gives feedback to teachers as to the effectiveness of the methods they use to teach.  

Last year’s test group was special.  Due to changes in schedule, I had them for about 60 hours more than previous group.  Most of the groups take the test at 180 hours.   This group took the test at about 240 hours of instruction (that’s the equivalent in hours of Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 in high school. As well, this group is the first to have participated in Silent Sustained Reading for two years. 

The results were striking.  The group mean, across all four skills, was a 4.45.  The Avant company correlates a 4.45 to about 520 hours of study (comparing with students across the country).  That is almost double the amount of time this St. John’s 8th grade group had.  We had two students achieve a score of 5 in each of the four areas tested (at least 650 hours of study normally) qualifying them for the Global Seal of Biliteracy Functional Level (side note: the Global Seal is rigorous.  They require proof of proficiency in both languages and only accept specific, reliable tests.  STAMP4s is one, The College Board AP test is another.  The Functional level Global Seal is considered the equivalent of an AP 3 pass).  There were an additional 10 students who came within one or two points from qualifying for their Global Seals.    

Most significantly, these students achieved this level of proficiency without using a commercial book, without being given traditional grammar explanations (using linguistic terms such as preterit, imperfect, etc.—the AP doesn’t expect students know these terms).  As well they did no verb conjugation charts and did not fill in any vocabulary/grammar worksheets.  They did not take a single multiple-choice quiz.  How did they do it?  Simple: following the principles of proficiency and language acquisition research.  Students are given opportunities each day to interact with the language by focusing on content which is at least 90% comprehensible to them.  I work hard to keep the content engaging and repetitive in novel ways.  The repetition came from focusing on a limited amount of vocabulary and verbs from lists of the most frequently used words.  Because our brains are hard-wired to acquire language through story, the engaging contexts took the form of story co-creation with students.  The oral stories are linked to written stories which are in multiple versions designed to push their level higher with each version. Production activities (speaking and writing) are designed to help students to use circumlocution to make themselves understood.  The program is rounded out by Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) using novels based on most frequent words.

A shift from the outdated and inefficient grammar scope and sequences used in some high schools is taking place around the country.  The Denver Public School system shifted completely to proficiency teaching about 10 years ago and enjoy 92% pass rates on the AP tests.  Most of those students score 4 and 5 and never learned the linguistic terms “preterit, imperfect, etc” and did no motivation killing grammar worksheets!  If this interests you and you’d like to hear the expert’s opinions about what is going on in Spanish class at St. John’s and in other departments around the California and the country, I am attaching a link to a video.  It is one of the clearest examples of how the choice of method can make all the difference in the world.  You don’t have to watch the entire hour.  The first 20 minutes gets to the heart of what I am talking about here (and if your time is really limited, start at 4:00 minutes and stop at 18:00 minutes.)

The Right People. The Right Place. The Right Time.

I have a small card under the glass on my desk at school that bears a simple, yet profound, message:  “Everything seems impossible until it is done.”  I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about that card lately.

It wasn’t too many days ago that none of us were too sure how the school year would begin.  New (and often contradictory) regulations and guidelines were hemorrhaging out of Sacramento, seemingly hourly. Newscasters made the most of the confusion, predicting a crisis in classrooms through California and the nation, as a whole.   Meanwhile, here in Orange,  St. John’s Lutheran church and school leadership quietly spent the last seven months intensely studying the guidelines, creating policy, and then deftly shifting it to follow the new guidelines that would ultimately determine how St. John’s Lutheran School would face a challenging (and, at times, a daunting) future.

Yet, here we are.

It’s the second week of school for all of us.  Preschool through the Sixth Grades are in their proper classrooms, being taught by hardworking, caring, and somewhat exhausted Christian teachers.  While the Seventh and Eighth Grade students are still learning online, the word going around is that, given the current trends, Seventh and Eighth Graders could be back in the Chapman Building in a couple of weeks.

Far from the potential train wreck predicted by some, the opening of St. John’s Lutheran School  has been, calm and orderly and, in a sense, predictable.  We’ve met the challenges and pressed forward.  Given the predictions of disaster, how has St. John’s Lutheran School  achieved such a feat?

It wasn’t us.

God’s Hand has clearly been at work.  In His eternal foresight, Our Lord has placed the right leaders in positions where their skills are in direct alignment with what needed to be done – and when.  The right people became “Covid-19” experts.  The right campus management team envisioned the right policies that allowed the right administrators to compose the right words for the waiver, which was submitted to the right people, at the right time, to effect the right outcome.  The right teachers prepared for both styles of learning – online and face-to-face – so that, whichever mode was needed could be implemented immediately.  Parents stood in solidarity with St. John’s Lutheran School, praying, petitioning, and holding their ground as SJLS supporters even when things looked a bit dicey.

Because of the power of the Almighty, working with and through the people mentioned in the paragraph above,  St. John’s Lutheran School opened, as it should have, on the date that was determined last January, before most Americans had ever heard of plague known as “Covid-19.”  While not, perhaps, in the same league as changing water into wine, I consider what happened here miraculous, given the challenges the church and school faced – and is facing today. 

God is good.  God is powerful.  God engages with His people.  We’ve just seen that here at St. John’s.

Like you, I’m awed.  And, of course, highly thankful.

Kevin G. Smith

Seventh Grade Language Arts & Christian Faith and Life