September 18, 2020 - Transition for K-2 Students

posted by Brad VanDyne   [ updated ]

Hello Loon Lake Families,

As always, I hope this message finds you healthy and well.  

I would like to give you a quick update today on transitioning kids to school for face-to-face instruction, and when that might happen.

It is important to know that, right now, NE Tri County Health’s recommendation has not changed.  They are still recommending distance learning.  However, while this recommendation is in place, there is some allowance for bringing in small groups of our highest need learners right now.  

We believe that learning on a screen is the most difficult for our youngest learners.  So, beginning next week, we will start to bring small groups of Kindergarten through 2nd grade students in for face-to-face learning a couple times per week.  

So, allow me to speak to our 3rd through 6th grade families first.  As of right now, we will continue with distance learning for you.  We will need to await further guidance from NE Tri County Health in order to begin transitioning our older students in.  Thanks for your continued patience and for working so hard to get your kids online and learning each day.  

And to our kindergarten through 2nd grade families, a few quick notes for you:  Rest assured, we will be following all required safety guidelines.  Your child’s safety, and your family’s safety, is our number one priority.  Remember that masks are required for students.  They don’t need to wear one outside at recess, but they will need to wear them in the building.  If your child needs one, we have plenty.  Remember that you will receive an email in the mornings to complete your child’s required health screening.  And finally, the department of health has very clear guidance for students who develop possible symptoms for COVID-19, which include not being at school for a period of time.  Just keep that in the back of your minds for now, and please make sure the phone numbers we have for you and your emergency contacts are up-to-date.  

Thanks again for all of your support and for partnering with us.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.  

Have a great weekend and we’ll talk again soon -
Brad

September 11, 2020 - Thank you!

posted Sep 11, 2020, 2:54 PM by Brad VanDyne

Hello Loon Lake Families,

Whew, we made it through our first real week of distance learning.  High 5’s all around!  

Just a quick message today to say thank you.  Thank you for your hard work getting your kids what they need and getting them online every day.  Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we nail down our delivery schedules.  Thank you for your willingness to try something new, and thank you for sticking with us and walking alongside us during this time.  

We all know and understand that learning on a screen simply cannot compete with learning face-to-face.  This is not ideal.  And thankfully, it’s not permanent either.  We all hope to begin transitioning kids back soon, but whether we are behind a screen or face-to-face, we will continue to do the absolute best job we can to meet the needs of your family right now.  

If there is anything at all you need, please let me know.   Enjoy your weekend and we’ll talk again soon 
Brad

September 7, 2020 - Delivery Update

posted Sep 7, 2020, 2:52 PM by Brad VanDyne

Hello Loon Lake Families,

Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with our teachers last week, and for filling out the mountainous pile of paperwork.  We greatly appreciate it and hope you found as much value in your conference as we did.  

A quick update today regarding deliveries.  As we begin at a distance, there are two things that will need to be delivered:  The first is food.  We have a pretty good idea of who needs what, and we can always add food delivery for you, or cancel your food delivery, if your needs change.  

The second delivery item is school work.  Yes, your child is learning with their teacher online, but there will be items the teachers will want in your child’s hands each week to guide their learning.  So even if you do not want food delivery, we will plan on delivering these learning materials.  

We will begin our deliveries this week, and we know there will be bumps along the way, and tweaks that will need to happen.  But the only way to work out a system is to get started, so here is our plan:  

We will deliver items 3 days per week.  
  • On Wednesdays, we will deliver to families south of the school.  Wednesday deliveries will be food items only.  
  • On Thursdays, we will deliver to families north of the school.  Thursday deliveries will include food and school work.  
  • On Fridays, we will deliver school work to the families south of the school, which is essentially our Wednesday route.   
On our website and on our Facebook page, we have created a sheet that lists the streets we will be delivering to on all 3 of these days, and we have listed them in the order in which we will deliver.  We will leave the school each day at 9:00 a.m.  

If you’re confused, don’t worry.  Give us a call tomorrow and we will try our best to answer your questions.  Like I said, we know the first week or so will be trial and error, so thank you for your patience as we work through the details.

Oh, and just a heads up, we will not be delivering in a big yellow bus.  Instead, look for a Toyota minivan that says Loon Lake School on the side.  

I think that’s it for now.  Thank you again for partnering with us.  We are excited for our first real week of this new adventure to begin.  

Let me know if you need anything.  Take good care, and we’ll talk again soon – 
Brad

August 28, 2020 - Conferences Next Week

posted Aug 28, 2020, 1:21 PM by Brad VanDyne

Hello Loon Lake Families,

I hope this message finds you well and staying healthy.  

A simple message today about next week.  Remember that we are holding conferences on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday so you and your child can meet their teacher.  Please make sure your child attends with you, and even though it’s annoying, please wear your masks, which are required by the Department of Health.  We have masks available if you need one.  

Besides learning more about how your child’s classroom will work, we will also be distributing technology, and also the required registration paperwork.  We will have tables set up so you can fill out the paperwork at the school while you are here.  

Also, breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup in front of the school on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.  

Please reach out to us if you have any questions at all about conferences next week.  

As I’ve told you before, our goal at the school, and my personal goal, is to do everything we can to support your family during this time.  Please let us know what you need, and we will work to solve problems as quickly as we can.  Thank you for partnering with us during these crazy times.  

More info to come soon about other items, but for now, we look forward to seeing you all next week.  

Take good care –
Brad

Reopening Update - NE Tri County Recommends Distance Learning Start

posted Aug 11, 2020, 1:01 PM by Brad VanDyne

8/11/2020

Hello Loon Lake Families,

I want to thank you all for taking the time to speak with me recently on the phone.  I appreciate your input and your thoughtful concerns about the safest path forward for your family.  I have a very important message today, so thank you so much for taking the time to listen.  

As I told you all during our recent conversations, our goal was to start school with face-to-face instruction in our building, but that we might not be able to do that depending on case counts and recommendations from our local Department of Health.  

As I’m sure you are aware, we have seen an uptick in COVID cases here in Stevens County, and the numbers put us in the high risk category for holding school face-to face.  Because of this, Northeast Tri County Health has officially recommended that schools in Stevens County start with a distance learning only model.  After careful consideration, the school board and I have decided to follow their recommendation.  As our counselor, Miss Kristi, and I tell our students all the time, our number one job is to keep them safe.  So if we are going to live by that, we cannot go against the health department recommendations.  The safety of your kids, the safety of your entire family, and the safety of our staff and their families are our top priority.  This is a difficult decision, and not one we take lightly.  We are beyond disappointed that we can’t have our kids back yet, and we hope to begin phasing kids back as soon as we safely can.  I will be meeting with NE Tri County Health regularly.  We all hope this is very temporary.  

All that being said, our team is 100% committed to making the start of the school year a success for each of our students.  Forget about last spring.  We’re going to do it differently, and we are going to do it better.  We have created a daily schedule, so you and your kids know what is expected each day.  This schedule is available on our website and will be shared via our Facebook page.  We are investing in hotspots for families who need them, and we have a Chromebook available for every student.  Our teachers will be doing what they were born to do, and that is teaching your kids each day.  This is our job, not yours.  

Also, we just don’t believe it would be right to start the school year without your child meeting their teacher.  So, we are going to spend our first 3 days of school (which is September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) doing face-to-face conferences, while of course following all safety guidelines.  At these meetings, your child can meet their teacher, we can review schedules and expectations, we can give you your Chromebook, and we can problem solve and try to answer any questions you may have.  We will schedule these conferences closer to the end of August.  

Please know that I am very aware that distance learning will be a challenge for many of you.  It will be a challenge for us, too.  It is my personal mission to listen to you, serve you, and do whatever I can to get you what you need.  

I will have more information soon about meals and other details, so there is certainly more to come.  

We will get through these tough times together.  Thank you for your continued partnership.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me with any questions or concerns you have.  

Take good care and I’ll talk to you again soon – 
Brad

One Last Message & Summer Food

posted Jun 19, 2020, 1:05 PM by Brad VanDyne

Hello again, Loon Lake Families,

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s June 19th, Brad, how long do we have to endure your weekly messages?  The answer is, for about two more minutes.  This will be my last regularly scheduled communication for a while.  However, my goal is to keep you updated, so you can expect a message from me if any major changes happen regarding reopening school in the fall. 

Speaking of reopening in the fall, we will spend the next 6 to 8 weeks working hard to create a plan for Loon Lake.  A plan that gets kids back to school and keeps staff and students safe.  So more info to come on that soon.  

As I’m sure you are aware, one thing that the Department of Health has said is that face coverings will be required for all students and staff.  I know a lot of people, and exactly zero of them are excited about this.  Could this change?  Perhaps.  But it also might not change.  So it might be a good idea to have your child practice wearing a mask this summer.  Start small.  15 minutes here, 15 minutes there.  Also, we will provide masks for your kids if they are indeed required.  Of course you are welcome to use your own masks, but don’t stress about purchasing or making any.  We’ve got you covered.  And again, if the guidance changes later this summer about this, I’ll let you know.  

Now a quick note about summer food.  While our district is not serving food directly, you have some options.  I believe that Deer Park, Valley, and Mary Walker are summer food sites, and it doesn’t matter which school your child attends, you can get food from any of these locations.  To find a summer meal site near you, you can text “food” to 877-877, or go to nokidhungry.org/find-free-meals.  If you need help with this, just give us a call or email me.  

Before we call it a school year, I want to thank our food service crew for their amazing work to keep our community fed.  I want to thank our teachers for keeping our kids learning.  I want to thank my entire staff for the way they banded together and got creative.  And I want to thank you, our families, for working alongside us to figure this all out.  I am proud to be part of the Loon Lake Family.  

If you need anything this summer, please reach out.  Email me directly and I will get back to you quickly.  

Take good care – 
Brad

6th Grade Love and P-EBT

posted Jun 12, 2020, 12:21 PM by Brad VanDyne

June 12, 2020

Hello again, Loon Lake Families.  I hope this finds you safely enjoying our phase 3 status here in beautiful Stevens County.  

Just a few quick items today.  

First, I want to take a second to recognize our graduating 6th graders, and shower them with the love they deserve.  Yesterday we held our drive-through graduation, and while it certainly wasn’t the same, we are glad we were able to do something.  6th graders – you are amazing.  We love you and we are so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see all the great things that you are going to accomplish.  Please come back and visit us often, especially since our time with you was cut short.  It doesn’t matter if you were with us for 7 years or 7 months, you will always be a Loon Lake graduate, and you will always be one of ours.  

Secondly today, I want you to know that ALL of our families with children who attend Loon Lake Elementary qualify for extra food benefits through the P-EBT program.  The P stands for pandemic, and EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer.  These funds can help you make up the costs of meals while school was closed.  I have put a letter on our website explaining what to do to claim these benefits.  We will also send this letter home on our food delivery routes on Monday.  If you have any questions, please call us.  

Thirdly, a reminder that next week is the last week of food service, and also the last week to turn in any school work.  All work is due by Wednesday, June 17th.  You can expect report cards in the mail the week of June 22nd.  

And finally, some of you may have heard that the state released guidance yesterday about reopening schools in the fall.  We are still digesting this information, and we will share more specifics down the road.  But right now, we believe we will be able to bring our students back to school in September.  There will be some masks and social distancing involved, but we believe kids will be here.  And we can’t wait.  

Have a great weekend and take good care – 
Brad

Spring Picture Orders and Year End Details

posted Jun 5, 2020, 1:14 PM by Brad VanDyne

June 5, 2020

Hello again, Loon Lake Families.  I hope this message finds you healthy, well, and dominating all aspects of life.  

June is here which means we are wrapping things up.  This message will be short with just a few quick reminders.

First, because we couldn’t do spring class pictures, Leo’s Photography is giving you a chance to order a composite picture of your child’s class, made up of the students’ individual pictures taken last fall.  Info was sent home about this, but if you need the info again, please e-mail me directly at bvandyne@loonlakeschool.org and I will get it to you quickly.  Pictures are $8 apiece and the deadline to order is June 8th.  

Second, we sent out our last week of learning materials last Monday, which means nothing new will be available from here on out.  Use these last two weeks coming up to finish up any school work you have at home.  Please get in touch with your child’s teacher and keep communicating.  All school work is due by Wednesday, June 17.  

And finally, just a reminder that we have two more weeks of food delivery and pick up.  Our school year concludes on June 19, which means our last delivery and pick up will be on Wednesday, June 17.  

And a quick side note - we are anxiously awaiting guidance from the state regarding reopening school in the fall.  The word is this guidance is coming to schools early next week.  Once it’s out and we’ve had a chance to examine it and see how it applies to us at Loon Lake, I will share what we know.  So more about that soon.

Have a great weekend everyone, and we’ll talk again soon – 
Brad

Further Clarification on Report Cards & Learning

posted May 29, 2020, 2:47 PM by Brad VanDyne

May 29, 2020

Hello again Loon Lake families, I hope this finds you enjoying some sunshine and staying well.  

As we transition to June, my hope today is to try and ease any remaining anxiety you may have about report cards and school work.

For an elementary student, a report cards serves two main purposes.  The first is to inform parents about how well your child is progressing in their learning.  The second purpose is to give information to your child’s teacher next year, to help them plan instruction.  

Right now, given this strange situation we find ourselves in, we understand that our report cards can only fulfill one of these two purposes.  It would not be fair or accurate for our teachers to gauge your child’s actual learning during this closure.  The only thing we can do is help your child’s teacher next year by documenting the level of engagement of your child during this time.  The teachers and I have decided that there will be no F’s, or incompletes, or any letter or effort grades at all for that matter.  Just an indicator for the level of engagement.  Please check out the document on our website for more specifics about what this will look like.

No student will repeat their current grade level if they have been unable to engage with their teacher.  It doesn’t mean they have failed.  It just means we have a lot of work to do when school resumes.  Because while an elementary report card doesn’t play much of a role in your child’s future, the learning your child does during their elementary years absolutely does.  The foundational skills they are learning are crucial to their success down the road.  

We know this is a challenging time for parents.  So, the simplest and best thing you and your child can do right now is to stay in contact with their teacher.  Let them know how you’re doing, let them know what’s going well or not well, let them know how they can help.  More than anything, our teachers miss their students.  Communication and connection are huge.       

Ok, two more quick things.  First, there has been some talk swirling around in the news about what reopening school in the fall could look like.  The most important thing to know right now is that nobody actually knows yet what it will look like.  The state has put together a 100+ person task force to examine options and research what other states and countries are doing.  We’ll know more soon, and when we do, I will communicate what we know.  

And finally, our amazing PE teacher, Mrs. Magnuson received a grant to purchase some items for each student, items that can help keep kids active and healthy during this time.  A bag for each elementary student will be available next week, and we will deliver them on our food service bus routes.  Huge thanks to Mrs. Magnuson!  

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me.  I would be more than happy to talk with you about anything at all.  This is a challenging time, and I’m proud of the way our Loon Lake Family and community has responded.  

Take good care and we’ll talk again soon –
Brad

End of School Year Updates

posted May 22, 2020, 1:39 PM by Brad VanDyne

May 22, 2020

Hello again, Loon Lake families.  I hope this week has brought continued health and wellness to you and yours.    

As June approaches, I want to talk today about 3 things regarding the end of the school year.    

First of all, pretty much all school districts are required to add 5 extra days on to their school calendar because of this extended closure, which would make our last day of school June 19th.  This means our last two days of food service will be June 15th and June 17th.    

Secondly, let’s talk about what our report cards will look like for this spring.  During the first two trimesters, your child’s teacher graded your child’s progress in each subject area.  But for this last trimester, it wouldn’t make much sense to do that.  We understand that this is a challenging time for all of our families.  We also understand that kids have been at home, and not here with us.  So for our last trimester, our teachers will use the report card to document the only thing they can accurately measure right now, and that is how engaged each student has been with their learning.  This information will help your child’s teacher next year plan instruction.  On our website, I have posted a document that talks about this in more detail.  It is right on the homepage and it’s called Learning and Grading during COVID-19.  Please check it out.  

Finally, I’d like to talk directly to all of our amazing Loon Lake Elementary students for a second.  Loon Lake Lions, we miss you so much.  We hope you are doing ok.  Every year, you impress us with your caring hearts and your willingness to attack challenges.  Right now, you are facing a challenge, and once again, it’s time to rise up.  So for these last few weeks of school, really dig deep and work hard.  Get in touch with your teacher.  Complete the work being sent home and make sure your teacher gets it back.  Ask questions.  Join your teacher’s zoom meetings if you can.  Do everything you can to make sure you keep learning.  You are worth it.  You are all amazing, and we can’t wait to have you back here again.  

Have a great weekend everyone.  Talk to you soon – 
Brad

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