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Dear Nueva Community,

To everything there is a season, and this is our season to work through unprecedented challenges together. This afternoon, in an effort to flatten the curve, six counties, including San Mateo, underscored the need to maintain social distancing to protect the health of our residents. San Mateo County schools will be closed until the end of the school year. Click here to read the full announcement.

Although many of us were anticipating this, all of us were also hoping to return to in-person learning, even if just for a few days. Over the last several weeks, we have all heard that said over and over—in calls and in emails—and, as a faculty/staff, we have said this to one another. We miss seeing our youngest children building their forts or gathering in the ballroom, hearing the laughter of our middle schoolers on the plaza, listening to the discussions among our teens as they attend to their work with a seriousness of purpose.

With today’s announcement, we will be turning from Plan A, the end of the year as we have known it, to Plan B, a plan we had begun to map out but hoped we wouldn’t need to implement. Teachers in each division have been reimagining what the weeks after spring break might look like, from May culminations and Quest Expo to eighth-grade celebration and June graduation. The Class of 2020 is facing a very different end of year from what they and we were expecting. We’ll work closely with this fourth founding class to create a remarkably memorable week leading up to a redesigned graduation ceremony that will be distinctly their own.

In addition to the planning of culminations and graduation, the weeks will continue to be filled with deep, meaningful learning. In little more than three weeks, our teachers have drafted, piloted, and launched our remote learning program, creating synchronous and asynchronous classes. That program will only continue to improve as we refine. The feedback we have received from students and parents through weekly surveys helps us do what we care about most—delivering on our promises to our students. Students in all three divisions reported feeling known, valued, and cared for by their teachers. Students feel intellectually engaged and many commented on the rich content and structure of their classes. Students say they have learned to persevere through challenges and have felt their teachers were accessible to them. In all three divisions, students mentioned how much they missed their peers and longed for more social time. Students said they needed more physical activity. Middle and Upper School students reported on the homework load—from too little to just right to some saying it was too much. We’ll continue to monitor and adjust.

We’ve also heard from teachers and advisors that students, youngest to oldest, have commented on this special time with their families—cooking together, playing board games, watching movies. They treasure this slower pace, this togetherness. One teacher wrote, “I saw a meme on social media recently that was about how we adults may have the strongest memories 10 years from now of the politics and of our fears for economic and physical well-being during this time; however, our children may remember it as a time of togetherness, slowing down, and building family memories.”

We are building memories as we live our motto—Learn by doing, Learn by caring. Thank you for your care of our community.

Let me close with the words I keep above my desk at home—a sentiment I believe speaks to the soul of our school:

Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart.  —  V. Havel

All my best to each of you,

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