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COVID-19 Information and Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning

As Pella Christian Schools continues to monitor the ever-changing situation with regard to COVID-19 or Coronavirus, this page will serve as a center of information for our community. 

Pella Christian Grade School and High School have determined that the best way forward during this unprecedented time is to prioritize social distancing to protect and care for those who are medically vulnerable. On the basis of that determination, beginning March 23, all on-campus operations will be suspended immediately. 

Correspondence From Pella Christian Schools

Dear Pella Christian School Parents,

At times like this, we are drawn to scriptures that offer comfort and assurance.   Something about God’s reassurance to the Israelites, in particular, strikes a chord of comfort and peace. A favorite passage is Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” While this passage is written to the nation of Israel, it is written for us as well. The God of Israel is our God, and he is near to us, and is with us no matter our circumstance.   Our fervent prayer is that God is near to you today and that you are able to find real comfort and peace in him.  

Day three of virtual teaching and learning is in the books.  We would like to thank everyone who has shared feedback regarding The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Environment.  Our teachers have had several good days of instruction and are busy preparing next week’s learning activities. Teachers are planning to upload content for next week’s learning by 3 PM this Friday, just as we did this past Friday.  Teachers will upload plans for Monday through Thursday.

Our current guidance from Iowa’s Governor Reynolds is that schools remain closed until April 13, and the information we receive from government and public health agencies continues to be fluid.  Governor Reynolds indicated that by the end of this week she would be communicating whether the April 13 timetable would be extended. We are awaiting further guidance and will share that with you as it becomes available.  As of now, Pella Christian Schools will be in a virtual campus at least through April 9.   

Given our desire to honor the liturgical rhythms of our Christian calendar, we do not plan to hold virtual school on Good Friday.  We would invite you and your families to find meaningful ways to observe this important date in our story of salvation.

Pella Christian Schools Administrative Team has been in conversation about what parent-teacher conferences will look like in a virtual environment.  Please be looking for communication regarding the logistics of parent-teacher conferences sometime next week. 

Our school mental health counselor, Jeanetta Nieuwsma, continues to be available to support our students and families. If you have a question or concern or want to set up a Zoom meeting with Jeanetta you can reach out to her at nieuwsmaj@pellachristian.net.  In addition, PCHS students and families are afforded three free visits with mental health experts at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health service in Pella. Each student and family member is given this benefit through Pella Christian's membership in Pine Rest's Student Assistance Program (SAP). Due to COVID-19, these appointments will be available via teletherapy. The following link shares more information about the Pine Rest SAP: Pine Rest SAP. 

Early next week, Pella Christian Schools will be sending a survey to families to gather feedback regarding your experience with The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.  Please continue to provide feedback through the most effective channels. Class questions can go directly to teachers, and where possible and age-appropriate, please equip your children to engage teachers directly with their questions and concerns. We believe these are valuable opportunities to help our children grow that will serve them well long after our on-campus operations re-open. Any general concerns can be brought to the appropriate school leader.

Finally, Pella Christian High School would like to invite all Pella Christian families to join us for a special virtual chapel at 8:30 a.m. this Friday morning.  A small group of students will lead us in prayer, scripture reading, and singing. Pastor Brad Meinders will share a brief message.  Communication will go out soon with information about how your family can participate in this worship opportunity.  

Please know that we continue to pray for you!  May you find strength and courage in our Sovereign Lord and King today.

In His grip,

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

At times like this, we are drawn to scriptures that offer comfort and assurance.   Something about God’s reassurance to the Israelites, in particular, strikes a chord of comfort and peace. A favorite passage is Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” While this passage is written to the nation of Israel, it is written for us as well. The God of Israel is our God, and he is near to us and is with us no matter our circumstance.   Our fervent prayer is that God is near to you today and that you are able to find real comfort and peace in him. 

Day three of virtual teaching and learning is in the books.  We would like to thank everyone who shared warm and cool feedback regarding The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Environment.  Our teachers have had several good days of instruction and are busy preparing next week’s learning activities.   

Our current guidance from Iowa’s Governor Reynolds is that schools remain closed until April 13, and the information we receive from government and public health agencies continues to be fluid.  Governor Reynolds indicated that by the end of this week she would be communicating whether the April 13 timetable would be extended. We are awaiting further guidance and will share that with you as it becomes available.  As of now, Pella Christian Schools will be in a virtual campus until April 10.

Completed learning packets for students in grade K-5 can be dropped off and a new one picked up on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. or Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m at the main entrance to the building.  The building will be sealed off and drop off and pickup will take place in the breezeway. Disinfectant wipes will be available at the entrance. Bins and hanging file folders will be clearly marked by grade and classroom.  A downloadable link to the learning packet will also be made available in each classroom’s learning plan on the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, which families may choose to download and print instead of picking up a packet.  Families choosing to download and print packets from home can scan and email completed packets to office@pellachristian.net.

Some families have requested printed copies of the classroom learning plans that are on the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website for each one of their children.  If this is something your family would benefit from please submit a request via email to office@pellachristian.net by noon on Friday.  Printed learning plans will be made available on Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. at the main entrance to the building.  

Given our desire to honor the liturgical rhythms of the Christian calendar, we do not plan to hold virtual school on Good Friday.  We would invite you and your families to find meaningful ways to observe this important date in our story of salvation.

Pella Christian Schools Administrative Team has been in conversation about what parent-teacher conferences will look like in a virtual environment.  Please be looking for communication regarding the logistics of parent-teacher conferences sometime next week.  

Our school counselor, Jeanetta Nieuwsma, continues to be available to support our students and families. If you have a question or concern or want to set up a Zoom meeting with Jeanetta you can reach out to her at nieuwsmaj@pellachristian.net.  In addition, PCGS students and families are afforded three free visits with mental health experts at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health service in Pella. Each student and family member is given this benefit through Pella Christian's membership in Pine Rest's Student Assistance Program (SAP). Due to COVID-19, these appointments will be available via teletherapy. The following link shares more information about the Pine Rest SAP: Pine Rest SAP.  

Early next week, Pella Christian Schools will be sending a survey to families to gather feedback regarding your experience with The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.  Please continue to provide feedback through the most effective channels. Class questions can go directly to teachers, and where possible and age-appropriate, please equip your children to engage teachers directly with their questions and concerns. We believe these are valuable opportunities to help our children grow that will serve them well long after our on-campus operations re-open. Any general concerns can be brought to the appropriate school leader.

Finally, Pella Christian High School would like to invite all Pella Christian families to join us for a special virtual chapel at 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning.  A small group of students will lead us in prayer, scripture reading, and singing. Pastor Brad Meinders will share a brief message. Communication will go out soon with information about how your family can participate in this worship opportunity.  

Please know that we continue to pray for you.  May you find strength and courage in our Sovereign Lord and King today.   

In faithful service,  

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Dear Pella Christian High Families, 

It has been a busy week of learning for our staff, and we are excited to share with you the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website! By 3:00 p.m. today, next week’s assignments will be posted on each teacher’s Google Classroom or Moodle Classroom. To see all teacher plans in one central location, go to the Virtual Learning link in the Academics drop-down menu.

We recognize the importance of feedback and ask that you begin providing grace-filled feedback to staff as your family experiences the new virtual teaching and learning environment.  A survey will be released to all parents in the second week of the virtual teaching and learning environment that will also be used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the program.  We will use your feedback to make improvements as best we can!

Finally, we encourage you to establish routines with your family.  The following link is a schedule that your family could consider: Suggested High School Schedule

We also put together a 40 Days of Prayer and Bible Reading document for our community as a common daily devotion. This gives our PC community a chance to pray and read the word together as we go into this unknown new reality. 

May God bless you this weekend and as we anticipate Sabbath worship, may He prepare our hearts and minds for a week of learning and growing to serve well in His Kingdom.  

Let’s do this together!

In faithful service,  

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

It has been a busy week of learning for our staff, and we are excited to share with you the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website.  At 3:00 p.m. today a link will go live on the grade school and high school website.  The link will be found in the drop-down menu of “Academics.”  Please bookmark that site. Each week at 3:00 p.m. the following week’s worth of learning experiences will be posted on each classroom's learning plan.  

Learning packets from the previous week can be dropped off and the next week's learning packet picked up in the PCGS main entrance on Fridays from 12:00-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30-11:30 a.m.  

We recognize the importance of feedback and ask that you begin providing grace-filled warm and cool feedback to staff as your family experiences the new virtual teaching and learning environment.  A survey will be released to all parents in the second week of the virtual teaching and learning environment that will also be used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the program. We will use your feedback to improve the overall user experience.

Finally, we encourage you to establish routines with your family.  The following link is a schedule that your family could consider: Sample Work at Home Schedule.

May God bless you this weekend and as we anticipate Sabbath worship. May He prepare our hearts and minds for a week of learning and growing to serve well in His Kingdom.  

In faithful service,  

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Dear PCHS Families, 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  We pray that today you rest in the peace that passes all understanding, knowing that our God is a Sovereign and good God who lavishes grace on his people.

The purpose of today's communication is to share with you details around Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program, and provide families with some tips as we embark on a virtual learning experience.  

Pella Christian High School Virtual Teaching and Learning Plan 

  • Virtual Learning will formally begin on Monday, March 30.  The virtual learning environment will primarily be asynchronous (not ‘live’ instruction) and will include some synchronous or “live” learning opportunities for students.
  • Each week’s assignments will be posted by 3:00 p.m. on Fridays.
  • Pella Christian’s goal remains to educate and nurture students to serve in God’s world!  The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program is an extension of the learning that has taken place prior to spring break.  While the coursework may look different, the expectation of teachers supporting student learning and students completing quality academic work remains, along with assessments of learning.
  • Because each student already has a Chromebook we are positioned to continue learning in a digital format.  Teachers will be available during “check-in” times (see below) or by scheduling a separate time for the conference. 
  • Students enrolled in study skills or special education services will continue to receive support throughout our time in a virtual environment.  Students receiving support services will be contacted by the support service staff member delivering instruction in order to schedule times to meet synchronously (live). 
  • Pella Christian teachers will hold office hours Monday through Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Students may contact teachers during this time and can expect that teachers will respond to morning emails in the morning, and afternoon emails in the afternoon.

Google Classroom and Moodle as the Learning Management System (LMS)

  • On Friday at 3 p.m., all learning activities for the following week will be posted on each class’ content management system (Google Classroom or Moodle).  Just a heads up that you may have already noted: students will be receiving emails before 3 p.m. on Fridays since emails are automatically generated as teachers build learning activities and post them.
  • Students will continue to use these to view assignment details, turn in work, see grades, and ask questions. Google Classroom and Moodle will continue to be the “hub” of activity for remote learning. It’s vital that students check Google Classroom and Moodle every day.
  • Additionally, we are working on a site that will be a “one stop shop” for students and parents that clearly and succinctly list each teacher’s weekly plan.

Tools:  Zoom for Office Hour Sessions with Teachers

  • Each teacher has the ability to video conference with students. This will only be for 20 minute check-ins on Wednesdays to make sure students are clear on the assigned work.  Attendance is encouraged and not required for this time of live interaction 
  • Wednesday Office Hours Schedule: Students use the Zoom link on the spreadsheet so they can join. 
  • The Wednesday schedule for check-ins is below:
    • 9:00 - 9:20       1st Period
    • 9:20 - 9:40      2nd Period
    • 9:40 - 10:00     3rd Period
    • 10:00 - 10:20   4th Period
    • 10:20 - 10:40   5th Period
    • 10:40 - 11:00    6th Period
    • 11:00 - 11:20    7th Period
    • 11:20 - 11:40    8th Period
  • Clarification on Zoom - students don’t need to download anything; just click “join from your browser” after you click the link for the teacher

Preparing for Virtual Learning

  • We created the following tips & strategies to help you with the transition to virtual learning.  Please check this out. (We’ll resend it next week!)

Administration has three requests for you at this time:

  • Please continue to pray for our community.  Pray that our families, staff, administration, and board experience the grace and peace of Jesus Christ.  Our staff continues to pray for each student by name.  
  • Secondly, Pella Christian Staff are working tirelessly to build the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Environment.  We recognize the importance of feedback and ask that you begin providing grace-filled constructive feedback to staff as your family experiences the new environment.  A survey will be released to all parents in the second week of the virtual teaching and learning environment..  
  • Finally, we ask for flexibility through all of this.  We know what we know, we don’t know what we don’t know, and all of that seems to be changing each day.  

In His grip,

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski



 

Dear PCGS Families, 

This morning in the midst of my devotions I began meandering through God’s Word reading the intros to Paul’s letters in the New Testament.  In nearly all of the letters he begins with “Grace and Peace to you.” What an appropriate salutation for the season we are experiencing!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  I pray that today you rest in the peace that passes all understanding, knowing that our God is a Sovereign and good God who lavishes His great grace on His broken and downtrodden people.

The purpose of today's communication is to share with you details around Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program, share information about a web tool staff will be utilizing and some changes that have been made to Chromebook filtering, and provide families with some tips as we embark on a virtual learning experience.  I have decided to bullet point communication today for your convenience.  

Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning

  • Here are the core values that were used to design the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.
    • Mission-focused with authentic faith integration.  
    • A parent and student-friendly delivery of service.    
    • An intentional focus on strengthening the relationship with students and parents. 
    • A focus on essential learning.  
  • Pella Christian’s staff have wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to provide a framework and resources to our families that is faith-filled and will engage our students in classroom content.  
  • On Friday the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website will launch.  This website will be one location for students and parents to access classroom learning plans for each classroom.  Here is a brief demo of the website: Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website Demo.
  • Creation Station and Pella Christian Grade School Staff will be utilizing a common learning template from preschool through eighth grade.  This learning template will have all the resources for students and parents to engage in teaching and learning for one week. All the schoolwork will be due at the end of the calendar week.  Mr. Juffer has put together two brief videos to show families what the learning plan will look like as well as an effective way to navigate the learning plans. You can view those videos at the following links: Sample Elementary Learning Plan and Sample Middle School Learning Plan.  
  • The virtual learning environment will primarily be asynchronous (not ‘live’ instruction) and will include some synchronous or “live” learning opportunities for students.  The scheduled times for synchronous learning opportunities will be in each staff members learning plan and staff will utilize a video conferencing tool called Zoom. More information about Zoom can be viewed under the “tools” portion of this communication.  
  • The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Environment will focus on reading, math, language arts, science, social studies, and Bible. There will be extended opportunities for students in the areas of music, physical education, and art.  More information about band instruction will be shared with parents and students participating in Band on Friday.  
  • Pella Christian teachers will hold virtual office hours Monday through Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Teachers will also be available from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday to accommodate the schedule of some families. Phone numbers and emails will be at the top of each classroom learning plan. Parents and students can call or email teachers during office hours.  Parents and students may also email teachers to schedule a time to touch base.  
  • Student support services will continue throughout our time in a virtual environment.  Families of students receiving support services will be contacted by the support service staff member delivering instruction in order to schedule times to meet synchronously (live) and provide additional information.  The first contact with families will be as soon as this evening.  

Tools

  • Pella Christian Staff will be utilizing Zoom for synchronous or “live” instruction.  Live instruction will happen at least once a week in each child’s classroom and will be clearly scheduled in each staff members learning plan.  Attendance is encouraged and not required for live instruction. Staff members will record synchronous instruction and place links on the learning plan for students to view it later.  Students will not need accounts to join a Zoom webcast and there is a small download the first time a student clicks on a link to join live instruction. If you will be using a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone, please take a moment to download the Zoom app.  Students using a Chromebook will be prompted to download a Zoom extension to their chromebooks in order to participate in scheduled Zoom meetings.  
  • In order to roll out the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program, we needed to make some changes to how we filter school issued Chromebooks.  Youtube is an excellent tool for our staff to post asynchronous videos (not live) for students to easily view. We normally block student access to Youtube and want parents to be aware that during our time in a virtual learning environment, students will have access to Youtube.  

Parent Tips

  • Establish a routine. Continue a normal school routine at home such as getting up in the morning, getting ready for school, lunch breaks, and bedtime routines. It will be tempting for students to sleep in during this time at home.
  • Set up a “school/work zone” in your home. As you consider where to have your student work each day, think about what is most conducive to learning and interacting with teachers.
  • Limit distractions such as phones, social media, and TV.
  • Take breaks to get up and move.  Maybe it’s a few minutes outside shooting hoops, maybe it’s a quick snack, maybe it’s a moment to visit with a parent or sibling - do something to take a break from the screen and from sitting.
  • Be patient and full of grace. Reach out if you need help, let us know if you’re struggling, stay connected to your local church or small group for ongoing support, and most importantly recognize this is unchartered territory for all of us. When tempted to be anxious or have a complaining heart, take time to reset and spend time in God’s word. He knew we’d be here and He knows exactly what you are feeling.  Who best to comfort you than the Great Counselor.
  • Please follow guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus by avoiding social gatherings of 10 or more. Please see the White House’s Coronavirus Guidance for more information.

Administration has three requests for you at this time:

  • Please continue to pray for our community.  As a community, we all are experiencing something new and responding to new information almost daily.  Pray that our families, staff, administration, and board experience the grace and peace of Jesus Christ.  Our staff continues to pray for each student by name.  
  • Secondly, Pella Christian Staff are working tirelessly to build the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Environment.  We recognize the importance of feedback and ask that you begin providing grace filled warm and cool feedback to staff as your family experiences the new environment.  A survey will be released to all parents in the second week of the virtual teaching and learning environment that will also be used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the program.  We will use your feedback to improve the overall user experience.  
  • Finally, we ask for flexibility through all of this.  We know what we know, we don’t know what we don’t know, and all of that seems to be changing each day.  

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  

In faithful service,  

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Dear PCHS Families,

We’d like to share more information with you.  It’s a little long, but please work to read it all!

We would all agree that it is a time of challenge in our world; we’ve heard the word ‘unprecedented’ more times in the last few weeks than we’ve heard it in our lifetimes!  Yesterday at the high school staff meeting, we looked at the story of Jesus asleep in the stern as the disciples panicked at the storm threatening to swamp their fishing boat.  Jesus woke up, calmed the wind and the waves, and then asked the disciples why they were afraid. While our fear is natural, we consider the same question now: Why are we afraid?  Our staff was reminded that they can be concerned, but their focus cannot be on the wind and the waves. Their focus must remain on He who stills the wind and waves at His command and is the sovereign God who’s got this. In Matthew 28:20 we are reminded that He will be with us to the end of the age.  We thank God for this promise.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and for your patience.  The staff here have been calm and constructive at this time of re-imagining education.  They are worthy of the encouragement some of you have shared. Pray for Pella Christian staff and administration as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and do the best we can with God’s help to provide Christian education for your students.  Our intentions are to also provide spiritual and emotional nurture to your students. We are truly excited about the opportunity to continue providing quality Christian education in new ways! 

Textbook/Resource Pickup

Today the building will be open until 2 PM for parents or students to pick up student supplies and textbooks from lockers.  Tomorrow the high school building will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for this same purpose. This includes band instruments that may have been left at school during spring break!  Please send just one member of your family to pick up your students’ supplies.  We understand that some families are under quarantine at this time and ask that those families do not come to school.   Instead, please reach out to another PCHS family to pick supplies up. If your family is simply unable to pick up these items, please call the high school (641.628.4440) and leave a message or email foxp@pceagles.org.   School personnel will make arrangements with you if you are simply not able to get to school for needed supplies.  Most of our high school students had already taken Chromebooks and textbooks home, and several students and parents collected materials yesterday.  

Device and Internet Access

We know that some families do not currently have internet access.  We have researched options for helping you gain access during this time of virtual education.  Stravers Cellular is looking for donations of used, working U.S. Cellular smartphones that Stavers Cellular can reprogram and provide to PCHS families and staff in need right now.  U.S. Cellular has options but will be in short supply for the foreseeable future. Used smartphones can be used as a mobile hotspot. Any donated smartphones will be provided to a new family at no cost for the device, only for the service provided.  We also have funds to help defray this expense for families that need that assistance. Please consider donating any used, working smartphones to Stravers Cellular in Pella. Stravers Cellular asks that you charge the phone up, make sure to delete any information from the phone and log out of any Apple IDs or other accounts. Drop used smartphones off at Stravers U.S. Cellular at 826 Main Street in Pella.  Current hours are 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday and 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Thanks in Advance! 

If you need internet access and have not reached out to us yet, please contact Dan Van Kooten at vankootend@pceagles.org by 5 PM on Wednesday so we can efficiently make arrangements to assist you. 

Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning

Previously, we emailed to let you know Pella Christian Schools were planning for virtual learning in order to continue the mission of our schools to educate each student through quality, virtual instruction, nurture hearts when we are off campus, and serve our world for Christ during this time. Pella Christian Schools are blessed, as nonpublic schools in the State of Iowa, to have the opportunity to continue with virtual education and stay connected with our students during this time.

Teachers met yesterday to discuss together plans for virtual teaching and learning.  We discussed the need to offer authentic yet simple and straightforward education for our high school students during this time.  Rather than including that information in this communication, we will share plans in detail tomorrow, including tips and strategies for parents to support and encourage their children.

Slowing the Spread

Please ensure students follow guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus by avoiding social gatherings. It will not be fruitful to close down schools if students continue to get together socially.  Students are going to miss their friends and need us, as adults, to help them stay within the boundaries of social gathering guidelines. All IHSAA and IGHSAU sports are now in a prohibited period for practice, competition, and sanctioned activity until the closure is lifted. This prohibition means no in-person contact for the duration of the period. Students should not come to campus to work out on See the governor’s Coronavirus Guidance for more information:  https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

Emergency Meals Available

We know that many of our families rely on the school food service program to provide their students' meals Monday through Friday. Not having your kids at school not only has changed your schedule but also changed your planning for meals.

We looked into providing meals during this time for our families and were informed by the Iowa Department of Education that Pella Community District was going to be providing this service for students in the Pella community.  Grab and Go meals are being offered, free of charge, to any students, ages 18 and under, within the Pella community school district.

Please go to the following link to request your meals https://coronavirus.pellaschools.org/ and follow the directions they provided. They are offering curbside pick-up at 3 different school locations at set times.

We know that parents/families in the Newton School District also have this opportunity.  Go to this Newton link to see details.   

Families in the Oskaloosa School District have this opportunity, as well.  Go to this Oskaloosa link to see details.  

We are unsure of arrangements in other communities at this time but would suggest you contact your local public district to find out about meal plans available to families during this time.

Emotional and Spiritual Support

You may have seen that Jeanetta Nieuwsma, our Monday mental health counselor, shared thoughts with students yesterday in a video.  It’s full of important advice for teens on navigating this time of uncertainty and disappointment. Her video is posted on our PC Facebook site. 

Thank you for working to get through all this information, parents!  We hope and trust you are finding ways to engage your family. May God bless you all and your families.

In His service,

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear PCGS Families, 

We will do everything we can to keep this email as brief as possible but in any event, please take the time to read this entire email.  

Yesterday the grade school and high school staff met independently via video conference for a time of prayer, devotion, and planning around the virtual teaching and learning environment we are building.  Our devotion at the grade school looked specifically at Jesus’ words to his people in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”  What a tremendous opportunity we all have before us to be salt to our communities! It is humbling to recognize the opportunities to unfold the very Kingdom of God to those we come into contact with each day! May God bless us in our work.  

Thank you for your words of encouragement and for your patience.  The PCGS staff has been calm and constructive as we collectively reimagine education. Pray for the Pella Christian staff and administration as we continue to monitor the situation and do the best we can with God’s help to provide excellent Christ-centered education for your students, as well as nurture each child spiritually and emotionally. We are truly excited for the opportunity to continue providing quality Christian education in new ways! 

Resource Pickup

Tomorrow the building will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for parents to pick up student supplies and textbooks from their child(ren)’s classrooms.  Kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers have placed all student materials on desks in each student’s classroom with clear labels. All fourth and fifth-grade students will have Chromebooks and chargers on their stack of school supplies.  Band students in grades 5-8 will need to pick up their instrument and music folder. Folders can be found in the band/choir room and instruments are stored in the instrument storage closet off of the band/choir room. Middle school students have taken home some supplies and teachers are requesting that students pick up the following at each grade level:  

6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade

Please only send one adult member of each family to pick up student(s)’ supplies.  It may be good for families to have a box along with them to collect supplies.  We understand that some families are under quarantine at this time and ask that those families do not come to school, instead, please reach out to another PCGS family to pick supplies up.  Disinfectant wipes will be available at the school. If your family is unable to pick up school supplies during this time frame, please call the school and leave a message (641.628.2414) or email receptionist@pellachristian.net.  School personnel will make arrangements with you. 

Learning Packet Pickup

Learning packets for students in grade K-5 can be picked up on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. or Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m at the main entrance to the building.  The building will be sealed off and all packets will be in the breezeway and clearly labeled by grade level and class. Disinfectant wipes will be available at the entrance. Families can also choose to download the learning packets and print them from home.  The download will be made available on each classroom’s learning plan, which will be shared on Friday.  

Device and Internet Access

A survey was sent out in Friday’s email asking families about device and internet access.  Pella Christian office staff is following up with families who have not responded to that survey or families who need access to a device to participate in the virtual teaching and learning environment.  Pella Christian will be loaning devices to families who need additional devices and we are working with Stravers Cellular to activate and distribute hot spots to families who are in need of internet access.  

Stravers Cellular is looking for donations of used, working U.S. Cellular smartphones that Stavers Cellular can reprogram and provide to PCGS families and staff in need right now.  With students being home, and virtual teaching and learning just around the corner, there are families scrambling for internet options. U.S. Cellular has options but will be in short supply for the foreseeable future.  

Used smartphones can be used as a mobile hotspot. Any donated smartphones will be provided to a new family at no cost for the device, only for the service provided.  Please consider donating any used, working smartphones to Stravers Cellular in Pella. Stravers Cellular asks that you charge the phone up, make sure to delete any information from the phone and log out of any Apple IDs or other accounts. Drop used smartphones off at Stravers U.S. Cellular at 826 Main Street in Pella.  Current hours are 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday and 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Thanks in Advance!

Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning

Yesterday, Pella Christian staff participated in several video conferences to learn and plan for Pella Christian’s Virtual Teaching and Learning Environment.  Four core values were established as we build this new teaching and learning environment. These values are as follows: 

  • Mission-focused with authentic faith integration.  
  • A parent and student-friendly delivery of service.    
  • An intentional focus on strengthening the relationship with students and parents. 
  • Focus on essential learning.  

Later this week Pella Christians’ Virtual Teaching and Learning Website will go live, each teacher will have a specific landing page that will include a learning plan for the week.  We will share more information and details tomorrow including tips and strategies for parents to support and encourage their children. 

Emergency Meals

We know that many of our families rely on the school food service program to provide their children meals Monday through Friday. Not having your kids at school has not only changed your schedule but also changed your planning for meals.

We looked into providing meals during this time for our families and were informed by the Iowa Department of Education that Pella Community District was going to be providing this service for students in the Pella community.  Grab and go meals are being offered, free of charge, to any students, ages 18 and under, within the Pella community school district. Please go to the following link to request your meals https://coronavirus.pellaschools.org/ and follow the directions provided. They are offering curbside pick-up at three different school locations at set times.

If you do not live in the Pella Community School district and would like to learn more about emergency meals in your community please contact your public school administrative office.   

Integration Briefings

Given the ramifications of responding to COVID-19 as a school, we will not be sharing Integration Briefings in the next few weeks.  Instead, we will be sharing communication regarding plans around our COVID-19 response.  

Tomorrow another communication will be going out that will share more details around Pella Christians Virtual Teaching and Learning Plan as well as resources and ideas around virtual education.  Thank you for sticking with us through the end of this communication. May God bless you and your family!  

In faithful service,  

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Dear High School Parents and Students,  

The Gospels relate 125 instances of Jesus’ imperatives to His people. Twenty-one of those urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart” or “be of good cheer”.  The second most common command, to love God and our neighbor, appears only eight times. If we judge purely on quantity, Jesus takes our fears very seriously. The one statement he made more than any other statement was this:  Do not be afraid. So in that spirit, let’s choose faith over fear.

We could look at the negatives of the situation, but instead, let’s choose to embrace this as a new opportunity.  It can be an opportunity to be creative and possibly open another method to deliver an excellent Pella Christian education.  Or, maybe this could be a time which allows you to be more involved with your student’s education. Let’s be open to how God might use this.  

Planning
We hope and pray that you have found ways to have a restful Spring Break despite the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak. The administrative team has been working to put together a template and framework for which to embark on the journey to be known as the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.  We plan to roll out the framework together with staff over the next week. Within this system, we hope to provide guidelines that will make this program both flexible and clear to students, parents, and staff. Our desire is to offer a Christ-centered educational program that engages the core values of our mission.

Our plan for virtual teaching and learning through Thursday, April 9 at the high school is as follows: 

  • Teachers will spend next week (3/23-3/27) preparing for virtual teaching and learning.
  • Plans for each high school class will be shared at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 27.
  • Virtual instruction will begin on Monday, March 30. 

Learning Materials
Students were instructed to take all learning items home the last day of school before spring break.  However, if you need to pick up any materials from your locker, please contact our front office (641) 628-4440 and they will make arrangements for you to pick them up on Monday or Tuesday, March 23 or 24.

Access to the Internet
If you do not have internet access, please contact Dan Van Kooten at vankootend@pceagles.org.

Future Communication
Communication from the office will be released to parents twice next week. These communications will share more details regarding the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Platform.

We would encourage you to keep trusting our sovereign God through all of this. Be reminded of these words from Psalm 46:1- 2:  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

Sincerely,

Dan Van Kooten
Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Grade School Parents,

The Gospels relate 125 instances of Jesus’ imperatives to His people. Twenty-one of those instances urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart” or “be of good cheer”.  The second most common command, to love God and our neighbor, appears eight times. If we judge purely on quantity, Jesus takes our fears very seriously. The one statement he made more than any other statement was this:  Do not be afraid. So, in that spirit, we choose faith over fear! 

We hope and pray that you have found ways to have a restful Spring Break despite the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak. The administrative team has been working to put together a template and framework for which to embark on the journey to be known as the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.  We plan to roll out the framework together with staff over the next week. Within this system, we hope to provide guidelines that will make this program both flexible and clear to students, parents, and staff. Our desire is to offer a Christ-centered educational program that engages the core values of our mission.

Schedule and Design

Next week will be another week of spring break for Pella Christian students as our teachers engage in the frameworks and build a virtual teaching and learning environment.  Pella Christian Schools Virtual Teaching and Learning is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 30 and end on Thursday, April 9. Pella Christian will not have virtual classes on Good Friday (April 10) and students are scheduled to return to school on Monday, April 13.

Virtual learning will incorporate the use of online and offline instructional opportunities.  Our desire as we build a virtual teaching and learning environment is that we engage our students in meaningful learning experiences.  Virtual learning does not mean that students will spend significant hours in front of an internet-connected device.

Internet Accessibility and Device Accessibility

In order to roll out virtual teaching and learning, we understand that families will need internet access and access to a device.  Sixth through eighth-grade students have school-issued devices at home and fourth and fifth-grade students will be allowed to take their Chromebooks home to increase device access in those homes.  In order to help us plan we need additional information from families concerning the accessibility of the internet and devices. Please take a moment to answer this brief survey regarding internet and device access in your home: Survey Link.  Staff will use this data to determine who we need to support in the areas of accessibility.  

Future Communication

Communication from the office will be released to parents twice next week. These communications will share more details involving device, textbook, and supply pickup, as well as information regarding the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Platform.

We would encourage you to keep trusting our sovereign God through all of this. Be reminded of these words from Psalm 46:1, 2 – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

In Service to the King,  

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Pella Christian Schools Parents,  

Stating these are uncertain times seems like an understatement.  We believe during these times, Christians are given an incredible opportunity to live our faith in ways that profess our deep hope in the redeeming love of God in Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that God will use these challenging circumstances to draw us near to him in ways that reflect his trustworthiness, glory, and grace into the uncertainty in the world around us.  

You are likely aware of Governor Reynolds’ request that all Iowa schools close for the next four weeks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (See Related Link).  Pella Christian Schools and Creation Station Preschools will be honoring Governor Reynolds’ request and will suspend all on-campus operations immediately until classes resume on April 13. Also, all middle school and high school extracurricular activities will be canceled as well.  (See Related Link).  We recognize that in prioritizing strategies to protect and care for those who are medically vulnerable, we have created significant stress in other areas. Over the past week, we have received constructive feedback that included legitimate concerns from families who will struggle to find care for their children while they work. We have taken those and several other very appropriate concerns into consideration during every step of our decision-making process. In the end, we felt closing school was the only viable option under these circumstances. We are deeply sorry for the negative impact that some will experience as a result of this decision. 

As part of our ongoing care for the Pella Christian Schools’ communities, we have asked each employee to pray through the directory of Creation Station Preschools, Pella Christian Grade School and Pella Christian High School by student name. We believe this should be our starting point every day.  

So much is changing so quickly as new information becomes available.  We ask for your patience as we work through many of the details as we all adjust to these rapid changes.  Please be in prayer for school leadership, staff, students, and families as decisions are made and as we respond to information.  

School Events and Travel Decisions

Several special events occur during this time of year such as the middle school band concert, the high school’s Spring play, parent-teacher conferences, grandparents’ day, the Creation Station preschool Spring concert, the senior class trip, JSB, the choir trip to Dordt University, the middle school band trip, PCHS’s Spring Fundraising Gala, and other events.  Any events occurring from now until April 13 are canceled or will look different. Events scheduled after April 13 may still happen, but families are advised that given the fluidity of the situation, it is unlikely that most or possibly all of these events will occur.  

Transitioning to a Virtual Campus

There are many unknowns about what education will look like for the next few weeks, and we believe that our next step is to transition from on-campus teaching and learning to virtual teaching and learning.  This reality will be a challenge for teachers and students but challenges that we plan to work through. Virtual learning is certainly different from on-campus learning, but it should not be “less than” what students experience in typical learning environments.  Our desire for virtual learning at Pella Christian Schools is that it continues to be authentic and geared towards the learning goals we have for our students.  

The next steps for our schools as we venture into virtual learning are as follows:

  • Administration and teaching faculty will gather for five full days of planning and preparation beginning Monday, March 23.
  • By 6:00 PM Friday, March 27, teachers will have started the process of engaging students and parents with a general description of how their virtual campus will function and upcoming purposeful work that students can begin engaging in. 
  • Our desire is that online learning operations will officially be in place by Monday, March 30.
  • Virtual campus operations will continue Monday through Friday from March 30 through Thursday, April 9.  

While we hope to return to on-campus classes on April 13, there remains significant fluidity in guidance on best practices limiting the spread of COVID-19. Our hope and prayer is that you will see Pella Christian Schools unified in high-quality service and care for our students, committed to engaging them deeply in purposeful teaching and learning activities whether we are on campus or in a virtual campus, and dedicated to embodying humility, patience, professionalism, and resilience no matter the circumstance. Don’t hesitate to contact us at vankootend@pceagles.org or tegrotenhuisd@pellachristian.net.  We can also be reached by phone at 641.628.4440 (PCHS) or at 641.628.2414 (PCGS).  

In His care and keeping,

Pella Christian Schools’ Administrative Leadership Team

 

The Core Values of Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning

 

Transitioning from on-campus teaching and learning to virtual teaching and learning is challenging for teachers and students. To do all we can to ensure as smooth a transition as possible, we have identified three important points of emphasis for our virtual campus operations:

  • Mission-focused with authentic faith integration - We are focused on our four core mission values which are: Proclaiming the Lordship of Christ, partnership with parents, excellent academics rooted in God’s word, and an emphasis on developing students God-given gifts for Kingdom service.

  • Parent and student Friendly delivery of service - We are doing everything possible to limit the number of platforms students have to engage with and focus on those they have already interfaced with during on-campus learning.  The administration has also developed common learning templates for parents to monitor student progress.

  • Intentional focus on strengthening the relationship with students and parents - Our face-to-face engagement with students and parents will be suspended, but our commitment to authentic engagement will remain. 

  • Teachers are using the curriculum to identify the key learning targets and designing engaging lessons to meet those targets. 

Student Support Services

 

Our highly qualified staff in student support divisions are working closely with faculty and administration and will continue their full-time, student-facing work and individualized care during virtual campus operations.

Please feel free to contact faculty, student support staff, and administrators if you have any questions or concerns. We are here to support our families. 

Community Resources

 

Please reference the links below for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 or Coronavirus:

20/21 RoadMap