August 2020

Dear Parents,

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome all new and returning students and families to Forest Academy. My name is Mrs. Meghan Watters and I am the principal at Forest Academy. I am a graduate of Grand Valley State University and I have spent six years teaching in various grade levels at Forest Academy, one year as assistant principal and these past two years as principal. I look forward to getting to know everyone this school year. 

This new school year brings with it new challenges. These challenges have forced us to think outside the box for creative solutions to work toward keeping everyone healthy and safe while here at school.  I hope to address a large number of your likely questions in this letter but know many more questions will arise as planning continues. We ask that you have grace and patience with us as we all work to adjust to our new normal. 

As I am sure you are aware Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Start Roadmap for reopening schools on June 30. After carefully reviewing this guidance we have started to shape what the fall will look like for our students and staff given the various phases our region may be in once school resumes. 

As outlined in the roadmap if our region is in phases 1-3 all instruction will take place virtually and the school building will be closed. Should this occur you will be contacted personally by your child’s teacher and more details will be provided at that time. Instruction will be continued by Forest Academy teachers virtually.  All technology needs will be provided. Should this be the route we need to go, again more details will be provided at that time. 

 In phase 4, in which our region currently is, we are able to hold in person instruction with some health and safety protocols in place. Our plan in phase 4 is to offer the option of five day a week, full day, in person instruction.  We will also be offering an online option for families who wish to do so. Details for each option are provided below.   

PHASE 4 IN-PERSON GUIDANCE: 

We will be following all required guidance and as much of the strongly recommended guidance laid out in the roadmap as feasible including but not limited to: 

-Changes to drop off/pick up and building access (outlined below)

-Parents are asked to screen their child each morning for symptoms; specifically fever and keep sick kids home until fever free (fever will be designated as 100 degrees or greater) for 72 hours. Staff will also self screen each morning before reporting to work.

-Students will not wait in the hallway in the morning and will instead head directly to class, staggered dismissal in the afternoon 

-Masks and/or face shields required for staff 

-Students in grades K-5 will not be required to wear face masks in class but will be required to use them in common areas (ie. hallways, dismissal, etc.). We ask that each student have one to use at dismissal and other applicable times when social distancing will be a challenge.   

-Due to the state mandate, ALL students in grades 6-8 must wear a mask at all times unless they are medically unable. 

-Only staff and students will be permitted in the building. Parents/guests by appointment only. Please help prepare your child for this change! 

-No multi class gatherings (including recess), no field trips, social distancing when feasible, library and computer lab temporarily closed

-Enhanced cleaning both during and after the school day

-Limited shared materials when possible

-Students are asked to bring refillable water bottles. Drinking fountains will only be accessible for refilling water bottles.  Drinking fountains will be cleaned frequently. 

OPEN HOUSE:  Our open house will be held on Wednesday, August 26th from 4:00-6:00pm. This will be an in person open house. To lessen congestion in the building we are asking that families with last names A-L attend from 4-5pm and families with last names M-Z attend 5-6pm, if at all possible. Families (adults and students) are asked to wear face masks inside the building per the Governor’s Executive Order, as well as social distance as much as possible.  This will be a time to find out who your teacher is, meet them, visit the classroom and check in with the office with questions. If you do not feel comfortable attending the open house in person, please email me (mwatters@fbrcs.org) and I can arrange for your child’s teacher to give you a call instead. After the open house, buildings will undergo a deep cleaning in preparation of the first day of school. Beginning on the first day of school, ONLY students and staff will be permitted in the building. The open house is a great time to practice what first day drop off with your child will look like so they know what to expect. 

DAILY SCHEDULE/DROP OFF/PICKUP: The first day of school is Monday, 8/31. The school day for all students is from 8:20am-3:30pm. This year students can enter the building starting at 8:10am (please note this is a change from previous years).  If you need to drop your children off prior to that time, you need to make arrangements either with a friend or at a daycare center, such as our Forest Child Development Center. Do not drop off students prior to 8:10am as they are unsupervised and it is unsafe. Once students enter the building they will go directly to classrooms.

Traffic Notes: K-3 grade students should be dropped off at the FRONT entrance, 4-8 grade students should be dropped off at the SIDE entrance.  If you have students in both grade groups, please drop off at the FRONT entrance (please note this is a change from previous years) so older siblings can help escort younger siblings to their classrooms.  

In both drives, pull your car all the way forward to the end of the sidewalk. Please do not stop in front of the door! If your morning goodbye will take longer than a few seconds, please park in the parking lot to avoid backing up traffic. The driveway is for a quick goodbye only!

 ***Important Note:  At this time, ONLY students and staff will be permitted to enter the building. You may drop off in the line or walk your child to the front door, but we are not able to allow parents to enter the building unless they have an appointment with staff. We ask that you use the open house as a time to talk with the teacher and office staff to address any questions you may have. Please help prepare your child for this change ahead of the first day of school for an easier transition.

Dismissal: The “sibling line” after school for dismissal, will be located in the front drive. Siblings, families with more than one child, will always wait with the youngest sibling, whichever grade that may be. For example if you have students in K, 2, and 5th. Your children will all be at the front with the Kindergarteners. If you have a child in 1st and 3rd, your children will be waiting at the front with the first graders. Please note that if you do not have any students with siblings in K-3, pickup will be at the side entrance.  If you have any questions about what this means for your family please call us BEFORE the first day of school to confirm.

Early Pickups:  We ask that unless you have an appointment, or other specific need, that you not pick up your child early on a frequent basis. Early pickups, particularly during the busy time at the end of day, are disruptive to classrooms. If it is necessary for you to pick your child up early or at any point during the school day, you will need to call the office and your child will be brought out to you. To expedite this please call ahead and we can have your child ready to go. Please Note: After 3pm is a very busy time and we cannot promise we will be able to accommodate early pickup requests without advance notice. Doors will remain locked until 3:30pm and we ask that you wait outside for dismissal which will begin in phases at 3:15pm. 

Dismissal will begin at 3:15pm, classes will come out at a staggered pace to ease congestion on the sidewalk:

3:15 – Kindergarten and 4th grade

3:20 – 1st and 5th grade

3:25 – 2nd and 3rd grade

3:30 – 6-8th grades

Pickup at dismissal time, especially at the start of the school year, can be chaotic. Please try to follow some simple procedures to keep things moving smoothly:

  • While in line, keep as close to the vehicle in front of you as you can, please do not leave large gaps between cars as this wastes space and slows down the dismissal process
  • Once you’ve gotten your child safely buckled in and the car in front of you has moved forward, please leave to allow others to pick up their children too
  •  Please refrain from using your cell phone while students are present in the driveway, be aware that students are crossing at all points
  • Do NOT get out of your vehicle unless you are parked in a designated parking spot
  • Be courteous and patient ☺

Please remember that everything will go better if we all take a deep breath and be cooperative with our teachers and other parents. I know that seeing a long line of cars ahead of you and having things to do and places to go can create quite a bit of anxiety and sometimes anger. Please try to be patient and follow the rules for the sake of everyone’s safety and sanity.

UNIFORM POLICY: All students are to be dressed neatly according to the following guidelines:

Navy blue pants, skirts, or walking shorts (no sweatpants or athletic pants)

White shirts with collars, bearing no insignias other than the Forest Academy logo

Any visible undershirts must also be white, no navy polos or navy dresses

Navy or gray sweaters (no sweatshirts or hoodies)

Navy, gray or white socks or tights (solid color only)

No open toed shoes or sandals, Crocs, high heels, or shoes with wheels. 

Class Assignments: While students will be able to find out whom their teacher is at the back to school open house on 8/26. Please keep in mind that due to potential changes in enrollment and/or staffing, during the first several weeks of school, all placements are considered temporary. While every effort is made to avoid changes after the first day of school, it is occasionally necessary to make some changes to class lists.  Parents will always be notified if that is to occur. Every effort is made to do what is in the best interest of our students.

PHASE 4 ONLINE GUIDANCE: 

Forest Academy will be partnering with EdOptions Academy to offer an online option for families.  If choosing the online option, you will be committed for at least the first semester (September-December) and must commit by August 14.  You may return to in-person after winter break if there is space available or you may elect to continue online for the duration of the year. 

  • Calvert Learning (K-8) provided through EdOptions Academy 
  • Aligned to National and State standards
  • EdOptions teachers provide instruction and monitor student 
  • EdOptions teacher and Forest Academy mentor progress 
  • Attendance is required and monitored 
  • Adherence to IEPs, 504s, EL services, provided by Forest Academy staff member 

Technology & Access 

  • Electronic device required 
  • Internet access needed
  • Devices available through Forest Academy, if needed

If you haven’t already I encourage you to “like” our Forest Academy Facebook page. This is the quickest way to stay up to date as things change!  

Our school office will be open beginning on Monday, August 24th. The first day for students will be on Monday, August 31st. We look forward to seeing you at the open house on August 26th from 4-6pm.

Look for my newsletter each month and feel free to contact me with your questions or feedback (mwatters@fbrcs.org) anytime. 

Thank you in advance for your assistance,

Meghan Watters

Principal, Forest Academy