Arcadia’s schools are closed for the rest of the year, with a month still left on the schedule. This means that students will be missing out on spending time with their friends, unable to participate in events, sports and all the things that kids love about school. Teachers in the area have been keeping the school spirit alive by creating fun challenges and encouraging kids to stay connected online.

Echo Canyon created a “we send our love” YouTube video montage that showed pictures of teachers and admin as a way to acknowledge how much they miss their students.

“None of us knew that we weren’t going to come back,” Principal Kat Hughes said. “The teachers are adjusting; we have a weekly check-in meeting for the staff, where folks can share celebrations and successes.” So far, meetings have included introducing pets and sharing coffee mugs. “We mainly want to keep the teachers’ morale up and provide social and emotional support.”

Hughes said that the most crucial part of online teaching is making sure students’ social, emotional and academic wellbeing is met. 

“In the first week, the students were able to be engaged,” Hughes said. “In the second week, we had trouble reaching a few families, but we had counselors reach out, and now, I want to say 99 percent of families were communicated with. Our teachers are incredibly tenacious. They figured [online teaching] out and jumped in with both feet.”

Echo Canyon students typically participate in Chef in the Garden, where they learn about cooking and gardening with the help of Ann and Lou Rodarte and Chef Charleen Badman. Since they’re not able to do the class in-person, Chef Badman and Ann created Chef in the Pantry, a series of YouTube videos that kids can watch to learn how to cook things that might already be in their pantries at home.

Veritas Prep held a “Teacher Parade” in late March as an opportunity for teachers, students and parents to see one another again in an environment where social distancing could be controlled for safety reasons, according to Director of Operations Ami Hosack.

Hosack and Headmaster Dr. Mary Frances Jefferies came up with the idea.

“It was a way to fill the heart and soul of our community. Teachers, students and parents are missing each other, and we thought this was a great way to fill the void,” Hosack said.

Veritas had the teachers line up along the pick-up line driveway, 6-10 feet apart, while parents and students drove through the line and waved.

“It was very fulfilling and just another reminder of why we do what we do. We love our students and families and miss them dearly,” Hosack said. “There were a lot of joy-filled tears shed. Happy families and happy teachers.”

Tavan is keeping spirits high by staying connected with students outside of coursework.

“We are having postcards printed so that teachers can send them to students who are doing well or maybe just need a little note from their teachers to help with the social/emotional part of it all,” Coordinator Ellen Young said.

Tavan is also having students submit videos of themselves talking about life at home and how they’re coping with the changes and giving out ideas for staying positive and keeping active. Eventually, they will put together a video to send out to the Tavan community.