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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

PCGS Parents and Staff,  

The countdown to the end of the year began early in the Te Grotenhuis home this year.  There is something about the traditional end of year school activities that help mark the passing of time.  This year is certainly a different experience.  The purpose of today’s communication is to share plans for a reverse celebration parade on the last day of school and share how the school will coordinate the drop off of school books and equipment as well as pick up items left in desks and lockers.  

There are several details in this communication.  I apologize for the length and encourage you to read through all the details for a smooth item drop off and pick up experience for your family.  

Reverse Parade on May 28 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 

To celebrate the final day of school on May 28, a reverse celebration parade has been planned from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Students and their families are invited to drive down Liberty Street and exit by Franklin Street.  Teachers/staff will be lined up along the route to celebrate the end of the school year.  I hope many students will be able to join us for this culminating activity.  

Materials Drop Off and Belongings Pick Up

Most students have something to be picked up from school and items to return. I recognize this year's materials return will look different from the year's past, and your safety is our primary concern.  All student desks and lockers have been cleaned out and items have been placed in a bag clearly labeled with the student’s name and grade.  It may be good for families to have a box along to collect student belongings.  Some families may not feel comfortable entering school at this time and request that these families please reach out to another PCGS family to pick supplies up.  Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer will be available.  If your family is unable to attend materials drop off and belonging pick up during the scheduled 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.

Please send only one parent from each family to return and pick up items to and from school.  Students are asked not to enter the building.  Health guidelines will be followed including limiting building access to groups of ten and asking that all parents follow social distancing guidelines. Tables will be clearly marked where items belong.  

Prior to coming to school families should put a small piece of masking tape on all textbooks, school-owned technology devices, and chargers with the child’s first and last names legibly written on each item. 

In addition to textbooks, school-owned technology devices, and chargers, please remember to return the following items: 

  • Library Books

  • Books from Classroom Libraries

  • Libritos (for SI students) 

  • School-owned Band Instruments

  • Small Whiteboards

The school will be open for drop off and pick up during the following times:  

Thursday, May 28 from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Friday, May 29 from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

Parents will enter using the north entrance between the two gymnasiums (the door is labeled N3). Upon entering the building there will be a path for parents to complete the following tasks:

Drop off completed packets from the final week of classes

Drop off textbooks

Drop off school owed computers and chargers

Drop off any other items listed above 

Pick up their child(ren)’s desk or locker belongings 

The family member will exit out of the east doors adjacent to the cafeteria.  

Thank you for making it to the end of this communication.  Hang in there!   We are almost finished.  

Blessings, 

David Te Grotenhuis

Here are the links to the PCHS Town Hall Meeting Recordings:

12:00 p.m. Town Hall Meeting

7:00 p.m. Town Hall Meeting

Dear Pella Christian High Families, 

For the past several weeks the PCHS Board has been discussing many of the realities we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and how the school can address this crisis.  This communication will highlight some key areas the board is addressing as well as additional end-of-the-year details.  

  1. Plans for an earlier 20-21 start date. 
  2. Plans for a slightly extended 2020-2021 school year.  
  3. Information regarding the Monday, May 18 Town Hall Zoom Meetings.
  4. Tuition Assistance
  5. Graduation and other Senior Events
  6. Materials Drop-off Plans for Seniors
  7. Materials Drop-off Plans for Underclassmen

Plans for An Earlier Start Date to the 2020/2021 School Year

Medical professionals have stated the spread of COVID-19 will likely surface during the cold and flu season and this requires us to anticipate and plan for on-campus interruptions during the 2020-21 school year.  The fact that possible on-campus interruptions could happen earlier in the 2020-21 school year means we would have less time to adjust to new teacher expectations and build relationships with teachers.  The substance and trust within the teacher/student relationship is one of the most important factors in the prevention or mitigation of learning gaps.  This reality requires the prioritization of strategies that allow the appropriate time and structure to strengthen individual teacher/student relationships before possible on-campus interruptions in the coming year.

Several weeks ago Governor Reynolds announced that she was waiving the August 23 school start date requirement and also stated that schools cannot count instructional hours prior to August 23.  The Pella Christian High School Board is set to approve a new calendar with a school start date of August 19.  This calendar change will provide our students with three additional days of instruction to start the school year.  A copy of the school calendar (to be reviewed by the Board on 5.18.20) with an August 19 start date can be viewed at the following link:  PCHS 20-21 Calendar Amended

Plans for a Slightly Longer 2020-2021 School Year

In order to address the learning gaps due to a disrupted school year, PCHS is also going to add additional hours of instruction to the 2020-21 school year.  The state of Iowa requires 1080 hours of instruction each school year.  For the 2020-21 school year PCHS will have a school calendar that has 1124 hours of instruction, about 20 additional hours of instruction from the previously published calendar. Additional hours of instruction are a result of the earlier start date. 

May 18 Town Hall Meetings

Pella Christian High School will hold a town hall meeting via Zoom on Monday, May 18 at noon and 7:00 p.m. to share information regarding the 2020-2021 budget as well as discuss PCHS’s response to COVID-19 related issues.  Both meetings will be recorded and made available for later viewing on the PCHS website. The Zoom meeting links for these Zoom meetings are:

Monday, May 18 at Noon:  Click this link to join the webinar:   https://dordt.zoom.us/j/96439917763

Monday, May 18 at 7 PM:  Click this link to join the webinar:   https://dordt.zoom.us/j/92517444202

Tuition Assistance

The PCHS Board recognizes that the increase in tuition for 2020/2021and financial issues related to COVID-19 may create financial challenges for some families.  The board is committed to caring for families by providing a clear pathway for financial assistance to families with a demonstrated need.  Tuition assistance funds have been set aside to help families in need.  The Finance Committee uses a third party to evaluate the need of each family and provides tuition assistance based on that information. That application for tuition assistance can be found here:  https://online.factsmgt.com/signin/3Z9Q6  We encourage families who are experiencing a greater financial need right now due to COVID-19 to contact the office.  

Senior Events:  Graduation, Senior Farewell Chapel, DFS and Scholarship Packets, and Senior Sunset

Graduation for the class of 2020 will now be on Saturday, June 20, at 10 AM in PC Stadium.  In case of inclement weather, it will take place at 7 PM.

The link for the Senior Farewell Chapel is here.  This chapel is a celebration of not only our seniors but a time of praise, worship, and prayer for all our students.  

Students receiving Dollars for Scholars scholarships as well as other college scholarships will receive those scholarships on Wednesday evening, May 20, between 6:30-7:30 PM. This will be a drive-through event for seniors.  

Senior Sunset will be in our south parking on Saturday, May 23 in the evening.  Look for more details next week.

Materials Drop-off for Seniors

Seniors will return materials to PCHS on Wednesday, May 20:  

11:00-12:00 AM:  Admiraal - Kamerick

12:30-1:30 PM:  Jungling - Zula

Seniors should put a small piece of masking tape on all textbooks, chromebooks, and chargers with their first and last names legibly written on each item.  

Students will park in the teacher parking lot in one of ten designated spots.  (Wait for a spot to open if all full), enter music room doors, proceed to the commons where they will drop off each item at the designated table for that book/item (each table will be labeled with the teacher’s name).  Students then pick up any art project from the art table and then exit through the library doors back to the parking lot.

Please remember to also return:

All library books!

Graphing Calculators

School-owned Band instruments

Opt-Out PE belts

Any school issued athletic uniforms

Materials Drop-off for Underclassmen

Underclassmen will return materials to PCHS on:

Wednesday, May 27 9:30-11:30 AM:  Agre - Dunsbergen

Wednesday, May 27 12:30-2:30 PM:  Edel - Michmershuizen

Thursday, May 28 9:30-11:30AM:  Milligan - Uitermarkt

Thursday, May 28 12:30-2:30 PM:  VanArendonk - Zylstra

Students should put a small piece of masking tape on all textbooks, chromebooks, and chargers with their first and last names legibly written on each item.  

Students will park in the teacher parking lot in one of ten designated spots.  (Wait for a spot to open if all full), enter music room doors, proceed to the commons. drop off each item at the designated table for that book (each table will be labeled with the teacher’s name).  *

Please remember to also return:

All library books as well as books from Mrs. Renaud’s classroom library

Graphing Calculators

School-owned Band instruments

Opt-Out PE belts

Any school-issued athletic uniforms

Sophomores and Juniors who have earned Honor Roll certificates will also pick up certificates. 

Students can sign up for a locker for next year (and a few still need to claim items from their current lockers!) AND pick up any art projects from the art tables in the commons.

Students then exit through the library doors back to the parking lot.

In His grip,

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

For the past several weeks the PCGS Board has been discussing many of the realities we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and how the school can address the crisis we find ourselves experiencing.  In this communication, I would like to highlight five key areas the board is addressing.  

  1. The financial impact of COVID-19 on our community
  2. Plans for Optional No Cost Summer School.
  3. Plans for an earlier start date and additional hours for the 2020/2021 school year.
  4. Information regarding the May 19 Town Hall Zoom Meetings.

The financial impact of COVID-19 on our community

The PCGS Board recognizes that the increase in tuition for 2020/2021and financial issues related to COVID-19 may create financial challenges for families.  The board is committed to caring for families by providing a clear pathway for financial assistance to families with a demonstrated need.  Additional tuition assistance funds have been set aside for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school year.  The Finance Committee uses a third party to evaluate the need of each family and provides tuition assistance based on that information. We encourage families who are experiencing a greater financial need due to COVID-19 to contact the Board Treasurer, Mike Vander Molen (mikevandermolen@gmail.com), and complete the tuition assistance application at the following web address: https://online.factsmgt.com/signin/3Z9P8.  The $35 tuition assistance application fee has been waived for PCGS families.  

Plans for Optional No Cost Summer School

The board acknowledges that virtual learning is not the same as an on-campus learning experience.  There will be learning gaps and steps need to be taken to identify and fill these learning gaps.  Last week a survey went out to our K-5 families to gauge their level of interest in a free optional summer school program.  The survey shows that there is enough interest to offer an AM and PM summer school option to our families.  

Our plan would be to offer an optional AM (8:30-11:00 a.m.) and PM (12:30-3:00 p.m.) summer school to PCGS families with children in K-5 at no cost.  In addition, we are going to provide busing at no cost to families.  These sessions will run from June 15 through June 26.  We will restrict classrooms to nine students and a teacher in order to maintain groups of no more than 10 students.  The focus of summer school will be literacy and math skill-building.  Our summer school plan, including the free busing option, is contingent upon changes to current social distancing guidelines.  More information about plans and next steps for parents will be shared in an upcoming K-5 parent communication.  

Plans for An Earlier Start Date and Additional Instructional Hours For the 2020/2021 School Year

Medical professionals have stated the spread of COVID-19 will likely surface during the cold and flu season and this requires us to anticipate and plan for on-campus interruptions during the 2020-21 school year.  The fact that possible on-campus interruptions could happen earlier in the 2020-21 school year means we would have less time to adjust to new teacher expectations and build relationships with teachers.  The substance and trust within the teacher/student relationship is one of the most important factors in the prevention or mitigation of learning gaps.  This reality requires the prioritization of strategies that allow the appropriate time and structure to strengthen individual teacher/student relationships before possible on-campus interruptions in the coming year.

In order to address the learning gaps, PCGS is also going to add additional hours of instruction to the 2020-2021 school year.  The state of Iowa requires 1080 hours of instruction each school year.  For the 2020-2021 school year Pella Christian Grade School will have a school calendar that has 1150 hours of instruction. The new calendar has about 20 additional hours of instruction from the previously published calendar. The additional hours of instruction are a result of the earlier start date.

Several weeks ago Governor Reynolds announced that she was waiving the August 23 school start date requirement and also stated that schools cannot count instructional hours prior to August 23.  The Pella Christian School Board approved a new calendar with a school start date of August 19.  This calendar change will provide our students with three additional days of instruction to start the school year.  A copy of the school calendar with an August 19 start date can be viewed at the following link: 2020-2021 School Calendar.

May 19 Town Hall Meetings

Finally, Pella Christian Grade School will hold a town hall meeting via webinar on Tuesday, May 19 at noon and 7:00 p.m. to share information regarding the 2020-2021 budget as well as discuss PCGS’s response to COVID-19 related issues.  Both meetings will last an hour, will be recorded, and made available for later viewing on the PCGS website. Participants can access the Town Hall Webinar at the following links:

Tuesday, May 19 at 12:00 p.m. or Tuesday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Early next week a communication regarding the end of the year pick up and drop off of student books/devices/and equipment will be released.  We are planning for one event in which families will drop off textbooks/books/devices and pick up desk/locker items.  

Blessings, 

David Te Grotenhuis 

Craig Juffer

Dear Pella Christian High Families, 

This note will focus on the following four areas:

  1. End of School Year Plans for seniors
  2. End of School Year Plans for underclassmen 
  3. Plans for return of materials for seniors
  4. Plans for return of materials for underclassmen
  5. Town Hall and Society Meeting dates
  6. Class registration for 20-21

1. End of Year Plans:  Seniors (shared last week)

Final semester assignments for seniors will be due by Friday, May 15.  

Final senior projects will be posted by today and final chapter tests will be posted by 3 PM next Thursday, May 14.  Both projects and end-of-course chapter tests will be due by Tuesday, May 19.  No exams will be given.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 19, 20, and 21 will be catch-up days for seniors with missing assignments with the possibility of attendance on campus to complete make-up work if allowed.  

2. End of Year Plans:  Underclassmen (shared last week)

Final semester assignments for underclassmen will be due by Friday, May 22.  

Final projects will be posted by next Friday, May 15 and final chapter tests will be posted by 3 PM on Thursday, May 21.  Both projects and end-of-course chapter tests will be due by Tuesday, May 26.  No exams will be given.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 26, 27, and 28, will be catch-up days for students with missing assignments with the possibility of attendance on campus to complete make-up work if allowed. 

3. Plans for Return of Materials: Seniors

Seniors are asked to return all school-owned materials (textbooks, Chromebooks and chargers, library books, calculators) on Wednesday, May 20.  

11:00-12:00 PM:  Agre - Kamerick

12:30-1:30PM: Jungling - Zula

Seniors are asked to mark all materials with their name on a small piece of masking tape.

Students will park in the teacher lot, enter the music room hallways, return materials to tables in the commons with the oversight of food service staff, and will exit by the library doors.  No more than ten students will be in the building at once.

4. Plans for Return of Materials: Underclassmen

Underclassmen are asked to return all school-owned materials (textbooks, Chromebooks and chargers, library books, calculators) on:

Wednesday, May 27 9:30-11:30 AM:  Agre - Dunsbergen

Wednesday, May 27 12:30-2:30 PM:  Edel - Michmershuizen

Thursday, May 28 9:30-11:30AM:  Milligan - Uitermarkt

Thursday, May 28 12:30-2:30 PM:  VanArendonk - Zylstra 

Students are asked to mark all materials with their name on a small piece of masking tape.

Students will park in the teacher lot, enter the music room hallways, return materials to tables in the commons with the oversight of food service staff, and will exit by the library doors.  No more than ten students will be in the building at once.

5. Town Hall and Society Meeting dates

Two PCHS Town Hall Zoom meetings will be held on Monday, May 18

Noon

7 PM

The Town Hall meetings will provide information on the 20-21 budget and upcoming Society meeting agenda

The Annual PCHS Society Meeting will be held on Monday, June 15 at 7 PM.  It will likely be a Zoom meeting as well.  The 20-21 Budget will be presented and board member elections will be discussed. 

6.  Class Registration

Thank you parents and students for submitting course requests by the deadline.  There are still a handful of students who have not submitted course requests for next semester.  Those requests need to be submitted as soon as possible.

Mr. Engbers will review the course requests and provide feedback to students who have conflicts that need to be resolved, or may want to consider other options.  Student access to the Family Portal will be available soon.  For now, students should use their parents' account.

In His Grip, 

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian High Families, 

This note will focus on the following three areas:

  1. Class of 2020 Graduation
  2. End of School Year Plans for Seniors
  3. End of School Year Plans for Underclassmen

1. Class of 2020 Graduation!

After surveying seniors and holding two Zoom sessions with senior class officers and sponsors, we’ve made a decision to hold graduation on the scheduled date of Saturday, May 23.  

Graduation will take place at PC stadium at 7 PM.  If the weather is threatening, graduation could be moved up to 11 AM.  That call will be made 24-36 hours in advance.  The rain date is Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day) at 1 PM.

Graduation will take place on the football field with graduates seated in the stands and families seated in designated places on the football field. Guidance on seating will be shared at a later date.

If social distancing standards are not relaxed enough for this event to occur on May 23, then we will move graduation to Saturday, June 20, at 7 PM.

*Note that our plan for a May 23 graduation is dependent on the relaxing of social distancing standards as well as permission from both local and state authorities.  

2. End of Year Plans for Seniors

Final semester assignments for seniors will be due by Friday, May 15.  

No final exams will be given.  Instead, students will take chapter tests or do final projects.  Final projects will be posted by Friday, May 8 and final chapter tests will be posted by 3 PM on Thursday, May 14.  Both projects and end-of-course chapter tests will be due by Tuesday, May 19.  

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 19, 20, and 21 will be catch-up days for seniors with missing assignments with the possibility of attendance on campus to complete make-up work if allowed.  

3. End of Year Plans for Underclassmen

Final semester assignments for underclassmen will be due by Friday, May 22.  

No final exams will be given.  Instead, students will take chapter tests or do final projects.  Final projects will be posted by Friday, May 15 and final chapter tests will be posted by 3 PM on Thursday, May 21.  Both projects and end-of-course chapter tests will be due by Tuesday, May 26.  

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 26, 27, and 28, will be catch-up days for students with missing assignments with the possibility of attendance on campus to complete make-up work if allowed. 

We continue to be thankful for the solid learning plans offered by our teachers and the excellent follow through by so many students.  We are proud of everyone and thankful to God for the opportunity for learning to continue during this time.   

Please continue praying for an improvement in the COVID-19 situation in our world.  Please also join us in praying for the opportunity to have a live graduation ceremony on May 23 (or later on June 20 if necessary).

In His Grip, 

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian High Families, 

This communication will focus on the following four areas:

  1. School Events for May
  2. Class of 2020 Graduation
  3. Locker Cleaning and return of books and Chromebooks
  4. Virtual Learning  

1. School Events

In-person Pella Christian High School academic, concerts, and athletic events are canceled through May 28 with the exceptions of the events below.  Pella Christian High School will follow guidance from the Iowa High School Athletic Association regarding the baseball and softball seasons.  The following event plans are as follows:

Spring Play:  The PCHS Spring Play may still be performed depending on a change in Iowa’s social distancing standards.  We will remain in a holding pattern throughout the month of May and will make a decision as we’re able.

Awards Night:  Awards night, scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 20, will be held virtually.  Watch for details to come.

JSB:   A decision has been made to hold JSB on June 19.  At that time, if social distancing measures are in place that will not allow for this event, we will decide in the weeks leading up to June 19 what our next steps will be for this event.

2. Class of 2020 Graduation

For the past week, the administration has reviewed survey data from seniors and had conversations with senior class officers and sponsors around what graduation could look like this year.   If a typical graduation is not possible, the desire is to achieve a memorable one!  We plan to survey seniors a second time and also will get some input from senior parents.  Administration’s desire is to make a decision in the next week and to share a graduation plan at that time.

3. End of Year Locker Cleanout and Book/Device Return

A plan for students to pick up items remaining in lockers, as well as return books and Chromebooks/chargers has been created.  The plan for underclassmen will involve stopping at school during a designated time per last name on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and afternoons, May 27 and 28.  We plan to limit traffic in the building as much as possible assuming some level of restriction will still be in place.  

4.  Virtual Teaching and Learning - please read!

We continue to monitor time on task for our high school students’ learning.  Teachers have continued to monitor and, in many cases, adjust homework loads.  Teachers want very much to offer excellent, essential learning for students, but they recognize that distractions and the anxiety of uncertainty make it more difficult for many students to concentrate.  Also, some students are spending three or four hours on an assignment that should only take only 30 or 60 minutes.  If your student is in that category, please take this opportunity to talk with him/her about when to stop work on an open-ended assignment.  Now is an excellent time to address the perfectionism that can creep into schoolwork for many students.  Self-awareness of this issue is a growth area for many of us, and now is a good time for parents to talk about this with students .  Reminder:  we will go to a four-day school week for students next week with no assignments given for Friday.  Virtual learning tasks will be provided for Monday through Thursday only.  Due dates will remain on Friday.  

In His Grip, 

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

The purpose of this communication is to share plans for the following end of year activities:

  1. School Events
  2. Society Meeting
  3. 8th Grade Graduation
  4. 8th Grade Adventureland Trip
  5. Cleaning desks, lockers, and returning books and school-issued devices.  
  6. School Calendar for the remainder of the year.  

1. School Events

All in-person Pella Christian Grade School academic, concerts, and athletic events are canceled through May 28.  Pella Christian Grade School will follow guidance from the Iowa High School Athletic Association regarding the baseball and softball seasons.

2. Society Meeting

The PCGS board approved a motion to move the Pella Christian Grade School Society meeting from May 12 to June 9.  The board’s desire is that the society meeting is a face to face event and will follow the social distancing guidelines set by Governor Reynolds.  If a face to face meeting is not a possibility on June 9, the society meeting will be held via Zoom.  

3. 8th Grade Graduation

For the past week, the administration has held several conversations around what 8th-grade graduation could look like.  On Friday, May 15, our administrative assistants will coordinate a drive-through diploma pickup.  Each graduate will be given a specific time to pick up their Bible and diploma and put on their graduation gown. A photographer will take each graduate’s picture with their Bible and diploma.  Graduates will receive a composite photo that includes each graduate’s picture.  On Friday, May 22, at 5:30 p.m. a virtual graduation ceremony will be held.  More details regarding the platform that will be used for that event will be shared later.  Following virtual graduation, we invite graduates and their families to a drive-by congratulations line beginning at 6:15 p.m. in front of PCGS.  PCGS staff and teachers will socially distance themselves along the sidewalk to congratulate each graduate. A more detailed plan of these events will be shared with 8th-grade students and parents next week.

4. 8th Grade Adventureland Trip

A decision regarding the 8th-grade class trip to Adventureland is going to be postponed until July 1.  At that time, if there is evidence that social distancing measures are going to be relaxed, we will communicate the date and details of this event with 8th-grade students and parents. 

5. End of Year Locker/Desk Cleaning and Book/Device Return

A plan for families to pick up items remaining in desks and lockers, as well as return books and electronic devices is still being discussed.  The administration’s desire is to limit traffic in the building as much as possible. We will be providing families several days to accomplish this with morning, afternoon, and evening hours after the school year is complete.  

6. End of Year Calendar

A one-page calendar of events through the end of the year can be viewed at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/PCMay2020.

Blessings, 

David Te Grotenhuis 

Craig Juffer

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

Thank you for your helpful feedback throughout this entire virtual teaching and learning experience. We appreciate you all very much!   We are also very thankful for those of you who completed the virtual learning survey. We spent this week reviewing that data and utilizing your feedback to adapt The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.  The purpose of this communication is to share a summary of that feedback along with changes that we will be implemented on Monday, April 20.  

Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program Extended Through End of Year

Today Governor Reynolds suspended all face-to-face instruction for Iowa schools for the remainder of the school year.  We will follow this guidance, and all Pella Christian Grade School and High School on-campus operations will be suspended through May 28th.  The school administration will be discussing how to handle the end of year events and will be communicating those decisions by Friday, April 24.  

We are not surprised by this decision, but this is also not the news we had wanted to hear.  Suddenly the hope of getting back in the building for all or part of May is now dashed.  That is sad for all of us, and especially for our seniors.  This is not the way it was supposed to be, and we lament and grieve the loss of normalcy and the rhythm of a typical end-of-the-school year.

Summary of Feedback Survey Data

143 out of 223 families participated in the survey.  

96% of respondents were highly satisfied or satisfied with communication from administration, teachers, and other support staff.  

The top five responses to the question of “What has been helpful?” were as follows:

  • 23% - Communication from teachers and support staff including prompt email response times
  • 19% - Online Learning Plans and K12 website’s one-page learning plans for each class
  • 14% - Wednesday Zoom sessions and extra Zoom sessions offered
  • 12% - Learning videos teachers have provided   
  • 11% - Clarity of assignments and addition of time estimates on learning plans

The top five responses to the challenges families faced in a virtual teaching and learning environment were as follows:

  • 18% - Tech issues such as slow internet
  • 16% - Challenges of helping their student stay motivated or on task
  • 14% - Too much homework 
  • 13% - No challenges
  •  6% - Too many places to look for assignments/plans

The top four responses to the request for one suggestion for improvement were as follows:

  • 30% - It’s all good
  • 18% - Desire for less homework
  • 11% - Desire for more live Zoom teaching sessions
  •  9% - Desire for all assignments to be found in one place

Adjustments to Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program Beginning on April 20

Pella Christian Schools will take one Flex Day every Friday beginning May 1st.  This flex day will be used for our staff to connect with one another around student needs, to hold staff meetings, to provide professional learning opportunities around virtual teaching and learning, and for work time.  Students will not have classroom assignments or Zoom meetings on the flex day and teachers will not hold office hours.  Families may choose to explore optional learning activities that are widely available, may take a day off of instruction, or students may complete unfinished work from previous plans in the week.

Pella Christian High teachers will continue to place all assignments and time estimates on the K12 Virtual Teaching and Learning page on the PCHS website under “Academics” > ”Virtual Learning”.  Parents indicated that one challenge is that students must look in multiple places for resources and learning plans.  Classes at PCHS are on either a Google Classroom or Moodle Platform; although it would be clearer if all classes were on one platform, it is not possible to make that major change at this point.  Students are accustomed to using both platforms as they have been using them all year.  However, for the benefit of parents, the K12 site can and should be viewed as the “one-stop-shop” to see learning targets, all assignments, and time estimates.

Teachers will continue to evaluate the length of time they estimate that assignments will take students to complete in order to remain at a reasonable average amount of time each day.  Feedback noting the average amount of time students are working each week indicates some students are working longer than we would intend.   Teachers will continue to analyze learning plans to ensure activities are essential and in a reasonable amount of time per day on average.  Please note that our teachers take their role of offering high-quality education very seriously and want to make sure they continue to help students learn at high levels, albeit within the parameters of flexibility and grace needed in a new and unprecedented way of learning.

Thanks again for your ongoing feedback and support.  Strength and patience to you all as you parent and supervise learning for your students.  We appreciate your help in making this work! 

In His grip, 

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

I’d like to start by thanking you again for the helpful feedback you have given throughout this entire virtual teaching and learning experience. You are a wonderful group of families! We are also very thankful for those of you who took the time to fill out the virtual campus survey. We have spent this week reviewing that data and utilizing your feedback to adapt The Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program.  

The purpose of this communication is to:

  1. Share plans for the remainder of the school year.
  2. Provide a summary of the survey feedback. 
  3. Announce changes to Virtual Teaching and Learning that we will implement on April 20.  

1. Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program Extended Through End of Year

Today Governor Reynolds suspended all face-to-face instruction for Iowa schools for the remainder of the school year.  We will follow this guidance, and all Creation Station Christian Preschool, Pella Christian Grade School and Pella Christian High School on-campus operations will be suspended through May 28th.  The school administration will be discussing how to handle the end of year events and will be communicating those decisions on Friday, April 24.  

I have spent most of the past several hours lamenting the decision to suspend face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the year. The Psalms help shape our Biblical lament as we cry out to God wondering why so many face such difficult days. These difficult days are not beyond the reach of God’s providence and grace. May we find the words to cry out to God in lament, and may he gladden our souls by his goodness and steadfast love.

2. Summary of Feedback Survey Data

  • 208 families participated in the survey.  
  • 99% of respondents were highly satisfied or satisfied with communication from administration, teachers, and other PCGS Staff.  
  • The top four responses to the question of “What has been helpful?” were as follows:
  • 74 responses referenced the organization of the program.
  • 68 responses referenced the teaching videos.  
  • 50 responses referenced the live Zoom sessions. 
  • 41 responses referenced the one-on-one assistance and availability of teaching staff.  
  • The top five responses to the challenges families faced in a virtual teaching and learning environment were as follows:
  • 29 responses referenced internet or technology troubles.
  • 27 responses referenced balancing their work and teaching their children schoolwork. 
  • 25 responses referenced managing younger children through the learning plans. 
  • 22 responses referenced keeping their child(ren) focused and/or motivated.  
  • 16 responses referenced that there is too much work.  
  • The top four responses to the request for one suggestion for improvement were as follows:
  • 104 responses offered no suggestions.  
  • 28 responses suggested less work.
  • 13 responses suggested more specific information be shared about assignments and that students receive feedback from teachers. 
  • 10 responses suggested more live Zoom sessions. 

Since the beginning of the Pella Christian Teaching and Learning Program, we have asked our teachers to provide about 3-hours of learning activities per day.  The following graphs are responses to the number of hours students are spending on learning activities in each grade span:

If your child is experiencing workloads that go well beyond the three-hour time-on-task benchmark, please consider contacting the teacher during office hours to have a discussion.  We recognize that there may be a need to differentiate for some of our students.  

3. Changes to Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program Beginning on April 20

Pella Christian Schools (K-12, not Creation Station) will take one Flex Day every Friday we are in a virtual environment beginning May 1st.  This flex day will be used for our staff to connect with one another around student needs, hold staff meetings, and provide professional learning opportunities around virtual teaching and learning.  Students will not have core classroom assignments or Zoom meetings on the flex day and teachers will not hold office hours.  Families may choose to explore many of the optional learning activities in P.E., art, music, and elementary Spanish class, may take a day off of instruction, or may complete unfinished learning activities from earlier in the week.

K-2 Learning Plans will now have 2-hours of learning activities per day and additional optional activities that families may choose to complete.  Families will not see a reduction in the number of learning activities in K-2, instead, teachers will indicate what activities are optional.  Teachers will receive completed optional activities and provide feedback to students.  We are making this change based on parent feedback to provide flexibility for families with children in the K-2 classroom.  

Parents of children in K-5 have a choice in how they turn their child(ren)’s work into the classroom teacher.  Through the survey, we learned that there are inconsistencies in how teaching staff would like student work to be returned to school.  To create consistency our staff will give choice to parents as to whether they submit work electronically (taking a picture and submitting via email or using a Google Doc) or utilizing the packet drop off/pick up times on Friday and Saturday.  Please use whatever option is best for your family.  

Beginning Monday, we will be offering optional Spanish classes to our K-5 students and SPARK in grades 3-6.  The Spanish class learning plans will be uploaded to the Virtual Teaching and Learning Site at 3:00 p.m. on Friday. Mrs. Settles will reach out to SPARK parents and students about continuing their SPARK projects.  Both of these offerings are optional learning activities for students and families.  Families of students participating in the SPARK program may choose whether or not they want to continue during our time in a virtual campus.

Thanks again for your ongoing feedback and support.  

Grace and Peace, 

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

  • The following information will be shared in this communication:
  • Plans for Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • Student email and resource check
  • Changes to Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning System based on feedback
  • Survey distribution on Thursday

Parent-Teacher Conferences

The Pella Christian Schools Joint Administrative Leadership Team discussed at length what parent-teacher conferences could look like in a virtual teaching and learning environment.  The administration believes the next two weeks our staff needs to focus on executing virtual teaching and learning.  With that in mind, the decision has been made to not reschedule conferences at this time.  The administration encourages parents to utilize teacher office hours to provide or receive feedback from teaching staff regarding their child(ren)’s progress.  High School staff office hours are from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. daily.   Email communication can occur when convenient. 

Student Email and Resource Location

Please remind your student to regularly check their email for communication from teachers.

Please point students to the K12 learning site in order to see a more succinct weekly plan for each course:  https://sites.google.com/pellachristian.net/virtual-learning/home/high-school

Several students completed assignments but failed to submit properly or for some, to submit at all.  Missing-grade alerts through JMC can catch this issue, but it would be good to remind your student.

Responding to Parent Feedback

Over the last week and a half, we have received excellent feedback from our families and we continue to receive and respond to that feedback.  We wanted to share some changes that have already taken place:  

A list of learning activities and assignments are located on each teacher’s moodle or google classroom page.  The Virtual Learning and Teaching website also lists each teacher by name and their weekly plans for each class.  

High school learning plans now provide an estimated time-on-task for each learning activity and assessment. Students can compare their working time to the teacher’s estimated time and also budget their time more effectively with a better indication of estimated time for learning activities.

Parent Survey

Tomorrow all parents will be emailed a link to a parent survey.  The survey’s purpose is to learn how to better serve you and your children in the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program and should take five to ten minutes to complete. The survey link will remain open until Monday at 5:00 p.m.   

In Christ,

Dan Van Kooten

Greg Wojczynski

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

The following information will be shared in this communication:

  • K-5 Packet Pickup for this week. 
  • Plans for Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • Changes to Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning System based on feedback
  • Survey distribution on Thursday

K-5 Packet Pickup

Completed  K-5 learning packets 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.  

A downloadable link to the learning packet is available in each classroom’s learning plan on the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Website at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.  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.

Families requesting printed classroom learning plans can pick them up Friday at 4:30 p.m. 

Parent-Teacher Conferences

The Pella Christian Schools Joint Administrative Leadership Team discussed at length what parent-teacher conferences could look like in a virtual teaching and learning environment.  The administration believes the next two weeks our staff needs to focus on executing virtual teaching and learning with excellence and responsiveness.  With that in mind, the decision has been made to not reschedule conferences at this time.  The administration encourages parents to utilize teacher office hours to provide or receive feedback from teaching staff regarding their child(ren)’s progress.  Staff office hours are from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. daily, and Tuesday and Friday evening from 6:30-7:30 p.m. 

Responding to Parent Feedback

Over the last week and a half, we have received excellent feedback from our families, and we continue to receive and respond to that feedback.  We wanted to share some changes that have already taken place and some changes you will see in the coming week: 

  • Scheduled Zoom meetings are at the top of Virtual Learning Plans. This includes the link, the day and time of the learning session.  
  • Learning packets are available for download on each K-5 classroom virtual learning plan.  
  • Completed learning packets can be scanned and submitted to office@pellachristian.net.  
  • Virtual Learning Plans can be printed by the office upon request.  Plans are available at 4:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  
  • Routes are run on Friday to Knoxville, Prairie City, Newton, and Oskaloosa for packet pickup and drop off.  If your family lives in one of these towns and would benefit from this service, please contact the office (641-628-2414).
  • Beginning next week, middle school learning plans will provide an estimated time-on-task for each learning activity and assessment. Students should check their actual time against the teacher’s estimated time and communicate directly with teachers if they are regularly spending more time on those tasks than the teacher estimates.
  • Beginning next week, third through eighth-grade learning plans will include a checklist of assignments due at the end of the week.  Parents can use this checklist to monitor their child’s progress throughout the week. 

Parent Survey

Tomorrow all parents will be emailed a link to a parent survey.  The survey’s purpose is to learn how to better serve you and your children in the Pella Christian Virtual Teaching and Learning Program and should take five to ten minutes to complete. The survey link will remain open until Monday at 5:00 p.m.   

In Christ, 

David Te Grotenhuis

Craig Juffer

Dear Pella Christian Families, 

Over the past weeks, many of us have come to rely on Zoom for meetings that have historically been face-to-face.  I am thankful for this gift of technology.  Yesterday, I entered a Zoom meeting and the individual I was scheduled to meet with said, “Wow, last month was quite a year!”  Yes, quite a year indeed.  Our world looks different now and yet our assurance of hope remains rooted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ! 

It was great to begin today with a time of virtual corporate worship.  Thank you to the high school chapel team, Pastor Brad Meinders, and Jodi De Vries for putting a virtual chapel together. We are thankful that in all of the anxieties and fears that surround us, that we can turn to The Lord and Savior of the Universe, Jesus Christ.  If you were not able to watch it live, you can watch it at the following link: Pella Christian High Virtual Chapel.  

Likely by now, you have heard the guidance from Iowa Governor Reynolds that schools be closed through April 30. ​We will follow this guidance, and Pella Christian Grade School and High School on-campus operations will remain suspended through April 30. Our hope is to resume on-campus operations on Friday, May 1.​ Pella Christian Schools will continue to follow the most recent guidance from government and public health agencies.

This is clearly a difficult season, and even the confidence that our God is near to us doesn’t completely erase the fear and anxiety that accompanies uncertainty and risk. We understand and are sensitive to the reality that many of our families, students, faculty, staff, and administration experience trauma in these days and grieve what has been lost.  May our community commit to loving God and others by walking alongside one another in the days and weeks to come.    

Early next week, we will be sending a short survey to all school parents so we can gather more feedback about how we can best communicate with you during these unprecedented times, and how you and your children are experiencing the virtual teaching and learning program.  Be on the lookout for this communication. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us directly at vankootend@pceagles.org - 641.205.2662 or tegrotenhuisd@pellachristian.net - 641.204.1873.  

May God bless each one of you as you anticipate corporate worship on the first day of Holy Week.  

In Service to Our King, 

Dan Van Kooten 

David Te Grotenhuis

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