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School Communications (COVID-19)

Concerns about Zoom Letter

Dear CHS families,

As you have no doubt read, there has been a lot in the news about the Zoom platform. There are concerns about people entering chat rooms to say something or to expose themselves. CHS set up our accounts with security in mind, though we have continued to monitor all new developments about this platform for our e-learning program. 

At present, while we are still using Zoom for our e-learning, we have some tight protocols for using Zoom. You will note that these practices are also those recommended by technology professionals. 

  • Our Zoom Education account allows more specific security options than the free version
  • All Zoom sessions have unique passwords and are not publically available
  • Meeting settings prohibit screen-sharing by anyone other than the teacher
  • Teachers use the waiting room feature to control the admittance of guests
  • Chat functions are disabled or limited by default

Of course, our security is only as good as our community’s use of it. To that end, we are asking all families and students to make sure that they are not sharing or posting links of CHS Zoom meetings on social media or on any other public channels. This will make certain that no one outside of the CHS community knows that Zoom meetings are taking place. 

In a similar fashion, under no circumstances should CHS community members record or otherwise capture the image of students or staff to safeguard the privacy of all of our community members.  

We take student privacy very seriously as well – to that end, students are not authorized to have Zoom accounts linked to CHS. Students under 13 are not permitted to create Zoom accounts or use their CHS G_Suite credentials to create Zoom (or other social media accounts).

It is not necessary to have a Zoom account or log in to Zoom to access classroom meetings. Links provided by classroom teachers are sufficient for launching Zoom - students or parent users of Zoom only need to enter their name to properly identify themselves when joining a meeting.

Finally, since the issues with Zoom have raised overall questions regarding privacy over technology, please know that while CHS utilizes mobile device management tools that update software or replace apps as long as the device is on the internet,

  • We do not utilize remote control software without your permission,
  • We do not remotely monitor student activity or browsing history,
  • We do not have remote access to the camera or microphone on your device.

Please know that we take these issues very seriously and will continue to monitor and update you on privacy and security concerns as our e-learning program continues to grow and evolve. If you have any questions relating to technology or the e-learning curriculum and instruction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any one of us.

With thanks,

Chris Cunningham
Academic Dean/Dean of Faculty

Paul Rozenfeld
Manager of Technology

Sarah Fortino
Instructional Technologist

Talking to Children if Someone Gets Sick

Sharing an illness with your child:

  • Talk to your child about the illness, even if it is difficult.  Depending on the ways you respond will prevent them from feeling too frightened or overwhelmed.
  • Keep a daily routine for your child and add scheduled times during the day to: 
    • Create times for online connections, facetime, skype for your child with friends and people in your support system.
    • Create an hour of activity time daily for legos, playdough, arts and crafts…
    • Create 30 minutes of quiet time using music, audiobooks, reading, coloring, journaling…
    • Have scheduled time with someone they love (without interruptions).
  • If you feel comfortable, let your support systems (family members, friends, religious or social community, teachers) know what is going on, and ask for help.  This can help relieve the stress and feelings of isolation.
  • Order children's books on amazon to read and discuss the illness. While there is little out right now on COVID 19, there are other children's books that you can use to discuss illness. (,
  • Reach out to your healthcare professional, pediatrician or school to connect online for counseling support.
  • Children need a sense of control.  COVID 19 appears to present milder symptoms with people that do not have underlying health conditions. Remind your child, and practice the behaviors that can keep everyone healthy like washing hands.


Web Applications, Video Recording, and Remote Learning

Why are you receiving this information? 
CHS is now using new web-based applications and online or remote learning programs in its curriculum and educational program. According to COPPA laws, we have to inform families of the online programs we use for any children under the age of 13. 

What is COPPA?
The Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, more commonly known as COPPA, is a law dealing with how websites, apps, and other online operators collect data and personal information from children under the age of 13. 

CHS must keep any information about your child safe and secure. We do not share your child’s name. We encourage your children to use their first names, and last initials only. CHS does not share your child’s name or birthdate with outside providers. 

However, because your child’s first name and work are on these platforms, we want to and have to let you know that this information is online. 

What programs will CHS be using? Where can I learn information about these programs? 

Right now CHS is using:


GSuite and Google Classroom
(Some grades)

(Some grades)

BrainPop & BrainPop JR
(some grades)

Will my child be recorded?
CHS staff may record parts of a lesson in which students are participating. Those videos are to be used internally and for educational purposes only. 

Can I record any lessons for my child with CHS staff and/or students? 
No. Families may not record those lessons for any reason. If your child is absent or going to miss a class, please have your child talk to their teacher (or if your child is younger, please email the teacher). The teacher may record the lesson, but families do not record the lessons.

When students view those recordings they can use them for educational purposes only. They may not alter or share the recordings in any way, with any other software.

I still have questions about the technology being used. Who do I ask? 
Contact CHS Manager of Technology, Paul Rozenfeld, for more information or any questions about these applications and programs.

I have concerns about my child using these programs. Who do I ask?
Please contact CHS Academic Dean, Chris Cunningham with curriculum questions. 

Managing the Time Together at Home 

Managing the time together at home 

  1. Social Distancing is hard
    Listen, validate, you are doing the best you can in this extraordinary situation.

  2. Set up a daily basic routine and stick to it.
    ​CHS will also send information this upcoming week that will help to frame the learning days. Even now, however, know that routines are important. Make sure you and your family continue to practice daily health and wellness routines. Continue routines in the morning like washing up, brushing your teeth, getting dressed...Keep consistent bedtime routines during the week, just as you would during the time when school was in “regular” session. For now, think about things like:

    • reading time

    • imaginative play time

    • time spent on a special media platform, as allowed, connecting with others

    • chore time

    • outside time/exercise time (yoga videos are great!)

    • family time

  3. Try to create intentional times every day for periods of quiet time and fun.
    Down time and opportunities for fun are important for you and your children.  Set up time to play games together, cook, do arts and crafts, read a book or watch a movie together.  Equally important are the times you have to yourself. Try to avoid screens for a period of time and instead read, listen to an audiobook, have your child color, play with legos or other quiet activities.  This is such an important life skill to practice.

  4. In addition to fun, having regular simple chores can ensure that everyone in the household feels helpful.
    Chores may not sound like family bonding time, however it can give children and adults a sense of purpose.  You are now all learning and working from home, and so there is more home upkeep that will be needed. In addition, your children are used to having jobs at school. Give simple daily tasks: set the table, put away silverware from the dishwasher, stack the table, pick up toys daily, help to get laundry out of the drier...all help to create a sense of efficacy in children,  Having your children clean their rooms once a week helps them feel organized and gives a sense of control.

  5. Get fresh air every day, and when you can try to engage in a physical activity.
    We know exercise positively impacts mood.  Fresh air improves focus and attention. Doing simple exercises like dancing in your living room can make you move and laugh. Going for a walk with your family members engages your senses and can also strengthen your relationships.  If you have to stay inside, then create a space to move and stretch indoors.

  6. Use social technology to connect with others outside of your household. 
    Try to connect with someone at least once a day.  Social media can be a positive way to connect with friends and family.  In fact, research supports using social media helps kids feel even more connected locally and globally.  FaceTime allows for virtually social gatherings. Instead of calling or texting a family member or friend try FaceTime. Discover many of the vetted apps available on CommonSense media. Remember, at this age, children need supervision. 

  7. Practice loving self care.
    Sleeping, eating well, drinking water, taking breaks when you need to, are critical to maintaining physical, and emotional health.  Try doing one thing a day for yourself that helps you feel good. You should also consider how often you listen to the news. Being connected every minute can be too much.  

  8. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. 
    These are stressful times and close quarters for many families.  It’s ok to mess up. Most importantly is taking the time to apologize in those situations.  This is an opportunity to model how to handle mistakes for your kids. Remember, you are not alone.  Avoid the “super parent” online posts of families who seem perfectly happy and content with homeschooling and isolation.  Find and read the “real” parenting stories where you can sympathize or laugh.

  9. Smile at and hug each other.
    Mirror neurons cause us to smile when someone smiles at us. With a family member it can create giggles too.  Have you ever tried to play the “staring game” where the goal is to make the other person laugh, but not to laugh yourself?  Try it when you need some levity. Hugging and snuggling are great ways to connect with family members and feel good. Physical touch helps to decrease stress hormones and increase neurotransmitters that promote mood regulation, impulse control and more.  Hug each other, hug a pet, hug a stuffed animal or blanket!

  10. Nurture your relationships at home.
    It can be hard to remember to create moments of kindness and care when you're with someone 24/7. Practice intentional acts of kindness and connection daily. Take the time to stop, look and listen to each other.  Share “ah ha” moments, appreciations, and apologies at least weekly. Do not underestimate the power of listening to someone you care about.

  11. Stay calm, practice good hygiene and when in doubt, use humor. 
    These are extraordinary times and for many, a major change in daily life.  The many unknowns and uncertainties during this time can feel unsettling. Practice daily mindfulness, wash your hands often, and when you can, laugh.  There are many available and helpful resources that can help you feel informed and stay educated. Use your school as a resource to gather information and vetted resources.

Managing Online Learning

Managing Online Learning - We are in this together! (A few things to think about now.)

  1. Breathe.  This is a new frontier, know you are not alone.

  2. Remember this is a partnership.  School and home are working together to support our young learners.  Neither will be successful without the other.

  3. Try to create a learning routine and consistent space for your child (and you).  Structure and flexibility will be important elements to balance.

  4. Online learning will require using a tablet, chromebook or computer, as well as parental involvement.  Depending on the age of your child will dictate how much you need to be present, but no matter what, you should be aware of academic and online requirements, and help your child be accountable.

  5. Reach out to your child’s teacher with any questions or concerns.  This is new to everyone.  There will be some bumps and some bump ups.  Teachers are there to help, hear concerns and support you.

Getting Started in Zoom

Dear Families:

One of the platforms we are going to use for communication, interaction and connection is Zoom. It is an amazing platform in that it allows groups of people to see one another via video. The staff has been actively meeting with Zoom and exploring it this week, Some of our 1st grade families have experimented with it already too!

Given that we want to get families on the platform, we are going to ask the following: 

  • Go to Zoom ( 
  • Sign up using the email(s) that you use to receive CHS communications
  • Download the app to your laptop or tablet, the software supports both Windows and Mac
    • This will ensure a better experience for you and your child/children 
    • It will allow for easier support when in use 
  • This weekend you will receive an email from the Family Association class reps. They are planning a short connection via Zoom at each grade level for Monday. This is a way to connect with classmates and to practice with the app!
  • If you run into any problems please reach out to the Zoom Help Center.
  • If that doesn’t work, you will be able to work with teachers starting on Thursday. 

Thank you for your partnership as we work through this together!

Sarah Fortino
Instructional Technologist

Paul Rozenfeld
Manager of Technology

Chris Cunningham 
Academic Dean/Dean of Faculty

A Message from the Head of School (3/20/20)

Dear Families: 

I hope you are in good health and taking care of yourself and your loved ones. The last several weeks have brought unprecedented challenges to our nation and the world, and also to our families and communities. While the full impact of the coronavirus is still unknown, we have already experienced profound effects on our healthcare system, our economy, and our way of life. I hope that you are well and finding sources of inspiration, care, and comfort during these times.

In the face of such adversity, I have been heartened every day by the creativity, resourcefulness, and resilience of the CHS community. I have heard from many of you as you check in and try to process our changing landscape. You have offered to help in ways large and small. Those offers have been so appreciated; they speak volumes about CHS. They also mean we will be successful at building an online version of our amazing school and community. 

We know that we are living in a time of change. We miss our habits we had taken for granted. For instance, I will miss seeing Ms. Carlisa at the front desk each day and having Mr. Edwards and Ms. Feder (and all of our staff!) greet our students each morning. 

I am also confident that we can create times for us to continue to connect as families. 

Frame for our work ahead:

  • The administrative, student support, and curriculum teams have been working during the break. We have been focused on building an online academic institution that values community and connection. 
  • We have been in contact with schools--including several international ones--who have been doing online learning for many weeks. They have had a single message: connection is critical.
  • We are going to help families to build daily schedules that work for them. While there will be clear times when teachers are online, we also know that families and teachers are juggling their own work schedules. We have to find ways to offer connection and flexibility. 
  • Think of Thursday (3/26) and Friday (3/27) as the first two days of a new school year. We have to reset expectations. We will be assigning work when expectations are new to students. In other words, if something takes too long, tell your child to stop. If frustration is clear, tell them to stop. They will have chances to check in with their teachers.
  • We will also continue our learning. Again, similar to the start of the year, we will gradually ramp up into it. However, we know that teaching and learning will help to ground us. Our students will have work to do. 
  • Our goal is to start simply. We are establishing new systems. 
  • We are aware that many of our children will need some adult supervision as they learn. We are aware that our systems will impact you and your time.
  • We plan to survey families and students after a week and a half. In other words, we will get feedback and make new changes!

Plan for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (3/23 - 3/25)

  • Monday, 3/23
    Staff training
    The Family Association will send an email to families to join calls via Zoom. We are going to use Zoom to connect, and we want everyone to download it and practice using it in small, inclusive groups. 
  • Tuesday, 3/24
    All CHS families will receive an email from homeroom teachers by 8:00 a.m. The letter will include instructions to reply back so we know we have made contact with every family. 

    The email will include a greeting from teachers, some initial ideas for activities for these unstructured days, and some resources. It will also lay out a general plan for Thursday and Friday. 

    Staff members will be training for the day.
  • Wednesday, 3/25
    Staff training

Thursday 3/26 and Friday 3/27

  • All families will receive what will become a daily email sent at 8:00 a.m. That email will include the work and activities for students for each day. 

    The days will include a few synchronous times for each grade level to connect. 

    The days will also include asynchronous learning lessons. We will start with a lesson or two at first. 

Plan for the week of 3/30 - 4/3:
We will continue our remote learning plan through this entire week. We will then ask for feedback. 

What technology do I need? 
We are including instructions in this weekly email for Zoom and See Saw. We may add additional systems as we go. We will help to lead families through setting up any systems.

In addition, if you are finding that you are without a device, please reach out to Paul Rozenfeld at

How long is CHS closed?
The recommendations continue to change. We are assuming that we will deliver CHS online curriculum until further notice. Our focus right now is to set up the curriculum. We will continue to address future CHS events as there is additional clarity. 

Lastly, I recognize that families may be facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus’s effect on our economy. If you are in need, please let us know. CHS will do everything we can to help. 

Thank you for being such an amazing community, and please continue to check in on one another. We will continue to learn together, and something tells me our students will help us to lead the way. 


All the best,

Tamara Schurdak
Head of School

Student Support Team Members
Deb Bloomberg, Director of Nursing and Wellness
Chris Cunningham, Academic Dean/Dean of Faculty
Jennifer Dirga, School Counselor
Michelle Keating, Director of Student Support
Tamara Schurdak, Head of School
Mark Steward, Psychologist

Administrative Team Members 
Chris Cunningham, Academic Dean/Dean of Faculty
Lisa Halm, Director of Finance and HR
Tara Hathaway, Director of Operations and Financial Aid​
Opeyemi Laniyonu, Director of Advancement 
Tamara Schurdak, Head of School
Alex Tolischus, Director of Enrollment Management​

CHS: Coronavirus Guidance (3/11/2020)

Dear Families:

With only days to go before March break, we continue to recognize that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) remains prevalent in the news. As we all know, the situation is evolving rapidly, and each day brings new and different information. 

Given that we will be away, here are a few thoughts, knowing that there will be much additional news while CHS is on break. We will address the following:

  • What CHS is doing
  • What you can do to inform yourselves
  • What you can do should you be traveling
  • Our plan for distance learning, should we need one
  • Our plan to communicate before we return from break

What CHS is doing
The administrative and support teams will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We are working with local, state and national organizations including our school doctor, the Town of Newton, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, we remain in constant contact with the National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE). Every organization is providing resources, guidance and recommendations. 

Right now, CHS will remain open as planned, including vacation camp. As always, we will communicate should there be any changes. 

Our staff is disinfecting surfaces with more frequency, all classrooms have hand wipes, and all teachers with the support of Deb Bloomberg are reinforcing proper handwashing techniques and best practices for preventing respiratory viruses. 

What you can do
For now, however, please remember that many of the things you do to prevent flu and colds can help protect you against other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Keep anyone home that is sick
  • Be fever free for at least 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicine) before returning to school
  • Extra rest and a healthy diet

Please educate yourself!

Helpful resources: 

If you plan to travel
If you plan to travel over break, please do your own research. The CDC has issued specific warnings, restricting non-essential travel to specific countries. Check this list (note the level 2 and level 3 alert destinations) before finalizing plans, as additional regions may be added to these categories at any time. Concerning coronavirus, we concur with CDC restrictions. If your family or someone you know has traveled to one of these countries recently, please contact your physician. This check-in will help your child and our community. 

Creating a plan if CHS needs to close
Although we would prefer to remain open, we are planning ahead in case we need to close school.

Teachers will instruct students to take home books and binders before students leave for break. We will tell the students that we are organizing everything before we leave; this organization will allow us to clear more surfaces, which will allow for additional cleaning. 

As always, school cancellations will be communicated via our emergency broadcast system. We will then follow with a more detailed email including specific plans.

To that end, teachers are working to create lesson plans that, while different from those that would take place in the building, will allow students to continue to grow and learn. We will communicate many of those lessons via various platforms. Teachers will include directions for students and families. 

Given that communication would likely happen electronically, if your family does not have access to a device (tablet or computer of some kind) please contact Tamara.

What is the threshold that would cause CHS to close? When will I have more information? 
It is hard to answer every question right now. CHS will continue to work with local and national authorities. As always, our priority continues to be the well being of the CHS community. 

Given the rapidly developing news, we will communicate the afternoon of Sunday, March 22; my hope is that I will be writing that we will be opening as planned!

For now we truly wish all of you a wonderful, restful, healthy break. 



Deb Bloomberg, RN
Director of Nursing and Wellness

Tamara Schurdak
Head of School