Dear City Garden Families,

You all have been in my thoughts and on my heart throughout this past week. This is an unprecedented time that will undoubtedly have profound lasting impacts on all of us, for our children, and for our world. I hope you all are staying healthy and safe and are taking good care of yourselves and one another.

As we navigate the weeks and months ahead, I want to reiterate City Garden’s commitment to you, our students and families. We do not know exactly what our new reality—even if it is temporary—will look like. But we do know that we will continue to lean into our mission and to find new and different ways to make it come to life:

City Garden exists to redefine education by developing the whole child in an excellent, inclusive, Montessori school; to reimagine community by creating spaces and systems that help to restore our collective humanity; and to reinvigorate our world by creating a culture in which individuals and communities thrive without disparities or barriers to success.

We are providing an update, as things have continued to evolve over the past several days.

City Garden Response to COVID-19 – as of March 19, 2020

1) School is Closed Until At Least April 3rd – The leadership team has been staying in close contact with city and state officials and other school leaders over the course of this past week. The decision to close all schools in St. Louis was made jointly, with our input. Schools are closed until further notice, with a reevaluation of the situation to occur on April 3rd. Our guess is that schools will likely be closed longer than April 3rd—thus, we have been working to prepare for a longer time out of school. It is impossible at this time to say how long school will be closed, but we will continue to share information with you as quickly as possible.

2) Food access for students – The leadership team has worked in partnership with St. Louis Public Schools and other charter schools to create a plan for food access for all children in the City of St. Louis while school is out. ALL City Garden families can access “grab and go” breakfast and lunch daily at Mullanphy School or any other sites on this map – please click here. Rather than creating our own system for distributing food, it made the most sense to partner with SLPS and to direct our families to a distribution site one block from City Garden—Mullanphy School, which is at 4221 Shaw Blvd. City Garden staff will be assisting with the coordination and distribution. Please note that food is available to ANY child in St. Louis, so please feel free to share this information with other families. The child needs to be present (if at all possible) to pick up food. Please click here to access a map that shows all of the distribution sites and the hours. If you have additional need for food/groceries, let us know and we will do our best to support you.

3) Additional Resources for individuals and families – We recognize that this is an extremely challenging time for many of our families and other families in St. Louis. I am attaching a document that lists many available resources in St. Louis. If you or others you know would benefit from any of these resources, please pass along this information. City Garden also has a small emergency fund for families and will do our best to support families however we can. Please let us know if there are things your family needs or if there are ways we can support you during this time.

4) What “School” Will Look Like in the Coming Weeks – Our staff has been on spring break this week, but the leadership team has been working to develop a plan to continue to support students’ learning and social-emotional needs during this time. On Monday our staff will meet virtually to prepare for this transition. Since we are looking at this as a transition that will last for several weeks or more, we are working to put new infrastructure in place, and we’ll need to train staff on new technology and learning platforms. Hopefully this can be an exciting new opportunity for all of us to grow and stretch in new ways! Our goals, as we implement Distance Learning at City Garden, are:

TO CONTINUE ACADEMIC GROWTH: All children will continue learning and growing and will not regress academically while away from campus
TO SUPPORT A STRONG FAMILY SYSTEM: All families will feel like they have the right level of guidance: enough to keep children engaged and learning independently but not too much that it feels overwhelming and unmanageable
TO SUSTAIN CONNECTION & WELL-ROUNDED GROWTH: All children and their guides will maintain a strong connection during our period of Distance Learning, thereby supporting continued social, emotional, and cultural growth
TO FACILITATE COMMUNITY WELL-BEING: Our hope is that all children, families, and staff will look back on this difficult time and feel like they were part of a supportive and loving community that took care of each other
TO CENTER OUR COMMITMENTS TO EQUITY AND ANTI-BIAS, ANTIRACISM (ABAR): In doing all of the above, we will center equity and ABAR in our planning, decision-making and implementation, and we will continue to evaluate our program with an equity and ABAR lens

5) Next week will be a week of transition for us—so please be patient! In Montessori, we focus a lot on “preparing the environment” for children’s learning. We have a whole new “environment” to prepare, which will take some time and logistical effort. We will be in touch with you on Monday with additional details. In the meantime, there are many, many resources being shared online for learning at home. Here is a list of free resources that has been compiled. Please remember that the most important thing right now is for you to take care of yourselves and your children physically and emotionally and to enjoy your time together as much as possible. As we plan for the weeks ahead, we are keeping in mind that both our staff and our families are juggling 24/7 parenting, working from home, potential health concerns, and the intense stress of this uncertain time. We are striving to balance support, connection, learning, and allowing all of us grace through this time.

6) We will be working with families to get reliable electronic devices and internet to those who need it – If you have not yet filled out the survey that was sent out last Friday, please complete it now at this link. If we haven’t heard from you, we’ll be following up with you in the next few days. We will be making plans to get electronic devices and to help get internet for those who need it.

7) Staff will continue to be paid, including specialists – It is a priority for us to continue paying all regular staff, including specials guides, during school closure. As of now, the State of Missouri has said that we will continue to receive charter school payments during the school closure period, which will ensure some steady revenue. If you are a preschool family and are able to continue paying tuition, this would greatly benefit City Garden and our ability to continue services without interruption. We recognize that many of our families are facing extreme financial hardship right now, and we will do all that we can to be a source of support and assistance. Some of you have asked if there is anything you can do to help. If you are in a position to make a financial contribution at this time, it would be very much appreciated (and needed!), in order to keep meeting students, families’ and staff members’ needs throughout this time. Donations can be made HERE or sent to City Garden in the mail. We anticipate that our fundraising efforts throughout the rest of this school year, and maybe beyond, will be much more challenging, and we appreciate any and all support.

8) Please take good care of yourselves, your families and your loved ones. This pandemic is a life-altering, and potentially planet-altering, moment for ourselves, our families, our community and our world. Things are changing every day, and, in some cases, every hour. Take time to breathe, be with those you love, and take one day at a time. We will be here for each other as we navigate this uncharted territory. We are striving to balance the very real sense of urgency with patience, flexibility, care for one another and intention. This situation is a profound reminder to stay in the present moment, to take good care of ourselves and one another, and to center all things in love, empathy and respect.

Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns or if you have a need. We will try to do whatever we can as an organization to support our families and our staff through this time.

Wishing all of you well,

Christie

“The education that will lead the way to a new humanity has one end alone: leading the individual and society to a higher state of development. The concept becomes clearer if we realize that [human]kind has to fulfill a collective mission on earth, a mission involving all of humanity and, therefore, each and every human being.” ~Maria Montessori

Christie Huck
CEO/Executive Director
pronouns: she/her/hers