Junior School Information

This page has been left for reference but is no longer being updated. For the latest information for Junior School families check our Junior School September Information page.

Sent to Junior School families on June 21:

Dear Junior School families,

I hope you are all enjoying the first full day of summer and are celebrating the wonderful fathers in your lives.

It was so nice to see you all on Thursday and Friday to allow us to say goodbye and congratulations in person as the students head into the summer holidays and to provide Ms. Nason, Mrs. Goodman and Ms. Mcleod a chance to say farewell to the children as well. To say that we have missed seeing the children and parents on the campus of the Junior School over the past three months is a huge understatement!

Ms. Lloyd and Ms. Hocchalter will spend a few days sorting through the photos from our Grade 5 Celebration and our June 19 Kindergarten to Grade 4 Farewell and an email will be sent when these are posted on the SMUS Photo Gallery. In addition, I have updated the Farewell Assembly to include my farewell to Zeus Hissen which was missed in the original video. We wish him well next year and really appreciate all the time Carolyn has given to the library and the contributions Helmut has provided to our Imagination Lab over the years.

As was communicated in the May 22 email about reporting and assessment, Report cards will be sent out to families on June 29. You will also receive further communication from the Junior School regarding class placements later in July.

With this in mind, we continue to plan for all possible scenarios for September. There is no doubt that, while ensuring a safe environment for our students, teachers, and staff, we want our students back in school taught by our teachers in the fall. In the most recent communication from the Head of School, Mr. Turner shared that he will be writing to all SMUS families on Friday, June 26 to provide you with more information.

As I sign off for the day and head out with my family for a mid-morning Father’s Day hike, I want to express my appreciation to the entire Junior School community. This has been an exceptional year on many levels and, in particular, Term 3 showed us what we are capable of and what we value most dearly about the Junior School.

I wish you all a wonderful summer.

With appreciation and gratitude,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on June 12:

Dear Junior School families,

While in uncharted territory on this final day of school, teachers still created fun and celebratory experiences in their classes and the children demonstrated such joy. I enjoyed the talent shows, the special outfits, the delicious treats, the dance parties, and the lovely conversations. With his permission, please enjoy Angus's contribution to the Grade 1 talent show with his comedic monologue on "surviving Remote Learning".

Social Emotional Support for your children

In the interest of staying healthy, happy, and whole, Tessa Lloyd has provided some handouts (attached to email sent to parents) that may prove useful over the summer.

In response to the needs of the community, Child and Youth Mental Health are putting together some excellent opportunities this month that may be of interest to you in supporting your children. You can read the descriptions of the talks online. These talks will be targeting parents of children under the age of 10.

  • June 16 at 2:30pm - Building Emotionally Healthy Kids during the Pandemic and Beyond.
    A child's brain is directly shaped by the daily interactions they have with their parents. Emotional well-being, self-regulation, social skills, and the ability to learn are all influenced by the everyday give and take that occurs between parents and children. During uncertain times such as COVID-19, caregivers' interactions become more important than ever in fostering their children's healthy development and resilience for buffering stress. Please join the discussion of Child & Youth Mental Health Clinicians (Dr. Jackie Bush, Dr. Marei Perrin & Heather Vale) in sharing parenting strategies that support children's emotional and social development.
  • June 30 at 2:30pm - The Powers of Play: Empowering Parents to Help their Children Cope during the andemic & Beyond.
    COVID-19 has turned children's and family life upside-down nearly overnight. Many children are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety due to COVID-19 related uncertainties and adjustments. Parents are in the best position to support their child during these unusual times by facilitating therapeutic play with their child. Please join the discussion of Child and Youth Mental Health Clinicians (Dr. Jackie Bush, Dr. Marei Perrin, & Heather Vale) in describing the power of special play time with parents in supporting their child's emotions, processing of experiences, and further strengthening the parent-child connection. This talk is specifically geared towards parents of children under the age of ten. Parents will be provided with specific tools of how to implement this therapeutic special play time with their children to ease stress and to enhance coping.

If you did not already do so, please fill out the social/emotional snapshot available here [link in email] for each of your children that will help us understand their needs and put the best supports in place for the 2020-21 school year.

Access to Google Classroom / Google Meet

Students will continue to have access to their current Google Classroom and the Junior School Community Page over the summer until mid-August. There is no expectation that children are completing school work over the summer and feedback will not be provided on learning tasks but if there are resources children want to access, they are available. Core and Specialist teachers can provide more student specific resources, if needed. Hopefully you and your child will access some of the Wonder Wednesday resources, listen to the Goodnight SMUS chapters (again) or find something that sparks a new curiosity. The pages are filled with wonderful resources to support off line activities.

We will remove access to Google Meet over the summer.

Planning for September 2020

As Mr. Turner has communicated in his recent community message, we are in the process of planning for the various scenarios for the fall. With the conclusion of Remote Learning, we've updated the COVID webpages to start transitioning to September information. We will be updating this information regularly.

Reminders for next week

  • Drop off days: Please remember that the drop off days are Monday and Tuesday next week. A note with the details was sent to you a few days ago but please stop by between 9 – 3 on either of these days if you have items to return to the school.
  • Celebration Days: Parents have received notes about the Celebration Days to be held next Thursday and Friday. A reminder letter will be sent to parents on Monday to outline the details. We look forward to the Grade 5 Celebration on Thursday and the K – 4 Celebration on Friday.
  • Closing Ceremony: This year the Closing Ceremony will be presented remotely. On Thursday morning it will be uploaded to SMUStube, a link will be sent to parents and it will also be posted on our Community Classroom. We hope that families will take the time to watch the Closing Ceremony together on Thursday.

At the conclusion of each letter, and this one in particular, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for the resilience of the Junior School children, the perseverance of our faculty, and your support as parents. We have successfully navigated a very challenging time. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on June 5:

Hello Junior School families,

As we enter our final week of the term, I remain impressed with the comfort and engagement in Google Classroom, student contributions to Wonder Wednesdays, and the examples of community connections that remain strong despite our physical distance through assembly, chapels, class dance parties and birthday celebrations. On the SMUS News, Reverend Fletcher's article "Who We Are", may resonate as we all grapple with current events and the unrest occurring and being shown in the media. The Junior School condemns racism in all its forms and stands in support of helping to create a more just world.

Last week, we communicated final activities for June and hope this information provides the clarity and information needed to ensure a smooth and positive end to the school year. We certainly missed having our "Lifers Lunch" this year but please read the reflections from some of those students who have been at the school since Kindergarten or Grade 1 as they prepare to graduate.

September planning

We have had an opportunity to successfully welcome a small group of students back to the Junior School, which has allowed us to see our protocols move from theory to practice. Here is a short video [link in email] to share the protocols we have put in place at this stage. The children have easily adapted to the new systems and routines. As we look ahead to September, we are preparing for all students to return to school. We are very motivated to ensure that we are all back together. We will also be ready for any scenario that may arise in these uncertain times.

Staffing Updates

With Jennifer Smith leaving on maternity leave, we are happy to have Anne-Marie O’Donnell teaching with Lynn Porteous for the 2020-2021 school year. We were able to complete the full hiring process before Spring Break and are confident that Ms. O'Donnell is well-positioned to move into this role. With experience teaching in Ontario, as well as teaching Kindergarten and Grade 2 at the Junior School, she knows this age group well and these students in particular, which will ensure a smooth transition to Grade 1.

We are also pleased to share the news with you that Tessa Lloyd has decided to postpone her retirement and will remain at the school for the 2020-2021 school year. We are grateful that Tessa will be able to provide social-emotional support and continuity for our students and families.

After a decade working with our students in the After School Care program, Barb McLeod has decided to retire. We are grateful for the care she provided to the children at the Junior School. Barb has enthusiastically supported so many school events over the years, and we know she will remain connected to the Junior School community as a friendly neighbor and volunteer.

We will ensure that we find a wonderful way to thank our other long serving retirees, Sharon Goodman and Diana Nason, when we are able to gather together as a full faculty in the fall. We look forward to recognizing their contributions to SMUS.

Class Transitions

After the Morning Meeting on June 11, from 9:30 - 9:45, students from Kindergarten to Grade 4 will meet the teachers teaching their next grade. These teacher transition meetings will allow next year’s teachers an opportunity to say hello and share a bit about the following year.

Students will receive information about their class later in the summer.

Reporting and Assessment

Two weeks ago, you received information from Denise Lamarche, Director of Academics, and Margaret Lincoln, Junior School Program Specialist, outlining important assessment and reporting information.

Coffee Morning

As we have been throughout the term, Kathleen Cook and I will be hosting a Coffee Morning on Wednesday, June 10 at 9:30 via https://www.zoom.us/ for an informal opportunity to say hello, answer questions, and discuss topics that are most relevant for parents at this time.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend.

Kind regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on May 15:

Dear Junior School community,

With each update from the Premier, Provincial Health Officer, and the Ministry of Education, we consider how best to meet the needs of all members of our community in a safe and effective way.

As our Head of School has communicated, we remain committed to delivering our Remote Learning Plan that ensures continuity of learning. We are proud of the program that the Junior School faculty have been able to create and provide to our students.

While we are committed to reopening the Junior School, there remains many questions to ask, protocols to develop and informed decisions to be made. We have a task force in place who will continue to do this work so that we are well positioned to safely bring the children back together in the fall.

Despite the decision not to open school this term, we understand some families may need childcare support. For those families, we will be offering supervision during each school day, between June 1 - June 12, from 8:30 am and 3:30 pm, for those who register through this survey [link in email] (to be completed by Tuesday, May 19 at 9 pm). We are not able to offer Before School or After School Care at this time. While we are glad to offer this opportunity to our parents; however, to manage everyone safely, we do ask that you consider if this is necessary for your family, as our preference is that your child remains at home, if possible.

We feel it is important to reinforce that while we are able to offer this support, we must be clear that this childcare environment will be different than the Junior School experience that our children and parents are accustomed to. While supervised in the Junior School, students will continue to engage with their online classes, as they have been doing from home, but will have the addition of frequent outdoor breaks. Supervision will be provided by SMUS faculty and staff who will not be the child’s classroom teacher and who will be maintaining a safe physical distance. In order to ensure the safety of students, families, faculty and staff, our classrooms will be set up for a small number of children in each room, and our outdoor areas and common spaces will be structured to ensure required physical distancing. Protocols and routines are being developed, such as:

  • Parents will not be permitted to enter the Junior School
  • Handwashing protocols will be required and an alcohol sanitizer will be in each room
  • Students and staff who are ill will be required to stay home or will be sent home if they develop symptoms during the day
  • We will be using a screening protocol upon arrival that is being developed and we will designate an isolation room
  • There will be identified ways for students to move in, out, and through the building
  • Enhanced daily cleaning protocols will be implemented
  • Children will be reminded to stay apart, as best as possible, and students will not be permitted to use playground equipment or any common areas.

If you require this childcare service, please complete this survey [link in letter sent]. Once we have assessed student numbers and grades, we will then provide further information to families. Given the logistics of planning for this offering, we will not be adding families once we coordinate supervision.

We realize that this decision to conclude the term online may be disappointing; however, we remain eager to see the children and wish to have our campus filled with the joy and energy of our community once we can do so safely.

In the meantime, we are committed to our Remote Learning Plan for continuity of learning for our students and to finishing the school year well and strong. We will continue to communicate updates and as always, we thank you for your support and care of the Junior School family.

Best regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on May 8:

Dear Junior School families,

I hope this email finds you happily wrapping up your week and looking forward to a lovely weekend enjoying the outdoors and celebrating the wonderful mothers in our lives.

Parent Survey

As we reach the end of week #4 of remote learning, a priority continues to be to gather parent feedback regarding the learning experience of your child(ren) over the past two weeks. This information is critically important, during these challenging days, to help guide our ongoing planning, decision-making, and the strengthening of our remote learning program. Please respond to the parent survey from the perspective of only one child, should you have more than one student in the school. You are able to repeat the survey for each child if you wish. Thank you for the time in completing this survey and for your partnership in making this time away from school the best it can be. This survey is anonymous and will be open until Monday, May 11, 9:00 am.

On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan provided us all with a message regarding British Columbia’s plan to gradually reopen. I want to reassure you that we are monitoring this very closely and have a committee formed to plan for what may or may not occur in the immediate future, as well as the longer-term considerations of what September might look like. As we confirm our plans, we will update our community. To that end, we have included two questions related to parent comfort level with a return to school plan.

Service Focus

At this time of remote learning, we continue to encourage our students to consider service to others as a priority in their life. In today's assembly, we highlighted the importance of showing kindness to others in our community and have asked children to think about what they might do that is of service to others. In particular, they have been invited to support our friends at James Bay Care Home because we have had to stop our regular visits that have been taking place for so many years. The residents will enjoy receiving any cards, drawings or poems that the children may choose to create. Students have been asked to either drop off their creation to the mail slot at the Junior School anytime next week or to scan and email it to Mrs. Cook. Thank you for supporting your child in thinking of ways that they can demonstrate kindness at this time.

Spirit Week - May 11 - 15

Even though the Junior School is learning remotely, we all want to remain connected and keep up our school spirit. This upcoming week is going to be our first “virtual Junior School spirit week”. Each day will have a theme for Morning Meeting and we will collect photos to post in the JS Community Classroom showing our school spirit. The week will end with a Spirit Parade.

Daily Themes:

  • Monday - PJ day - let's stay cozy at home in our jammies for the day. Teachers have not yet shared this information with your child so you get to pass on the good news!
  • Tuesday - Super Hero Day - let's dress like a Super Hero (known or created) to recognize the hospital workers, first responders, grocery employees, essential workers and others who are working are to keep us safe and secure during this challenging time
  • Wednesday - Wonder Wednesday - continue to share your great ideas and post those photos and videos to the JS Community Classroom.
  • Thursday - Wild Hair or Hat Day - let's show off our wildest hairdos or silliest hats
  • Friday - Junior School Spirit Day - wear school colours (blue, red, black) and show your school spirit.

Spirit Parade - Friday, May 15 (1:00 - 2:00 ish)

On Friday, May 15, we will conclude the school day at lunchtime and hope families will wave to faculty and staff on the route of our Spirit Parade where we will be biking and driving between 1:00 - 2:00! We really look forward to seeing your faces while we remain physically distant!

Victoria Day Long Weekend

Please remember that Monday, May 18 and Tuesday, May 19 are days off school for the long weekend.

Coffee Morning invitation

We enjoyed hosting our first coffee morning and welcome the opportunity again. Please join Tessa Lloyd, Kathleen Cook, and me on Wednesday morning at 9:30 via Zoom.us for an informal opportunity to say hello, answer questions and discuss topics that are most relevant for parents at this time.

Once again, on behalf of the Junior School faculty, thank you for your support this week.

Kind Regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on May 1:

Dear Junior School families,

I hope you are all doing well.

We have completed a full week with our new schedule and hopefully, it is working well for your family. There will be another opportunity to provide feedback on May 8 through a short parent survey as we strive to meet the needs of our community.

Throughout each week, we meet as a faculty in large and small groups over Google Meet to plan, reflect, and learn together. Teachers share stories of successes with technology, effective learning routines, and challenges being confronted in this new environment. The level of collaboration and support is what is enabling the Junior School faculty to adapt to this new situation despite being spread geographically across the city and I am confident our students are benefitting from this effort and commitment.

Wonder Wednesday has been a highlight this week as it provided our children with intentional time and space to explore the interests and passions of their own choosing while learning from home. Already our students have delighted and surprised us with photos and videos submitted to the Wonder Wednesday gallery. We look forward to sharing a video collage next week as we prepare for our next Wonder Wednesday.

Please continue to explore the JS Community Classroom in Google Classroom with your child to watch Chapel, Friday Assembly, Goodnight SMUS, and access Wonder Wednesday resources. There is a very special guest reading the final chapter of Winnie the Pooh this evening!

As we conclude another week, we hope remote learning has become more routine, that your child has gained more independence, and that you all stay healthy.

There are a few quick items for your attention this week:

1. Google Meet - please sign in after 8:55 am

This is an unusual appeal for you to be slightly less organized in your mornings. The first person to log into our live Google Meets each day with the class meeting room name (eg "4N") is given the role of meeting "coordinator" by Google. The meeting coordinator is afforded special meeting privileges (like the ability to mute other mics) that are really useful for our teachers to have to help manage the class. Our teachers know this already and have been making efforts to be the first ones in the meeting each morning by showing up early. However, some people are getting there even earlier. In order to best facilitate our live Google Meet sessions, it is important that our teachers are getting an opportunity to be in the Meet rooms first. You can help us with that by not logging into Google Meet at all (not even the blank "waiting room" that precedes the actual meeting) until the start of the Morning Meeting (anytime after 8:55 would be helpful). We appreciate your support in this regard.

2. Hot Lunch Program refunds

We are so grateful for all of the efforts that go into our hot lunch and pizza program. We are also grateful that, with our school closure, all funds will be reimbursed to parents through your child’s SMUS student account. There will be further communication about this on Monday from the Junior School office.

3. Coffee Morning invitation

Please join Kathleen Cook and me on Wednesday morning at 9:30 via Zoom for an informal opportunity to say hello, answer questions and discuss topics that are most relevant for parents at this time. Details of the invite were sent by email.

Once again, on behalf of the Junior School faculty, thank you for your support this week.

Kind Regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on April 24:

Dear Junior School families,

As always, I hope you are doing well and are in good health.

While we adapt to change, I am proud of and grateful for the dedicated, steady and focused way each faculty member is considering the best approach to learning in this new environment and how students and families have demonstrated their trust in us as educators.

Just like our students do in the Imagination Lab, when inventing something new (like a Junior School curriculum delivered remotely), we need to experiment, be flexible and evolve based on what we know, direct experiences and feedback. We will not get everything right on the first try, but with grace and diligence, we will continue to meet the needs of our learners and families. It is quite exciting to imagine what we will find out about ourselves as a school and each of us as learners through this process.

Throughout our first week, we focused on ensuring that we had systems in place to help us be successful, we began our journey into Google Classroom with our young learners and endeavoured to support parents through this transition. As a faculty we planned and experimented with different ways to deliver the curriculum in the remote learning environment considering screen time, different group sizes, synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) learning and effective uses of technology.

As a school, we continued to collaborate with others to learn about different models and most importantly, collected feedback from our students, teachers and parents. Thank you for your participation in the survey. Highlights school wide can be found online.

With Junior School specific feedback in mind, we have created a second draft of our Remote Learning Schedule which we will implement starting on Monday and commit to it until May 15. New schedules will be sent to you tomorrow and we will continue to work together as a faculty, gather feedback and stay focused on the unique challenge we are faced with at this time.

Much of the Remote Learning Plan will remain the same:

  • We will maintain Morning Meetings to provide time for a short check in and attendance
  • We will continue to use Google Classroom to communicate learning tasks and Google Meet for live teaching and video conferencing
  • Students who are not able to attend classes at the scheduled time will be accommodated by their classroom teachers with learning tasks available for reference
  • Learning Resource teachers will continue to connect with students through 1:1 and small group sessions based on their learning profile and needs
  • Chapel, Assembly, Goodnight SMUS, and other additional activities will be posted in the JS Community Classroom and can be accessed when it works for families
  • Community connection and social emotional support remain key to the Junior School.
  • We strive to offer a plan that is developmentally appropriate, focused on essential building blocks for learning while providing additional enriching activities.

What changes have we made:

  • Schedule - clearer and simpler
    • Mornings will be devoted to core subject teachers focusing on literacy, numeracy and foundational skills with “live” teaching, flexible groupings and independent work. After students have their Morning Meeting and a movement break, they will continue with their homeroom teacher.
    • Before students break for lunch, Specialists will do a live “mini” lesson, check in and explain the afternoon learning task
    • Afternoons will be devoted to Specialist teachers
    • Core and Specialist teachers have been given structured time but that does not mean the students will be on a device the entire time. Teachers will use this time as needed for live or offline learning
  • Specialist classes
    • Kindergarten to Grade 2 are not required to participate or complete the Specialist tasks but they have one scheduled each afternoon as an option.  A teacher will be available if there are questions or support needed
    • Students in Grade 3 - Grade 5 will receive weekly Specialist area learning tasks. Specialist teachers are available for support or questions based on the afternoon schedule
  • Break times
    • We remain committed to our students having regular screen breaks and so we built in more intentional down time, which we hope will be offline. We believe that snack, movement, and lunch breaks should be spent away from devices and enjoying time outside if possible
  • Expectations
    • In order to support clear expectations for students and parents, we will be identifying learning activities as:
      • “Essential” - these are the priority for the child’s time
      • “Optional” - if there is still motivation, stamina and interest please do these tasks
      • “Additional” - these are choice activities that may extend or offer a new learning opportunity available for the student to work on independently
  • Wonder Wednesdays
    • This afternoon is non-instructional time to create space and opportunities for children, friends and families to flexibly and actively engage in experiential learning opportunities. This modified afternoon is designed for students to explore interests and passions of their own choosing, engage in self-directed learning and sustain the curiosity that is at the heart of a love of learning.

We will begin with our new schedule on Monday and we hope it will make the day more calm and clear for children and families. Please remember that your child is adjusting to a whole new system of learning. We each need plenty of time and space to do that. Reach out to Ms. Lloyd or your child’s teacher if you need support.

We appreciate your ongoing patience and support with remote learning. We will continue to communicate with you regularly to keep you informed of any new developments for the school. At any time, please feel welcome to reach out and we will do our best to answer.

Once again, on behalf of the Junior School faculty, thank you for your support this week.

Kind Regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on April 17:

Dear Junior School families,

I hope you are doing well. Your family’s health and the health of our community is our top priority and we are thinking of you all as we navigate these uncharted waters.

This week has been a real adjustment for families, teachers and children. There were certainly some early successes from my perspective from the first week of remote learning. For our start up, all students were ready with a device and we have had every single Junior School student in their classes, managing Google Classroom and getting a sense of the new environment. By the end of the week, I saw a greater level of independence with even our youngest students. Seeing the weekly and daily plans in Google Classroom and popping in and out of Morning Meetings and other classes has allowed me to witness the engagement and learning that can exist while we are apart.

I am so grateful for the work that our faculty have put into this new and necessary approach. My heart aches that we are working and learning apart from each other as being together with our students is really what fuels us as educators. However, I also see that we are all finding different and meaningful ways to remain connected. This truly shows the strength of our community.

Parent Survey

Finding the right balance of screen time, playtime and engaging academic work will be our challenge in this remote learning space. Of course, this balance will be different for each of our families and so we will endeavour to work with you to ensure that your child/ren and your family are navigating remote learning joyfully and peacefully.

To that end, we ask that you complete the Parent Survey to provide feedback (link in email sent to you) on various aspects of the Remote Learning Plan and to give us a bit of insight into how things are going for you at home. Because each grade and development stage within the Junior School has different learning needs, if you have more than one at the Junior School, please complete a separate survey for each child.

Please take a moment to let us know your thoughts so that we can continue to adapt to this new environment. We aim to have this information collected by 9 pm on April 19 so your timely attention is appreciated. We will review and discuss the feedback as a faculty, looking for key themes and areas needing attention. I will communicate any adjustments by the end of next week.


Kathleen Cook and I stepped out of our comfort zones and did our best to put a video together for Friday’s assembly this morning. In our video, which is also in your child’s Google Classroom, we introduced our Portrait of a Learner trait (Resilience) and Virtue (Moderation) for the month. Perhaps you can discuss these two important characteristics at home.

Google Meet “Play dates”

We have had requests from students and parents to use Google Meet outside of class time for a secure online gathering space as students are now becoming very familiar with this platform. We understand that this may be a wonderful opportunity for children to have social interaction with their friends at a time when they are missing this connection. We would certainly understand that families may decide to set this up. In advance, I ask that you read Kathleen Cook’s note to parents (attached to the email you were sent) to ensure this is a positive experience for everyone. To create a “space” for the gathering, your child logs into Google Meet with their SMUS credentials and creates a “nickname” for the Meet. Anyone that nickname can join.

Joyful and Peaceful learning

As I have written before, you know your child best, and we hope you are able to be sensitive and respond to your child’s unique needs and adjust accordingly. Our intention is to keep our children connected and to continue your child’s learning from home. While teachers strive to provide an engaging and enriched learning experience, we all understand and celebrate that there are times that a child must step away to go for a bike ride, help in a garden, sit quietly, play outside, or spend more time on a favourite task. I would really encourage you to embrace those moments. Open communication with teachers will continue to be helpful.

We are all in this together.

I will continue to communicate with you regularly to keep you informed of any new developments for the school. At any time, please feel welcome to reach out and we will do our best to answer.

Once again, on behalf of the Junior School faculty, thank you for your support this week and for your feedback.

Kind Regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on April 6:

Dear Junior School families,

To begin, I want to thank all of those in our community who are on the front lines in the efforts to battle COVID-19.

As we look ahead to implementing The SMUS Remote Learning Plan on April 14, I want to express my gratitude for your support and understanding during this unprecedented time. We know that it requires a huge shift in practice and mindset, and your partnership and flexibility is very much appreciated. As our entire faculty is learning new skills at a rapid speed, there will undoubtedly be trial and error as we launch and learn. We are all in this new learning process together and a growth mindset will serve us well.

The document available online intends to provide important information specific to Junior School students to set each family up well for success as we prepare for remote learning on April 14. An additional email will arrive between April 9-13 from your child’s homeroom teacher that will include helpful information personalized to that class.

While we are attempting to plan for a balance between on and offline work for students, please ensure that your child has a computer, Chromebook, or tablet with video conferencing capabilities (a microphone and a camera). If you do not have a device for your child, please email Delina Squire ([email protected]) by April 8 so we can prepare one for you to borrow until we are back in school. Pick up on April 9 will be coordinated to ensure social distancing. We are grateful to have received a donation from a Junior School parent of a class set of ThinkPads and we hope this will make remote learning possible for all.

Students will be using a SMUS username and password to log into SMUS email, Google Classroom, and Google Meet (video conferencing tool). The username and password should be known to Grade 3 to Grade 5 students. For our Kindergarten to Grade 2 students, parents will be emailed their child’s unique user name and password on or before April 9. Parent resources are shared in the attached document and more are being created to ensure you have the support you need to navigate these new learning platforms.

If your child has items left remaining at the Junior School that are required for remote learning, please email Delina Squire ([email protected]) by April 8. Some teachers are preparing packages for pick up and that information will be communicated directly from the teachers.

We believe that parents are a child’s first teacher. You know your child best and, as we navigate the first few days of remote learning, we know you will be sensitive to your child’s unique needs and adjust accordingly. There is a lot going on for children to absorb in their own way. The impact this change has on the social emotional well being of our children and, subsequently, their ability to learn is unknown so we must all be aware and ready to respond. Our intention is to keep our children engaged, connected and to continue your child’s learning from home during this time. We understand that some children will adapt and some may not so easily. We will work together. Your child’s wellness is the priority.

Thank you to our faculty for the work they have put into preparations for remote learning and your trust as parents. Driven by our care for your children, we will be doing our best to provide a meaningful and high quality learning experience for them during this uncertain and unusual time. We will also strive to create an engaging community experience to remain connected.

If you are interested and available, please log into your child’s Google account and join me for an optional Google Meet gathering on April 13. The goal of this time is to say hello as well as provide families an opportunity to test out this tool. Please remember, you will need to log in with your child’s SMUS username and password.

Join me using this link - http://g.co/meet/jsdirector at the following times:

  • Kindergarten - 10:00 - 10:15
  • Grade 1 - 10:15 - 10:30
  • Grade 2 - 10:30 - 10:45
  • Grade 3 - 11:00 - 11:15
  • Grade 4 - 11:15 - 11:30
  • Grade 5 - 11:30 - 11:45

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with me at any point in this process.

Warmest regards and best wishes,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

Sent to Junior School families on March 20:

Hello Junior School families,

I hope that this email finds you in good health and in good spirits. Certainly, these are trying times for everyone so please know that SMUS is sending positive thoughts to our entire community. We realize that there are varying circumstances under which families are attempting to manage this challenging time and we are thinking of you all.

Over the past week, our teachers have been dedicated to envisioning and preparing for remote delivery to ensure that learning continues and our community remains connected.

We are ready to begin on April 14.

Some key points for you to be aware of are:

  1. Our hope is that all students will have access to a device with a microphone and camera with video conferencing capabilities. Please let me know if that is not the case. It may also be helpful to have a printer at home, but this is not required.
  2. The teachers have been engaged in preparation to deliver the curriculum to students remotely and this requires the use of different platforms. There will be more specific information sent to parents on April 9 to ensure you and your child(ren) are prepared and supported.
  3. On April 9, you will be sent a remote learning schedule that will identify the subjects that your child(ren) will have each day and how best to support them through remote learning.
  4. All classes will have set schedules where teachers will be accessible. There will be a mix of independent learning tasks and live video conferencing.
  5. Children will be expected to attend the scheduled morning meeting each day via video conferencing and engage with their teachers and school community using the online meeting and collaboration tools we provide.
  6. Core and Specialists teachers will be available for digital 'office hours'.
  7. Student support services – Learning Support and Counselling – will be available for students to access as and when needed.
  8. We will be considering creative ways to maintain our important community times with Chapel and Assembly.

It goes without saying that there will be hurdles for us to clear in the weeks ahead and many uncertainties for us as teachers, parents and for our children. Teaching and learning will look and feel differently. Please be open and ready to try new things and to learn and grow with us in this new environment. As we walk down the path towards remote learning, we feel confident in our abilities to deliver the curriculum and are buoyed by our understanding of the capabilities of our students.

This is merely a snapshot of the work that has been done to date and we realize that there are still many questions left to be answered. Having said that, please look for more detailed communication on April 9 which will offer suggestions for supporting success at home, expectations of children, resources to use, and our opening schedule for the week of April 14.

Until then, be well and enjoy the Spring Break in the best way possible in our new socially distanced world. You and your children are in our thoughts.

Warm Regards,

Becky Anderson
Director of Junior School

On behalf of the Junior School faculty.