With September typically comes the start of a new school year, and this year, we miss all our preschool families more than ever. But don’t let our closed doors fool you – behind the scenes, we are excitedly planning for the preschool’s reopening, tentatively scheduled for September 2021! School Board members, preschool staff, and church leadership have continued to meet regularly to get everything in place so we can welcome children back to our program. You can check for updates on the preschool’s website at www.BurkePresPreschool.org.
For more information about this hard decision to keep the preschool closed, please read the letter pasted below that was sent by the director to preschool families in the summer of 2020. Click here to link to the inactive BPC preschool page, if you’d like to get a sense of the kinds of programming we hope to offer the following school year. Thank you for your prayers, patience, and understanding in these complicated times.
On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, the School Board of Burke Presbyterian Church Preschool met to discuss options for the 2020-2021 School Year. Gathered around that virtual table were people with a combined experience in Early Childhood Education of more than 75 years. Together we reviewed the Mission Statement of our preschool which is as follows:
In grateful response to God’s unconditional love for all people, Burke Presbyterian Church Preschool recognizes the inherent value of all children and their families. Our goal is to provide a safe and joyful environment in which unique individuals are encouraged to grow into themselves. We create learning experiences to foster children’s physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual growth and development.
Each one of us on the School Board knows intimately the ways to set the stage for learning in a preschool classroom. We know how to coax the child who is unsure about school into interacting with his peers; how to create inviting playscapes that make children eager to try new activities; how to soothe a sad child or celebrate a new skill that is acquired. These are all things we delight in facilitating as educators of young children. We know the importance a quality early childhood preschool can have in establishing a child’s enduring feelings about school.
The very real and persistent existence of COVID-19 brings restrictions and a new reality of being together safely in a school setting. It is a reality that is very different and far less conducive to having school in the way we understand is best practice for the growth, development, and learning of young children’s minds, hearts, and bodies.
Beyond the increasing spread, impact, and tragic toll this virus has made on the health and in the lives of so many around the world and in our own country, not much with regard to the virus has changed since March. At this time, there is still neither a confirmed treatment nor a vaccine. We do know that COVID-19 is transmitted through the air, especially indoors. We do know that the greatest deterrents at this time are physical distancing, masking, and hand washing.
Expectations and recommendations for reopening schools — and for those attending and teaching and working therein — in the Commonwealth of Virginia and in Fairfax County have been dynamically evolving.
With what we know now, all teachers and staff and children would be required to wear masks, to have daily temperature checks, as well as thorough daily health checks. Parents would be required to drop children at the front door of the school to designated receiving staff rather than enter the building and bring their children to their teachers in their respective classrooms. Pickup would follow a similar protocol. These are just a few of the major and yes, unfamiliar ways our school would have to change in order to comply with what would be mandated for the safety of young children in school settings in our county, in our commonwealth.
In addition, no longer would groups of children be allowed to share outdoor playground time or even to visit the Godly Play Room with Mrs. Decina. The consequences of a single COVID-19 diagnosed case in our preschool would likely lead to further closures for individual classes or for the entire school.
With even only these procedures and changes noted for both children and staff in mind, and the physical spacing and spaces, class sizes, and ratios we expect to eventually be suggested, the School Board and I struggled together to imagine our ability to still continue to “provide a safe and joyful environment .“ We realized we would not be able to offer the kind of program for children we have endeavored to offer, the program we describe in our mission and in our philosophy.
Therefore, after much discussion and thought, and out of an abundance of caution and care for the health, safety, and well-being of the children and families, and staff, the members of the Burke Presbyterian Church Preschool School Board have unanimously made the decision to suspend all classes for the 2020-21 School Year. This decision, while the right one, is still one that deeply saddens us.
Please know that we wish you and your family well. Be assured that in the weeks ahead, we will be refunding you the Registration Fee, along with any other tuition payments you may have already made for the 2020-2021 School Year.
With God’s Love,
Burke Presbyterian Church Preschool