Dear Grace Family,

I wanted to update you, and let you know that we will begin virtual learning at Grace for your children beginning Monday, March 23rd.

If you have been following the news, as I know you all have, you have noticed that more than half of the schools in Texas have closed. I met with NETHealth and the other private and public school superintendents in the county. NETHealth has asked that all schools in the county close for the next couple of weeks, in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. As the NETHealth representatives stated, while students are not among those citizens who are more susceptible to the virus than others, schools serve as a kind of petri dish for the virus, which is then carried out to other, more vulnerable people, like those compromised with health issues and the elderly. On Monday, the White House asked schools to essentially consider closing.

I’ve asked myself over the past two weeks as the most important question, “What does love require?” And, if love requires that our school be closed in order to love others well (meaning, to curtail spreading sickness to others), then we should be closed. Therefore, we will be closing our physical campuses to school activity for the next two weeks, and perhaps longer. Our plan is to reopen on April 6, assuming the state gives us the “all clear” by then.  We will keep you posted on those further developments.

We love you, and love being with you and your kids in person, and doing this is painful for us; it’s painful for me, personally. I am grateful to all of you for your understanding, patience, prayers, and support. So many of you have written and texted your prayers, and I am deeply grateful to feel the Grace community come together at such a time as this.

We’ve been using this week wisely, essentially turning Grace into a virtual learning school for now. Our teachers have been hard at work not simply finding work to keep kids busy, but creating a valuable, biblically-based, excellent learning experience for your children. We have been praying and preparing for a moment like this, and currently, only the private schools in the area are equipped and able to offer a virtual learning classroom experience for each individual child this quickly, so your children will be positioned to return to their actual coursework (albeit virtually) this coming week.

My educated guess is that Suddenlink will have difficulties with the volume and Internet traffic over the next couple of weeks, similar to what many of us saw Sunday morning when so many church services were livestreamed. We’ll all need to be patient during this time, and we’ll all work together to make sure student work is received, sent, and assessed with grace and understanding.

Content and lessons will begin Monday, March 23rd. Please be looking for specific information from your building principal(s) later today. Teachers will be available for consultation, typically during regular school hours via email or phone during this virtual delivery period.  For those of you who have pre-ordered lunches that have not been ordered, those monies will be refunded.  We are working to recoup as many costs as we can for trips not taken, and as many of those dollars as can be refunded will be.

Our school offices will be closed to walk-in traffic beginning next week, in order to practice social distancing; however, we want to be available to serve you. Should you need to bring something to the school office, please call ahead and someone will make arrangements to meet you. We are also available by phone and email to meet virtually, by Zoom or Google Meet, or even one on one in some circumstances.

TAPPS, our interscholastic league, has canceled competitive events through Easter Break. All school gatherings will be canceled up to April 6th, some to potentially be rescheduled at a later date, with more information to follow.

To our knowledge at this time, there are no cases of COVID-19 among the Grace family. No known exposure to the virus precipitated this closure. We have taken these steps to participate with the rest of our community in order to limit the risk of future exposure in Smith County.

You have no doubt seen and heard all the admonitions about social distancing, good self-care, and self-quarantining if you have symptoms or have been traveling in places where people do. Please continue to practice those things, and we’ll all pass through this more quickly.

Thank you for entrusting us to love and teach your children in Jesus. My team and I will love them, exhort them and encourage them through what I know is a challenging, and anxiety-filled time for them. They have always been an extension of your home; now they will join you in your home to bring the very best of Christ-centered education to your children. Please take the time over the next couple of days to read Romans 8. It is healing and ministering to anxiety and fear. I’ll continue blogging, and if you’ll continue reading, I can reach out to you that way, as well.

Nothing can separate us from loving your children, caring for their well-being, and teaching Jesus into their lives. It will just look a little different for a little while.  Blessed be the name of the Lord, and God bless you.

In Christ,

Jay Ferguson
Head of School