Dear BCMS Families,
The Board of Directors and I would like to thank you again for your patience as we work toward getting your children back to school. We are scheduled to open Monday, October 30. This email has a LOT of information, so please read through to the end. Here is a summary of what has been going on:
Fire at BCMS on 10/8
From the Santa Rosa Fire Department, we have learned that the fire in front of BCMS started at approximately 10pm on Sunday night and was contained at about 10:40pm 10/8, and was caused by an arc from a power line, due to the extreme winds that night. Because it occurred in advance of the major fires encroaching into Santa Rosa from the east and south, they were able to immediately send four fire engines to the scene and extinguish it before it could spread beyond the corner of the property. We, and the surrounding neighborhood, are extremely fortunate that the timing of the fire allowed for this swift response, and we are extremely grateful for our local fire department.
Supporting our Families
To those families who have lost their homes or businesses: Please do NOT hesitate to let us know how we can help. Also please know that we have started a fund to help families who are dealing with the financial upheaval these fires have caused. We invite you to share our school’s link to this fund with friends, family, colleagues or any other organization who might be willing to help our community: https://www.bcmontessori.org/giving/north-bay-fire-recovery
If you would like to be part of our fundraising work, both for these immediate fire-related needs and also for the improvement and expansion of our school, please let Jed or a Board member know. This disaster has made the value of coming together as a community extremely clear, and also has brought home, too closely, the realities of the environment we live in. We would like to prioritize making our school more safe, more beautiful, more impactful, and more green.
We needed to wait until our insurance adjuster was able to survey the damage that occurred on our property. The soonest they were able to provide that was yesterday, October 24. Since that has now happened, we were finally free to schedule a number of cleaning and restoration services that will be helping to get our school back in ship-shape.
• We have already replaced all the filters in our AC/Heating systems and have run them for several days
• We have already ordered HEPA air purifiers for the classrooms
• We will have our burned chicken coop removed this Friday, October 27.
• We will have our carpets steam cleaned this Friday, October 27.
• We will have our exterior surfaces pressure washed this Saturday, October 28.
• The staff (and any available and willing parent volunteers) will be coming in beginning Wednesday, October 25, from 9am-3pm to wipe down interior surfaces, wash outdoor toys and equipment, gather leaves and brush, and help make sure all the classrooms are ready for our students to return. Please let us know if you would like to help!
These measures are what have been recommended to us by several experts, including the superintendent of the Sonoma County Office of Education. We take the health of the students very seriously and are doing what we can to minimize their exposure to the smoke and ash that permeated the entire Santa Rosa area. I’ve spoken to several other schools and we are doing more than what is typical to ensure our students remain safe. We also plan on monitoring air quality over the following weeks, and using that information to determine if it is safe for children to play outside. The clear air the last few days is a good sign that we will likely not need to limit the children’s outdoor play.
We advise you to take your child’s extra clothing home to launder. While we don’t believe we had any smoke or ash contamination inside any of our classrooms, it might be a good precaution to take. This goes for soft slippers and napping items as well. (This may be a good opportunity to replace clothes that are no longer appropriate for the autumn-winter season.)
Our medium-term plans are to:
• Remove the damaged trees that were affected by the fire. (Students will need to stay away from the northeast area of the campus until that occurs.) We are trying to schedule this ASAP.
• Plan and implement new defensible space/fire suppression strategies for the campus.
• Update our emergency evacuation plans.
Lost Instructional Time/School Year Extension
To help mitigate some of the lost instructional time we experienced due to the disaster and the school’s location in the evacuation zone, BCMS will be offering 2 weeks of free school at the end of our calendar year. We will decide soon how graduation and goodbye parties will occur, and what those two extra weeks will look like, but please know that the school will be available for your students until Friday, June 22 at no extra charge. We hope this helps all our BCMS families.
Obviously, there were some school events that had to be rescheduled due to our closure. We are hoping to reschedule the following soon:
Halloween/Day of Honor: Normally, our elementary students would have presented their biographical research and performed their chosen roles on Halloween 10/31. Unfortunately, our students have not had the opportunity to prepare. Nor do we have time to organize a festival after our school day. We look forward to having our elementary students perform these monologues at our International Potluck on Friday, November 17. For this Tuesday, October 31, all students are welcome to dress up in any costume they wish, so long as it conforms to our no commercial character rule, and doesn’t highlight violence or something too scary. If you have a question about whether your child’s costume will be appropriate, please speak with your child’s teacher. We will have a full day of instruction on October 31, rather than a half-day, in order to allow the children a better transition into a routine. If you’ve already made plans to pick up your child half day, that is of course ok as well.
Picture Day: We will reschedule this soon and let families know ASAP.
Parent-Teacher Conferences: We hope to find time for you to meet with your child’s teacher in the next few months. Unless the teacher or your family has an urgent concern, we may provide written summaries in lieu of fall conferences, and resume our regular face-to-face conferences in the spring. If you do have something you feel needs more immediate attention, please do not hesitate to speak with your child’s teacher about scheduling a time to discuss the issue, whether via telephone, email, or in person.
Again, we would like to thank everyone for your patience as we work toward our return to campus. Please let us know if there are any questions or concerns you have about these or any other matters.
We are wishing you safety and happiness, and looking forward to seeing you again soon!
Jed and the BCMS Board