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October 28, 2020
As of today, Contra Costa County is reporting a 24-hour COVID-19 rate of around 4 cases per 100K residents. This rate is nearly half of what it was a month ago, and because of the continued drop, the State placed our County in the less restrictive “Orange Tier” of the Governor's reopening plan. And while this is fantastic news, the virus nevertheless remains in our community. Earlier this week, a staff member of one of our neighboring private schools tested positive for COVID-19. I mention this as a reminder to everyone in our school community to remain vigilant. Please continue to do your best to follow all of the policies and procedures to reduce the chance of disease transmission at Berean and elsewhere. For those coming to campus, please remember the following:
· Conduct a daily symptom check and complete an honest health screening in BC Prescreen App (available on Apple and Android)
· Do not come to Berean if you are not feeling well
· Do not come to Berean if you have potentially been exposed or have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19
· Please communicate immediately with the front office about possible exposure or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. Do not rely on the BC Prescreen App to inform the school
· Practice social distancing of six feet where practicable
· Follow health and hygiene precautions, including frequent handwashing/sanitizing
· Follow the social gathering guidelines as defined by the CDPH
In addition to these protocols, I would like to encourage all students and staff to wear a mask approved by the CDC as their standards are higher than those imposed by the CDPH. I request this because I’ve noticed a handful of students employing masks with exhalation valves, which are said to allow virus particles to escape. These must be replaced, especially if they do not have a filtering device on the valve. Beginning on Thursday, October 29, Berean will prohibit masks with valves. The school will provide disposable masks for students who forget or have not had the chance to purchase a new mask.
Also, I have noticed a handful of students choosing to wear very thin neck gaiters. While these are approved under the CDPH’s Reopening Guidance, their effectiveness is unknown at this time. Thus, I am strongly recommending, though not requiring, neck gaiters to be replaced with a mask produced from at least two layers of breathable fabric. For more information on gaiters and approved face coverings, please visit the CDC’s website.
One of the reasons Contra Costa County moved into the “Orange Tier” was the number of COVID-19 tests performed in the last two weeks, a number that exceeded the state average. The County has 13 testing locations, and all of them provide tests free of charge under the federal CARES Act. The Ygnacio Valley Library, located just two miles from the Berean campus, offers testing Monday – Friday from 7 am to 7 pm. If you would like to take a test for any reason, you can make an appointment online or call 844-421-0804. You may be asked to bring a copy of your insurance card with you, but you can also be tested even without insurance. In any case, there will be no cost to you, although you may receive a notice from your insurance carrier after testing.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you for your response to my teacher encouragement appeal. Your outpouring of emails, well wishes, and food is much appreciated. My prayer is that the Lord would continue to use you to bless these folks who are going above and beyond to ensure students receive an unparalleled educational experience no matter the circumstances.
May the Lord continue to bless His school!
October 19, 2020
We had a fantastic first day with our “A Cohort.” Students observed the mitigation protocols very well. The BC Prescreen worked flawlessly, students routinely washed or sanitized their hands, and everyone kept their masks on when required. A few times, students had to be reminded not to congregate, but I was happy to see distancing improve throughout the day. We will continue to educate and remind everyone about the importance of social distancing as we move through the quarter, but overall, I was delighted with how things went.
For those families requiring bus transportation to Berean, please look for an email from our transportation director, Mr. Grant, later today. Departure times may have changed, so please be sure to check to see if your student’s departure will be affected.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in the “B Cohort” tomorrow. May the Lord bless us with another great day!
“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1, ESV)
October 16, 2020
We are putting the finishing touches on our preparations to welcome students back on campus. I’m sure it’s going to feel a bit like the first day of school, at least in some ways. I do want to remind you of a few things as you prepare for next week:
9th Grade and Transfer Students,
I’m sure you’re excited to meet new friends and the teachers who have been pouring into you remotely for two months. I’m also sure you’re a bit anxious about how things work, where to go, and how you’ll fit in. Not to worry, the Berean community will take care of you and ensure you have a fantastic first day. Teachers and administrators will be happy to point you in the right direction, so don’t be afraid to ask if you get lost. Consider printing your schedule and coming by the school over the weekend to find your classrooms and get acquainted with the campus. Freshmen students will receive a brief orientation from one of our Deans during their PE/Health class. The Deans will go over the dress code and review other important procedures.
May the Lord bless us with a great first week back!
October 13, 2020
For two weeks, Contra Costa County has remained below the threshold of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, and schools are now permitted to reopen under CCHS and CDPH guidelines. On Monday, October 19th, Berean Christian High School will open with a hybrid instructional model. Under this model, Berean will provide students with four days of instruction, two on-campus days alternating with two distance learning days (≈50 percent of the student population on campus/day). To accomplish this, we have split our student population into "A" and "B" cohorts. The "A cohort" will attend classes on campus on Monday and Wednesday; the "B cohort" will be on campus Tuesday and Thursday. Students will engage in live distance learning on the days they are not on campus, and they are expected to attend seven classes daily, whether they are learning in the classroom or at home. Berean will utilize a White Bell schedule Monday-Thursday. Fridays will remain "teacher prep days" for grading, curriculum planning, and tutoring.
Our registrar will communicate student cohort assignments later today. Please know, students from the same household have been grouped in the same cohort. After that, we divided students according to their last name and course enrollment. We have ensured both groups have a similar number of students and that no particular period is overloaded on any given day. Regretfully, we are not accepting requests for students to be assigned to a specific cohort or particular days on campus. Those who have opted out of second-quarter hybrid instruction may change their decision for the spring semester by contacting our registrar by Thursday, December 17th.
Please look through our updated reopening plan (attached) as it includes detailed information on (1) the hybrid instructional model, (2) our COVID-19 mitigation protocols, (3) our plans for future progress and normalcy, (4) our FAQ page, and (5) helpful information from the CDC and CDPH regarding the use of masks and social distancing. A description of the hybrid model ("Level Three") begins on page eight. While this model will guide us for the foreseeable future, we expect progress to continue to the point where we can welcome 100 percent of our students back to campus in the near future. Let us pray to those ends!
Be on the lookout for further communications later this week. We are producing a Back to School Safety Protocols and Procedures video to help orient everyone on the new State Guidelines. We are also working with CCHS to solidify our bus transportation requests. We will notify families of our final transportation plan by Thursday afternoon.
Finally, I want to ask for your help. The Lord has blessed us with the opportunity for face-to-face instruction, and it is incumbent on every member of the Berean community to do their part to ensure the health and safety of others. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14, ESV). I urge you to live up to this standard by being diligent in following all distancing and masking protocols we have put in place. And while we can control what happens on our campus, we cannot control what happens elsewhere. For that reason, I urge you to abide by all of the same health protocols when you are away from Berean. May we make our Lord look good to the watching world as we love one another in this way (Isaiah 43:6-7).
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him." (Isaiah 64:4, NIV)
May the Lord continue to bless His school,
September 29, 2020
Students and Parents,
Today, the State of California placed Contra Costa County on the “red tier,” indicating a decline in Coronavirus spread in our region. State protocols allow for schools to reopen for in-person instruction once the County has been in the red tier for two weeks. And while I do not want to give false hope of an October return to school, the forecast looks very promising for this to occur.
We are waiting on Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) to see what they might require of us to reopen should the County surpass the two-week threshold. I suspect they would like to look over our reopening plan, which speaks of all the mitigation protocols we have in place. They may also require an onsite inspection; if so, I’m confident they’ll find we’re ready to bring students back for in-person instruction.
Regarding our instructional model, the county website points to the updated California Department of Public Health (CDPH) document, which was created over the summer as the definitive guide for school reopening. This document, along with the one created by CCCOE, suggests the A/B hybrid model (reduced population) should be a sufficient mitigation to reopen safely. You can find a description of the hybrid model’s implications at Berean on pages 10-12 of our reopening document.
Please know we will keep you informed of the latest developments from the County. We will release our A/B student cohorts and daily schedule one week before welcoming students back to campus. Regretfully, we are not accepting requests for students to be assigned to a specific cohort or particular days on campus. Family members are an obvious exception to this rule. For more information about the A/B cohorts and the details of the hybrid model, please see the attached FAQ.
More information on a reopening date is forthcoming. Let us continue to pray that the Lord would grant us the ability to regather once again.
“The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Psalm 33:10–12, ESV)
Blessings to you!
August 17, 2020
By the looks of things, students had a wonderful first day of school. I was satisfied with how the day unfolded on our end, and I'm thankful for our teacher's efforts to make remote learning as realistic as possible. I look forward to the day when we can gather again, but for now, I'm sure you will be pleased with our efforts for your students.
I have included an 8-minute video below, which explains how we will do chapel this year. The Bible teachers will explain the details to students, but in general, there are three things we are asking every student to do to maximize "chapel" time during remote learning:
View a video chapel every week – I will send out a weekly email with a link to a 15-20-minute chapel filmed at the school. The email will also include several discussion questions Bible teachers will ask their classes later in the week.
Respond in writing to the discussion questions – We are asking all students to respond to the provided questions in a short paragraph or two. These responses will help them prepare for the class discussion by synthesizing the points that were made. Bible teachers will inform students how their responses will be recorded and graded.
Contribute to a virtual Bible class discussion – The Bible tells that “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). I am looking forward to prepared students sharing their thoughts on particular chapels and sharpening each other every week.
And while chapel has traditionally been just for students, I'm hoping you will consider viewing it as a family.
Thank you again for all of your support and prayers. Enjoy the video.
God bless you all!
August 14, 2020
Berean Parents and Students,
I was delighted with our Abbreviated Virtual School Day on Wednesday morning. Around 75 percent of our student body participated in the event, and we feel very confident live virtual learning is going to begin on Monday at 8:30 am with minimal technical issues. If there are any remaining questions or difficulties, I urge you to contact your teachers today and have them resolved.
I have asked our teachers to email students over the weekend with standard instructions and log on information for their live Zoom broadcasts. All the information students need to log on is already posted in Google Classroom, which students have access to with their bereanchristian.com email. The emailed information from teachers will serve as a back-up to get students where they need to go if things do not work as expected.
I have included a PDF below of our “White Bell Schedule.” I urge all students to print a copy and post it in the room where they will participate in virtual learning as it will help them stay on schedule, especially during breaks and lunch. As previously stated, the schedule will be in place Monday through Thursday. Students will have the opportunity to set up meetings with their teachers on Fridays as they have set aside time for office hours (see individual teachers for details).
Lastly, you will see below I have included a document entitled Berean Christian High School Convocation Prayer List 2020-2021. Every year, on the Sunday before the first day of school, Berean hosts the entire school community for Convocation. In the past, we’ve packed our gym and spent time worshiping the Lord and praying for the school year. This year, because of obvious concerns surrounding the Coronavirus, we had to cancel the live program. However, we don’t have to cancel our prayers or our collective appeal to God to bless and lead us through the year. I am asking all families to (1) print a copy of the Convocation Prayer List, (2) stop by the school sometime on Sunday afternoon, and (3) use the list to pray for certain aspects and people of Berean. The document includes Scripture references, and prayer templates you can use as a family. There is also a list of teachers, staff, and board members on the back who you can pray for by name. While many of you may choose to pray from the comfort of your car, I realize others may decide to get out and walk around the campus. If you do get out of your car, I trust you will maintain social distance (six feet) and wear masks, especially around others who may be at the school. For those who cannot make it to Berean, please join us in praying wherever you may be.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
There is so much to be thankful for! I trust you’ll join me in remembering and celebrating those things as we lock arms in solidarity around Christ and Christian Education. We'll "see you" on Monday!
August 10, 2020
Students and Parents,
The countdown is on, and the school year is about to begin! I am thankful for everything the Lord is going to do, and I'm especially eager to see how He empowers, directs, and blesses His people to carry on the mission of developing the next generation of Christian leaders who come from Berean. And while we are anticipating changing conditions and educational models, we know that God does not change (Ps 102:27; Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8); His mission (John 3:17) endures, and we are privileged to work alongside Him (1 Cor 3:9; 1 Thess 3:2) in promoting its fulfillment. May you join me in praying, with a spirit and posture of thankfulness, for our students and staff! It's going to be a fantastic experience!
Now, before school begins remotely at 8:30 on Monday, August 17th, there are some things that I would like to make you aware of (important info, please read the entire email):
We will host an optional Abbreviated Virtual School Day on Wednesday, August 12th, beginning at 9 am. We would like to give students the chance to go through the process of (1) logging on to Google Classroom, (2) finding their daily schedule, and (3) locating the Zoom links, which will take them to their respective teachers' live classroom broadcasts. The abbreviated "day" will only be 1:40 minutes long as classes will be just 10 minutes in length, with 5 minutes between classes.
I realize that most students will not have their iPads on Wednesday, as returning student registration occurs on Thursday and Friday. Nevertheless, Google Classroom and ZOOM are accessible on any computer or device with internet access. To join the Abbreviated Virtual School Day, and every remote learning day from here on, students should follow the below procedure:
Download the Zoom App on the Apple Store and create an account.
Log on to classroom.google.com or open the Google Classroom App
If prompted, enter your bereanchristian.com email and password
Locate your daily courses
Open up your first-period class and in the banner at the top of the page find "Zoom Class ID." This ID will allow you to use the “Join Meeting” feature within Zoom. This code is never changing and will be what you use all year long to access each class. Alternatively, there should also be a "hyperlink" near the top of the “classwork” page within the specific class. Simply click on the link or paste it in the "join meeting" field on the Zoom Website, zoom.us. ***NOTE*** If you are employing a desktop or laptop computer, Zoom may prompt you to download and add an extension before joining your first meeting. If this applies to you, please attempt to join the class at least 10 minutes early as the process of adding the extension may take a few minutes.
Repeat the process for periods 2-7.
Enjoy meeting your teachers and classmates!
Please know the optional Abbreviated Virtual School Day is designed to work out any technical difficulties prior to the 17th. If students find themselves unable to log on to their first-period class, we do ask that they read through the above procedures and attempt to problem-solve before reaching out for help. We do ask that students wait until the end of the third period before contacting the school. Gary Jung, our Technology Director, along with some folks in the front office will be “on-call” during the event. They can be reached at (925) 945-6464.
Abbreviated Virtual School Day
Period 1 09:00 – 09:10
Period 2 09:15 – 09:25
Period 3 09:30 – 09:40
Period 4 09:45 – 09:55
Period 5 10:00 – 10:10
Period 6 10:15 – 10:25
Period 7 10:30 – 10:40
In addition to the Abbreviated Virtual School Day, I would also like to mention that we have developed a Remote Learning Commitment document (see attached), which outlines our expectations for distance learners. Because the school day will be broadcast live, with students interacting with their teachers and peers, we expect a normal day in terms of dress, participation, and focus. And while we do not expect students to sign the document, we do expect every student to subscribe to the commitment the document portrays. Please note, the document also contains expectations for parents.
I would also like to inform you that the state health authorities at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have recently revised their guidelines to allow for socially distanced athletic activities to occur on our campus after school. And while the guidelines do not allow for contact or the sharing of equipment, they do allow for exercise and the spaced gathering of students outdoors. Our football team is already taking advantage of this concession as they are carefully conditioning five days a week. Our cross-country team is planning on hosting their workouts in the coming days as well. Students desiring to participate on these teams should contact Athletic Director LaShawn Wells for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would also like to mention that the school is contemplating the formation of a non-athletic after-school conditioning program for students desiring to get some exercise and see their friends. We will be sending out a survey to gauge interest, so please look for it in the coming days!
The Lord is on the move, and a fantastic year is on the way! Know that you are prayed for and treasured! We’ll see you soon!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13, ESV)
August 3, 2020
As of this afternoon, The California Department of Public Health’s website lists Contra Costa County’s COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 at 117, just 17 cases above the threshold for remaining on the Governor’s Watchlist. As you know, this means that Berean will begin the semester remotely (“Level IV” in Reopening Together) on August 17th.
We are prepared for this eventuality and will carry on our mission despite the challenge. We have activated our remote learning contingency, and teachers are on campus this week, setting up their classrooms for live lessons beginning at 8:30 AM on August 17th.
We will continue to wait for cases to drop as well as watch for legal developments that may allow the school to reopen under the hybrid model (“Level III”). We do anticipate a positive forecast in the days to come as the effective rate has once again fallen to 1.12 from 1.21 two weeks ago.
I will follow up later in the week with Berean’s official guidelines and expectations for remote learning. For now, please know that students will be expected to attend seven live learning periods per day and that attendance will be taken as usual. Students will also be required to keep their camera on (unless they are told otherwise) and should, therefore, plan on dressing according to Berean’s dress code.
Know that your student’s teachers will be contacting them through their school email in the coming days to set up times to meet with them informally before the first day of school on the 17th. This optional class meeting, which will occur during the week of August 10th, will allow teachers and students to get up to speed with new technology and to test out Zoom for Education, our newly updated live broadcasting platform.
And while we are disappointed in today’s outcome, we trust the providence of our Lord as He is undoubtedly achieving His purposes for this season of our lives. May He be glorified!
“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” (Nehemiah 9:6, ESV)
“And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17, ESV)
Blessings to all,
July 28, 2020
Dear Parents and Students,
I trust you are having a relaxing summer and that time with your family has been sweet. In just a few weeks, the 2020-2021 school year will begin, and we will again embark on our journey of preparing the next generation of Christians to go into the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:20). And while our mission will remain unchanged, the way we accomplish it is bound to be a little different.
As many of you know, our county remains on the Governor's Watchlist, a designation that may require Berean to open remotely if Contra Costa remains on the list on August 3rd. And while this may be discouraging, I would like you to know a few things that give me hope that our school will be able to open with a form of in-person instruction at a point in the near future.
Contra Costa is on the Watchlist for just 1 of 5 qualifying factors, infection rate per 100,000. Our current number is one of the lowest in the state, and last week came near the threshold that would have taken the county off of the list.
The R-effective is down to 1.15 (see Reopening Together, pp. 2-4). The rate has dropped from 1.21, which may indicate that infection rates are trending downward in our area.
There is a question regarding the legality of the governor's directive as an official executive order was never written or signed following his speech on July 17. A consortium of Christian schools and legal teams in California are in the discovery phase of a potential lawsuit which could prevent the state from categorizing all religious schools in the same way as those in the public sector and especially those in the critical areas of the state (cf. LA and Kern Counties). The administration of Berean will be overseeing these developments as we are confident in our ability to reopen our school safely when we are able (see Reopening Together).
I will announce our initial school operational model through email on the morning of August 3. As stated, there is a chance that we will be required to begin school remotely; if that happens, I want you to know that we already have in place a virtual operational framework to ensure a fantastic Berean experience until we can regather at the school. Here are some things that have changed from the spring semester:
Live virtual learning and live office hours - Berean will conduct live (broadcast through Zoom for Education) synchronous learning. We will utilize a white bell schedule Monday through Thursday, and students will be expected, through our online platform, to attend seven classes daily, whether they are learning in the classroom or at home. Teachers will be available for live virtual office hours and tutoring for a portion of the day on Friday. We believe that a live format will promote community, normalcy, accountability, and our students' emotional health. This system will also allow for a seamless transition back to a regular school routine when that day arrives.
Zoom for Education - This newly designed platform will allow teachers to place students in small groups to work on projects together, even though they may be miles apart.
Virtual Chapels - Berean is committed to providing a weekly virtual chapel, which we hope will become part of your family's weekly viewing. Early in the week, we will send a link to a YouTube chapel service/devotional along with a discussion question or two. These questions will serve to promote a discussion later in the week during a portion of Bible class (either Wednesday or Thursday). And while these videos and questions will be designed to facilitate a discussion in class, we want to encourage every family to view the chapel at some point during the week and discuss it together. We trust this will provide a fruitful time of enjoying the Lord and his Word.
I have enclosed an extensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that the administration has put together for families. Please read through it in its entirety as it will bring clarity to our models of instruction as well as our mitigation protocols for keeping the school safe once we regather.
Below, I have listed some dates to remember. You will notice that I have included our yearly Convocation, an event that usually takes place in our gym the night before the first day of school. This year, because of restrictions on group gatherings, I am asking all families to drop by Berean between 4 and 7 pm on Sunday the 16th to pray outside. We will have several stations set up on the perimeter of the campus where families can remain socially distant from others (6 feet), walk the campus, and pray for particular aspects and people of the school (students, teachers, admin, school, and the wider community)
Know that the Lord has gone before us and that He's ready to bring glory to Himself through His school.
"I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43:6–7, ESV).
Be on the lookout for more information regarding registration and other Berean activities!
Blessings to you!
Nicholas Harris, Principal
July 17, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom has announced an updated policy for reopening schools in California. For the fall semester, all public and private schools in California counties on the State's Monitoring List for Coronavirus Infections are required to remain closed for in-class instruction until their particular county has been off the list for 14 days.
What does this mean for Berean? It means that our instructional model for the first day of school will be determined on August 3rd. At that time, Berean will make the decision as to whether we will begin school at Level III (hybrid learning) or Level IV (remote learning). If Contra Costa County remains on the governor's Monitoring List on that date, we will begin our semester remotely. This is obviously not our preferred mode of instruction, but we know how to do it very well. I trust that if things move in that direction, our faculty and staff will once again rise to the occasion and get the job done!
Although there is a chance that the school year will begin remotely, conditions are sure to change for the better. At the writing of this email, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties are not included on the governor’s Monitoring List. Their geographical proximity to Berean, as well as their population density and low number of Coronavirus cases, may prove to be an indicator that Contra Costa County is potentially headed in the right direction. Although we cannot forecast the timing of a positive change in the numbers, we know that our school will be in a position to pivot very quickly to our "in-person" school programs when that day comes.
Please know that we will be in touch with you as things develop. For now, please enjoy the final month of summer break and know that everyone at Berean will be taking care of things for the fall.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37–39, ESV)
Have a blessed weekend!
July 16, 2020
I have attached Reopening Together, Berean’s plan to get students back to school. In it, you will find information concerning our instructional model for COVID-19 mitigation, as well as our strategy for navigating future changes in our area.
And while we have a plan for bringing students back to campus, we realize that a very small percentage of Berean families are going to rely on the school to facilitate full-time distance learning. If your family is making plans in that direction, please notify our registrar, Mrs.Shafer (email@example.com), by August 1, 2020.
Please know that there are more decisions to be made and that more information will be sent out in the coming days. Until then, please read Reopening Together in full and pray that the Lord will continue to guide Berean to be “a city on a hill” while we prepare his people for the future (cf. Matthew 5:14).
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14, ESV)
May we do the same!
July 8, 2020
Thank you so much for participating in our COVID-19 Future Reopening Survey! Almost 90 percent of our families responded! Please know that we have taken every statistic and comment to heart as we finalize the Reopening Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Our final document will be sent out early next week; it will include our research, conclusions, and instructional model for the fall. It will also include the mitigation protocols that will keep our staff and students protected as we carry out our mission to develop lifelong followers of Christ!
In regards to athletics, I would like you to know that the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is scheduled to release their plan for fall sports on July 20th. At that point, our Athletic Director, Mr. Wells, will be in touch regarding team activities.
May the Lord bless you and your family!
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 125:1–2, NIV)
June 25, 2020
Berean Christian High School is considering many different possibilities for how to safely reopen our school in the fall. As we develop and refine our plans over the summer, your feedback is essential. Please complete the following survey by Thursday, July 2nd.
Thank you, and God bless you!
June 15, 2020
Today I saw that Hume Lake, the camp we've chosen for this year's All-School Retreat, has closed its doors for the 2020 season. There was some hope that things would be better by mid-August, but in today's announcement, Hume preemptively canceled all camps due to the lingering effects of the Coronavirus. For this reason, I am heartbroken to tell you that we will not be able to travel off-campus for our annual three-day fall kick-off event.
And while losing one of the significant aspects of our school program will be difficult for everyone, we've anticipated this news, and we've been planning and preparing for some special events during the first week of school (August 10th-14th). We are also looking into several other exciting possibilities in the spring.
I realize this news is difficult to hear, but please know that we are going to do everything we can to make the '20-'21 school year a fantastic and edifying experience for all. Please stay tuned for further information in the weeks to come. God bless you all.
May 28, 2020
We made it through the academic year, and we are pressing into our summer planning for the fall! Many of you have been asking what school is going to look like in the future, and to that, I will tell you that I am very optimistic that we will have “in-person” learning on the Berean campus. Though it could take a “modified” or “hybrid” form, precedents are being set around the world for the reopening of schools, and I trust that Berean is likewise on track for a reopening. In fact, with strict protocols from the Contra Costa County Health Department (CCCHD) and CDC, we have already begun our Summer Biology session with students learning on campus five days a week.
I am not sure exactly how the fall will shape up for the entire school, but we are working with information from the CCCHD and CDC to safeguard our campus for future operations by implementing several mitigation protocols to open the entire school in August. I do expect a combination of the following practices to be in place by July, along with a few others that are emerging. Keep in mind, these protocols are suggestive of likely practices, but they may change to suit future Coronavirus mitigation tactics as established by local health authorities for schools.
Even with many of these protocols in place, we will be prepared to pivot to live distance learning if or when it becomes necessary. And while the fall semester may look daunting, there are signs that things are improving and that the world is tracking in a positive direction. There is much that is still unknown, but whatever may come, Berean will continue to provide our students with a solid Bible-based college preparatory education that exceeds expectations.
May God bless you all!
May 14, 2020
Senior Students and Parents,
Contra Costa County has finally recognized the need for people to connect and celebrate during this season of graduation, and they have publicly released Interim Guidance for Graduation Ceremonies, a document available on their website. In my last email, I alluded to our graduation plans changing in light of the release of this document, but I cautioned against anyone getting their hopes up that a traditional ceremony was in the works. With that, I want you to know that the county has provided just two options for Berean to host an event – one that includes families, teachers, and staff, and one that does not but allows for the event to be filmed for later viewing by students' families. And while there are merits to both of these options, the former seems to be the unquestionable preference – the “Drive Through Diploma Pickup.” With this option, parents and siblings (and those currently living in the student’s household) can, in one vehicle, accompany their senior student to Berean, and with prescribed social distancing and masks, participate in a modified commencement ceremony. From their cars, students will travel through a makeshift course in the Berean parking lot and in so doing, see their teachers and other graduates. When individual families reach the end of the course, students will be able to get out of their car, hear their names called, and walk across a stage to receive their hard-earned diploma. We will have a photographer on hand to snap a few photos, but we will enforce a time limit for each family so as not to encourage congregating. Once a student has received their diploma, they must leave the school and again, not congregate in the vicinity of the campus.
Detailed instructions will be emailed to all Senior families next week, but I want you to know now that the event will begin at 10 AM on Saturday, May 23rd. Again, the virtual ceremony portion of this year’s graduation will be released on Friday the 22nd, and I am asking everyone to view that production at 7 PM sharp.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1–2, ESV)
Thank you for your participation and understanding.
May 13, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
The annual Berean Awards show will be available to view now on our Youtube channel. You can watch the production here. Have fun seeing our teachers and administrators announce this year's top students and scholarship award winners. God bless you all!
May 11, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
There are just two days left until the end of academic instruction! I know it has been a very long road, and I realize these next two days may be among the most difficult of all, as assessments and projects are due! Please know that I have and will continue to pray that the Lord would bless all of our students according to their effort; may He energize them for the tasks that lie ahead!
I also want to make everyone aware of some upcoming events and plans for the end of the year:
The Annual Awards Ceremony will be recorded via Zoom and released on Berean’s YouTube channel on the evening of Wednesday, May 13th (an all-school email will be sent out with link at that time). Students receiving awards will be notified before the event, but I would like to encourage the broader school community to tune in and commemorate this year’s achievements. Underclassmen who win awards can pick them up during scheduled check out at the school (see below). Senior awards can likewise be picked up during checkout (Thursday), along with some gifts and graduation regalia.
Student Check-Out is scheduled to begin on Thursday, May 14th, and continue through Tuesday the 19th. An email will be sent out later today describing the details but know that days and times will be slotted to allow for current social distancing guidelines to be observed.
Virtual Graduation is in the process of being produced and will be released for viewing on May 22nd at 7 PM, the original day and time set for the ceremony. And while I do not want to divulge too many of the details, I will tell you that the ceremony will be very creative and involve our graduates in a way that will honor their accomplishments and look to the future that God has planned for them. Again, I encourage all Berean families to set aside some time to view the ceremony, but I especially want to invite everyone in the Berean community to watch it collectively at 7 PM on the 22nd. For what reason, you might ask? I am going to allocate a few minutes of the program for graduates to text, call, Facetime, or live chat, with one another so that they feel the presence of their classmates, the ones who God providentially arranged for them to go to school with!
Senior Barbeque – Because of the overwhelming demand for an “in-person” event to celebrate our graduates (97% on the survey I sent out), I am tentatively scheduling a senior barbeque (parents and senior graduates only) for July 25th at Berean. Mark your calendars and know that we are going to throw a party if we are able! And while we will not repeat all of the ceremonial aspects of our virtual graduation, we will take some pictures and celebrate together one last time before we send them off.
I look forward to unveiling all of our exciting plans for next year, but until then, I would like to disclose just one, our plan for US History (Junior year). Two weeks ago, I informed the Berean community that April Merlino would assume the role of Dean of Women; what I did not disclose at the time was that she would continue teaching two sections of AP US History. And while her presence in the classroom will undoubtedly bless our students, I also want you to know that Erik Esakson, our Dean of Men, who has also taught AP US History, will teach the remaining US History sections! Yes, our two Deans, both with degrees in History from UC Berkeley, will teach the entire Junior class!
Again, thank you for your commitment this year and for all of the support you have sent our way. Our teachers and administrators feel loved and supported by your generosity, kind words, and prayers. Please continue to bless our teachers in the days ahead and know they have worked harder than they have ever worked before!
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21, ESV)
May 3, 2020
As part of the pageantry of this unique graduation season, we decided to put up a small display along El Divisadero Ave celebrating you and your accomplishments this year. If you happen to be out and about on an “essential activity,” stop by and see what we did. Until then, enjoy the pictures below.
Also, it looks like the governor has put the state back on the path to reopening, and this most likely means that we will be able to host a graduation event. I’m not sure to what extent our event will be “public/in-person” as Contra Costa County has yet to release detailed guidelines as a follow up to the governor’s statement. I’m hopeful that we’ll know more this week, so please stay tuned.
God bless you all,
April 28, 2020
Dear Berean Family,
We are nearing the end of this unique school year with the final day of instruction coming on Tuesday, May 12th. And as that day approaches, I would also like to remind you that we have set aside May 13-15 as a time for students to revisit material from the fourth quarter and consult with their teachers to see if they will allow the submission or re-submission of past due or substandard work for an improved grade. Because there is still time to finish strong, I want to encourage every student to give their best effort in these final days.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that Contra Costa County, as well as four other counties in the Bay Area, have extended the “shelter in place” order until June. There was hope that the order would be lifted in light of some positive progress that has been made, but for now, the quarantine will remain. Unfortunately, the extended order officially puts an end to our hope of hosting any type of year-end event in May. Initially, there was a thought, as mentioned in my previous email, that with enforced social distancing measures, Berean could host either a “drive-in” or “drive-through” ceremony for graduation. Unfortunately, the Contra Costa Health Department has banned this proposal as it violates the “non-essential” portion of the stay at home order. Let me be clear, Berean cannot organize or host a non-essential event that asks people to leave their homes. I’m sorry, but we must abide by this order as long as it is in place (Romans 13:1-7)!
But hope is not lost for some sort of “in-person” graduation ceremony! I am considering moving the date of graduation as far out as mid-July, but I would like to gather some data to gauge our senior families’ willingness to participate should we be allowed to host an event. If you are a graduating senior or parent of a senior, please take a minute to fill out the survey posted here (limit one per family).
I would also like to mention that senior families should expect a surprise delivery in the coming days. I do not want to divulge what will be contained inside of the package, but I do want you to know that something is coming so that you’re on the lookout for it.
On a final note, I would like to announce that April Merlino, our fantastic US History teacher, will become the next Dean of Women at Berean! April is a perfect fit for this calling as she embodies everything we could ever hope for in a Dean, especially her heart for the Lord and for leading His people. Please congratulate and encourage April, but please know that she will not assume her duties until the fall.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21, ESV)
April 21, 2020
Students and Parents,
I hope you’ve had an excellent start to your week and that the Lord has blessed you with a fantastic day in the world that he created for His glory (cf. Is 43:1-7)
I want to let you know about a decision that has been made and a few other things that we are working on for the last few weeks of school. First, I want you to know that final exams have been canceled. We are delighted with our teachers’ performance as well as our students’ efforts during the shelter in place order, and we feel confident that learning took place at a level that can be measured without a summative assessment. Furthermore, the National Advanced Placement (AP) exams have been moved to the traditional dates of our final exam week, and we could find no reasonable way to accommodate both occasions. And while I’m sure there is much student excitement regarding this announcement, the cancellation of final exams does not mean that a form of assessment will not take place at the end of the quarter; individual teachers will find ways for students to engage with semester material to demonstrate proficiency of learning in their particular courses but will now do so on or before Tuesday, May 12 (a date designated as the last day of instruction).
Following the end of instruction, we’ve designated May 13-15 as a three-day period for students to look back on their academic performance in the fourth quarter and to reach out to their teachers to see if they will allow the submission of late work or the resubmission of substandard work in an effort to improve final grades. We realize that the shelter in place order and distance learning may have been difficult to adjust to, and for that reason, I’ve asked our teachers to consider giving their students this limited opportunity of improving their grades during this time. Students, please take advantage of these three days to continue to learn and improve on what you have already done!
Finally, I want you to know that we are in ongoing discussions with the County Health Department, the City of Walnut Creek, and other regional authorities regarding our end of the year events. And while I would love to have “sit-down ceremonies” for Awards Night, Baccalaureate, and Graduation, I do not believe that any type of “stagnate gathering,” even one where people are spaced 6 feet apart, is going to be acceptable, even a month from now. Remember, our county is under a “shelter in place” order, and this directive is not to be broken for “non-essential” activities; our end of the year events fall into that category.
Many of you have reached out to me with creative ways around these guidelines but no suggestion, other than the “virtual” one, looks to be suitable at this time. I have been told that the current restrictions may be reduced on May 3, but there is no guarantee that things will change in time to host a traditional event. For that reason, Berean is in the process of preparing a virtual event for our end of the year Awards Night and a separate online combined event for Baccalaureate and Graduation. We will also prepare for a “Drive-In” or a “Drive-Through” graduation event as a supplement/alternative to the virtual events should restrictions be reduced. If restrictions are reduced, and this type of event becomes available, it will occur at Berean at 10 AM on Saturday, May 23. If by chance, restrictions are completely lifted, graduation will be held at Golden Hills Church on May 22 as originally planned. Again, we are planning for all contingencies, but the virtual one appears to have the highest odds.
And while I know disappointment is in the air, we must obey the authorities that God has put in place (cf. Rom 13:1-7) and trust that He governs “all things according to the council of His will (Eph 1:11). “But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32–33, ESV)
God Bless you all,
April 14, 2020
Berean Parents and Students,
I trust the Lord blessed you with a fantastic Resurrection Sunday at home with your family. And while Christians around the world experienced "being alone together" during online Holy Day "gatherings," we were nonetheless united in our common faith in The Lord Jesus Christ - the one who stood in our place and did what we couldn't do for ourselves. May He be glorified as we move forward in confidence to whatever He may have for us down the road (Proverbs 16:9).
In regards to moving forward at Berean, I want you to know that school will continue with the distance learning format for the remainder of the school year. There was some hope that the current social distancing guidelines would be relaxed to allow us to regather for a few weeks in May, but that has not materialized. Again, we trust that the Lord is accomplishing his intentions as we wisely commit our work and way to him (Proverbs 16:3).
In consideration of other year-end events, including graduation, I want you to know that I am going to hold off on deciding what we can do until the regional health authorities unveil a detailed plan for our state to return to normal. I was hopeful that today's announcement by the governor would provide a timeline and parameters for the modification of our events, but he was somewhat ambiguous and did not offer a detailed strategy for moving out of the stay at home order. I trust that a comprehensive plan will emerge in the coming days and that year-end events will be planned according to recommended restrictions and guidelines. Whatever happens, know that we will find a way to celebrate the work of the Lord and the accomplishments of our amazing students.
On a lighter note, I want to let you know that we are going to announce April’s Student of the Month on Instagram and Facebook (@BereanChristianHighSchool) tomorrow at noon. Be sure to check it out!
Know that you are loved and missed and that I look forward to seeing all of you in person as soon as the Lord makes that possible.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,” (Colossians 1:3-4, ESV)
Your partner in ministry,
April 3, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
We’ve made it through three weeks of rigorous distance learning to Spring Break, a well-deserved respite from academics. I pray that the Lord will bless all of you with His presence during the time off as you enjoy one another and celebrate the work of Jesus Christ and our resulting peace with God (Rom 5:1).
Please pray for all of our local pastors and churches as they collectively prepare to host Easter services and declare the good news through online mediums they did not expect to use three weeks ago. Certainly, the Lord has grabbed the world’s attention, and His people have been granted an extraordinary opportunity to proclaim the gospel to the lost. May the Lord use this crisis to bring an unparalleled revival!
Please know that I will be in touch with you regarding the probable cancellation of future school events, but until then, enjoy a week free from those concerns. May the Lord bless you, and may He use all of you to bring glory to Himself (Is 43:6-7).
Your partner in ministry,
March 30, 2020
Berean Students and Parents,
Distance learning classes are in full swing at Berean! We are so thankful for the overwhelming encouragement we have received regarding the efforts of our teachers. They have been working above and beyond their regular hours to ensure that all of our students continue to receive excellent academic instruction and discipleship in an online format. To those ends, please continue to pray for them during this time away.
A few reminders:
I keep praying for all of you, and I hope to see you back at Berean very soon!
March 25, 2020
Students and Parents,
I regret to inform you that the Junior-Senior Banquet (JSB), scheduled for the 25th of April, has been canceled due to the ongoing health crisis. Please know that I held out hope that things would improve in time for the event, but today, the health authorities of Contra Costa County extended school closures and their ban on large gatherings past the date of our event.
I sincerely apologize for the great inconvenience this may cause you and your family, and I mourn the loss of this momentous occasion in the life of our young people. If there is any possibility of rescheduling, I will find a way to do so.
Advanced ticket purchases will be refunded in the coming days.
Thank you for your understanding,
March 23, 2020
I wanted to thank you for your patience and prayers last week. The Lord graced us with His presence, and we experienced very few speed bumps as we unveiled the Berean distance learning program. I am delighted with our initial results, and I’m thankful that the Lord blessed our teachers with the ability to continue their work with your children. Know that we will continue to finetune our methods and press the boundary of what is possible as we are away from each other and the campus.
For your enjoyment, Taylor Brost, our digital media instructor, produced a “behind the scenes” video from the week. Please take a minute to see what our students and teachers have been up to. Enjoy!
Blessings to you all
March 16, 2020
Teachers are putting the finishing touches on the distance learning plan they began working on two weeks ago. I am incredibly pleased with their efforts, and I am sure you will be as well. Along those lines, please know that I have asked each of your student’s teachers to send you an email, by 6 PM this evening, outlining their fourth-quarter objectives and their plans to accomplish those objectives in a digital format. Yes, you may receive up to 7 more emails from Berean today, but I want you to get a taste of what your student can expect and what will be expected of them from their classroom teachers.
And while I trust that the Lord will bless this time away from the Berean campus, I know that we are going to need your support and encouragement as we navigate the challenge put before us. To those ends, I want to ask you to do a few things to help us keep your kids on track:
I want you to know that I am praying that Berean, and the churches that comprise our student body, would make Jesus look good to the watching world in this moment. For the Lord has called us to be a “city on a hill”- a living testimony to those who do not know Him (Matthew 5:14). May He help us to do that!
March 13, 2020
We must do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our region. To accomplish this and to protect the health and safety of our students, families, faculty, and staff, Berean Christian High School will be closing its doors beginning on Monday, March 16th. School will remain in session but will do so with a digital “distance format” beginning on Tuesday, March 17th.
Teachers and staff have been planning for this contingency for the last two weeks, and we are ready to proceed with our curriculum and academic calendar as prescribed. I do not anticipate a drop off in the quality of our educational offerings, as the only thing that will change is the medium of our instruction. Our teachers are committed to their students, to serving the Lord, and to finishing the fourth quarter to the best of their ability, whether online or in person.
There will be more emails and details to come, but for now, know that your students should stay home on Monday and to be ready to learn on Tuesday. To those ends, I am asking those who are present today to take essential academic materials (books, I-pads, notebooks, etc.) home with them.
May the Lord grant us his wisdom and strength as we do this well!
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
March 13, 2020
Dear Berean Christian Families,
In conjunction with the directive from the Assistant Superintendent of High School of MDUSD, Berean Christian has come to the decision to cancel all athletic events, including practices. School will be in a distant learning format starting on Tuesday, March 17th.
March 12, 2020
The Contra Costa Health Service's (CCHS) guidelines have come down to local districts and athletic departments. As of today, Berean CIF athletic events will continue to be held as scheduled, but spectators will not be allowed to attend. Please make plans to have your student-athletes dropped off and picked up following competitions and again, know that you may not be present at the event. I apologize for the inconvenience, but please understand that this action is in the best interests of our community.
While the game may not be viewable in person, there may be an online option for a live feed broadcast. Please see the link below.
We will keep you informed as the situation progresses. If you have any questions, please reach out to our athletic director, LaShawn Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org).
May the Lord guide all of us as we appeal to Him, and may He grant that we make Him look good in this unfolding situation.
Nicholas Harris and LaShawn Wells
March 10, 2020
The situation with the Coronavirus continues to progress, and the Contra Costa Health Department is advising that all mass gatherings with more than 50 people be canceled. For that reason, I want you to know that tomorrow’s chapel will not be held in the gym but rather in individual classrooms with students watching a pre-recorded interview that I conducted this afternoon.
For the time being, I am also asking students to refrain from congregating in the Student Center during breaks and the lunchtime period. To that end, dining tables will be relocated outside to the quad where students will be able to enjoy warm temperatures and some fresh air.
I also want you to know that we have stepped up our disinfection of the school. In addition to having all school desks and tables sterilized every evening, we have instructed our janitorial staff to sanitize every classroom door handle multiple times per day. Again, every classroom has received a generous quantity of disinfecting wipes that can be used by students and teachers at will.
And while I know this has been stated many times, I feel compelled to request once again that sick kids stay home. If your student has any signs of illness, whether you believe those symptoms to be severe or not, please do not send them to school. This is not the time to take a chance.
Finally, I want you to know that I have sufficiently investigated and found to be false a rumor describing one of our students as having the Coronavirus. I’ve spoken with the student’s parents, and there is absolutely no reason to believe this to be true.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, ESV)
March 3, 2020
I trust you are aware of the emerging situation regarding the Coronavirus and its spread around the world. Please know that we are preparing for every eventuality, including the possibility of distance learning, should the Contra Costa Health Department ask us to close our doors. I do not suspect this will happen, but we will be prepared if it does.
In the meantime, I want you to know that we are doing our best to keep our classrooms free of germs. To this end, all classroom surfaces (desks and tables) are being disinfected every night by our janitorial staff. Classrooms have also been supplied with containers of disinfecting wipes that can be used by students and teachers at will. Additionally, we are recommending that hand sanitizer be employed by our staff and students throughout the day as needed.
At this point, the most important thing we can do is pray, take proactive steps of prevention, and wisely react if this contagion continues its spread in our community.
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)