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A Letter from GELF President James Pond: COVID-19

Dear Friends,

As we all navigate through this time of uncertainty, I wanted to provide an update on how Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation is addressing the COVID-19 virus. We are continuing to monitor the situation and follow the guidance of the CDC and state/federal authorities, and we want to reassure you that we are still operational and working for the benefit of Tennessee’s children and early literacy in our state.

While the situation continues to change, we will respond in ways that continue to support our mission, our vision and the children and families we serve.

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation’s physical office will be closed effective March 16, 2020 until at least March 31, 2020. Our team is working remotely and will continue to be fully functional Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.  We can be reached by email, cell phone or through Zoom video conferences. 

Here is what we’d like you to know:

  • Our emails and phone numbers remain the same and are working. Please use our mobile phone numbers to reach us during this time. Previously scheduled in-person meetings with any member of our team will be rescheduled to be conducted via Zoom video conference or phone.
  • We will continue to provide support materials electronically; working remotely prevents us from providing shipped resources from our warehouse or office.
  • We have postponed all non-essential travel for team members and will closely evaluate any essential travel on a case by case basis after March 31. If you have an urgent need, please contact us, and we will do our best to assist you.
  • Our programs will continue to be delivered without interruption.  We will provide updated information if anything changes. We are committed to continuing the important work of our programs and partnerships, especially during this time. This includes:
    • Book Delivery monthly through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
    • K-3rd Grade Summer Reading and Caregiver Engagement
    • Book Buses(planning and support)
    • Storybook Trails (planning)

During this time of decreased social activity, we encourage you to read a book– for yourself, for your children, grandchildren or other family and friends. Books allow us to take a break from reality, bond with loved ones and explore our imagination. There are a wealth of free learning and reading resources available online. 

ReadyRosie, our Caregiver Engagement program partner, has provided an online “Healthy at Home” tool-kit full of activities, games and home learning ideas to support families while caring for children out of school. This tool-kit provides families with information and tips to support a child’s health, emotional well-being and education. Explore the tool-kit here: https://readyrosie.com/en/healthyathome/.

Expensify.org, our trusted expense management system, is temporarily redirecting all of its charitable funds to Expensify.org/hunger to support families with children whose primary meals happen at school. Through this program, Expensify is going to match SNAP grocery purchases up to $50 per family. To donate or receive reimbursement, visit https://www.expensify.org/hunger

Scholastic has created its Learn at Home website with simple ways to turn unexpected time at home into exciting opportunities for children to learn, think and grow. This free resource provides children with 20 days of fun articles, stories, videos and learning challenges for the whole family. For more information, visit https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html.

Ted-ED has published video lessons and series by top educators, made into animated videos for children, and authors are posting read-alouds of their books on social media. For a list of other free resources, visit https://www.today.com/parents/how-homeschool-during-coronavirus-crisis-t176020

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to schedule a video meeting or phone call with any member of our team, please contact Dustin Jacobsen at Dustin.Jacobsen@tn.gov, and he will assist you.

On behalf of the entire Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation team, I want to thank you for your understanding and support during this challenging time. We wish you, your families and your communities health and encouragement. We look forward to continuing the work of strengthening early literacy and building lifelong learners.

With gratitude,
James Pond, President