Our Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Stratford School is currently planning for the 2020/21 school year. We are confident that we are well-prepared to open school with agile plans carefully designed to address almost every conceivable scenario. For prospective families, we continue to offer personalized virtual tours and virtual open house events. We have made adjustments to accommodate all of the necessary COVID-19 precautions and continue to monitor local health and safety guidelines.

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COVID-19 Updates

We appreciate your patience and partnership as we continue to navigate our new normal due to COVID-19. Please see our re-opening guide here

We will continue to update this page with information as it becomes available. We are committed to supporting our students with continued authentic and engaged learning, even from outside the bounds of our campus.

July 27, 2020


Reopen > Reunite: An Important Message from Stratford Founder & President, Sherry Adams from Stratford School on Vimeo.

With the scheduled start of school less than a month away, we understand that these are stressful times for our families, and many of you are likely wrestling with how to ensure the best educational experience for your children.  Please know that Stratford School has been developing our school-year plans with the same objective in mind and a laser-focus on meeting our families’ needs across a spectrum of logistical scenarios.
 
Through extensive preparation and based on parent feedback, we have developed two robust options for this upcoming school year.  The first “Return to Campus” option focuses on implementing stringent safety protocols to offer on-campus schooling in a manner that abides by and exceeds COVID-19 regulations and safety precautions.  Second, for parents who have told us that they are not comfortable having their children return to an on-campus environment at this time, we have developed our “Fully Online” options to offer sophisticated online schooling alternatives for all full-day program levels -- Preschool through Middle School.  
 
Since we cannot gather in person at this time, I invite you to watch this short webinar I’ve recorded to help explain the options we have created for you.  Please know that we are dedicated and committed to meeting our families’ needs with certainty in these uncertain times.  We are well-prepared and ready to re-open and reunite our Stratford community. These are challenging times, but together, we are stronger!
 
July 18, 2020
 
Yesterday, in coordination with the California Department of Public Health, Governor Gavin Newsom outlined the state’s “COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework” for all California K-12 schools for the upcoming school year. As we continue to carefully review the framework outlined, the new directive stipulates that schools may only reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been off the “COVID monitoring list” for 14 consecutive days.
 
We have been planning for news like this for months, and we are well-prepared to open school with agile plans carefully designed to address almost every conceivable scenario. While we remain optimistic that we WILL return to in-person instruction in August, the reopening plan we adopt will be aligned with all state and local directives. Our Return to Campus model enables us to respond quickly to circumstances while delivering an excellent education for your child. In August, and throughout the school year, our nimble and robust education plan includes full contingencies for: 
 
  • Traditional School: full on-site instruction, if there are no regulations that restrict our classroom capacity
  • Intermittent Distance Learning: to respond to governmental mandates and/or COVID incidences on-campus 
  • Hybrid Schedule: a mix of traditional school and coordinated distance learning to accommodate capacity limitations required for safe-distancing and stable-grouping regulations
 
Thank you parents for your continued feedback. We heard you and developed our Fully Online/At-Home education options for your consideration. For those of you with children attending our on-campus Summer@Stratford program, it will continue as scheduled. In the event local health mandates require a change to our summer camp operations, we will notify participants directly. 
 
Thank you for your understanding and ongoing patience during this time. We appreciate your continued confidence as we remain committed to reopen and reunite our schools in August.
 
July 13, 2020
 
As announced last week, we would like to share our plans for reuniting in the fall. Because there is much uncertainty as to how the next several months of COVID-19 Pandemic will play out, we recognize that comprehensive planning is critically important. 
 
Return to Campus or Online Academy (Grades K-8)
There are two options for your family to consider. We are inviting all our students to Return to Campus in August and have outlined possible school-operation scenarios. Responding to students and families who may need or desire a trimester or half-year fully-online program, we have developed our own Online Academy. The Online Academy will be an extension of our campus, with lessons and programs that will keep Academy students connected to classmates all year, but with a mature online curriculum and an interactive learning platform that will greatly enhance students’ ability to learn from home. Tuition for both options -- Return to Campus or Online Academy -- is the same.  Click here to view our back-to-school plan overview for Grades K-8 students . Please note that, in particular, the Health and Safety government regulations are subject to change. We will send and post updates to the content of our Reopen > Reunite guide on our school website to reflect these changes as they occur. 
 
Preschool to Pre-K
Some of our earliest learners returned to campus a few weeks ago to participate in our summer camp program, and we are eager to welcome all in August. I am excited to be able to also offer a fully online option for preschool and pre-K students who would like to learn and engage with our school entirely from home. I will be happy to provide a description of our Early Childhood Education (ECE) Online Program in the upcoming week, and I welcome the opportunity to speak with any of you who may prefer this option for the fall or who simply would like more information.
 
Our plan to reopen and reunite in August is taking shape nicely, but we anticipate small changes throughout the summer. For the remainder of this summer, we are committed to sending school-opening details via email or posting updates to our school website as information becomes available.
 
June 18, 20200

Since March, the impact of the global pandemic of COVID-19 has deeply affected the communities we serve.  While no one person could have fully predicted or anticipated the magnitude of this disruption, we are proud of our dedicated educators who continue to stand united in our commitment to provide your child with a safe and secure learning environment while delivering the academic excellence you expect.  Thank you for your resilience, patience, and support of our efforts throughout this period.  

Behind the scenes, an extraordinary academic task force composed of principals and curriculum-design specialists and experts from across our organization began designing multiple paths to support our return to school in the fall.  The plans in development include agile practices, responsive to what we know now and to what we do not yet know – public health mandates and guidelines that will be in effect in August and throughout the next school year.

While details are still being refined, we wanted to share the following high-level direction and assurances with you, as we look ahead to what school will look like in the fall:

●      We plan to fully resume on-campus instruction in the fall.

●      We are also preparing “hybrid” plans for combined learning at school and online, in the event that school class sizes are restricted or incidences of COVID-19 force intermittent school closures.

●      We recognize that some families may be reluctant to send their children back to an on-campus environment in the fall.  Therefore, we will also offer a FULLY ONLINE option that will approximate the rigor and richness you expect at but be accessible entirely from home. 

As we develop these plans, your feedback is very important to us.  As a next step, to help us evaluate interest in the “Fully Online” program, we will send a short survey next week, and we would greatly appreciate your input.  Following that, we will share more detailed plans in early July.

We thank you again for partnering with us as we work toward this “new normal.”  We miss you, and we are eager to welcome your child(ren) back to school in August.

May 29, 2020

As this most extraordinary school year careens to its end, we wanted to share some observations and reflections on the past several months, and to preview our plans for the return to campus in the fall. We look forward to the 2020-21 school year; to reuniting with colleagues and students; to school-year rituals and traditions; to another year of joyful learning and personal growth, informed by lessons learned during our distance-learning experience.

Planning for School Year 2020-21

When it became apparent that shelter-in-place policies would be in effect through the end of this school year, and after we had completed several cycles of distance-learning, we turned our attention to School Year 2020-21, creating a school-reentry team tasked with developing a responsive return plan, a blueprint focused on safely returning students and teachers to school buildings and classrooms in August, but with alternative models for multiple contingencies, for unknowable circumstances. Comprehensive planning now will allow us to be nimble and responsive to multiple scenarios we might face next year. Modeling now will minimize the effect of potential disruptions next year. “Luck favors the prepared mind,” said Louis Pasteur, and this seems an especially fitting time to be heeding the advice of a biologist!

Our school is a member of a consortium of schools and therefore has the expertise, resources, and networking capability of a large organization. Our Education Team is composed of fifteen full-time experts trained in curriculum design, instructional coaching, information technology, early childhood and gifted education, online learning, and much more. Our Education Team is highly involved in return-to-school planning, in the creative modeling conducive to contingency-plan development, and, most importantly, in summer teacher training in anticipation of next school year.

To date, our task force has established priorities aligned with our school’s mission and goals for students, created an August return-to-campus plan, and is building out support systems for several potential contingency plans. They will continue this work throughout the summer, and we will apprise you of major developments as they occur.  But here are some highlights and a high-level overview of the task force’s thinking.

Guiding Principles

Safety

Our commitment to the health and safety of our school community is paramount. We will abide by all state and local statues, heed the advice of health organizations, notably the CDC, and maintain a clean and healthy environment within our schools.  Additionally, we will implement several strategies to encourage behaviors known to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Quality Academic Programs

The distance learning experience proved to be highly fertile grounds for teacher development. Teachers, who initially felt constrained by the online platform, quickly learned new techniques – in some cases through training implemented by our Education Team, more often by visiting each other’s Zoom classrooms. They learned to use new technologies and adaptive learning programs; they adopted new techniques and modified their own practice to personalize learning, as needed, and to ensure engagement for all.  Students who had been somewhat reticent in their four-walled classroom were asking questions and taking intellectual risks, seemingly more comfortable in an online setting.  We must never forget what we have learned in the past three months! When we return to our classrooms, we should preserve and extend those learnings, continue to use the adaptive programs and asynchronous learning options that worked so well for many students, and strive for a seamless integration of traditional and modern learning techniques.

We have every intention of returning to campus for the opening of School Year 2020-21.  If at that time or later in the school year,  shelter-in-place or reduced-occupancy mandates are imposed, we will be ready to transition to one of several teaching and learning models, among them (1) a period of distance learning or (2) a hybrid of distance and on-campus learning (necessary, for example, if classroom capacity limits are imposed).  Again, an uninterrupted traditional school year is our fervent hope, but every imaginable alternative scenario is being explored.

Commitment to Improvement

The school has committed to investing in computer hardware and software upgrades to aid in any hybrid accommodation we may face, and also at the request of our teachers, who, during the distance-learning period,  learned and developed creative uses for instructional technology and learning programs, which they hope to continue using.

Summer and school year 2020-21 teacher training will focus almost entirely on blended learning techniques – how to develop curriculum and programing with clear through-lines that seamlessly integrate traditional and modern teaching pedagogies, synchronous and asynchronous learning, in-person and digital experiences.

A Caring Atmosphere

Our primary goals for distance learning were to:

●      Engage students in learning that approximated the rigor and richness of their traditional  school experience and

●      Provide continuity and connection for all our children – a sense of normalcy and joy that comes from daily interactions among teachers and students. 

In all of our distance-learning interactions with students, we tried to bridge the digital gap with some playfulness, some fun, and other manifestations of care and connection. In advisory meetings and in academic classes, we incorporated elements that supported social-emotional health. During our months apart, social-emotional learning was more relevant than ever. 

When our students, your children, return to school in the fall, their excitement around reuniting with old friends is likely to be tempered with some anxiety. Students will be looking to their teachers for guidance on how to return to once familiar learning contexts and routines, and we intend to be prepared to meet them where they are. The youngster who left his second grade class in early March and is returning in August as a third grader may need a little TLC and a bit of time to warm up. How we open the school year and reorient children are critically important pieces of our planning.

Onward, with Optimism!

The events of the past few months, along with daily doses of pandemic news, have turned some of us into armchair epidemiologists, and reintroduced many of us to science principles last encountered in high school biology.  I found some comfort in having a passing familiarity with terms common to nightly news reports – virus, RNA, antigen, antibody, exponential growth – grateful that I knew enough science to follow the story, grateful to my high school biology teacher who regularly assured us of the relevance of what she was teaching.  Especially this year, I am grateful to be a teacher.  I am proud to have been part of our school’s teaching team, who, undaunted by difficult circumstances, conducted their fine work from a distance. From Zoom rooms and makeshift classrooms in their homes, they continued to nurture children, propagate knowledge, and develop skills and habits of mind to last a lifetime.  As we  begin to plan for next school year, we are still driven by the mission and vision that attracted us to teaching in the first place, and we are reinvigorated by the creativity and inventiveness unleashed this year in response to extraordinarily challenging circumstances. We end the year as we began, grateful for the opportunity to teach and to learn. Onward to an excellent future! 

You can expect to hear from us throughout the summer as we further refine our plans for next school year. Stay well, and please stay in touch. Thank you again for your continued partnership. 

 

April 29, 2020

Dear Parents:
 
As we are now in the midst of our sixth week of distance learning, we’d once again like to thank all of our families for being such supportive partners in navigating these uncharted waters. With your involvement and feedback, you have amplified the tireless efforts of our curriculum team and your children’s educators to create phenomenal levels of engagement in what is an ever more robust distance learning program at each grade level. We are so proud of how our students have not only embraced this new learning platform, but have continued to thrive and find innovative ways to stay connected to each other and their communities! 
 
Beyond simply delivering our curriculum, our dedicated teachers and staff strive to provide continuity and stability during this stressful, unprecedented time in our lives. Each day, parents express their appreciation for the kindness and care that our teachers have shown to their students, and for this we are honored to continue to make a difference in the lives of our Stratford families. 
 
As we continue our partnership during this health crisis, we have been carefully planning our next steps by not only focusing on our own programs but also keeping abreast of guidance from national, state, and local authorities. We are all looking forward to getting back to a state of “normalcy,” but at the same time our first priority will always be protecting the safety and well-being of our students and community.  
 
With that said, taking into account two critical directives: (1) the April 1, 2020 decision by the California governor to mandate the closure of California public schools through the end of the school year and (2) the April 27, 2020 extension of the “safer at home” / "shelter in place" orders for several California counties through May 30, we have made the difficult decision to keep all Stratford School campuses closed through the end of the 2019/2020 school year, which will conclude on Friday, June 5, 2020.
 
Although we will not be able to bring our campus community together in person in the upcoming weeks, we are planning innovative ways to celebrate the end of this school year, including a reimagined graduation for the Class of 2020. We look forward to sharing more information and details for these upcoming events very soon.
 
Also, given the current “re-opening” indicators from state and local authorities, we are maintaining our plans to host our Summer programs as scheduled. We are working on a comprehensive response plan to ensure the on-campus health and safety of program participants that will comply with best-practices for social distancing, health monitoring, and campus sanitization.
 
We again thank you for your partnership during these challenging times. We believe that together, we are forging a revolutionary path through this unprecedented period that will enable our children to maintain not only educational continuity, but also a healthy and resilient outlook for the future.

March 27, 2020

Dear Parents:

We would like to begin with a sincere note of thanks, not only to you, our parents, for your incredible support and agility during this unprecedented time; we also send a heartfelt thank you to all of the nurses, doctors, medical teams, and first responders for their selfless commitment to keeping our community safe.

As we approach our first full week of Distance Learning … in one word, it’s been inspiring! Inspiring to see how students embrace this new way of learning. Inspiring to see our parents join us as partners in continuing their child’s education. Inspiring that in spite of navigating life under a Shelter at Home mandate, we see the connection and warm smiles of our students and teachers -- all working together to be engaged and passionate about learning in this new way. Nurturing this connection with teachers and classmates is key to helping your child feel secure with a sense of normalcy at a time of serious disruption.

We are also inspired by parents who have taken time to share feedback -- we are listening carefully and in the days and weeks ahead, you will see enhancements to our various distance learning programs based on the constructive feedback received!

Next week, we look forward to augmenting the distance learning schedule with more content and connection. In preparation, you should expect to receive an email from your child’s teacher that provides an outline of coursework and goals for learning in the upcoming week. Please know that your teachers are an email away if you have any questions or concerns. We understand that as parents, you are shouldering multiple responsibilities, and we remain available to help support you and your child through these unprecedented times.

At the time of our March 20 email update, we anticipated reopening our campus on April 20. However, on Wednesday, March 25, several California counties announced the extension of school closures through Friday, May 1. Although we all look forward to returning to our physical classrooms, we are confident that our robust distance learning program will continue to deliver an accelerated learning approach that goes well beyond what many schools are providing, or have chosen not to provide during this critical time. Our distance learning program offers a significant degree of educational continuity. Similar to summer, without a program in place, students can quickly fall behind at a critical time in their education. 

As challenging as this period is for all of us, life will get back to normal, and we will return to our campus. When we do, students who have continuously taken part in our distance learning program will enjoy a seamless transition, and should be well-prepared to matriculate to the next grade level*.

As we shared with you in prior communications that kicked off our Distance Learning Program, our education team has taken a very thoughtful and intentional approach to how distance learning can be most effectively accomplished for the various program levels. For details on the specific objectives, goals and benefits we are targeting for the program in which your child is enrolled, please visit our Distance Learning page here.  

March 16, 2020, 2:15 PM PDT 
 
We have been notified that beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda have instituted a policy of "shelter in place." Our schools will close at the end of business TODAY.
 
We invite parents to come to campus and pick up learning materials and devices before 6:30 p.m.
 
March 13, 2020, 1:10 PM PDT 
 
Dear Stratford Families:
 
In light of the most recent coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, we have made the difficult decision to close school starting Monday, March 16 (see specific notes regarding Middle School below), and transition to distance learning. Although we have been fortunate NOT to have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our school community, we are proceeding as a result of the rapidly changing public health outlook and increasing student absenteeism, which has compromised authentic and engaged learning. Per the preparations we referenced in previous communications, we will transition to distance learning and continue as long as the situation dictates. Please carefully review our Distance Learning Continuity Plan below, outlined by program level (Preschool, Elementary and Middle School). Once Spring Break begins, there will be no expectation of distance learning, as students and families will be on vacation as planned. 
 
We recognize that these times are very stressful. Rest assured that our entire team is working incredibly hard to not only ensure health and safety, but also to provide continuing, high quality education.  We understand that this will take some adjustment, but we will work closely with you as educational partners for your children. We ask for your patience and understanding in these trying times. Let us all work together on behalf of our Stratford children. 
 
Reminder: Travel Guidance and 14-day Self-Quarantine Triggers
In anticipation of regular school resuming after Spring Break, circumstances permitting, we are advising that any students or staff members who travel to an area under the CDC’s Travel Health Notice Level 3 (or with household members who travel to these locales) OR who travel on ANY cruise ship -  NOT come to school for a 14-day period from the date of their return. 
 
We also ask that, once we return, if any student or staff member is alerted to having been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (second-hand exposure), they immediately seek medical consultation, self-quarantine/do not return to campus for 14 days, and notify the school. 
 
Distance Learning Continuity Plan
As outlined in last week’s communication, we have developed plans to provide support for all program levels, as we continue with our current curriculum and shift teaching techniques to a distance learning scenario. We will phase in our Distance Learning Continuity Plan to ensure your family is supported. 
 
Early Childhood (Preschool - Pre-K)
On Monday, March 16, schools will close for early childhood students. The day will be used for faculty meetings, training, and planning. By the end of business on Tuesday, we will begin sharing with you distance learning activities and experiences that will emphasize interaction, creativity and skill practice (children of this age thrive on repetition and familiarity). These activities will utilize some age-appropriate technology and will not need specialized materials. Distance learning for our early learners will remain holistically focused on all developmental learning domains: language, cognitive, artistic, health and physical, and social-emotional, and may be conducted in English or the family’s home language. The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be Kinderlime and email. 
 
Elementary School  
On Monday, March 16, schools will close for elementary students. Teachers will use the morning to collect all workbooks, journals, and learning resources that students might need for the weeks of instruction leading up to Spring Break. The afternoon will be used for faculty meetings, training, and planning. On Tuesday, March 17, you are invited to campus from 8:00-11:00 a.m. to pick up these materials from your child’s homeroom teacher. By the end of business on Wednesday, March 18, we will begin sharing with you distance learning activities and provide direction on how you can best support your child’s learning. Learning activities will include a combination of independent assignments, adaptive learning platforms already being used by students, and live-streamed sessions (using common video conferencing tools like GoogleMeets and Zoom) to maintain the continuity of learning. It is expected that students in Grades K-2 will need higher levels of support than students in Grades 3-5. The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be the Parent Portal and email.
 
Middle School
On Monday, March 16, schools will remain open for middle school students. The day will operate on a normal schedule and teachers will use class time to share with students important information and have them collect textbooks and resources for the weeks of instruction leading up to Spring Break. On Tuesday, March 17, schools will remain open on a modified schedule for students to receive basic technology training on our learning management system (Schoology) and video-conferencing platform (Zoom), collect a Chromebook and charger and retrieve any other textbooks, workbooks, and resources that they may have forgotten. In addition, School Leaders will communicate the details of the modified schedule to parents via email.  Middle School will be closed for students beginning Wednesday, March 18. By the end of business on Thursday, March 19, learning activities will be sent by email and posted to students and parents. Learning activities will include a combination of independent assignments, adaptive learning platforms already being used by students, and live-streamed sessions to maintain the continuity of learning. The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be the Parent Portal and email. 
 
This school closure means that any planned school events and all extracurricular activities from now through Spring Break will be canceled and rescheduled. Upcoming ERB CTP testing will be rescheduled once school resumes.
 
Since the public health situation surrounding the emergence of COVID-19 began to evolve, we have been closely monitoring the advice of experts, and our leadership team has been convening daily to assess the current situation and review our contingency protocols.  It was with intensive, fact-based deliberation that we have made this difficult decision and mobilized our distance learning protocols. We are extremely grateful for the support, resiliency, and compassion of our parents, teachers, and staff as we all work together to make sure we are doing what is right to maintain a healthy and safe school community. We will keep you updated on new developments as they relate to our school community while our campus is closed.
 
Thank you.