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
- 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
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.
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
March 27, 2020
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.