Elementary Division FAQ - Fall 2020

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

We have summarized some of the common parent questions about what to expect this year in "COVID times." While of course we are subject to any new orders from government and health officials, here are some FAQs based on what we know at this time. We hope it will answer many of your questions.

Q. Is school open for in person instruction?

We are currently back in person for TK and kindergarten as well as all preschool classrooms. We are also open for 1st-5th grade childcare while schools are on mandated distance learning.

As of September 17, the LA County Health Department has projected that they will begin granting reopening permission to elementary schools that can show compliance with strict health/safety guidelines in early November

Q. In the meantime, what does distance learning look like?

Distance learning includes LIVE daily instruction throughout the morning in SEL, Math, Reading, Writing, and Phonics. In the afternoon, specialist classes are also taught live: Spanish, Music, PE, Technology, Art, Animal & Nature Studies.

Here is an example of the elementary distance learning schedule (all BLUE classes are taught live).

Q. What if our school reopens and I am not yet comfortable having my child return in person?

We spent the summer re-imagining campus and classrooms, including putting up semi-outdoor (heated and cooled) learning spaces, preparing to move classes outdoors, and implementing strict health and safety guidelines. 
For any families who have someone at home with underlying health conditions and/or who want some extra time before returning to a group environment, we are offering an extended distance learning option to give families flexibility in their return date. Even after school fully reopens, our Distance Learning Specialist, Kaleigh Tuso, will provide daily live lessons in language arts and math to keep students on track until the family is ready to return in person. We are currently committing to this model until December and will re-evaluate the need at that time. 

Q. What should parents and students expect this fall?

This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some key "COVID era" changes:

    • Class Family Groups - A static group of no more than 16 students with one teacher. The children in each group will learn, eat, play and have specialist classes together but may not physically mingle with others on campus. 
    • Outdoor Learning Spaces - We know that COVID-19 is much less likely to spread outdoors. We have added additional sheltered outdoor learning spaces, including new portable classrooms that are fully heated/cooled and can be open-air on nice days. 
    • Visitor Restrictions - Health officials currently recommend that parents use rolling drop off and do not get out of their vehicles at school. 
    • Physical Distancing
    • Scheduled Hand Washing (and of course as needed)
    • Temperature & Symptom Screening - Anyone coming on campus will be screened for a fever or symptoms. 
    • Sick Policy - Anyone coming on campus must be symptom free (fever, diarrhea, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose) for 72 hours. Out of an abundance of caution, staff/students will need to go home immediately if symptoms occur at school. 
    • COVID-19 Testing - We strongly encourage all families and students to get tested before returning to school and to follow all public health guidelines to protect the health and safety of everyone in our Class Family Group.

Q. Normally the afternoon includes specialist classes: Spanish, Music, Art, PE, Science/Social Studies, Barnyard, Computers. Will these classes still happen?

Yes. The current health/safety guidelines state that it is okay for specialist teachers to come to the classroom. This means that students will still get all specialist classes, but they may not go to the Art Studio, Computer Lab, etc. This is to avoid having multiple Class Family Groups cycle through a shared learning space.  

Q. What about after school classes like Mandarin, Team Sports, Robotics, Art, Drama, Cooking, Speech & Debate, etc.?

These classes are temporarily on hold. Because the current guidelines and best practices suggest keeping students in static groups and not mixing, after school classes are temporarily suspended until we are able to mix or combine groups. We plan to bring these classes back as soon as it's safe. 

Q. I saw that when WHPS reopened in June, campus is now open 8am-5pm. Will you go back to 7am-6pm in the fall?

We hope to be back to regular hours as soon as possible. We know families rely on us for childcare, and we will do everything we can to get back to 7-6 as soon as possible.   

PLEASE NOTE: Because the current guidelines and best practices suggest keeping students in static groups and not mixing, extended care (after the 3:15 grace period) is only for families with critical need. From 3:15-4pm, homeroom teachers will stay with any remaining children. However, this is also the time for teachers to clean/sanitize and make parent calls and Zooms. From 4-5pm, any still remaining children will go into mixed extended care groups outdoors with strict physical distancing. We really appreciate parents understanding and making every effort to pick up by 3:15 if possible. 

Q. What if there is another temporary closure next year?

  • The Class Family Group structure and preventative measures now in place should help us prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the school community. The procedures we now have in place are based on the guidelines for childcare centers that stayed open during March-May
  • If we do have a temporary closure next year, it may only impact one classroom or certain classrooms. 

Q. Will tuition be discounted if there is another temporary closure next year?

  • We are sensitive to the financial impact even a short-term temporary closure has on families. As much as we do understand these costs for parents, the cost of staffing and running school doesn't change for us if we are temporarily on distance learning. If there is a longer closure or further intensified crisis, our board will have to evaluate the situation at that time, but there are no guarantees that we could discount tuition and still continue to have a viable program. We really appreciate families understanding and making sure you are ready to make the annual commitment when you sign on for our program. And, in return, we are committed to offering a high quality program, with or without a temporary closure. 

Q. What else should I know?

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