Elementary Division FAQ - Fall 2020

Written by Seth Pozzi, Head of School on .

We have heard from families with a variety of questions about what to expect when school resumes in fall. While of course we are subject to any orders from government and health officials, here are some FAQs based on what we know at this time. We know this is a long list, but we hope it will answer many of your questions.

Q. Will WHPS resume in person classes on August 17?

On August 4, the LA county health department notified schools that they will not begin granting school reopening waivers until the case numbers in the county drop a bit further. School will start remotely on August 17 and will reopen in person the moment ANY schools can open. 

We are prepared to reopen full time 5 days/week for all students, the moment LA county is off the Monitoring List for 14 days or a reopening waiver is granted.  As soon as ANY school can open in LA county, we are immediately ready to start back 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. 

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

For any families that are not quite ready to return when school reopens, we are offering a modified distance learning option to give families flexibility in their return date. 
  • 1) As soon as we return for in person learning, our Distance Learning Specialist will take over working with any families that are not ready to return at that time. The Distance Learning Specialist 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. 
  • 2) From August 17 until school officially reopens in-person, we will have full distance learning hosted by the classroom teachers and specialists. This includes LIVE daily instruction in SEL, Math, Reading, Writing, and Phonics. Specialist classes will also be taught LIVE throughout the week: Spanish, Music, PE, Technology, Art, Animal & Nature Studies.

Q. What should parents and students expect this fall?

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

    • Face Coverings - REQUIRED FOR EVERYONE ON CAMPUS (We have been open since June 1 for our summer program, and the kids are doing great with masks. Parents, please get your child accustomed to wearing it now, don't wait for August.)
    • Class Family Groups - A static group of 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. With the current restrictions on group size, the average class size will be limited to approximately 15 students (TK-K) and 16 students (1st-5th)
    • Outdoor Learning Spaces - We know that COVID-19 is much less likely to spread outdoors. In preparation for fall, we have added additional sheltered outdoor learning spaces so we can comfortably host classes outdoors as much as possible. 4th and 5th grade classes are moving out of the elementary building into portable classrooms that are fully heated/cooled but 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, students and staff to get tested before returning to school and to follow all public health guidelines. When we come back to school, it is important to protect the health and safety of everyone in our Class Family Group. New CA guidelines released July 17 may require semi-monthly staff testing. LA county is working on making this available to schools as quickly as possible. 

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. 
  • If there is a shift to distance learning, the remote school day will closely resemble the regular school day. Math and language arts will be taught live by homeroom teachers daily, and specialist classes will be taught live at their normal times. 

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. Unfortunately, as much as we do understand these costs for parents, the cost of staffing and running school doesn't change for us. 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?

Please review our current COVID-19 Protection Plan.

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