Dear CAIS Families,
We know from public health officials that the priority with COVID-19 is not simply keeping ourselves safe, given the increasing level of community transmission in the Bay Area, it’s also about our important role in mitigating the spread of the virus to safeguard our healthcare system’s capacity and protect the most vulnerable and at-risk among us. Accordingly, with the full support of the CAIS Board of Trustees, we are joining with school districts and independent schools across the Bay Area in an extended closure for students beginning Monday, March 16 to help stem community transmission. This decision was also reached in recognition that the behavior of this virus suggests that CAIS would no doubt be experiencing higher levels of absenteeism shortly. In such a case we would be unable to maintain both an in-school and a distance learning program simultaneously; we have decided to prioritize focusing the efforts of our full workforce to deliver the highest quality distance learning program possible. Our plan is to reassess by Friday, April 3 and determine whether or not to continue distance learning or reopen school, realizing that everything we understand thus far points to a longer window for successful mitigation. (Please note that this unfortunately means we will need to cancel childcare offerings for Monday and beyond as well.)
The school leadership, Board of Trustees, and I are keenly aware of work, childcare, and other challenges that school closure presents to families; this is not a decision that anyone has taken lightly. We believe that the sacrifices our school community and others are being asked to make will alleviate suffering and even save lives among at-risk populations.
We have been developing details for distance learning for the past couple of weeks. This planning has also been the focus of our in-service meetings which will continue through Monday, March 16. Our first objective for next week will be ensuring community access to and facility with distance learning technologies, which we suspect will present some initial challenges for families and students. We understand the critical importance of reestablishing our community quickly in a virtual space. Later next week—as soon as we have successfully dealt with the initial challenge of connecting 1,300-plus students, parents, and teachers—we can provide more details about schedules, process, and content. Please look for subsequent emails from CAIS as well as updates on the COVID-19 Resource Hub PowerSchool page. These early days will require patience and understanding from our families and extraordinary efforts from our dedicated faculty and staff. I thank you in advance for your support of your childrens’ teachers.
A few steps that families can take to get ready:
- Follow SFUSD’s recommendation that“families make arrangements for childcare during closure that avoid leaving children with elderly people who are more vulnerable to the impact of the virus.”
- Keep in mind the point made by Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell that school closure“is an imperfect solution, because [public health] experts tell us that unless children stay in their homes away from other people for the duration of the closure, then they still run the risk of potential exposure.”
- Prepare yourself by downloading Zoom on the device(s) that your child(ren) will be using (CAIS-issued Chromebooks at the Middle School had the app pushed to them proactively this week). Contact ITrequests@cais.org with any installation questions. In terms of response time, please keep in mind that our IT Department of four is working hard on building our distance learning infrastructure and handling an exponentially higher load of requests than is typical, but they will get back to you.
- Please know that the three campuses will be open Monday (details to be shared in an upcoming message) for families to pick up any personal belongings or items that students will need during our extended closure.
In this challenging time globally for all families, teachers, and communities, our faculty are working in earnest to provide the best possible learning situation for all of our kids. We’re confident in our ability to do it well and we ask for your patience, cooperation, and understanding as we channel our Perseverance, Courage, and Kindness Firedragons all at once.