Reopening CAIS August 26: Preschool in Person, K-8 in Distance Learning

August 03, 2020

Message from Head of School Jeff Bissell

Reopening CAIS August 26: Preschool in Person, K-8 in Distance Learning

Kindness Core Value Firedragon

At present, the San Francisco Departments of Social Services and Public Health are permitting preschool and childcare programs to operate in accordance with strict recommendations for best practices. This means that unless there are unexpected changes from public health officials, our Waller Preschool campus will open on schedule for in-person learning. Preschool Director Chu Hsi Tseng will follow up with Preschool families to give more details in the coming weeks.

We have not received similar permission for Grades K-8; consequently those grades will begin school in distance learning mode, and we will reassess on or before Friday, September 25.

I am keenly aware that the K-8 news is disappointing for many parents, both within our CAIS community and among our peer schools, many of whom have shared similar updates. If you have been following the school’s ongoing communication about the situation at CAIS and in the City and County of San Francisco, then you are likely aware of all the factors that have led to this determination. I will summarize them here:

  • San Francisco remains under the San Francisco Stay Safe at Home Order which prohibits all K-12 schools from opening for in-person learning.
  • If the Stay Safe at Home Order is amended, schools in San Francisco may resume in-person learning only after our county has been off the State’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. As of today, we are still on the monitoring list.
  • San Francisco has not yet released details for the process by which schools might be granted a waiver and be allowed to open for in-person learning. In theory, this waiver process is intended to enable schools to provide in-person instruction if they are well prepared and able to do so safely. Once this process is defined, it will also take time for the required school applications to be reviewed by the county and the state and a waiver granted.

At some point, in order to be ready to welcome your children back to CAIS on August 26, our teachers need to know what they are preparing for. We believe that point is now as the potential avenues to opening campus for K-8 before August 26 are highly unlikely. Language about “pivoting” and being “nimble” sounds different now than it did in June; platitudes are not particularly useful when it comes down to the eleventh-hour logistics of preparing to launch a school year for 500 children. Also just as teachers and staff need the time and space to make these preparations, our families need an ample runway to make their own arrangements.

I assure you that everyone is focused on the goal of getting back to campus for in-person learning as soon as we are able. We already have plans that meet current SFDPH’s guidance for opening our campus when we receive permission to do so; we have been told that this guidance will be updated soon. I truly regret having to share this news with you—it was very difficult for me to let go of the idea of welcoming all our students back to campus on August 26.