• Friday, July 24, 2020

Reopening CAIS - Weekly Update July 24

Dear CAIS Community,

This week’s newsletter is long—it contains a great deal of detailed information; I encourage everyone to find time to read the portions relevant to you in their entirety.

In the wake of successive news whiplashes from the State and County over the past several days, I am providing you with a more detailed snapshot of our current scenario planning for the 2020-21 school year at each division level. I characterize recent days as whiplash as we have had alternating waves of encouraging and discouraging news from the media as well as government and public health sources at both the state level and the San Francisco City and County levels. At CAIS this has felt like trying to dance to an irregular beat. I characterize our scenario planning as current, as we are in an environment in which we can really only see out about two weeks; things are constantly changing. Last Friday, for instance, San Francisco County was placed on the State’s “monitoring list,” yet in the days that followed our county met the threshold to get off the list (three consecutive days of meeting the thresholds warrants removal). Then on Thursday, San Francisco failed to meet one of the thresholds—whiplash. In order to resume in-person learning, our county needs to be off the list effectively for 17 consecutive days. Trends in California and San Francisco County have been discouraging in recent days, keeping us on our toes during the day and awake at night. 

With the sands shifting beneath our feet, we continue to plan for a variety of potential realities. The particular mode we find ourselves in at a given time often won’t be within our control, and we likely may have to transition between the different models depending on the government and public health response to conditions in the larger community. Nevertheless, we must be ready to move in whichever direction best fits the guidance. Accordingly, below are some details on how the different models are shaping up by division.

I am extremely grateful for the time, energy and intelligence that our division leaders and curriculum directors have put into the development of scenarios that prioritize health and safety, student learning, and CAIS family needs. We are lucky indeed to have these folks working on behalf of our community: Chu Hsi Tseng, Britta Pells, Kim Kaz, Joe Williamson, Adam Ross, Kevin Chang, and Cristina Calcagno. 多谢!


 

  • Early Childhood Division Plans

    Preschool (Waller Campus)

    As we have mentioned frequently before, orders and guidance for our Preschool program are different from K-12. We are expecting updated guidance soon, and we are cautiously optimistic that we will be permitted to conduct on-site, in-person school for our 3- and 4-year-olds. We would go to a distance learning model in Preschool only if required to do so by local or state officials. Accordingly, Preschool Director Chu Hsi Tseng and Head of Early Childhood Britta Pells have focused primarily on planning for on-campus learning for our preschoolers. Details are as follows:

    • Preschool children will be organized into six small, stable, self-contained cohorts.
    • Each cohort will be taught by dedicated teacher/TA teams.
    • We will strive to keep the cohorts of students and teachers consistently intact throughout the school year.
    • We will maintain a 50/50 Chinese/English model for 2020-21 with children remaining in the same classroom.
    • Additional Chinese and English faculty are being hired to accommodate the additional cohorts.
    • Each cohort will have its own space, approved by the Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Department. 
    • We will have a staggered pick up and drop off schedule to reduce exposure between and among adults and children.
    • We are creating a second outdoor play area near the upper parking lot to maximize outdoor time for children.
    • All adults will wear face coverings and strive to maintain six foot distance from one another.
    • We will encourage children to wear face coverings, learning from experience and monitoring public health information on best practice.
    • A group of CAIS Preschool educators will be meeting with Chu Hsi and Britta next week to further flesh out our on-campus plans. 

    We all recognize the challenges of distance learning for preschool children, and we are cautiously optimistic that local officials will allow Waller to remain open independent of K-12 regulations. Our current focus is on in-person learning, but we will update you on distance alternatives—both for families opting to keep their children home and in the event of a mandated preschool closure—in the coming days.  

    Grades K-1 (Oak Campus)

    We are planning an on-campus model and a distance learning model for our K-1 students. Consistent with our frequently stated commitment to prioritize on-campus learning for our youngest students, we would go to a distance learning model only if official local and/or state sources indicate that it is advisable to do so.   

    We are striving to maintain a high degree of consistency and continuity across both models in order to minimize disruption and inefficiency in the event that we are required to toggle between them, specifically, for both on-campus and distance learning models:

    • Students will be organized into small, stable, self-contained cohorts that will remain together with the same teachers for the year, whether on campus or in distance learning mode.
    • At current enrollment levels there will be five kindergarten cohorts, each of which has dedicated Chinese teacher/TA and English teacher/TA teams.
    • At current enrollment levels there will be four 1st grade cohorts with one dedicated Chinese and one dedicated English lead teacher for each cohort.
    • Faculty will be assigned in such a way that accommodates smaller-than-normal cohorts. 
    • We will maintain a 50/50 Chinese/English model.

    K-1st Grade On-Campus Model:

    • Cohorts will remain in the same classrooms with English and Chinese faculty traveling between cohorts every other day.
    • In Kindergarten the teacher and TA will divide teaching responsibilities for on-campus students and those who are absent for any reason.
    • For first grade and above several faculty members will be designated as “flex” teachers whose responsibilities will include supporting students who are absent for any reason.
    • Special classes (eg, Art, Music and Movement) will be taught in multi-week rotations, eg, students will have either Art or Music and Movement during a given rotation. Specialist teachers will travel to classrooms and remain embedded with the same grade-level cohorts for several weeks before rotating to a new grade level.
    • Outdoor space (eg, the Hickory Street playground for which we have exclusive use rights for 2020-21) will be fully utilized throughout the day for recess and PE.
    • Chinese and English learning support specialists will continue to support students on campus and at home.    
    • Drop-off and pick-up schedules will be separate from French American and staggered to reduce contact between cohorts.

    K-1st Grade Distance Learning Model:

    CAIS would shift to a distance learning model only if official local and/or state sources indicate that it is advisable to do so. This could either be a mandated home isolation period for a cohort or a whole school closure
    • Students and faculty will remain in their on-campus cohorts for the purpose of consistency and continuity.
    • Details for distance learning instructional design will follow in subsequent notices.

  • Lower School Division Plans

    Grades 2-5

    We are planning three models at the Lower School: 1) on-campus, 2) distance learning, and 3) hybrid (alternating on/off campus) to prepare for a variety of conditions and requirements outside of our control.

    We are striving to maintain a high degree of consistency and continuity across the three models in order to minimize disruption and inefficiency if we are required to toggle between them, specifically:

    • Students will be organized into small, stable, self-contained cohorts that will remain together with the same teachers for the year, whether on campus, distant learning, or hybrid.
    • At current enrollment levels there will be 4 cohorts for each grade, each of which will have one dedicated Chinese and one dedicated English lead teacher (number of cohorts may change depending upon enrollment).
    • Faculty will be reassigned to accommodate these additional smaller-than-normal cohorts. 
    • We will maintain a 50/50 Chinese/English model.

    Lower School On-Campus Model

    • Cohorts will remain in the same classrooms with English and Chinese faculty traveling between cohorts every other day.
    • Several faculty members will be designated as “flex” teachers, whose responsibilities will include supporting students who are absent for any reason.
    • Special classes (e.g., Art, Music and Movement) will be taught in multi-week rotations, e.g., students will have either Art or Music and Movement during a given rotation. Specialist teachers will travel to classrooms and remain embedded with the same grade-level cohorts for several weeks  before rotating to a new grade level.
    • Outdoor space (e.g., the Hickory Street playground for which we have exclusive use rights for 2020-21) will be fully utilized throughout the day for recess and PE.
    • Chinese and English learning support specialists will continue to support students on campus and at home.    
    • Drop off and pick up schedules will be separate from French American and staggered to reduce contact between cohorts.

    Lower School Distance Learning Model

    CAIS would shift to a distance learning model only if official local and/or state sources indicate that it is advisable to do so. This could either be a mandated home isolation period for a cohort or a whole school closure. 
    • Students and faculty will remain in their on campus cohorts for the purpose of consistency and continuity.
    • Details for distance learning instructional design will follow in subsequent notices.

    Lower School Hybrid Model (Alternating On/Off Campus)

    • Students and faculty will remain in their on campus cohorts for the purpose of consistency and continuity.
    CAIS Lower School would follow a staggered schedule in which approximately 50% of students would be on campus every day.
    • Cohorts would follow a predictable four-day rotation with two days on campus and two days distant.
    • Absent students will be supported in a hybrid model, as there will always be a distance option within the four-day rotation.    

  • Middle School Division Plans

    Grades 6-8

    We are planning three models at the Middle School—1) on-campus, 2) distance learning, and 3) hybrid (alternating on/off campus) to prepare for a variety of conditions and requirements outside of our control. Facilities and staffing limitations as well as recent science surrounding COVID-19 transmissibility with older children make a 100% on-campus model less likely for CAIS Middle School in the short term.

    Middle School On-Campus Model

    • If it is deemed advisable by state and local officials to have all students on campus at the same time, students will be divided into cohorts based on the original academic section to which they were assigned. As with the hybrid model, cohorts will meet in an assigned classroom and teachers will come to them to provide instruction. 
    • Drop-off, pick-up, break, and lunch will all be scheduled so as to not compromise the separation between cohorts.
    • As stated earlier, facilities and staffing limitations, recent science surrounding COVID-19 transmissibility with older children, and the required size of cohorts make a 100% on campus model less likely for CAIS middle school in the short term.
    • Given cohort size, distancing guidance, facilities and staffing limitations and growing research about transmission among older children it is possible that Middle School would remain in a hybrid mode even if Early Childhood and Lower School divisions return to 100% on-campus learning. 

    Middle School Distance Learning Model

    • While on-campus instruction is definitely preferable, we found that the Middle School students did quite well when in distance learning mode this past spring.  Due to their age, ability to self-schedule, and their high level of proficiency with technology, students in the Middle School demonstrated a high level of learning and achievement with distance learning.
    • Based on our extensive development and success with the Middle School Distance Learning model from last spring, we would continue to follow the Middle School’s eight day ZHONGMEI schedule with teachers providing synchronous and asynchronous instruction during their assigned class meeting times.  
    • Students will receive assignments as well as find invitations to Zoom class meetings through PowerSchool. Completed work will be submitted through PowerSchool and SeeSaw.
    • All teachers will have office hours when students may have small group or one-on-one communication with teachers when they need extra help.

    Middle School Hybrid Model (Alternating On/Off Campus)

    CAIS would shift to a hybrid design if local or state guidance permitted it.
    • In the hybrid model, students will be placed in cohorts of 10 to 12 students.  Each cohort will have an assigned classroom when on campus, and faculty will come to their classroom to provide instruction. Cohorts will be consistent in all three models so there will be no additional exposure if we move from one model to the other. In addition, we will strive to create cohorts with an awareness toward siblings in ECD and Lower School.
    • Student cohorts will alternate two days on campus followed by two days at home in the hybrid model.
    • Each cohort classroom will have a Swivl camera to allow teachers to live stream their in-person class so students who are absent can still attend via Zoom.
    • Drop-off, pick-up, break, and lunch will all be scheduled so as to not compromise the separation between cohorts.


     

  • Aftercare Registration

    We are committed to trying to provide school-based child care outside of normal school hours to those families for whom it is essential in order to be able to work outside of their homes. We are knee-deep in the work of putting together small, stable cohorts of students, and one of the driving criteria is childcare; we are trying to cohort children together whose families know they must have childcare. Based on our early survey, we have an indication of which families fall into this category, but we also realize things may have changed since that time. Next week our Auxiliary Department will send out child care registration information, and we are asking that you attend to it as quickly as possible. The information will enable us to arrange our student cohorts in a way that will help to avoid mingling between and among children from different cohorts. We ask that when you receive child care materials that you register only if it is truly essential for your family.   


       

  • Reliable School Reopening Resources

    For those of you who might find it useful, I want to make a suggestion for one way to streamline your consumption of relevant information about school reopenings. There is a lot of background noise, not all of it reliable or even relevant. Here are three reliable, go-to sources that you might want to bookmark on your browser:     

    1) The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) document COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California. This document lays out the State’s criteria for allowing schools—both public and private—to open and close. Whether or not CAIS is permitted to open for in-person learning is dependent on meeting the criteria laid out in this document.

    2) The CDPH County Data Monitoring site. The CDPH maintains a chart of California counties and indicates whether or not the counties are meeting gating criteria that are considered in determining whether schools should open or close. A county must meet all the criteria thresholds for 17 consecutive days in order for schools in that county to open for in-person learning. On any given day you can consult the chart to determine whether or not San Francisco county meets the threshold. At the time of this writing, San Francisco is not meeting the thresholds. In order to be removed from this list, a county must meet the thresholds for three days in a row.   

    3) The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) document Guidance for Reopening TK-12 Schools for In-Person, On-Site Instruction. This document lays out guidelines for how we should operate school in a way to maximize the risk management if the State and City/County permit us to open for in-person learning.


     

  • Parents and Guardians Zoom Town Halls

    We are inviting you to a series of Zoom meetings scheduled by grade during the week of Monday-Friday, August 3-7 (see links below). Head of School Jeff Bissell will be joined by division heads to discuss the planning process for the upcoming school year. 

    We appreciated the family feedback shared through the recent survey on Distance Learning. If you have additional questions about any topics regarding Reopening CAIS, we ask you to submit them using the form links below in advance, if possible, so that we can prepare. There will also be an opportunity for questions at the meeting. Thank you, and we hope to see you there.


    2nd and 3rd Grade Parents Dialogue with Kimberly Kaz and Jeff Bissell

    Monday, August 3, 4:00-5:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
    Please submit questions for the 2nd and 3rd Grade Parent and Admin Dialogue in advance via this form 


    4th and 5th Grade Parents Dialogue with Kimberly Kaz and Jeff Bissell

    Tuesday, August 4, 4:00-5:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
    Please submit questions for the 4th and 5th Parent and Admin Dialogue in advance via this form


    6th-8th Grade Parents Dialogue with Joe Williamson and Jeff Bissell

    Wednesday, August 5, 4:00-5:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
    Please submit questions for the Middle School Parent and Admin Dialogue in advance via this form


    Kindergarten and 1st Grade Parents Dialogue with Britta Pells and Jeff Bissell

    Thursday, August 6, 4:00-5:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
    Please submit questions for the Kindergarten and 1st Grade Parent and Admin Dialogue in advance via this form


    Preschool Parents Dialogue with Britta Pells, Chu Hsi Tseng, and Jeff Bissell

    Friday, August 7, 4:00-5:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
    Please submit questions for the Preschool Parent and Admin Dialogue in advance via this form


     

  • Chinese American International School

    www.cais.org

    Early Childhood Division (Preschool) | Alice A. Carnes Center
    42/52 Waller Street 
    415-655-9362

    Early Childhood Division (K-1)
    and Lower School (2-5)
    150 Oak Street 
    415-865-6000 

    Middle School (6-8)
    888 Turk Street 
    415-349-7201 

    San Francisco, CA 94102

Best,

Jeff 

Jeff Bissell
Head of School 


Adam’s Corner
Updates from Pandemic Response Coordinator Adam Ross

Greetings, everyone. I am taking some space in these weekly newsletters to detail my recent work as Pandemic Response Coordinator since the start of June, and to explain the procedures and operations I am working on to streamline preparations for reopening our CAIS campuses. In June, I also took part in a 25-hour online workshop with Joffe Emergency Services in Pandemic Coordinator Training, as well as MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with Johns Hopkins University in COVID-19 Contact Tracing. 

Over the past month, I have been working on the following:

• Developing an Operations Manual for Reopening our Three Campuses
• Developing “Return to School Agreements” documents for the CAIS community to understand our shared role in mitigating risk to keep CAIS students and employees safe
• Onboarding Magnus Health to create digital solutions for families to submit health forms, agreements and daily symptom tracking surveys
• Liaising in regular meetings with CAIS, FAIS and NCIS staff to coordinate activities at 150 Oak
• Leading the search for CAIS’s School Nurse
• Taking part in the COVID-19 Task Force and leading the CAISPRO Team” (Pandemic Response Operations Team)

I will provide weekly updates as we plan for the start of school in August, whether that be in full classroom, hybrid or distance learning models. In the meantime, I invite parents to review our current news and planning at the Reopening CAIS main page and the three associated pages detailing our Underlying Philosophy, Risk Management Planning and Learning & Teaching by CAIS Division. These pages will continue to be updated, so please do check them regularly. As always, if you have any questions about our efforts to reopen, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Thanks for reading!