• Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Looking Ahead to 2020-2021

Dear CAIS Families,

Usually in this final week of school I am bidding everyone a farewell, signing yearbooks, and telling kids “have 75 (or 74 or 76) nice days!” Now is different, though. Wow, is that ever an understatement.

I want to do several things in this email. Many people whose views I respect have told me, “your emails are too long, just make one point and that’s all.” I know they’re right. I’ve tried. Not very successfully, I’m afraid. I get it, you scroll down your phone and are, like, “Really? Again?” Then the traffic light turns green, the impatient person behind you honks, and most of the email goes unread (the best part, I’ll have you know). However…in this email I want to update you on:

  • Our work toward opening as planned for the 2020-2021 school year

  • Communication to expect from CAIS over the summer     

  • The work of the COVID-19 Scenario Planning Task Force

So please keep scrolling.

  • Working to Open As Scheduled

    The Scenario Planning Task Force (see details at the end of this email) has set a number of helpful stakes in the ground for planning purposes. While being fully aware that things can change, we are working with the following understandings: 

    Opening Day: We plan to begin school for on-campus learning on August 26 as scheduled, assuming this is consistent with local and state government and public health authorities guidance at that time.

    • Meeting Families’ Multiple Needs: Recognizing different levels of health and comfort, we are exploring multiple ways to serve students both on campus and at home for at least the initial several weeks of school; the need for various options will be reassessed regularly during the pandemic. Serving students on campus and at home simultaneously is extremely challenging, and teacher bandwidth and fatigue are major factors. We will keep you up to date and ask for your patience as we endeavor to design ways to serve the entire community.

    Prioritizing Early Childhood On-Campus Experience: We will prioritize resources to achieve 100% or close to 100% on-campus learning for our youngest learners (i.e., preschool - 1st grade) for whom distance learning has been most challenging. We would like all students on campus for as close to 100% as possible, but our ability to do this will be impacted by government and public health guidance around cohort size.

    Following Trusted Sources: We will base all planning and decisions on guidance from the following authorities, in order of specific to general: the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), San Francisco Department of Social Service (DSS), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The guidance addresses screening criteria, hygiene routines, PPE, disinfecting, distancing, cohorting, quarantine, definitions of close contact, etc. This will all be laid out in a planning document that will be shared with the community by the end of the month (see below).

    Cordoning Off Our Space for Safety: At the 150 Oak campus, CAIS and the French American International School are working on a plan to divide all indoor and outdoor spaces for exclusive use by one school or the other, including stairwells and elevators. This agreement on exclusive use of space will sequester CAIS students and staff from French American students and staff to minimize close contact with people unaffiliated with CAIS.

  • Keeping You In the Know Throughout the Summer

    • First, I need to ask you to continue checking email regularly. The Task Force, CAIS leadership team, and the Board of Trustees will be working through the summer on issues related to COVID-19 and school reopening, and there will be information that you will want to know.

    • Beginning next week I will send out a weekly information roundup on Fridays in order to make the dissemination of information more predictable and manageable. Having said that, there will likely be some information, surveys, etc. that come out in between, so still check your email.  

    • Last night Britta Pells and I, along with a few CAIS trustees from the Task Force, held a Zoom meeting with PreK parents. I am in the process of organizing similar live events for grade bands in the coming days and weeks—please look for this schedule in a forthcoming communication. 

    • The Task Force and leadership team are committed to publishing an outward-facing version of our Reopening CAIS planning document by the end of day on Friday, June 26. This will not be a static document—the situation is evolving, including regulations and guidance from public health and government authorities. We will continue to work through July and August to refine and improve our planning as the situation evolves.


  • Scenario Planning Task Force

    As you know we have assembled a Scenario Planning Task Force in order to plan for and create conditions that mitigate risks associated with COVID-19, so that CAIS can deliver on the mission, vision and values of the school in multiple scenarios. Here are the members of the task force:



    Skill Set

    Steve Bajc CFO/COO Strategy/Finance/School Operations
    Jeff Bissell Head of School Strategy/Education/School Operations
    Daniel Fettinger Director of Technology Technology
    Andrew Harvill NCIS Director of Facilities Facilities/Logistics & Operations
    Bryant Jenkins Parent/Trustee Strategy/Finance/Facilities/Logistics & Operations
    Kim Kaz Head of Lower School Education/School Operations
    Daniel Klingebiel Director of NCIS Facilities/Logistics & Operations
    Paul Kocher Parent/Trustee Strategy/Finance/Facilities/Technology
    Dr. Ben Lui Parent/Physician Medical/Public Health
    Britta Pells Head of Early Childhood Education/School Operations
    Mary Powell Parent/Board Chair Strategy/Law
    Tim Reitz Director of Communications Communications
    Adam Ross Reopening CAIS Coordinator Logistics & Operations/ Education/ Technology
    Dr. Monique Schaulis Parent/Physician Medical/Public Health
    Chris Tom Parent/Trustee Strategy/Law
    Chu-Hsi Tseng Preschool Director Education/School Operations
    Joe Williamson Head of Middle School Education/School Operations

    The full Task Force meets weekly and CAIS-employed Task Force members meet more regularly to address an array of issues aimed at managing and mitigating health risks to our students, staff, and families in order to deliver on our school’s mission, values, and vision. 


  • Chinese American International School


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

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

    Middle School (6-8)
    888 Turk Street 

    San Francisco, CA 94102

Perseverance Core ValueThank you for persevering (a CAIS core value) to the end of this email. I hope you have found the information to be valuable.  




Jeff Bissell
Head of School