Head of School Newsletter - April 23, 2021
Dear CAIS Community,
I’m not much into nostalgia, but I like to reflect on the past and look for useful lessons about the future. As the month of May approaches and as more and more of us are double vaccinated against Covid-19, it is time to look back—not with nostalgia for sure, but rather to assess what we have all learned during the pandemic and how it will impact the future of our school and our community. We have an opportunity to make some deliberate choices about how we move forward, and I’d like to begin the process of engaging our community in this conversation.
I wonder: what has the pandemic taught you? About yourself? About your family? About work? About what is most important in life? About what we want from CAIS as we move forward?
During the month of May, CAIS will ask these questions of faculty and staff, students, parents and trustees. This process will take different forms—we will send a questionnaire to parents. I’d ask you to think about the above questions as well as your aspirations for CAIS and your children going forward. I look forward to working with my colleagues on incorporating the collective wisdom of our community at the end of this extraordinary year, and planning for the future of our school.
Have a great weekend.
19th Avenue Campus Community Questions Answered
Community response to news of our contract to purchase the 19th Avenue Campus has been tremendous. Faculty and families have been very helpful in asking questions that probe details beyond the initial slate of FAQs that accompanied the announcement. We’ll carve out a spot in these newsletters to share 19th Avenue Campus news whenever details develop. To start, below are the new or amended FAQs that have been added to the 19th Avenue Campus information. Please continue to share your questions via this Google Form.
Q: When will the 19th Avenue campus be ready for occupation?
A: Conservatively 2023, looking at the feasibility of an earlier move in, possibly with a phased approach. Stay tuned!
Q: What is the estimated goal and timeline for the capital campaign? What is the estimated amount of the new facility fee and when will that go into effect?
A: We are still determining how much we are comfortable borrowing from the bank. We know that the more we raise from philanthropic gifts from the community, the less of a burden there will be on the operating budget for the future. While the Board of Trustees has voted to proceed with a capital campaign, the goal will evolve over time. We also have much planning to do before determining when, if, and how much we may need to charge for a facility fee.
Q: My main concern is the increased commute for our family to get to school. Will the school consider providing transportation/ buses for kids within the city and/or from across the Bay?
A: We understand! We will study where our community is traveling from to reach the 19th Avenue Campus to determine what kind of demand there is for a school provided service. We’ll also seek advice from other independent schools who have considered offering such a service. As soon as we know more, we will share it with you.
Q: Could CAIS have informed families and prospective families of this potential development earlier?
A: It has long been the goal of CAIS to reunite all academic divisions on one campus. We reaffirmed this commitment in Reimagining CAIS—Our Strategic Vision for 2020-2025. Our long term goal to Reimagine Our Learning Spaces emphasized working toward a future where “CAIS has long term control of its facilities. Our campus is designed and built to support current and future programs that have a transformative impact on learning, community, and culture.” Of course, finding suitable and affordable facilities in the San Francisco area is not easy and we’ve pursued several opportunities that haven’t turned out to be suitable. While it was tempting to tell parents every time we found space that might work, it would have been disconcerting for us to share such scenarios prematurely with our French American neighbors, or our landlords Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep and the First Baptist Church who own our ECD facility on Waller.
Updates from Pandemic Response Coordinator Adam Ross
Now that we are almost one month past the date when COVID vaccines were opened up to school workers, I am happy to report that well over 90% of CAIS faculty and staff are now “fully vaccinated” (i.e., now two weeks past their final jab) against COVID. I speak for many of us that we feel a tremendous sense of relief finally being vaccinated. And since we’re now a week into vaccines being available for all Calfornians age 16 and up, I hope that many of you are starting to receive your vaccines.
Updates to Testing Protocols
I emailed yesterday that, once again, all faculty, staff and students show no detections in our saliva pool testing, and this is a relief knowing that many of us (myself included) feel more comfortable getting on planes, eating out, meeting with other adults who are fully vaccinated, etc. The fact that no one in our adult school community is showing any detections after this break is also welcome news. After consulting with medical members of the CAIS Scenario Planning Task Force this week, we made the decision to suspend weekly saliva pool testing for faculty and staff. Currently, SFDPH has no requirements for testing any faculty and staff in San Francisco schools while we are in Orange Tier, and with so many of us now vaccinated, the Task Force helped determine that adult testing is not a useful allocation of time and resources.
Do know that we will continue weekly testing for students through the end of the year and during CAIS Summer Program camps, since our students are the members of our community who are not eligible for vaccinations currently. Similarly, we will extend the offer for the few unvaccinated adult members of our community to continue participating in this weekly testing.
Guidelines Giving Hope for Adding Back Activities
As I shared last month, please know that CDC and SFDPH guidelines have relaxed somewhat to allow for more freedom of movement, activities, and for implementing careful sharing of materials when students wash their hands. I have been meeting with faculty members in Division Meetings to discuss these new guidelines and the implications for teaching and learning.
Pandemic Response Coordinator
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