Continuous Learning Plan - Kinder-Grade 5
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
La Scuola will begin the school year in remote learning in accordance with city and state health mandates. We are excited to welcome your child(ren) back for the start of learning on Tuesday, August 11 for Kindergarten - Grade 2 and Wednesday, August 12 for Grades 3-5.
We are actively preparing to apply for the Elementary School Waiver that allows K-5 campuses to reopen after showing full compliance with health mandates. We have already implemented all of the health and safety procedures and so we are hopeful and optimistic that students will be learning in-person soon.
On this page, you will see descriptions for both an On-Campus and Remote Learning start to school as well as a Blended Learning option for families not ready to return to campus. We will also provide clarity on grade/campus locations.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this message and we look forward to seeing you during the Q&A or as soon as we are allowed to open our campus.
Lower School Director
KINDERGARTEN, GRADE 1 & 2
Pending the K-5 waiver, we are planning to welcome children from Grandissimi TK, Kindergarten, and Grades 1 and 2 to the Fell campus on Tuesday, August 11. If we cannot obtain the waiver by that date we will begin with remote learning and open campus as soon as we are allowed to. We may be able to offer some in-person gathering outdoors with teachers, more details to follow. We regret that no visitors, including parents, are allowed on campus in compliance with the SFDPH school guidance.
Kindergarten and Grade 1 children will be in pods of up to 12 students and one teacher with each pod. Specialists will meet with pods, and their interaction and frequency will look different depending on the specialist’s discipline. Details will be provided prior to the start of school.
Grade 2 children, who are developmentally more independent than our younger learners, will be in pods of up to 18 students with two teachers in our larger classrooms (this conforms with the guidelines). Grade 2 classrooms are set up with individual student-sized desks with transparent shields. The space is bright, well-organized, and full of healthy plants. Proper ventilation will be in place, including opening windows frequently. We will keep social constructivism and student voice at the center of the learning.
Each pod/cohort will spend their day in a few places: their homeroom, outdoor spaces on campus, and at green & spacious Alamo Square, an entire block in size and a short, 10-minute walk from our campus. Our youngest learners will spend most of their outdoor learning using our outdoor spaces on campus, and first and second graders will have a routine at Alamo Square as well. Since 2014, we have identified a green space for students to visit. It is along the hillside along the Scott street side of the square. Additionally, we have routines for visiting Hayes Valley playground (large, colorful basketball court). Outdoors, we expect to inquire, read, record, draw, discuss as well as exercise, eat, and relax. The environmental studies atelier (our garden and outdoor classroom) established and nurtured by Ayesha, students, parent volunteers, and a passionate faculty & staff, is flourishing at present.
Our school day will have staggered arrivals, two separate entrances (main gate and side walkway at the left of entrance), lunch outdoors weather permitting, learning outdoors weather permitting, and staggered & highly structured dismissals. We will establish frequent hand washing and bathroom routines, and communicate that in advance so you can support your student with this new adjustment. If the summer program is any sign of how children adapt to new routines, which includes wearing face coverings, we have a promising start for the whole community. I pause - to recognize the role parents have in modeling and encouraging new routines - and to celebrate every teacher guiding the children this summer.
GRADES 3, 4, 5
We will welcome Grade 3, 4, 5 students to the Mission campus on Wednesday, August 12. For the very first time, we will have our elementary pods on the first floor while Grades 6, 7, 8 will be on the second floor.
Prior to the pandemic, our Grade 3 and 4 students were scheduled to migrate to the Mission campus for the 2021-22 academic year. However, safely reopening according to mandates and guidelines influenced our decision to migrate these students this year. This possibility was shared in the spring and after a lengthy wait for city and state guidelines we were able to make the final decision this week.
Grade 3 and 4 students will be in pods of 14 with 2 ½ teachers for the grade level of 28 students. Fifth graders will be in one pod of 16 with 2 teachers who also have specialist roles one floor above in Middle School. Specialists will meet with pods, and their interaction and frequency will look different depending on the specialist’s discipline. Grade 4 and 5 students will start or continue our Spanish language program.
An emphasis will be placed on outdoor learning spaces, an optimal mindset during this period as we counter the pandemic. Mission campus outdoor space and garden is expansive and breezy. We will also identify green open space appropriate for inquiry and recreation. Both campuses will be set up with routine outdoor learning in mind.
Arrival, school day and departure protocols will be in place and communicated in the coming days. Classes will start slightly later than Fell’s start time which may support any double drop-offs.
SIMPLE is the New Complex
In my workspace, one can always see a message, “Beauty in the complex” across an abstract design with many layers of colors and images. This year, Simple is the new complex - and we can find immense beauty in that. On-campus schedules across K-2 will have six one hour blocks, with at least 3 daily blocks outdoors (learning, eating, exercising, relaxing). For every transition, we allow 15 minutes for handwashing, bathroom, and lining up routines. On-campus schedules across Grades 3-5 will follow a similarly simple schedule.
Rosters for Kindergarten through Fifth grade will be shared by Friday, July 31.
We fully intend to return to on-campus when permitted by local and state health officials. Our teachers continue to receive professional development that prepares them to quickly and efficiently transition to remote learning if our campuses are mandated to close. We are also offering a blended learning option for families who choose to keep their child(ren) home during these times or are required to quarantine at home for a period of time. Please review these options and respond to our Commitment to Remote Learning Survey to share your preference.
Schedules for on-campus/remote learning will be shared prior to the start of school. In August, we will also schedule Parent Ed sessions that will orient families to our new video conferencing system and remote classroom platform. We will update families about school-issued devices and technology tools we will use this year.
Our spring 2020 pivot and commitment to La Scuola remote learning reflected the relationships and routines that had been established with school and family, and more importantly child and teacher. We weathered a storm, and have gained a perspective from the experience. Which is helpful, as we step forward into this uncertain period around the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Students and teachers will be on-campus for in-person learning whenever permitted by city and state health officials. This learning scenario will mirror a typical day for students and will feature enhanced health measures to maintain a safe learning environment for everyone.
We are being advised that if a waiver is granted then there should not be a further closure so that we would not have to open and close again.
Organizing PODs Across Families
There have been many articles about parents in the U.S. responding to the reality that many schools are required (or have decided) to start the year remotely. The concept of families forming learning PODs is a trending topic. La Scuola parents in the lower elementary have spoken about potentially organizing PODs of students if the school cannot start back on campus, as both a way for students to stay active socially and for parents to be able to focus on work. If a POD of families can figure out a system of sharing the role as Mentor for the POD.
Rosters for class pods will be shared next week, and the idea of parents organizing equitable ways for all children within a single pod to safely interact & learn together can further enhance their remote learning. Feel free to reach out to the school and engage in dialogue.
We will be communicating more campus-specific details in the coming week regarding drop-off and pick-up, what you need for the first day, and other critical information for starting school. In the meantime, please review our Campus Safety Plan for more information.
While our primary goal is to begin school with on-campus learning, there may come a time that our campuses are closed and all students shift to remote learning.
Remote learning will follow our new, simple campus schedule for the school year. Our intention is to promote smooth transitions between remote and on campus. Live learning will happen 8:30 a.m.-noon daily (with developmentally and age-appropriate brain breaks) and resume for 1-3 p.m. Remote learning will include Teachers of each pod and Specialists. Kindergarten through 8th grade will enjoy lunch & recreation break noon-1 p.m. daily.
Enriched remote learning is a model of blended learning, with the enrichment being in-person social interaction and relationship building. If pods/cohorts are learning remotely due to school, city or government mandates to close, we are integrating in-person weekly pod meetups (students and teachers, potentially in our yards) into the schedule. This initiative is in development. Equity, access, and inclusion in our community is a strategic priority at La Scuola, and our initiative will reflect that.
We understand that some families will not feel comfortable sending their child(ren) to on-campus learning and so we are offering this Blended Learning opportunity for families who opt-in by completing the School Reopening Survey sent by email on Friday, July 24.
By Semester(s) or the Whole Year
La Scuola Online is a semester or year-long option for families. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 5 participate in a mixed-age Online pod with a Learning coach who is a La Scuola educator. The size of the Online community determines the age range in each Online pod. The Online program runs parallel to our primary school program on campus.
In coordination with grade-level teachers, the Learning coach designs the Online journey for the mixed-age Online students. Included in this letter is an online survey and we will learn from our community the age range and number of families seriously considering an Online learning program at La Scuola. We can then further design the Inquiry and subject area skill development with our pedagogical team, technology team, and faculty. We are flexible to design a multi-age inquiry for an Online pod, differentiate math instruction, and deliver a skilled program for language acquisition.
For both Blended and Remote Learning, we intend to provide a homework club some afternoons.
Families in Quarantine
Synonymous with quarantine is our frequently used reference, “14 days”. As soon as the start of the year and through the year, families may either be required or make decisions to self-quarantine. Children who miss up to 10 days of school while completing quarantine will be coached to use the classroom platform to access all communication, resources and assignments.
Additionally, teachers and students will conference once each week, while in quarantine. Class recordings may occasionally be uploaded to the platform but we currently do not intend to have live streaming capabilities in the K-5 learning scenarios. After exploring this option and consulting with other Independent schools, CAIS and legal counsel we realize that this is neither optimal nor protective of student privacy. We will explore recording mini-lessons and other engagements in the coming weeks. La Scuola is an international school annually we may have students start the year a few days late due to family travel decisions. The same is the case this August if families leave and return to the Bay Area, their child may start school after the official start. I am happy to speak with families in this situation. Teachers and administration will like to know if you anticipate your child starting school after the official first day of school. Community, relationships, responsibilities, and routines are primary objectives in the first weeks of school - and are foundational to our efforts to weather future storms and uncertainty.
Extended care has historically been an integral part of a La Scuola program, with the goal to provide families with the option for an inspiring, mixed-age, community-oriented, and safe environment 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily. In these circumstances, we continue to evaluate a program we can offer. Please complete the School Reopening Options Survey to let us know your intentions to attend extended care.
END OF SUMMER RESOURCES
For these handfuls of summer weeks, when not in deep discussion, research, or planning as part of the highly committed Leadership Team at La Scuola, I could indeed appreciate beauty (and at times sorrow) in the complex. My summer reading was trans-disciplinary in nature including stories of social justice, mathematics, America’s south, seaweed varieties, a guide to whittling, and finally human learning/machine learning. Interestingly and unknowingly, related concepts and stories interconnected the writing.
- The Source of Self-Regard, Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations by Toni Morrison
- The Math of Life & Death 7 Mathematical Principles That Shape Our Lives by Kit Yates
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- An Ocean Garden The Secret Life of Seaweed by Josie Iselin
- Forest Craft A Guide for Children Whittling in the Woodland by Richard Irvine
- How We Learn Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine … for Now by Stanislas Dehaene