Planning for Online Learning; Parent Events Now Virtual
We hope each of you is doing well. As the COVID-19 epidemic situation evolves, it is normal for all of us to feel anxious as we navigate untested and uncharted waters. This is why it is important for us to work together as a community to stay current and informed with this ever-changing situation.
For the past weeks, we have been communicating with the SF Health Department and collaborating with other Heads of School from the Bay Area and CA Independent Schools about keeping our community safe and preparing for potential school closure, and, most importantly, how we ensure that student learning remains educational and engaging if we move to an online format due to potential mandated school closure. We are closely monitoring the situation and taking steps that are in proportion to current, known risks and in line with up-to-date health department and city and state authority guidance. We have also made plans designed to protect students, staff and parents from social stigma and discrimination.
Please know that we are following the SF and CA Public Health Department recommendations to determine if a school closure is appropriate. We appreciate your thoughtfulness and concern and strive to keep the dialogue transparent and our community healthy. We continue to take actions rooted in science, facts and the knowledge shared by these reputable sources. If anyone in or close to our community tests positive, local health authorities are mandated to notify us and work with us to establish next steps, including potential closure. Leaders at many San Francisco Bay Area PreK-8 schools are in agreement that although some private high schools are preemptively closing, we serve a different population of families and children, some of which rely on us for care and instruction.
I would like to share with you the steps we continue to take this week to ensure a safe and healthy campus with new visitor requirements, virtual options for our remaining March parent events, and ensuring that learning continues to be engaging and transformative through alternative methods if La Scuola is to close for a brief or extended period of time.
Health Response Plan - Level 2
While we continue to monitor local health agencies and news from the SF Mayor’s Office, the World Health Organization today has labeled COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. This is not a surprise, and on Monday our Leadership Team with the support of La Scuola’s Board of Directors elevated our school to Level 2 (Moderate Risk) after announcements of increased cases in San Francisco over the weekend. Following our Health Response Plan, we are immediately implementing the following procedures:
- Students, faculty, and staff must stay at home if they are exhibiting signs of acute respiratory illness symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as fever, coughing, and/or shortness of breath
- Students, faculty and staff will be asked to report immediately to Dani Sollberger and to either get tested or self-quarantine according to CDC guidelines if they have been exposed to an individual confirmed with COVID-19
- Students, faculty and staff will be asked to report immediately to Dani Sollberger and to self-quarantine according to CDC guidelines if they have traveled to a Level 3 risk area or higher in the past 14 days
- Increased cleaning of the school with continual disinfecting throughout the day and deep cleaning on campus every week
- Virtual options made available for all non-essential scheduled events and gatherings including Parent-Teacher Conferences
- Campus open only to La Scuola students and parents; and
- Access for all others by appointment and interview at the entrance only
New Sign-in Process for Visitors
All three campuses are now open only to La Scuola students and parents and access for all others will be by appointment only. All visitors must go directly to the campus manager and complete a Visitor Questionnaire form asking if you have traveled to a Level 3 or higher risk area, if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms in the past several days or if you have been exposed to someone that tested positive for COVID-19.
Virtual Options for Parent Events
We are following the direction of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and offering virtual options for our upcoming Language Immersion Night on March 17 and Student Success Team Supports and Procedures Event on March 31. Our team is developing a webinar-style presentation in which parents can follow along at home, submit questions digitally and interact with our team virtually. We will be sharing more details with you in the coming days.
We are also offering virtual options for upcoming parent-teacher conferences. More details will be shared with you from your Campus Division Head in the near future.
Continuity of Education
During the past week, our Leadership and Learning teams have developed Continuity of Education Plans that will continue to engage our students and maintain their learning through alternative methods should La Scuola be advised by health authorities to close our campuses. These remote learning plans will be shared by each Division Head.
Preparing for School Closure
Per the CDC, we will be making school dismissal and cancellation decisions in coordination with our local health officials. While we have no current plans for immediate school closure, it could occur in the event of 1) a La Scuola student or employee testing positive for COVID-19 2) a La Scuola student or employee’s direct exposure to a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, or 3) a mandate by public health officials. If anyone in or close to our community tests positive, the health authorities are mandated to notify us and work with us to establish the next steps, including closure.
This is not a decision we take lightly as we believe, and studies show, that children are actually safer by attending classes and the burden on families who do not have the ability to work from home or afford child care is greatly diminished. This would be different if the COVID -19 is shown to be especially threatening to children. The CDC has provided Frequently Asked Questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on children.
In the case that your child or a household member has an underlying condition that makes them vulnerable, we encourage you to consult your doctor about school attendance. We will support any families who choose to keep their child at home. Our Division Heads will work with you on a home learning plan and waive attendance requirements on a case by case basis. As a reminder, attendance IS NOT required in Preschool.
Everyone: Do Your Part
The best way for all San Franciscans to reduce their risk of getting sick, as with seasonal colds or the flu, still applies to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Do not come to school if sick.
- If your child has chronic health conditions, consult your doctor about school attendance.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your cough or sneeze (in your sleeve!).
- Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes.
- Try alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump or wave.
- If you have visited an area identified by the CDC at Level 3 or higher, follow CDC guidelines for self-quarantine and ensure individual illness symptom-free per CDC recommendation prior to returning.
- If you have recently returned from a country, state or region with ongoing COVID-19 infections, closely monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials and follow CDC guidelines.
- There is no recommendation to wear masks at this time to prevent yourself from getting sick.
You can also call 311 and sign up for alert service for the City of San Francisco’s official updates: text COVID19SF to 888-777.
You can also prepare for the possible disruption caused by an outbreak:
- Prepare to work from home if that is possible for your job and your employer.
- Make sure you have a supply of all essential medications for your family.
- Prepare a child care plan if you or a caregiver are sick.
- Make arrangements about how your family will manage a school closure.
- Plan for how you can care for a sick family member without getting sick yourself.
- Take care of each other and check-in by phone with friends, family and neighbors that are vulnerable to serious illness or death if they get COVID-19.
- Keep common spaces clean to help maintain a healthy environment for you and others. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly with disinfecting sprays, wipes or common household cleaning products.
We understand the uncertainty of the situation and appreciate if you can direct any questions or concerns whether school policy-related or otherwise directly to Dani Sollberger and continue to refer to our COVID-19 Resource page.
There are many unknowns surrounding this rapidly evolving situation and we thank you for your patience and partnership as we navigate it together. Though the uncertainty about how severe this virus will be and who this will impact creates fear and stress for many, let us not forget to treat each other with kindness, respect, and solidarity and hold on to the values that our community stands out for.
Valentina Imbeni, Ph.D., Head of School
& La Scuola Leadership Team