2020-21 School Year & COVID-19 Information
- Update - August 6, 2020
- Update - July 30, 2020
- Update - July 20, 2020
- Update - July 13, 2020
- Town Halls - July 7 and 13, 2020
Our county was placed on the state watchlist on July 29 for failing to meet the criteria of having less than an average of 100 new cases per 100,000 people over a fourteen day period. As of August 3rd, our county's fourteen day average was roughly 140 cases. Being on the watchlist means that a school cannot open for in person instruction. In order to be eligible to resume in person instruction, schools must be located in counties that are off the watchlist for a minimum of fourteen consecutive days. At this point, it seems statistically improbable that our county would be off the state watchlist by August 25th when our first day of school is planned. Importantly, while the state has announced the possibility of waivers that may allow for exceptions even for schools in counties on the watchlist, San Mateo County has not yet determined this process nor published its waiver application yet. We have expressed interest in receiving a waiver application from the county so we can evaluate what is required. At this point we do know that waivers will only be available for students through 6th grade. This means that as long as we are on the state watchlist, there is no path for 7th and 8th grade students to return for in person instruction.
Based on the information we have today from the State Department of Education, the County Department of Health, and current infection rates, we believe that we need to make decisions about how our school year will start for the sake of our teachers who need clarity on how to plan for the first few weeks of school, for our parents who will need to adjust their schedules, and for our students who need clarity on what learning will look like in a few weeks.
As of today, we are committing to beginning the year in remote learning for 3rd through 8th grade through September. The first possible day of in person instruction would be Monday, October 5th. For K-2, we will start remotely while we work through the waiver process. We will provide an update by Friday, September 4th. We are currently awaiting confirmation from the County Health Department as to whether TK can begin in person (falling outside the waiver process), and will provide an update before August 11th. Additionally, we are working with the County Health Department to be able to offer in person community building activities and social emotional programs for students in small groups. In all cases, we will have to evaluate current circumstances at the time, and what is in the best interest of our community.
Please see our Communications page for a video from our Head of School and further details. We will continue to keep our community updated.
As we communicated to our families on July 29, we received word that San Mateo County was added to the state watch list on July 29th. Per state order, this means that schools must open for remote instruction only until the county has been off the watchlist for fourteen days. We anticipate that there will be additional guidance from county health officials in the next few days. Local officials will need some time to develop the processes and systems that will guide us going forward. We are evaluating all of our options, including any possible waiver process, and we will soon be sharing how we will be moving forward in light of this development. We thank you in advance for your patience as we work through this process.
As you may have seen in the news, Governor Newsom made an announcement setting forth stricter regulations for reopening. With regard to health, hygiene, masks and distancing, our requirements already exceed that proposed by the governor. Of note, however, is the requirement surrounding county metrics, which are beyond our control. In order to open, Governor Newsom is requiring that the county not be on the state watch list for 14 days. One of the factors that would put a county on the watch list is if the county has not had 14 days of declining number of COVID-19 cases. Additional metrics can be found here, and are related to the required number of tests conducted per day per 100,000 population, testing positivity percentage, percent change in 3 day average of COVID-19 positive hospitalized patients, percentage of ICU beds and ventilators currently available.
We will continue to monitor these metrics for San Mateo County and advise how this will affect our planning. At this time, we will continue to plan for all options: in-person, hybrid, and full remote learning.
As it currently stands, due to the size of our student body and the classroom and outdoor space we have on campus, we are currently planning for Wornick to be open every day to every student. We know that not every school will have this privilege and we feel blessed that our school will be in a good position to be open. At the same time, school will look very different until a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19 are developed. Many aspects of a typical school day will look different. San Mateo County has articulated four pillars that will guide school openings: health and hygiene, masks, physical distancing, and limited gatherings. Each of these pillars will require that we establish protocols, purchase equipment, explore alternative learning spaces, configure classrooms, adjust our schedules, and much more. It will be a long summer for the Wornick administration and the dozens of teachers who have volunteered their time to help us plan for the coming school year by serving on planning committees and task forces.
We held two town halls on the evenings of July 7th and 13th, at 8 pm over Zoom for parents to learn more about our planning as it develops and to provide the opportunities to ask questions. All planning is of course subject to change, but to view a copy of the slides presented at the town halls, please click below: