Dear Wornick Community,
We write to you in late July amidst an ever changing health and safety landscape and a national conversation that is increasingly centering around our students and our teachers. As we hope you had a chance to see and hear in our town halls, our entire professional community has been hard at work over the summer to prepare for the school year. There has never been a time when school teachers have been so invested in preparing throughout the summer and the involvement of our professional community is a testament to the strength, dedication, and soul of our Wornick team. If you missed our town halls, please visit our 2020-21 School Year & COVID-19 Information page to view the slides presented.
As you may have seen in the news today, 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.
As of the writing of this letter, San Mateo is not on the watch list. However, given recent numbers, it is possible that San Mateo County will be placed on the watch list in the coming week. 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 we continue to plan for the school year, we need your input. We know that many of you are still deciding on whether your student will be coming to in-person instruction in just over a month. We also know that many of you are waiting to see what community spread looks like by the start of school before making a decision. Finally, we know that some of you are waiting on our final plan, which will be published August 5th before making your decision. We are trying to stay as flexible as possible in our planning, although we also know that the landscape has changed since we last surveyed our parents. We would greatly appreciate it if you could answer a very brief survey by July 23rd. In the survey, we are asking parents to indicate their choice of in-person or remote learning based on the information they have today. These choices are not binding, they are just meant to help us in our planning for the school year.
Finally, many of you reached out to us over the past few weeks asking about groupings and sections in each grade. Since we released our hiring for next year and our sections in April, things have changed as a result of the health and safety requirements. We would like to share that Kindergarten will shift from having two cohorts to three cohorts next year. In 1st through 3rd grades, there will be two cohorts in each grade. 4th and 5th grades will each be in single cohorts in large spaces that can accommodate a 6 foot distance between each student. 6th through 8th grades will also be in two cohorts each per grade.
We are working with our teachers and staff to ensure that our plan best meets the needs of our students and balances the health and safety of our professional community. The health and safety of our teachers is paramount in our planning, and we are committed to working with every teacher with regard to their health and safety needs. Additionally, your feedback on the number of students who will be using the hybrid remote option versus the number who will be attending in-person learning will be critical to our planning and balancing of cohorts. We appreciate your understanding as our planning continues to respond to the changing environment that we find ourselves in.
We are also pleased to announce that we have some incredible teachers that we are adding to our team next year:
To support the additional technology needs of our school and the increase in cohorts in Middle School, RM Pellant will be joining our team as a Technology Coordinator and Middle School Humanities teacher. RM comes to Wornick with over twenty years of experience in the independent school world. He most recently served as the head of the Information Literacy Department at the prestigious Breck School in Minneapolis. He previously worked at the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, and also worked at international schools in Tbilisi, Beijing, and Kuwait City. His wife, Daisy Pellant, is the new Head of School at Kehillah High School in Palo Alto.
Kendrice Newman will be joining Wornick as a Middle School Math Specialist. Kendrice most recently served as the grade level Math lead teacher in the Excel Charter School Network in Boston. She has been teaching math for the past six years and has a Graduate Degree in Math Instruction from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Lara Walklet will be joining our school as the Director of Jewish Life and Jewish Studies Teacher. Lara previously taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Tehiyah Day School, and served as the Coordinator and Director of Education at the Diller Teen Fellows program in San Francisco. Most recently, she ran the Dor L'Dor Israel program at Eli and Bessie Cohen Camps in the Boston area.
Hadar Elazar will be joining the school as a Hebrew teacher in the lower school. Her family is relocating to Foster City (two of her children will be at Wornick!) from Israel. Hadar most recently worked as a Physical Education teacher in Israel with a variety of ages. She also taught Hebrew at the Jewish School in Vienna, Austria several years ago.
We are also sad to announce a staff departure from Wornick. After five years of serving Wornick magnificently, Chelsea Mandell will be moving on to become the Director of Education (6th through 12th grade) at Temple Beth Am. As many of you know, Chelsea started Rabbinical School last year and her desire has been to move into a more pastoral role in a synagogue. She is leaving Wornick having grown tremendously over her time at our school and having contributed magnificently both in the classes she taught and to a Jewish culture of mindfulness and righteousness. We are so grateful to Chelsea for her contributions and wish her well on the next phase of her journey.
I've included a short video of the new teachers who are announced in this message. We look forward to greeting them when they join our school in just over a month!
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!
In health and partnership,