Dear Saklan Community,
First off, I want to thank everyone for participating in our recent surveys. I know it is just "one more thing," but they are vital to helping us plan for this August. According to the first survey, 85% of families are planning on sending their son or daughter to school this August. The remaining 15% were on the fence to one degree or another, waiting for more information from the School or further developments. These numbers are right in the range of what other independent schools are seeing.
In the realm of further developments, I am sure we have all been following the news. The numbers are not good and reflect a laxness in how we* are approaching this virus. Each increase triggers tighter restrictions at school and the possibility that the government reinstates the stay in place order. Today's behaviors impact death rates five weeks from now, hospitalization rates three weeks from now, and favorable test rates two weeks from now. In short, today's actions will determine our path forward in August. The math is simple; the more we practice distancing, don our masks and wash our hands, the better our children's educational experience will be in August. We are still fully intending on starting classes in person this August; if there is any change to that thinking, we will let parents know as soon as possible but no later than August 10th.
An essential part of our Reopening Roadmap is the "Rights and Responsibilities" section. We are outlining the rights each person has during the pandemic. But more importantly, we can not emphasize enough the responsibilities we have to each other to have a safe and productive school year. Once the Roadmap to Reopening is published, each family will be required to sign a document supporting the rights and responsibilities laid out.
Regarding further information from the School, there is quite a bit, but I will try to be brief. Firstly, the Task Force is on target to submit our roadmap to the Board by the third week of July. After Board approval, we will share it with the community (we expect a quick turnaround time). We will then follow up with a town hall meeting in early August.
As promised earlier, I would like to continue to telegraph some of the significant points of the Task Force's work to help families plan for August. This list is not conclusive but does touch on many of the main points that impact families directly. Details of many of these bullets can be found in our FAQ section or are still being developed. Our FAQ section will constantly be updated as we continue to hone our response. Please send any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All students will need several proper fitting masks that are at least double-layered (masks with valves are not adequate). We strongly recommend that parents get their children used to wearing masks and help them practice wearing them over the summer.
We have set up the learning spaces and capped class size, creating six feet between students.
We are cleaning out our duct systems and replacing the filters with the recommended Merv 13 filter.
We will be running a bus service, but pick-up points and seating space is limited. Fees could potentially double. A survey and more information will go out early next week.
Windows and screens are being repaired and restored to improve classroom ventilation.
We are adding approximately 2200 square feet of outdoor learning spaces to the campus.
Portable handwashing stations and sanitizers will be installed around campus.
Cleaning protocols will meet or exceed CDC guidelines. An electrostatic mister has been purchased and will be used across campus daily.
The school day will be shortened to around 2:00 pm, giving teachers time to support students who need to stay home.
The number of students allowed in the Extended Day program and the hours of the program will be limited.
There will be no early morning Extended Day care.
As noted above, many of these bullets have a more detailed explanation in the FAQ section of the webpage. I want to take a moment to thank everyone on the various COVID-19 committees who have worked tirelessly to ensure that Saklan delivers on its mission to Think Creatively, Act Compassionately, and Live Courageously. Most importantly, to the teachers and staff who are working through the summer planning for what will be a trying school year.
Lastly, the COVID-19 Pandemic is a moving target with new information discovered on a daily basis. Most research released is inconclusive and what we thought was true three weeks ago, is not always true today. We must remain humble in the face of this virus. That said, the prevailing view is that returning to the classroom poses minimal direct risk to the health of children, but does carry a larger risk to society. While children are resilient creatures, keeping them out of school for long periods of time will have significant social-emotional and academic repercussions. The irony that the burden of the pandemic falls heavily on those who are least responsible and least threatened should motivate us to do everything we can to lighten that load.
With patience and hope,
P.S. Just a reminder that Contra Costa County is offering free testing to all, symptomatic or not. Call 1-844-421-0804 for an appointment.
*This is meant to be the societal "we," apologies if it feels like I'm wagging my finger at Saklan.