Home About Us COVID-19 Response
Park Day School has created this page as a resource for our community, with links to school communications about COVID-19. Learn more about planning for school reopening in fall 2020-2021. Content posted here will be updated regularly, although ParentSquare remains the primary means of communication for our school community. Questions? Please contact us.
Dear Park Day Families,
On our Community Webinar last Friday, we introduced a new concept at Park Day School: The small, stable cohort. This is one design option for the scenario in which we would reopen our campus to students in accordance with the strict guidance that we are receiving from Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) in advance of a vaccine for COVID-19. The idea prepares for a cohort of students who would experience the school day together without mixing with other cohorts. This plan reduces the risk of community spread of the coronavirus when the inevitable infection or exposure occurs, and allows the school to more easily trace contacts. The goal of this approach is to keep as many students as possible learning and playing on campus in the fall. It will feel different, but we must have student and staff safety as our highest priority for the campus to reopen.
At this time in a typical school year, our staff collaborates to determine class rosters, learning groups and advisories for the fall. They consider many factors such as class dynamics, student learning and social needs, the balance of gender and ethnicity and race, and more. It is an incredibly thoughtful and nuanced process. In our scenario planning, one of our options will continue to be the familiar, two classes in the Lower School per grade level, two learning groups/three advisories in the Middle School. We also have to design for the scenario that we organize our students into small, stable cohorts.
Going into the fall of 2020, the composition of cohorts has new levels of complexity due to health and safety guidance that is rapidly changing. At Park Day, new considerations for cohorts may include families with siblings in other grades, families with flexibility and families with constraints. We intend to hold a diversity and equity lens to this process as well. There are so many criteria to consider that we will all inevitably need to make some compromises as our cohorts form. As we prioritize the effort to maintain these stable groups, we will do our best to manage all of the aspects of the cohorts despite these new challenges. As a result of the complexity and rapidly changing guidance from the county, this year cohorts will be finalized in August.
Under normal circumstances, we try to help families anticipate the new classes and advisories before the school year ends. Teachers, as well, envision their new class rosters and how they will begin to establish new relationships. While they won’t yet know their cohorts, we all know that as our students “step up” on June 8, they will be promoted into a committed and loving team of teachers and specialists. As we plan for multiple scenarios for the opening of school on September 2, our flexibility, patience, and perseverance are crucial to a fresh, optimistic start under the leadership of our new Head of School, Angela Taylor.
COVID-19 has impacted families in the Park Day School community directly and profoundly. As families lose jobs, struggle to keep businesses afloat, and face other economic hardships, we call on our community. Together we can help keep our community intact, and raise funds to keep impacted students enrolled at Park Day, and all students learning safely.
Park Day School has created a Support & Emergency Relief Fund in an effort to bolster the school’s ability to provide support to current families experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and enable the school to provide for other learning and safety needs. The funds raised will go directly to providing financial tuition support for the 2020-2021 school year and provide technology tools to better facilitate learning at home, and enable student health and safety on campus when we return. Please know that every dollar matters and will go directly toward supporting these efforts within the Park Day community. Your donation, if you are in a position to make one, will be supporting not only our families, but our ability to uphold and preserve the inclusive, accessible community that has long been core to Park Day School’s identity and mission.
In the past month alone, the unexpected COVID-19 related financial need at Park Day has surpassed $100,000. As the broad economic impact of this situation becomes more and more apparent, Park Day is committed to raising funds to keep current students enrolled, and keep students learning in safety. Please join our current and alumni families in donating what you can to support the Park Day Support & Emergency Relief Fund, and help preserve our community through this crisis.
Donations are tax deductible. Please watch for a ParentSquare follow-up announcement about this fund, or donate now to the Park Day Support & Emergency Relief Fund.
Dear Park Day Community,
Yesterday the Bay Area County Health Officers announced that the Shelter-at-Home Order will be extended through the end of May. Our discipline and vigilance has made a difference. And our continued efforts are intended to prevent a surge of COVID-19 infections that could set us back in our progress. I am writing to let you know that this order confirms what you may have suspected, Park Day School’s Remote Learning Program will continue through the end of the school year. With this decision, we are aligned with our public schools, and many independent schools.
Our final day of school is still that day you circled on your calendar – June 10. Our final day of instruction will be June 5. We are hosting virtual community gatherings and ceremonies, including Step Up and Graduation, on June 8th – 10th. Also, we are designing systems that will enable students and families to safely pick up personal belongings left at school.
You may be hearing that we are embarking on a “new normal” of social distancing that will impact how we gather and move through space. Indeed, the Administrative Team is not only planning a range of scenarios for the end of school, but also for next fall. Our new Head of School, Angela Taylor, will quickly pick up and lead these preparations when she starts in July. We need to be flexible and nimble, compassionate and communicative as we design our systems and support our community.
Park Day remains anchored in our mission and values. We are a relational community where “dedicated teachers and engaged students collaborate to create a dynamic and joyful learning community for mastering academic and interpersonal skills.” Even in these moments when we are restricted to virtual connections, we remain committed to making learning personal, meaningful, and joyful. We continue to support students’ increasing independence, resilience, creativity, and growth mindset as they navigate their broader range of learning experiences. These challenging times call upon our care for others as our highest community priority, which is why our mission to “prepare students to be informed, courageous, and compassionate people who shape a more equitable and sustainable world” resonates so deeply.
I hope that this message finds you healthy and adjusting to the new family dynamics under the shelter at home mandate. I appreciate you for all of your efforts to maintain our sense of community through participation in Spirit Week, Earth Week, and virtual social hours and play dates. I appreciate you that much more for taking on a much more significant role in your child’s learning. Believe me, we know what a challenge this is, and an even greater one when the student is your own child. This update to the Remote Learning Program is intended first and foremost to address that dynamic.
Our initial iteration of the Remote Learning Program was grounded in values – equity, simplicity, and a holistic perspective. We chose to have a blend of synchronous (video conferencing and teacher attended classroom work times) and asynchronous (independent assignments and projects) opportunities at the outset, because we did not know how accessibility to technology or availability of an environment conducive to learning might factor. We also designed in a way that could allow our educators time to learn about the technology and to navigate teaching from home, as many have children and family members with competing demands for care. The attached infographic illustrates our teacher’s experience of sheltering at home and teaching remotely. I am grateful for your patience and compassion and support as we have now completed four weeks of our program.
Your feedback on our Remote Learning Program has been valuable. As you can imagine, we heard a wide variety of experiences and challenges, ranging from advocating for more scaled back to more expansive programming. The consistent feedback was that you hope that Park Day elevates other treasured parts of our program – positive, productive relationships and high engagement. The joyful connection with teachers and classmates and the immediate support from teachers to meet high expectations on assignments is what is missed in our more remote, independent learning environments.
The most significant shift in this next iteration of the Remote Learning Program is an increased number of more personal student-teacher interactions through Zoom video conferencing. The number of these sessions varies by grade, with older students participating in more synchronous learning than younger students. Some grade levels may have already initiated more invitations with links for live Zoom meetings. Other grade levels are reconfiguring their programs to meet these new expectations to be re-launched next Monday, April 27. The teachers will coordinate so that students will have multiple developmentally-appropriate, live, synchronous video interactions in a range of subject areas throughout the week. In these sessions, there will be time devoted to personal check-ins, direct instruction, and student work time with the teacher present to respond to questions.
We are tipping the balance of synchronous and asynchronous activities towards more structured time with teachers. We do not want our Remote Learning Program to feel like a burdensome homework load or homeschooling. Students will be held accountable for the learning activities that they accomplish in their class sessions, with asynchronous opportunities available to prepare for extending these lessons. We continue to approach this period with compassion and flexibility. While attendance, proper attire, and engagement are expected, the class video conferences will be recorded for a student to view if they have an unavoidable conflict.
We trust that all students are trying their best, want to perform at a high level, and value the support of their teachers. Our teachers are in the process of setting up schedules for the next two weeks for Family Check-In that invite reflection and goal setting for the remainder of the year. Look for a post from your classroom teacher or advisor to sign up. The Spring Summary Report (a modified Spring Progress Report), will reflect the work between January and mid-March, as well as classwork and engagement during the synchronous class sessions.
Our last day of classes is Wednesday, June 10. The administration is currently working on the range of possibilities and contingencies for our end-of-year ceremonies like Step Up Day and Graduation. We are prepared to extend our Remote Learning Program through the end of the school year. We are committed to sustaining the best possible, values-based experience for our students and families. There are still seven weeks and lots of learning ahead. Thank you for your support and partnership.
As of my last communication, the State Superintendent, Tony Thurmond, and County Superintendent, L. Karen Monroe, while short of a directive, gave clear messaging that the public schools should anticipate closed campuses through the remainder of the school year. In my semi-weekly call with the Heads of School in CAIS, we discussed that while many of us closed our campuses before the state mandate, we will likely rely on information from the state and county as to when it is safe to return. We have been told that a new update will come around April 20, after another period of incubation since the shelter at home mandate. Everyday we are learning that our disciplined social distancing is ever more urgent. Park Day is prepared for an extended period of our Remote Learning Program, and is now discussing how we will assess learning with accuracy and equity as a lens as well as our end-of-year ceremonies if we are not able to convene again this school year.
Thank you for your feedback on the Remote Learning Program. We also asked our faculty for their feedback. Our next iteration of the program needs to be sustainable for all stakeholders, while we creatively deepen our engagement. I appreciated seeing the evidence of our empathetic, compassionate community as teachers and families, individually, are wrestling with trying circumstances in your homes. And we are all trying very hard to guide and support the students in this new learning environment. The other thing that I picked up from the surveys is that we miss each other; I miss our students and the energy of our campus very much.
One of the big takeaways from our recent feedback form was a strong desire to find more ways to connect as a community while we’re physically distanced from each other. Our teachers and staff have taken this feedback to heart. One way we’re responding is by launching a virtual Spirit Week at Park Day School next week, April 6 – 10 to strengthen our connection in fun and joyful ways.
We’ve collected creative and engaging ideas for daily themes from students in grades 5th through 8th which will be shared out for the whole Park Day community to participate in during Spirit Week. More information and guidelines will be announced tomorrow afternoon, so watch for that post and plan to get in on the fun with your students!
Park Day School will transition to a Remote Learning Program on Monday, March 16. The campus will be closed to students and families. This decision represents Park Day School participating in the social distancing necessary to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus. While there are no known positive tests for COVID-19 infection in our community, it is important for our community to take this proactive measure. The compelling case for social distancing and for being particularly mindful of our community health habits is made in the resource, Flatten the Curve. Even though Alameda County Public Health Department has not yet made the recommendation to close schools, the CAIS independent schools have been sharing on our listserv this evening that most will move to remote learning early next week.
The actual end of the remote learning plan will depend on the status of the coronavirus in our community. The administration will review the status on Thursday, March 26 to chart the course of learning until our Spring Break in the week of April 13. We need to be prepared for a long stretch. Tomorrow, please remember to bring home from school personal belongings and key materials for learning activities at home. On Monday and Tuesday next week, the students will engage in a Temporary Remote Learning Plan, as our teachers will be on campus training, collaborating, and transforming lessons for digital platforms and independent activities. On Wednesday, March 18, we will confirm and republish our Remote Learning Program that will include digital collaboration platforms, online resources, remote meeting schedules, and lessons and activities. All subject areas will participate, so your student will be engaged in a range intellectual, creative, and physical activities. Also, we are mindful of maintaining our community while we are distanced from one another, so there will be times and platforms when we will simply get together to check in.
I will send more details in the coming days. Thank you for your patience and support.
Since I last updated you about Park Day School’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and private and parochial schools have been making decisions to move to remote learning proactively. At Park Day School, we remain at Risk Level 2, with no known exposures to COVID-19. We do have families and staff heeding our call to stay home if they don’t feel well, and we have others who have chosen to practice social distancing and are staying home to minimize the possibility of transmitting the virus into the family system. The recommendations and guidelines from the Alameda County of Public Health Department have not changed since March 10. The County has a more conservative approach to school closures, wanting students to remain on campuses, for many reasons beyond teaching and learning, such as access to food, shelter, and digital resources. At Park Day School, we are balancing the equity consideration of the hardship on families who will need to care for a young child at home, and our role as an institution in Oakland trying to stem the spread of the coronavirus in our area.
Among the recommendations for schools in our circumstances is to prepare for remote learning. At Park Day School, we are already designing lessons for independent learning, and practicing with online collaboration tools for opportunities to connect with teachers and one another through video conferencing. We realize that while we will be intentionally distanced from one another, we need to be equally as intentional to maintain our sense of community. In the event that we announce a move to remote learning, the campus will be closed to students and families. We will follow a temporary plan for the first three days, using ParentSquare, Google Classroom, Zoom, and online platforms that many of our students are already familiar with. During this time, faculty and administrators will be on campus, training and collaborating to design activities and experiences that can be accomplished in the home environment.
It is important for our families also to prepare. Please know that the health and safety landscape in our broader community and also at Park Day are shifting rapidly, so there will be little advance notice for when we transition to remote learning. In grades 3 – 8 there will be a component of regular online engagement, and our K-2 student will likely engage in online learning at times. Park Day has a set of Chromebooks that students may check out to bring home if necessary. And it is important that not all learning requires electronic devices. One goal is to have students working with a wide range of learning materials. Considering that most if not all schools will move to remote learning at some point soon, there may be a run on school and art supplies that are typically located in school. Also, we encourage our families to have a plan regarding learning spaces in the home and new expectations regarding screen time.
There are so many sources of information about the COVID-19 coronavirus out there that I felt it was important to curate a bit and share some resources that the administration is monitoring. Currently, Park Day School remains at Risk Level 2. Today, March 10, Alameda County Public Health Department updated the guidelines to recommend cancelling non-essential mass gatherings and large community events. So we are in sync. These proactive measures are efforts to slow and decrease the spread of the virus. In the new guidelines, I appreciated the conservative approach to school closure recommendations and the offer of ACPHD to work with any school who has a direct exposure to COVID-19.
Below are select resources arranged in order of broadening communities, from Alameda County to the world. In all of them, there are fundamental disease control fundamentals: practice good hygiene, wash hands thoroughly, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, stay isolated when sick, and practice “social distancing” to reduce possible transmission of the virus.
COVID-19 Information and Guidelines
Alameda County Public Health Department
California Department of Public Health
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Resources:
Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center
World Health Organization
From our new, more vigilant routines to our ongoing interpersonal conversations to all sources of news, the community response to the coronavirus is very present in our lives. Our young students are not only hearing bits and pieces of information, but they are also tuning into our tone and reactions to the news. It can be confusing and unsettling. My intention of sharing regular updates is to marshall community support for calm, deliberate, proactive measures. Yet I realize that this frequency could have the opposite effect to elevate concerns. Below are a couple of resources to support your children as they process the spread of the virus.
I am looking forward to another beautiful, joyful day on campus tomorrow. As I communicate about these serious community topics, we should not lose sight of the fact that the students are building and painting, wondering and debating, playing and celebrating, thinking and planning, laughing and singing, and all that other great stuff. I am excited for even more joy as we get comfortable with a great book or two on Friday for our Annual Read-a-thon.
Our school community has been thoughtful and deliberate in supporting our community health. Thank you to the families who have kept a sick child or family member at home. Your cooperation has helped to keep our school at Risk Level 2. The most recent update (March 8) from the Alameda County Public Health Department has no new guidelines or recommendations.
While Park Day will certainly adhere to our protocols if there is new knowledge of exposure to COVID-19, we also view ourselves as integral members of the broader Oakland community. Because schools are hubs that gather large numbers of potential carriers in close proximity, we could be a mechanism of circulation of this virus. Our school community has a generally low risk population, and it is a value to our larger community to maximize the access to health care and hospital beds for our more vulnerable population. We will make the decisions that we can to maintain our core purpose of educating children while participating in the social distancing that may delay an epidemic.
As of today, Monday, March 9, Park Day School is tightening its restrictions on field trips, co-curricular programs, and special events and community gatherings through the month of March.
These further restrictions are consistent with policies initiated by our peer schools in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While these measures apply to an elevated Risk Level, we have made the decision to be proactive. We are grateful for the hours and hard work that many members of our community have devoted to generate our vibrant programs, which has made this decision all the more difficult. We will review this policy in the week of March 23.
We are continuing with the events that are part of our core program, and cancelling non-essential special events and community gatherings. In the next two weeks here are the events affected:
With the rapidly changing health and safety landscape, we are making decisions to prolong our core program on campus as long as possible. The cancellation of events helps to shift more of our human resources to planning for the possibility of remote teaching and learning. We are also preparing for online/video collaboration that could apply to Family Conferences at the end of the month if the circumstances should require that. Thank you for your flexibility and understanding. I will send further updates as our preparations coalesce.
Park Day School is monitoring daily the spread of COVID-19. The most recent update from the Alameda County Public Health Department was posted on Friday, March 6: http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx. You will see that the recommendations are consistent with how Park Day typically manages community health: stay home if you are ill, practice good hygiene habits, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and objects. The site also recommends that you get a flu shot. Lastly, county recommends planning for school dismissals and potential cancellation of mass gatherings.
The CAIS schools have a weekly conference call to share our responses to COVID-19. One tool that CAIS has distributed is an assessment of Risk Level and associated protocols. In future communications regarding the school’s action steps, I will reference the Risk Level outlined below.
Park Day School, like most schools at this time, is following the protocols for Risk Level 2. The biggest differences between between Level 2 and Level 3 are the suspension of co-curricular programs, the postponement/cancellation of community events, and the restriction of visitors to campus. Park Day School will remain open. If the Risk Level elevates to Level 4, the school will close and we will implement a distance learning program so that we can isolate and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Looking ahead this week, we are going forward with the DJA meeting on Tuesday, the 7th Grade Drama/Humanities Performance and the Read-a-thon Story Hour on Thursday. On Friday, we are excited for our Read-a-thon, a celebration of literacy and fundraising tradition that has been a part of Park Day School since its founding. All of these events fit within our precautions for managing our community health.
Our communication is crucial at this time. I will continue to send updates. Please report any exposure you may have had to a positive case of COVID-19 to Cassandra McCraw. Thank you for your vigilance in supporting our community health.
Thank you for being a caretaker of the Park Day community with regard to our community health. I appreciate that you have heeded advice to be cautious as you assess illness in your own homes and commit to staying home if you or your child is sick. If you are ill, please consider reaching out to your health care provider sooner than you might typically call. We are also attentive to our community’s emotional health, and we are working hard to keep our connections to one another strong at this time. We want to provide as much reassurance as we can to our students and dispel and myths or bias that can surface.
We are closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in our community. As testing kits become more available in local doctors’ offices, we expect the number of positive tests for the virus to spike in the next few days. This is expected. We are learning that some of our peer schools have chosen to close through the weekend as a member of their community had some level of exposure to a person who tested positive. At Park Day School, we are following the guidance/requirements from Alameda County Department of Public Health (http://www.acphd.org/2019-ncov.aspx) and the Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/).
While much of our program and operations are progressing as they have long before the outbreak of the coronavirus, we have instituted additional precautions and procedures because we are in the Bay Area where our degrees of separation from the disease are getting narrower. We have increased our cleaning and disinfecting, and we are more vigilant about classroom routines for personal and community hygiene. Here is a new request for our community health: Please report to Cassandra McCraw if you have had direct or indirect exposure to a positive test of COVID-19. This helps the administration assess what the risk level is in our community.
We are educators and caretakers. If our exposure to COVID-19 becomes such that being together in our learning environment on campus compromises the health and safety of our community and our official advice is that we restrict the campus, then we will implement a remote learning plan. Our teachers are currently developing lesson plans and communication protocols so that we can continue our program at a distance. While we are preparing for the more extreme situation, our focus now is on holding and educating the students in a moment of potential rising fear and uncertainty. We notice that the images and stories of the coronavirus can spur bias and exclusion. We notice that the natural concerns in the adult community are making their way to the young people. We are assuring our students that everyone in our community is committed to keep us safe and healthy. Thank you for supporting this community effort.
As news about the spread of coronavirus intensifies, I am reminded about the importance of community. We enjoy the strength of our community to be advocates for the wellness and social good for all people, and we rely on the tightness of our community to uphold standards maintaining the health and safety of one another. I am proud to be a part of the Park Day community.
We are closely monitoring information about the status of coronavirus (COVID-19). The suggested protocol for airborne disease prevention is consistent with our ongoing daily practices at school: washing hands thoroughly, covering up coughs and sneezes, frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and staying home when ill. At this time, we request that all members of the community – students, staff, and parents (even if just dropping off a child) – stay home if they are feeling ill until they fully recover. It is appropriate to re-emphasize our school policy that, in the case of a fever, a child must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school. We understand that an illness of any sort can be a hardship on a family to adjust the family routine, and for the sake of our community health, we ask you to be cautious in your judgement assessing illness.
We stand ready to adjust to protocols recommended by officials. Our guidance comes from Alameda County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, our school associations, California Association of Independent Schools and California Independent School Business Officers Association, are sharing with all schools protocols and communications.