Covid 19 – Update #23

Dear SDFAS Community,

While the news has been discouraging over the past few weeks with respect to Covid-19 in San Diego, around California and in certain other U.S. cities and states, at SDFAS we continue to work diligently on the development and refinement of plans and contingencies for different possible end-of-August scenarios. Above all, please know with confidence that we will be prepared to fully reopen the campus at the end of the summer, and this in a way that will comfortably accommodate all of our students under conditions that allow for a high standard of physical distancing and ventilation.

We remain 100% committed to offering a full week, full day in-school experience for every SDFAS student who chooses it, assuming public health orders and conditions on the ground allow us to reasonably reopen the campus on Friday, August 28 and then remain open throughout the school year. Of course, we also recognize that many of us hold widely differing (and often changing) feelings about risk and exposure. I would also therefore like to again reassure everyone that parents will be able to choose between an on-campus education or remote learning for their children.

In regards to the above statements and to better understand where the community stands, we anticipate launching another survey of family preferences in a month’s time. It will be important when the survey is launched that every SDFAS family complete one for each student so that we can make final August planning adjustments in a way that will best serve everyone.

Please also be aware that the on-campus experience itself with near certainty has to be designed to itself incorporate a certain number of Zoom-related teaching and learning components in order for the school to successfully implement curricular models in each division that are as safe as reasonably possible for students, faculty, staff and administration. Staggered start and end times, traffic flows, breaks, lunch and recesses are complicated to organize and align across divisions but those puzzles can be worked out. More complicated are issues of school bus transportation, the Girard Gourmet lunch program, after school activities and middle school clubs and electives. Indeed, there may well be limitations on what we can offer within the parameters of San Diego county health safety guidelines and the numerous logistical realities we will all face together. Before and after school Extended Care is also a thorny issue to solve given the need to avoid, once again to the degree reasonably possible, the mixing of established “bubble” cohorts of students. We are presently grappling with these challenges and seeking creative solutions to solve for them at least in part if not wholly. Please continue to be patient with us as we move through this complex process with care and intentionality. We will share with you our more detailed and complete SDFAS Reopening Plan later this month.

A few more thoughts. In the face of heightened anxiety surrounding the pandemic and the national debate about schools reopening, SDFAS is uniquely positioned in terms of its flexibility and on-campus capacity. Our school is blessed with a key advantage that most other schools (public or private) do not have:  SPACE (indoor and outdoor). Our recent acquisition of the Ocean View campus on July 1 (former site of the La Jolla Preschool Academy) affords us additional classrooms that make possible the enlargement of nine different classrooms across Buildings A, B and C on the main campus. The Ocean View campus will also house some relocated administrative offices, providing relief for loss of key spaces in the main administrative building that need to be dedicated for other purposes. For example, the Head of School’s office is being transformed into a Health Center to house an infirmary and work space for our newly-hired full time school nurse (an RN with many years of experience in acute care pediatrics).

If you are interested to catch a glimpse of the early stages of some of the campus renovation work on both the main campus (aka “Mountain View”) and the new campus (aka “Ocean View”), please have a look at the attached photographs taken earlier today during one of my contemplative visits. There is much more to share about other exciting aspects of the campus renovation plan. In due time, all will be shared, once final decisions about most things have been made.

We can’t wait to have the campus bustling once again with happy children who can finally rediscover some kind of normalcy. Despite current conditions, we do remain ever hopeful that this will be possible. In the meantime, let’s all continue to follow health orders and take care of each other.

My best, as always,

Mark