FAQ

COVID-19

Can we get updates on whether we have had any COVID cases at the school? That's important for parents who are assessing whether to come back to school?

There was one case on campus in one of our three PK summer camp groups in mid-July, asymptomatic, and that group went to a two week quarantine. All camp group members tested negative. As of the beginning of the academic year, there have not been any reported positive cases in any of our 26 classroom groups. There has been one campus positive case with a third party PK janitorial staff worker. Fortunately the timing of that and the context was such that there was no further impact on the school. Very mild symptoms and the worker returned after her quarantine. As a matter of course, as communicated in our Prevention and Reopening Plan approved by the County, the school will always and categorically message the entire SDFAS community if ever and whenever a Covid + case is reported or identified. The school not communicating at any given moment means, fortunately, that there are no positive cases to report.

Friday, November 20th update: SDFAS closed a PK cohort on Tuesday, November 17th with two positive cases among the cohort.

With winter coming, it is more than likely that ALL the kids will have a runny nose at some point. The Covid-19 testing is really painful. I am concerned that we are going to traumatize our children by doing repetitive testing

As concerns the cooler weather of the winter here in San Diego, the school has strongly recommended that all families vaccinate their children and all immediate household members for seasonal influenza. The school offered free on-campus seasonal flu vaccinations to all employees. As far as symptoms being identified during the day on campus (student or teacher/staff member) or at home (student or teacher/staff member), the school anticipates being able to offer beginning on November 30, one-off symptomatic PCR test student swabbing with 24-hour result turn around on campus and immediately, this through the school’s partnership with the EXCITE Lab @ UCSD. The swab method used for this particular good standard RT-PCR test is “anterior nasal” and is absolutely not painful, takes under 60 seconds to do from start to finish, and can be done by a parent or guardian for the child or, upon request and if consented, by our School Nurse. The school is ready for the winter. The testing capacity is in place. We’ve worked hard to put it in place. We are happy to be able to offer it to our student, faculty and staff. Unfortunately, we cannot offer the service to parents or non-SDFAS student siblings.

What does prevent the school to accept a letter from the pediatrician attesting that the symptom is due to a rhino and not Covid-19? The responsibility would be on the medical core and not the school

It is by order of the County of San Diego Department of Health and Human Services – Epidemiology Branch under the authority of Dr. Wilma Wooten, County Health Officer (HHSA office telephone contact for Dr. Wooten: 6195424170) and as also clearly stated in our school’s Prevention and Reopening Plan, that whenever a student displays any of the symptoms on the CDC and California Department of Public Health’s list of known Covid-19 symptoms, that the school require a Covid-19 PCR test negative result and a minimum of 72 hours following resolution of the symptom(s) prior to being permitted to return to school. Our school requires a certification of return of student to campus signed and dated by a parent or guardian, together with a copy of the Covid-19 PCR negative test, in order to return. The only exception are symptom(s) that are medically-attested as “chronic” such as seasonal or permanent allergies, asthma and other such conditions. If knowing the above County and school policy, a parent refuses to have a child tested after symptoms, the parent or guardian could at that point appeal to Mark as Head of School to discuss the reasons for the family’s objection to having a PCR test performed. While the County allows for a symptomatic non-tested non-confirmed case of a student with a symptom to simply choose to remain away from school for 10 days, the SDFAS stated policy in our Prevention and Reopening Plan states that in the interest of both the psychological and physical wellbeing of all community members and in alignment with our school’s core values, that a student with symptoms will be PCR tested as soon as possible with rapid result to the degree possible, and that the result (positive OR negative) be reported to the School Nurse and/or Head of School.

Can parents remind their kids the importance of social distancing while they are in school/class. Teachers do it frequently, but it's more powerful if there's support from parents at home as well.

We will message the community regularly through the Friday Echo Info and, if deemed necessary, by special message from the Division Directors or even the Head of School (in case of major recurring incidents of routine non-compliance).


DISTANCE LEARNING

Could we have Art and PE on Distance Learning?

In PK, we are focusing on core academic curriculum and subject areas during live sessions through language, maths, art and music and prefer to leave PE for outdoor activities with the family. Upon request, the school can offer to families some helpful PE videos that the DL teacher can add into the personalized DL program.

In the Elementary Division, and in Middle School, distance lessons of high quality focused on units of study of music from around the globe are shared with main teachers and DL teachers by practicing artists from the Center for World Music in La Jolla an organization with which SDFAS has had an ongoing partnership for years. As concerns DL Art in Elementary school, the faculty and administration are exploring possibilities.

In Middle School, Art for DL students once per week has been announced and has commenced, with instructor Julie Ducloux. As far as PE activities, any DL student or family who feels that their student at home is not getting sufficient physical activity or training can reach out to the division director and Diesa Seidel to discuss a personalized program with check-ins organized and a schedule to follow.

Could the teachers try to get distance learning students participate more and make sure they understand everything?

The degree to which this is an issue truly varies from student to student. Clearly, some students are far more or far less comfortable in a Zoom distance learning hybrid format than others. With that said, the issue is of absolutely critical importance for each child’s learning and the school and entire faculty validate the concern and are well aware of the challenge. Teacher simultaneous focus on the in-person in-class students with constant checks to invite participation of DL students in real time is part of the solution and as a general rule, now that we are well into the school year, teachers have adapted well to such habits of being when teaching. With that stated and recognized, the nature of the problem and its remedy go well beyond what the teacher controls. The home set-up and DL student’s routines and habits are also very important to cultivate to solve the problem for students who are having difficulty participating due to being less comfortable with the DL or hybrid format. It is important for teachers and parents/guardians/care takers to insist that students keep their camera and microphone switched “on” so they can interact more easily and so that the teacher can view them and gauge their level of engagement, attention and emotional state. One other major development that we are excited about in the Middle School, is the implementation beginning the week of November 16 of a dedicated DL support advisor who will function as a secondary advisor for all DL students together (mixed across the division 6th 7th 8th grades in the same group) to discuss the challenges of the DL format, talk through feelings and concerns, and seek solutions for improvement together on a week-to-week support basis.


HOMEWORK

Could the teachers make sure the homework are noted in the agenda in elementary school?

Please share concerns of this nature with the teaching team of the grade level concerned. We have great confidence that your grade team will be open to hearing this feedback/concern and make any adjustments or modification to processes that are deemed helpful to organizational and learning processes.


RECESS

Given that playgrounds are now being opened in San Diego and throughout California, will this change the way our kids use the playgrounds at school?

Unfortunately, for the safety and sanity of everyone, we will keep the schedule as it is. We prefer not to mix student cohorts at this time.

Why 2nd graders aren't allowed on the playground structures?

The play structure is designed with industry-designed specifications to be used exclusively by PK and K age students of specific weight and size range.


LUNCH

When will the PK students be able to eat outside?

This is something that we could implement, one class each day. One class will be able to eat outside every 7 days.

Could you make sure that the middle school students have shade when they have lunch?

There are areas of shade in all designated recess and lunch areas, perhaps not as much as we would ideally like, but shade all the same. We can explore the possibility of adding more pop up tenting. There are either chairs or portable “surf desks” for students to bring with them from the classroom (extremely light and easy to carry and the school procured one for every single student in grades K-8). It should never be required for students to sit on hot pavement or concrete. If this is occurring, the student should bring their surf desk or request of the teacher to bring it. Sun hats are also encouraged if the sun is a particular issue to a student’s comfort during time outdoors during the day. Students can also talk to their division director through their class delegates to brainstorm solutions together. Areas to lunch or spend recess with shade: – on the MS deck (shade fabrics), by the library (bench), under the trees (surf desk), behind the innovation lab (chairs) – on the black top : bench under the promenade, under the trees and under the shade fabrics – on the field : access to the tree area.


POTTY TRAINING IN PK

We would like feed back about how PK teachers and assistants encourage potty training. Do they encourage each child to sit on potty every 2 hrs?

Yes, our very experienced staff will certainly encourage and gently guide every children to sit on the toilet when they are ready. School alone does not do potty training, it is a focused team effort between families and the school and clear communication between both parties must occur for efforts to be efficient and fruitful.


CLUB TIMING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Would it be possible to find another timing for the Algebra 1 class?

Covid-19 schedule, its implementation and refinement, and the nature of it are such that envisioning the possibility of an elective/clubs program offering and its scope needed to wait until the month of October to understand and determine. We understand and recognize the frustration for those who would have liked to participate in this or that club or elective but already paid for alternative activities for students outside of the school context. We do regret this reality. The pandemic and its impact on normal scheduling and operating procedures have not been fun for any.of us. The best thing to do in these situations is to talk to the instructor and the division coordinator and see what might or might not be possible. In the case of the Math elective, for example, in 8th grade another section was able to be offered on Fridays, in addition to the originally calendared Monday option.


CNED CLASSES ON SATURDAY MORNING

Would it be possible to open the campus for the Saturday CNED classes?

Until such time as public health conditions improve to the degree it is deemed safe for the school to welcome on campus groups of students mixed from our high school communities from around the campus, it is best for the physical and psychological wellbeing of our 9th graders, their families, and their Saturday French class teacher(s). We have just returned to Purple Tier as a County. Hopefully we will only be in this Tier for a short period of time. We will have to wait and see how Covid’s impact on the state of the public health plays our moving forward through the end of the year and into 2021.


OVERNIGHT FIELD TRIP FOR 8th GRADERS

Will you organize an overnight field trip for the 8th graders (National Parks? Washington?)

Great question! We so dearly hope so. We’d take them to the moon on a SpaceX flight and book it tomorrow for early June if we could!!! In all seriousness, we would love to put something together for our 8th graders. They so deserve it. It is just too early to say at this point given ongoing Covid uncertainty.


ACADEMICS

Preschool English - what are the criteria to having in-person lessons with the English teacher? If kids can't have in-person lessons with the English teacher, is the value of the lesson being compromised - would kids be better off with more French or with Spanish from a Spanish-speaking assistant teacher rather than the kids just singing songs in English and being read to virtually (especially when English is a native language for most kids)?

Our dynamic, dedicated English teacher Nathalie Thorpe has taken to this challenging alternative teaching context with gusto and aplomb. Watching her in action brings a smile always. Kids are engaged. She is assisted beautifully by either the classroom teacher or the assistant teacher in the classroom. We must continue this way as of all the options considered, it is the best one, and so far the experiment has exceeded our expectations. The curriculum has not changed. Materials and manipulations are still copious, students creatively engaged with voice, heart and hands, and children having fun as they learn. As ever, Mme Thorpe is reading stories, singing songs, teaching and offering activities with the help of the assistant or the French teacher. She prepares the activities in advance and gives them to the teacher with meticulous explanations at the beginning of each day.

Elementary classes that used to be in French (Robotics and Gym) are now in English due to staff changes at the school. I am concerned that the French content is decreasing.

Regarding robotics: the activity is done with our STEAM coordinator who is American and teaches from home. Please be aware that these lessons are done in TANDEM with the French classroom teacher in the classroom. Students receive robotics and coding instruction in both French and English. Regarding PE, we used to have a French teacher taking care of PE for 1st graders. This year, all French teachers are busy with distance learning in addition to their main on-campus class groups. The solution we chose was to have one of are highly qualified student supervisors (Master’s Degree level education in P.E,, dance, movement, etc.) teach our 1st grade students for their P,E. classes this year. Claudia Escolano is her name. She is a Spanish national who speaks fluent English and has a B1 level in French — a very global citizen linguistically, culturally and in mindset. We do not believe that these two periods of P.E. that aren’t in French this year will significantly impact our 1st graders language acquisition rate. It is a year so rich and dense and exciting with the fact of learning to read and write in both French and English simultaneously. If any individual family remains concerned, please get in touch with Mr. Carlier to talk through the particular concerns in the context of that particular student.

It seems that academic expectations for the students may have been lowered in 7th grade. While it might seem like a good idea to reduce stress on the students in the short run, in the long run they will be better off if they all have been challenged to do their best. As unpleasant as the current circumstances are, they are easy compared with the normal environment for many students in other parts of the world; a school dedicated to preparing multi-lingual, world-ready students should rely on their adaptability and resilience, and insist that they achieve academic excellence.

We are taking stock of students’ progress as we prepare for the first term class councils, tracking curricular rhythm (i.e.: keeping on track with the curriculum) and individual progress. Students benefit from the combination of SEL and rigorous academics and will be challenged to do their best as the year evolves. We know where the students need to be and get to in terms of content and skills within the curriculum. Individual concerns with respect to the particular needs for further differentiation to support learning challenges or any identified or feared learning gaps, or perceived or student-stated desires for enrichment, will be considered and discussed by the pedagogical team and division director on a case by case basis.

Could all teachers enter regularly the students’s grades on FACTS?

This issue has been and continues to be addressed in meetings and the grade book on FACTS has been updated.


LIBRARY ACCESS FOR PK STUDENTS

When is the library being opened?

At this time the library is closed. Our librarian still works with each class of students on a schedule, either outdoors or by Zoom. She also regularly prepares book boxes for each classroom so that students have access to media materials. Parents are invited to use our virtual catalogue to borrow books.

In order to reserve books for your children, you will need a login and a pin. Send an email including your first and last names as well as your email address to library@sdfrenchschool.org, and Anne Ricart will create them for you.
Once you have made a reservation (click the ‘Reserve’ button under the picture of each book cover), the librarian will be notified. The books will be checked out in your name and you’ll receive an email letting you know when the books will be handed to you (usually at pick up time).
More information on the library webpage.


PARENT-TEACHER SCHEDULE

I understand scheduling PT conferences were extra hard this semester, but having them during regular class time for DL students was not the best way to go about it, as they missed valuable teaching time that week.

We will think through and consider the more optimal ways to do this for the February parent-teacher conference time. The feedback is appreciated.


BULLYING

I think there should be some serious discussion on bullying especially on social media and/or chat groups. I think this is a very important topic and it should be a continually discussed and monitored.

We are aware of the seriousness and importance of this issue for all students in our school at every grade level. The Responsive Classroom approach provides a consistent, shared and consistently reinforced message from grade to grade and division to division. Students are engaged regularly around these topics in morning meetings, advisory meetings, dedicated SEL time and whenever particular incidents occur that lead to a need to reinforce messages, expectations, and the boundaries and requirements for student comportment within a school community on and off campus and in life in general. Consistent and routine message to students is as follows: it is important to act with empathy, not rush to summary judgment of others, express one’s feelings in ways that respect the human worth and dignity of every person. It is not required to be best friends or even close friends or even just friends with anyone. No one is forced to be friends with others. At the same time, at all times on and off campus, online or in live interaction, students are expected to act with respect of themselves and respect of others, despite any differences or lack of affinity. This means being at all times, polite, cordial and respectful in choice of actions or words. Speaking hurtfully, negatively or in a berating way to someone else or about someone else is simply not OK and does not align with our school’s, or any healthy school’s core values or behavioral norms or boundaries of acceptable comportment. Students are regularly reminded of this and the topic frequently addressed. Students are reminded that if and when they feel mistreated, intentionally hurt, disrespected or intentionally excluded or snubbed, especially repeatedly or in a way that feels spiteful or targeted, that they must reach out to a trusted teacher, administrator or other adults on campus. As concerns behavior online, a format that we all know pre-teens and teens use often to communicate even more it seems than on the phone, by Zoom or other online video format (GoogleHangouts or FaceTime or WhatsApp video conferencing, etc.), our STEAM Coordinator-and-advisor tandem led digital citizenship curriculum lessons are structured to explore topics surrounding language use and behavioral boundaries of acceptability and conformance with the law, which must indeed be constantly revisited and reinforced within all areas of school life by all advisors, classroom teachers and division administrators.


DRESS CODE

Is the dress code enforced?

Yes, the code of conduct is still applicable as during any school year. And, as always, we request parent vigilance and ongoing discussion at home about how students dress and present themselves at school during the pre-teen and and early teenage years (a time of boundary testing, identity seeking, and experimentation with appearing more “adult-like:” Parent reinforcement of what is OK and not OK to wear in a school setting is critical. Parent awareness of and supervising of how children are dressed when they walk out of the door of the home serve to prevent shame, embarrassment, anger and conflict at school if a student arrives to schools dressed inappropriately. Likewise, parent support of school interventions when necessary so that we can all work together to educate around this issue whenever an infraction occurs are necessary for us to cultivate healthy norms in this area. These statements apply equally to boys and girls.


TRANSPARENCY

There seems to be a lack of transparency between decisions made by the school and little regard for parental input.

From discussions privately with certain parents, as Head of School, I gather that this may be referring to the process of selecting a Head Room Parent for the Preschool division. The Head of School reached out to a bilingual room parent who was not new to the school and invited that person to take on the role. That parent agreed. It is true that in this Covid-19 reopening, with many things to juggle, this was not a transparent approach to the process. I have discussed this with a few concerned parents who have expressed feedback about this. We agree. The recent history of our organization is that we are in the process of rethinking and restructuring our Community Association (the name of our parent volunteer organization). And, this restructuring process and rebuilding the organization from the ground up was effectively halted in mid-March 2020 when the campus closed due to the arrival of Covid-19 in San Diego. Moving into this Spring of 2021 and into the 2020-2021 school year, room parent, head room parent, community association leadership, and other critically important parent-involvement, school community support and volunteering roles will be made much more clear and transparent in terms of nomination, expressions of interest and selection process. And, unlike these processes, a calendar and timeline will be established that avoids haste.