Even while campus is closed, school remains open and learning will continue in new and creative forms.
Despite the uncertainty of this time, we embrace the opportunity to navigate new terrain, seek new strategies, and pioneer new formats for personalized learning. Students will also benefit from continued contact points and connections in the process. Your flexibility and patience as we all acclimate to this new learning environment is greatly appreciated!
how is head-royce approaching Distance Learning?
We use the term “distance learning” deliberately because we do not believe that meaningful learning opportunities should require students to sit isolated in front of a screen for hours each day. Instead, our approach is for students to maintain connections with each other and their teachers, and to engage in authentic learning experiences across all disciplines. Although distance learning will never replace the direct contact students have with their teachers and peers as members of the Head-Royce community, it will allow students to continue to move forward in their academic studies and nurture relationships with peers and trusted adults.
How will I know when distance learning ends?
Our Head of School and Division Heads will be in regular contact with the community via email and on our website with updates and we will use our Emergency notification for either continued school closure or re-opening.
Resources for Keeping Kids Engaged at Home
In the video below, HRS parent and Good Morning America contributor Becky Worley shares tips on keeping kids engaged at home during quarantine.
- Head's Update: May 3, 2020 (VIDEO)
- Head's Update: April 17, 2020
- Head's Update: April 3, 2020
- A message from our Board Chair: April 15, 2020
- An update regarding campus re-open date: March 25, 2020
- Head's Update: March 23, 2020
- A message from Board Chair Tejal Patel: March 20, 2020
- Email to Families: March 12, 2020: Campus Closure + Remote Learning
- Preparing for Remote Learning: March 9, 2020
- Email to Families: March 3, 2020
- Email to Families: February 26, 2020
- Email to Families: January 28, 2020
My view -- The Japanese Maple in my yard in bloom!
I hope you were able to enjoy a quieter pace during last week’s pause from classes and are once again finding your bearings as we wrap up a full month of HRS at Home. Spring seems to have officially arrived this week, with clearer skies, warming temperatures, and new signs of life more readily apparent. While I know that we are all experiencing a very real sense of collective grief for all that has been lost since Covid-19 became a part of our daily lexicon -- from the significant human toll to the loss of many of the daily relationships, rhythms, and rituals that serve to sustain us -- I am heartened by nature’s new signals of growth, renewal, and hope before us.
At this time of year, our thoughts always turn to our end-of-year traditions, as we anticipate the culminating student celebrations in every division -- graduation and promotion ceremonies, specifically. Our leadership team has been looking closely at all spring events, with a commitment to preserving our most beloved end-of-year student traditions -- albeit in a reimagined format. We will be able to offer more details soon but in the meantime, please be assured that we will creatively explore all of our options, both virtual and in-person, and remain undeterred in our desire to (safely) honor our student milestones in ways that feel meaningful. Division Heads will soon be sharing their plans for spring events as they become finalized.
I hope things are feeling more stable on the homefront with this week’s launch of Distance Learning Phase 2, including revised schedules and added synchronous learning time and support. As our Board Chair Tejal Patel '86 mentioned in her letter earlier this week, we are mindful that current circumstances are impacting all of you in different ways. We have heard from many of you asking how you can help support our students, faculty, and families in need. Moving forward, all gifts to the Annual Fund through June 30 will be used to support Covid-19 response and relief for those most impacted within our HRS community. If your family is in need of hardship support, details regarding options and resources will be shared in this Sunday’s eLines.
The last several weeks have challenged us in ways we could not have anticipated, yet I have also found that there is much to be grateful for. I have seen teachers and parents forge positive and trusting bonds, and our families show up for one another in generous ways. If you need a little spark of joy in your day, you might want to watch this week’s Lower School assembly for just one example of our creative use of technology to strengthen community bonds. As our last day of school (June 3) draws nearer, I invite you to join me in seeking out these moments where the true character and values of our community shine through--Indeed, there is goodness to be found amidst the great challenge of this shared moment in our history. I leave you with words from one of my favorite writers, Mary Oliver: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
P.S. A poem for you all:
by Billy Collins
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Just a few short weeks ago, we were all still together on campus. On our last day, March 12, we said goodbye to our in-person interactions…for now. While I am so very thankful for the many ways students and adults are connecting through our virtual interactions, I am missing the beauty of a face-to-face conversation and seeing our students on campus every day. However, I take comfort in knowing we are all doing what we must do to reduce the odds of spreading the virus, increase the odds of flattening the curve and allow our world to have some breathing space during this unprecedented health crisis. I am continually reassured and inspired in the many ways our community has come together to support one another. Thank you--we are indeed all in this together.
I’d also like to acknowledge Governor Newsom’s announcement of public school closures through the academic year’s end. As we are an independent school, this announcement is not a formal mandate for us, but I believe it’s important to follow this plan until we receive specific guidance or directives from government and local public health officials to allow us to return to campus. We will continue to provide our distance learning plan through the end of the school year, and are confident that revised schedule developments will benefit our students. Certainly, if we can safely use our campus for meetings or events this spring, we will do so with careful protocols. I will continue to update you via regular emails, and please look to weekly eLines and our COVID-19 and Distance Learning webpages for further updates.
So, as our distance learning program extends through the spring, we are all adjusting to the “new normal.” I am incredibly proud of and grateful for our highly-capable faculty, staff, and administrators who turned on a dime to create an effective distance learning plan. Now knowing that students will continue to learn remotely, all three divisions gathered feedback from students, employees and parents to create Distance Learning Phase 2, which will begin upon our return from Spring Break on April 13. The revised schedules, which will be shared in eLines this Sunday, include increased synchronous learning time and additional faculty touch points throughout the school day for all divisions.
In addition to academic classes, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Alumni Office are offering creative online programming hosted by alumni. This past week, Myles Nye ’99 hosted two "Friday Funtimes" sessions, leading Upper School students in an array of engaging and interactive virtual games while Olivia Won ’14, a KQED Food Writer and Producer, demonstrated how to make a delicious French omelet.
Amidst this time of uncertainty, I want to reassure you that there are many parts of our school operations that continue to run as smoothly as ever, as I’ve noted below.
Admissions: Two weeks ago, we sent admissions acceptances to the capable students who applied for our 2010-21 academic year. It was a robust applicant pool with many highly-qualified students. As of last Friday, we are fully enrolled for next year and look forward to welcoming new families and students to our community.
College Admissions: On the other end of the Head-Royce journey, as of April 1st, our seniors have heard back from all their colleges and are celebrating their great options. As they look towards the month ahead, seniors (with the help of the College Counseling Office) will explore and rediscover their choice--through the use of alumni connections and virtual tours-- and make a final decision by May 1.
Hiring: Lastly, we continue to hire for needed fall teaching positions, ensuring that we have a robust team to meet our needs next year. We are also holding on hiring for any new non-essential positions in order to be attentive to our school budget and future financial considerations. We will share the details of our hires over the summer, but the administration and I are thrilled and reassured by the interest from applicants for our school.
I invite us all to take a collective deep breath and celebrate that we have made it through the first three weeks of distance learning together. Next week’s Spring Break will allow our students and faculty to take a well-deserved break and reset for the next phase of teaching and learning, while staff and administrators will continue our work on school operations. School is officially “closed” on Monday to allow everyone a formal break from screens. We recognize that many working parents will not get a “break” next week and have put together a set of spring break resources to help keep students active and engaged throughout next week and to offer some respite for working parents. Look for the link in Sunday’s eLines.
Thank you all for your feedback and positivity as we navigate these uncertain times. I look forward to checking in again when we “return” from our break.
Finally, I leave you with a poem that has been circulating. It resonated with me as we consider how we will look back on this unique period in our history and in our world.
Please take good care over the next week,
Dear HRS Families:
For 133 years, our School has been a rock for many, and through trying times we have always maintained a focus on our core mission and values. As we return from spring break and enter the final two months of school, I write to you with an update from the Board on our involvement in supporting the School and to share a few details of our sustained dedication to our community––faculty, staff, students, and families.
Our Mission and Values
The Head-Royce Mission of Scholarship, Diversity, and Citizenship continues to inform the decisions we make every day. First and foremost, our focus on Scholarship prioritizes providing our students the best possible educational experience that we can offer. We were deeply proud to witness the faculty, staff, and administration quickly pivoting to launch K-12 distance learning in just a few days. And while the first few weeks were not without kinks, we have seen them flex new muscles, innovate the academic program, and roll out improvements as each week unfolds. We return from spring break to refined schedules based on valuable feedback from faculty, students, and parents. A work in progress, we expect our faculty to continue to hone their classes to keep students engaged while building the skills, habits, and mindsets that are aligned with our mission and Strategic Plan.
The Citizenship and Diversity pillars also remain central to our work during this period of remote learning. We donated our emergency preparedness supplies to Highland Hospital, including 800 masks and gloves.The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has found creative ways to engage virtual alumni speakers and the Heads Up program will continue in an alternate format, ensuring our ongoing commitment to the Heads Up students. As a first priority for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, we made certain that all students had the technology at home to access an online education. We have also continued DEI discussions and have provided professional development to encourage creation of culturally responsive distance learning experiences.
While the implementation of our Mission may look different in our current environment, the School is committed to keeping all core elements intact and moving forward in new and creative ways.
A Commitment to Our Employees and Families
The Board is deeply committed to supporting our Professional Community during these times of uncertainty––helping to provide a safe environment and resources for them to do their best work. When this crisis began to unfold, we quickly moved to protect the health and safety of faculty, staff, and administrators. Currently we have a small essential team of Facilities, Custodial, and Security workers tending to physical campus needs. Whether on campus or working from home, a number of staff members are now working part-time; nonetheless, we will maintain all employees at full pay and benefits through the entire school year.
We also recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting all of you in very different and profound ways. We have heard from many of you asking how you can help support our students, faculty, and families in need. Moving forward, all gifts to the Annual Fund now through June 30 will be made available to support COVID-19 response and relief to help those most impacted within our Head-Royce community. If your family is in need of hardship support, details regarding options and resources will be shared in an upcoming eLines.
Careful Financial Stewardship
One of the primary roles of the Board of Trustees is to provide fiduciary oversight of the School. Our COVID-19 Task Force has been working closely with Crystal Land and her senior team as they review scenario planning, budgeting, and evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic now and in the future. We are looking closely and deliberately at every aspect of the School, to ensure careful stewardship of your tuition dollars and maintaining high educational value for our families.
As our students and Professional Community return from spring break, we are aware that distance learning will require a sustained effort from all of us, especially as we navigate our end-of-year traditions. The “new abnormal” will test our patience, flexibility, and creativity, but as we come together in support of each other, I am thankful for this community.
I hope you are all staying in good health and send my best wishes as we patiently await the time when we can all be back together on campus. If you have any questions or feedback for the Board, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Tejal Patel ’86
I am writing with a brief update on the status of our remote learning plans, given this morning’s announcement from the Alameda County Office of Education about their decision to extend all school closures until May 1, 2020. The decision was made in collaboration with seven Bay Area county health offices, including Alameda County, and a cohort of local school superintendents in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent.
While we had hoped to return to campus after Spring Break on April 13, we will now extend our Distance Learning Plan until Friday, May 1, with the hope of returning to campus on Monday, May 4. Please keep in mind that we will need to remain flexible, as this date could shift per the recommendations of public health officials. We share in the desire to act proactively to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff, and will keep you informed as information becomes available to us.
As I shared in my update earlier this week, I am incredibly appreciative of our faculty and staff, who have been working swiftly and creatively to use this short-term opportunity to rethink and advance online learning and leverage existing technology to create a rich learning experience in all divisions.
With remote learning now extended, we will continue to make refinements to our programming, ensuring that our teaching and learning is as meaningful and productive as possible. We have sent surveys to students and employees this week to understand what is working well so far and identify areas for improvement. Please look for a parent/guardian survey link in eLines this Sunday—your feedback will help to inform our work moving forward.
Please note that the week of April 6 will remain a Spring Break week, with no formal classes in session. This pause will give us time to refine our distance learning practices, schedule, and technology to ensure the highest-quality experience for the new, longer duration. Our K-8 faculty is also working on compiling resources for spring break activities, which is coming soon.
Thank you for your ongoing partnership and flexibility as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time together.
Head of School
This past week has been “otherworldly” as we all adjust to working and learning remotely. While I so miss seeing our students, I’m also very appreciative of the dedication, care and creativity of our professional community as we make this unique and challenging situation work as well as possible. Many of our faculty, admin and staff---as well as many of our HRS families-- are somehow juggling caring for their own children and parents in addition to working remotely. I want to acknowledge that it’s not “easy” in any way, but necessary for all of us to mitigate the impact of this pandemic in our community and in our world, and to continue to offer our Head-Royce program from a distance. I continue to be grateful for the resources and care in our community through this time.
While our campus is officially closed to both students and adults, our school and learning continues to operate remotely on many levels. We are also continuing with “regular business” as much as possible, including sending admissions decisions and advancing our hiring for the fall. I hope you watched the video shared in yesterday’s eLines of highlights from our first week of distance learning.
I know that many of our families and students are wondering when we will return to campus. Here’s what we know: Following Gavin Newsom’s recent statements and the need to slow down the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, we will be sheltering in place for a few weeks at least. We don’t yet know the end date, but the Board and I are projecting in short time blocks (a few weeks at a time--through April 13 for now), and will continue to regularly reassess. I am doing all I can to stay informed including joining CAIS Heads and Alameda County Public Health Dept calls multiple times a week to gain more information. Additionally, our internal Crisis Management Team meets three times a week. I plan to offer brief updates like this one to families every Monday, so please keep an eye out each week.
I’ve heard many stories of how we are navigating with remote work, schoolwork support, childcare, extended family care, and being housebound. Our faculty members shared some of their strategies, which included lots of neighborhood walking (and with dogs), virtual yoga, gardening, cooking, meditation, video chats, and reading. My neighbors with small children asked every house on our block to hide “rainbows” in our windows and yards for family scavenger hunts yesterday afternoon. It was a sweet moment to join and to observe!
In addition to regular communication from your teachers and divisions, our communications department has been hard at work creating content to strengthen our remote connections. You’ll be hearing from me and the division heads weekly--and we will continue with eLines every Sunday. In addition, we are featuring a new Instagram campaign with the hashtag #HRSatHome, designed to capture the highlights of learning during this time. Despite all the uncertainty and anxiety, I have been struck by our deep sense of community and shared purpose. I’ll leave you with Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center article on Eight Acts of Goodness Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak.
I sincerely hope you are finding ways to sustain your families and selves through this time. Please take a moment to reach out to let me know how you are doing. I’ve appreciated the emails and updates.
Take good care,
Head of School
Dear HRS Families:
On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I would like to extend heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for how our entire Head-Royce community has come together -- from parents to the HRS Professional Community, to our students. Everyone is doing their part to support each other during these very uncertain times.
As our first days of distance learning kicked off this week, we have been so impressed with the commitment you all are making to navigate this new way of learning outside our normal classroom settings. We know this has not been easy for any of us. The time and effort that the faculty and staff have put into the planning and execution of this new way of teaching and learning is clearly apparent. And, as a parent of a middle schooler, I know how challenging this shift to distance learning can be at home, and I am grateful to all of you for your partnership at home as we go forward. If you feel inspired to offer a word of thanks or appreciation to a teacher or staff member who has gone the extra mile this week, I know it would be gratefully received.
In addition to the administrations’ careful attention to monitoring local and national trends with COVID-19 and developing distance learning plans, the Board has also been in close contact with Crystal and the school administration to ensure we are all closely communicating through these unique times. The Board has also set up a COVID-19 task force, which will be meeting with Crystal each week to address this ever-changing environment.
Our whole community is balancing a great deal - from working from home to managing your families - and we are all so thankful for your ongoing commitment to Head-Royce. We, as a community, are all in this together - now and as the situation continues to evolve.
With appreciation and gratitude,
Tejal Patel and the Board of Trustees
Beginning with our earliest communications to you about the coronavirus, and even as we have witnessed the growing spread of COVID-19, the Head-Royce administrative team has consistently sought to balance our concerns for the health of our community with our desire to preserve our everyday school rhythms and routines for our students, their families, and our employees. All of our decisions have been made thoughtfully and deliberately, reflecting our care for the health, safety, and well-being of our community. Today is no exception.
In light of the rapidly evolving and unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic—which poses many yet-unanswerable questions that have led to mounting community concern—the Board of Trustees and administrative team have decided to proactively suspend all in-person classes after this Friday, with online learning officially beginning for all students on Wednesday, March 18.
Our faculty and technology team are well-positioned to execute our distance learning plan, and we are confident in our ability to keep our learners engaged, but in an alternate remote format. At the moment, we are estimating a three-week online learning period, followed by Spring Break on April 6-10. While nothing is certain at this time, our hope is to resume in-person classes on Monday, April 13. We will continually reassess as the situation unfolds.
While Head-Royce does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus in our community, we believe that evidence of potential widespread transmission at this critical moment warrants the suspension of in-person classes. We’ve been in ongoing communication with medical and public health officials in our community and beyond, and have also been in regular contact with administrators at other independent and public schools, many of whom are taking the same course of preventative action.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Friday, March 13: Regular School-Day on Campus
In light of the campus closure, please make sure that your student(s) bring home all of their materials (laptop, chargers, books, etc.) by the end of day Friday. If you prefer to keep your student home tomorrow, please make arrangements to collect their supplies. Our campus will not be accessible to students during the closure, including the gym, sports courts, and Big Toy.
- Monday and Tuesday, March 16 + 17: Professional Community Work Days
This coming Monday and Tuesday will serve as faculty and staff work days, enabling important time for school employees to coordinate with one another, refine plans, and practice tech tools. Please note that there will be no remote classes on Monday or Tuesday. Students should establish a workspace at home if they have not yet done so.
- Wednesday, March 18: Distance Learning Begins
We will begin our distance learning program on Wednesday. Division Heads will send specific guidelines and tools for students, parents and guardians via email on Tuesday morning. It is important to note that while online learning will not look or feel the same as the classroom experience, it will provide a valuable opportunity for faculty and students to have continued engagement. As we begin on Wednesday, your flexibility and patience as we all acclimate to this new learning environment will be greatly appreciated.
- Event Cancelations
All co-curricular programs and events, including ASP, will be canceled or postponed through Spring Break.
- MS and US Athletics
All athletic events, practices, and games beginning Friday, March 13, through Sunday, April 12th, are suspended. We hope to resume all activities on Monday, April 13, after our scheduled Spring Break. Campus athletics facilities will not be open or available for student use. If anything changes, we will keep you updated regarding a return to our athletic activities.
- Support Resources for Families
We understand that the transition to remote learning will have varying impacts on our families. From tech troubleshooting to student support services, our Professional Community will be at-the-ready to help. If your family has particular needs we can assist with, please contact your Division Head and they will connect you to the right person.
- Social Distancing Expectation
We are transitioning to online learning to create physical distance in our community, in order to help stop the spread of a virus. During this time, we expect all students to practice social-distancing. Public health experts emphasize the need to avoid groups larger than 3 people (besides family) and to maintain 6 feet of distance between individuals. This means students should neither meet in large study groups nor socialize in large groups.
- Ongoing School Updates
Our plan is to be in communication with our community every few days or as needed via email and our website to provide updates on the public health situation and its impact on the Head-Royce community. We will also be sending a modified version of eLines to our community.
Please look out for the divisional communications early on Tuesday, and feel free to direct any questions to your Division Head: Lea Van Ness (LS), Linda Hoopes (MS), or Carl Thiermann (US).
We recognize that during these dynamic times, families may encounter a variety of challenges. We are committed to working with every family to offer our support in the very best way that we can. With a strong and supportive partnership, we have no doubt that we can navigate these uncharted waters with resiliency, grace, and empathy.
Head of School
Chair, Board of Trustees
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
We write with an update on the evolving news about coronavirus and how it will affect school operations this week. As this is a fluid situation that is continually changing, we are remaining flexible and nimble in our response, and appreciate your partnership in this effort. We continue to closely monitor the situation in the Bay Area and East Bay and are responding according to the recommendations of our local public health officials. Our campus underwent a deep cleaning this weekend, and we continue our emphasis on good hygiene practices, and reiterate that if anyone is feeling sick, they should remain home.
At the present time, there has not been an identified case of COVD-19 within the Head-Royce community of students, families, faculty, or staff. Local health agencies have, however, issued advisories against non-essential events and medium to large gatherings in the Bay Area, thus elevating the School to Risk Level 2 status. As a result, all “non-essential” school events will be either canceled or postponed at this time. We are assessing internal events on a case by case basis, as you will note in the charts below. As a reminder, all information is centrally located on our COVID-19 webpage.
Preparing for Remote Learning (and meeting our CAIS school-day requirements)
Per California Association of Independent Schools guidelines, we must offer a half day of focused instruction in grades 3-12 in order for that day to be considered an official school day. Our faculty is currently working to develop plans to satisfy this requirement if necessary. Parents and guardians can help in these preparations by making preliminary arrangements for childcare if needed, and ensuring your internet and computer set-up at home is adequate. In the event of a school closure, the first day will be used for faculty preparations, with instruction beginning the following day.
Our Athletic Director will meet with the BCL league tomorrow to determine the approach for league games and practices. In the meantime, we are encouraging limited attendance at all athletic events, particularly for anyone who may have been exposed to the virus or is in a high-risk health category.
Spring Break Travel
If your spring break plans involve travel to any of the identified high-risk areas, you must inform the School. All travelers who return from Level 3 areas must self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.
Helping to Avoid Stigma
We ask that parents and guardians partner with us to keep our school-wide values of empathy and compassion front and center during this time of heightened anxiety and misinformation. We can all play an active role in interrupting xenophobic narratives and reminding students that one’s ancestry does not make them more vulnerable to this illness.
A Note on Keeping the School Open
Our goal is to keep our doors open as long as possible, while prioritizing the health and safety of our students. Currently, local and national health agencies are not recommending that schools proactively close unless they have confirmed exposure to or a diagnosed case of COVID-19 in an employee or student. This guidance may be confusing for some, because schools bring together large groups of children. Please read more about the rationale of this approach in the FAQ section of our coronavirus webpage. If you are not comfortable sending your student(s) to school at this time, our faculty will work with you on a distance learning plan to ensure that your student(s) can remain engaged in their learning without consequence. Please be in touch with your Division Head to discuss further.
We will continue to communicate the status of upcoming events on our webpage. Thank you for your patience as we do our best to make informed decisions on a case-by-case basis.
We are grateful for your support and partnership, always, and especially during a time like this. Please look for ongoing communications from our Communications Office as we navigate this situation together. You may also reach out directly to Lea Van Ness, Linda Hoopes, Carl Thiermann or Crystal Land, who are all available for questions or consultation.
Event Status Update
The following events are NOT canceled as of today:
(We encourage anyone who is feeling under the weather or is part of the “high-risk” population—elderly or with a compromised immune system—to refrain from coming to campus for any scheduled events.)
The following events have been canceled or postponed:
Again, our website will be updated daily with any changes to the event calendar.
As we continue to monitor the evolving status of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and with new cases emerging in Berkeley and Contra Costa County, I wanted to share an update on the plans and protocols that are in place should our more immediate community become affected. Our first priority is the health and safety of our students, employees, and families—and maintaining a calm and informed approach to our intentional steps to address the ever-changing situation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been providing valuable guidance for schools, which we are following closely. We also remain proactively engaged with local health agencies—and adhere to their recommendations for major school decisions. Finally, we are in very close communication with experts in the independent school community, including the National Association of Independent Schools, which draws upon the vast knowledge and emergency response experience of their global network of schools.
Current HRS Risk Status
We are following a four-level response plan to make decisions regarding the impact of the coronavirus on campus. Currently our school is at a low risk level (Level 1) for COVID-19. Level 1 means that there are no reported cases of the virus within our immediate community of students, families, faculty, or staff. Our protocol at Level 1 involves increased cleaning and disinfection rounds by our facilities team and heightened communication to students about frequent hand washing and other preventative practices. All co-curricular and athletics events will occur as scheduled at this risk level.
New Website Resource for Families
Our Communications Office has created a comprehensive webpage (headroyce.org/coronavirus) that is intended to serve as the main resource for families. Please consult this page for ongoing updates about risk status (as mentioned above), thresholds, and additional details on the School’s four-step response plan. The webpage will also be kept up-to-date with event cancellations and other useful resources.
Our administrative team is hard at work creating an action plan to enable distance learning tailored to the needs of each division, should we need to close the campus at any point. If it becomes necessary to close the school, our goal is to continue to engage our students in learning and collaborative opportunities in an online environment. We have many great resources to guide us in training our faculty to teach the essential skills needed at each developmental level remotely. It is important to note that while online learning will not look or feel the same as the classroom experience, it will provide a valuable opportunity for faculty and students to have continued engagement, thus minimizing the disruption to teaching and learning to the extent possible.
In order to assist in our preparations, we ask that every family complete the 2-question form located here, indicating internet and computer access at home. It is imperative that one parent/guardian from each family complete the form by Monday, March 9, so we can ensure that each student has access to the technology needed to study and learn remotely. Thank you for your immediate attention. Our hope is that there will be no disruption to regular school rhythms, and that our preparations will serve only as a valuable exercise.
Heightened Campus Cleaning/Disinfecting
Our facilities staff currently conducts three rounds of cleaning each day using hospital-grade disinfectants on all high-traffic surfaces, including door knobs, desks, water fountains, lunch tables, and counters. Disposable wipes and hand sanitizers have also been made available throughout our campus and we are requiring faculty to wipe down classroom surfaces throughout the school day. AC Transit and Michael’s Transportation are also taking additional measures to sanitize their buses.
Please remember that the best way to keep our community healthy is by practicing effective preventative measures, including frequent hand washing, covering coughs, and social distancing. We’ve been reminding students of these practices in class and during assemblies this week. Please also remember that anyone with flu-like symptoms should avoid coming to campus. If you or a member of your family may have been exposed to the coronavirus or recently traveled to Italy, Iran, South Korea, or China, we ask that you notify the School immediately so we can work with you to minimize the potential impact.
Finally, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the psychological and emotional impact of this situation. It is a challenge for students (and really our entire community) to process the deluge of information from various media sources. This New York Times article offers some good strategies on how to talk to children about coronavirus without raising the anxiety of anyone involved. There is also a helpful illustration from NPR here.
I have been struck by the flexibility and resilience I’ve observed in our community as we navigate these challenges. Should our school need to close or if the situation changes quickly, we will notify you via direct email and update our website. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Head of School
As you are likely aware, yesterday the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held a press conference on the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As the CDC emphasized, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States. However, we want to assure families that Head-Royce has policies and procedures in place to ensure that we are prepared to act swiftly and proactively if the need arises. Our administrative team and nurses continue to monitor the situation daily and are in close contact with local and national health agencies. In addition, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) are working around the clock to make informed recommendations for best practices and procedures, of which we are closely attuned. Our administrative team is also refining our Pandemic Response Plan to ensure it is inclusive of all potential scenarios, including protocols in the unlikely event of school closures and options for distance learning.
We are also thinking ahead regarding the impact that Spring Break travel plans may have in the context of the coronavirus and are evaluating our planned student trip to Greece. We ask that all families work in partnership with the School to keep us informed of any potential exposure or heightened risk should you have plans to travel abroad over the break. It is important to remember that handling the spread of a contagion like the coronavirus is a primary task for public health agencies, and any directives from the World Health Organization, CDC, or local governmental organizations should be followed.
At the moment, the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of any infectious disease, including the seasonal flu, is to follow basic health best practices, including washing hands thoroughly, covering up coughs/sneezes, and keeping students who are feeling ill at home until they are symptom-free. We are also coordinating with our facilities staff and faculty to take additional preventative measures across campus, including additional cleaning of classroom surfaces and reminding students of effective hand-washing techniques.
Following are additional resources that are useful in navigating the situation as it has been unfolding:
Again, please remember that this information is intended to be precautionary at this time of heightened concern. Please know that our focus on our community’s health and safety is always our highest priority. If you have specific questions for our wellness team or administration, please feel free to reply to firstname.lastname@example.org and your question will be routed appropriately.
With the news of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the headlines and weighing on the minds of many in our community, we wanted to assure families that our nurses and administration are attuned to the situation and are watching it closely. To date, there are no confirmed cases in Northern California and, per health officials, Alameda County residents are at low risk of becoming infected. As the CDC has advised travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China, we have opted to postpone our planned Global Studies trip to China to a later date.
We would like to take the opportunity to remind you about some best practices to avoid spreading any infection, including the common cold and flu:
- If your student is exhibiting contagious symptoms such as fever, coughing, or sneezing, please keep them home from school to avoid spreading illness. Students must be free of symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning to school. Students must also be fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours before they may return to school.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Promote frequent handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer.
- Teach and encourage proper cough etiquette—cough or sneeze into a tissue, sleeve, or arm (do not use hands).
For more information on the Coronavirus, please see the Alameda County Public Health Department website. We will continue to monitor the situation and adhere to any additional public health recommendations. Please feel free to be in touch with any questions or concerns.
Watch the recording of the recent Town Hall with our Head of School and Board members here.
Updated May 28, 2020
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