Return to Campus FAQs
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1. Is Foothill open full time?
Yes! Foothill continues to offer a five day per week, full time schedule to all our students, and will continue to do so. Right now, our preschool is open for in-person learning and all our Kindergarten – grade 8 students are in distance learning mode. Students in grades Kindergarten - 2 will be welcomed back to campus on February 23, while families who choose it may continue in distance learning.
2. Other schools in our area are on campus, why isn’t Foothill?
Foothill County Day School is located in Los Angeles County. As such, we are regulated by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, who determines the restrictions for school opening. For many months, based on the State of California Coronavirus tiers (purple, red, orange, yellow), Los Angeles County Schools were not allowed to open for in-person, on-campus learning without a special waiver that is available for grades Kindergarten - 2 only. Foothill did receive a waiver but was unable to open due to rising case rates. In late February, government agencies announced that schools in grades K - 6 could reopen within very strict health guidelines. Foothill will be opening K-2 on February 23 for those families who choose to return to campus. Grades 3 - 6 will be able to return soon as well. We await government clearance for grades 7 and 8.
3. Is the preschool, The Seedling School, open for in-person learning?
Yes. The Seedling School is a state-licensed child care center, and as such, they were allowed to return to campus to serve essential workers in September. To remain in compliance with state licensing requirements, Seedling must follow strict safety protocols.
4. What is guiding Foothill’s decisions about reopening?
Safety. We are following the guidance of the CDC and public health officials. In addition to that published data, we are fortunate to have a volunteer Medical Thinkforce of 16 parents who are professionals in the medical community. They also happen to be Foothill parents!
5. Is Foothill applying for a waiver to return to campus?
Yes, submitted a waiver application in early November to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and were granted a waiver in December. The waiver program allowed us to plan with specificity, but the waiver program was sunsetted by the government before Foothill was able to open.
6. Will everyone be able to return to campus at the same time?
No. It is highly likely that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will restrict how many students can return to campus, even when virus conditions allow all schools to open. So far, we know that the State of California will continue to restrict the number of students returning to maintain social distancing. Lower grades will be allowed to return first. Students who are not yet returning to campus will remain in distance learning mode.
7. When will you be opening for in-person learning?
Grades Kindergarten - 2 will be returning on February 23. Grades 3 - 6 will be phased in during March and April.
8. Is Foothill offering a hybrid learning plan or concurrent learning plans?
Foothill is offering two concurrent learning plans, meaning we will offer distance learning and in-person learning at the same time, 5 days a week.
Foothill is NOT offering a hybrid plan. A hybrid learning plan is when a student goes to their campus a couple of days a week, and the same student does distance learning a couple of days a week. This results in about half of the educational time. This is the type of learning plan that most public schools and many private schools are offering. Our learning plans are concurrent, full-time, 5 days per week.
The two full-time plans we are offering are: In-person/on-campus and distance learning. Both plans will place students in cohorts.
9. What is a STABLE COHORT?
A stable cohort is a group of 10-12 students who learn together. Each grade will be divided in to 3-4 cohorts, led by a team of teachers.
The use of cohorts for is mandated by the County of Los Angeles and the purpose is to limit the amount of viral exposure. It is also minimizes the impact on the school if a community member should be exposed to COVID-19 or should become ill with COVID-19. If someone were to get sick, the entire cohort would have to quarantine and do distance learning from home. The other on-campus cohorts would be able to remain on campus.
While the risk of exposure is minimized when students are in distance learning, we will still form cohorts for distance learning students to maintain class organization and group identity.
10. What is TOGGLING?
In the case of COVID-19 exposure or illness, cohorts of students in on-campus learning — or the entire school — may be asked to transition to distance learning temporarily. This is referred to as “toggling” (switching back and forth). When this happens, the affected grades will be contacted and will likely be required to leave campus quickly. Students will be asked to transport their books and technology home the same day, or parents may need to return to school for a materials pick-up if the toggle should initiate on a weekend.
If asked to toggle out, students will be in distance learning between 72 hours and 14 days, depending on the cause. Parents should be prepared with child care for these situations.
11. Do parents get their choice of learning plans?
Our goal is to balance the needs of our families and faculty in order to accommodate as many requests as possible. In October 2020, a survey was distributed to parents and faculty to gauge their interest in the two types of learning plans: in-person/on-campus, and distance learning. Parents are being asked to share their preference of those two plans. We are hoping to use that data to design a concurrent program that will meet the needs of as many families as possible.
When we get closer to reopening for each grade level, we will have a confirmation process to place students in one of the two plans. Once students are placed in a cohort, they will not be able to switch the mode of learning, as they will need to stay with that cohort. As the year progresses, parents may apply for a switch and they will be accommodated when possible, but parents should expect to remain with their cohort for the rest of the year.
12. What is the capacity for each classroom on campus? Do you have room to distance everyone if all the students eventually return to campus?
We are fortunate to have a large campus that can accommodate all our students, even socially distanced. We have already reconfigured our classrooms for 10–12 students, socially distanced at desks and supplies that only they use. We have hired additional staff to supervise all the smaller cohorts. We hope that eventually, as society recovers from COVID-19, that these cohorts will eventually be expanded. In the short term, we expect to reopen our campus through a phased-in process, grade by grade, as required by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
13. Will students lose any subjects in the concurrent distance model?
Our focus will continue to be on the following CORE subjects.
Lower School: reading, writing and mathematics
Upper School: humanities, mathematics, Spanish and science
PE and Wellness: will continue to be Mon/Wed/Fri in the Upper School concurrent model
Specialist classes such as art, music or PE and Wellness, and science (in the Lower School) may occur less frequently, but all of the subjects will occur for every child
14. How will specialist classes be delivered for in-person learning, if there are only a few adults allowed in the cohort classroom?
Due to cohorting restrictions, most of the specialist classes will be delivered through Zoom for students in in-person learning. These classes will be facilitated by a teacher in the classroom during the school day. In some cases, the specialists’ lesson may be a videotaped presentation.
15. In Upper School (grades 6 -8) will the cohorts in distance learning format keep the same schedule as they currently have?
The cohort configurations will change based on the feedback received from the survey. Thus, the students’ individual schedules will change and be distributed to them. However, the overall schedule will not change. The 6-8 students will continue to have their same five teachers who teach their team.
16. How will specialist classes be delivered to distance learning students?
In Lower School, the specialist classes will be delivered through Zoom for students in distance learning. Again, in some cases, the specialists’ lessons may be a videotaped presentation.
Arts and Tech Wheel classes will be shared with students via Loom (recordings) if the teacher is not connected to their cohort.
17. Will students who choose in-person learning get to interact with other cohorts on campus?
No, they will remain in their cohorts all day, through breaks and lunches. The cohorts will not be able to socialize with each other.
18. Would the two concurrent learning plans – in-person and distance – have the same materials and same lessons?
Yes. Foothill’s curriculum will remain intact. The only difference is how the lessons are delivered.
19. Will my child’s homeroom teacher change?
Possibly. Each cohort, whether in distance or in-person, will have a team of teachers assigned to them. In general, these are the teachers you already know. It is possible that your teacher may change, but it will be someone who is qualified to teach that subject and that grade.
20. We answered a survey requesting our preference for distance learning or in-person learning, but it happened in the fall. Will we be asked again? What if we aren’t sure right now?
Please just make your best guess of your preferences. This is a constantly evolving situation and we understand that things change. We need to make staffing plans and accommodate faculty health needs as well. We will confirm with you before we begin the reopening of campus for your grade level. Once students are placed in cohorts your choice will remain in effect for the rest of the year.
21. Will we be allowed to change our mind about what mode of learning we prefer, after the cohort assignments have been made?
No. We will have an application process for transfers in case space becomes available in another cohort, but parents should assume their choices are fixed, once cohorts are assigned.
22. What physical changes have been made to the classrooms?
We have been busy reconfiguring our classrooms this summer. Some subject-specific spaces, such as the Art Room, Science Labs, Music Room, and the Auditorium have been transformed into cohort classrooms to reduce the number of students in a single space. Throughout campus, Merv-13 air filters and functioning windows have been installed In all classrooms. Classroom doors will be left open with the air conditioning on. Desks have been placed 6 feet apart, each student will have their own supplies, books, and technology. Handwashing and hand sanitizing stations will be available near every classroom.
23. What is somebody gets sick or exposed to COVID? If we are in in-person learning, and ANYONE in my child’s cohort gets sick, will the entire cohort have to go to quarantine and move to distance learning?
That is correct. This is referred to as” toggling”, and parents who choose the in-person/on-campus learning model will need to be prepared for this eventuality.
24. Will students on campus have to wear facemasks?
Yes, at all times.
25. When students return to campus, will the kitchen be serving food?
Yes. Chef Shue is currently on campus safely preparing food for The Seedling School. Chef Shue's lunches may be purchased online via Boonli.com. Students may bring their own lunch to school, but there will be no facilities for refrigeration or microwaving of student lunches.
26. How often are classrooms sanitized?
Classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized every evening with electrostatic sprayers. High-touch surfaces in classrooms will be wiped down and sanitized throughout the day. In addition, spaces outside the classroom such as banisters, door handles, light switches, and elevator buttons will be sanitized on a continuous basis throughout the day.
27. Will family travel be restricted?
We will not be restricting travel, but we ask that parents consider carefully what the consequences would be if they choose to travel. If any member of a household travels to a place where COVID spread is significant, the student(s) in that household must be in distance learning for 14 days before returning to in-person learning. There is currently a travel restriction in place for those entering LA County. If you anticipate extensive travel, you may wish to remain in distance learning as it provides the most flexibility for family travel.
28. Will there be Extended Day or Enrichment Classes as we transition back to school?
No. These after school programs would require mixing cohorts and that is not allowable. All students will need to exit the campus at dismissal time.
29. Do you have any plans for testing employees and students?
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health requires schools to have a surveillance testing plan in place for employees, and we are regularly testing employees who come to campus. We are not required to provide a testing plan for students and are not developing one at this time.
30. Will you require vaccinations when a vaccine is available?
Foothill will adhere to all applicable state and local public health laws regarding vaccines. We will continue to do so, and if the law is expanded to include a COVID vaccine, we will require it. If a safe and effective vaccine becomes available we will explore resources to make it available to families. We also recommend that families ask their physician about the flu vaccine since many flu symptoms are similar to COVID.
31. Where can I find more details?
Foothill has published a Return to Campus Guide that you can view and download here. The same Guide is also available in Chinese and in Spanish.