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WSOC Community Town Hall Q & A: Your Questions Answered

Please click here to view the Community Town Hall in its entirety.

At the Town Hall on July 22, WSOC committed to answering every question provided by participants. Following is the total of all questions asked (on Slido and Zoom) along with answers for you from our staff. General comments shared on Slido which were not in the form of a question are not included here.

MASKS

I don’t know if I heard this properly, so I need clarification, Are kids required to wear masks? Will teachers and staff be required to wear masks?

Yes. We will be following the California Department of Public Health guidelines for school reopening.  Faculty and staff must wear a facial covering or shield. The requirement for students varies per age of the student.  0-2yo: not appropriate.  2yo-2nd Grade: Recommended, but not required.  3rd Grade-HS: students must wear facial coverings or a shield.  Exemptions are accepted per CDPH guidelines, see link for details.

Dr. Kruse, you are using the word “recommended” but I understand that the guidelines issued by CPHD indicate masks are “required” for grades 3 & up. Please clarify.

You are correct, students in 3rd Grade to HS must wear a facial covering or face shield unless they qualify for an exemption, per CDPH guidance. For students 2 years old to 2nd Grade, facial coverings and/or shields are recommended, but not required.

Will the number of mask exemptions given to a class be known to parents prior to enrollment?

We will require documentation for exemptions prior to the first day of on-campus learning. Exemption submissions will not be a part of the enrollment process. Therefore, we will not know our exemption numbers until in-person learning has commenced.

Can you address why students, teachers and staff who are currently on campus for camps/classes are not wearing masks?

I believe we addressed this during the Q&A session, but in-brief: our facial covering policy has evolved as the guidelines have changed and as data regarding facial coverings has become available. Our policy has changed with the guidelines from “optional”, to “should”, to now “required”. This has literally been a week-to-week change, and at the time of the Town Hall, the requirement status was in place for only 2 days. Additionally, CDPH exemptions do apply to faculty and staff as well.

Will there be alternatives required of families who believe facial coverings are against their civil liberties, or those who do not want to wear them for medical reasons? For example, face shields.

We will follow the CDPH guidance regarding facial coverings which includes exemptions.  Please reference their guidelines for a full list of exemptions:

To clarify, are children expected to wear masks at all times while on campus?

We will be following the California Department of Public Health guidelines for school reopening. The requirement for students varies per age of the student.  0 – 2 years old: not appropriate.  2 years old – 2nd Grade: Recommended, but not required.  3rd Grade – HS: students must wear facial coverings or a shield.  Exemptions are accepted per CDPH guidelines, see link for details.

Facial coverings are to be worn during times when physical distancing is not possible. Otherwise, during times of physical distancing (such as when working at their desks) coverings are not required. They can otherwise be removed for meals, snacks, naptime (when applicable), and outdoor recreation.

To clarify – Grade 3 – High School, teachers and staff required to wear face coverings?

Yes.  See the CDPH guidelines for details.

So, you say masks are recommended, what is WSOC’s decision on if masks are mandatory. A simple “yes” or “no” is a fine answer.

WSOC Policy (per CDPH Guidelines)

Not appropriate: 0 – 2 years old

Recommended: 2 years old – 2nd Grade

Required: 3rd Grade – HS

Required: Faculty/Staff

Exemptions will be accepted per CDPH guidance

Doesn’t facial covering also include face shields, not just masks, which are transparent and work well with outdoor classrooms?

Correct. Face shields are a part of our policy per CDPH guidelines.

If children are outside…are they still required to wear face masks regardless if it’s recess, lunch or class? Are children and teachers required to wear a mask during indoor sessions? Do we have the discretion to wear masks only when indoors? Do we have the discretion to NOT wear a mask when outdoors, on long walks to parks or playing outside?

Facial coverings are to be worn during times when physical distancing is not possible. Otherwise, during times of physical distancing (such as when working at their desks) coverings are not required. They can otherwise be removed for meals, snacks, naptime (when applicable), and outdoor recreation.

WAIVERS

Is there any visibility with the overall Waldorf Community reputation with lower vaccination rates impacting our ability to get the waiver?

We are not aware of any reason why our vaccination rates would affect our ability to qualify for the waiver. The details of the waiver have not yet been released.

With signatures from parents, teachers and the community, the school can get a waiver from having to do distance learning from the county health department…

We are in contact with Dr. Clayton Chau, Agency Director and Acting County Health Office of the OC Health Care Agency, who stated that he would advise as soon as the Waiver form is published. It is not yet available. Unfortunately, we are in a waiting game as the county health authorities create the form and process for application. If signatures from parents are needed, we will be sure to invite our community to help.

Do you have an estimate about when we’ll hear back on whether we have received the waiver or not? This is such an important issue when considering enrollment.

We agree, this is extremely important, and we will be sure to let our community know as soon as we hear back from the OC Health Care Agency.

Thank you for all your efforts. Can you confirm at this point we plan to hold classes on campus this September? Also, please elaborate on what a waiver entails.

We plan to hold classes on campus provided we are able to. We do not have any details regarding the waiver, we are awaiting news from the OC Health Care Agency.

Are you considering applying for a waiver to return to campus even while Orange County remains on the watch list? Did I understand correctly that is an option?

WSOC will pursue a waiver provided it is an option that makes sense. At this time we are unsure what we need for the waiver and what it will require for us to qualify. As soon as we hear back from the OC Health Care Agency we will communicate to our families.

We learned about the Governor announcement about a week ago. Are we getting the school community together to apply for a waiver?

The Governor made his announcement on Friday, July 17. Our Town Hall was Wednesday, July 22. The Return to School Committee obtained as much information as we were able prior to the Town Hall. Unfortunately, there was no information about the waiver released at the time of our Town Hall.

GENERAL HEALTH & SAFETY 

If class is over 20 students and most safety recommendations are to minimize gatherings to groups less than 10, how will that work in a classroom?

The CDPH guidelines do not specifically state that groups should be less than 10 – we are able to provide enough space for appropriate distance between students and will use other mitigation methods such as teaching outdoors, allowing plenty of ventilation in classrooms, frequent hand washing and disinfecting/cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

Could you just have an overall stricter sick policy and not just for COVID?

We will certainly be asking anyone with any symptoms of illness to not attend school or be on campus. This applies to staff as well as students.=

Can other areas of campus remain open, such as Company of Angels and Craft Group?

Company of Angels will remain open unless there is a statewide shut down of non-essential services. Craft group is on hiatus for the time being in order to minimize the number of people on campus.

Will there be temperature checks for children when entering classrooms?

We ask that temperature checks and health questionnaires be completed before coming to school in the morning, staff will meet cars dropping off students and collect this information. If it has not been done in advance then we will take the child’s temperature and have the parent complete the health questionnaire before the child enters the campus.

WSOC is planning to use a Health Screening Tool included in our Parent Square membership. Parent Square has provided us a very thorough presentation demo, but the final roll-out for schools will not be ready until August. We are optimistic that this Health Screening process on Parent Square will be a very simple way for parents to provide this information to us daily.

Will there be mitigation measures for people who have “exemptions” so that our community is all protected (ie face shields)?

We will mitigate in terms of ensuring appropriate physical distancing, frequent hand washing and disinfecting of high touch areas.

At this point, are there plans to hold classes on campus at the start of the school year?

We are prepared to start classes on campus on September 8th if Orange County is off of the State COVID Monitoring List.

How many kids are in each cohort?

Cohorts will consist of classes and as such will vary across the realms of campus. Keeping the class together for the duration of the day is the aim.

There’s been the phrase “appropriate distancing”. can you define “appropriate” and where/when that would be implemented?

CDPH guidelines which we’ve attached says, “Maximize space between seating and desks. Distance teacher and other staff desks at least six feet away from student desks. Consider ways to establish separation of students through other means if practicable, such as, six feet between desks, where practicable, partitions between desks, markings on classroom floors to promote distancing or arranging desks in a way that minimizes face-to-face contact.”

Can you pls expand on why in-person-only is safe for EC? I’m having trouble connecting the dots. (e.g., https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article)

It isn’t so much that in-person only is safe in EC, but rather EC is a program which is difficult to deliver in an online format when so much about our early childhood program is about peer connections and play. Our program will be primarily outdoors, the children will be in fixed, small cohorts and as such with frequent handwashing and cleaning and following our Health & Safety guidelines we can mitigate risk.

What will the protocol be for communicating infections and/or potential exposures? Will that be just within classes and/or pods or extend to the entire school?

In the case of a positive diagnosis on campus, the community will be informed through Parent Square.

Would you consider limiting pods to 10 to 15 based on CDC recommendations?

Our class sizes are small anyway, and with the option for students to learn online during the school year we feel that limiting our class size is not necessary when we are also engaged in other mitigation factors on campus including holding classes outside, physical distancing, facial coverings, frequent hand washing & frequent cleaning.

ENROLLMENT & LEGAL

You cannot expect parents to decide on enrollment by 7/31 without first explaining Adaptive Tuition “early august”. Specifics needed b4 decision can be made. 

Yes, a Board of Trustees decision is coming and will be communicated to parents on Friday in the Return the School Guide. You will not be expected to make decisions without information and will be provided a reasonable amount of time in which to decide.

Will our child’s place be held if we decide to hold off in the fall and return in the spring?

We will remain flexible with our families about holding spots for the spring. This is balanced with the class size (will there be new enrollments?) and the teacher and faculty’s decisions for the health and wellbeing of the class, individual students and the class as a whole.

Will the number of students who end up enrolling affect the school‘s ability to offer a full curriculum to parents who decide to maintain enrollment?

We are committed to offer and maintain a full curriculum for our students in the 20-21 school year.

We are working parents. We need specifics on what WSOC will do in a complete quarantine. No decision can be made until you give us SPECIFICS.

Yes. Planning moves from possibilities under consideration to the specifics that will address what will happen in circumstances like quarantine of a class, department, or the school. Specifics for each scenario will be shared in the three separate department Town Halls during the week of August 17.

If we pull our children out of the school this year, is there a way our children can keep their “place” at WSOC for return 2021-2022 after the pandemic is over?

We will remain flexible with our families about holding spaces for a return in the future. This is balanced with the class size (will there be new enrollments that fill a class?) and the teacher and faculty’s decisions for the health and wellbeing of the class as a whole and the individual student.

Those who return are required to provide:

  • An application ( with no fee) – this provides the class teacher with narrative updates about the year apart
  • A Transcript showing work accomplished away from WSOC
  • New vaccination paperwork – returning students are included with all new students as a checkpoint for school-wide immunization reporting purposes

In follow up on the 7/31 deadline — parents need to get more than 3 days to make a decision of this magnitude. Please extend the deadline.

Thank you. We will not establish any decision deadlines that do not allow parents the reasonable time to make an informed decision.

When is the final deadline to back out of enrollment and not be obligated for tuition payments, is it still July 31, 2020?

Your tuition agreement obligation, deadlines, and opportunities for change, are being discussed at the Board Meeting on July 28. These decisions and more will be shared with parents in the Return to School Guide we will send to parents on Friday.

Will our place be held if we decide to come in the spring instead of fall?

We will remain flexible with our families about “holding” spots for the spring. This is balanced with the class size (will there be new enrollments that fill a class?) and the teacher and faculty’s decisions for the health and wellbeing of the class as a whole and the individual student.

Those who leave and return in the spring will be asked to provide:

  • An application (with no fee) – this provides the class teacher with narrative updates about the time apart
  • A Transcript showing work accomplished while away from WSOC
  • New vaccination paperwork – returning students are included with all new students as a checkpoint for school-wide immunization reporting purposes

Will there be an “official” opportunity for HS families to talk with school reps prior to Aug 20? If not, how would the RTS committee prefer to field questions?

Absolutely! We encourage you to reach out to us with questions any time. If you are wondering who to speak with, we recommend:

Kim Eijpen – for Return to School Committee questions – keijpen@waldorfschool.com

Douglas Garrett – for all-school questions – dgarrett@waldorfschool.com

Gina Garrison – for High School questions – ggarrison@waldorfschool.com

If one of them is not able to answer your questions, they will quickly identify the right person for you to speak with and will connect you. Not sure which one you should direct your question to? No problem! Include them all.

As a private school, is WSOC required to follow CPHD guidelines?

The CDPH guidelines were intended to guide public schools, charter and private schools in developing phased reopening plans, taking into account local public health conditions, consideration of the instructional programs, and the needs of students and families. WSOC is balancing this guidance with our own independent decision making.

Do we need the waiver to open the campus or can we decide independently?

The waiver included in the CDPH guidelines were intended to guide public schools, charter and private schools in developing phased reopening plans, taking into account local public health conditions, consideration of the instructional programs, and the needs of students and families. WSOC is balancing this guidance with our own independent decision making with appropriate legal input.

Are there liability ramifications if we open campus with or without a waiver?

Potential liabilities are carefully considered in all of our decision making. We don’t yet know the terms and conditions of a waiver as the application has not yet been released. The waiver will be carefully evaluated as are all possibilities for opening the campus.

As a private school WSOC is fully able to do nearly whatever they want in terms of their policy.  

WSOC is an independent school, yes. We cannot, however, do whatever we want. We are accredited by two accrediting bodies and compliance with state and local ordinances is part of our accreditation.

Are the WSOC summer sessions cancelled? 

No, we have updated the health and safety plans to be able to hold our camps.

PEDAGOGICAL AND TEACHER HEALTH

Do you know that the “remote learning” is crushing the unbridled spirit of curiosity of our children?

We all agree that remote learning is not our modality of choice. We are committed to bringing students back to campus just as soon as we safely can, and we are exploring all options available to us to resume in-person education.

Do you know how much time is planned for outside vs inside? Main lesson or specialty classes?

Specific curriculum planning is underway; we plan to maximize outside time for both main lesson and specialty classes. Outside learning spaces have been identified and the campus is being restructured accordingly (e.g. shade sails and structures). We will be able to give more specifics about schedules at the town hall meeting in August.

Will there be a limit on classroom size?

We will keep operating within our established guidelines for class size; it is not necessary or advised to split classes.

What are plans to support our *teachers* with a hybrid mode? How can one person be expected to teach in person and remotely?

I appreciate your response, the teachers can do this and they are rocking it. But *how* are we supporting our *teachers*? (I am a parent, not a teacher.)

Thank you for your concern for our teachers! Specialty subject teachers and assistants will be working as “support teams” to bring curriculum aspects to the students in order to alleviate the class teachers’ load. Please attend the August town hall for more information on how the school day will be structured.

FINANCE

Have you addressed the community’s need for a month to month commitment rather than an annual commitment? Or a quarterly commitment?

We are currently looking at financial models for many options and will discuss these at the Board Meeting on July 28. We will communicate options for you as quickly as possible.

Can you give an overview of the adaptive tuition?

Following the Board Meeting on the 28th, we will include a detailed explanation of the Adaptive Tuition Model in the Return to School Guide which will be shared with parents on Friday.

Will tuition be reduced if we decide to opt for LBTC for our pre-K child? Can you provide more details on what LBTC would look like since we are new to WSOC?

Details of that decision will be discussed at the Board Meeting and will be included in the Friday Communication this week.

What is WSOC doing to mitigate the burden of distance learning to the parents and business owners?

We’re not certain if you mean the logistical burden, or the financial burden, or both. Either way, we have a proposal going to the Board of Trustees this week which should help to mitigate some of the burden. We will provide you details in the Return to School Guide coming out on Friday.

If we are able to go back in the fall and the school gets shut down again, will we be able to pull our child without further financial obligations?

This is also one of the questions which will be answered for you on Friday. It requires a discussion and decision on our proposal for the Board.

Really looking forward to seeing the details of the plans for getting kids back to school safely. Have you considered a tuition incr. to allow for smaller pods?

We will keep operating within our established guidelines for class size; it is not necessary or advised to split classes. As such, we are not considering a tuition increase at this time.

What is the adaptive tuition model?

The Board is meeting Tuesday, July 28 to approve an Adaptive Tuition Model. A Finance Town Hall is being planned for the first week of August to fully explain adaptive tuition for the upcoming school year.

EARLY CHILDHOOD/CURRICULUM

As 2 working parents, we need a pre-k & k on campus program, even if it’s a “camp”. When will you know if you can offer it?

We are in the process of confirming our eligibility to offer Essential Worker Childcare, including the process and parameters for operating under Essential Worker Childcare status. We will be able to present this and other EC options at the Early Childhood Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday, August 18, 2020. If we have definitive information prior to then, we will notify Early Childhood families.

Not sure if I heard this properly, but is pre-k and k going virtual under any scenario?

Offering a distance learning option for Early Childhood is part of our planning. However, all scenario details are still being finalized. The possibility of offering Essential Worker Childcare will impact the development of our scenarios and we are still in the process of verifying this as an option for our community.

Essential workers get priority but that doesn’t exclude opening to other parents. Other non essential are prioritized by need, 2 wrkg parents, single parents…

We are in the process of confirming our eligibility to offer Essential Worker Childcare, including the process and parameters for operating under Essential Worker Childcare status. Essential Worker categories and the process for eligibility and verification will be shared during the Early Childhood Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

My apologies, we have a bad connection… is pre-k and k able to open with the latest guidance or does the school need a waiver like the older students?

Early Childhood has the possibility to open under Essential Worker Childcare status. We are in the process of confirming our eligibility to offer Essential Worker Childcare, including the process and parameters for operating under Essential Worker Childcare status. Essential Worker categories and the process for eligibility and verification will be shared during the Early Childhood Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

Have all of the early childhood family conversations happened? Grades?

All Early Childhood families have received a request from one of the the Return to School Committee members or Andrea Hubert, CoT chair.  Families responding to the request have had conversations. All families are encouraged to request a meeting now or at the conclusion of our series of Town Halls during the week of August 17th. Please contact Douglas Garrett at dgarrett@waldorfschool.com if you have any questions and would like to request a conversation.

I think I missed this during the presentation, will there also be a remote option for Early Childhood families if the school reopens?

Offering a distance learning option for Early Childhood is part of our planning. However, all scenario details are still being finalized. The possibility of offering Essential Worker Childcare will impact the development of our scenarios and we are still in the process of verifying this as an option for our community.

At least for the early childhood program, which can be mostly taught in an outdoor environment, has the school considered and started moving forward since…

Outdoor learning will remain an essential element of our Early Childhood program and is integrated into our return to school planning.

REOPENING SCENARIOS

Will our teachers be allowed to make small group visits with children if we are not allowed on campus (assuming they are comfortable to do so)?

This and other reopening possibilities are currently being reviewed by faculty. Questions living alongside this and other possibilities are related to school liability and will need to be reviewed by our Board and legal consultants.

Has any thought been given to turning LBTC to a home school program?

This specific thought has not yet been reviewed, but we will take this into consideration as we continue innovating for the upcoming school year.

Can we close WSOC for a year and form autonomous pods of students that hire Waldorf teachers independently?

This has not been discussed by WSOC Leadership, but consider this: If the school were to close for a year, what would it look like when it reopened a year later? The school is not only strengthened and defined by its students, but by those who bring the curriculum to the students and by those who maintain the mission and vision of the school. Not all of these educators could/would move to this kind of structure. Also, consider that we are made up of a community who may not all desire to step into a “learning pod” and could be left behind. We are focusing our efforts on finding ways to all stay together to support one another, in community.

Can the school be split into morning and afternoon groups to reduce the numbers of students on campus at the same time and no lunch at school?

Various hybrid schooling options have been considered and if this would allow our campus to open more readily, it will be considered more fully. As of now, this is not part of our operating scenarios.

Please provide us specific details in terms of time/days for the planned afternoon enrichment classes for grades 1-8.

If we are able to offer afternoon enrichment classes safely, we will share those details as soon as they are available. We are currently exploring this possibility, but it is not currently an approved component of our return to school scenarios.

Will WSOC support parent cohort groups that choose to teach remotely?

It’s important for parents to consider that if groups of students withdraw in order to create learning pods outside of the school, it may create the need to combine classes. If enrollment is reduced to this point, we may not have the resources to support this.

What is the plan to continue teaching if/when a class/pod is quarantined due to infection/exposure?

Substitution plans are in place in the event a teacher becomes ill. These plans will span the spectrum from on campus and distance learning scenarios.

THANK YOU!

Thank you for submitting your questions. Please continue to ask us if you find that additional questions arise.




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