June 12, 2020

 

Dear Families,

What a year it’s been! I’m immensely grateful for your patience, understanding, and support as we quickly shifted into the remote learning world. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for hanging in there and giving us your candid feedback. Likewise, your children should be commended for their resilience, flexibility, and positivity through all of this. We are so proud of them!

As we head into summer break, I wanted to inform you that as of now we do plan to return to in-person learning at Aurora come August 31, 2020. While I cannot provide certainty about the state of the pandemic in August, I can offer you a look at our current thinking.

Based on the most recent health orders from the Alameda County Health Department, we are planning to open in August in what is called a “cohort” model. Given our school size, campus, and teaching staff, we are in an excellent position to deliver a robust in-person program; with most of our students on campus every day and those wishing to stay at home, learning remotely. The information below should give you a clear sense of what we envision for the fall and what our priorities are in creating this new model.

Strategic Priorities

  • The health and safety of our entire community remains our highest priority. We continue to follow the Alameda County Health Department orders that get updated every 2-3 weeks.
  • Maintaining the mission of Aurora School.
  • Being flexible enough to shift seamlessly into another model (hybrid or remote), as needed.
  • Creating a financially sustainable model that ensures the long-term health of Aurora School.

Cohort Model Overview
Per Health Department requirements, stable cohorts currently consist of 12 or fewer students that will not mix with other cohorts during the day. This number might increase in the coming months. A few important details:

  • Cohorts are designed to limit the spread of the virus by isolating the need for potential closures and by making contact tracing easier.
  • Physical distancing is encouraged within each cohort, but the self-confined/defined cohort itself is considered physically distancing (from other cohorts).
  • Many safety protocols are required to operate a cohort model. Procedures for handwashing, sanitization, symptom checking, restroom cleaning, paths of travel, recess, drop-off, and pick-up will be carefully planned.

Drop-Off and Pick-Up
A staggered drop-off and pick-up system will be required to minimize cohort mixing. We are beginning to plan this new system and will provide details during the summer. Given the new schedule and cohort requirements, the drop-off and pick-up routines will take more time than they have in the past.

Safety Protocols
Along with creating a scheduling framework for next year, we are also carefully planning the details associated with the Health Department’s reopening safety guidelines. These guidelines are designed to prevent the spread of infection and include the specific areas of focus listed below. We will spend the next month fine-tuning our safety plan to address these guidelines, which include but are not limited to:

  • Temperature checks at the beginning of each day
  • Community education and procedures around
    • Handwashing
    • Covering coughs and sneezes, and
    • Wearing face masks
  • Disinfectant application procedures
  • Physical distancing expectations
  • Ventilation systems and air flow in classrooms
  • Bathroom cleaning procedures
  • Staggered drop-off and pick-up routines

Given what we know now, we will most likely implement this cohort model when school begins. This bodes well for Aurora because we can accommodate the majority of our students on campus, which will mean little change to our curriculum delivery. We will, however, need to be ready to transition quickly into different learning modes, as conditions change due to the virus, climate, anticipated power outages, or other factors.

Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances, we might be required to make changes to this cohort model at any time. No matter the model or restriction, we will continue to offer a mission-based program that focuses on academic excellence and social-emotional learning.

I am grateful to call Aurora my community as we plan for the future. Given all that we’ve accomplished together these past three months, I remain highly optimistic that together we can continue to deliver our dynamic program to all our students next year. Thank you again for your continued patience, flexibility, and partnership. I will follow up with additional communication throughout the summer.

It was a treat to see so many of you today. We wish our graduates and their families the very best and hope you will return to visit when health orders allow. Those of you heading on to new adventures, we wish you the very best too. We look forward to seeing those returning on August 31, 2020.

On behalf of everyone at Aurora, we wish you and your family a safe and healthy summer, filled with fun!

We miss you all and send our love,
Abbie

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